« Making Sense with Sam Harris

#169 — Omens of a Race War

2019-09-20 | 🔗

In this episode of the Making Sense podcast, Sam Harris speaks with Kathleen Belew about the white power movement in the United States. They discuss white supremacy, white nationalism, white separatism, the militia movement, “The Turner Diaries,” the connection between the white power movement and war, the significance of Ruby Ridge and Waco, the Christian Identity movement, the significance of “leaderless resistance,” the failures of the justice system in prosecuting white power crimes, and other topics.

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This is an unofficial transcript meant for reference. Accuracy is not guaranteed.
Welcome to the making sense podcast. This is SAM Harris. Okay, let's see here brief housekeeping have added a conversation track to the waking up course, and so I started interview teachers there and other experts on topics related to meditation and the nature of mind and living unexamined life. Ah, that's Just starting generally speaking, these will be teachers and experts I admire and agree with, but also people who have genuine insights but may also believe a lot of cockamamie ideas that I want to push back on, and there also be some cautionary tales. I just added one of those, the former cult leader, Andrew Cohen, who
As I make clear, I don't think is merely a fraud, though he clearly created a lot of harm. I think he's a person who had some real insights and created a lot of harm anyway I found that a very interesting conversation. I think, there's a lot to learn from his experience, both as a student as a teacher and that kind of thing that's more narrowly focused on the contemplative life and ethics, and certainly meditation will be on the app rather than the podcast. These days also there's a new Android build come in and it will be entirely new I've been hearing about all the technical pain Android users have been experiencing anyway. Comprehensive fix is in the works, and I will let you know when that launches what else here my friend, Doug
Murray, has a new book out called the madness of crowds, and this is a book I am really happy. He wrote, I was thinking at one point that I should write a book along these lines. He has done a much better job than I would have. This is really the joinder to the Woke Nous that we've all been waiting for, and it is quite a measured book Douglas, as you know, as a last rating whip. So there are many laughs to be had at the expense of the far left, but this is not a shrill or tendentious book at all. It's really is just a sanity check and I found it enjoy read a region, my blurb just give you a sense of how much I like this book. We live at a time when many of the luckiest people on earth declare themselves among the most depressed while seeking to oppress others in the service of a paradoxical new
faith and no one is so beloved or immaculate that he or she can't be dragged before the altars of this cult and offered up as a fresh sacrifice in the madness of crowds. Douglas Murray shows how the apparent virtues of social justice, intersectionality and identity, Politics have begun to stifle honest thinking on nearly every topic in the process. He displays more courage and wit and basic decency. Then, can be found anywhere among the woke. The book is simply brilliant. Reading it to the end, I felt as though I just drawn my first full breath in years at a moment of collective madness. There is nothing more refreshing, or indeed provocative than sanity. So I love the book and I recommend you buy. It- would be great to see this book really succeed. This was a necessary book and Douglas was certainly the right man for the job. Okay, final announcement here, if you're supporting the podcast
Please make sure you were listening on the private feed, not on the public one, and that means you should go to website log in go to the subscriber content page and subscribe to the private rss feed. If you're on mobile, you can generally do that with one click which will connect your favorite podcast app, but we're making some changes here on the podcast, and I don't want subscribers to lose access to any content. So please make sure you are subscribed if you're, a supporter and you'll know the difference in your podcast player by seeing a red icon for the making sense podcast as opposed to a black one, and that is the telltale sign. Anyway. If you have problems, you can contact support at SAM Harris DOT, Org
and they will help you and, and one change that's come in and it's coming now is. I will start adding in an afterword teach podcast interview where I talk a little bit about the conversation you just heard. I won't always do this. Perhaps sometimes I will have left everything on the field, but if I have any further thoughts, I will put them after the conversation and not up front in the house keep and now for today's podcast today, I'm speaking with Kathleen Glue Kathleen is a historian and the author of the book bring the war home the white power, movement and Paramilitary America and she spent ten years research and writing this book. She is currently an assistant professor of history at the University of Chicago, and you may have heard her on fresh air, as I did, and she's appeared on CBS News and
elsewhere, and there was a PBS frontline documentary based on her work. Titled documenting hate, New American Nazis anyway. We cover a lot of ground. In this episode. We talk about the White Power Movement in the United States, the difference between white power and white supremacy and white nationalism and white separatism and the militia movement. We talk about the Turner Diaries, the significance of events like Ruby, Ridge and Waco Christian Identity Movement, the significance of so called leaderless resistance, the failures of the justices in prosecuting white power crimes and other topics and now without further delay. I bring you Kathleen, Ballou I'm here with Kathleen Ballou Kathleen thanks for coming on the podcast. Thank you for having me.
So we are job today is to talk about white power and white supremacy, white nationalism and white separatism and other joyful topics and you've written a book. Titled bring the war home the White Power Movement and Paramilitary America, and so obviously, this these topics more and more in the news, as we
live yet another year in Trump's Stan just to get our bearings here. How did you? How do you come to know anything about this stuff and maybe to start? How would you differentiate the terms I just listed? That's a great place to begin. These terms are two state and it's important to understand that they describe a whole range of beliefs, ideologies and ways that people move through the world, so the big category is quite supremacy now that covers everything from individual belief systems to the different kinds of systems and opportunities that structure daily life in our country. Many scholars have established that America is what we might pick up is a white supremacist nation, and by that I need
simply that there is an unequal distribution of resource, is opportunities and other elements of american life. We could look at incarceration education, health, all kinds of different metrics. We can use understand that now. That is historical in that it's something that was established over time and we see vestiges of white supremacy we'll our policy, and it's also individual in the terms in terms of belief system from person to person. Now all of that big white supremacy is much more Amorphis and distinct, from what I read about, which is the White Power movement. That is a group of activists. I suppose I should just say I use active, does not in any kind of positive terminology, but simply to describe someone who is taking action to bring about
a social and political change and the people that I write about our members of the Ku Klux Klan NEO, nazi groups. Skin has militia groups summer, radical tax protesters and some are other kind of stripes of anti state belief. These groups came together in the aftermath of the Vietnam WAR and set out to wage war on the federal government. So what I write about is the period from the end of the Vietnam WAR to the Oklahoma City bombing that really set the stage for the politics we find ourselves confronting in the present. You know, so I want to talk about the origins of all this, but you know, hopefully we will have something to say about the the nature of what's happening in the present. So let's, let's talk about first, you just made a few distinctions that that we should clarify. So you mentioned a bunch of these groups. Neo Nazi is the cake,
a the groups of people have heard about like the aryan nations in the order you alluded to to tax evaders. I guess I guess those are sovereign citizens. These groups are not, all identical ideologically! Are they and how do you? How do you parse this landscape, and, and is there a fee now, a formal connection between all of these miscreants and do they help one another, even if they don't totally agree. So something that the scholarship missed for quite a long time, partly through using an overly rigid idea of what a social movement should be. An should look like many social movements in the late 20th century are fragments The way I'm about to describe to you the other thing that people do- and I think this is a very natural sort of human approach to a belief system that you find foreign or objectionable is to try to sort it into category,
So there's a lot of early scholarship, that's sort of trying to figure out. Okay. How many of these people are not see is how many are skinheads, how many our clansmen and which symbols exactly should be used by which screw and exactly what variety of ideology you find in each place and that's all valuable to know, and certainly there are differences between some of these groups. But what I do is the historian is trying to understand how this movement worked for people who were members of it, and what you see on the ground is not strict divisions between these groups. What you see actually is a very vibrant circulation of people from from group to group and between ideologies and the way people in this movement describe their own. Activism is very similar so one person said something along the lines of suppose we're all christian. It's like I am church of Christ and that I over there is Baptist right, but we're all Christian appear. Describe it as they are all in the armed forces, but there simply in the army in the Navy, and things like this, so it's uh,
I wouldn't have a mode of understanding that allows us to see not only the distinctions but also the commonality and the fact that people moved at great frequency between these different groups and belief systems. But are they all white supremacists or they and are they all white separatists or they all white nationalist? Do they all mean? I guess the to stand out immediately to me. I know very little about them, but, like the sovereign sit sins, are they even racists? Aren't they just tax evading nut cases? Well, the first thing I would say is we probably want to get away from thinking about nut case in Miss Green and words like that as early as possible, because, even though the people who are in this movement have ideas that you are, I might not agree with their acting with a pretty coherent worldview instead of beliefs. That makes what they're doing legible the thing with the malicious- I guess I've seen too many of them on daytime television, throwing chairs at Geraldo, Rivera screaming at Sally Jesse,
How has he looked at those ones? Yet they were definitely dating myself for a little while and in the moment I study, they were really doing. A lot of those talk, show appearances and search. There are people within this movement who, I think we could all agree are motivated. Goodbye various kinds of mental disturbances as well as political. Theology? There's one man I write about testified in front of court that he could levitate him and speak to God and things like this, but he was a leader in movement anyhow, the militia movement is a little bit more difficult to grapple with than the earlier period. That is really at the heart of my son, and what I'm talking about is at the end of the 1980s there is this big movement of white power activity into but the militia movement is bigger than white power, and all of the bullshit movement should be classified as white power. It's not kind of a one.
To one transition. What it is is that the White Power Momenta, which is stangel at the end of the nineteen eighties, and includes a major sort of upsurge of number organizing groups, weapons and money all ends up in the militias. So what I'm kind of writing against is the idea that the White Power Movement simply disappears at the end of the nineteen eighties, which many people have thought. Instead, it ends up within the militia movement. So what does that mean? First of all, there are groups of militia men and individual than the movement that are not acting out of the same kind of over racial and Yes, that is what we're dealing with in a white power movement in some of the sovereign citizens sends activity might be classified in that way. However, there are also a lot of cases where that kind of Reese racial. What would we call it raise? Neutrality is actually simply of the nearer to make
our activism or acceptable, and that's an old strategy that goes. You know way back at least to the Vietnam WAR, if not into the early 20th century. So I think we have to be very cautious with the coalition move. But certainly it is an area that that deserves more a study right now, if I recall this is what made understanding Timothy, Mcveigh and and Ruby Ridge and those incidents that will talk about a little confusing because it was, it was entangled with this larger militia movement. I think Timothy Mcveigh was associated with the Michigan militia at one point and it just wasn't clear: what was what was what and what the ideology actually was. Langley and leave a as we talk about is a pretty clear case of white power activism, but many cases are less clear than that, especially in the militia years, letting people back before we move on through a part of your question that I think is really good one, which is how we think about those other terms: white nationalism and white separatism. These are often metals chart and I'll, just
everything that White nationalism is the idea that there is something inherently racially known and held in the category, population. So the idea that whiteness is an inherent part of what makes the United States what it is and that's that that the admission of other cultures will inherently disturbed or weekend the nation. Um and in terms of the study of extremist groups, the best example white nationalism. I would, I would argue, the one I use for teaching is the Ku Klux Klan in the nineteen twenties. Now that's a very familiar example, probably too a lot of your listeners off the one most people study in high school is also huge. It was four million people. It was ten percent of the state of Md Anna and very famously. This is where you get the pictures of the plans: men wearing white robes and hoods and marching on the National Mall in wash
to DC, but with their faces uncovered, because it was socially acceptable. Now what that plan was about was state participation, and we know this because it ton of them got elected to office they were about state participation. Their slogans were things like one hundred percent American America for Americans things like this We are profoundly anti anti black and anti semitic, but they were also anti immigrant and and had a lot of other interests. Ok, so that is, white nationalism. That's not what we're talking about. One thousand nine hundred and eighty three forward for people on the fringe because from one thousand nine hundred and eighty three forward, there is a huge pivot in this movement, partly fueled by the sense of betrayal felt in the aftermath of the Vietnam WAR in which to White Power movement is instead setting out to overthrow the federal government to create race war and, if in
please found a white nation white separatism is better for what we're talking about, but even separatism is sort of a few steps short of the ideology. That's really the most pop Taylor in biggest animating push in this movement which is not only separatism, I mean they do pursue separatism, meaning the demarcation of a white homeland within the United States, but the end game is not separatism. The end game is overthrow of the United States and the creation of an all white polity that eventually they mission might take over the world right, so it so they they do go that far. They have a kind of fourth Reich was complete and Hitler's project kind of ideology they do and in the best place, to sort of scene. Understanding is in a dystopian novel that becomes a sort of lodestar for the movement called the Turner Diaries, which really lays this out as an imagine
path forward. I mean one thing: that's really interesting about this movement from a scholarly perspective is how they think they can possibly do it, because it's a tiny group of people right. The fringe movement and they're setting out to to do what they say in this novel is like it's something like like an at assassinating an elephant. They want to overthrow the most militarized super state in the history of the world, Ah so the Turner Diaries is so important, not because of its you know, writerly qualities, but because it really lays out how they can hope to achieve something that radical right. Yes, and, as you point out in your book, not only does this movement get naturally seeded by disaffected soldiers coming back from from war is not just admitted that the most relevant one hears or the most proximate one is the Vietnam war. But you you point:
that that is it in the aftermath of basically every war we fought. This is benefit naman on were some number of soldiers, albeit a tiny percentage. Take their grievances against the state to you that the? U in the US government and direct them back home in them is is hence the title of your book bring the war home. Can you say something about that, and then we can just talk about how the origins here and and and just how many people are involved and absolutely so. This is actually how I got into this project. I wanted to do when I was set up to write a dissertation. I wanted to study the long legacies of racial violence in the united. We are, uniquely without a sort of shared public process around reckoning with the long violence that has characterized the nation
and at that time the only sort of thing like that that had happened was a total e non governmental truth and Reconciliation Commission in Greensboro NC. This happened in two thousand and five around an event that that happened in one thousand nine hundred and seventy nine in which a United Caravan of Klansman in NEO Nazis, open fire on the leftist Anti Klan March and key, hold five people wounded, did several more and the thing that the perpetrators in the people aligned with these ideologies said in the trc proceedings was I held communists in Vietnam. So why? Wouldn't I kill him here now? I couldn't stop thinking about this. This is a profound collapse of time and space and people it mixes up home to home and battlefront it mixes up, time in peacetime. It collapses everybody communist into the same kind of racial and subjugate category of death. This is enough
permanently meaningful, and what I wondered is if this is going to be a story about sort of Rambo story of veterans returning home and creating violence at home. It turns out that it's real not that simple at all and that this isn't a problem of veterans
See, indeed, is that there is a surge in this kind of vigilante violence after every major return from combat, but it turns out that that effect actually goes across age groups across gender, across categories of people who do and don't serve in warfare. All of us become more violent in the aftermath of war. Now that raises a whole lot of questions. You could go to sort of a MAX Baber kind of analysis, about monopoly of violence and whether the states, rule and creating warfare creates this aftermath. We can go to individuals bringing the war back with them. I think I tend to think it's a combination of a whole lot of different, complex factors, but what we know for sure is that we see this reverberation effect in the aftermath of violence and that this tiny, tiny
advantage of returning veterans brings back with them things like munitions, expertise that are then used to escalate the body count of white power violence. The war also creates a paramilitary culture in the 1980s in the United States, you know, people that I write about with these fringe beliefs are hardly the only people who think that that war is the major cultural event of their lifetime. We can just look at the out surge of movies and camo fatigues. You know clothes and paintball ranges and all kinds of other things like that. So there also capitalizing on this big troll moment the nineteen eighties yeah, and also you get the increased militarization of police forces and then the response
so that, in that the right wing outrage over the apparent misapplication of of state. For so you had and that the the two events that you write about that were so galvanizing to this movement were Ruby Ridge and Waco, were you have you know? Essentially, military, snipers and, and- and- and the case of Waco, a ton of military hardware intruding upon the lives of somewhat deranged, but as yet non violent people and essentially escalating these situations into kind of mass murders. If you view it from the side of those who view them, you know in the branch, Davidians and and uh the people at Ruby Ridge is as pure victims. Maybe that's a good place to start I mean how did what happen with Ruby Ridge and Waco, and what did that? Do? Thio the White Power Movement. Sure- and we should think of Ruby Ridge and Waco as related but sort of different kinds of events, and
the other thing I wanted just interject before we start on that story- is that the columns of paramilitary policing that came into public view, an public sort of became objects of public discussion because of Ruby Ridge. In Waco. That kind of policing had already been used on a lot of civilians in the United States because Counterinsurgency warfare was also developed, sort of through experimental methods in communities of color and then in Vietnam, before it was used in this way. So what's new about Waco and Ruby Ridge is mostly that it's televised and that people are focusing on it in the way that they do and that's partly because the people at the receiving end of is violence, a white. So what happens in Ruby Ridge? Is that there's a well so Ruby Ridge is a case of a white power activist, Randy Weaver
and his family had moved to the area to become survivalists. They built a rough cabin. They followed christian identity practice, which is a white power. Theology Randy Weaver ran for sheriff on my power platform and they had visited area nation, it'll for at least twice or something about it. At one of these area, nations meetings a government informants trying to get Randy Weaver to also become a government informants by selling him a illegal weapon that had been modified to be, I think, cornerman sure it's hard not to sympathize with the idea that Randy Weaver and people who people of all political stripes actually come. Look at this case and sort of think this was dirty billing on the part of government, this kind of
entrapment. I mean yes, I I'm not a legal scholar, but entrapment is certainly the word that came to my into the first time ever in this case, a lot of other things happened by way of miscommunication, including giving him the wrong court date and then responding when he didn't show up to the court date, although he could also decided not to go so there's a whole bunch of sort of Baffin ever around this, and then government snipers in circle his cabin to try to demand that he come to port, but the weaver family, all of them, including the children, are highly armed, and this turns into a multi day standoff with several people killed in the course of events, including Vicki Weaver, killed as she's holding her infant daughter in her arms inside of the cabin and for reasons we could talk about her death is among the people lost her dad is sort of singularly important too.
This movement for a number of symbolic reasons. The theme that I find most interesting about this is that Ruby Ridge is kind of the moment where we can see that the White Power Movement Para militarization and by that idea, I mean the way that it's becoming more and more like an army. It's using military grade weapons on the uniforms at this point, plans that have largely abandoned the white robes and hoods and started using camel fatigues instead they're using things of this kind. We see that Para militarization colliding with a concurrent paramilitary, Para militarization of policing, so there's a picture that I found in the archives where a group of bias skinheads was on their way up to the mountain top during the siege, with the intention of resupplying, the number four with more guns and Emma and they're they're caught they're detained and arrested by the a t f, which is good
firearms and there's a photograph of a GM officer arrested with skinheads down on the floor with his medium on on the back and in the photograph they're wearing the same uniforms they're indistinguishable from, except that one of them has an a t f. Get it's really something that that two completely different elements of society, one being supposed be in neutral arbiter of kind of law on the other being Anti state movement could come to be outfitted in such a sum or way. So all of that gets really cooked into a frenzy by Waco, which is not a white power event per se. The branch davidians who are One hundred and and put under siege at Waco are actually a multi racial compound, but they are kind of an apocalyptic group of. I guess we could say fellow true
colors with White power movement, and certainly the White Power Movement understands it as a white power event and in fact, in some of the magazines within the white power. Movement, there's no only the photographs of Waco victims who are white victims. They omit the other people so sort of in that way, and Timothy Mcveigh was actually standing there. I mean this is like a a month- long FBI, ATF, siege, yeah and many people, traveled among among them, Timothy Mcveigh, that just kind of bear witness to this atrocity in the making, with the gonna misapplication of of of state power away and whether Not David Karesh himself was a white supremacist. Yes, an unlink, Ruby, rich, which is very remote, and on the top of the mountain and most of the images coming out for satellite images, Waco was on the Texas Prairie, so the foot, the cameras could watch everything.
Open, including when federal armored vehicles rolled in and so far the compound or compounds somehow caught fire. This is still a matter of some argument the siege. The Waco siege became a sort of meeting point for people in the White Power movement. Louis beam, who is one of the key leaders of this movement, came out to the to the siege and asked questions of many of the law enforcement officers tried to get press credentials. Timothy Mcveigh made the trip. Mcveigh was not there when the fire happened, at the end, although there are reports of him watching it on television with tears, running down his face and significantly what we're thinking about these long after nights of warfare, the armored vehicles used to end the Waco siege were very very similar to the one that he man's, that may have a man in cold war in the big Revlon Infantry Tisha, just to close the loop on Christian.
Canada here so so. The branch Davidians warrant, Jan identity, Ariens in in quite the same way as some of these other groups are. But there is a a kind of apocalyptic Christianity, organizing some of this movement right and- and I and I, if I recall from your book the end of the cold war, seem to signal to the people who have this cast of thinking that we were sending connect entering the end times, and this was the moment where you know the one Supremacist Christian Ethno state needed to be built. Christian identity for listeners who may not have heard about this before is in political theology that holds that white people are the true. You lost tribe
Israel and that everyone else are racial enemies. Everyone else people have colored jewish people, anyone who is not white and part of this tribe. This faith holds had descended from either beasts or state, depending on where you are in which strand of the theology and I'm simplifying a little bit for Expedia see, but I think this is a fairer depiction. The interesting thing about christian identity, in terms of how it operational is, is this movement? Is that, unlike you and Jellicle churches, which are also gaining huge memberships in the nineteen eighties, which are also becoming very politicized and very focused Alice. I don't like to give and Jellicles Hurston entity has no rapture There is no promise that the faithful will be spared this hideous battle at the end of the world. Instead, the faithful are supposed to survive the battle, so they become survivalists and they are tasked with
clearing the world of enemies, which again is all non white people and juice, and so clearing the world of enemies so that Christ can return. So what christian identity does for the people in this movement who believe in it is to transfigured this whole thing into a holy war. Now this thing about the apocalypse, though it's way bigger than the white power, and I think that the interview the hold war is significant, is kind of the direction of my next book may be going. The end of the cold war is significant in this way. Not only for people with friends or for you and jellicles, but for a whole lot of people in the United States, because if you think about Cold WAR, America, people have really come to live with the idea of be imminent end of the world or the imminent threat of life presented by nuclear worker. We can think about those duck in tow. Cover drills and videos and all of the different ways that people were sort of primed and civil society. To think about how that could kind of happen at any time,
And then that layered, on top of this religious belief, which again ranges from evangelical churches all the way to the christian identity friend, So what happens in one thousand? Nine hundred and eighty nine is super interesting because the enemy disappears. The soviet enemy disappears with the end of the whole war, but the belief doesn't disappear so there's this whole roof of people who suddenly have this intense belief in imminent apocalypse, but this time, It's a hole in the story so for people in the White Power Movement, a lot of people simply replace the state into that kind of missing enemy, slot my sense, is that in the nineties this is kind of a crisis of narrative for a lot of people. Beyond this movement in the aftermath of Waco, we have Timothy Mcveigh. You know highly motivated it would seem to take the war home, and at that point you just prior to
Do the Oklahoma City bombing do have a sense of how many people were part of this movement? Yes, so this is the this is a tricky thing to count, and I'm going to playing my best estimate and then I'm going to tell you some of the problems with it. And sociologists have kind of thought about this in Concentrix which is to say that, as I was saying earlier, social movements have kind of varying levels of degree dissipation. If you will so, you can think about concentric circles like a boy I am in the middle, only about twenty five thousand people. Now those are the people who live and breathe the movement. They marry other people in the movement they get rides to the airport, from other people in the movement they go to all the rallies. They organize their lives around those they moved to the NW, sometimes for movement reasons they have children and home school them in the way of prescribed by the movement.
Ok outside of that there's another ring of people, that's around one hundred and five thousand two hundred and seventy five thousand people, those people do public facing stuff like attend. Rallies subscribe to literature, regularly, read the newspapers outside of that is another four hundred and fifty thousand people and those people don't themselves contribute money or, time, but they do regularly read the literature. So what we can imagine is that there is another more diffuse group of people outside of that who would not read something that says you know official newspaper of the Knights of K, K, K, but who might agree with many of the ideas that are presented in it. So what we have I think about is the way that this kind of model, organizing both moves ideas from that hard core center out into the mainstream and pulls in recruitable people towards the middle. Mmm. Okay! Now now that I've said that's our best estimate. One other thing is that play which some sociologists discovered
which is that after one thousand nine hundred and eighty three, this movement is using a strategy called leaderless resistance. Now. This is actually very very similar to how we now understand self titled terror, and I think a lot of people think it's familiar because of all the things we've learned after nine eleven leaderless resistance simply holds that people can agree on a common set of targets and objectives and then work together to achieve them through violence, but without Kamu cation with other cells or with central leadership and leaderless resistance in the White Tower came about mostly because they were so frustrated at B. I infiltration in the in the civil rights era and because they thought it would make it more difficult to prosecute him in court
it did make both of those operations more difficult, but the bigger legacy, a leaderless resistance has been that we lost our entire conception of this as a social movement, and I can talk more about that in a minute in a minute. But what what this means for numbers is that? After one thousand nine hundred and eighty three, this movement is no longer interested in trying to get. You know. Ten thousand people to march down main St. This movement is interested in trying to get twelve people who are willing to rob a bank or soft. Yeah. So what we have to remember is that, after one thousand nine hundred and eighty three decreasing numbers actually doesn't mean decreasing violence or activity, so you've sketched a picture of something like seven hundred thousand people who are in these thesent the rings of the of the movement- and you know you know twenty five thousand of whom are actually you know. Soldiers are consider themselves soldiers. Do you have a sense of You know that outer ring of of sympathizers-
and maybe there's a ring beyond that- I'm just trying to imagine how many people in the? U S when they saw Oklahoma City thought yeah, that's how it was probably a good idea. You know that had to happen. I understand what makes a was up to there. How many people would, you think were were on troubled by the preschool kids who were killed there Just because there's a picture, I just wanna know what we're talking about when we're talking about You know murderous white supremacy and its sympathizers yeah. Absolutely, I think that's a really interesting question special. Because you know, none of these answers are ever simple. Even for people in the movement there's a lot of argument in the movement about the efficacy of Oklahoma City because of the children. That's a really hard pill for people in the movement to swallow because white children,
are so central to what they think they're doing. Maybe that's a confounding variable, maybe maybe it's just. We need a different example, but so let's just focus on on Oklahoma City. For a moment, we can summarize what what Oklahoma City was. Briefly, I mean people be fairly familiar with it, but I guess at few things to point out, one is that it was not totally clear that may There was a white supremacist, or at least it was not as as clear as it might have been he's. Not he doesn't have. He doesn't have a swastikas tattooed on his arms that I recall, and he didn't claim to be part of a White Power movement right. I think he even claimed to have just acted on his own, and you are now saying that this is part of the plan to to actually hide the fact that you you had confederates and I think many people think he had
in a several confederates who went unprosecuted and an undiscovered, and there was very little will to to go digging further there and then there's a fair amount of conspiracy. Thinking around that, I remember Gore. Vidal wrote pieces in at least one piece in vanity, fair and so just give your your take on Oklahoma, city and and and what it meant and and what it did to the moment share were we to Oklahoma City. I want to give you one more piece of information about kind of the relative size and importance, and then- and that is simply a comparative example. We think about fringe movements in the United States and what is it isn't important to say so? The John Birch society is much more studied and much more understood than the movement that we're talking about today. Huh John Birch Society, as some of you really,
No is anti communist kind of cold war era, extremist group that sometimes borders on violence and that I had a lot of political attention paid to it for a room in it? There John Birch, is usually covered in textbooks as an example of extremism. The John Birch society had about one hundred thousand people, so we're talking about a movement. Archer and has in arg. Leave more weaponry in military training, the John Birch. So the the question becomes. Why didn't we know about? Why didn't we understand and how did we forget, because all of the things that I read about in my book are examples that were documented at the time like them. Like the Mcveigh case right, the of
since that I talk about in the book were all covered in the press. There was footage of clan milk, paramilitary training camps on good morning, America. The today show, and things like that. The Greensboro massacre was the subject of a Saturday night LIVE sketch. This was in the site, Geist people understood, and the things like this were happening. What we lacked was some kind of apparatus for putting them together into the same story. So that's that
thing that, I think, is really interesting, especially because we think about this phrase, the lone Wolf it was popularized by these activists. They deliberately wanted to disappear now. One example of this is the Oklahoma City bombing, which killed one hundred and sixty eight people. What we're talking about this, of course, Timothy Mcveigh's, fertilizer bombing of the Alfred Camera Federal building in Oklahoma City in one thousand nine hundred and ninety five. Now that is the largest deliberate mass casualty on? U S, soil between the bombing of Pearl, harbor and nine eleven, but it is not understood. We don't have a durable public understanding of this as being a work of ideology and politics, rather than kind of one person's madness. We don't learn about. It
school. We don't think of it as a milestone movement for the United States of Woman teacher history survey, and I think it's really interesting that we've missed it now. I think that you know, of course, there's a lot of conspiracy theory around it and multiple bone theories and Jocko Series all kinds of things to me. I think the persuasive thing is actually in the historical archive and to understand what happened here. We have to go back to another child enforcement Arkansas in one thousand nine hundred and eighty seven, eighty eight so they're the federal government attempted to try thirteen white power activists and leader on charges, including seditious conspiracy, to overthrow the federal government
honey, huge evidentiary base and included the testimony of a whole bunch of people who have made bargains with the movement with federal investigators to testify against their fellow activists that included a ton of seized weapons, including things like anti tank guns and grenades, landmines, it included, he published writing of people who said they were going out to overthrow the government, but it had a lot of problems and I think I think reasonable people can agree that there were issues with this trial, including, but not limited to two of the jurors have romantic relationships with defendants, trial. That's always delicate, that's sort of a problem for Amy. I don't know. Jerry I was saying there were two I have custody issues that excluded a ton of relevant evidence,
and there were they were also trying this this case in an area of the country that it had enormous and hugely publicized stories about the White Power Movement, but then they excluded all jurors who had even ever heard of the White Power movement. So essentially that was like people who read the newspaper excluded Anspach, after this trial, which was a huge disaster for the federal government. I mean the headlines about the acquittal at this trial: where things like jubilant, racists, win trial. This was very embarrassing for the federal government was followed, as we just saw by Ruby Ridge and Waco, which were also you know, tragedy but also pr in nightmares for the federal government. So after. In addition trail, there was actually a policy change in which the f
yeah, I decided. We will no longer investigate these kinds of acts of violence as tide to a broader move. We will investigate them only as individual crimes, and that was the policy in place when Mcveigh bomb. The federal so it is, of course, in hindsight, very difficult to know exactly what the shape of that active violence was and who was involved. Because the investigation never happened. Yeah. I guess so. One question I have, though, is around this notion that. A lone wolf is never a lone wolf or that we should. We should always suspect that a lone wolf is part of a larger movement so like to take the case Of Mcveigh right, so we all know what it's like to see a white supremacist on television,
and dad you know interviewed- are given an opportunity to state his views and they're not shy about stating his use. I mean they're they're, proud of their racism right. They want to use the platform to further spread these ideas and we know what those vile chatter boxes are like and then you have to like Mcveigh who, if he expressed any racism item and I'm sure you know there- are things in his backstory that suggests he was. He was racist, but I recently watched his the one interview he gave from death row to for sixty minutes and he didn't express anything like that there and want when given an opportunity to account for what he had done. He. He put it in terms that were really entirely focused on the misapplication of of state power, and he said he said unlikely the example you gave of the
The veteran is said know I killed, killed communist over there and you know when I kill them here. He gave a certainly less white supremacist, moss on what he had done? Is it listen? I was in Iraq and I killed people over there and I got medals for it, but you know what as I doing over there killing people. You know that I I you know that that wasn't my country. You know I that, and he seemed to be questioned the whole premise that state power should be telescopes elsewhere. And he said you know if I've been in a wreck- and you know I would have been fighting me- you know anyone who showed up in my country and so and then and then the only time he became animated in this interview was when Ruby Ridge and Waco came up, and then you could see how disturbed he was and how justified he felt in responding to what he considered this. This intrusive state,
Islands and again, I really. I don't doubt that there was a racist undercurrent to his concerns there. But if he really was a hardcore white supremacist, why not take up those kinds of opportunities to talk about the future of the White Race and the the creation of white women and all the the the the other litany of concerns that you get from these people. Another context very valid question, and I think this is where I think that not to be a super nerdy historian about it. History is where we can really see you something else. It's interesting this well. Let me start by saying this. You sort of entered the question by thinking about. Do. We have to see each one of these attacks as not available. Let me just add one piece to that, because the problem I see with that is that it becomes truly on falsifiable and indeed becomes like that's in the
seen in the life of Brian, where you know they, they find the wrong Messiah and the guy says I'm not the Messiah and someone says at six with the Messiah would say right: yeah I mean yeah, and it also you know not all mass attack in the United States. That's carried out by people who live here has to do with this particular movement. I'm talking about a subset of mass I'm talking about the ones that are politically motivated and coordinated through movement that's not all of them, but it's a lot of them and we haven't done enough to understand what that is and why that's motivating people, violence now Mcveigh, Here's the ok so there's a couple of. Let me just let me just start with what we know about him I'll start with a methodological distinction,
historians a lot of the time, really distressed what people say about something. After the fact, we preferred to see what they did and make Vance life gives us an evidence that his you know. Public comment, sort you don't show, including, as you mentioned, his affiliation with the Michigan militia.
He also wrote letters to his sister saying he was going underground and include encouraging her to continue above ground activism and he was going to sort of go off. The grid attempted contacts or contacts with a whole bunch of different white power groups, including the Arizona Patriots, the National alliance, which, by the way, is the one headed by the man who wrote the Turner Diaries and the separatist compound at Elohim City, which is filtered a whole bunch of people on the lamb who were members of the order, another white power tourist groups that were organized in leaderless resistance style. He chose the date of the bombing on the uh. Adversary of the Waco Siege, that's pretty well known, but also on the execution date of a prominent white power activists who had once targeted that same building in Oklahoma City. He once lived with somebody in Michigan,
who knew the Murrah Building so well. He could draw it from memory. This building had been in the crosshairs of this movement since one thousand nine hundred and eighty three. This is all a lot. This is a lot of evidence that he is deeply connected to this movement. The other piece that I recalls that he was quite a devotee of the Turner Diaries, which you mentioned as being kind and organizing manifest, no yeah and not just the divorce, he sold it on the gun, show Circuit and he read about the the actions of the order, and we know that because he stole the library book copy of of a popular history about that group and instructed his people. I have to read it so we know he knew about this movement. We know he was in contact. We know he was interested. He was following a movement strategy when he wrote a sister that letter and said he was going underground and for him to follow the strategy of leaderless resistance. Full
hey the full culmination of that strategy would be not to take anybody else down with so read through the history of the movement. I think there is persuasive evidence that he was deeply involved in this movie now, if you're Mcb A and you believe in strategy and you believe in a Turner diaries model of violence, which is that the bombing itself is not the end goal. The goal is to bring people into the movie right, if you are him- and you think the most effective way to do that is by talking about the state, which was by the way very effective. There was a big upsurge in militia groups after the Oklahoma City bombing. Then I, I think he was making a strategic choice to talk about about that part of his belief system, but that's not separate in this movement from all the rest of it. So let's say another word or two about the Turner Diaries, because if I recall he actually the bombing itself
home city bombing was reminiscent of a bombing described in the book. Right, like the whole fertilizer bomb strategy was depicted in. Book. Yes in the book, I believe there bombing the FBI central headquarters. The book was written in the late 1970s services before computers and the revolutionaries in the book, are out to destroy the FBI records so that the FBI, cancer surveil their activities, But it's the same kind of bomb and like Mcveigh's action. There are white victims in the book and there's a pretty long section on kind of the death of one beautiful white woman and how Turner the protagonist of the book learns that there have to like he has to be prepared for collateral damage. If he wants to or create white revolution, so the book, I should just say, is sort of it's an easy, They the long eighties utopian novel, and I should say to that. I used, and I mean for them not for me
but when it lays out, is it prisons itself as a artifact of a world where this white Revolution has already happened? so they're about to the Turner Diaries spoilers, I'm gonna tell you some things about book: it's not really spoilers. This is not a pleasant read. I don't encourage people to go, read the treasured areas for a literary experience of the thing, but the the novel ends when Turner is sent on a suicide mission to fly a nuclear weapon into the Pentagon. A new plea which is actually you know now has such strong residences of nine eleven. But, of course this is for all of that. The post script of the novel. I sort of lays out all of the changes that have happened after the successful revolution, and there are also textual insertions, like footnotes, to explain things, I'm so late. For instance, they have to explain to the reader what feminism is, because in this new world there is no such things
so the post strictly about that after Turner's, you know nuclear bombing at the Pentagon and a whole bunch of other nuclear warfare what it described. Is the way that quite revolutionaries are able to provoke a Us Soviet Missile Exchange and with Israel at Lee. And that in the aftermath, they're able to seize power and then carry out a mass genocide of all non white people the world over once I assigned it for a class and the university bookstore automatically ordered the book 'cause they do that they just oh- and I got a letter, thank you, pay for ensuring the future of white children so get used to be. If you'd like to check this out or even better a library case way, support breaking the copyright of nazis everywhere. Okay, so just to summarize here were so, we hit the Oklahoma City bombing was widely under
Should, and we think rightly as her. The ultimate act, thus far of of white supremacist terror, and it exemplifies this. This leader was resistance structure where the the end of the movement is insulated against any re. The effective investigation, because that the movement is, is not even acknowledged to exist on some level, and so you know you, as a social scientist notice that we basically forget that we even have a white supremacy problem for quite some time, and many people seem to have forgotten about
you know all the way up until Charlottesville, essentially where we, you know, we have ah some hundreds of guys with tiki torches, reminding us that there's a fairly energetic strand of racism and anti Semitism still alive in this country and Trump seems to have given comfort, if not an actual voice to this movement. So just let's just jump forward into the present. What do you think the state of the movement is now so. First, I do wanna keep saying white power or white nationalists rather than white supremacy, just because I think that white supremacy as a category get to send a whole bunch of misunderstanding, just for clarity sacred. Just reiterate why you think that's a problem: what's the door misunderstanding you're trying to close.
If we want to talk about like the largest violence of white supremacy, we have to think about. I don't know atomic weapons and warfare and genocide and displacements, and things like that this is a different thing I want. What I want to say is I'm talking about the fringe movement of of yeah. What we've talked about is the far right, so quite nationalism and white separatism together, but white power activism from one thousand nine hundred and eighty three forward, which is to say say: anti government white, extremist violence, although I guess differentiation will indicate an area where we may disagree. Certainly an area of my concern because- and this does sort of connect back to the the potential on falsify ability of the leaderless resistance. Framing, I mean the issue I think You know I've confronted personally and I've just noticed
in general. Now I don't know at at what point this started, but there's there's a possibility, of a moral panic around things like white supremacy and racism generally and and then the you know. Our nazi detectors can become poorly calibrated, and this has happened, for instance, at over the southern Poverty LAW center, which used to be the flagship organization that would tell us who's a nazi and who isn't but now basically they seem to have run out of Nazis and they find Nazis everywhere, and you know they. You know they have put me on their hate watch page for me, having Charles Murray on this podcast and they famously or now infamously put. My friend magic now was on a list of anti muslim extremists when in fact he's muslim reformer and they they had to pay him over three million dollars for that gaffe, they've kind of
and that's over there, and- and there are many examples of this- mean they're they're. You know beyond the southern Poverty LAW center, but it's it is the most extreme case of this kind of thing happening is, and this is this is actually can idiots. With some of the history we've been talking about. We had that satanic panic episode in in the US where, for many many new cycles, I mean some years. We had people telling us in getting television telling us just what a problem we had with satanic cults and ritual abuse and even child sacrifice- and you know, I'm not sure where the scholarship is on that now, I'm sure there were fifteen people in the woods somewhere practicing Satanism, but it seems to be that that we really never had a satanic cult problem in this country? So I just don't. I I just want to flag that is that there's a general concern here around just making sure we are clear about you know who's a nazi who
Who's is Justin a normal racist and who's. Just someone who made an off color joke- and you know Now- is getting cancelled on Twitter, for it. Well, yeah, and I think that we're in a complex moment that's going to take a lot of people. Good faith efforts, John Ravel, but I I guess well. The first thing I would say is that the question of the relative importance of the Splc and other watch dunks isn't very historically informed question that leads us back, the bigger problem of the white supremacy that sort of not a matter of individual belief. We can be as enlightened as we can be and still have white supremacy in our systems in our country. And by that I mean the reason that these watch dogs were so important in the period that I work with, is because the government was
really surveilling as much as it could have been, and that's because if we go back to the history of Cohen, tell Pro, which is the FBI counterintelligence project scholars that discovered that you know this is this. Is the period from the FBI was doing some really dirty infiltration and using a shot, provocateur and all kinds of incentives and entrapments? And things like this that were eventually shuttered, because they were so radical in illegal. But even that period when, when the FBI had basically heart blotch, to try to disrupt groups on the fringe, it put enormously more resources in time and manpower into trying to disrupt the left, and especially colors scholar by people of color on the left Then people on the right so uh, frustrated, as the plan got by FBI infiltration in the in that period, they weren't getting killed. The way that save black Panthers were in these sort of FBI actions So that unequal distribution of resources is a systemic problem,
has nothing to do well. That is distinct from interpersonal enemas or racism yeah. That systemic problem is what we have to kind of reckon with if we want to solve this within our society. So the reason the watchdogs were important, the reason SK he was so important is because of the failure of other systems because of white supremacy. Similarly, the splc civil suits, which were I mean, some of the most active stocks of my power, organizing in the nineteen eighties, like the the Splc sued, the clan, over creating a paramilitary army that harassed and use refugees, Texas sued a Klan group that lynched a young black man in Alabama. They got consent, decrees, that limited white power activists from publishing hate materials and organizing. Those things were really affected and the reason they were so we're in history is because the criminal trials were failing all over the place and the reason we
you didn't get any criminal for this is because we have things like peremptory challenges that let people dismiss all juries of adulterers and color with no cause. So we have to think about the you know that the central role washed off is there because we didn't have adequate, policing, adequate surveillance and add a bit justice system. Respond to this violence from the beginning. Now I am, I am a historian and not a planet. I'm I'm not an expert on the recent activities. Yes, you'll see I have worked in. There are kind of will disclose you but I you know, I work in the earlier period, I will say that watchdog groups have a different set of interests, then you know a public observer
a journalist, a lawyer, a policymaker, but all of these groups would need to be involved in addressing this problem. Yeah I mean that there's an incentive problem at the Splc in particular, because they they raise money based on. Remaining in a perpetual state of I'm about how bad this problem is. To me, that's just knew was a problem we in with foil. In in general majors. It went once or if your problem ever gets better. You know, then it's it's hard to to meet your budget and so they've become a nurse. Obviously mercenary- and I mean if it if they've now really kind of immolated themselves in a variety of ways. I mean they're they're, so walk over there, that they publish piece is telling us that Cinco De Mayo is just an unconscionable act of cultural appropriation, but apparently they're not woke enough to have escaped their own charges of racism internally and sexual harassment and Morris Dees, the founder just had to step down, as
probably now so I mean, if they're just a mess over there, but I I mean I, I totally grant you that historically, there is a lawsuit against the Klan, and you know other white supremacist organizations will were fantastic. Of course you want to sue the clan into the ground and and if, if the fact that the government isn't on the case, you know that it was great that the Splc could step in yes and all of the rest of I. I don't want to comment on the recent stuff. I don't know enough to you know this is outside of my area but I think it would be a real tragedy to let all of the organizational problems that you've just mentioned, distract from the very real growing violent threat. We face I mean it's not just the splc sounding the alarm right now. I I think you can look at other groups, including The a d l and, oh, my god, I'm blanking on their name. Maybe we can look it up.
I recorded. If you want it yeah ok, I mean I just gotta say it is a more diffuse problem. I just had another organ. Is can you know, life after hate that was started by a christian teacher Laney and a former NEO skinhead who's now swung all the way to the left and and is a you know, a Deprogrammer of NEO Nazi, skinheads and that's know, that's a fantastic character and- and I would love to support that and so loving to support that. I had him on the podcast to talk about the problem of white supremacy, but you know actually on that podcast. He said a few things that were just frankly untrue and amatory about some people and when I afterwards fact check those things in a I got some. I got a lawyer letter from one person and- and it was just it was clear that Creek Christian was wrong about this person, and so when I ask Christian to give me evidence to back up his claim and he couldn't provided, I said- listen, I I just have
edit, the podcast, so that you don't you're, not disparaging him on that point until the end of the world and then Christian again, so that this just to I don't know if you know Christian but he's someone who in the immediate aftermath of a shooting like this will be given a special on MSNBC be or he'll be interviewed in the Atlantic, and he has a real profile and gravity as a former member of these organizations, because I it'd him just to spare myself a lawsuit and to actually just be impeccable with respect to the the kinds of family four things. One says about even one ideal tickle enemies. He now is going around calling me a white supremacist, so there's a kind there's a kind of his area in the air around this and a lack of precision which I think we have to overcome. I mean this there's no question that white power or white supremacy, white nationalism. Racism more generally no question. These are problems and
whether they are waxing and waning dangers. You know I I would want to know is as much as anyone, but the problem is currently some of the some of the most high profile people in this space, our fairly wacky and unscrupulous, and how they make charges about this and- and this is confounded by this additional problem of you, we're now confronted by a new generation of a you know, sorry to go in the direction of psychopathology again but of lunatics in the troll culture were seen on websites like four Chan and hm, where you have a circulation of these awful memes and you know kind of general You know moral nihilism, which is often you using white supremacy as its text and then then it becomes genuinely difficult to understand. Who's really a white supremacist or a racist and who is just trafficking in
holocaust, imagery or black white racism, imagery just to shock people and just to get laughs. People are spreading theories that they might not even believe in just to see the normies like me, freak out on their podcasts so strolling. Behavior is a very specific thing which you know, which seems like it's at getting elevated to specific instances of murder where it's not it words. It's not clear that some of these manifestos are actually what they appear to be at first glance, and so I just I I realize it just dumped a lot on you, but I mean if someone is trying to make sense of this in public in real time. I am concerned that you know we're at least on certain points in danger of committing the sands of those journalists and other up talking heads who who spoke endlessly about you, know the mcmartin preschool, for instance, or
or you know the other examples of satanic panic that just evaporated sure. Ok, that was a great inhalation Kathleen there's big questions now I have to have to think about where to start. I don't think the say: tannic preschools is a good comparison. I hope not I'm just saying that's how crazy we've been in the past the top spin you're getting from me. Is I mean the Splc is EVA and as of last week, they go to institution for or the New York Times, or the Washington Post to find out who's. Who- and I know they've completely- lost their minds because I'm on their hate watch page right. Let me ask you this. It sounds like what you're hoping for is a sense of whether this is a large threat in weather, is getting bigger or smaller. Is that right? Yes, I would love to that I would love to know that too, and
my bet is that the Sclc also would like to know that, although, as whatever you think about it, The reality is, I don't know that anybody knows, and the reason is that we've had such an equal distribution of resources to monitor and track domestic terror. That I don't think we how much of any idea- I am historian, and I try to be really careful about speaking about the present because of the it falls some of what you've just outlined in sort of making promises about things that are near term, but I think I I think what the archive can teach us is that we have not had a problem of overestimating this issue. We have had a on going problem of underestimating this threat. And the way that we know, that is that we have huge acts of violence
That happened over and over and over again, and we have not seen changes in policy and understanding that would keep people safe from them yeah. Well, I guess it's I mean we have to define what what huge is. I mean that there are, I mean to take Oklahoma City is the worst case, thus far right. So you know one hundred and sixty eight people died. That was absolutely awful, and if it happened again tomorrow, you know we would be talking about nothing else for quite some time, and you know I'm the first person to admit that body count is not the only way, ARI or even the best way to it, to evaluate how big a problem. This is because you know not all deaths are equivalent right. May I think the what happens to our society on the basis of a few school shootings or an event like Oklahoma City, the fear that the gets spread and and and our response
under the shadow of that fear, is this. More deranged arranging of society for for many more years than a than a huge hurricane would be that might kill the same number of people. That hurricane comes and kills a bunch of people. You know we grieve and then we clean up, but there no knock on effects. The way there are with it with an instance of ideological criminality of the sort we're talking about. So it's it's hard to know what counts as an and uh most problem when something that kills nearly a dozen people in especially horrible way can be. Far more alarming than a problem that is orders of magnitude more in terms of body count. Sure I I think, a weather that you're saying that. Well, maybe I didn't hear the question: perhaps you want to It comes back to you saying well, you're talking about this is an enormous problem, but
The reality is, is that white supremacists have killed, on the order of thirty to fifty people a year for as long as you've been worrying about this. You know Oklahoma City aside, and even that is not much of a an uptick, so this is you know we're talking about people drowning in bathtubs people getting struck by lightning on golf courses, not a lot of people are dying. So why is this such a big problem? well there's a lot of answers to that. One is that terroristic death, as you say, has an impact that is much larger than sort of an accident or fatality that happens in a more mundane way. These actions are meant to do more than simply kill the person they kill their actions. That are to inspire terror and possibly work concerning than that, given our political climate, they are
violent acts, actions that I missed you a week and other people to the movement, so you don't make based picture is hung up in the rooms of people who are carrying out violent attacks today that works. I am in these these these shootings, how have a very profound impact on american society and thinking beyond by power movement. About the ways that we now live in an age defiant by the fear of a mass attack. I think, of the poetry of Kathy fish. Always let me think about that, but the way that any we have people now who have survived to mass shootings after the Vegas Shooting and the yeah the reunion student store, I mean I I come from. You know. I come from the school district in Colorado, where the Columbine shooting happened, and that was while I was in high school
the idea that it would become so pedestrian that we now live in an age where they don't even trend on Twitter is mind boggling and not entirely unexpected, given the saturation of these events, but we have to think about the impact of violence on society in a way that is bigger than, as you just say, body. Has there's a lot? You know it. This is a historian's answer, but there's actually a lot. We can learn from history of moon chain in this regard, because
he can herd of body count of lynching? You know people people in a long time trying to count and trying to tally in trying to figure out what happened where exactly what movement, but it turns out that the impact of lynching stretched far beyond the communities where it occurred. So one person's death would have a terroristic act all over the place through photographs through recordings and sound through personal word of mouth, thinking about these long histories of violence in the way that they affect people was really important. Yeah. I totally agree- I mean it was, but it's just again it's hard to quantify these things and we sort of have to at least intuitively when we decide how to marshal our resources me just how much time attention and and money should the s government spend on the problem of white supremacy,
what are the most grandiose aspirations of these groups, currently and how bad could this get in the age of Trump, because I think many of us I feel that, even if we haven't been so focused on the french or the fringe of the fringe, with sense that the French has has intruded for closer to the mainstream and there's. This is more of a a sense that something like civil war could be possible or if not civil war just allow. Lot of violence that would be uncharacteristic of our society. I mean, if you just imagine what it would take to really try to ban assault weapons right. I'm like what's that going to look like if we go to try to get the assault weapons from the people for whom gun ownership is their religion? What percentage of those people
where are animated by the kinds of ideologies we've been talking about what we have a sense that the society is deeply fragmented along lines that at first approximation do break along leave the politics of extreme left and extreme right. You know it's really interesting. I used to have a section in the book that addressed exactly this question of. Why is it so important to understand the fringe and in some weight my book, you know, was considered by my editor to be in the mainstream, and she said this is self evident were striking the section unit anymore, because so clear that this is now central to our society. You know that happened within
three years of writing and publishing a dissertation that was very kind of public about face. I will say this during the time: the time that I study so the kind of late nineteen seventies to one thousand nine hundred and ninety five has a lot in common with the present moment, including through lines connecting that generation of activists, of what we see now, including similar kinds of our chosen and prepared. For you know there are in the present attempts to steal nuclear weapons. There is in the present your military training. There is attempts to get all kinds of other armament and then there is, of course, the use of social networking in computers. That was, I am here in the early eighties, of course, is that level of education? Now that is certainly accelerated. I think the thing that is different about the current moment that is concerning is that the Octopus
I study saw almost no hope of using mainstream politics to do what they wanted to d'oh. They write their own. A lot about you know we, the time for the ballot is over it's time for the bullet and they turned violent during the Reagan administration, when arguably, they had a lot to gain from the state and when the state was actually anti statist itself and in that very peculiar Reagan highway but the idea that groups now could figure out how Thio take this into mainstream politics in an effective way, I think, is very different. And I think we're starting to see that succeed in different places around the world. This is a transnational movement now, in a way that it was only aspiring to be in the nineteen nineties,
no- and I think all of that you know, makes me quite concerned. I think one of the reasons that it's important to pay attention to mass violence is that the way that people typically understand mass violence in their own community is through the limbs of the imp, acted population, and this is a perfectly valid and very human response right. So we get stories about the impacted group. We get stories about the tree of life, shooting as being about Anti Semitism and help Paso as being about Anti immigration and Christ. Church is being about Anti Muslim set right and those acts are those things but there are also connected with one another through this very clear political ideology shared by a set of perpetrators. Who
often believe that they are together acting towards a common end, and I think that one hopeful thing that I find in that is that there is a potential to connect those communities together in sort of a a coalition of impacted people that could better understand how we might respond to I mean, I don't think the history doesn't caution us about hysteria. The history that's about non response, so if you could implement any policy at this point, what would you do because I get- and I guess we just anticipate- that you think of that- that that the government has been too lax in paying attention to this problem and and should be more intrusive, but the problem there is that government intrusion is what is so energizing
primary concern of people in this group- and this is why people are stockpiling, weapons and they're concerned about surveillance and all the rest. I missed the loss of freedom that most concerned Mcveigh and so sort of run into the problem of what happens when you begin to confirm the conspiracy thinking of the most conspiracy adult conspiracy, theorist. It's like the branch davidians were stocked, only weapons, because they were sure that at some point the government was going to come in and victimize them and they were stockpiling. So many happens so garishly that government finally noticed and decided to come in and figure out what the hell was going on and wound up killing them. There is a self fulfilling component to this. What would response to this problem?
quite, I think, more than that, the issue is also anyone who is concerned about military culture. Is you know reluctant to prescribe for their use of militarism as a solution, because that As you say, it, creates problems and all other areas of american life say like when we think about SIRI, and I should just bracket all of this. By saying I, as I said, in the history in I'm, not a policymaker. I think what the archive can show us is that there, are real dangers to letting this go unaddressed and that the problems that we might end up thanks our what color would cold trans scalar and that's just a fancy word for being there they're at every level. All of experience so we're talking about not just you know a whole bunch of individual prejudice, not just a problem at the police office. Not just there is no Jer education, not just there is a
the policy issue at the FBI level or insufficient surveillance, not just the way the law is written, it's all of that, together, so I need. What we would need is really a a set of changes and how people understand what this is and how how we might proceed from there and if everything, from journalistic approach to public discourse to think thing about how we could better used resource is, but you know, when I say resource is, I think people often assume and me just additional surveillance. That's a resource! There's a lot of different kinds of resource is, though- and we have some really captivating accounts from people like Derek Black who left the movement about how people can exit about how people can reach out on their community about what other kinds of community might be sustaining about. Different kinds.
Of social resources that could be extended to these groups. I think there's all kinds of general ways to think about it, any one thing, but Interesting is to go back to this example that got me into this project to begin with the truth and Reconciliation commission. Those guys didn't come, have to come and testify at all this. This commission was an NGO? It wasn't part of any government entity, it didn't have any subpoena power didn't have any. You know criminal penalty power, but people want to come and talk about their lives and their beliefs. People want to tell their stories, and there is, you know, enormous potential in that our country, our communities, our towns or schools. We can do that work of facing each uh we're talking to each other, and I think that there is hoping it can. You just clarify what a truth and Reconciliation Commission is so uh
truth and reconciliation. Commission is a model of restorative justice, which is to say a way for people to come together around an event of injustice or violence in their community to try to talk through what happened and to try to figure out some solutions that help people feel that their experience has been addressed. So the famous example is in post apartheid, South Africa there was a SIRI's of government mandated trick. Reconciliation commissions that tried to both do the work of witnessing the violence that it happened and I'm trying to think about how communities and the country could asked it. I think there must have been here sees I'm familiar with the one in quite awhile and there some in other countries, wonder but never a large one in the United States, despite our long history of racial violence and injustice, but they seem to I'm wrong, but I associate them with circumstances where the prosecution
of offenders, and there was so many offenders right there. So there's been such a massive moral turnover that the problem is is too big to address by normal, Nall prosecution, so like in Rwanda, you know so many people grabbed a machete and killed their neighbors that you know you just can't you couldn't possibly prosecute all these people, so you have to sort of hit a kind of reset of the broken society, and this is this is one method of doing that exactly so. This one was organized by activists in the community, and people can read more about this in the book. If you like, it's a full chapter or encourage you to go
look at the proceedings of the p r c, which are really interesting in that cell. But isn't it was an NGO truth and Reconciliation Commission that you know in handled itself call witnesses. I looked for testimony, did archival work and then created a report about what happened at the shooting and why Little trials had never brought anyone to justice, remind us what happened in Greensboro so that
it's pro event in one thousand nine hundred and seventy nine was a coordinated shooting by NEO Nazi and clan gunmen, who had come together under the moniker, the United Racist fronts, and set out to attack an Anti Klan demonstration held by the Communist Workers, party, um and other leftist activists in Greensboro. They killed five people and injured several more hand. The four of the men killed were whites, and then one african american woman was killed. The gunman were recorded. There were three news cameras on scene this whole eighty eight seconds was recorded from several different angles. You could see faces. You can see who's shooting at what time, but the state and criminal trials of state and federal criminal trials both acquitted all the gunman on self defense charges,
first and on a civil rights technicality second and be there was a subsequent civil trial that found wrongful on Lee. One of the deaths and the only one being drunk full was the one person that was not hard carrying communists at the time of his death. So isn't it JU, where the community felt wronged in all kinds of different ways on the tier see, process was signs just sort of sort through culpability and and figure out. If there was some justice that could be found in these years later, so so the need for a t, r C there are just- was born of the fact that once this criminal proceeding had run you couldn't you have a double jeopardy problem. You can't prosecute these people again right, that's right
and there's a lot of things. You know we talked a little bit about the relationship between a body count and the larger ramifications of violence from an event, but there's all kinds of things that are addressed in a criminal trial, for instance this shooting happened in a black housing project that felt that they had neither held the Anti Klan demonstration, nor you know, responded to it with violence, but they found themselves in the crosshairs of this events, and you know people hadn't, really apology, yes, for this, even though there were curfews implemented and their lives were altered, and all of this shapes the way a community works and forms relationships over over the long sort of history of the event, knew him well. Thank you Kathleen for bringing this on the on the podcast. It's been an education and if people want to know more at your work.
In an ongoing way, I mean to put the book. It again is bring the war home, but where can people find out more about you and follow you on Twitter and all the rest give us that give us the relevant web sites and sure it's I'm? I have a professional website at Kathleenblue dot com and I think my twitter is just Kathleen Underscore Blue, but if you search up there you'll find me and happy to be there It's been great thanks again and someday I'll. Have you back when this is longer problem we'll talk about how we live in a color online society, and can you imagine that any when was ever organized around different ideas? Well, I hope that day is soon and thank you very much for help. Okay. Well, that was interesting that felt useful. I'm not sure how that changed. My view of the problem
Apart from certainly educating me about how incompetent the U S, government has been in paying attention to the problem, it is fairly astonishing how inept we've been, as you may have noticed. I couldn't quite hold myself to the distinction between white power and white supremacy that she was making part of. It is just that I think of white supremacy as the ideology and white power as the movement she was making a different distinction and a fairly woke one- and I didn't want to get into that clearly for her white supremacy includes more or less every form of struck
racism and really every misdeed misdeed that be be levelled the conscience of the West right right. She was nuclear weapons and colonialism and the missteps of capitalism of capitalism. It was everything I don't think it's a very useful way to use that phrase, but I didn't want to get into it as long as we're clear about what we're talking about. That's all that mattered for the purpose of this conversation, and here we were talking about white power, but I was occasionally calling it white supremacy and violating her use of the terms, because I just couldn't keep the term straight anyway. I found that very interesting. She was very patient with me when Jane about being called a white supremacist again and again, thank you for that Kathleen. As you could hear, I am fairly circumspect in my disinclination to
you join a moral panic, and I really do feel that we are in an age where moral panics are amplified, but I'm convinced this is a the problem worth checking in on at regular intervals match I have very wise on the podcast. Soon she has a book on Anti Semitism, which obviously connects here, and I think the next year of american politics will be the same Bush's relentlessly and we will hear more about american extremism of the far right and the far left and perhaps of a sort that is as yet on a and with that. I will leave you to it until next time. If you find this podcast valuable, there are many ways you can support it. You can review it on Itunes or Stitcher or where we happened to listen to it, you can share it.
Social media with your friends. You can blog about it or discuss it on your own podcast or you can support it directly and you can do this by subscribing through my website and SAM Harris DOT Org and there you'll find subscriber only content, like my ask me anything up as a as well as the bonus questions from many of these interviews.
Transcript generated on 2019-09-20.