Home > Uncategorized > We are in denial about domestic terrorism – posted 9/16/2019

We are in denial about domestic terrorism – posted 9/16/2019

After the August Walmart shooting in El Paso, Texas in which 22 people died, I had a strong feeling that I had seen this movie before. That is because we all have seen it many times: a gunman arguing that he was compelled to commit mass murder because of an immigrant invasion.

The murder is preceded by the release of a windy manifesto. The manifesto invariably states that a white genocide is going on. The shooter sees the immigrant invasion as an apocalyptic threat, calling for a state of emergency and unprecedented response. Right before the shooter goes on his rampage, he publishes online in far right sites, giving the supposed justification for his actions.

The shooters appear to be lone wolves. Typically they are young white men, radicalized on the internet. Responding to these shootings, mainstream politicians talk about mental illness and the need for gun control. The predominant perspective presented by the mass media is that these shooters are mentally ill loners with an axe to grind.

I would suggest that this view is fundamentally wrong. The common thread in so many of these shootings is the white power ideology of the shooter. It is an international phenomenon. Before El Paso, there was the Pittsburgh Tree of Life synagogue shooting, the Christ Church, New Zealand shootings, Dylann Roof in South Carolina and the Norwegian terrorist Anders Breivik. There have been many other less well known incidents following the same pattern.

In spite of the repetition of similar atrocities, the danger of the white power movement remains drastically underestimated. The historian, Kathleen Belew, author of Bring the War Home: The White Power Movement and Paramilitary America, nails it:

“Too many people still think of these attacks as single events, rather than interconnected actions. We spend too much ink dividing them into anti-immigrant, racist, anti-Muslim or antisemitic attacks. True, they are those things. But they are also connected with one another through a broader white power ideology.”

The idea of replacement is central to the white power movement. The replacers are supposedly Jews, Latinos, Muslims and Blacks. Those in the white power movement believe white people are heading for the dustbin of history. I think of the neo-nazis and alt-right in Charlottesville chanting: “Jews will not replace us.”

White genocide theory holds that black people within the United States will inevitably rise up and start a race war which will result in the genocide of all white people in America. Dylann Roof explained his actions in shooting nine Black worshipers at a bible study in Charleston by saying he wanted to foment race war. In his actions, he followed the white power movement’s teachings.

It needs to be said that the idea of a white genocide going on now is nonsense and contrary to factual evidence. There is no proof white people are under attack or are going extinct. Nor is there evidence Black people intend a race war. Rich, white people control the levers of power in America, whether in the White House, Congress, the Supreme Court or the heights of the economy. This is not just true now – it has been true for virtually all of American history.

Certainly, there are significant demographic changes prompted by climate change, violence prompting asylum claims and immigrants coming to America seeking a better and safer life but that is a far cry from wild allegations of white genocide. Conflating the increasing population of non-white people in America with a white genocide is absurd.

Also, the idea that there is some shadowy group lurking behind the scenes promoting an immigrant invasion is pure paranoia and worse. Such fantasies fuel irrational hatred, especially antisemitism. Once again, Jews are being cast as the puppet masters , pulling minority strings.

Belew argues that the roots of the current alt-right and white power movement go back to the period after the Vietnam War. She says there was an ideologically diverse groundswell of people including Klansmen, neo-nazis, white separatists, racial skinheads and others who came together after the Vietnam War to create a white power movement.

Belew describes this project as an inherently anti-American effort that is trying to overthrow the federal government in order to create an Aryan Nation. That agenda includes eradication of people of color in America.

The white power movement has pursued cell-style organizing, a strategy called Leaderless Resistance. The emphasis has been on promoting the work of a highly dedicated cadre of totally committed activists. Part of the idea of Leaderless Resistance is to make infiltration by government informants much harder. It is also designed to hide and obscure the white power movement from public understanding.

For years now, social media has played a critical role in the evolution of this movement. The movement has been very effective at using the internet to radicalize and recruit young white men. Activists are very well known to each other as was demonstrated by Charlottesville. There is much shared communication inside the movement. The reality of a coherent social movement cuts against the lone wolf narrative.

The white power movement has been very successful in mainstreaming ideas about immigrant invasion. Just listen to Fox News or President Trump. They are using the talking points of this movement.

Trump has used terms like “invasion”, “alien”, “criminal”, and “animal” while discussing immigration hundreds of times at his rallies in the last year or two. In May at a rally of his, when Trump asked “How do you stop these people?” someone in the crowd shouted “Shoot them!” and Trump laughed.

I think the hidden quality of the white power movement has made it harder for the government and others to recognize how dangerous it is. Not surprisingly, last spring the Trump Administration through the Department of Homeland Security disbanded the group of intelligence analysts focused on domestic terror threats, including neo-nazis and the alt-right.

On September 20, the Department of Homeland Security issued a warning about the threat of white supremacist extremism online. They compared white supremacists’ use of the internet to how ISIS does it. Given how little the government has said about this threat, this was at least some recognition of the danger posed.

President Trump, on the other hand, has suggested he might designate Antifa, a collection of militant anti-fascists, a terror organization. Whatever the wisdom of its tactics, Antifa has zero body count. The same cannot be said about the white power movement. Their body count is extensive. Just as he did after Charlottesville, Trump is trying to draw equivalence  between the sides when there is none.

Denying the existence of a now emboldened white power movement is especially dangerous. Recent events suggest more and worse violence is coming.

Categories: Uncategorized
  1. Pat Dawson
    September 17, 2019 at 5:50 pm

    I am afraid you are correct about more and worse coming. And still the myths and misconceptions continue. I think critical thinking should be a mandatory subject which is taught over multiple years starting in grade school. There are practical examples of what can happen when a black majority takes control back from a white minority…. the white South Afrikaners were not murdered en masse. Truth and reconciliation hearings took place, not chaos and mayhem!! Sadly, we here don’t seem to have the ability to think that rationally.

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