Saturday, April 11, 2009

Glenn Beck's 'Liberal Fascism Hour': Revising history as Newspeak

-- by Dave

Back early last year when I was busy critiquing Jonah Goldberg's Liberal Fascism, the question came up frequently: Why would I bother? Isn't it a problem to be treating a book of junk political philosophy like this with more respect than it deserves? Isn't flat-out mockery perhaps the better response?

Well, as I noted then:

[T]he problem with dismissing Liberal Fascism out of hand is that the mainstream media certainly haven't dismissed the book out of hand: Goldberg's been on a regular rotation of cable-talk shows since the book's release, and more certainly are on the way. As much as we might wish this noxious meme would choke on its own fumes, it's clear that isn't going to happen: the "liberal media" is all too happy to present this fraud as "serious," and there are going to be large swaths of the public lapping it up. (There already are, in fact.) Pretty soon any discussion of actual fascists will be dismissed with a wave of the "ah, you libruls are the real fascists" hand.

Moreover, from where I stand, his grotesque misreadings of history and the realities of the rise of fascism both in Europe and America, his eradication and trivialization of genuine American fascist elements from the pages of that history -- those things simply cannot go unanswered. Someone needs to point out that the Pantload has no clothes.

Of course, at the time I couldn't have predicted that only a little more than a year later, the hottest talk-show host ratings-wise on cable TV -- Glenn Beck, on Fox News -- would not only be regularly plumping Goldberg's book, he'd be devoting the core thesis of his show to the proposition that under Barack Obama, the nation is proceeding on a direct fascist course.

And that, as he did Friday, he'd devote an entire hour, replete with select historians, to exploring this crackpot notion.

As you can see, the entire show was such a mix of distorted fact and outright misconceptions, piled on top with tendentious misreadings of actual history, that it's hard to tell where to begin.

But a side remark Beck makes is fairly indicative of the problem with this whole enterprise -- namely, it is a grossly blinkered version of history, revised and selectively edited to serve as a nice bedtime story for conservatives. He turns to Amity Shlaes (we told you it was a select bunch) to ask her about FDR and the Depression:

Beck: Amity, let me start with you, because I want to go to the Depression, I want to talk about that. But what I really want to do, because we're running up against the clock here, is spend a little time on: Who is the person we should look to that stood up against this? Who are the people that were successful?

I know Henry Ford was one of them -- in FDR. He stood up against them and said, 'This is wrong!' Who else?

[Shlaes, FWIW, chooses Wendell Wilkie. Yah shoor, he was such a success.]

This isn't the first time Beck has invoked Henry Ford as a consummate anti-fascist. This is very funny.

I walked through all this the last time Beck did this, but Hume's Ghost has a succinct wrapup:

Ok, let's walk through this. F.D.R. headed up the war efforts against the Nazis during World War II. Henry Ford did everything he possibly could to prevent the United States from fighting the Nazis because he was a fan of the Nazi regime. Henry Ford was awarded and accepted the highest medal that Germany bestowed upon foreigners in 1938. The Ford factories in Europe helped build the Nazi war machine. The rabidly anti-Semitic paper that Ford published helped inspire the Holocaust and popularized the notorious Protocols of Zion.

But in Beck's warped, alternate universe, Henry Ford is anti-fascist because he didn't like the New Deal ... - while the guy who actually headed up the government while it fought and defeated the fascists is a fascist. Here's a clue for the eternally clueless Beck: we actually had fascists in America during the New Deal - and some of them were opposed to it precisely because they were fascists.

Now, for anyone who really wants to delve the broader subject of fascism, "liberal fascism," and Jonah Goldberg's Bizarro thesis, I always recommend they scroll through some of the detailed work I did last year. Boiled down, my conclusion is that Liberal Fascism and its thesis are Newspeak: using a word to mean its opposite, thereby rendering the word itself meaningless.

Or, you can check out Chapter 6 of my new book, The Eliminationists: How Hate Talk Radicalized the American Right (available at Amazon), which is titled "Understanding Fascism". An excerpt:

The term fascism has come to be nearly useless over the past 30 years or so. In many respects, leftists are most responsible for its degradation; lobbing it at anyone conservative or corporatist in the 1960s and ’70s became so common that its original meaning—describing a very distinct political style, if not quite philosophy—became utterly muddled, at least in the public lexicon.

Over the past 30 years or so, fascism is now loosely used to define the broader concept of totalitarianism, which encompasses communism as well. Liberals are every bit as prone to this particular confusion as conservatives. The difference, perhaps, is that the latter often do so deliberately, as a way of obscuring the genuine fascism that sits at their elbows.

The godfather of this obscurantism is Rush Limbaugh, who for years has been holding forth on the rise of “feminazis” on the ranks of the left; at various times he has told listeners that because Nazism had “socialism” in its original name (that is, National Socialism) it was actually a left-wing movement. Various other right-wing propagandists have proposed similar readings of history.

But this notion leapt onto the New York Times bestseller list in 2008 when Jonah Goldberg of the National Review published his book Liberal Fascism: The Secret History of the American Left From Mussolini to the Politics of Meaning. Goldberg’s book was essentially an up-is-down-inside-is-out mishmash of history and political philosophy that stipulated, primarily, that "fascism, properly understood, is not a phenomenon of the right at all. Instead, it is, and always has been, a phenomenon of the left.”

He bases his argument on the following definition of fascism:

Fascism is a religion of the state. It assumes the organic unity of the body politic and longs for a national leader attuned to the will of the people. It is totalitarian in that it views everything as political and holds that any action by the state is justified to achieve that common good. It takes responsibility for all aspects of life, including our health and well-being, and seeks to impose uniformity of thought and action, whether by force or through regulation and social pressure. Everything, including the economy and religion, must be aligned with its objectives. Any rival identity is part of the "problem" and therefore defined as the enemy.

There’s an obvious problem with this: Goldberg's definition does not fit fascism per se. One could use nearly the same terms and ideas to define Marxist-Leninist, or any other kind of totalitarian state. His definition describes totalitarianism (or authoritarianism, if you will) generally, but not fascism specifically.

Fascism is a specific species of totalitarianism, and it is best understood not simply by the things it has in common with other forms of this phenomenon (and there are plenty, complete state control of the individual’s mind and life being the most essential) but what distinguishes it. The academic debate over the "fascist minimum" (that is, what is its ineluctable core), has raged for some years. Goldberg’s book did nothing to advance this debate; on the contrary, it muddied the waters of public understanding with illogical nonsense.

Most Americans believe they know what communism is, largely because it is an ideology based on a body of texts and revolving around specific ideas. In contrast, hardly anyone can explain what comprises fascism, mainly because all we really know about it is the regimes that arose under its banner. There are no extant texts, only a litany of dictatorships and atrocities. When we think of fascism, we think of Hitler and perhaps Mussolini, without understanding anything about the conditions that carried them to power.

At the same time, it’s important that both liberal and conservative Americans have a clear view of what fascism is, not just as an abstract definition, but as a real-life phenomenon. Fascism is not an extinct political force. Most Americans view Nazism as some kind of strange European virus that afflicted only the Germans and Italians, and only for a brief period—this by way of reassuring ourselves that “it couldn’t happen here.” But a look at the history of fascism shows this not to be the case; that the Germans and the Italians were ordinary, ostensibly civilized people like the rest of us. And that what went wrong there could someday go wrong here, too. How, then, are we to know if that is what’s happening, as it seems to happen so gradually that the populace scarcely recognizes it?

In its early years, fascism was best understood as an extreme reaction against socialism and communism, as “extremist anti-communism.” This view, predictably, was offered up by communists, who saw everything through their own ideological prisms. In reality, fascism was more complex than that, though the fear of communism was no doubt an essential element that fueled its recruitment and ideological appeal. At the time, there were very few attempts to systematize the ideology of fascism, though some existed (see, for example, Giovanni Gentile’s 1932 text, The Doctrine of Fascism ). Its true spirit was best expressed in an inchoate rant like Adolf Hitler’s Mein Kampf.

Fascism was explicitly anti-democratic, anti-liberal, and corporatist, and it endorsed violence as a chief means to its ends. It was “revolutionary” in its fervor, yet sought to defend status-quo institutions, particularly business interests. It was also, obviously, authoritarian; the claim that it was oriented toward "socialism" is crudely ahistorical, if not outrageously revisionist. Lest we forget, socialists were among the first people targeted by Mussolini’s black-shirted thugs, and they were among the first people imprisoned and "liquidated" by the Nazi regime.

However, it’s important not to confuse fascism as a movement on the rise with fascism as a power. If can only identify fascism in its mature form—the goose-stepping brownshirts, the full-fledged use of violence and intimidation tactics, the mass rallies—then it will be far too late to stop it. Fascism arose as a much more atomized phenomenon, at first mostly in rural areas, then it spread to the cities; and if we look at those origins, it becomes clear that similar forms already exist in America.

Fascism springs from very ancient sources; its antecedents have appeared all throughout history. It adapts to changing conditions. As the French specialist on the extreme Right, Pierre-André Taguieff, puts it:

Neither "fascism" nor "racism" will do us the favour of returning in such a way that we can recognise them easily. If vigilance was only a game of recognising something already well-known, then it would only be a question of remembering. Vigilance would be reduced to a social game using reminiscence and identification by recognition, a consoling illusion of an immobile history peopled with events which accord with our expectations or our fears.

Assessing the genuine potential for fascism in America requires identifying the core components of fascism itself: its ancient wellsprings that remain with us today. Then, we need to ask ourselves what we are doing to keep those forces in check.

One of the aspects of Friday night's show that was especially bothersome was the way Beck and Co. tried dragging Theodore Roosevelt and Woodrow Wilson into the whole affair, since in Beck's view it was under these two that America first went astray by ignoring the Founding Fathers and the Constitution.

According to Beck, it was under Teddy that America first made its steps toward "fascism" by adopting the early versions of progressivism:

Beck: The turning point seems to be a guy that so many people say, 'Oh, Teddy Roosevelt. He was fantastic.' But he captured the Republicans where Woodrow Wilson and FDR captured the Democrats, for this Progressive movement and took us fundamentally off the tracks that our Founders had built and moved us in another direction.

Actually, anyone who's studied the larger scope of the history of that era is well aware that Roosevelt, in adopting a handful of Progressive positions, was essentially working to stave off the looming social chaos wrought by the robber-baron oligarchy that wealthy Americans had created at the turn of the 20th century. If America got "off track" in terms of what the Founders envisioned, it happened well before Teddy came along.

Maybe Glenn Beck should expose himself to a few other quarters of history. Maybe then he would meet such characters as the young fellows below:

If Beck had been alive in the USA back then, he very well could have been one of these boys, or at least have been among that class of citizens. Here's what he'd have faced:

Before 1874, when Massachusetts passed the nation's first legislation limiting the number of hours women and child factory workers could perform to 10 hours a day, virtually no labor legislation existed in the country. Indeed, it was not until the 1930s that the federal government would become actively involved. Until then, the field was left to the state and local authorities, few of whom were as responsive to the workers as they were to wealthy industrialists.

The laissez-faire capitalism, which dominated the second half of the 19th century and fostered huge concentrations of wealth and power, was backed by a judiciary which time and again ruled against those who challenged the system. In this, they were merely following the prevailing philosophy of the times. As John D. Rockefeller is reported to have said: "the growth of a large business is merely a survival of the fittest." This "Social Darwinism," as it was known, had many proponents who argued that any attempt to regulate business was tantamount to impeding the natural evolution of the species.

Yet the costs of this indifference to the victims of capital were high. For millions, living and working conditions were poor, and the hope of escaping from a lifetime of poverty slight. As late as the year 1900, the United States had the highest job-related fatality rate of any industrialized nation in the world. Most industrial workers still worked a 10-hour day (12 hours in the steel industry), yet earned from 20 to 40 percent less than the minimum deemed necessary for a decent life. The situation was only worse for children, whose numbers in the work force doubled between 1870 and 1900.

You see, when Teddy was president, there was no such thing as a 40-hour workweek; most Americans, in fact, worked between 60 and 80 hours per week. The average family lived in real poverty. Child labor, like the little boy miners above, was common. And the courts, especially the Supreme Court -- which relied on a doctrine called formalism, which is essentially identical to today's "strict construction" -- effectively supported the oligarchy and refused to evince any sympathy at all for working Americans. Unrest was rising: Not just progressives, but ardent socialists and communists were making waves.

America was off its track then because of the greed of a few.

The task Roosevelt faced was finding a way to mollify the increasingly angry working-class Americans, and subdue the unrest, while keeping his own class -- the landed gentry -- relatively behind him. So in most regards, Roosevelt chose a very middle-of-the-road path of moderate progressivism. He was no friend of the unions, but he did begin making government concessions to the needs of working people. (In my mind, the best portrait of this moment in American history is J. Anthony Lukas' Big Trouble.)

Mind you, Teddy only took baby steps toward adopting progressive solutions to the problem. It wasn't until FDR that they began to gain traction: The Fair Labor Standards Act passed in 1938, which established the 40-hour workweek. Under FDR labor unions were officially welcomed into the fold of the American workplace. And under FDR, the Great American Middle Class -- which we all take so readily for granted now -- was born.

Indeed, if we listen to the Glenn Becks of the world, we will effectively have handed the country back to the oligarchs.

Now, were these progressive solutions a betrayal of our Founders' intent? Hardly. Indeed, it seems far more reasonable to argue that they intended their successors to adapt the Constitution as needed to changing conditions of the tides of time. After all, it was Thomas Jefferson who wrote:

Some men look at constitutions with sanctimonious reverence and deem them like the ark of the covenant, too sacred to be touched. They ascribe to the men of the preceding age a wisdom more than human and suppose what they did to be beyond amendment. I knew that age well; I belonged to it and labored with it. It deserved well of its country. It was very like the present but without the experience of the present; and forty years of experience in government is worth a century of book-reading; and this they would say themselves were they to rise from the dead.

Even more to the point, perhaps, is Thomas Paine's Agrarian Justice, which is essentially a treatise on the need for community sharing and consensual taxation:

It is a position not to be controverted that the earth, in its natural, cultivated state was, and ever would have continued to be, the common property of the human race. In that state every man would have been born to property. He would have been a joint life proprietor with rest in the property of the soil, and in all its natural productions, vegetable and animal. ...

Every proprietor, therefore, of cultivated lands, owes to the community ground-rent (for I know of no better term to express the idea) for the land which he holds; and it is from this ground-rent that the fund prod in this plan is to issue.

As for Glenn Beck's oft-stated view that charities, and not government, should be taking care of the poor, here's Paine's view of that:

There are, in every country, some magnificent charities established by individuals. It is, however, but little that any individual can do, when the whole extent of the misery to be relieved is considered. He may satisfy his conscience, but not his heart. He may give all that he has, and that all will relieve but little. It is only by organizing civilization upon such principles as to act like a system of pulleys, that the whole weight of misery can be removed.

The plan here proposed will reach the whole. It will immediately relieve and take out of view three classes of wretchedness-the blind, the lame, and the aged poor; and it will furnish the rising generation with means to prevent their becoming poor; and it will do this without deranging or interfering with any national measures.

Of course, Thomas Paine's name is familiar to anyone who watched Friday. At the end of the same show, Beck tried to "channel" Paine with a right-wing rant that was all about inspiring Americans to rise up against the administration they just got finished electing. Why? Because they're taxing us.

And the real Thomas Paine's grave was registering the whirling on the Richter scale.

Digby has more.

Right-wing fearmongering about guns reaching a fever pitch

-- by Dave

One of the hallmarks of the militia movement of the 1990s was the way it inspired violence: by essentially loosing the moorings of their followers from reality by promulgating a toxic brew of conspiracy theories, right-wing historical revisionism, and a bevy of false "facts" and claims against government officials and liberals generally. Chief among these, of course, was the belief that Bill Clinton and the New World Order were coming to take their guns away -- which, of course, he never did, though he did manage to pass an assault-weapons ban.

So when we point out the toxic effects of the revival of this kind of irresponsible rhetoric, it's because there's a real history behind it. It's not mere presupposition to point out that fearmongering that promotes palpably false and distorted claims often brings violent results; we already are too familiar with this causal relationship from experience.

The difference between the 1990s and now? When I was hearing talk like this then, it was coming out of the mouths of the Bo Gritzes and John Trochmanns -- the leaders and fanatical ideologues who drove the militia movement.

Now, it's coming out of the mouths of people with mainstream media programs: Glenn Beck, Bill O'Reilly, Lou Dobbs, Michael Savage, Ann Coulter.

Media Matters has compiled a video documenting how rabidly the "Obama wants to grab our guns" meme has been broadcast to the True Believers of the American Right including Beck -- who reiterated his belief the Monday after the Pittsburgh shootings:

Later on his radio show, Beck said that Obama "will slowly but surely take away your gun or take away your ability to shoot a gun, carry a gun. He will make them more expensive; he'll tax them out of existence. He will because he has said he would. He will tax your gun or take your gun away one way or another." Beck is not alone -- since Obama's election, several conservative media figures have similarly warned that Obama would seize their guns or have suggested that a government effort to ban guns is likely.

Examples of conservative media figures advancing this claim include:

* On the November 7, 2008, broadcast of his nationally syndicated show, conservative radio host Lars Larson said of Obama: "I'm worried that when he starts naming people to the court, when that -- when that happens, and it's likely to during his administration, we're going to end up with justices who think they can break free of the constraints of the Constitution -- perhaps on the Second Amendment, one of my favorites." Larson later read a letter from a listener stating, "Lars, I've always said that if the gun-grabbers come to my front door and demand my guns due to some unconstitutional law being passed by the loony lefties in Washington, D.C., I'll have no choice but to hand them over. However, they will receive all of my ammunition first, all of it, just as fast as I can possibly give it to them."

* On December 4, 2008, after a caller stated that "gun manufacturers" would be able to raise prices during the economic crisis, Milwaukee radio host Mark Belling responded, "Well, OK. You're right about that. Everybody's buying guns before Obama comes in and outlaws them all."

* On the February 11 broadcast of ABC Radio Networks' The Sean Hannity Show, conservative columnist Ann Coulter said, "[B]y the way, the NRA also has information on how they [the Obama administration] are going to be expanding the concept of national parks to include, you know, highways running from Rhode Island to Virginia. National parks have gun bans imposed throughout." She then stated of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, "This bill is so much worse than earmarks and pork. This is a total government takeover, and Big Brother coming in and taking our guns and schools and doctors." Host Sean Hannity responded, in part: "All right. Let me -- Pat, let's -- lest those out there on the left think Ann Coulter is paranoid -- let's look at this. We've got the Democrats now want to politicize the census by moving it into Rahm -- Rahmbo [White House chief of staff Rahm Emanuel], deadfish -- Emanuel's hands."

* On the April 7 edition of Salem Radio Network's The Mike Gallagher Show, host Mike Gallagher discussed an exchange between the Second Amendment Foundation's Alan Gottlieb and MSNBC anchor David Shuster on the April 6 edition of Hardball. Gallagher stated, "Now listen to the way Gottlieb does a great job in explaining logically why people are worried about what the Obama administration wants to do with our guns," then aired a clip in which Shuster asked Gottlieb, "Do you believe that the Obama administration and the Feds are coming to take away everybody's guns?" Gottlieb replied, "I believe that's what they would like to do. I don't think we're going to let them get away with it." Gallagher later stated, "[L]isten to the way Gottlieb leaves the liberal columnist stuttering and stammering, explaining very eloquently why so many of us are worried and scurrying to buy guns right now." He then aired a clip from the same Hardball segment in which New York Times columnist Charles Blow asked Gottlieb, "And we should confront that fear with guns?" and Gottlieb responded in part: "[I]f you think the government might take your rights away from you, you want to try and exercise them before that happens. It's a normal reaction."

Look, people: There is no factual basis for claiming that Obama "wants to take away our guns." There is a big difference between favoring reinstitution of an assault-weapons ban, or any other limited gun-control measure, and such sweeping attacks on gun ownership as the NRA and Glenn Beck have suggested are in the works.

It's a simple fact: Obama is focused on repairing the economy. This is why his broader initiatives so far have been about health care, education, energy, and immigration -- all of which have a direct bearing on the economy. He understands that gun control is a volatile and divisive issue, and pushing it at a time when we need some national unity is both unwise and counterproductive.

Sure, I think we all would like to have a serious conversation about guns somewhere down the road. But it can and will wait. Right now we need as many shoulders to the boulders as we can muster.

In other words: Why won't conservatives do the right thing, get over the silly stuff, and get serious about our national problems right now? All we're getting so far is tea parties and conspiracy theories.

And judging by their behavior since Obama's been elected, that's all we can expect to get from here on out -- that, and the inevitable spiral of violence.

Read The Eliminationists for an in-depth discussion of this.

Cross-posted at Crooks and Liars.

O'Reilly and Beck know why evil liberal bloggers criticize their fearmongering: it's jealousy

-- by Dave

Bill O'Reilly is unhappy that evil liberal bloggers are connecting the hateful, violent, and paranoid rhetoric coming from the likes of himself and Glenn Beck to actual incidents of violence.

So he and Beck sat down to talk about it last night. And of course, much unintentional hilarity ensued:

O'Reilly: As you may know, the Factor and the Glenn Beck Program are enjoying huge ratings. ... On the flip side, CNN and NBC, their cable networks are doing very poorly. In the first quarter of the month, Fox News had 10 of the Top 10 cable news programs. That means the others didn't have any. We had all 10.

That's causing anger and desperation on the left. And now some of these haters are accusing Beck, me and others of inciting violence. As we reported last night on Policing the Net, these despicable people are now using murder to attack people with whom they disagree.

With us now to respond is Glenn Beck. So you understand that this is just the jealousy factor.

Beck: Oh yeah. ... [Nattering about ratings]

O'Reilly: Now, you had actually addressed -- for the folks that don't know what we're talking about, the tragedies in Binghamton and Pittsburgh, where 14 people were killed in Binghamton and three police officers in Pittsburgh, were driven by madmen. People who flip and they go in and they do this. And then these commentators, if you want to call them that, Internet fanatics, whatever word you wanna use, say, 'Oh no, O'Reilly and Beck, because they are complaining about the state of the union right now, they're responsible.'

It's absurd. It is hateful, obviously. I tend to ignore it. But you actually did something on it, on your show.

Actually, Bill, the connections to violent incidents we pointed out had nothing to do with you "complaining about the state of the union right now." They had to to with mainstream conservative commentators like you and Mr. Beck irresponsibly promulgating conspiracy theories and political beliefs systems that are both paranoiac and bereft of any factual basis in the real world, such as the notion of a looming One World Government or the claims that the government is building concentration camps and that Obama wants to take our guns away.

Because all three of these claims, as we saw this weekend, play out in horrific ways in real life. It's classic fearmongering, and the fact that it produces violent behavior should not surprise anyone.

Not that these guys care about that. They're too giddy about those most excellent ratings.

Cross-posted at Crooks and Liars.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Obama's next big political battle: Immigration reform

-- by Dave

Pat Buchanan is promising a "bloodbath." Brad Blakeman is vowing that Republicans will line up against it en masse. But according to the New York Times, President Obama is planning to push for comprehensive immigration reform this year anyway:

Mr. Obama will frame the new effort — likely to rouse passions on all sides of the highly divisive issue — as “policy reform that controls immigration and makes it an orderly system,” said the official, Cecilia Muñoz, deputy assistant to the president and director of intergovernmental affairs in the White House.

Mr. Obama plans to speak publicly about the issue in May, administration officials said, and over the summer he will convene working groups, including lawmakers from both parties and a range of immigration groups, to begin discussing possible legislation for as early as this fall.

Some White House officials said that immigration would not take precedence over the health care and energy proposals that Mr. Obama has identified as priorities. But the timetable is consistent with pledges Mr. Obama made to Hispanic groups in last year’s campaign.

He said then that comprehensive immigration legislation, including a plan to make legal status possible for an estimated 12 million illegal immigrants, would be a priority in his first year in office. Latino voters turned out strongly for Mr. Obama in the election.

The legislation that Obama favors, in fact, sounds pretty familiar:

In broad outlines, officials said, the Obama administration favors legislation that would bring illegal immigrants into the legal system by recognizing that they violated the law, and imposing fines and other penalties to fit the offense. The legislation would seek to prevent future illegal immigration by strengthening border enforcement and cracking down on employers who hire illegal immigrants, while creating a national system for verifying the legal immigration status of new workers.

If this sounds an awful lot like the immigration-reform legislation, promoted by then-President Bush, that died in 2007 because Rush Limbaugh's flying monkeys descended upon it, that's because largely it is. In other words, it's not very different from what a Republican President recently proffered -- but which died at the hands of the rabid nativist wing of his party.

So there was Pitchfork Pat today on MSNBC's Morning Joe:

They will face a bloodbath if he tries try to legalize 12 million illegal aliens when the unemployment rate is rising, and it is huge among working-class Americans.

Republican strategist Brad Blakeman came on MSNBC today to discuss it, and said Republicans will line up against it because: "It's just bad policy." One wonders if he thought so back in 2007.

He went on to suggest that John McCain, who's championed this kind of legislation for many years, may be the lone Republican this time out:

Blakeman: John McCain is not going to be able to push this legislation through, because the Republicans are going to rally and unite, as well as I believe independents -- and blue-collar Democrats. Their jobs are going to be threatened.

And Nora, I'll make a prediction: We're going to be in double-digit unemployment in this country in the summer. The President claims to unveil this plan and have it done in the first year. Well, that's going to be awful hard to do when millions of Americans are out of work, and inflation is creeping up, and our economy isn't doing well. And he is now going to legalize 12 million illegal aliens and give them the rights that workers in this country should be having? It isn't going to work.

Well, at least the argument this time out is about employment and not about "Reconquista" or leprosy or crime -- which means there can be a reasonable debate. But Blakeman's argument runs aground on a very simple reality: it is immigrants' illegal status that undermines Americans' working wages.

Employers are able to get away with paying lower wages when they have workers who live under threat of deportation. Ending that situation, and helping these immigrants obtain the ordinary rights of citizenship, will actually play a key role in America's economic recovery. Because, as Time's Nathan Thornburgh noted a couple of years ago, immigration holds the key to the future economic competitiveness of the United States: "For all the stresses of immigration, it is the only industrialized nation with a population that is growing fast enough and skews young enough to provide the kind of workforce that a dynamic economy needs."

It's a classic rising-tide-lifts-all-boats scenario: By helping the immigrants already here find a path to citizenship -- which in turn makes them less vulnerable to the exploitation that hurts everyone except the exploiters -- while making the system of immigration built on rational economic needs instead of xenophobic ethnic fears, Americans will be helping themselves, too.

As Frank Sharry at America's Voice observed:

Moreover, the version of immigration reform that is likely to be debated this year will focus primarily on cracking down on bad actor employers who violate immigration, labor, and tax laws, combined with the legalization of workers and families already contributing and living here in the United States. This approach will lift wages for American and immigrant workers alike, enhance tax fairness and boost revenues, and create a level playing field for honest employers. The majority of Americans believe that earned citizenship combined with smart policies that will significantly reduce illegal immigration is the American way to solve this complex challenge.

Cross-posted at Crooks and Liars.

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Poplawski's neo-Nazi activism included posting Glenn Beck video, but media talk about dog pee

-- by Dave

An astonishing thing seems to have happened to the case of Richard Poplawski and the three dead Pittsburgh policemen: It's been turned into a story about dog pee -- and not about the fact that Poplawski was fueled by a toxic mix of white-supremacist/conspiracy-theorist paranoia and mainstream-media fearmongering, including from the likes of Glenn Beck and Fox News.

Maybe the media are collectively embarrassed by the way this case demonstrates how they play an important role in whipping up the far-right crazies out there -- and they should be. Because not only did Richard Poplawski avidly participate in white-supremacist online forums and right-wing conspiracy-theory sites, he also avidly consumed mainstream conservative media, particularly Fox.

The classic instance of this: A few weeks ago, Poplawski posted a clip of Beck talking about FEMA concentration camps on the neo-Nazi Stormfront forum site. (You can see the clip from the show in question above.)

Eric Boehlert at Media Matters noticed yesterday that the New York Times completely ignored the white-supremacy aspect of the story, running an AP story that only briefly alluded to Poplawski's paranoiac fears and instead focused on the dog-pee-on-the-carpet angle. David Waldman at Daily Kos noted a similar trend.

MSNBC, which ran the same story, had this for a headline:


Meanwhile, Mark Pitcavage at the Anti-Defamation League published his findings Monday:

-- Poplawski believed that the federal government, the media, and the banking system are all largely or completely controlled by Jews. He thought African-Americans were "vile" and non-white races inferior to whites.

-- He also believed that a conspiracy led by "evil Zionists" and "greedy traitorous goyim" was "ramping up" a police state in the United States for malign purposes.

-- Web sites like the neo-Nazi Stormfront forums and the anti-government conspiracy Infowars site fueled his racist, anti-Semitic, and conspiratorial mindset.

... Poplawski bought into the SHTF/TEOTWAKI [S--t Hits The Fan/The End Of The World As We Know It] conspiracy theories hook, line and sinker, even posting a link to Stormfront of a YouTube video featuring talk show host Glenn Beck talking about FEMA camps with Congressman Ron Paul. When the city of Pittsburgh got a Homeland Security grant to add surveillance cameras to protect downtown bridges, Poplawski told Stormfronters that it was "ramping up the police state." He said, too, that he gave warnings to grocery store customers he encountered (but only if they were white) to stock up on canned goods and other long-lasting foods.

Well, at least Dennis Roddy of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette -- who was one of the first reporters on this story -- carried most of the details and more in his Monday story:

Accused cop-killer Richard Poplawski spent hours posting racist messages on an extremist right-wing Web site, decrying blacks and Latinos and warning of forthcoming economic collapse fueled by the "Zionist occupation" of America, an expert in political extremism has determined. Earlier, he had praised the "AK" rifle as his ideal weapon.

It was an AK-47 that police say Mr. Poplawski used to gun down three Pittsburgh police officers who arrived at his house Saturday morning in the midst of a domestic dispute.

An account kept on Stormfront, a gathering place for racial extremists and others from the far-right show Mr. Poplawski's increasing belief in a coming economic and political collapse in the days leading up to the time of the deadly standoff in which he is charged with killing three Pittsburgh police officers.

The ADL report also delves his love of Alex Jones' conspiracy theories. Roddy has more details on this today. Boehlert observes that this is the same Alex Jones who's been prominently featured on Fox News lately.

This is a classic example of how "the Transmission Belt", by which far-right ideas are borne into the mainstream of American political discourse, actually works -- "how stuff gets essentially a trial run in ... the far right, and the messages will get refined, and then they'll be picked up by these intermediary groups and individuals, and refined some more, and then there'll be a buzz that's created, and then that gets media attention in the mainstream press."

It's important to point out the relationship between the mainstream media and the far right in these situations, especially for unstable and violent actors like Poplawski: Typically, full-on subscribers to extremist beliefs view mainstream conservatives with distaste and distrust, since they believe them to be weak-kneed sellouts. They instead tend to trust the Joneses and the John Trochmanns and Lew Rockwells and Ron Pauls first.

So when the memes regarding "suppressed knowledge" that these extremists organize around suddenly appear in the mainstream media -- in places like Glenn Beck and Lou Dobbs' and Sean Hannity's cable-network shows -- it has a real amplifying effect: Not only is it final and consummate confirmation of their beliefs in these conspiracy theories, but it induces an extreme apocalypticism, a fear that things must be even worse than they suspected.

That's why Poplawski posted that Beck video on FEMA camps: If even the mainstream media were reporting it, then you know it had to be coming.

Now, the dog-pee angle is in fact handy for one thing: It lets neo-Confederates like Robert Stacy McCain simply sneer at reportage pointing out the white-supremacy aspect of the story, in a futile effort to kick some sand to cover the scent.

But it's probably not what journalists interested in reporting the truth of this kind of tragic story should be writing about.

Max Blumenthal has more.

Cross-posted at Crooks and Liars.

Monday, April 06, 2009

Announcing 'The Eliminationists: How Hate Talk Radicalized the American Right'


-- by Dave

I'm proud to announce today the publication of my fourth book: The Eliminationists: How Hate Talk Radicalized the American Right, by PoliPoint Press.

The book is an outgrowth of the work I've done over the years at my old blog Orcinus, where the chief subject since the very first post has been the intersection of right-wing extremism and mainstream politics. Indeed, anyone who's read my work over the years -- especially those Koufax-winning series on fascism -- will recognize at least some of the prose contained herein.

It's also probably worth noting that the subject of eliminationism encompasses all three of my previous books as well: In God's Country was about the Patriot movement, which I describe there as proto-fascist; Death on the Fourth of July deals with one of the main manifestations of eliminationist violence -- namely, hate crimes; and Strawberry Days was about one of the worst episodes of officially sanctioned eliminationism in the country's history. So The Eliminationists represents a sharpening of the focus into a subject I think is going to preoccupy many of us shortly.

Indeed, as this past weekend's events have demonstrated, the need to discuss this issue has never been clearer or greater -- and it may become even more so over the coming weeks and months.

The book is currently available through Amazon and Barnes and Noble. We're still waiting for the books to work their way through the distribution chain and reach people's local bookstores.

Because of that, we'll have a chat here hosted by Digby on May 2, by which time the book should be on store shelves. I'll also be chatting at Firedoglake on May 16, and some undetermined date at Daily Kos.

We're also planning to run pertinent excerpts from the book at C&L in the coming week or so. And in the coming weeks, I'll be hosting a series of other journalists who are similarly concerned about the issues the book addresses in live chats here at C&L. Later on, I'll announce the plans for my book tour.

And I'm looking forward to every bit of it.

(You can also read Tristero's lovely review over at Digby's Hullabaloo.)

No one is trying to silence right-wing fearmongers -- but it is time to stand up to them

-- by Dave

You have to wonder if right-wingers will ever get it: Difference isn't a threat.

They were mewling like wounded hyenas this weekend after some of us pointed out that there was a direct connection between the irresponsible fearmongering in which they've been indulging since Barack Obama was elected and Saturday's tragedy in Pittsburgh.

Michelle Malkin, for example, whined to her cultlike audience that liberals were being mean to them: "You killed these police officers. It’s all your fault." As Oliver notes, the Instawanker has been thrashing about angrily too.

My favorite, though, was Neil Sheppard at Newsbusters:

Let's be clear what these attacks on folks like Beck, Rush Limbaugh, and Sean Hannity are all about -- the left-wing in our nation want to silence ALL opposing voices in the media, and they will do it using all tools at their disposal INCLUDING blaming journalists and political commentators for the criminal behavior of others.

This is a familiar refrain that comes up every time anyone raises a socially damning issue like this one: We're trying to oppress them, to silence their voices, by pointing out how morally and ethically bankrupt they are.

Actually, we're just pointing out how bankrupt they are. No one here has said anything about silencing their voices -- we just want them to face up to the consequences of their irresponsible rhetoric. It's called culpability: They obviously are not criminally culpable, nor likely even civilly culpable. But they are morally and ethically culpable.

We do have serious differences of opinion here. We strongly believe that there's a clear, common-sense connection between the paranoiac fearmongering that has passed for right-wing rhetoric since well before Obama's election (and has become acute since) and violence like that in Pittsburgh, or in Knoxville: horrifying tragedies, in which the sources of the criminal's unambiguous motives are that very same hysterical fearmongering -- whether it's about the evil socialists, stinking immigrants, or conspiring gun-grabbers who've taken over the country since Election Day.

And yes, Glenn Beck deserves some mention here. As the video above demonstrates, his fearmongering on the gun issue is noteworthy in itself. I'm sure we all remember the time he speculated that these shooters were just ordinary citizens frustrated by "the system" and "political correctness." Or more recently, when he sneered at Missouri law-enforcement efforts to distribute intelligence about right-wing extremists:

Beck: Let's put this into perspective here: Our researchers couldn't find a single report of a single death specifically linked to a militia group, or an individual member of a militia, in over a decade. Yet an average of more than 150 officers die every year nationwide. Have you counted the number of dead police officers in Philadelphia? And militia numbers are reportedly down after the Oklahoma City bombing in 1995 -- seems it gave them a bad name. So why are militias getting so much attention from Missouri?

The point is not to silence the people saying these things, but to point out how grotesquely irresponsible they are -- in the hopes that they will cease doing so, and start acting responsibly. It's their choice to use irresponsible rhetoric. It's not just our choice but our duty, as responsible citizens, to stand up and speak out about it.

And make no mistake: Rhetoric that whips up irrational fears among the public, that demonizes and dehumanizes and scapegoats -- that's irresponsible rhetoric. And we are calling the American Right on it.

Charles W. Blow had a prescient column about this in the New York Times the day before the shooting:

All this talk of revolution is revolting, and it hasn’t gone unnoticed.

As the comedian Bill Maher pointed out, strong language can poison weak minds, as it did in the case of Timothy McVeigh. (We sometimes forget that not all dangerous men are trained by Al Qaeda.)

At the same time, the unrelenting meme being pushed by the right that Obama will mount an assault on the Second Amendment has helped fuel the panic buying of firearms. According to the F.B.I., there have been 1.2 million more requests for background checks of potential gun buyers from November to February than there were in the same four months last year. That’s 5.5 million requests altogether over that period; more than the number of people living in Bachmann’s Minnesota.

Coincidence? Maybe. Just posturing? Hopefully. But it all gives me a really bad feeling.

That's especially the case when you figure the role of right-wing extremists into this situation -- people like Richard Poplawski:

Richard Andrew Poplawski was a young man convinced the nation was secretly controlled by a cabal that would eradicate freedom of speech, take away his guns and use the military to enslave the citizenry.

His online profile suggests someone at once lonely and seething. He wrote of burning the backs of both of his hands, the first time with a cigarette, the second time for symmetry. He subscribed to conspiracy theories and, by January 2007, was posting photographs of his tattoos on white supremacist Web site Stormfront. Among his ambitions: "to accumulate enough 'I punched that [expletive] so hard' stories to match my old man."

Mr. Poplawski's view of guns and personal freedom took a turn toward the fringes of American politics. With Mr. Perkovic, he appeared to share a belief that the government was controlled from unseen forces, that troops were being shipped home from the Mideast to police the citizenry here, and that Jews secretly ran the country.

"We recently discovered that 30 states had declared sovereignty," said Mr. Perkovic, who lives in Lawrenceville. "One of his concerns was why were these major events in America not being reported to the public."

... Believing most media were covering up important events, Mr. Poplawski turned to a far-right conspiracy Web site run by Alex Jones, a self-described documentarian with roots going back to the extremist militia movement of the early 1990s.

Around the same time, he joined Florida-based Stormfront, which has long been a clearinghouse Web site for far-right groups. He posted photographs of his tattoo, an eagle spread across his chest.

"I was considering gettin' life runes on the outside of my calfs," he wrote. Life runes are a common symbol among white supremacists, notably followers of The National Alliance, a neo-Nazi group linked to an array of violent organizations.

Because we believe in freedom of speech and freedom of thought, there will probably always be haters like Richard Poplawski among us. Inevitably they will be driven by fear: the fear of difference. Because to them, difference of any kind is a threat.

And what we know from experience about volatile, unstable actors like them is that they can be readily induced into violent action by hateful rhetoric that demonizes and dehumanizes other people. And thanks to human nature and those same freedoms, we will certainly always have fearmongering demagogues among us. But the purveyors of such profoundly irresponsible rhetoric need to be called on it -- especially when they hold the nation's media megaphones.

As Bill Clinton put it, after Oklahoma City:

In this country we cherish and guard the right of free speech. We know we love it when we put up with people saying things we absolutely deplore. And we must always be willing to defend their right to say things we deplore to the ultimate degree. But we hear so many loud and angry voices in America today whose sole goal seems to be to try to keep some people as paranoid as possible and the rest of us all torn up and upset with each other. They spread hate. They leave the impression that, by their very words, that violence is acceptable. You ought to see -- I'm sure you are now seeing the reports of some things that are regularly said over the airwaves in America today.

Well, people like that who want to share our freedoms must know that their bitter words can have consequences and that freedom has endured in this country for more than two centuries because it was coupled with an enormous sense of responsibility on the part of the American people.

If we are to have freedom to speak, freedom to assemble, and, yes, the freedom to bear arms, we must have responsibility as well. And to those of us who do not agree with the purveyors of hatred and division, with the promoters of paranoia, I remind you that we have freedom of speech, too, and we have responsibilities, too. And some of us have not discharged our responsibilities. It is time we all stood up and spoke against that kind of reckless speech and behavior.

If they insist on being irresponsible with our common liberties, then we must be all the more responsible with our liberties. When they talk of hatred, we must stand against them. When they talk of violence, we must stand against them. When they say things that are irresponsible, that may have egregious consequences, we must call them on it. The exercise of their freedom of speech makes our silence all the more unforgivable. So exercise yours, my fellow Americans. Our country, our future, our way of life is at stake.

Of course, the right-wingers mewled piteously after Clinton gave that speech, too. They claimed he was trying to silence them, when in fact he was quite explicit about not doing that. Nonetheless, it became part of established right-wing lore that "Clinton blamed Rush Limbaugh for Oklahoma City."

It's classic projection, of course -- because when they attack liberals, especially in the very personal way they favor, they are trying to silence them.

They won't be able to keep getting away with that ruse forever. Because we're not trying to silence them. We're standing up to them. We're not threatening them -- we're simply engaging in our own right of free speech, just like them.

They simply don't want to have to deal with the substance of what we're saying. They don't want to face up to the very real culpability for which they are being called out.

Cross-posted at Crooks and Liars.

The emerging portrait of Richard Poplawski: a white-supremacist radical

-- by Dave

Thanks to some sleuth work on the Internet, we're starting to learn more about Richard Poplawski, the 23-year-old who killed three police officers yesterday in Pittsburgh, evidently out of fear that his guns were going to be taken away.

thumb_mediumPoplawski2_a899a.JPGIt appears that what police may be looking at is a budding white supremacist who frequented one of the most popular neo-Nazi websites and harbored an apocalyptic dread of the federal government.

The Village Voice's True Crime Report has done a lot of the sleuthing. The thread of connective tissue involving the evidence they've uncovered isn't perfectly solid, but the strands are all well connected enough to suggest the general thrust is reasonably accurate.

The key is to look a little harder at the MySpace page of Poplawski's self-described "best friend," Eddie Perkovic -- the one that contains that anti-Semitic, anti-black racist rant, recommending that folks read David Duke and the Protocols. You can see Perkovic above, spouting the gun-nut line about how "he was gonna stand by what his forefathers told him to do."

The page also has links to his "friends" -- including one RichP, whose page has since been mostly wiped out, except for a Paul Reubens booking mugshot. There's a high likelihood that this RichP is in fact Poplawski, because Poplawski's StumpleUpon Page -- which features his photo -- also uses a "RichP" moniker. (We're in the process of trying to double-check the IPs.)

Well, as it happens, this same RichP has evidently posted at -- the nation's most prominent and popular neo-Nazi Website. (True Crime Report has the links.) There, he evidently adopted the user name "Braced For Fate" and posted the following:


"Braced For Fate" also posted a long anti-Semitic rant at Stormfront, which we're printing excerpts from below the fold.

Finally, the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review has some corroboration from other sources that indicates he fits this profile:

Richard Andrew "Pop" Poplawski's ex-girlfriend said he dragged her by the hair and threatened to shoot her.

He slept with a gun under his pillow in a basement room filled with firearms and ammunition, convinced that Jews controlled the media and President Obama was scheming to take away his arsenal, friends and relatives said Saturday.

"He was a violent, abusive man. He dragged me by the hair, pulling me across the floor. I saw him choke his own mother. He was controlling," said Melissa Gladish, 23, of Verona, his former girlfriend who received a protection from abuse order against him in 2005. She said she had no doubt he would kill someone.

"He was never afraid of anyone. Once, he accused me of cheating on him, which I didn't do. He told me he had a gun he kept buried ... and that he would dig it up and get me," she said.

... Despite nearly four years of estrangement, Gladish said Poplawski phoned her in the midst of his standoff with police.

"He said, 'I'm dying. I'm dying. I want you to know that I always loved you. You're still my baby,' " Gladish said. "I tried to calm him down. He said he was shot and that he was dying. He said, 'I'm lying in a pool of blood.' Then I heard a lot of noise, like a scuffle, and the phone went dead."

Finally, his old friend Eddie Perkovic pipes in too:

Perkovic said Poplawski usually was affable and kind, but grew angry recently over fears Obama would outlaw guns. He said Poplawski owned a bullet-proof vest, an AK-47 assault rifle and at least seven other weapons, but obtained the firearms legally.

He said Poplawski feared America was "going to see the end of our times." Poplawski had little interest in clubs or sports in high school, but was a diehard Penguins fan, Perkovic said.

Another Stanton Heights friend, Aaron Bire, 22, said Poplawski "talked about Zionists controlling the media and thought Obama had good press because of his race."

That meshes perfectly with the rant posted by "Braced For Fate" at Stormfront:

Decoding the collapse

First, let’s review a few basic tenets that are commonly espoused here on StormFront:

1. The federal government, mainstream media, and banking system in these United States are strongly under the influence of- if not completely controlled by- Zionist interest.

2. An economic collapse of the financial system is inevitable, bringing with it some degree of civil unrest if not outright balkanization of the continental US, civil/revolutionary/racial war, SHTF/TEOTWAKI scenario etc.

2A. This collapse is likely engineered by the elite Jewish powers that be in order to make for a power and asset grab.

Now, it seems to me that there is a need to reconcile these concepts into a seamless, sensible theory about our near future.

I don’t think there is any question that item 1 is the truth. ZOG is. One can read the list of significant persons in government and in major corporations and see who is pulling the strings. One can observe the policies and final products and should walk away with little doubt there is Zionist occupation and- after some further research & critical thinking- will discover their insidious intentions.

I also don’t think there is too much debate about the eventuality of a collapse of economic and social order in this country. All signs seem to point to a once great nation in the midst its last gasp, suffocating under the weight fiscal irresponsibility. Poisoned by design by the moral decadence that is a direct byproduct of item 1.

The purpose of this thread is to tap into the collective knowledgebase of the many bright White Nationalist thinkers that peruse this forum. Please help me try to determine the most likely scenario so that we may organize ourselves around it and plan for its contingencies. If we somehow get thoroughly blind-sided at this late stage it is possible that we may never recover.
At the heart of my question is this:

If 1 and 2 are accepted as accurate, what sense does it make for 2A to also be true?

In other words: Why, seeing as how the Jews seem to have the nation right where they want it, would they now turn around and destroy it?

Common perception seems to be that if there is an abrupt collapse of social order then racial awareness among the white population will rise dramatically. The Jewish media that dictates “pop culture” could no longer elevate the negro, and reality would reveal its nature. Race-mixing would come to a halt overnight. Consumerism and materialism would cease as the people scrounge for the necessities.

It would make much more sense to keep the population content and therefore apathetic and lethargic than to stir the pot that would at the very least: create a disruption in the agenda, and at the very most: drive the elite from their places of power, which have undoubtedly been sought out and schemed after for decades.

Fortunately, as of right now, the American populace has yet to be fully racially homogenized, has yet to become even close to disarmed, and still would stand a fighting chance to throw off their chains and ensure a worthwhile existence for their children. It would make more sense, from the perspective of the Zionists, to maintain status quo and continue the drumbeat of miscenegration, continue to sound the horn of liberalism, and continue the march toward a dystrophic society in which they could never be challenged.

... Don’t get me wrong. If a total collapse is what it takes to wake our brethren and guarantee future generations of white children walk this continent, if that is what it takes to restore our freedoms and recapture our land: let it begin this very second and not a moment later. Let comfort and convenience be damned, and I will welcome the hardship and embrace the pain secure in the knowledge that our people will rise above and overcome our darkest days.

I just am beginning to think that the elders of Zion are too smart to start the war. Why would they give us the push we need? Unless greed and audacity have clouded their minds in the final hour, I just cannot see an engineered abrupt collapse scenario. We, the people, are not ripe to be picked from the tree of liberty. Not just yet. If disturbed at this juncture, the seeds of racial purity will fall again on this land and take root. Our enemies know it. They’ve got to.

Dennis Roddy has lots more corroboration:

Richard Andrew Poplawski was a young man convinced the nation was secretly controlled by a cabal that would eradicate freedom of speech, take away his guns and use the military to enslave the citizenry.

His online profile suggests someone at once lonely and seething. He wrote of burning the backs of both of his hands, the first time with a cigarette, the second time for symmetry. He subscribed to conspiracy theories and, by January 2007, was posting photographs of his tattoos on white supremacist Web site Stormfront. Among his ambitions: "to accumulate enough 'I punched that [expletive] so hard' stories to match my old man."

Mr. Poplawski's view of guns and personal freedom took a turn toward the fringes of American politics. With Mr. Perkovic, he appeared to share a belief that the government was controlled from unseen forces, that troops were being shipped home from the Mideast to police the citizenry here, and that Jews secretly ran the country.

"We recently discovered that 30 states had declared sovereignty," said Mr. Perkovic, who lives in Lawrenceville. "One of his concerns was why were these major events in America not being reported to the public."

... Believing most media were covering up important events, Mr. Poplawski turned to a far-right conspiracy Web site run by Alex Jones, a self-described documentarian with roots going back to the extremist militia movement of the early 1990s.

Around the same time, he joined Florida-based Stormfront, which has long been a clearinghouse Web site for far-right groups. He posted photographs of his tattoo, an eagle spread across his chest.

"I was considering gettin' life runes on the outside of my calfs," he wrote. Life runes are a common symbol among white supremacists, notably followers of The National Alliance, a neo-Nazi group linked to an array of violent organizations.

More as we learn it.

Cross-posted at Crooks and Liars.