“White supremacism and latent violence” hallmarks of militia groups
According to an unnamed federal law enforcement official, while remarking on the resurgence and seemingly parallel nature of militia groups growing now, and their virulent activities in the early to mid-1990’s, the potential for relived violence is there, but “[a]ll it’s lacking is a spark.” While being tentative on when such recurrences might break loose, the official averred that he “think[s] it’s only a matter of time before you see threats and violence.”
Such was an excerpt from the latest reports issued by the Southern Poverty Law Center–an organization started in 1971 as a Civil Rights law firm. While the latest report captures the essences that bind the xenophobic and racists natures of both the actuations of the the 1990’s groups and their contemporary extensions, the absence of a complete–or at best a desultory hopscotching of facts across the eras–historical context leaves one wondering, “where did this all come from.” However, so as not to provide a complete disconnect from the past, the SPLC report does state that while the angst against non-white immigrants, blacks, and those considered socio-biologically inferior has remained a cardinal ingredient in the atmosphere fostering previous acts against such aforementioned groups, the difference this time, while scarrierbecause it has the potential of crystallizing al of the disparate militia groups into a single-focused entity is that “the federalgovernment–the entity that almost the entire radical right views as its primary enemy–is headed by a black man.” It appears as if the stakes have been raised.
The binding factor that provides fluidity and continuity to such phenomenon is the notion of white supremacy, and its appurtenant ideological bents that rationalize it. Whereas the forms of vitriolic rhetoric and lethal activities have conventionally accompanied–and have invariably been a part of–such activities, the apprehension and tentativeness of devising an aggreed upon nomenclature of such phenomenon has fallen short of unanimous acquiescence. The terms “white supremacy” and “racism” deliver a stinging din of sorts when receieved by the ears. How can such outrageous, barbaric, and uncivilized occurrences still occur, some people ask themselves, when we are living in post-racialtimes; and the only fear of terrorism and related mass-violent crimes are orchestrated by “others” in foreign lands? Post-racialtimes? We have never experienced post-racial times in a racialized society ignorant of its racial legacies that have incubated it. Even when that putative post-racialized experiment of sorts was implemented post slavery–Reconstruction–the limitations of its merits was reigned in by the same nativist yelps that have always proclaimed that this country is for a certain type of American. I wish I could say that the call was only for a country of whites, however, another blog entry will have to divest that of its seemingly altruistic attitude. For while whites from northern and western Europe were embraced, those whites harking from the southern and eastern provinces were questioned regarding their biologicaland psychological fortitude.
Although the SPLC does detract away from evoking all similarities that could, or do, exist between the rise in the activity level of the militia groups (carrying such names as: Patriots; Oath Keepers; soverigns; Minutement; and Idaho Citizens Constitutional Militia) now and in the 1990’s, some similarities are striking. While threats of terrorism (hell, even the mere mention of terrorism or terrorist) are conventionally ascribed to Muslims, or other-country, and third-world dissenters or revolutionaries, the use of acts against the government and its citizenry are tacitly permitted as long as no-one gets hurt. Whereas “paper terrorism”–a banally subversive form of terrorism where fictitious liens are attached against unsuspecting peoples properties as a means of threat and harassment–is probably deemed less threatening because fatalities didn’t occur, such threats do portend other acts. When mixed with the potential that such threats can manifest–i.e., the historic threats and practices of the KKK; threats that exploded in the worst act of domestic terrorism experienced in American, that being the 1995 explosion of the Federal building in Oklahoma–such warnings as the rise of militant action should be heeded. However, as the SPLC reports, when another period of militia activity and rhetoric escalation occurred, a report was sent to then Attorney General Janet Reno. Perhaps the report was dismissed as outrageous or speculative in nature, absent concrete and circumstantialal facts. But we do know that six months later to that report being delivered, the aforementioned Oklahoma Federal building was bombed.
With the contemptuous rhetoric currently being expressed at town-hall meetings does reach a fever pitch redolent of meetings in the past decades that were supposedly populist in nature, the essence of nativism is there. This “second generation of ideologues,” as the report characterizes today’s militia constituency, are being galvanized by a new group with even more power than did their forebears had; for, this message is being “amplified by a loud new group of ostensibly mainstream media commentators and politicians” (Lou Dobbs, Glenn Beck, Rush Limbaugh, and mostly southern politicians). To say that all that separates the current situation from following in the path of the old is some incendiary device–word, action, or otherwise–is not enough. A review of similar historical incidences, and the willing to accept that racism does exist, even in its institutional forms, is ridding the self of the apathy to confront those fears to call the terrorist just that… and not only some otherworldly creation.