Monday, January 11, 2010

Write me of your worries about the rise of national militias etc. in the USA today

Write me your views after you have thought about the issues raised in today’s Democracy Now interview and program on the increase White Power, National Socialism and militias in America in the past few years!! Thanks. KAS

Personally, this scares me. What is going on in your corner of America these days? in schools? and in small town America ?

I listened to this report online. It worries me about America and the rise of Nazism greatly. How prevalent are the problems in your part of the USA ? The report is out that members in the US military are members of the new National Socialists in my homeland?
January 11, 2010
White Power USA : The Rise of Right-Wing Militias in America

Since President Obama’s election, there’s been a surge in hate crimes, political murders and assassination threats in this country. Right-wing militias are on the rise in several states, and high rates of unemployment have further stoked anger against racial minorities and recent immigrants. Independent filmmakers Rick Rowley and Jacquie Soohen go inside the white nationalist movement to file an exclusive report. [includes rush transcript–partial]

White Power USA, report by Rick Rowley and Jacquie Soohen. The full piece is also available on the Al Jazeera website and on the Big Noise films website.

Chip Berlet, Senior Analyst at Political Research Associates. He is the co-author of Right-Wing Populism in America : Too Close for Comfort.
Rush Transcript

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ANJALI KAMAT: It’s been a year since Barack Obama was inaugurated as the first African American president of this country. His election was lauded as a turning point in race relations. But there’s also been a racist backlash to his victory at the polls. Right-wing militias are on the rise in several states across the country, and high rates of unemployment have further stoked anger against racial minorities and recent immigrants. There’s been a surge in hate crimes, political murders and assassination threats since Obama’s election. At least nine high-profile racially motivated murders have taken place this past year.

AMY GOODMAN: Well, independent filmmakers Rick Rowley and Jacquie Soohen went inside the white nationalist movement to investigate the backlash. This is an excerpt of their short documentary White Power USA that aired in full on Al Jazeera English. The full piece is available on the Al Jazeera website and on the Big Noise Films website. It includes some disturbing language.

RICK ROWLEY: In this shed in the middle of the Arizona desert, the White Knights of America are hosting a festival of white supremacist skinhead culture. Here and across the country, white power groups say they are energized and growing. For them, Obama’s election and the economic meltdown are wake-up calls for white America and catalysts for the coming race war. They say white pride is their only defense in an insecure and changing world.

CHARLES, STORMTROOP 16: But America is in crisis. I’m petrified whether I’m working the next day or not. And it’s—this is all we got. This is the last thing we got to stand on, man.

RICK ROWLEY: Charles is the lead singer for Stormtroop 16, one of the most popular bands on the Aryan skinhead circuit. He says they give voice to a silent majority that is afraid to say what it really feels about race.

CHARLES, STORMTROOP 16: This country and this entire world is full of closet racists who lack the courage to even say they’re even proud to be white, because they are sheep, and they are being led to the slaughter, man.

RICK ROWLEY: Like many in the white nationalist movement, he talks in apocalyptic terms about the future of the white race.

CHARLES, STORMTROOP 16: And we have such a huge following of people that are so incensed about this because I believe that they think that this is the ends coming, man. We were born to hate.

RICK ROWLEY: Skinheads are one of the most aggressively violent nodes in a constellation of groups that make up the white nationalist movement. There are an estimated 30,000 hardcore white nationalists and 250,000 active sympathizers in America today, according to watchdog groups. But white supremacist influence may be far greater than these numbers suggest.

LEONARD ZESKIND: They are preparing for battles of the future. And unless we prepare for those battles in the future, we’re going to get blindsided.

RICK ROWLEY: Leonard Zeskind has tracked white nationalism for decades and recently published a comprehensive history of the movement based on his life’s work. He warns that though the white supremacist groups may appear to be marginal, they exploit and enflame racial divisions that run through all of American culture, and they are moving from the margins to the mainstream.

LEONARD ZESKIND: Now it’s a broader political problem than it was, say, thirty years ago. And so, it’s a cause for greater concern. There’s a sense of white dispossession among a certain strata of the white population. They feel like this used to be their country, they ran it, and now they don’t. And they want their country back.

RICK ROWLEY: Zeskind maps a network of right-wing organizations that is adapting in order to expand its foothold in mainstream American politics. In recent years, hundreds of new groups and websites have sprung up across the country looking for issues that can make their racial politics relevant to more white Americans.

LEONARD ZESKIND: Particularly with the anti-immigrant movement, the white nationalists have managed to find a vehicle into the creation of public policy.

RICK ROWLEY: White nationalists see the anti-immigrant movement as a bridge into mainstream politics. And ground zero for that movement is here in the deserts and mountains of Arizona . Six years ago, right-wing militias began organizing here along the Mexican border. They quickly grew from a few vigilantes hunting for immigrants into a national phenomenon.

With the recession, illegal immigration from Mexico has dropped off 60 percent in the last year to its the lowest level in a decade, but it remains a hot-button issue. In November, one of the largest white supremacist groups in America , the National Socialist Movement, planned an anti-immigration march to the Arizona State Capitol. The NSM claims to have eighty chapters across America . We met Jeff Schoep, the movement’s new leader, at his hotel.

JEFF SCHOEP: Arizona is the front lines. We have a massive illegal immigration problem here in the state, so we’re here to take it to the front lines.

RICK ROWLEY: As we talked, Schoep’s men began to organize the caravan that would bring them to their march. Each car was marked with a number 88. In their simple code, eight stands for the eighth letter in the alphabet. Eighty-eight, or HH, means “Heil Hitler.”

JEFF SCHOEP: America was founded by white men, settled by white men, and it was founded as a white nation. So we’ve got our nation to lose. They call us the fringe. They say it’s a fringe movement, but I think what we’re saying is very mainstream. We’re standing up for the American people, and there’s nothing fringe about that. The membership has really spiked, especially in the past few years. It’s more mainstream now than ever before in our history.

CLIFFORD HARRINGTON: And this is our blood banner. This flag is flown everywhere in the United States .

RICK ROWLEY: Clifford Herrington was the chairman of the National Socialist Movement before they tried to go mainstream, when they still wore Nazi uniforms.

CLIFFORD HERRINGTON: You want to get a shot of my ribbons?

RICK ROWLEY: Tell me about them.

CLIFFORD HERRINGTON: Vietnam, ’68, ’69. US Army, ’66 to ’76. Vietnam , Germany , Japan and Korea . NSM since 1974.

RICK ROWLEY: As we approached the State Capitol, he started to lead a chant.

CLIFFORD HERRINGTON: No niggers! No Jews! The Mexicans must go, too!

RICK ROWLEY: Younger members of the leadership quickly silenced him and chose a theme better suited to a mainstream audience.


JEFF SCHOEP: We are looking at a country now that can very well face another American revolution! Our forefathers fought and resisted tyranny in this country, just as we stand here today in defiance of illegals, in defiance of a corrupt system that would just as soon put a bullet in the back of the white man’s head! We stand here in defiance of tyranny like George Washington did, like Ben Franklin did, our forefathers! This is America , our country!

NSM MARCHERS: Sig heil! Sig heil! Sig heil!

RICK ROWLEY: In spite of their swastikas and Nazi salutes, it is clear that the National Socialist language has changed. Take away the “Sig heils,” and they sound like many other conservative anti-immigration activists in America .

JT READY: We are doing it right. We’re putting Americans first. We’re taking back our nation, one day at a time, block by block, street by street, city by city. This is our nation, which we built. We are armed. We are free. And if you want our nation, you must take it from us. We are prepared. Thank you. Sig heil!

NSM MARCHERS: Sig heil! Sig heil! Sig heil!

RICK ROWLEY: More than anyone else at the rally, JT Ready embodies the link between white supremacist ideology and mainstream conservative politics. JT was a Republican precinct committeeman in Phoenix and a candidate for the Arizona House of Representatives. His writing appeared on mainstream conservative websites, and he regularly spoke at rallies with powerful Arizona political figures. JT is a former Marine and was also an early collaborator with the vigilante groups that patrol the Mexican border. They call themselves Minutemen, after the citizens’ militias of the American Revolution. Here Ready is in 2004 with Chris Simcox, the founder of the Minuteman Civil Defense Corps.

CHRIS SIMCOX: Chris Simcox, founder of Civil Homeland Defense.

JT READY: JT Ready, candidate for Arizona House.

RICK ROWLEY: JT was a rising star in the Republican Party. But after Obama’s election, he came out publicly as a member of the National Socialist Movement, which he now proclaims proudly on his license plate. JT agreed to meet with us, but he wanted to do the interview out in the middle of the desert on Highway 88.

JT READY: What I’m fighting for, primarily, at this point is the survival of the white race.

RICK ROWLEY: JT says that white Americans have been dispossessed and sees America teetering on the edge of a crisis in which their very survival is at stake.

JT READY: Any event which sparks this off—it could be during an election time, it could be the assassination of a prominent leader on either side—things could erupt. Now, within the white movement, we call it “RaHoWa,” racial holy war. And I do believe in a racial holy war, and I believe that we are already fighting that, except that our side hasn’t even begun to fight back yet. So we’re trying to waken our people for survival.

AMY GOODMAN: JT Ready, from the National Socialist Movement and a former Republican candidate for the Arizona House of Representatives.



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