Thursday, June 11, 2009

Round Up the Usual Suspects: "Attacks validate DHS report, some say." (Uh, by "some" they mean the ADL and SPLC.)

"Major Strasser has been shot. . . Round up the usual suspects."

Well, it didn't take them long to get out the tar bucket and the broad brushes. ADL and SPLC are pointing to the Tiller killing and the Museum murder as proof positive the discredited Homeland Security report was right after all.

Why is it so important to them that the DHS report be rehabilitated? Because they wrote it and it fits their agenda. If I had the money, I would buy this clueless reporter a copy of Professor Churchill's book, To shake Their Guns In the Tyrant's Face. Churchill calls for scholars to go "Beyond the Narrative of 1995."

The militia movement has been the subject of at least a dozen books and hundreds of articles, yet it remains one of the most poorly understood political movements of the twentieth century. In the months after the bombing of the Oklahoma City federal building by Timothy McVeigh, civil rights organizations issued at least a dozen published reports on the militia movement, and civil rights activists offered "expert" commentary in hundreds of news stories. Within a year, books by leading figures associated with civil rights organizations, including Morris Dees, Kenneth Stern, and Richard Abanes, offered a coherent narrative of the origin of the movement.

What America learned in these months was that the militia movement was an outgrowth of the racist Right. Civil rights activists portrayed the militias as the armed wing of a much larger "Christian Patriot" movement. They warned that Christian Patriots numbered in the millions and that Christian Patriotism called for restoration of white, Christian, patriarchal domination. The Christian Patriot movement as a whole, and the militias in particular, were antidemocratic, paranoid, virulently anti-semitic, genocidally racist, and brutally violent. Much of this literature suggested that Timothy McVeigh was the movement's highest expression. In this narrative, the militias and the Patriot movement took on the guise of the perfect racist "other," and the threat they posed was best articulated by Morris Dees' apocalyptic vision of a "gathering storm."

This "narrative of 1995" produced by civil rights organizations, coupled with the horror of the Oklahoma City bombing, triggered what Steven Chernak has referred to as a moral panic. Through published reports, their influence over the news coverage of the movement, and testimony at prominent public hearings, leading militia "experts" injected their portrait of the movement into public consciousness and popular culture. In news coverage, popular novels, episodes of Law and Order, and movies such as Arlington Road, the public became well-acquainted with the archetypal militiaman, usually protrayed as warped by racial hatred, obsessed with bizarre conspiracy theories, and hungry for violent retribution.

The moral panic over the "militia menace" strongly resembled previous moral panics over the "communist menace" that had swept the nation in the aftermath of World War I and again in the early 1950s. Less well known than these two Red scares is America's "Brown Scare." In the late 1930s, political activists on the left warned that an array of far right opponents of President Roosevelt and the New Deal . . . constituted a fifth column composed of fascist brownshirts . . . (T)he ensuing moral panic facilitated a campaign of repression waged by the U.S. governemnt against the Far Right during World War II. In 1995-6, the moral panic over the militia movement blossomed into a second American Brown Scare.

The literature produced by the second American Brown Scare has had significant impact on academic analysis of the movement, and this poses a problem for continuing scholarship. The civil rights organizations that produced the narrative of 1995 conceived of themselves as political opponents of the militia movement, and these organizations made the legal suppression of the movement one of their central political objectives. That political objective has systematically shaped their reporting on the movement. Their analyses might serve as a primary source base for an interesting analyis of how the activist Left perceived the Far Right at the turn of the millennium. To use this literature as a primary source base in an analysis of the character of the militia movement itself is to allow the movement's opponents to define it.

Unfortunately, much of the scholarship on the militia movement produced in the last ten years has not broken free from the influence of the narrative of 1995. Too many scholars have relied on the reports and books generated by the Brown Scare as primary evidence of the character of the movement. Others who have avoided this first error have nevertheless allowed the narrative of 1995 to unduly influence their research agendas. Finally, even the best scholarship on militias tends to inappropriately conflate the militia movement with other movements on the far right of American politics and to overstate the influence of millennial thought on militia ideology. . .

The final academic legacy of the Brown Scare is an emphasis on the allegedly close association of militia groups with other far right organizations, such as white supremacist groups, Christian Identity ministries, common-law courts, and tax protest societies. The narrative of 1995 lumped all of these disparate far right groups together in the "Christian Patriot movement," a misguided simplification that has led a number of senior scholars to blur the lines between different groups with quite different worldviews . . .

Since the turn of the millennium, three scholars have begun the task of freeing scholarship of the militia movement from the narrative of 1995. . . As an historian, I hope to contribute to this field an insight gained in the study of other partisan political crises in Ameerican history: in evaluating the ideology of an insurgent movement, one must not allow the movement's partisan allies, much less its partisan enemies, to speak for it. (pp. 7-11)

Exactly. Read the article below, the link is here. I will have some comments on the other side.


Attacks validate DHS report, some say

By JOSH GERSTEIN | 6/10/09

Civil rights activists say a string of recent attacks blamed on right-wing extremists, including Wednesday’s shooting at the Holocaust Museum, show that conservative critics were too quick to fault the Department of Homeland Security over an April report warning about the potential for such violence.

The report was roundly criticized by Republicans for painting conservatives as a threat—particularly military veterans and those opposed to abortion or immigration – and DHS later withdrew the report.

“I think this latest round of killing once again shows how ridiculous the criticism from the right of the Department of Homeland Security report was. That whole brouhaha was absurd,” said Mark Potok of the Southern Poverty Law Center. “Rush Limbaugh and John Boehner can go on until the end of time about how [the report] was an attack on conservatives, but in reality it was a perfectly sober assessment of what was going on out there.”

“We felt the DHS report was pretty right on,” said Deborah Lauter of the Anti-Defamation League. “Clearly the election of Obama, the current financial crisis, and the discussion of immigration reform –those things have certainly fueled the right wing extremist movement in this country….There are clear indications that the rhetoric is manifesting. We hope it’s not the tip of the iceberg.”

The 88-year-old man alleged to have killed a security guard at the Holocaust Museum Wednesday, James von Brunn, was a hardcore white supremacist and Holocaust denier who often railed against Jews and African-Americans.

In 1981, he took a shotgun to the Federal Reserve to make what he called a citizen’s arrest over high interest rates. On his website, Von Brunn complained bitterly about being railroaded by a judicial system that included a Jewish judge and African-Americans on the jury.

The sharpest criticism of the report, titled, “Rightwing Extremism: Current Economic and Political Climate Fueling Resurgence in Radicalization and Recruitment,” was focused on a part of the report asserting that “the return of military veterans…could lead to the potential emergence of terrorist groups or lone wolf extremists capable of carrying out violent attacks.”

A spokesman for Boehner, Michael Steel, said assertions that Republicans went too far in castigating the report were inappropriate to discuss in the wake of Wednesday’s shooting.

It is vitally important that such bias not enter into the decision making loop of law enforcement. Yet this is exactly where we are today. as I have said before:

The moral panic whipped up by the Narrative of 1995 has now been embraced by the federal government and by many state law enforcement organizations and will guide their decisions in the coming months and years. People can, and have been, killed needlessly over such lies and stupidities. -- The SPLCization of Law Enforcement in the 21st Century: Conflation, moral panic and the "Narrative of 1995."

The ADL and the SPLC have a lot of money riding on the "Narrative of 1995." It is no wonder they are trying to breathe life back into the Frankenstein corpse of the Homeland Security report.


TJP said...

Boy, I wish I could find my special edition Casablanca DVD.

I don't seem to recall anyone hereabouts recommending Jew-killing our way to a Restoration. Do you? Neither can I connect the murdering of abortionists to this goal.

I wonder how the liberty paranoids connect Tiller's murder with anti-statist sentiment, when the bad doctor had survived assassination attempts well before Pravda West discovered the word "militia".

Anonymous said...

Another great article Mike!

The Militia movement was demonized out of existence not because of the fear of a shooting war but because the powers to be didn’t want it turning political which was its natural course.

I hadn’t been to KABA for a while and I noticed that No one was making comments in the comment section.

When I clicked to comment on this article I found out you had to register which meant providing a lot of info.

I don’t like giving up that much personal info for the sake of making a comment.

I think in the long run it will only hurt KABA.