|Posted on Friday, July 30, 2010|
By Alan Riquelmy | Columbus Ledger-Enquirer
COLUMBUS, Ga. — Orly Taitz, the so-called "birther" attorney who’s led charges across the country against President Barack Obama's legitimacy to hold office, continues to defy a federal court order to pay $20,000 in sanctions and to challenge the judicial system.
The California attorney/dentist/real estate agent has risen to the national stage with her arguments that Obama can't be the president because he wasn't born in America.
Two of her cases in Columbus challenging Obama's legitimacy to hold office were tossed out by U.S. District Court Judge Clay Land. Then her second client, Capt. Connie Rhodes, wrote a letter to the court in September 2009 claiming that Taitz exceeded her authority as an attorney and that she no longer wanted the California lawyer to represent her.
Taitz kept pushing the issue of Obama’s legitimacy with Land, who ultimately gave her a warning and then a time limit to explain why he shouldn’t levy a hefty fine against her. In October 2009, when Taitz did reply, though not to the judge’s specific command of why he shouldn’t sanction her, Land then issued $20,000 in sanctions against her.
Taitz appealed to the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta, and the appeals court upheld Land’s sanctions in May.
She then forwarded U.S. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas a brief for stay, in which she asked that the sanctions be reversed.
According to the Supreme Court’s website, that application was received July 8 and denied by Thomas on July 15.
On July 20, Taitz posted a motion requesting that she be allowed to verify that it is, in fact, Thomas’ signature on the denial of her application. She’s also sent her request for stay to Justice Samuel Alito, though she said a clerk told her it had been returned because of a small technical issue.
“So, they’re playing a new game,” Taitz said Wednesday. “This cannot happen in the Supreme Court of the United States.”
Columbus attorney William Mason, who taught law at Columbus State University, said Taitz raises issues that someone would bring up in a writ of certiorari. To Mason, “writ of certiorari” is the key component. Taitz’s filing is an application for stay.
“It’s not in the proper form or the proper time,” Mason said. “A writ of certiorari is a very formal document. You actually have to send it to a printer and send it in booklet form.”
In addition, the document would state on its cover, “Writ of certiorari.” Inside, it would state “Issues presented,” and it would explain in two or three pages how the appeals court erred, he said.
The Supreme Court gets around 8,000 such writs each year, and they examine about 80 a year, Mason added.
A request for stay is done under extraordinary circumstances once a case has been appealed properly by filing a writ of certiorari, which hasn’t happened. If it had, the issue should have been whether the court could sanction her $20,000. Instead, Mason said, Taitz appears to challenge the underlying argument that Obama can’t legitimately be president.
“There’s no logical way to address what she’s doing,” he said. “I have written certs to the U.S. Supreme Court. This is not how you do it.”
Read more: http://www.ledger-enquirer.com/2010/07/30/...l#ixzz0vCHexPWy
Read the complete story at ledger-enquirer.com
Read more: http://www.mcclatchydc.com/2010/07/30/9840...l#ixzz0vGHyqvId
|Yes, former Bush administration speechwriter and current Washington Post columnist Marc Thiessen’s demand that "WikiLeaks Must Be Stopped" is, as his colleague Eva Rodriguez notes, "more than a little whacky." But it’s useful, too, because an infatuation with the notion of using the military in non-military operations, particularly domestic ones, is a key aspect of the modern American right and of the rightwing authoritarian personality. Examining Thiessen is a good way to understand both.|
Thiessen lays out his premise in his first sentence: "WikiLeaks is not a news organization; it is a criminal enterprise." The premise is silly — unless the Washington Post for whom Thiessen writes and every other news organization that seeks and publishes leaks is a criminal enterprise, too (apparently Thiessen didn’t bother to read 18 USC 793, which he cites as the basis for his opinion about criminality, citing it instead just to sound authoritative). But as whacky as the premise is, it’s nothing compared to Thiessen’s conclusion.
Which is: that the government "employ not only law enforcement but also intelligence and military assets to bring [Wikileaks founder Julian] Assange to justice and put his criminal syndicate out of business." This notion — that crime should be fought with the military — is part of the creeping militarization of American society. You can see it, too, in rightist support for military tribunals to replace civilian courts in trying terror suspects; in the increasing militarization of our border with Mexico; in the numbers of soldiers deployed in American airports and train stations; and in then Vice President Cheney’s attempt to have the military supplant the FBI in arresting terror suspects on American soil.
Thiessen tried to back away from his authoritarian argument when Rodriguez called him on it, but his disavowal rings false. First, Thiessen claims that when he said "military," he only really meant the National Security Agency, because (after all!) the NSA is part of the Department of Defense. But the NSA, which specializes in signals intelligence, would logically fall under the "intelligence assets" Thiessen had already called for is his op-ed. If all Thiessen had in mind was the NSA, the call for "military assets" on top of "intelligence assets" would be redundant. Second, Thiessen claims he was also merely referring to the Defense Department’s Cyber Command. But if by "military assets" he meant only the NSA and the Cyber Command, why didn’t he just specify these two in the first place?
Regardless, the Cyber Command has on its website the following (style, grammar, and clarity-challenged) mission statement:
USCYBERCOM plans, coordinates, integrates, synchronizes, and conducts activities to: direct the operations and defense of specified Department of Defense information networks and; prepare to, and when directed, conduct full-spectrum military cyberspace operations in order to enable actions in all domains, ensure US/Allied freedom of action in cyberspace and deny the same to our adversaries.
This is one of the organizations Thiessen now wants to task with… law enforcement? That Thiessen believes it exculpatory to explain that he was merely calling for the use of the Cyber Command, in addition to the NSA and whatever other "military assets" he might have had in mind, to fight crime is as revealing as his argument itself.
In a probably futile attempt to forestall a barrage of partisan responses, I’ll emphasize that the policies and views I describe above don’t correlate neatly with either of America’s two major political parties. President Obama, for example, has (in addition to escalating the war in Afghanistan and privatizing the one in Iraq) deployed the National Guard to the Mexican border, has secretly deployed special forces to 75 countries, and favors military commissions to try some terror suspects (and indefinite detentions and assassination for others, including American citizens). But the notion that Obama is by any meaningful policy definition liberal is at this point as laughable as it is baseless, and the popular view of Obama as a progressive is testament to the astonishing power of certain brands to outlast the loss of their underlying substance.
Still, my sense is that Republicans argue for authoritarian policies out of conviction, while Democrats cave in to them out of cowardice. The distinction is interesting, though of course in the end the result is the same. Either way, if you believe tasking America’s military with investigating, pursuing, apprehending, holding, trying, and imprisoning criminal suspects and criminals is a profound and insidious threat to democracy, you’ll fight this excrescence wherever you find it.
|By Lee Fang on Aug 23rd, 2010 at 8:00 pm | Think Progress|
This morning, the New Yorker’s Jane Mayer published an explosive investigative piece detailing the role of the Koch family in orchestrating not only the Tea Party movement, but much of the modern right-wing infrastructure. The brothers David and Charles Koch, heirs to the oil and chemical conglomerate Koch Industries, have founded or funded dozens of conservative or libertarian publications, think tanks, and attack groups. Their father, Fred Koch, similarly fueled the paranoid right-wing movements of the fifties and sixties through his financing of the John Birch Society.
Mayer’s piece builds off the original reporting conducted by ThinkProgress since the very beginning of the Tea Party movement. Here’s a review of what we’ve reported:
– In April 2009, ThinkProgress revealed that Americans for Prosperity, a group founded by David Koch, was helping to plan dozens of the first national Tea Party rallies. Americans for Prosperity staffers organized events, from making reservations, to providing talking points and signs, to calling activists to encourage them to participate.
– In August 2009, ThinkProgress obtained an exclusive memo from a Tea Party group supported by Koch’s Americans for Prosperity. The memo outlined various ways for Tea Party activists to intimidate Democratic lawmakers and disrupt their town hall meetings on health reform. ThinkProgress published half a dozen articles exposing the role of Koch-funded groups like “Patients United” in encouraging opposition to health reform. For instance, in Virginia, a Koch-funded operative Ben Marchi assisted a birther who followed Rep. Tom Perriello (D-VA) around, yelling at him at town hall meetings.
– In May 2009, the Wonk Room published a detailed history of Tim Phillips, an astroturf lobbyist Koch appointed to run his Americans for Prosperity front. Phillips had served as a business partner to Jack Abramoff and Ralph Reed.
– Writing in the Boston Globe, ThinkProgress commented on the similarities between David and Charles’ Tea Party movement to their father’s efforts to attack President John Kennedy through the John Birch Society.
– The Wonk Room reported on thirty years of Koch Industry environmental front groups. The timeline showed how Koch tried desperately to smear the cap and trade system set up to address acid rain with a “grassroots” group without a single grassroots member.
– At Rep. Michele Bachmann’s (R-MN) “House Call” rally, ThinkProgress produced a video report exposing Koch for paying for dozens of buses for anti-health reform activists to reach DC. We also captured the picture of a large banner comparing health reform to the Holocaust.
– The Wonk Room investigated Koch Industries’ role in the effort to repeal AB 32, the landmark California climate change clean energy law. The Wonk Room’s video report revealed how Koch Industries’ reliance on high-carbon Canadian crude would become less profitable if similar laws like AB 32 are enacted around the country.
– ThinkProgress reported how a variety of right-wing fronts supported by the Koch family and its political deputies not only helped overturn nearly a hundred years in campaign finance law in the Supreme Court’s Citizens United ruling, but also is lobbying aggressively against the DISCLOSE Act, which would provide transparency into the campaign spending for plutocrats like the Koch family.
– The Wonk Room’s Brad Johnson reported extensively on the multiple climate-denying campaigns orchestrated by the Koch family. Johnson has lampooned some of the Koch family’s more ridiculous attempts at billionaire populism.
– ThinkProgress partnered with Climate Progress to investigate David Koch’s funding of the Smithsonian Institute. We spoke to the Smithsonian director, who continued to express gratitude to Koch, and whitewashed Koch’s role in distorting public knowledge of climate science. Similarly, we have long chronicled the “Swift Boat” style attack campaign conducted by Koch’s various anti-science fronts.
– The Wonk Room reported on how Koch-backed groups and media outlets spread the myth that the so-called “Climategate” e-mails showed that scientists had concealed climate data from the public.
Mayer’s article sheds light on many other ways in which the Koch family has intertwined its business interests with its investment in right-wing groups. She also exposes a serious conflict of interest with David Koch’s position as a board member to the National Cancer Institute, an honor granted to him by President Bush. Mayer notes that while David Koch has been “casting himself as a champion in the fight against cancer, Koch Industries has been lobbying to prevent the E.P.A. from classifying formaldehyde, which the company produces in great quantities, as a ‘known carcinogen’ in humans.”
|By: Blue Texan Tuesday October 26, 2010 10:30 am | Firedoglake|
You know that woman who goaded those brownshirts patriotic, Teabagger supporters of Rand Paul into stomping on her head? She’s an unhinged, left-wing, MoveOn eco-moonbat.
Bitch had it coming.
| - By David | Crooks and Liars "Video Cafe" | October 29, 2010 10:36 AM|
Years after Fox News' Glenn Beck and Bill O'Reilly fantasized about the death of Michael Moore, the filmmaker is finally speaking out.
Moore joined MSNBC's Rachel Maddow Thursday to discuss the recent news that a woman protesting Republican Senate candidate in Kentucky Rand Paul had her head stomped prior to a debate this week.
One Paul supporter is seen in video taken by Fox News channel 41 pushing MoveOn.org activist Lauren Valle to the ground. Tim Profitt, another Paul supporter, then is seen stomping on Valle's head and shoulder. She received a concussion and a sprain as a result of the altercation.
The Paul campaign condemned the attack but the next day the candidate downplayed it as "jockeying" and a "crowd control problem."
That same day, a full-page newspaper ad placed by the Paul campaign prominently displayed Profitt's name as one of the candidate's supporters.
In a Wednesday interview, Profitt called for Valle to apologize to him because he hurt his back in the scuffle.
The Kentucky Democratic Party released an ad Thursday using the head stomping incident to portray Paul in a negative light. They said that because of the ad's violent content, it would only be aired after 10 p.m.
"Do you agree with the Kentucky Democrats turning this brutal incident outside a campaign event into a broader metaphor for what's going on in politics?" Maddow asked Moore Thursday.
"It's not one of those figurative metaphors," Moore replied. "It's a literal one."
"It's so good to see Democrats just coming out and saying just exactly what's going on here, which is if you want to get a little taste of what is ahead after Tuesday, if they win, here you go," he added.
"As people take the side of the guy who stomped on this woman, is that mainstreaming violence?" Maddow asked.
"Yes," Moore replied. "That is exactly what's going on. We've been mainstreaming violence for the last nine years," Moore said. "When I was growing up you, it was like grab the hippie. If you were down south, it was grab the black guy. This young girl, what that represents, I think they're afraid of this younger generation, because the young kids, they're not the bigots their parents and grandparents were."
Moore also noted that Beck had once fantasized about killing him and that "Bill O'Reilly one night said he didn't believe in the death penalty except for Michael Moore."
The specific quote from Beck came in May of 2005, when he said:
Hang on, let me just tell you what I'm thinking. I'm thinking about killing Michael Moore, and I'm wondering if I could kill him myself, or if I would need to hire somebody to do it. No, I think I could. I think he could be looking me in the eye, you know, and I could just be choking the life out -- is this wrong? I stopped wearing my What Would Jesus -- band -- Do, and I've lost all sense of right and wrong now. I used to be able to say, "Yeah, I'd kill Michael Moore," and then I'd see the little band: What Would Jesus Do? And then I'd realize, "Oh, you wouldn't kill Michael Moore. Or at least you wouldn't choke him to death." And you know, well, I'm not sure.
"You can become successful preaching violence and preaching hate," Moore summarized. "We're going to enter a very scary time.".
Naturally, the liberal filmmaker added a plea for viewers to get out and vote for Democrats.
"Boy, I'll tell you, if we don't get on the phones and call people, everybody should get out their address book and send a reminder to be sure and vote on Tuesday," he said. "'I'm going to vote and give the Democrats two more years.' That's what I would really ask your relatives who are on the fence, friends of yours. Say two years isn't enough time for the huge mess that was created. Let's give them two more years. Then we can deal with it if they haven't done the job they were sent there to do."
|By karoli | Crooks and Liars | December 30, 2010 09:00 AM|
Hey, Whoopi Goldberg and Dixie Chicks....Look what happens when the wingers slam the liberal black guy in the White House at a charity event, no less. That's right. Nothing. In fact, it takes over 2 weeks for it to even hit the public airwaves.
I'm not sure what makes me sicker -- what he said or the fact that the crowd (and all those Marines) cheered.
Whoopi Goldberg didn't fare quite so well in 2004 with Slimfast when she spoke at a Kerry fundraiser and mocked George W. Bush. And then there's the Dixie Chicks, pulled off the air after criticizing Bush and the Iraq war.
And of course, let's not forget DC Douglas, the GEICO voiceover guy who was fired after drunk-dialing FreedomWorks and letting them have a piece of his mind.
See, when you're a winger AND you're the corporate CEO, I guess it's totally ok to disrespect the office of the President of the United States and bash him at a fundraiser for little kids and military folks. Or not.
|By: Jim White Tuesday January 11, 2011 4:30 pm | Firedoglake|
Screen capture from Palmetto State Armory website, showing Joe Wilson endorsing the assault rifle component made in honor of his outburst against President Obama.
As we learn on Huffington Post, Palmetto State Armory in South Carolina is “honoring” Joe Wilson for his disruption of Obama’s health care address to a Joint Session of Congress in September, 2009. From the website of the armory:
Palmetto State Armory would like to honor our esteemed congressman Joe Wilson with the release of our new “You Lie” AR-15 lower receiver. These lowers are the same great quality you have come to expect from Palmetto State Armory and feature “You Lie” as the first six digits of the serial number. Only 999 of these will be produced, get yours before they are gone!
These forged lowers are made using high quality 7075-T6 aluminum and are marked “MULTI” to accommodate most builds. Finish is Black Hardcoat Anodize.
What is a “lower reciever”? It’s a key component in assembling your own AR-15, one of the most popular semiautomatic rifles around.
Nope, right-wing rhetoric in response to the health care bill has nothing to do with violence and is not at all related to guns.
And look! If you go to the home page of Palmetto State Armory, you can listen to an endorsement by Glenn Beck!
Screenshot from front page of Palmetto State Armory website where you can push button to listen to Glenn Beck's radio ad for them.
|Crooks and Liars|
January 20, 2011 06:00 PM
A former neo-Nazi fesses up: White-supremacist rhetoric was a foundation of sand
By David Neiwert
If you want some insight into the culture behind the Spokane MLK Day parade bomb attack, read this fascinating bit of self-confession
I want to formally apologize for the image of hate that I helped bring upon this decent community. I could tell you I was ordered to do what I did and that I was young and dumb, manipulated and lied to, but it doesn't change the fact that it was still me. I wish I could take it back.
You don't have to forgive me and I don't blame you if you don't, but I need you, Coeur d'Alene, to know that I and so many before and after me are wrong. Hate is pointless, destructive to everyone involved, selfish, childish, and cowardly.
My name is Zach Beck and this is my story.
I was led to believe that without the white race, civilization as we know it would cease to exist. That the white race is the race of God and therefore it is the duty of the white race to bring forth His will, law, and word on Earth as it is in Heaven. That all non-whites are inferior to the white race and are subjected to our will, God's will. The proof of this? The Holy Bible. This is just a small piece of the foundation of the "white power" movement. I've spent the last 10 years eating, sleeping, talking, walking, thinking and believing this lie.
I was wrong.
I thought this was particularly noteworthy:
I grew up in California and Arizona playing an array of sports. While most kids tried to decide which party they wanted to go to that weekend, I was trying to decide between USC and UCLA. The first concert I attended was the Grateful Dead. My hair was long, my shirts were tie-dyed, and my friends were of every color and background. I dated girls of every race and lost my virginity to a black girl.
Two years later, he was a hardcore neo-Nazi and Aryan Brother. I remember seeing Beck in 2001 accompanying Richard Butler at the court hearings in Coeur d'Alene ordering the Aryan Nations compound be turned over, after the AN lost the property in a lawsuit over an assault by AN thugs. He was awfully baby-faced then, and I remember wondering how young guys like that got recruited into hate groups like the AN.
I also remember, incidentally, that Richard Butler periodically issued stern denunciations of violence as a tactic too.
The Zach Beck story is a reminder, perhaps, that young men can be extremely volatile at that age, especially when it comes to political ideology. People who know, say, a pot-smoking leftie in 2007 might be shocked at the wingnutty, paranoid young man they would encounter in 2011.
Tags: Aryan Nation, domestic terrorism, hate groups, neo-Nazis, Richard Butler, Right-wing extremism, Spokane, Zach Beck
|y: Teddy Partridge Friday January 21, 2011 2:13 pm | Firedoglake "my FDL"|
Backpack from attempted MLK Day bombing in Spokane, WA. (photo: FBI--detail)
The FBI announced today that while there’s “a lot of work ahead” they have achieved “clarity” in their investigation for a suspect in the bomb placed on Spokane’s Martin Luther King parade route on Monday.
Federal investigators indicated today that they have made progress in their efforts to identify the person or persons who left a bomb Monday along the route of the planned Martin Luther King Jr. march.
“We’ve obtained quite a bit of clarity” as to the identity of those believed to be responsible, said Frank Harrill, special agent in charge of the Spokane office of the FBI. “But we still have a lot of work ahead of us.”
The FBI continues to seek leads from the public in the case, which resulted in the re-routing of the King parade commemoration as well as the clearing of several city blocks and business closures while the bomb squad defused the bomb.
Earlier this week, investigators sent the bomb — which other security sources said could have been detonated by a remote triggering device — to the FBI lab in Quantico, Va.
Harrill has indicated that evidence from that analysis — which could take several days — may be needed before investigators levy charges against any potential suspects.
An anonymous official familiar with the case but not authorized to speak about the investigation yesterday provided a very scary off-the-record quote to the Associated Press:
“They haven’t seen anything like this in this country,” the official said. “This was the worst device, and most intentional device, I’ve ever seen.”
I marvel at the lack of attention to this case after America’s Legacy Media went wall-to-wall in November over the Portland ‘bomber’ at our city’s Xmas tree lighting. Maybe we only need to wait for a suspect to be in custody before the current case in Spokane — where there was a real bomb with real, or even historic, lethality — gets that same kind of attention.
|By NICHOLAS K. GERANIOS, Associated Press|
4:08 pm EST Wed 09 Mar 2011
SPOKANE, Wash. – A man accused of leaving a sophisticated bomb along a Martin Luther King Jr. Day parade route in Spokane is known to an organization that tracks hate groups.
Mark Potok of the Southern Poverty Law Center tells The Associated Press that Kevin Harpham was a member of the white supremacist National Alliance in 2004. But Potok says his organization doesn't know when he joined or if he has left the group.
The 36-year-old Harpham is from the Colville area in northeastern Washington. He was arrested Wednesday and is expected to appear in federal court at 3:30 p.m. on charges of trying to use a weapon of mass destruction and possession of an unregistered explosive device.
It wasn't clear if Harpham has a lawyer.
The bomb was discovered before it went off and no one was injured.
|By NICHOLAS K. GERANIOS, Associated Press – Wed Jun 22, 3:31 am ET|
KALISPELL, Mont. – With its jagged peaks, glistening lakes and lush valleys, the Inland Northwest — stretching from eastern Washington to Montana's Glacier National Park — is a stunningly beautiful and remote part of the country.
It also is a cradle for sometimes-violent anti-government activity — a reputation most recently rekindled by the search for David Burgert. The former Kalispell militia leader is accused of opening fire on sheriff's deputies on a remote logging road in Lolo National Forest.
After a lull following the demise of the Idaho-based neo-Nazi Aryan Nations in 2000, anti-government and white supremacist groups and individuals may be reviving in the Inland Northwest. It's a mostly white, mostly rural area with few job opportunities and a history of extreme activists.
Experts say the number of radical right groups is growing across the country because of the poor state of the economy, rising immigration and fears that President Barack Obama's administration has an agenda to curtail individual liberties.
They include so-called patriot groups, which fear one-world government and don't accept the federal government's authority. And they like northwest Montana because there is no dominant major city with liberal politics. It also has a deep libertarian streak and live-and-let-live attitude, said Travis McAdam, executive director of the Helena-based Montana Human Rights Network, an anti-hate group.
"A lot of anti-government energy has been building up over the last couple of years," McAdam said.
Sometimes the energy boils over.
Burgert is accused of firing shots at Missoula County sheriff's deputies June 12 before he disappeared into the Lolo National Forest. Burgert is a longtime patriot activist who spent eight years in prison on weapons charges — he had a machine gun when he was arrested — and U.S. authorities charged him at the time with trying to spark a revolution. He was released in 2010.
"He harbors great animosity for law enforcement and government in general," Missoula County Sheriff Carl Ibsen said.
In January, an attempt was made in Spokane to bomb the city's Martin Luther King Jr. Day parade. The bomb was found and disarmed before it could explode. The FBI called it an act of domestic terrorism that could have killed and injured many people.
White supremacist Kevin Harpham has been charged in the case and could face life in prison. His trial begins in August.
A patriot group called Flathead Liberty Bell held a convention just last weekend, featuring right-wing speakers and sale of survival gear for what organizers believe is a coming showdown with federal authorities. It was a flashback to the 1990s, when groups like the Militia of Montana regularly held such expos, McAdam said.
The number of hate groups and patriot groups, which do not all share beliefs and conduct, has been growing across the country since Obama was elected in 2008, according to an annual report by the Southern Poverty Law Center in Montgomery, Ala., which tracks extremist groups and individuals.
"Montana is developing into a hotbed," said Mark Potok, director of the SPLC Intelligence Project.
SPLC's 2010 compilation of active hate groups found 1,002 nationwide, with no more than 12 in the Inland Northwest between Missoula and Spokane.
Area residents complain hate group activities here seem to draw more attention than they do in other regions of the country.
"We have a small population, so they get noticed more," said Travis Suzuki, a 22-year-old Missoula college student.
"We feel very safe around here," said Kalispell Mayor Tammi Fisher, who said there is no indication tourism has been hurt by the presence of these groups, or that government employees have been threatened.
A fast-growing city of 20,000 hemmed in by the Rocky Mountains and Flathead Lake, Kalispell has a strong tourist industry thanks to its lakes, golf courses and ski resorts, and it's a major gateway to Glacier National Park.
Montana developed a reputation as a place for violent extremists in the mid-1990s with the capture of "Unabomber" Theodore Kaczynski and a standoff involving a patriot group called the Montana Freemen.
The Unabomber was the FBI code name for Kaczynski, who engaged in a mail bombing spree that spanned nearly 20 years, killing three people. He was living near Lincoln, Mont., when he was arrested in 1996.
The Montana Freemen were a Christian Patriot group based outside the town of Jordan. Members expressed belief in individual sovereignty and in 1996 engaged in an 81-day armed standoff with the FBI before surrendering.
Some of the more well-known figures in the anti-government movement are re-emerging in the Kalispell area, according to news reports and the SPLC.
They include former Aryan Nations member Karl Gharst, who last year screened a movie, "Epic: The Story of the Waffen SS," at the Kalispell library. The showing drew 200 protesters.
White supremacist April Goede and her twin daughters — who once formed the racist pop singing group Prussian Blue — have moved to Kalispell.
Others include patriot leader and former Constitution Party vice presidential candidate Chuck Baldwin, who believes the U.S. is headed for a fight between big-government globalists and independent patriots; Stewart Rhodes, founder of Oath Keepers, which wants law enforcement officers and military personnel to sign an oath against a one-world government conspiracy; and Randy Weaver, whose standoff with federal marshals at Ruby Ridge, Idaho, in 1992 kick-started the modern patriot movement.
Fisher said the Kalispell community does have its limits, as Gharst found out when he showed the pro-Nazi movie. But groups espousing their own views on government are tolerated.
"Montana has a live and let live mentality, and respect for each other's privacy and beliefs," the mayor said. "Sometimes that leads to people with beliefs outside the norm finding refuge in the Flathead Valley."
|The Raw Story|
By David Edwards
Friday, March 9, 2012 10:16 EST
Militia groups on the rise (YouTube)
Topics: Obama ♦ southern poverty law center
Fears that the nation’s first black president will be re-elected has fueled the dramatic growth extremists groups in the U.S. over the past year, according to a report from a civil rights organization that tracks these groups.
The number of groups in the anti-government “Patriot” movement have sky rocketed 755 percent since President Barack Obama has been elected, the Southern Poverty Law Center’s (SPLC) yearly report found.
“These groups are becoming more and more aware as they watch the primary season unfold that Obama is fairly likely to win and some of them are having meltdowns over this,” Southern Poverty Law Center senior fellow Mark Potok told Raw Story. “They’re looking at four more years under a very hated black president — hated by them. So, we’re seeing signs of real anger over that. People saying we’re at war already, saying go out and buy AK-47s and hollow-point bullets, get tools to derail trains.”
Unlike traditional hate groups, “Patriot” groups subscribe to a set of conspiracy theories and see the government as their primary enemy.
“Basically what ‘Patriot’ groups think is that the federal government is an evil cabal in the hands of bad people,” Potok explained. “The government is about to impose martial law on the country, very probably with the help of foreign troops, perhaps U.N. troops. They intend to confiscate all guns from Americans. Those liberty-loving Americans who resisted will be thrown into concentration camps that have secretly constructed by FEMA. And ultimately the government will force us all into a socialistic kind of one-world government, the so-called New World Order.”
In addition to the staggering growth of groups in the “Patriot” movement, hate groups in general have grown from 926 in 2008 to 1018 last year. Anti-LGBT groups have grown by 27 percent and anti-Muslim groups have triple from 10 to 30 in just one year.
Ku Klux Klan groups actually fell from 221 to 152 last year, largely because the second largest Klan group — the Brotherhood of Klans in Ohio — folded after its leader, Jeremy Parker, joined a faction of the Aryan Nations.
Overall, Potok said that it was the disturbing growth by ‘Patriot’ groups that shocked the Southern Poverty Law Center.
“We were all astounded by the numbers this year,” Potok told Raw Story. “We’ve seen a very, very rapid growth in the ‘Patriot’ movement in the prior two years. We all expected that just had to tail off, that this kind of growth couldn’t continue for another year. But the reality is that we saw something close to 450 new groups appear on the scene last year.”
If the president is successful in his re-election bid, Potok sees no reason that the dramatic growth will not continue.
“I think if Obama is re-elected, this is very likely to get worse before it gets better,” he said. “We’re already seeing signs of anger in groups that are coming to believe that Obama will probably win the election so they’re going a bit crazy out there.”
David Edwards has served as an editor at Raw Story since 2006. His work can also be found at Crooks & Liars, and he's also been published at The BRAD BLOG. He came to Raw Story after working as a network manager for the state of North Carolina and as as engineer developing enterprise resource planning software. Follow him on Twitter at @DavidEdwards.
|By: Pam Spaulding Friday April 6, 2012 6:38 pm | Firedoglake|
And the right wing said it wasn’t about race (on their side), didn’t they? Neo-Nazis have never been affiliated with the left; they’ve always been on the fringe anarchist/chaos/gov’t overthrow wing of the GOP, because there’s no way these white supremacists would vote Dem. After all, that party is polluted with black, brown…you know, the Mud People.
It’s nice to see the white power movement cater to the racial divisions brought up by the Trayvon Martin murder, surfacing as “good citizens” like this, reported by the Miami New Times’ Michael Miller:
The patrols are to protect “white citizens in the area who are concerned for their safety” in the wake of the Trayvon Martin shooting last month, says Commander Jeff Schoep of the National Socialist Movement. “We are not advocating any type of violence or attacks on anybody, but we are prepared for it,” he says. “We are not the type of white people who are going to be walked all over.”
Because nothing diffuses racial tension like gun-toting racial separatists patrolling an already on-edge community.
…The patrols are comprised of between 10 and 20 locals and “volunteers” from across the state, including some from Miami, he added. He couldn’t go into specifics on what kind of firepower, exactly, the patrols had with them.
…Asked if the patrols wouldn’t just make things worse — spark a race riot, for instance — Schoep insisted they were simply a “show of solidarity with the white community down there” and “wouldn’t intimidate anybody.”
Apparently this gallantry was spurred on by the announcement that some group, the New Black Panther Party, offered a $10,000 bounty for a citizens’ arrest of George Zimmerman, so the “patriots” feared for the city’s white citizenry (does that include “white Hispanics” only, or the brown ones too?).
I thought the police department was there to protect all of Sanford’s citizens (when it’s not torpedoing its own bad police work/f’ing up cases involving black folks as victims), but as there’s nothing like having this paramilitary crowd with strong views on race stepping in to do the job. You know, like the KKK, it’s not intimidating at all.
Here’s the Southern Poverty Law Center’s profile of Schoep and the National Socialist Movement. A snippet:
The NSM is now one of the largest neo-Nazi organizations in the country. The resurgence of the NSM began in 2004, in the wake of the deaths of the country’s two major neo-Nazi leaders, the National Alliance’s William Pierce (d. 2002) and the Aryan Nations’ Richard Butler (d. 2004). Also contributing to the vacuum in neo-Nazi leadership of the nation was the 2004 imprisonment of Matt Hale, the leader of the World Church of the Creator. Hale was sentenced to 40 years in federal prison for soliciting the murder of a federal judge.
Starting in 2004, the NSM began to overshadow all other American neo-Nazi groups, including two,White Revolution and National Vanguard, that emerged from the ashes of the National Alliance. The NSM made its presence felt through frequent theatrical street actions undertaken in Nazi garb. Unlike other neo-Nazi outfits, the NSM adopted an open-arms recruiting policy that allowed members of other white supremacist groups to participate in NSM actions and join the NSM.
Schoep was only 21 years old when he took control of the group in 1994, and his relatively young age has helped him attract a younger generation of neo-Nazis. In fact, under Schoep’s leadership, the NSM set up a unit specifically focused on recruiting teens that it called its Viking Youth Corps. It also launched a Women’s Division and a Skinhead Division. It bolstered its online presence with a revamped website featuring the group’s newsletter, downloadable leaflets for printing and distribution, and field reports from NSM chapters around the country. The group created its own hate rock music label, NSM88 Records, and in April 2007 purchased the now-popular white supremacist social networking site New Saxon.
NSM ideology mirrors that of the original American Nazi Party. The group openly idolizes Adolf Hitler, described in NSM propaganda as, “Our Fuhrer, the beloved Holy Father of our age … a visionary in every respect.” NSM says only heterosexual “pure-blood whites” should be allowed U.S. citizenship and that all nonwhites should be deported, regardless of legal status. As Schoep put it: “The Constitution was written by white men alone. Therefore, it was intended for whites alone.”
|Southern Poverty Law Center|
Intelligence Report, Summer 2012, Issue Number: 146
By Intelligence Report Staff
The last decade has seen major changes in the American radical right. What was once a world largely dominated by a few relatively well-organized groups has become a scene populated by large numbers of smaller, weaker groups, with only a handful led by the kind of charismatic chieftains that characterized the 1990s. At the same time, there has been explosive growth in several sectors of the radical right, especially in the last few years, much of it driven by anger over the diminishing white majority (the Census Bureau has predicted that non-Hispanic whites will fall to less than 50% of the population by 2050) and the severe dislocations caused by a still-ailing economy. An anti-Muslim movement, almost entirely ginned up by political opportunists and hard-line Islamophobes, has grown enormously since taking off in 2010, when reported anti-Muslim hate crimes went up by 50%. During the same time frame, a number of religious-right anti-gay groups, enraged and on the defensive as swelling majorities of Americans drop their opposition to same-sex marriage and other LGBT rights, have grown extraordinarily vicious in their propaganda. Most dramatically, so-called “Patriot” groups — which, unlike most hate groups, see the federal government as their primary enemy — have grown explosively in just the last three years, going from 149 groups in 2008 to 1,274 last year. As a result of all these developments and others, a new crop of leaders has come to the fore. Some are longtime activists of the radical right, but others have become active only in recent years. What follows is an alphabetized series of short profiles of key men and women activists of the radical right — 30 to watch.
Michael L. Brown
Kevin J. DeAnna
Joseph Francis Farah
Morris L. Gulett
Alex E. Jones
Randal Lee Krager
Jason "Molotov" Mitchell
Elmer Stewart Rhodes
Malik Zulu Shabazz
Samuel Jared Taylor
James Timothy Turner
Michael Brian Vanderboegh
Pastor John Weaver
|Newspaper Runs Ad Suggesting President Obama And Democrats Want To Murder Christians|
The Daily Advertiser, a Gannett-owned paper serving central Louisiana, is standing by its decision to run an advertisement today in which a far-right extremist group suggests that President Obama and Democrats are conspiring to murder Catholics and Christians. The ad shows a photograph of a Catholic...
Author and historian Juan Cole tells us about America's terrorism double standard in this week's Q&A: "I’m not saying that the right wing is necessarily sympathetic to white supremacism, but I think that they don’t view it as being as alarming as it actually is."
August 16, 2012
by Lauren Feeney
On his oft-cited blog Informed Comment, author, scholar and historian Juan Cole writes about the Middle East and American politics. In the wake of the attack at a Sikh temple in Wisconsin, Cole compared our nation’s response to what he calls “white terrorism” with its response to “other” (read: Islamic) terrorism. We reached him by phone to learn more.
Lauren Feeney: The two recent mass shootings at a movie theater in Colorado and a Sikh temple in Wisconsin — were they terrorism?
Juan Cole: The federal code contains a definition of terrorism — it’s the deployment of coercion or violence against civilians for the accomplishment of a political purpose. The movie theater incident wasn’t terrorism, as far as anybody can tell. That was mental illness. As for the Sikh temple shootings, I think there’s ample evidence that this individual was motivated by a political program of hatred for what he considered to be non-whites. The likelihood is that he thought he was targeting a Muslim congregation, because Sikhs wear turbans and beards and a lot of uneducated Americans mistake Sikhs for Muslims.
Feeney: CNN’s CNN’s Peter Bergen recently reported that militants linked to al-Qaeda or inspired by the jihad-instilled ideology have carried out four terrorist attacks in the U.S. since September 11th, while “right-wing extremists” like Wade Michael Page have committed at least eight. Why then do you think Americans still equate terror with Islam?
Cole: There is a certain amount of, frankly, latent racism in this issue. Sociologists have long remarked that there’s a kind of mainstream, who are unmarked, and minorities, who are marked. In other words, if a bank robber is white, the reporting on the bank robbery won’t mention that in its news. It’ll just say, “The bank was robbed.” If the bank robber is a member of a minority, then the ethnicity of the bank robber will typically be mentioned. I think the same thing, marked and unmarked identities, operates with regard to terrorism.
Sikh temple shooter Wade Michael Page, left; Fort Hood shooter Nadal Hasan, right. (AP)
Sikh temple shooter Wade Michael Page, left; Fort Hood shooter Nadal Hasan, right. (AP)
Feeney: What’s been in the difference in government response between mass shooting incidents carried out by white men, and the Fort Hood shootings for example, in which the perpetrator was Muslim?
Cole: With the Fort Hood shootings, there were very strong suspicions that the shooter acted as part of a plot, part of a network. Congressional hearings were held. The fact that he had ever read or viewed YouTube videos from Muslim radicals in Yemen was brought up. It was very difficult for investigators to see this person as a loner or as a mentally disturbed person. The instinct was to find the network, find the plot.
On the contrary, when a Department of Homeland Security employee, Daryl Johnson, in 2009, wrote a position paper on the need to track hate groups and white supremacists, there were congressmen who attacked him.
Some of the themes that are invoked by the white supremacists are themes that have become relatively mainstreamed in right wing thinking in the United States. I’m not saying that the right wing is necessarily sympathetic to white supremacism, but I think that they don’t view it as being as alarming as it actually is.
Feeney: What about the killings that happen every day in our inner cities? How does the government reaction compare when the crime isn’t necessarily terrorism per se, but people are still losing there lives?
Cole: The use of a weapon or a device for the purposes of terrorism typically draws a very strong response from law enforcement. Ways are thought of to try to block the use that weapon. But the use of semiautomatic weapons by drug gangs, white supremacist terrorists, the mentally ill and so forth typically draws no law enforcement response. Occasionally police chiefs will say they wish the things were banned, but among the political establishment, because of the influence of the gun lobbies, there’s not a serious national dialogue on the banning of semiautomatic weapons.
Feeney: So why do we spend so much taxpayer money — and so much time waiting in line — for airport security when someone can walk right into a movie theater or house of worship with a semiautomatic weapon and start shooting?
Cole: We take some kinds of terrorism extremely seriously and spend a lot of money on them, and I don’t say that it’s wrong to do so. But then we have a nonchalant and insouciant attitude towards other kinds of terrorism which are also very deadly and cost lives.
Terrorists in Yemen started experimenting with a kind of explosive called PETN, which is not metallic and so can’t be detected in an ordinary metal detector. That’s why they’re now trying to increase security at airports by essentially looking at us all nude. Imagine the kinds of money and effort that are being spent to prevent PETN from being deployed, even though the couple times that there have been attempts to deploy it, it hasn’t worked very well. And yet, we have demonstrated thousands of deaths a year from semiautomatic weapons and there’s no law enforcement response to that.
Feeney: The Sikh temple shooter had been followed for years by the Anti-Defamation League and Southern Poverty Law Center, but he still managed to carry out this attack. What can we do to end this sort of violence?
Cole: The man was a known member of hate groups and was able to easily buy a semiautomatic weapon and get it the second day. To my mind, there’s simply no excuse for semiautomatic weapons, which are military weapons, being available to civilians in the United States. You don’t need such a weapon to hunt or for self-defense. These things can be done with an ordinary rifle or pistol.
If someone wants to quickly kill large numbers of innocent civilians, a semiautomatic weapon is ideal for the purpose. With the rash of these incidents, the lesson should be drawn that it’s a very dangerous kind of weapon to have freely available in our society. And as long as these weapons are freely available, it seems to me that we have enough terrorist-minded individuals in the United States that we’re going to go on facing these massacres from time to time.
You may also like...
* Bill Moyers: Share Your Stories of Voter Suppression
* Two Dark Money Groups Outspending All Super PACs Combined
* Pennsylvania’s Strict Voter ID Law Upheld
|By Josh Levs, CNN|
updated 12:18 PM EDT, Thu August 23, 2012
* Tom Head is the elected county judge and emergency coordinator for Lubbock, Texas
* He says Obama will try to give U.S. sovereignty away to the U.N.
* Head says seasoned, veteran fighters will be needed
* The warning was linked to a push for taxes, CNN affiliate KJTV reported
(CNN) -- An elected county judge in Texas is warning that the nation could descend into civil war if President Barack Obama is re-elected, and is calling for a trained, well-equipped force to battle the United Nations troops he says Obama would bring in.
The comments by Lubbock County Judge Tom Head, who oversees emergency planning efforts, were broadcast by CNN affiliate KJTV. He made similar remarks on radio station FOX Talk 950.
Saying that as the county's emergency management coordinator he has to "think about the very worst thing that can happen and prepare for that and hope and pray for the best," Head told radio host Jeff Klotzman that he believes "in this political climate and financial climate, what is the very worst thing that could happen right now? Obama gets back in the White House. No. God forbid."
Why are tax hikes politically radioactive?
Referring to unexplained "executive orders" and other documents that Obama and "his minions have filed," Head said, "regardless of whether the Republicans take over the Senate, which I hope they do, he is going to make the United States Congress and he's going to make the Constitution irrelevant. He's got his czars in place that don't answer to anybody."
Obama, Head said, will "try to give the sovereignty of the United States away to the United Nations. What do you think the public's going to do when that happens? We are talking civil unrest, civil disobedience, possibly, possibly civil war ... I'm not talking just talking riots here and there. I'm talking Lexington, Concord, take up arms, get rid of the dictator. OK, what do you think he is going to do when that happens? He is going to call in the U.N. troops, personnel carriers, tanks and whatever."
Head vowed to personally stand "in front of their personnel carriers and say, 'You're not coming in here.' And I've asked the sheriff. I said, 'Are you going to back me on this?' And he said, 'Yeah, I'm going to back you.' Well, I don't want a bunch of rookies back there who have no training and little equipment. I want seasoned veteran people who are trained that have got equipment. And even then, you know we may have two or three hundred deputies facing maybe a thousand U.N. troops. We may have to call out the militia."
Opinion: Taxmageddon headed our way
Sheriff Kelly Rowe told KJTV there had been no conversation about such a civil war scenario. The two have discussed contingencies for emergency management, he said.
KJTV reported that the warning was linked to taxes. Head "indicates a tax increase is needed to shore up law enforcement to protect us," the station reported, adding that a tax increase is under consideration that "would largely benefit the district attorney and sheriff's offices. But the emphasis is more on salary competitiveness than doomsday scenarios."
Head made his controversial remarks Tuesday.
On Wednesday at a county commissioner meeting, he emphasized that his remarks were about "worst case scenario in my opinion," and added, "Do I think those are going to happen? Probably not."
County Commissioner Gilbert Flores told KJTV he was "ashamed" of Head's remarks, and told the judge, "I think you better plan to go fishing pretty soon."
Attorney Rod Hobson jokingly put up U.N. flags outside his Lubbock office, KJTV reported. "When I saw the story I thought, once again, Lubbock is going to be the laughingstock of the entire nation," said Hobson. "What makes it so sad is he is our elected county judge, who is in charge of a multi-million dollar budget. That is scary. It's like the light's on, but no one is home... I'd just like to think he's off his meds."
But video from the Wednesday meeting showed at least one citizen supporting him. "Judge Head, thank you, and God bless," one citizen said.
Head did not immediately respond to an e-mail or phone call to his office Thursday morning.
KJTV reported that an aide to Head said the judge will not be commenting for one or two days.
Follow the latest political coverage on the CNN Political Ticker
|Posted on 08/28/2012 by Juan Cole | Informed Comment|
A white terrorist cell on a military base in Georgia plotted to assassinate President Barack Obama and stage a military coup. It murdered two former members of the cell. It bought $87,000 of military grade weaponry and land in Washington state. It planned to bomb a dam in Washington and poison its apple crop. It planned to take over Fort Stewart in Georgia.
The National Security Agency is massively and illegally spying on ordinary Americans. Peace activists are bothered by police and put on watch lists. Journalists like Amy Goodman have been beaten up for covering peaceful protests. The NYPD conducted extensive espionage on American citizens of Muslim heritage not only in NYC but far beyond their jurisdiction. Rep. Peter King of New York keeps holding hearings on the alleged radicalization of American Muslims (who are mostly pillars of the American establishment; King himself supports IRA terrorism).
But extremist white Christian soldiers want to kill the president and privately stockhold thousands of dollars worth of military grade weapons? Apparently if they hadn’t started murdering people they could have flown under the radar on all that.
All those right wing politicians and commentators who kept hammering Obama as a foreigner, a Muslim, illegitimate, a budding dictator– they created the hothouse atmosphere that fostered this kind of evil.
Indeed, apparently one of the four plotters was a page at the 2008 Republican Convention.
Republicans aren’t responsible for having crazed assassins among them– that would be guilt by association. But they are responsible for promoting irrationality by using fear, demonization, taboos, innuendo and coded race discourse. It is reasoned argument that makes for democracy. Karl Rove and Rupert Murdoch and Koch brothers’ rhetorical tactics release chickens that eventually will come to roost.
And don’t get me started about what the Bush White House would have done if minority members in uniform had gotten up such a plot against W. They’d have used it to put progressives in concentration camps. Because Democrats are not on the whole demagogic, this plot will likely not even get that much air play.
Nor will the National Rifle Association come under any pressure to stop insisting that extremists and the mentally ill have free and constant access to military grade weaponry.
What I’m afraid of is that demagoguery and semi-automatic weapons will keep dominating our society until something very bad happens, something which may cost us even more of our liberties.
|Posted by Andrew Bacevich at 9:01am, September 25, 2012.|
Follow TomDispatch on Twitter @TomDispatch.
It came and went in a flash and now it’s long forgotten, buried in the rubble heap of history. But maybe, given recent events, a little excavation is in order. After all, as the author of Constantine’s Sword, James Carroll, wrote in 2004, looking back on the 9/11 moment, “A few days after the assault... [s]peaking spontaneously, without the aid of advisers or speechwriters, [George W. Bush] put a word on the new American purpose that both shaped it and gave it meaning. ‘This crusade,’ he said, ‘this war on terrorism.’"
It was the presidential equivalent of a Freudian slip, the sort that reveals one’s deepest preconceptions. After all, there was only one set of “crusades” and Medieval Christendom launched them against Islamic "infidels" of the Middle East. There has been no such presidential slip since.
When, in January 2002, for example, George W. Bush gave his State of the Union address, his speechwriter David Frum, who liked to speak of the “stinking bowl” of the Arab world, ditched the very thought that there might be a crusade against Islam in America. Instead, he and an associate came up with a phrase that hinted at a more ecumenical set of enemies. In imitation of Germany, Japan, and Italy, the “Axis powers” of World War II, he puffed up three rickety regional regimes -- Iraq, Iran, and North Korea -- into a looming “axis of evil.” (“Seeking weapons of mass destruction, these regimes pose a grave and growing danger.”) It may have been farfetched to compare Iraq’s megalomanic autocrat Saddam Hussein, Iran’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, and North Korea’s “Dear Leader” Kim Jong-Il to Hitler, Mussolini, and Tojo, but it proved adequate for the needs of that moment.
How, after all, could the United States be “at war with Islam,” when the distinctly non-Muslim North Korea was on board the SS Axis of Evil? Still, when you look back on the fate of that “axis,” something strange should jump out at you. After all, the Bush administration knocked off Saddam over a non-existent Iraqi nuclear and WMD program which, in the pre-invasion months, its officials insisted might put mushroom clouds over American cities and leave Iraqi drones spraying chemical and biological poisons over East Coast cities. Since then, in conjunction with Israel, both the Bush and Obama administrations have gone after Iran’s nuclear program, including rounds of cyber warfare, a massive build-up of forces in the Persian Gulf region, threats of war, sanctions, Israeli assassinations of nuclear scientists, and so on, and yet Iran, too, has no nuclear weapon and no one claims it does, nor do most experts think it's even close.
As it turned out, only the one non-Islamic country in that axis of evil actually built and tested a perfectly real nuclear weapon in those years. And the response seems curiously instructive: though it announced its first successful test in 2006 and the actual building of a bomb in 2009, no war threats ensued, no invasion occurred, no cyber-attacks were launched, no giant military build up in the region occurred. In the end, next to nothing happened. In fact, when you think about it, since 2001, just about every war-like act by Washington, whether in Afghanistan, Iraq, Iran, Pakistan, Libya, Somalia, Yemen, the Philippines, or elsewhere, has been directed at a Muslim country or at Muslims in a county.
That Washington is at war in a number of Islamic countries may not mean that the U.S. is “at war with Islam” -- after all, North Korea lacks energy reserves, while Iraq and Iran are located in the oil heartlands of the planet -- but two administrations have certainly had a remarkably curious way of showing their respect for Islam. Crusade? Hmmm. Just consider, as does Andrew Bacevich, TomDispatch regular and author of Washington Rules, the curious case of “Jerry” Boykin. Tom
Joe McCarthy Would Understand
By Andrew J. Bacevich
First came the hullaballoo over the “Mosque at Ground Zero.” Then there was Pastor Terry Jones of Gainesville, Florida, grabbing headlines as he promoted “International Burn-a-Koran Day.” Most recently, we have an American posting a slanderous anti-Muslim video on the Internet with all the ensuing turmoil.
Throughout, the official U.S. position has remained fixed: the United States government condemns Islamophobia. Americans respect Islam as a religion of peace. Incidents suggesting otherwise are the work of a tiny minority -- whackos, hatemongers, and publicity-seekers. Among Muslims from Benghazi to Islamabad, the argument has proven to be a tough sell.
And not without reason: although it might be comforting to dismiss anti-Islamic outbursts in the U.S. as the work of a few fanatics, the picture is actually far more complicated. Those complications in turn help explain why religion, once considered a foreign policy asset, has in recent years become a net liability.
Let’s begin with a brief history lesson. From the late 1940s to the late 1980s, when Communism provided the overarching ideological rationale for American globalism, religion figured prominently as a theme of U.S. foreign policy. Communist antipathy toward religion helped invest the Cold War foreign policy consensus with its remarkable durability. That Communists were godless sufficed to place them beyond the pale. For many Americans, the Cold War derived its moral clarity from the conviction that here was a contest pitting the God-fearing against the God-denying. Since we were on God’s side, it appeared axiomatic that God should repay the compliment.
From time to time during the decades when anti-Communism provided so much of the animating spirit of U.S. policy, Judeo-Christian strategists in Washington (not necessarily believers themselves), drawing on the theologically correct proposition that Christians, Jews, and Muslims all worship the same God, sought to enlist Muslims, sometimes of fundamentalist persuasions, in the cause of opposing the godless. One especially notable example was the Soviet-Afghan War of 1979-1989. To inflict pain on the Soviet occupiers, the United States threw its weight behind the Afghan resistance, styled in Washington as “freedom fighters,” and funneled aid (via the Saudis and the Pakistanis) to the most religiously extreme among them. When this effort resulted in a massive Soviet defeat, the United States celebrated its support for the Afghan Mujahedeen as evidence of strategic genius. It was almost as if God had rendered a verdict.
Yet not so many years after the Soviets withdrew in defeat, the freedom fighters morphed into the fiercely anti-Western Taliban, providing sanctuary to al-Qaeda as it plotted -- successfully -- to attack the United States. Clearly, this was a monkey wrench thrown into God’s plan.
With the launching of the Global War on Terrorism, Islamism succeeded Communism as the body of beliefs that, if left unchecked, threatened to sweep across the globe with dire consequences for freedom. Those who Washington had armed as “freedom fighters” now became America’s most dangerous enemies. So at least members of the national security establishment believed or purported to believe, thereby curtailing any further discussion of whether militarized globalism actually represented the best approach to promoting liberal values globally or even served U.S. interests.
Yet as a rallying cry, a war against Islamism presented difficulties right from the outset. As much as policymakers struggled to prevent Islamism from merging in the popular mind with Islam itself, significant numbers of Americans -- whether genuinely fearful or mischief-minded -- saw this as a distinction without a difference. Efforts by the Bush administration to work around this problem by framing the post-9/11 threat under the rubric of “terrorism” ultimately failed because that generic term offered no explanation for motive. However the administration twisted and turned, motive in this instance seemed bound up with matters of religion.
Where exactly to situate God in post-9/11 U.S. policy posed a genuine challenge for policymakers, not least of all for George W. Bush, who believed, no doubt sincerely, that God had chosen him to defend America in its time of maximum danger. Unlike the communists, far from denying God’s existence, Islamists embrace God with startling ferocity. Indeed, in their vitriolic denunciations of the United States and in perpetrating acts of anti-American violence, they audaciously present themselves as nothing less than God’s avenging agents. In confronting the Great Satan, they claim to be doing God’s will.
Waging War in Jesus’s Name
This debate over who actually represents God’s will is one that the successive administrations of George W. Bush and Barack Obama have studiously sought to avoid. The United States is not at war with Islam per se, U.S. officials insist. Still, among Muslims abroad, Washington’s repeated denials notwithstanding, suspicion persists and not without reason.
Consider the case of Lieutenant General William G. (“Jerry”) Boykin. While still on active duty in 2002, this highly decorated Army officer spoke in uniform at a series of some 30 church gatherings during which he offered his own response to President Bush’s famous question: “Why do they hate us?” The general’s perspective differed markedly from his commander-in-chief’s: “The answer to that is because we're a Christian nation. We are hated because we are a nation of believers.”
On another such occasion, the general recalled his encounter with a Somali warlord who claimed to enjoy Allah’s protection. The warlord was deluding himself, Boykin declared, and was sure to get his comeuppance: “I knew that my God was bigger than his. I knew that my God was a real God and his was an idol.” As a Christian nation, Boykin insisted, the United States would succeed in overcoming its adversaries only if “we come against them in the name of Jesus.”
When Boykin’s remarks caught the attention of the mainstream press, denunciations rained down from on high, as the White House, the State Department, and the Pentagon hastened to disassociate the government from the general’s views. Yet subsequent indicators suggest that, however crudely, Boykin was indeed expressing perspectives shared by more than a few of his fellow citizens.
One such indicator came immediately: despite the furor, the general kept his important Pentagon job as deputy undersecretary of defense for intelligence, suggesting that the Bush administration considered his transgression minor. Perhaps Boykin had spoken out of turn, but his was not a fireable offense. (One can only speculate regarding the fate likely to befall a U.S. high-ranking officer daring to say of Israeli Prime Benjamin Netanyahu, “My God is a real God and his is an idol.”)
A second indicator came in the wake of Boykin’s retirement from active duty. In 2012, the influential Family Research Council (FRC) in Washington hired the general to serve as the organization’s executive vice-president. Devoted to “advancing faith, family, and freedom,” the council presents itself as emphatically Christian in its outlook. FRC events routinely attract Republican Party heavyweights. The organization forms part of the conservative mainstream, much as, say, the American Civil Liberties Union forms part of the left-liberal mainstream.
So for the FRC to hire as its chief operating officer someone espousing Boykin’s pronounced views regarding Islam qualifies as noteworthy. At a minimum, those who recruited the former general apparently found nothing especially objectionable in his worldview. They saw nothing politically risky about associating with Jerry Boykin. He's their kind of guy. More likely, by hiring Boykin, the FRC intended to send a signal: on matters where their new COO claimed expertise -- above all, war -- thumb-in-your eye political incorrectness was becoming a virtue. Imagine the NAACP electing Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan as its national president, thereby endorsing his views on race, and you get the idea.
What the FRC’s embrace of General Boykin makes clear is this: to dismiss manifestations of Islamophobia simply as the work of an insignificant American fringe is mistaken. As with the supporters of Senator Joseph McCarthy, who during the early days of the Cold War saw communists under every State Department desk, those engaging in these actions are daring to express openly attitudes that others in far greater numbers also quietly nurture. To put it another way, what Americans in the 1950s knew as McCarthyism has reappeared in the form of Boykinism.
Historians differ passionately over whether McCarthyism represented a perversion of anti-Communism or its truest expression. So, too, present-day observers will disagree as to whether Boykinism represents a merely fervent or utterly demented response to the Islamist threat. Yet this much is inarguable: just as the junior senator from Wisconsin in his heyday embodied a non-trivial strain of American politics, so, too, does the former special-ops-warrior-turned-“ordained minister with a passion for spreading the Gospel of Jesus Christ.”
Notably, as Boykinism’s leading exponent, the former general’s views bear a striking resemblance to those favored by the late senator. Like McCarthy, Boykin believes that, while enemies beyond America’s gates pose great dangers, the enemy within poses a still greater threat. “I’ve studied Marxist insurgency,” he declared in a 2010 video. “It was part of my training. And the things I know that have been done in every Marxist insurgency are being done in America today.” Explicitly comparing the United States as governed by Barack Obama to Stalin’s Soviet Union, Mao Zedong’s China, and Fidel Castro’s Cuba, Boykin charges that, under the guise of health reform, the Obama administration is secretly organizing a “constabulary force that will control the population in America.” This new force is, he claims, designed to be larger than the United States military, and will function just as Hitler’s Brownshirts once did in Germany. All of this is unfolding before our innocent and unsuspecting eyes.
Boykinism: The New McCarthyism
How many Americans endorsed McCarthy’s conspiratorial view of national and world politics? It’s difficult to know for sure, but enough in Wisconsin to win him reelection in 1952, by a comfortable 54% to 46% majority. Enough to strike fear into the hearts of politicians who quaked at the thought of McCarthy fingering them for being “soft on Communism.”
How many Americans endorse Boykin’s comparably incendiary views? Again, it’s difficult to tell. Enough to persuade FRC’s funders and supporters to hire him, confident that doing so would burnish, not tarnish, the organization’s brand. Certainly, Boykin has in no way damaged its ability to attract powerhouses of the domestic right. FRC’s recent “Values Voter Summit” featured luminaries such as Republican vice-presidential nominee Paul Ryan, former Republican Senator and presidential candidate Rick Santorum, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, and Representative Michele Bachmann -- along with Jerry Boykin himself, who lectured attendees on “Israel, Iran, and the Future of Western Civilization.” (In early August, Mitt Romney met privately with a group of “prominent social conservatives,” including Boykin.)
Does their appearance at the FRC podium signify that Ryan, Santorum, Cantor, and Bachmann all subscribe to Boykinism’s essential tenets? Not any more than those who exploited the McCarthyite moment to their own political advantage -- Richard Nixon, for example -- necessarily agreed with all of McCarthy’s reckless accusations. Yet the presence of leading Republicans on an FRC program featuring Boykin certainly suggests that they find nothing especially objectionable or politically damaging to them in his worldview.
Still, comparisons between McCarthyism and Boykinism only go so far. Senator McCarthy wreaked havoc mostly on the home front, instigating witch-hunts, destroying careers, and trampling on civil rights, while imparting to American politics even more of a circus atmosphere than usual. In terms of foreign policy, the effect of McCarthyism, if anything, was to reinforce an already existing anti-communist consensus. McCarthy’s antics didn’t create enemies abroad. McCarthyism merely reaffirmed that communists were indeed the enemy, while making the political price of thinking otherwise too high to contemplate.
Boykinism, in contrast, makes its impact felt abroad. Unlike McCarthyism, it doesn’t strike fear into the hearts of incumbents on the campaign trail here. Attracting General Boykin’s endorsement or provoking his ire probably won’t determine the outcome of any election. Yet in its various manifestations Boykinism provides the kindling that helps sustain anti-American sentiment in the Islamic world. It reinforces the belief among Muslims that the Global War on Terror really is a war against them.
Boykinism confirms what many Muslims are already primed to believe: that American values and Islamic values are irreconcilable. American presidents and secretaries of state stick to their talking points, praising Islam as a great religious tradition and touting past U.S. military actions (ostensibly) undertaken on behalf of Muslims. Yet with their credibility among Iraqis, Afghans, Pakistanis, and others in the Greater Middle East about nil, they are pissing in the wind.
As long as substantial numbers of vocal Americans do not buy the ideological argument constructed to justify U.S. intervention in the Islamic world -- that their conception of freedom (including religious freedom) is ultimately compatible with ours -- then neither will Muslims. In that sense, the supporters of Boykinism who reject that proposition encourage Muslims to follow suit. This ensures, by extension, that further reliance on armed force as the preferred instrument of U. S. policy in the Islamic world will compound the errors that produced and have defined the post-9/11 era.
Andrew J. Bacevich is currently a visiting fellow at Notre Dame’s Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies. A TomDispatch regular, he is author of Washington Rules: America’s Path to Permanent War, among other works, and most recently editor of The Short American Century.