Friday, March 03, 2006

Bringing Nazis and Jews together

Jared Taylor wants to know: Can't Jews and neo-Nazis just get along?

Well, no. At least, that's the conclusion you have to reach after reading this fascinating piece by Jonathan Tilove in the Forward about Jews who choose to participate in the annual American Renaissance gathering in Herndon, Va., and what happens to them:
The events Saturday, February 25, passed without major incident. But then, late Sunday morning, none other than former Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke approached the microphone on the floor during the question-and-answer session for French writer Guillaume Faye. After congratulating Faye for stirring remarks that "touched my genes," Duke asked if there weren't an even more insidious threat to the West than Islam.

"There is a power in the world that dominates our media, influences our government and that has led to the internal destruction of our will and our spirit," Duke said.

"Tell us, tell us," came a call from the back of the room.

"I'm not going to say it," Duke said to rising laughter.

But Michael Hart, a squat, balding Jewish astrophysicist from Maryland, was not amused. He rose from his seat, strode toward Duke (who loomed over him like an Aryan giant), spit out a curse — "You Nazi, you've disgraced this meeting" — and exited.

As it happens, only a few minutes earlier Hart, a mainstay of American Renaissance conferences, had been trying to reassure Herschel Elias, a first-time attendee from suburban Philadelphia, that he should not let his observation that the meeting was "infiltrated by Nazis and Holocaust deniers" ruin his impression of American Renaissance.

"The speakers aren't Nazis," Hart assured him. "Jared isn't a Nazi."

No, Jared -- that is, Jared Taylor, the American Renaissance leader -- isn't a Nazi, at least not exactly. But he is a right-wing extremist who leads a bona fide hate group. And his audience -- white nationalists -- comprises from top to bottom mainly people who, if not actual fascists, are at least profoundly anti-Semitic.

And, as much as Taylor might view Jews as whites who should be on his side -- and tailor his recruitment accordingly -- it's doubtful his organization can ever escape the gravitational pull of the vast majority of his audience who view Jews as the actual source of all racial problems through their money and connivance.

That becomes more than abundantly evident when you consider how Jews have been treated at past AR conferences:
At the 2000 conference in Herndon, Robert Weissberg — a political scientist who then worked at the University of Illinois — delivered a speech titled "Jews and Blacks: Everything the Goyim Want To Know but Were Afraid To Ask." His thesis was that although Jews and blacks loathe one another, Jews remain frightened of the white right.

Weissberg delivered his remarks with his trademark blend of erudition, Yiddishisms and Borscht Belt timing. He was not a big hit. Taylor heard the complaints: "Now the Jews want to take over this, too."

Weissberg, who is living in New York once again, keeps coming to the conferences. He enjoys the open talk about race, perhaps also the whiff of intellectual danger. At the Saturday morning session, the man sitting next to him doodled on his pad: "No good Jew."

Michael Berman, a New York Jew who wrote a piece for AR in 2003 about his "racial awakening," experienced something similar this year:
Not everyone at last weekend's meeting could stay cool on the Jewish question. Before Faye spoke, Michael Matthews, an attendee from New Jersey, passed Michael Berman in the hotel foyer.

"Are you a Jew?" Matthews demanded. "I don't think you should be here."

Berman was hurt.

"You see, there's no home for me,'' he sighed after Matthews had left. "I'm like a black sheep here and everywhere I go."

I have a hard time feeling bad for Mr. Berman. His eagerness to join and participate in an organization like Taylor's -- which in the end is all about scapegoating and bigotry and little else -- means he and the other Jews who are part of the AR crowd are just embracing their own narrow brand of prejudice (in most cases, against blacks).

But no matter what they do, there will always be the David Dukes and their thousand little minions around to remind them that bigotry is a many-edged sword -- and over history, the biggest and sharpest edge has long been reserved for their own kind.

Thursday, March 02, 2006

The NSA and the 'rule of law'

Torrid Joe at Loaded Orygun points out a potentially significant development in southern Oregon regarding the NSA surveillance scandal.

Namely, it now appears that at least one activist group claims it was harmed by the wiretapped conversations between the director of an Islamic charity and two attorneys, and has filed a suit to shut the program down:
A chapter of the Al-Haramain Islamic Foundation, a defunct Saudi Arabian charity, was established in Ashland in 1997 as a prayer house that also distributed Islamic literature. The chapter was indicted in February 2004 on tax charges alleging it helped launder $150,000 in donations to help al-Qaida fighters in Chechnya in 2000.

Attorneys for the Al-Haramain chapter have insisted the money was used only for charities. But federal prosecutors had claimed in the indictment the money could have been used to assist Muslim militants.

Prosecutors later asked a federal judge to dismiss the charges against the Ashland chapter of the charity. The request was granted last September, over the objections of attorneys for Al-Haramain, who wanted the government to show what evidence it had against the charity.

Of particular note is the fact that both the caller and the persons receiving the calls were within the United States:
The lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court in Portland alleges the NSA illegally wiretapped electronic communications between the chapter and Wendell Belew and Asim Ghafoor, both attorneys in Washington, D.C.

The complaint, which also names President Bush as a defendant, seeks "an order that would require defendants and their agents to halt an illegal and unconstitutional program of electronic surveillance of United States citizens and entities."

The lawsuit was filed on behalf of the two Washington attorneys and the Al-Haramain chapter by three Portland civil rights lawyers: Steven Goldberg, Zaha Hassan and Thomas Nelson.

Some of you will recall that Nelson was the attorney for Brandon Mayfield, the Portland lawyer who was falsely accused of conspiring in the Al Qaeda railway bombings in Madrid. He has something of a track record for winning these kinds of cases.

One of the other attorneys, though, got right to the heart of the matter:
Hassan said the case is about "whether we are prepared to accept after 9/11 that the executive branch of our government has unlimited and unchecked power to engage in unlawful activity at the expense of the civil rights of Americans."

"This is simply a case about the rule of law," Hassan said.

Ah, yes, the rule of law. I remember when it was all the rage.

But then, as Glenn Greenwald pointed out the other day, there are all kinds of longtime conservative values getting booted out the cargo door of their flaming dirigible of a movement these days.

When Republicans in Congress decided to impeach Bill Clinton back in 1998, we heard endless intonations regarding the "rule of law." It was even in the Articles of Impeachment:
In all of this, William Jefferson Clinton has undermined the integrity of his office, has brought disrepute on the Presidency, has betrayed his trust as President and has acted in a manner subversive of the rule of law and justice, to the manifest injury of the people of the United States.

Bulldog Manifesto at DKos had a handy compilation of Clinton-era "rule of law" quotes a couple of months ago. My favorites:
Henry Hyde: "I suggest impeachment is like beauty: apparently in the eye of the beholder. But I hold a different view. And it's not a vengeful one, it's not vindictive, and it's not craven. It's just a concern for the Constitution and a high respect for the rule of law. ... as a lawyer and a legislator for most of my very long life, I have a particular reverence for our legal system. It protects the innocent, it punishes the guilty, it defends the powerless, it guards freedom, it summons the noblest instincts of the human spirit. The rule of law protects you and it protects me from the midnight fire on our roof or the 3 a.m. knock on our door."

James Sensenbrenner: "What is on trial here is the truth and the rule of law. Our failure to bring President Clinton to account for his lying under oath and preventing the courts from administering equal justice under law, will cause a cancer to be present in our society for generations. I want those parents who ask me the questions, to be able to tell their children that even if you are president of the United States, if you lie when sworn 'to tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth,' you will face the consequences of that action, even when you don't accept the responsibility for them."

This only scatches the surface. Among many others, there was notably this from the late Barbra Olson:
"I would not call myself a conservative if I thought the rule of law could be contorted and twisted to my own personal views."

Indeed, after the impeachment failed, a number of conservatives declared the rule of law dead because of Bill Clinton.

That's it! It's all Bill Clinton's fault! The Clenis Strikes Again! Aaaiiieeee!

I should've known.

UPDATE: The Washington Post reports that the wiretapped conversations apparently took place while the director of the charity was in Saudi Arabia, not in Oregon. So it appears that, in this case at least, it did not occur entirely as domestic surveillance.

Crying terrorist

Michelle Malkin brings us a fresh update on the Oklahoma suicide bomber who was killed last year in Norman. Recall, if you will, that Malkin and her cronies drummed up the case last year because they believed that the bomber, a young fellow named Joel Hinrichs, might have ties to Islamic terrorists.

Except that, well, he didn't.

She links to a Daily Oklahoman story that finds the following:
A Norman police bomb expert said Tuesday he does not believe University of Oklahoma student Joel Henry Hinrichs III committed suicide by blowing himself up outside a packed football stadium.
"I believe he accidentally blew himself up," Sgt. George Mauldin said.

Mauldin said Hinrichs, 21, an engineering student, had two to three pounds of triacetone triperoxide, commonly known as TATP, in a backpack in his lap when it exploded Oct. 1.

When asked if he believed Hinrichs meant to enter the stadium with the explosives, Mauldin replied, "I don't believe he intended for an explosion to occur at that spot (on the park bench)."

In other words, it seems possible he intended for the detonation to occur inside the stadium. But it's only one of several possibilities -- including that he was carrying the device for thrills and didn't intend for it to go off at all.

In any event, there's simply no evidence whatsoever in the story that Hinrichs may have been an Islamic terrorist -- which Malkin, it must be said, doesn't suggest explicitly this time out. But given her previous coverage of the case, that appears to be the entire purpose of this post, complete with nyah-nyahs at the many people who had good reasons -- and still do -- for doubting that he was an Islamic terrorist.

As I pointed out before, it's far more likely he was more in the Tim McVeigh vein of bomber. That doesn't seem to have crossed Malkin's radar just yet.

Curious, that. Especially since the Oklahoma Daily covered the same event, and carried further remarks from the same Sgt. Maugham:
The suspicions of an Islamic connection were shown to be false, Mauldin said.

... Mauldin said he thought of members of the American Taliban when he saw the driver license photograph.

"They all thought the same thing I thought," Mauldin said. "This looks like an Islamic terrorist."

But while Mauldin and others did have initial reactions, he said many media misrepresented the facts in the aftermath of the explosion, speculating about whether Hinrichs attempted to enter the stadium and whether he was connected to Muslim organizations in Norman.

It's one thing to have an initial suspicion based on appearances. It's completely another to cling desperately to that suspicion when all the succeeding evidence makes it clearly groundless.

[Hat tip to Malkin(s)Watch, and commenter Cam.]

The Cro-Magnon Renaissance

Some other worthwhile reading can be found at Ignorant Hussy, which fills us in on the details from last weekend's American Renaissance gathering in the D.C. area. Funny thing: there's no Robert Stacy McCain report on it this year in the Washington Times, as has been his tradition.

And as long as we're talking about white supremacists promoting their agendas, be sure to check out Isis' images from the Orlando neo-Nazi rally of last weekend.

And if you need a break from all those swastikas, read Nancy Goldstein's remarkable piece on Laurel Hester, a New Jersey policewoman who recently passed away after fighting to win the right to name her partner, Stacie Andree, the beneficiary of her pension. Hester, in this instance, was fighting the Cro-Magnons who sit on county boards and wonder if allowing lesbians equal civil rights would "violate the sanctity of marriage."

The neo-Nazis' imposture

Be sure to check out the report from George Howland in the Seattle Weekly on the neo-Nazis in Washington prisons posing as Jews:
Jewish chaplain Gary Friedman wasn't surprised when he learned that incarcerated neo-Nazi gang members were claiming to be Jews at the Clallam Bay Corrections Center on the Olympic Peninsula. In fact, the chairman of the Seattle-based Jewish Prisoner Services International had been expecting the news. Nationwide, "There is this amazing phenomenon of non-Jews claiming to be Jewish," says Friedman.

Across the country, prisoners of every ethnicity, faith, and political viewpoint, including neo-Nazis, latch onto Judaism for a variety of reasons. Of the 120 prisoners in this state who are granted a kosher diet, only a dozen are Jewish, Friedman says. Seattle Weekly's interviews with Washington prisoners who have declared themselves Jewish and are receiving kosher food have yet to yield an actual Jew. Interviews with these prisoners and prison officials reveal a host of reasons for the fakery. Some like the prison kosher diet better than regular institutional chow—one prisoner says it tastes better, another claims it's more nutritious, and a third says it helped him lose weight. Others use the opportunity to write to Jewish organizations asking for money. "All us Jews are rich, right? We get deposit slips for inmate accounts!" says Friedman.

It seems that most of these claims are made to get the kosher meals, which tend to be better than standard prison fare.

This immediate brought to my mind the dietary habits of some Christian Identity folks, who come to their beliefs -- including the notion that Jews are the descendants of Satan and that nonwhites are soulless "mud people" -- from an arcane and frankly dubious reading of the Old Testament. But because of that, they also observe closely the many dietary prohibitions and restrictions.

The Montana Freemen were especially noteworthy for this. During their 81-day standoff in Jordan, meeting their dietary needs was part of their ongoing negotiations with the FBI.

In any event, the piece also delves into a prison-based outfit called the Aryan Family, which seems to be unique to the Clallam Bay prison; the Aryan Brotherhood is far more widespread. But the piece gives some real insights into how these groups operate, in and out of prison. Definitely worth a full read.

Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Springtime for Hitler

Maybe, if all these neo-Nazis keep insisting on dragging their sorry belief systems out of the closet and parading them about in hopes of inciting a riot, the time has finally come to bring out the most dreaded weapon in a free society's arsenal: laughter.

Maybe, instead of just showing up to oppose them, we take it the next step. We laugh at them.

Rick at OlyBlog proposed this as a constructive way to deal with our recent local infestation of the National Socialist Movement's recruitment drive:
I've been considering the following diabolical plan, and I ran it by my class this morning and got a big thumbs up. Here's what we do:

-- Make lots of costumes of Nazis, only make them outrageous, cartoonish, and fantastic.

-- We wear these costumes to the next NSM rally that is scheduled in July at the State Capitol.

-- We prance around in our surreal nazi costumes, making statements about how persecuted and abused we are.

This strategy of mockery has several attractive features. Our presence will deter those who may be vulnerable to recruitment, but would change the dynamic of the demonstration from one of confrontation to one of humor and farce. The comical approach will make their claims about being an abused minority look hysterical. It will make it very hard for them to spin any photos taken from the event. Finally, it will be great fun for us to think of creative ways to dress like Nazis. (The more like Village People, the better!)

I think this is a great idea, for number of reasons:
-- It will channel the anger and energy of the opposition in very constructive direction, and lighten up the whole affair.

-- Humor takes the sting out of their message, and denies them any kind of victory.

-- It's also more persuasive than "white power" chants.

-- It will drive the Nazis, who take themselves quite seriously and want desperately to be taken seriously, nuts. OK, more nuts.

Of course, I'd also be in favor of sponsoring a Nazi Nutball Film Festival in conjunction with all this. You know, show films like The Great Dictator and The Producers.

Meanwhile, the Ghost of Lenny Bruce wonders just what those Easter egg Nazis were thinking. And he reminds us of an old joke:
Q: How many Nazi skinheads does it take to change a light bulb?

A: Eight. One to change the bulb, the other seven to back him up.

I can't think of any better way to chase these people off the public stage than to laugh them off it.

Monday, February 27, 2006

Neo-Nazis in the 'hood

[Photo by Julie Fletcher/Orlando Sentinel]

Meanwhile, on the other side of the country, the same neo-Nazi organization that has been raising its profile out here brought its roadshow to Orlando this last weekend, intending to promote the notion that "the crime problem is a race problem." But they wound up not getting the message out:
More than 500 counter-protesters held back by 300 police officers drowned out the message of a neo-Nazi group that marched through Orlando's historic black Parramore neighborhood Saturday.

Twenty-two members of the National Socialist Movement, some wearing khaki uniforms with swastika armbands, finished their march with a rally outside the federal courthouse that could not be heard over the jeering crowd.

The group shut down the rally 90 minutes early and left town.

Seventeen people were arrested, all of them from the crowd separated from the neo-Nazis by lines of police in riot gear.

Police and civic leaders expressed pride that the event ended without the violence some had feared.

"I've lived here since 1944, and I've never been more proud of Orlando, Orange County and Central Florida," said former legislator Alzo J. Reddick, one of the organizers of the Be Cool campaign that urged residents to ignore the march and the rally.

Though there were 17 arrests and some minor violence, it was all a distinct contrast to what happened earlier this year in Toledo when the same organization attempted the same tactics -- namely, marching into a mixed-race residential neighborhood and deliberately antagonizing the people who lived there. In that case, the police were poorly prepared to deal with the NSM's failure to follow the terms of its permit, which meant that they wound up holding an impromptu rally at the local high school rather than marching through the neighborhood, and as security fell apart, the anger of the residents at having their home streets invaded boiled over into rioting and random violence.

That is, of course, exactly why the NSM holds its rallies the way it does: to maximize the insult and to inspire violence. Their entire purpose is to instigate it by taking their abusive and hateful rhetoric right into people's neighborhoods.

It's important to note that there was a substantial presence of an anti-Nazi crowd in Orlando -- and it was by and large very well behaved. Moreover, their presence forced the Nazis to shut down early and skedaddle; they got the message -- that their presence was unwelcome -- loud and clear.

This puts the lie to the hope of some civic leaders, including the Orlando Sentinel's editors, that perhaps just ignoring the Nazis would be more effective. Yet the same state senator that the paper chastised in fact, as their own story reported, led a powerful contingent of silent opposition to the rally whose presence made a real difference. The Sentinel's plan for everyone to "stay away" might have worked, but the actual outcome was far more powerful and effective a response.

No doubt, some of the pre-rally organization also made a difference:
Under a response dubbed "Operation Be Cool," community leaders and the Police Department hope to avoid a repeat of Toledo, where angry counter-demonstrators clashed with police in anticipation of a march by a few members of the National Socialist Movement. The riot in October resulted in 114 arrests and 12 injured officers.

The Orlando police, NAACP, black ministers and other leaders are urging people to avoid the area during the march. Posters on storefronts along West Church Street urge residents to "Dis & Dismiss Ignorant Racists . . . They expect you to come downtown to confront them. Be Cool! Don't be drawn into violence."

"Stay home. Stay away. There won't be a problem. Everybody will be safe, and it will be over," police Chief Michael McCoy said.

Earl Dunn, who runs Paradise Island Cafe on West Church Street, said he plans to close his business Saturday.

"Customers will be afraid of what these guys can do," he said. "It's best for us to close that day."

But down the street, Andria Brown said she intends to keep her store open in defiance of the white supremacists.

"Let them have their silly thing. I'm going to be right here," said the owner of Zion's Daughter Alterations.

Several Parramore residents questioned why the city would allow white supremacists to parade their hate through a black neighborhood. The city said it had no choice.

"We live in a country where there is freedom of speech," said Reggie McGill of the Orlando mayor's office.

Orlando was stuck in a dilemma that faces many cities confronted with events like neo-Nazi rallies for the first time.

All cities have ordinances in place that carefully limit the circumstances of marches, parades, rallies, and the like, and regulate them under a permit system. But the Supreme Court rulings on these issues have been fairly consistent in knocking down restrictions limiting where these rallies can occur, including residential neighborhoods:
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia stated in Christian Knights of KKK v. District of Columbia that when using a public forum, "...speakers do not have a constitutional right to convey their message whenever, wherever and however they please."

Accordingly, the government may regulate a marcher's use of the streets based on legitimate interests, such as: 1) Accommodating conflicting demands by potential users for the same place; 2) protecting those who are not interested onlookers, like a "captive audience" in a residential neighborhood, from the adverse collateral effects of the speech; and 3) protecting public order.

The court emphasized that a permit process cannot be used to "...impose even a place restriction on a speaker's use of a public forum on the basis of what the speaker will say, unless there is a compelling interest for doing so, and the restriction is necessary to serve the asserted compelling interest."

The court ruled the city's denial of a permit request from the Ku Klux Klan to march 11 blocks and the resulting decision to limit the march to only 4 blocks was unconstitutionally based on anticipated listener reaction, which turns on the group marching, the message of the group, and the extent of antagonism, discord, and strife the march would generate.

However, the court also held that a restriction based on the threat of violence could be constitutionally justified if that threat of violence is beyond reasonable control of the police.

... Nonetheless, because of conflicting police testimony and evidence, the court concluded the threat of violence posed by the proposed Klan march was not beyond reasonable police control and that the restriction therefore violated the first amendment.

It's clear that Orlando officials concluded that they could provide reasonable police control, and so had no grounds for limiting the planned march route.

However, it's worth noting that the NSM is taking to planning its rallies in residential neighborhoods, which is one of the reasons for the new volatility of their appearances. As I noted before, this amounts to real harassment, particularly when the racial insults and chants start. In the Orlando case, the entire rally was predicated on the notion that the neighborhood where the rally was to occur was a major source of criminality.

I think the fact that these are being planned primarily for residential neighborhoods also gives cities some real leeway in circumscribing the reach of these events and containing them in smaller areas where they will harass fewer people in their homes. As noted, the Supreme Court also has placed a high priority on the right of government to keep people secure in their homes ("the State's interest in protecting the well-being, tranquility, and privacy of the home is certainly of the highest order in a free and civilized society"), though it also has knocked down overbroad restrictions against any rallies in neighborhoods. Still, it seems at least feasible to me that restricting a march route based on the need to protect the "captive audience" of the neighborhood from the collateral effects of such a march would pass constitutional muster -- especially since the effects in a case like this are so pronounced.

Still, it strikes me that there's something profoundly wrong with this picture.

An outfit like the NSM -- where the followers can be counted, along with their IQs, in the 25-and-under category -- can go to Orlando in search of a parade permit and emerge saying, "We basically won everything we wanted," and subsequently receive massive amounts of police protection in the ensuing publicity stunt.

But in New York City, antiwar protesters are herded into pens and refused the right to march, or protests of the Republican Convention result in mass arrests.

How exactly did that come to pass?