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    Right Wing Violence in North America

    by Jeffrey Kaplan


    [This is copyrighted material available only for classroom use in the internet Conflict Resolution course. No other reproduction or dissemination is permitted without written authorization.]

    Even if we were to link up all the Klan groups, all Identity, Nazis orwhatever, then so what? We still don't amount to anything. [Arkansas Klan leader Thom Robb][1]


    On 9 December 1984, Robert Mathews, founder of the Bruders Schweigen or Silent Brotherhood, more popularly known as the Order, died in a hail of FBI gunfire on Whidby Island off the coast of Washington state. The long-cherished dream of many denizens of the American radical right--that the nation might awaken to the truth of its 'subjugation' at the hands of an alien conspiracy and purify itself through the cleansing violence of a popularly- based revolution -- died with him.

    The demise of the Order was only the latest in a series of disappointments which the radical right has experienced in recent years. The Ku Klux Klan, the post-Civil War organization synonymous with racial violence, was by the mid- 1980s a fragmented, divisive, and dwindling cadre of true believers thoroughly infiltrated- and occasionally led- by agents of the FBI. Yet even the Ku Klux Klan held out greater promise than such pretenders to revolutionary activism as the Posse Comitatus or the Phineas Priesthood. The Posse, it turned out, was composed of a small group of high profile 'leaders' backed by a membership no more substantial than a mailing list peopled by an anonymous group of correspondents who, for the cost of a stamp and perhaps a contribution of a few dollars, could become the proud possessors of a Posse Comitatus membership card and a stack of literature which the putative new local Posse leader was invited to reproduce and distribute at will.

    The Phineas Priesthood is a case in point to illustrate both the fervent hopes of the believers and the credulity of those whose mission it is to serve as 'watchdogs' over the machinations of the radical right. The literary invention of one Richard Kelly Hoskins, the Phineas Priests were embraced as a kind of an Illuminati like order of assassins from the very dawn of time whose self- imposed mission is to slay the enemies of God. Once again, the credulous on both extremes of the American political spectrum seized on the Phineas Priests as a source of either chiliastic hope or of dread danger to the republic, until at last the Phineas Priests did come to enjoy a form of quasi- existence as a mail order Order along much the same lines as the Posse Comitatus. That is, a group of entrepreneurs created a line of Phineas apparel and accessories suitable for framing or as conversational fodder for an otherwise monotonous hunting trip.

    If the dream of revolutionary violence under the direction of a vanguard movement is no longer credible, however, the same can not be said of random acts of violence initiated by adherents of right wing ideologies on an individual or small group basis. Such acts of violence most often target members of other racial or ethnic groups or, increasingly, members of the homosexual community in North America. The forms which this violence takes most often involves physical assaults, often though not invariably, with weapons ranging from blunt objects to firearms. Bombings and arsons occur as well, although with far less frequency.

    Part I of this article will offer a brief typology of the organizations and ideologies represented among North American radical right wing movements. Part II will utilize Ehud Sprinzak's theory of split delegitimation as a vehicle to explore the factors which may be responsible for catalyzing right wing violence, and will present a comparative framework which will examine in some depth movements whichhave turned to violence. This examination will take into account such variables as the group's ideology, identification of 'enemies' and perception of threat stemming from these perceived foes, and the reaction of both state and non- state interest groups to radical right wing activities.

    Part 1- The Right Wing Constellation

    In a 1993 article in the Journal of Terrorism and Political Violence, I suggested a typology of far right wing groups. What follows is a brief updated review of that typology which, while concentrating on the susceptibility of a particular ideological appeal to calls to violence, emphasizes the difficulty of differentiating ideological appeals which have many common beliefs yet at the same time are bitterly divisive and competitive for the allegiance of a limited pool of adherents. Informing this presentation are theoretical constructs of countercultural communities such as that of the cultic milieu suggested by Colin Campbell and religious mapping championed by, among others, Martin Marty.[2] Both systems posit deviance from the beliefs of mainstream society as the key analytical factor, with mapping theory seeking to locate a particular belief system in relation to the dominant culture and Campbell's cultic milieu documenting the close interactions of members of this oppositional community. Campbell's description of the cultic milieu is particularly relevant to a discussion of the constituent elements of the radical right wing:

    . . . cults must exist within a milieu which, if not conducive to the maintenance of individual cults, is clearly highly conducive to the spawning of cults in general. Such a generally supportive cultic milieu is continually giving birth to new cults, absorbing the debris of the dead ones and creating new generations of cult- prone individuals to maintain the high level of membership turnover. Thus, whereas cults are by definition a transitory phenomenon, the cultic milieu is, by contrast, a permanent feature of society.[3]
    Given the close association of the adherents of the radical right wing within this oppositional milieu, it is extraordinarily difficult to separate appeals which share such primary characteristics as a Goldengroup as an 'elect' or, in religious terms, as a 'righteous remnant'; and finally, an apocalyptic or chiliastic analysis of society. This difficulty is compounded by the pronounced tendency of the adherents of radical right wing ideologies toward serial or simultaneous membership in more than one group or belief system. Indeed, a researcher would be hard pressed to point to a single individual in the constellation of right wing movements who has not already passed through several ideological way stations, and who no doubt has a number of stops yet to make in the course of his or her life. Yet it is important to make these distinctions. Some groups do tend to be more susceptible to appeals for violent confrontations than others. More, in terms of mapping theory, the more distant a particular group tends to be from the values and beliefs of the mainstream society, the more difficult it becomes for an adherent to moderate or give up the belief system altogether. Association with a highly stigmatized ideological appeal, say Nazism or holocaust denial in contemporary North America, may well brand someone as beyond the pail of the society's acceptable discourse,and thus not only socially unacceptable, but in fact, literally unemployable.[4]

    Given these qualifications then, the primary constituents of the radical right wing in North America are: Ku Klux Klan groups, Christian Identity believers, Neo- Nazi groups, Reconstructed Traditions, Idiosyncratic sectarians, and the catch- all category of Single Issue Constituencies and the inchoate hope seeking a means of fulfillment (or less elegantly, the young toughs or knuckle draggers of the movement).

    Ku Klux Klan Groups. Throughout the millenniums of warfare between the Aryan and the Jew, neither we nor they have ever "won." The victories each has in turn known, when spread over the centuries, equal stalemate. However, Aryan technology has shrunk the whole earth to the size of one battlefield. The eternal war, which can most properly be called a Conflict Of The Ages, has taken a final turn. The age-long conflict approaches the last battle -- Ragnar?k, Armageddon -- is about to be fought, and there will be only one survivor of this struggle.[5]

    Louis Beam In the contemporary demonology of American culture, no organization elicits a more negative reaction than does the Ku Klux Klan. Fear of the Klan, and perhaps a shared collective shame for the power which the movement accrued in both the Reconstruction- era American South (c. 1865- 1876) and in a number of Northern states in the 1920s, is deeply rooted in the collective American consciousness. It is a fear which at once attracts and bedevils Klan recruits who often find their initial attraction to the Klan's mystique of secrecy and popular fear wanes with the realization that virtually any public activity undertaken by the Klan is certain to be met by a far greater crowd of counter- demonstrators. Worse, covert Klan operations appear to be undertaken at the sufferance if not the outright invitation of government authorities, given the success of federal agencies at infiltrating Klan ranks and inducing Klan leaders to cooperate in federal investigations. Thus, for a Klan group to undertake or even seriously contemplate violent action is tantamount to organizational suicide. On the one hand, members face indictment not only for whatever criminal acts may occur, but through the imaginative utilization of standing conspiracy statutes and thenewly adopted hate crime sentence enhancement provisions available in many states, lengthy incarceration. More, the successful use of civil litigation initiated by such watchdog organizations as the Klanwatch Project of the Southern Poverty Law Center on behalf of victims of Klan violence has the intended effect of putting those Klan organizations which do perpetrate acts of violence out of business.[6]

    Givn these powerful disincentives to violence, it is not surprising that the already fragmented Klans in North America would enter into a bitter battle of polemics over the tactics of non- violence vs. the Klan's tradition of violent activism. Emerging from this internecine debate are two very different approaches: the call to violence championed by such firebrands as Louis Beam of Texas and Dennis Mahon of Oklahoma as opp]sed to the mediagenic call to non- violence, best embodied by Arkansas based Thomas Robb.[7]

    Louis Beam, the author of the manichaean and apocalyptic analysis of contemporary history which opened this section, is a rarity among Klansmen. Undeniably intelligent, articulate and widely read- the driving force behind the dreaded right wing computer bulletin boards of the late 1980s- Louis Beam has lived the life that many Klansmen andwould- be Klansmen fantasize over. A Vietnam veteran, Beam preaches the dream of revolutionary violence and has himself not been loath to take up the dangerous existence of the underground fugitive. The most celebrated of Beams exploits may well be the shoot- out in which Mexican federal officers attempted to take Beam and his wife into custody. In the ensuing confrontation, Beams wife managed to pin down the arresting officers, allowing her husband to make good his escape. Beam's charmed life did not end with his return to the U. S. and his role in the ill-starred sedition trial held at Fort Smith, Arkansas, in 1989. Here too he was acquitted and he remains free at this writing.

    Beam's successes should not, however, obscure the essential futility of his primary quest: to modernize the Ku Klux Klan by unifying its many disparate factions and forging the organization into an effective vanguard revolutionary force. The theory, put together with the help of the late Robert Miles and others, was called the 'Fifth Era Klan'; a Klan capable of a clear eyed analysis of the incompetence and, indeed, treason, which has been the history of the Klan since the original movement was disbanded in 1869, as well as an honest appraisal of the remarkably poor quality of recruits the present day Klan organizationshave managed to attract.

    Only when these difficulties are addressed and rectified will Beam's ecumenical calls to take up arms, overthrow the current socio- political order, and ruthlessly take vengeance on "lying politicians, criminal bureaucrats, racial traitors, communists, assorted degenerates, culture distorters, and those who resist the implementation of lawful constitutional government"8 be more than a pipe dream. In the meantime, Beam's ecumenism is aptly demonstrated in his extra- Klan contacts, ranging from his close association with Richard Butler's Christian Identity Aryan Nations compound in Idaho to the sort of generic Odinism alluded to in his equating of the Christian Apocalypse with the Norse end- time scenario of Ragnar?k in the quotation above.

    Dennis Mahon is no Louis Beam, but he too has come to represent a revolutionary voice in Klan circles- so much so in fact that, having come to much the same analysis of the Klan's current status as Louis Beam, he amicably left the Klan in 1992 for Tom Metzger's White Aryan Resistance (WAR). Prior to his defection to WAR, Mahon was best known for his association with Terry Boyce's Confederate Knights of America Klan chapter and for his calls to arms in the Knight's journal, the White Beret, as well as for his occasional forays to Europe and Canada on behalf of the Klan.[9] Mahon's drift from the KKK to WAR speaks volumes to the applicability of Campbell's cultic milieu to the radical right, but of greater interest is his frank analysis of the Klan. Interspersed between intemperate attacks on Thom Robb ("the Grand Lizard") and Robb's attempts to remake the image of the Klan from a revolutionary force to, in effect, a civil rights group, is a telling appraisal of the current state of the Klan:

    . . . after 12 years of proudly wearing the robe of the Invisible Order, I feel that Tom Metzger's leadership and personal strategies fit my personality and mind set better at this time of my life. Also, I just got tired of seeing so many mistakes in tactics and ideology of the leaders of the other 25 or so Klan groups in Zoglandia. So many of these mini- fuhrers of these other Klans have embarrassed me with these displays of weakness and idiotic statements of "Niggers are the cause of all our problems -- we got to kill the niggers -- niggern this, nigger that." It's like a broken record.

    The Jewsmedia always link the Klan with "lynching niggers." Theaverage "Joe Six- pack" out there, whenever he thinks of a Klansman, pictures an uneducated hick half drunk, in bib overalls, with tobacco juice dripping down his chin, burning a cross on some poor Blacks (sic) lawn, and the Klansman stating how he "put the nigger in his place." Unfortunately, many Klansmen knowingly fit the media stereotype.[10]

    Mahon continues his analysis throughout the premier issue of his post-Klan vehicle, The Oklahoma Excalibur. The effortless penetration of Klan leadership ranks by government agents as well as by informants reporting for private watchdog groups is decried, as are the tactics of non-violence and staged events in which Klan groups are seen as demonstrating peacefully until they are attacked by anti- Klan demonstrators which is the forte of Thom Robb. For Mahon, the contradictions of the modern Klan became intolerable, and thus the switch to WAR.,P. During an interview with this writer in Chicago in 1991, Identity minister and Klan leader Thom Robb made the surprising declaration that, virtually alone among members of the radical right in America, he was pleased with media coverage of his Knights of the Ku Klux Klan. Indeed,comments on any other race has dovetailed nicely with a certain trend in American society toward the reinforcement of ethnic as opposed to national identity.11 Robb's kinder, gentler Klan is unlikely to do much to erase the intensely negative associations which the organization engenders in Americans, and, as Dennis Mahon's writing amply demonstrates, it has done much to further divide an already disintegrating movement.

    How low the Ku Klux Klan's fortunes have ebbed in recent years are clearly documented by the watchdog community. According to Anti-Defamation League figures, total Klan membership had by 1988 hit a record low of between 4,500- 5,000 members. These figures represent the lowest Klan membership total in fifteen years according to the ADL, and Klanwatch's 1990 estimate of 5,000 shows little hope of upward growth.12 So dire are the Klan's current fortunes that in its 1991 report on the KKK, the ADL was moved to write:

    Although the Klan's decade- long decline has stopped, and it may beginto grow again -- especially if the current recession becomes lengthy and severe- there is little prospect of the hooded order once again becoming a significant force in the land . . . As long as it continues to exist, it poses a danger to the communities in which it operates. The danger consists specifically of violence and terrorism. The Klan's very presence in a community constitutes a source of anxiety to members of minority groups and a standing threat to peaceful and friendly relations among the citizens. . . . Nevertheless, considered from the standpoint of the nation as a whole, the KKK has only limited present and potential significance.[13]

    Christian Identity

    Perhaps no single constituency of the North American radical right has met with such fervent organized opposition as has the heterodox theology of Christian Identity. This state of affairs is hardly surprising in light of the adherence to Identity doctrine of such as Robert Mathews of the Order and Richard Butler of the Aryan Nations. Yet for all of the current interest in the movement, Identity's origins and its widespreadappeal have been something of a mystery. This section will offer a brief history of the movement, followed by an introduction to several of the more influential Identity churches in North America

    The movement which has come to be known as Christian Identity evolved out of the no less heterodox theology of British- Israelism. British-Israelism may have been inspired by the 18th century writings of Richard Brothers, an eccentric Englishman who several years incarcerated in a madhouse. However, the central tenet of Brothers' teachings- the belief that Anglo- Saxons are in fact the direct descendants of the Lost Tribes of Israel- had considerable appeal in 19th century imperial Britain. Adherents of British- Israelism in the last century represented the elite of British society, and it was via these social circles that the movement was disseminated throughout the Commonwealth. British-Israelism was introduced to North America primarily through the work of a Canadian, W. H. Poole. This is of considerable significance, for unlike the uniquely American genesis of the Ku Klux Klan, Canada, and in particular British Columbia, would play a vital role both in introducing British- Israel beliefs to the United States and in the transformation of the rather philo- Semitic British- Israel movement into thevirulently anti- Semitic theology of Christian Identity.[14]

    This transformation occurred in the 1930s; the product of the interaction of the tireless British- Israel evangelist Howard Rand and the anti- Semitism of an associate of Rand's, William J. Cameron. The Canadian born Cameron would come to fame as the chief spokesman forHenry Ford and, of greater import, as editor of Ford's newspaper, the Dearborn Independent. It was the Independent's 1920s series, collectively titled "The International Jew" which would provide an entry for many to the world of anti- Semitism. Cameron would leave British-Israelism in the 1930s, and Howard Rand would distance himself from the movement in the same period, but the groundwork for the emergence of modern Christian Identity had been laid.

    Modern Christian Identity emerged in the 1940s. Doctrinally, the movement placed its primary stress in the so- called 'two- seeds' doctrine. That is, the Bible was held to be the history of only one people, the descendants of the race of Adam, the true Israelites who are in reality the White race. The Jews represent a separate creation- the result of the seduction of Eve by Satan- with the issue of the union, Cain, as the carrier of the seed of Lucifer. Put under a curse of eternal enmity from the seed line of Adam, the two seed lines, that of White Adamic man and the children of Satan, the Jews, "have been locked in conflict for the last six thousand years upon this earth."15 The Jews in this view are not truly Israelites, they are the synagogue of Satan (Revelations 2:9 and 3:9), who are believed to have dispossessed the true Israelites, the White race, from their identity, although the Jews have failed to wrest from them the covenant relationship with God.[16] Other races are identified with the 'beasts of the field' ( Gen. 1:25) who took human form as a result of illicit mating with the nefarious Jews.

    The process by which this doctrine came to be held as a sort of Identity Orthodoxy is complex. William Cameron may have been a primary influence, but the key events involved the extensive contacts between such anti- Semitic British- Israel figures as C. F. Parker and Clem Davies in Vancouver and such West Coast American adherents as the core of Identity figures associated with Gerald L. K. Smith. The most influential of these California figures were Wesley Swift, Bertrand Comperet and William Potter Gale. The actual medium of exchange was a series of conferences, with the first in 1937 attended by no lesserlights than Howard Rand and Reuben Sawyer, whose primary claim to fame lies in his being the first to combine Identity theology with Ku Klux Klan leadership. By the end of World War II however, the development of Christian Identity doctrine shifted to the United States, with the coterie surrounding Gerald L. K. Smith as the key figures.[17]

    The newly energized doctrine of Christian Identity was soon to gain wide currency in the world of the American radical right. Adherents seem to have been drawn primarily from the ranks of conservative Protestant churches- particularly from Protestant fundamentalism where belief in anti- Semitism or conspiritorialism alienated many from the pro- Zionist stance of the fundamentalist churches. Jack Mohr and John Harrell are typical of this evolution. More, the apocalypticism characteristic of Christian Identity is little different from that which is found in Protestant fundamentalism in all but one key element: where fundamentalists can await the eschatological 'End if Days' secure in the knowledge that in the dreaded seven year period of the Tribulation when war and famine and disease engulf the earth they will be raptured into the air to await the inevitable conclusion of history at Jesus' side, the Identity believer has no such hope of supernatural rescue. Rather, the Christian Identity believer is secure only in his ability to persevere --to survive by the grace of God, by virtue of his own wits and through recourse to his own food stores and weapons.

    Why did Christian Identity appeal to these alienated seekers? It appears that the primary explanation lies in Identity's unique ability to meet the need of many members of the racialist right for spirituality, fellowship and ritual in the context of a Christianity shorn of its Jewish roots. Identity in this view provides the hermeneutical key to unlocking the mysteries of past, present and future while offering the faithful an explanation for their current perception of dispossession. Identity apprises them of their golden past before the machinations of the satanic Jews robbed them of the knowledge of their covenantel birthright, and it assures them of their promised future of happiness and terrestrial power. Perhaps of greatest import of all, Identity doctrine gives shape and substance to the conspiratorial suspicions of the faithful remnant. In this respect, the efficacy of the two seed theory centers on its ability to demonstrate to the faithful the truth of what to the uninitiated is the weakest link in the extravagant conspiracy scenarios which it is the passion of the farright wing to unravel. That is, how is it that the Jews have succeeded in keeping alive a centrally directed conspiracy against Christianity over the course of two millennia? Identity's explanation is as simple as it is elegant. This conspiracy is genetic,18 for as the Book says, "Ye are of your father the devil; and it is your will to practice the lusts and gratify the desires of your father. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaks a falsehood, he speaks what is natural to him; for he is a liar and the father of lies and of all that is false." (Rev. 3:9).

    Identity theology today is highly decentralized. There is no center of orthodoxy, and in the post- Wesley Swift era, no preeminent figure to tie together the fractious world of independent Identity churches. The three Identity leaders listed below were therefore selected to illustrate the diversity characteristic of the Identity world.

    Perhaps the Identity minister who has become synonymous with the construction of Christian Identity as the 'Theology of Hate' is Richard Butler and his Aryan Nations compound at Hayden Lake, Idaho.19 Butler, a disciple of Wesley Swift in California who moved to Idaho in 1973,possessed perhaps the strongest claim to be the Swift's spiritual heir. In the late 1970s and early 1980s, Butler's star did indeed appear to be in the ascendant. His Aryan Nations compound became a mecca for the radical right and his annual 'open house' attracted adherents of a wide variety of far right belief systems. A central attraction of this carnival was the weapons and survivalist training offered by Aryan Nations 'experts' who, in their snappy brown imitation Third Reich uniforms, veered as close to neo- Nazism as Christian Identity in North America has come. Of greatest import, the Aryan Nations' prison ministry appears to have been highly influential in the formation of the Aryan Brotherhood movement among white prisoners.[20]

    Rev. Butler was one of the star defendants at the 1989 Fort Smith conspiracy trial. His legal position at that point was precarious. The Order emerged from the area around Hayden Lake, and several founding Order members were Aryan Nations residents. Worse, the printing press used in the Order's counterfeiting operation belonged to the Aryan Nations. Finally, when Robert West, one of the residents of Butler's compound was found to be unable to drink and keep quiet at the same time, he was murdered on orders from Robert Mathews. His body has neverbeen found.[21]

    Yet Richard Butler was acquitted of all charges at Fort Smith, and indeed, he has been remarkably successful at skirting the law without actually crossing the line. This innate caution does much to explain the precipitous decline in Rev. Butler's fortunes in the 1990s. In a word, he preached a violent message while refusing to sanction- or even discuss- the possibility of acting on his words. Thus, while Robert Mathews and the Order were at the zenith of their fortunes and donating large sums of cash to a number of far right wing movements, Richard Butler whose Aryan Nations compound supplied the Order with much of its manpower saw little if any of this largess. Mathews seems to have held Butler in some contempt.[22] And, as an aging Butler casts about for a successor, the Aryan Nations movement appears to be fragmenting. Security chief and leading candidate for the succession Floyd Cochrane left the movement and publicly renounced his racist views. Louis Beam tried to shore up the group, but seems to have little interest in replacing Butler. Indeed, so low have Richard Butler's fortunes sunk that at the last Aryan Nations Congress in 1993, less than one hundred people made the trek to Hayden Lake.[23] There appear to be few realisticprospects for the movement to long survive Butler's demise.

    Younger, more outspoken and also peripherally connected to the Order is Pete Peters, an Identity minister based in northern Colorado. Peters, a well known figure in the world of Christian Identity, first came to public notice during the investigation of the Order's connection with he murder of Denver radio talk show host Alan Berg with the revelation that several members of the Order attended services at Peters' Laporte, Colorado, church. He has more recently been vilified for his authorship of a booklet which owes as much to Christian Reconstructionism as to Christian Identity. The title succinctly states the message of the tract: Death Penalty for Homosexuals. [24]

    Click HERE to Continue Reading Article on Wayback Machine

    Pastor Peters' efforts to step into the vacuum of Identity leadership brought on by the decline of Richard Butler's influence and the further splintering of the movement in the wake of the Fort Smith fiasco have, at this writing, brought him little more than increasing difficulties with Colorado authorities. An opportunity to assert this claim to influence presented itself in August, 1992. This occasion followed the events which took place near Naples, Idaho, on 21- 22 August 1992.There, in an event that would eerily resemble a small scale version of the federal action at the Branch Davidian compound in Waco, Texas, an eighteen month stakeout of the cabin of Identity adherent Randy Weaver, culminated with the deaths of a federal marshal, Weaver's 14 year old son and his wife- shot in the head while holding her infant daughter inher arms. The battle electrified the world of Christian Identity. By chance, this drama was played out during the 22- 28 August Scriptures for America Bible Camp conducted in Colorado by Peters.[1]

    Following the camp, Peters attempted with limited success to channel the outrage felt throughout the far right wing into an organized movement which would seek to prevent such an event from happening again, either through legitimate political action or, if no other recourse were possible, by fighting back rather than allowing the federal government to eliminate Christian Patriots one by one.[2]

    So fractious is the world of Christian Identity that it almost goes without saying that Pete Peters has had little success in his quest to unite the small, far- flung kingdoms that are the Identity ministries in North America. Worse, the authoritarian personality documented by Lipset in regard to those susceptible to right wing ideologies, while overstated, does seem to have come home to roost in the case of Pete Peters. A stubborn man, convinced of his own basic 'rightness', Peters held fast to his principles for over two years of complicated legal wrangling with the state of Colorado over a minor election law violation which carried a small fine. By refusing all efforts at compromise,Peters at this writing had amassed fines plus interest of over $10,000. On 26 February 1993 the state of Colorado seized his church and froze his bank accounts in an effort to make good on the debt.[3]

    Pastor Dan Gayman of Schell City, Missouri, represents the opposite end of the Identity spectrum. Where a Richard Butler could gather a group of the disaffected and dream of revolution, and a Pete Peters could urge the Identity community to unite for self- defense against a government seen as bent on the destruction of the 'righteous remnant', Dan Gayman would urge the faithful to withdraw to the greatest possible degree from the surrounding society and prepare as best they can for the imminent End of Days. This is not to say that Pastor Gayman is a pacifist. A student of Gerald L. K. Smith acolyte Kenneth Goff, Gayman in his younger years was closely identified with the most radical wing of Identity believers. More, Gayman apparently received at least $10,000 from the Order, although at FBI insistence at the time of the Fort Smith trial, this money was returned.[4]

    Yet in the wake of the Fort Smith trial, Pastor Gayman's evolution from confrontation to accommodation with government authority was greatly accelerated. These new found principles of non- violence were announcedin a 15 January 1987 resolution adopted by the congregation of Pastor Gayman's Church of Israel:
    . . . be it hereby known that the CHURCH ... and the Board of Trustees, the Pastor, and the congregation of the same in America and throughout the world do not offer this Church as a sanctuary, cover, or "safe house" for any person or persons, organizations or groups, that teach civil disobedience, violence, militant armed might, gun-running, para-military training, hatred of blacks, reprisals against the Jews, posse Comitatus, dualist, odinist (sic), Ku Klux Klan, Neo-Nazi, national socialism (sic), Hitler cult, stealing, welfare fraud, murder, war against the government of the United States, polygamy, driving unlicensed vehicles, hunting game without proper licenses, etc.[5]
    This declaration was followed by a series of scriptural teachings based on Romans 13 mandating submission to all but the most unjust of secular authorities and culminated with a stern denunciation of the fictional commandos from the dawn of time, the Phineas Priesthood.[6]

    The future of Christian Identity is difficult to gauge. The movementis in constant flux with adherents taking up the cause only to abandon the belief system months or years later. The decentralized nature of Identity combined with a largely mail order congregation precludes reliable estimates of the size of the Identity flock at any given time. Yet Identity has proven to be as resilient as was its British- Israel predecessor, and the ability of Identity pastors to combine Identity doctrines with other right wing appeals- Thom Robb's mix of Identity and the Ku Klux Klan comes immediately to mind- suggests that Christian Identity will be a feature of the North American racialist right for some time to come.

    Last edited by PastorLindstedt; 05-14-2011 at 12:39 AM.
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    Default Right Wing Violence in North America, Part II

    Right Wing Violence in North America, Part II
    by Jeffrey Kaplan


    [This is copyrighted material available only for classroom use in the internet Conflict Resolution course. No other reproduction or dissemination is permitted without written authorization.]

    Neo-Nazi Groups

    Right now this movement is plagued with little self-appointed SS groups who spend huge bucks in assembling SS paraphernalia and putting it on for secret photographic sessions that almost smack of queers coming out of the closet- - indeed, in some cases, that is what it is. The fact is (and we had better start admitting some of these unpleasant facts) that this movement has a distinct tendency to attract faggotsbecause of the leather- macho image that the System Jew media imparts to the SS uniform. . .

    . . . in the past year we have had here in North Carolina as "house guests". . . :

    A 32- year- old 300 pound psychotic who tried to play junior Martin Bormann, spent his time here insulting, threatening, and spreading rumors about other Party members, and would throw screaming tantrums like those of a four-year-old child when opposed. One person described these fits as "a bearded Gerber baby on a rampage." . . .

    And this is in Carolina, admittedly the best and most selective unit in the Party! The other units are even worse...drug addicts, tattooed women, total bums and losers, police informers, the dregs of urban life . . . .

    [Harold Covington][7]
    More a study in political pathology than a viable political movement, the highly disparate world of explicitly neo-Nazi groups in North America is notable both for its high profile activism -- they are a highly visible feature of the landscape of every right wing march -- and for its minuscule size. This is not to say that National Socialist groups are without influence -- quite the opposite is true -- but if Christian Identity is fractious, National Socialism is fratricidal!

    The movement in fact has been preoccupied with its internecine rivalries since 1967 when Commander George Lincoln Rockwell was assassinated in Arlington, Virginia. Matthias Koehl inherited Rockwell's American Nazi Party, changing its name to the National Socialist White People's Party and beginning what would be an ongoing feature of the movement since then; a seemingly unending round of purges and angry resignations. Such high profile Christian Identity figures as James Warner and Ralph Forbes began their careers in the radical right in the ANP only to be harried into other appeals in the cultic milieu through this process of Koehl-era fragmentation. Dr. William Pierce, whose visionary novel The Turner Diaries had such a strong influence on the tactical approach of the Order and Harold Covington whose widely shared observations of the quality of adherents that neo- Nazi movements in North America manage to attract opened this section, were both purge victims as well.[8]

    Today, National Socialism, in the widely shared observation of West Virginia Nazi figure George Dietz, is a movement boasting "a lot of little fuehrers with no brains and lots of guts."[9] In other words, it is a highly idiosyncratic collection of 'leaders' scattered around the country whose unenviable task it is to lead a tiny and unsavory band of followers toward the dream of revolution and the institution of a New Order. Here too, the movement is bitterly divided between the conservative majority of party activists who favor the theory of mass action which calls for carefully building a broad, revolutionary coalition and those few who favor immediate revolutionary violence on the model of 1960s era left wing guerrilla movements.[10] In either case, the dream is frankly millennial, and thus, admittedly, ahistorical. But it is a dream which is, to the faithful, very much worth fighting for.[11]

    As the introduction to this section indicates, it is no easy task to find an influential leader in National Socialist ranks today. Many have passed through the movement, but almost all have gravitated to other racialist appeals less stigmatized by the negative public image of Nazism and less prone to attract the sort of adherents decried by Harold Covington in the quotes presented above. What remains are a small group of true believers- Hitler cultists in every sense of the term- and a relative few for whom veneration of the Third Reich does not stand inthe way of an objective analysis of the current condition of the movement and the flexibility to adapt National Socialist doctrine to the exigencies of contemporary North America. This section will examine several of the more influential of these modernist "little fuehrers" and consider how a movement with so few adherents- and those held in contempt by their own leaders no less than by the far right wing generally- could enjoy as much influence as it does.

    There is little question that the single most influential neo-Nazi in North America is National Alliance leader William Pierce. It was Pierce, writing under the pseudonym of Andrew Macdonald, who authored The Turner Diaries which strongly influenced the founder of the Order, Robert Mathews. Indeed, Mathews was once a member of the National Alliance before his discovery of Christian Identity, as was Tom Martinez, the man whose betrayal would cost Mathews his life. Pierce's career considerably predated the Turner Diaries, however. A Ph.D. physicist who resigned a professorship at Oregon State University to become a core member of Rockwell's American Nazi Party, Pierce edited the ANP's quarterly journal, National Socialist World. Pierce remained with the ANP for three years after Commander Rockwell's assassination before that organization's internal upheavals forced him into the arms of veteran racist Willis Carto and his National Youth Alliance. Like every associate of Carto, this affiliation was short lived and the National Alliance was born. After 1978, the National Alliance was joined by a new Pierce creation, the Cosmotheist Church, whose primary tenet of faith appears to be that 'Thou shalt not deny Dr. Pierce tax exempt status' as had the Internal Revenue Service in that year.[12]

    Prior to producing Turner Diaries, Dr. Pierce's influence in the world of the radical right was based less on his Rockwellian pedigree than on his own ecumenical approach to National Socialism. No mere Hitler cultist, Pierce has consistently eschewed the swastika or other overt displays of Third Reich nostalgia. Instead, his journals (Attack! and its successor National Vanguard, and the internal Action and its successor National Alliance Bulletin) have consistently been not only literate but intellectually challenging. This is no mean feat in this milieu! More, with the unremarkable exception of Willis Carto, Dr. Pierce has managed to remain on good terms with a considerable number of radical right figures, remaining in fact perhaps the last man that Church of the Creator creator Ben Klassen could call a friend before Klassen's 1993 suicide. This too was no mean feat, and Pierce's reward was the opportunity to buy Klassen's North Carolina property at the bargain price of $100,000.[13] But it is the Turner Diaries, and perhaps its successor, Hunter, for which Pierce will best be remembered. The Turner Diaries is at this writing the most accurate encapsulation available of the seductiveness of the chiliastic dream that allowed a certain segment of the radical right to ignore the glaring disparity between the forces of ZOG (Zionist Occupation Government) and those of the 'revolution' and to enlist in Robert Mathews' quixotic Order. With the Order crushed and the dream of the 'revolutionary majority' in tatters, Pierce launched Hunter into the post-Fort Smith void to suggest to the dispirited movement that all was not lost. Rather, a change in tactics was in order, with the lone wolf assassin providing for the moment the only realistic outlet for revolutionary violence.[14]

    Rick Cooper and Gerhard (Gary) Lauck do not approach the status of William Pierce in the world of the radical right. Both head National Socialist organizations which have no members. Yet both do enjoy a certain degree of influence in National Socialist circles; Cooper in North America and Lauck abroad, most notably in Germany. Their approaches to NS doctrine are polar opposites. Where Cooper seeks to adapt NS principles to the creation of a small, separatist utopian communalism, Lauck unabashedly dreams of world revolution and pledges explicit obeisance to the ghost of Adolph Hitler.

    Lauck's name is perhaps better known to an international audience. Through translations of its newspaper New Order, the NSDAP/AO reaches an audience throughout Europe, the Americas and South Africa, with its primary appeal directed to skinheads. New Order in America is published and distributed from a post office box in Lincoln, Nebraska. Lauck's current loner status in the world of National Socialism may have been the result of an ill-starred alliance with Frank Collin, the head of the National Socialist Party of America in Chicago in the late 970s. Collin's reign ended ingloriously, although in the milieu of North American National Socialism, hardly atypically. First, it was revealed that Collin was half-Jewish -- his father had been a prisoner in the Nazi concentration camp at Dachau. As if this wasn't enough, Harold Covington, his rival for NSPA 'power', made the fortuitous discovery (while rifling through Collin's desk) that the half-Jewish fuehrer also had a weakness for pedophelia and did not hesitate to photograph his dalliances with a number of young boys. As a result, Collin was sent to prison, Covington inherited the NSPA and moved its operations to North Carolina, and the luckless Lauck found a new calling; translating American neo-Nazi propaganda and smuggling it into Germany. The NSDAP/NO was founded in 1974 following his expulsion from West Germany for giving a speech on American National Socialism. Undaunted, Lauck tried again in 1976 and was arrested, briefly incarcerated and banned from entering the country for life.[15]

    Ricky Cooper's National Socialist biography is less colorful than Gary Lauck's. A former member of Matt Koehl's NSWPP, Cooper and co-founders Don Stewart and Fred Surber, both NSWPP veterans, made a virtue of necessity in stating at the inception of their National Socialist Vanguard (NSV) that the organization neither had nor would they accept followers. Rather, the NSV would work to create a separatist enclave which they called Wolf Stadt which would ultimately provide a refuge for the 'righteous remnant' of the racialist right. Wolf Stadt would be built from the proceeds of a group of private business' established by the trio in Salinas, California. The NSV would migrate from Salinas to Oregon and then Washington, with the service companies reportedly doingworse at each location. Nonetheless, the NSV could hardly be accused of obfuscation. Among its ventures were: Nordic Carpet and Upholstery Cleaning; Hessian Janitorial Service, Quartermaster Laundry, and the memorable Galactic Storm Troop Amusement Center![16]

    Cooper's influence in National Socialist circles stems from his affability -- he never met a racialist ideology in which he couldn't find at least some positive points -- and from the role of the NSV Report which provides something of a friendly tabloid documenting the recent doings of the radical right and reviewing the latest books, television programs and films which might be of interest to what the NSV calls the White Nationalist community. Cooper is of particular note for making himself available for class room appearances (there seem to be no shortage of these opportunities) and for his innovative mass mailings to high school students in selected cities in the U. S.[17]

    Cooper's willingness to forge alliances across ideological chasms, like that of William Pierce, is the key to the riddle of how so tiny a movement as National Socialism could exercise such a considerable influence on the radical right wing. The minuscule number of literate, intelligent propagandists that North American National Socialism hasmanaged to produce in the wake of George Lincoln Rockwell's assassination have proven to be a valuable resource for a broad spectrum of appeals across the spectrum of the radical right wing.

    Reconstructed Traditions: Odinism

    Brothers will fight
    and kill each other,
    siblings do incest;
    men will know misery,
    adulteries be multiplied,
    an axe-age, a sword-age,
    shields will be cloven,
    a wind-age, a wolf-age . . .

    [Odin's description of Ragnar?k, Prose Edda, 12th c.][18]
    Reconstructed traditions are belief systems which are consciously modeled on idealized traditions of the past and are adopted by adherents attempting to reconstruct in the modern world the spirit if not thesubstance of that past Golden Age. In the world of the radical right, two reconstructed traditions have played important roles. Dualism, an elaborate construct based on Mountain Kirk impresario Robert Miles' Francophile fascination for the medieval dualist sect, the Cathars, died with pastor Miles in 1992. The other, Odinism, remains vibrant and shows considerable potential for growth in the foreseeable future.

    Odinism, a reconstruction of the Viking-era Norse pantheon, plays a vital role in the world of the radical right and in the wider universe of the cultic milieu. [19] In terms of mapping theory, Odinism is located at the spiritual crossroads linking the racialist appeals of the radical right with the occult/magical community of Wiccan witchcraft and neo-paganism. As denizens of the cultic milieu, Odinists practice an imaginative blend of ritual magic, ceremonial forms of fraternal fellowship, and an ideological flexibility which allows for a remarkable degree of syncretism in adopting elements of other white supremacist appeals -- Nazism and, remarkably, Christian Identity in particular. More, as the above text indicates, Odinists tend to subscribe to a number of beliefs which are explicitly Christian. Anti-Semitism for example would have puzzled the pagan era Norse, as would the various conspiratorial fantasies which are ubiquitous in the radical right.

    Contemporary Odinism originated in the fanciful revival of the cult of Odin among certain of the Weimar era 'German Youth Movement'. This cultic activity would flourish in Nazi Germany, and would find resonance with sympathizers abroad whose anti-Semitic beliefs would lead them to conclude that, as Christianity is built on a Jewish foundation, it too must be swept away in the construction of a chiliastic 'New Order'. Alexander Rud Mills, an eccentric Australian, was one such, and it is his writings that inspired the first generation of Odinist adherents in the post-war Americas.[20]

    Mills' work disappeared for a time, only to be resurrected in the late 1960s by Else and Alex Christensen in Florida as the culmination of their search for 'the answer' to society's ills which is typical of the right wing milieu. The quest went from Spengler to Yockey before quite by accident coming across Mills.[21] The formation of the widowed Else Christensen's Odinist Fellowship and the publication of the first issue of The Odinist in 1971 coincided with the discovery of the Norse pantheon by other seekers, most notably Steve McNallen who would at virtually the same time found the ?satr? Free Assembly.

    Although Christensen's Odinism and McNallen's ?satr? were at their inception difficult to distinguish, by the late 1970s the two movements would come to differ considerably, with the primacy of racialism in Odinism at the heart of this division. At that time, the inherent tensions within the ?satr? Free Assembly (race being a primary but not sole source of this tension) would shatter the movement. How difficult the issue of race -- and of National Socialism -- would be for the fledgling Odinist/?satr? movement would be illustrated in 1978 when the tiny National Socialist White Workers Party led by ANP veteran Allen Vincent obtained a meeting room in San Francisco by claiming to be "The Odinist Society." McNallen's reaction marks a decisive and painful break with the racialist roots of the modern Odinist revival:

    [this] Nazi-Odinist identification has persisted down to this day, but most of us either learned to live with it or simply hoped it would go away if we ignored it.

    The ?satr? Free Assembly announces the end of that tolerance.

    We . . . sympathize with the legitimate frustrations of white men who are concerned for their kind and for their culture. These concerns areully justified. It is a tragedy that these men are driven to radical groups such as the NSWWP because there is no well-known, responsible organization working for white ethnic awareness and identity.
    Traditions of the pagan Norse-Germanic peoples while at the same time aspiring to create an ?satr? 'priesthood' modeled closely on that of the early Church. The Alliance, however, whose leader was himself a graduate of the NSWPP's odd Nazi Motorcycle Club headed by James Warner and who in those days signed his letters with a hearty "Heil Hitler," would present a more complex case. The Alliance resolved the conflict between those whose primary quest was spiritual and those for whom ?satr? would be primarily a racialist vehicle by adopting a Steve McNallen AFA policy and banning the Alliance from espousing any political line while allowing its constituent kindreds to follow any path they wished so long as they made no attempt to involve the nationalorganization in their activities.

    Else Christensen's Odinist Fellowship followed quite a different path in these years. Primarily a mail order kindred, Mrs. Christensen began to fashion the OF into an influential prison ministry, offering according to her version of events an educational vehicle providing white prisoners with a message of racial pride, self- respect, and a way to transcend violence and anger so as to emerge from prison a new man. That this transformation of criminals into productive citizens was not always efficacious is amply demonstrated by the octogenarian Mrs. Christensen's arrest and current incarceration on a marijuana charge -- the result of her loyalty to her 'boys' upon their release![23] Nonetheless, Mrs. Christensen's influence should not be underestimated. She remains the most recognizable figure in contemporary Odinism, and her American vehicle, The Odinist, as well as the Toronto based Sunwheel (for which she was listed in an apparently honorary capacity as managing editor) has had a remarkable impact on a generation of Odinists. [24]

    The current constituency of North American Odinism is, to put it mildly, diverse. Best known are David Lane and other Odinist members of the Order, [25] although a variety of skinhead groups and bikers, as well as more than a smattering of National Socialists profess to be followers of Odinism. Too, Odinism travels well, linking racialist adherents in North America with like minded groups in Germany, southern Africa and Scandinavia. For example, ?satr?armenn in Iceland was formed by the late Svienbj?rn Beinteinsson in 1973, [26] and in the same year, the Committee for the Restoration of the Odinic Rite was founded by John Yeowell in England. Indeed, the primary challenge faced by Odinism today may be less the related appeals of other ideologies in the constellation of white supremacist groups than with competition from the non-racialist ?satr? community.

    Idiosyncratic Sectarians: Church of the Creator and Assorted Survivalists

    Idiosyncratic sectarians were described in my Spring 1993 essay in Terrorism and Political Violence as groups whose structures more nearly approximate a religious cult than a political movement. These groups may have started out in a particular camp, principally the Klan or Christian Identity, but in the course of their development there occurred a marked change in the group's structural dynamic. This change often followed a withdrawal from the surrounding society into isolated compounds where increasing psychological and physical isolation, a shared sense of persecution, and the increasing dominance of the group by a single charismatic, authoritarian leader may have led to a powerful strain of antinomianism. Where the earlier essay concentrated on isolated compounds, this section will examine individual survivalists through the microcosm of the Randy Weaver incident and the broader universe of idiosyncratic appeals through the uncertain fate of the Church of the Creator in the wake of Ben Klassen's suicide.

    The individual survivalist and the 'Creators' as the adherents of the Church of the Creator like to be called have more in common than it might seem at first glance. Both are composed of highly idiosyncratic individuals who profess fealty to no one. This might seem odd in the case of the creators, given their affiliation with an appeal which styles itself as a 'church' and was headed by a charismatic and highly authoritarian leader. However, despite these organizational trappings, the Church of the Creator remains a mail order ministry in every sense of the word. Beyond an ever changing core of would be successors to the late 'Pontifex Maximus' Ben Klassen, the COC membership is diffuse and no more substantial than a name on an application form, a check to pay dues and buy literature, and in the case of the most committed adherents, an avocation for passing out the COC newspaper Racial Loyalty to anyone willing to buy or accept a copy. This diffuse organizational structure combined with the COC's histrionic racialist appeal brought the COC a scattered group of adherents worldwide. Yet despite the fact that 'creativity' tends to be an urban phenomenon, creators in reality are every bit as alienated and alone as are the rural survivalists. More, where the geographic isolation of the survivalist makes him a rather unlikely candidate to commit an act of violence against anyone, the urban creators have been implicated in a number of invariably random acts of racially motivated street violence. This violence is at once encouraged by the tone of COC literature and overtly discouraged by the cautious Klassen's practice of framing the most violently racialist prose with disavowals of any intent to foment violent behavior among his church's 'ministers'.

    The COC centers on the belief that Christian Identity's quest to wrest back the divine covenant from the Jews is misguided. Rather, the COC holds that the nearly universal perception that Christianity is built upon the foundation of Judaism, and that Jesus himself was a Jew, is in fact correct. Thus, Christianity itself is Jewish and therefore anathema -- as is the society which would embrace such a Jewish religion (styled JOG or Jewish Occupation Government). Following this line of reasoning, the Pontifex Maximus deduced that as Christianity is built on a lie, so then must all religions be false. More, as the Jews are the font of all of the lies of this world, it therefore stands to reason that all religions are Jewish creations constructed to mislead and thus enslave the world. [27]

    Having rejected the existence of God or any other supernatural being, the COC has erected in His place a religion it calls Creativity; an odd blend of rewritten Christianity, health faddism, and scabrous racism. Theologically, the COC's program is primarily negative. That is, literally thousands of pages are devoted to debunking religious belief, especially those religions seen as appealing to potential COC adherents. Thus, COC publications attack every belief system from Mormonism to Odinism, but it is Christianity that comes in for the most violent attack.

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