Volume 6 Number 302
From time to time I have written on sub-groups of the far-right, those creeps that keep showing up at legitimate United States protests and making trouble. The pieces I wrote started with the alt-right and then segued into the skinheads, QAnon and Boogaloo, with mentions of the KKK and Proud Boys thrown in. But looking at the pieces minimizes the threat of what they collectively represent. So, this is a go at looking at the “whole enchilada.” This is a look at the threat of violence posed by far-right domestic terrorists (FRDT).
The FRDT, like all extreme right-wingers, believe that whites have their own superior culture, genetically ahead of others. So the whites should, by virtue of their inherent superiority, dominate society. Most feel that whites are being eradicated by ethnic and racial minorities. FRDT think that violent accelerations should occur in Western governments to establish white-only states. It is not uncommon for them to believe that Jews control our government, the media, banks, and the United Nations.
When you stop to think about it, we Americans have had more than our share of violence. After all, our country was launched by a military revolution against England. Then we had a brutal Civil War in which over a half a million men died, and countless were injured. Of course, we have had the KKK since the post-Civil War era, though they had mostly withered away here in the States, after World War II and the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
There was the “wild and woolly west” in the latter half of the 19th century, which has left embedded in us a legacy of a gun mentality. We had a period in the early 20th century, of violent left-wing anarchists, followed by the gangsters of the Roaring Twenties. There were two World Wars and a series of modern peacekeeping ventures that have taken their toll. This was followed by a spate of crime in the 1970s and 1980s, fueled by the drug culture. But in recent years, the crime wave abated, and we have always felt secure on our soil, separated from the rest of the world by two huge oceans.
But in post-war Europe there were remnants taking root who were inspired by Fascist Italy and Nazi Germany. These terrorists aimed to overthrow governments and install nationalist, fascist regimes. They felt that their outrageous behavior would spark events that lead to authoritarian governments. Their targets were those who they considered were left-wing individuals and political opponents, as well as members of groups they considered alien. Such groups didn’t aim to just kill people, but were after representatives of groups that the terrorists considered alien.
Here in the United States, it seemed that the political violence was a thing of the past until the 1990s, when a spate of violence, mostly from the right, started to ramp up. In 1992 there was a shootout in Ruby Ridge, Idaho. by a survivalist white supremacist, Randy Weaver. Then there was the Waco Texas barricade in 1995, where federal agents attacked the Branch Davidian compound in which 75 members of a religious sect died.
Timothy McVeigh, a white supremacist, had been radicalized by those two incidents and was suspicious of the government, partly because of Bill Clinton, who had campaigned for the presidency on a platform of gun control. In April 1995, McVeigh set off a truck explosion that killed 168 at a Federal Building in Oklahoma City. He paid for his crime with the death penalty.
A left-wing anarchist, Ted Kaczynski, the Unabomber, was caught in 1996 after almost 20 years of individual bombings, often in the form of packages mailed to his targets. It emerged that he was doing this to attract attention to the erosion of human freedom and dignity by modern technologies. After pleading guilty, he was given a life sentence, which he is still serving.
And, of course, Americans were horrified by the 9/11 crashing of planes into the World Trade and Pentagon buildings. These were the work of a foreign terrorist group but were another marker that we were not safe in our homeland.
A German economist, Armin Falk, wrote in 2011 that right-wing extremist crime is tied to unemployment rates. Another European paper took this to another level, saying that FRDT increases with economic growth accompanied by rising inequality, that people who lose out under modernism become perpetrators of this kind of violence.
Both these conditions are present here in our country. While there were, up to the pandemic, plenty of jobs here, they didn’t necessarily translate into middle-class jobs; a combination of technology and world markets has wiped out many well-paying jobs. The rifts in our economy were hidden, because there were lots of low-paying jobs available, and the high salaries at the upper end of the scale obscured the gap in a share of the Gross National Product (GNP) for the middle class.
One more leg to this tripod is immigration, which right-wingers fear pushes whites out of jobs. While immigration really isn’t a problem here in the United States, it has been falsely built as a threat by you-know-who. That was the president’s cry when he first came down the Golden Escalator at Trump Towers in 2015. Once he reached the bottom, he started off his presidential campaign by saying, “When Mexico sends its people, they’re not sending their best. … I will immediately terminate President Obama’s illegal executive order on immigration, immediately.”
Fueled by the leader of this country, the attacks on immigrants and other minority groups have only gotten worse since Trump became president. In August 2017, early in his tenure, president Trump sent out a barely disguised “dog whistle” to the FRDT right after a protest and a death in Charlottesville Virginia. He said, and then recanted, that “there were good people on both sides.” The other side alluded to FRDT, who came from all over to create a riot to protest the removal of the statue of the revered southern traitor, Confederate general, Robert E. Lee.
By 2019, it was seen that FRDT were responsible for two-thirds of all the terrorist attacks and plots in the United States. With the increase in protest all over the country and the presidential race heating up in 2020, through May 8th, FRDT were responsible for over 90 percent of these actions. So when we talk about terrorism here in the United States we are talking about the right, not about left, ethnic or religious extremists.
The FRDT situation was exacerbated in 2020 by the Covid-19 pandemic, creating massive illness and economic distress. Then the killing of African-Americans by out-of-control police, and the growth of the Black Lives Matter movement, sent thousands into the streets to protest. This was duck soup for the FRDT and they ramped up to participate in these protests and create civic disruptions.
Since there are a number of FRDT organizations, they operate under a decentralized model. The threat comes from individuals, not groups. It is called “leaderless resistance.” These people love the internet. They use it to operate, organize, and recruit. At one time or another they have used almost all the popular internet and social media sites. It is only now, with increasing heat from Washington, that the communications media are starting to crack down on all types of political disinformation, including the hate groups. FRDT have adopted some foreign terrorist organization methods and their tactics. They are willing to be martyrs.
It must be recognized that FRDT activity is a national problem, not traceable to one region, and affects cities of different sizes. In the last six years there have been right-wing terrorist incidents in 42 states, Washington DC, and Puerto Rico.
Not surprisingly, FRDT has truly found a home with, who else, the president of the United States. It’s no coincidence that in Trump’s first year in office, the Center for Strategic & International Studies of November 7, 2018, showed that the number of terrorist attacks by FRDT perpetrators more than quadrupled. Overall, violence by all hate groups in our country has increased a whopping 55 percent since Trump came to the White House.
As an indication of Trump’s attachment to the far-right, he has retweeted at least 90 posts from pro-QAnon accounts, a far-right group he favors. It was conjectured that QAnon’s wild conspiracy theories would reach such a boiling point that the president would reject them. No such thing happening. Rick Wilson, a Republican strategist, said that “If Trump feels like these people support him 100 percent, he’s gonna protect them and that‘s it.” Trump creates this atmosphere of hate all around him. Nationally, in 2019 alone, there was an increase in homophobic and transphobic organizations of 43 percent.
The President made one of the most memorable remarks in any presidential campaign, in the first presidential debate on September 30, seen by millions of Americans. When asked if he would renounce the support of right-wing extremists, he steered the question around to mentioning Proud Boys, up to then, an obscure FRDT group. He urged them to “stand down and stand by.” This became the touchstone of what he had turned into a three-ringed circus.
It reverberated around the country, and the next day his staffers were valiantly trying to put a positive spin as to what he really meant. Forgggget it. What you say first is what you mean. That’s the way the country saw it, as the polls showed immediately after the debate that Vice President Biden’s lead over the president had now doubled from seven points to 14 points.
It didn’t help that he was constantly interrupting Vice-President Biden, insulting him, beating up on the moderator Chris Wallace, and generally making an ass of himself, to put it mildly. The only good thing for the president that came out of the debate was how membership of the Proud Boys spiked, as they are now proclaiming, “he’s one of us!”– if you want to call that a good thing. So the president did the only thing possible to get this out of the news, he came down with an acute case of the coronavirus a few days later and had to be hospitalized.
While the right-wing surge is going on, the president is beating up on the left-wing extremists, Antifa– you know, that little group that accounts for around five percent of the violence at demonstrations. On August 31, he said at a press briefing, “Department of Homeland Security and the Department of Justice are announcing a joint operation center to investigate the violent, left-wing civil unrest.” Talk about a diversionary tactic. Sure enough, the president further deprecated Antifa, as a cover, in that first presidential debate when questioned about the FRDT movement.
On February 22, 2019, a Trump administration United States Department of Justice official wrote in a New York Times op-ed that “White supremacy and far-right extremism are among the greatest domestic-security threats facing the United States. Regrettably, over the past 25 years, law enforcement, at both the Federal and State levels, has been slow to respond. … Killings committed by individuals and groups associated with far-right extremist groups have risen significantly.”
It rang a bell in Congress. Since 9/11 our country had devoted tremendous resources against the threat of international terrorism. Now, for the first time, our government is recognizing the true threat of domestic terrorism. Only this September, Bill S.894, which quoted that letter in its preamble, has just passed the House. For the first time, rather than just tracking extremist groups, our government would have a mandate to take proactive stances against these groups. The bill is now being reviewed by the Senate, seeking bi-partisan approval. Whether Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell will derail it is not known. But 2021 could change the situation. The country needs more protection against domestic violence, particularly FRDT.
Also, the extremist groups wouldn’t be flourishing the way they have without the aid of the social media. So far, led by Facebook, they have been slow to respond to pressure to rein in abusive political misinformation. Unlike other media, print and broadcast, a 1996 federal law prevents suits for misinformation against social media. This law, to protect the then-nascent industry, says that,” No provider or user on an interactive computer service shall be treated as the publisher or speaker of any information provided by another information content provider.”
Repealing that law would make the social media as responsible as other media are, or risk lawsuits by offended parties. It would, at last, cause the social media communications vehicles to be responsible citizens. Society would be amazed at how fast they would clean up their act if they were facing the possibility of endless lawsuits. If this happens the scourge of the FRDT and other rogue groups in our country would be downgraded tremendously.
“Individuals are urged to practice “satyagraha” or truth force. Satyagraha is a weapon of the strong; it admits of no violence under any circumstances whatever; and it always insists upon the truth.”
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