Tuesday, July 06, 2004

The good fight

There's some good reading to be had over at Working for Change, where Bill Berkowitz interviews my friend Daniel Levitas, author of The Terrorist Next Door: The Militia Movement and the Radical Right, on one of my favorite subjects, the failure to confront domestic terrorism. [It's a two-parter: Part I and Part 2.]

Some excerpts [from Part 1]:
BB: What about the people who didn't quit the movement?

DL: They have become even more radicalized, more hard core. After all, they believe that the Clinton administration bombed the Murrah building on purpose -- and set up Timothy McVeigh and Terry Nichols as patsies in order to persecute the "Patriot" movement. This is the same crowd that believes that the planes used on 9/11 were remote-controlled by the Israeli Mossad and the CIA. They used the tragedy at Waco to bolster their argument. "Look," they said, "If Bill Clinton and Janet Reno could kill all those innocent Branch Davidians down in Waco, what makes you think they weren't behind the Oklahoma City bombing?" This all fit in rather nicely with fanatical gun culture and extreme religious beliefs of the radical right. After all, the Davidians were wanted on gun charges and had unconventional religious beliefs. So, for those white supremacists that worship fully automatic weapons and believe that Jews are the children of Satan, it wasn't all that difficult to convince them that the government was out to murder them, as well.

[From Part 2]
BB: Given all that you've said, what is the state of the far right movement today?

DL: Thankfully, much of the movement is in pretty serious disarray, due to a combination of factors, but that doesn't mean the potential for violence is all that significantly diminished. If anything, the arrests in Tyler, Texas in April 2002 show that even small numbers of right wing activists can build up a terrifying arsenal. The death of William Pierce, in July 2002, left a big leadership vacuum, both in his group and in the movement. Smaller, but equally militant groups like the World Church of the Creator, based in Illinois, have been hit hard by recent arrests. In the case of the WCOTC, its leader, Matthew Hale, is currently in federal prison facing charges that he attempted to solicit the murder of a federal judge. Even though membership in the Klan and other hate groups is down, the people that have remained in the movement are more hard-core. But there is another, more dangerous problem that is affecting the political mainstream.

BB: What is that?

DL: What concerns me most is the rising level of prejudice and bigotry in American society, and these attitudes have penetrated well beyond the confines of the far right. More specifically, we're experiencing rising anti-Semitism, skyrocketing anti-Arab and anti-Muslim bigotry, heightened hostility toward foreigners and immigrants and persistently high levels of racism. In short, these trends don't bode well for the fabric of a democracy ostensibly devoted to protecting civil rights and liberties. Of course it is easy to point to the bombers and shooters of the radical right and identify them as the problem. And they certainly pose a threat and a challenge. In the end, however, their actions basically require a law enforcement response, and there is not a whole lot that everyday citizens can do to counteract the hard core criminality of domestic right-wing terrorists.

And while you're at it, be sure to check out the conclusion of Tacitus' exchange with VDare columnist Steve Sailer, one of the so-called "racial realists" of the Jared Taylor school. Tacitus acquitted himself marvelously; people like Sailer are real tar babies, incapable of comprehending that their core arguments have been demolished, and responding by piling phony "fact" upon phony "fact." Considering Sailer's background as a promoter of pseudo-science, he handled the situation just right.

I don't give enough credit to serious conservatives who make real efforts to repudiate the racist element of the right. Tacitus deserves a round of applause.

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