The War on Everyone
The War on Everyone
By Robert Evans
Transcribed by Grateful Members of the Behind the Bastards Community
Chapter 1: The Eternal Fascist
On November 9 and 10, 1938, Nazi stormtroopers and party members took to the streets of cities throughout Germany. They burned synagogues, shattered the windows of Jewish owned buildings, beat and murdered hundreds upon hundreds of Jewish people in the streets. This bloody pogrom is known to history as Kristallnacht, the Night of Broken Glass. It’s one of those moments in history so shocking and brutal that it’s become stained into our collective consciousness, a single moment of horror forever printed on the human psyche.
Adolph Hitler and the other members of Nazi high command considered Kristallnacht to be failure. Rather than being enthused by the violence, the German people were horrified by this outpouring of brutality. World media harshly condemned Hitler’s regime, and from their plush offices in Berlin, the Fuhrer and his inner circle began to revise their plans for how to sell anti-Semitic brutality to Die Volk. Joseph Goebbels decided that film was the right medium to help crack this nut, his efforts culminated in the 1940 production, The Eternal Jew. The essential through line of this particularly vile piece of propaganda was the idea that Jewish people were an age-old parasitic force, leeching off their host nations and almost habitually working to undermine and destabilize them. As with most pieces of vile, racist propaganda, The Eternal Jew reveals more about the men who made it than it does about Judaism. There is no eternal Jew. But there might be an eternal fascist.
Umberto Eco was probably the first person to really grasp this idea and try to define it in a scholarly way. His 1995 essay Ur-Fascism is still one of the single finest pieces of writing on the subject. Eco was an Italian novelist, a literary critic and a professor. He was born into fascist Italy. In 1942, at the age of 10, he won an award in the provincial competition for young fascists where he gave an elaborately positive answer to the question “Should we die for the glory of Mussolini and the immortal destiny of Italy?” Eco came to hate fascism slightly later in life, and he came to also love the partisans and rebels who fought back against Benito Mussolini’s regime. As he grew older and began to analyze his world, and the history behind the war that had torn apart his childhood, Eco found himself drawn again and again to the question: What is a fascist?
That’s not an easy question to answer. Most dictionary definitions you will find for the word fascism leave rather a lot to be desired. Here’s Merriam-Webster’s definition: “A political philosophy, movement, or regime (such as that of the Fascisti) that exalts the nation and often race above the individual and that stands for a centralized autocratic government headed by a dictatorial leader, severe economic and social regimentation, and forcible suppression of opposition.” Now, that definition seems decent enough on its surface, but you could apply the bulk of it to the USSR, or Mao’s China, or Saddam Hussein’s Iraq for that matter. Now, that may not seem like a problem to you. After all, Hitler and Mao and Stalin and Saddam were all pieces-of-shit dictators who did horrible things to their people. But there is a reason Fascism is more than just a system that brings about dictators. Fascism arises out of, and murders, vibrant democracies. As such, it only comes to power with the enthusiastic consent of the people. Umberto Eco understood the singular nature of fascism. He also understood that when it reappeared in the future it would come in different guises than the ones that had popped up all around Europe in the 1920s and 30s. He wrote: “I think that it is possible to outline a list of features that are typical of what I would like to call Ur-Fascism, or eternal fascism. These features cannot be organized into a system. Many of them contradict each other, and are also typical of other kinds of despotism or fanaticism. But it is enough that one of them be present to allow fascism to coagulate around it.”
Eco’s concept of eternal fascism started with a cult of tradition. The belief that “Truth has been already spelled out once and for all, and we can only keep interpreting its obscure message.” Whether you’re looking at Nazis and their concept of the Aryan civilization or you’re looking at modern American fascism and this idea that there was a point in which America was great and perfect that we need to get back to. Now, you might translate this to conservatism, which doesn’t mean that conservatives are all fascists, just that fascism gestates within conservative movements.
Next, according to Eco, is a rejection of modernism, particularly a rejection of modern depravity. As traditionally marginalized and oppressed groups stand up for their human rights in modern societies, fascists inevitably seek to reverse these trends. The first books the Nazis burned were Magnus Hirschfield’s library of research on transgender individuals. Hatred of trans men and women is still a central unifying tenant of modern fascists. Then there is the cult of action for action’s sake, expressed as a worship of the soldier, of the man with a gun in his hand, willing to do violence at a moment’s notice. For fascists, according to Eco, thinking is a form of emasculation. Eco also recognized a rejection of criticism and disagreement as central aspects to fascism. “The critical spirit makes distinctions, and to distinguish is a sign of modernism.” He wrote.
It’s worth noting that 8chan’s /pol/ board, one of the largest gathering places for neo-Nazis on the internet, the community that spawned both the Christchurch massacre and the Poway synagogue shooting was formed as a direct result of Gamer Gate. Gamer Gate was a reactionary movement inspired by rage at female video game reviewers who had started to critique what they saw as artistic shortcomings of popular video games. Before too long, gamer-gaters took to harassing and threatening to murder these video game reviewers, which got them off of 4chan and sent them scurrying to 8chan. Once again, Eco hit the nail on the head.
Racism and hatred of diversity, exploitation of the natural fear of differences, these are the other characteristics of Ur-Fascism. Eco recognized it as derived from social frustration, generally rising out of an “appeal to a frustrated middle class. A class suffering from an economic crisis or feelings of political humiliation and frightened by the pressure of lower social groups.” Ur-fascism promises its followers a social identity, in the kind of false equality that comes from belonging to a nation and a people that are set above all the other nations and peoples of this earth.
Fascism of course requires an absolute rejection of pacifism. Life is lived for struggle, war is permanent. We see this translated in our modern fascist movements in an obsession with the tools and aesthetics of war. Black and camo and tactical everything. Earlier on the day I wrote this, I was browsing Twitter and I came across a post of someone’s bug-out bag. He wrote in the Twitter post, “How’s this for a bug-out Boogaloo setup?” if you aren’t aware, Boogaloo is a far right term for the civil war that many in that corner of the populace believe is coming, as in Civil War II: Electric Boogaloo. This guy’s emergency preparedness kit contained no food, no water, no medical supplies. His gas mask had no actual filters, and seemed to be only for aesthetics. But he did have an AR-15 rifle, a 12 gauge shotgun, a Glock sidearm with a 30 round magazine and a .44 magnum revolver, along with a tomahawk, a throwing knife, and stylish green body armor the exact same shade as his tactical backpack. Seeing this post brought to mind what Eco wrote about the fascist Armageddon complex. “Since enemies have to be defeated, there must be a final battle after which the movement will have control of the world. But such a final solution implies a further era of peace, a golden age which contradicts the principle of permanent war.” No fascist leader has ever succeeded in solving this predicament.
Umberto Eco goes on to name contempt for the weak, the cult of the hero, machismo and a sense of contempt for women and femininity, as other key aspects of incipient fascism. For a fascist movement to evolve, a number of these things must coalesce together, generally around the personality of a single charismatic man with dreams of power. This man will of course never admit to desiring power. Instead he claims to speak for some broad mass of the population. A claimed majority that stands behind him and his movement. Eco called this “qualitative populism”, and noted that in the modern era, “We no longer need the Piazza Venezia in Rome, or the Nuremberg Stadium. There is in our future a TV or internet populism in which the emotional response of a selected group of citizens can be presented and accepted as the voice of the people.”
Umberto Eco was not wrong, but he did miss something, and since y’all are listening to my audiobook, I hope you’ll forgive my arrogance in adding one new element of fascism to Eco’s list. Fascism often wraps itself in irony humor as a way to disguise its true intentions as black comedy and test the waters for its most extreme goals. If you’re someone who’s paid attention to the rise of fascism on the internet, if you’ve followed my work on 8chan or read much about the alt-right, you understand what I’m getting at, but you probably view this as a rather new wrinkle in the history of fascism. The truth is that it goes all the way back to the beginning.
If you want a picture the personality of the Fuhrer, what he was like on a day to day basis with the people he liked and trusted, Hitler’s table talk is about the best resource that exists. Starting in 1941, Martin Boreman, Hitler’s secretary, convinced his boss to allow a series of aides to transcribe his private conversations for posterity. Some of these were the traditional Hitler ranting monologues you’d expect, others were just, y’know, chats between courses at dinners and the like. There’s a lot of debate as to how truly off the cuff any of these were, but Hitler’s table talk is generally regarded as an incredibly useful resource for understanding the minds of the top Nazis. In his 1998 book, “Explaining Hitler”, journalist and historian Ron Rosenbaum turned to the table talk records several times in his attempt to understand, in essence, how bouncing baby Adolph turned into the genocidal warlord we all know and hate. He focuses on one passage in particular. “The passage in which Hitler, Himmler, and Heidrich are ostentatiously debunking the rumor, that they know to be true, that the Jews are being exterminated. ‘It’s silly that people should say such things, Hitler piously avers, when we’re only parking the Jews in the marshy parts of Russia’. Although he adds that if it were true, it would be no less than the Jews deserved. It seems to me a transparent charade in which the three architects of the Final Solution were becoming the first Holocaust deniers. The first revisionists, so to speak, and doing so in a particularly repulsive winking and nodding way.” Rosenbaum brought his theory to another scholar, a fellow named Lange, who agreed that this was probably evidence of Hitler company concealing their crimes via humor. Both to keep explicit discussion out of the historical record, and so that those in the know could laughingly revel in their crapulence. Lange said “the inventiveness seems to me in some ways really to come to the heart of the matter, even though its subtler than the brutality. Primo Levy used the phrase Needless Violence, which is not quite what I’m saying. It’s the element of gratuitousness, but it’s more than the gratuitousness, there seems to be this imaginative protraction, elaboration that one finds best exemplified in art forms in which in art we usually take to be indicative of a consciousness, an artistic consciousness of an overall design.”
For Nazis and their modern descendants, shittiness is a form of art. It’s never enough to gain power, or even to hurt or kill your rivals. These people’s ultimate goal is to shift the nature of reality itself to be further in line with their own narcissistic beliefs. Irony is a powerful tool to achieving that. Lange goes on, “Brutality is straightforward. It’s not imaginative. This isn’t just brute strength, it seems to me that there’s a sense of irony constantly. The sign over the entrance gate to Auschwitz you know “Arbeit macht frei”—work will make you free. It’s like a joke, it is a joke. The orchestra playing as these people go out to work.”
Hitler’s sense of humor is not something we talk about much. But perhaps we should. Ironic humor was used regularly by the incipient Fuhrer during his rise to power. In August of 1920 in one of his earlier speeches, Hitler told an audience that he supported “removal of the Jews from our nation, not because we would begrudge them their existence, we congratulate the rest of the world on their company.” This line was met with widespread laughter. “But because the existence of our own nation is a thousand times more important than that of an alien race”. Lucy Davidowitz, the Holocaust scholar who brought that speech to Rosenbaum’s attention believed that the joke and the thing that Hitler’s audience was laughing at was not the line “We congratulate the rest of the whole world on their company,” but the earlier line “We do not begrudge them their existence.” I’m going to quote again from “Explaining Hitler”, “This, Davidowitz suggests, is an inside joke for party members who know the secret meaning. That in fact, they do begrudge, they are dedicated to eradicating the Jews’ existence.” Now reading that quote brings to mind a post I found on 8chan’s /pol/ board, during one of my regular sessions browsing that image board in between the mass shootings carried out by its members. In one thread I found anons discussing the value of comedic memes about mass killing as a way to camouflage their very real efforts to inspire more massacres. One user typed, “The best thing about this is that they will never be able to discern an ironic, tongue-in-cheek frog poster from a man of action like Terrent or Bowers. We have all the plausible deniability in the world and unless they’re going to start locking people up for shitposting, we have nothing to fear.”
In the decades since Adolph Hitler shot himself in his bunker, ironic racist humor has been one of the through lines connecting every Nazi and fascist movement that’s arisen around the world. George Lincoln Rockwell, the founding father of American Nazism, had his minions dress up in racist gorilla costumes to interrupt events and distract attention from civil rights activists. The main weakness of Rockwell’s humor is that it was far too overt and hateful to be viewed as ironic by most Americans. But down through the years, his descendants have become much better at straddling the fine line between dog-whistling to people in the know and maintaining plausible deniability. One good example would be Count Dankula, a failed UK political candidate who first achieved notoriety for a video in which he trained his dog to Sieg Heil. When he was fined for this, he was able to frame himself as a free speech crusader and raise thousands of dollars while claiming to fight back against political correctness. There is tremendous power within humor. It's why satirists and comedians are some of the first people purged by a dictatorial regime. It’s why nothing is more important to fascists than to powerful and serious. Getting hit by a milkshake is worse for a Nazi than getting hit by a brick. Blood looks cool, milkshakes look like milkshakes. But humor also has an incredible ability to act as a sort of ideological Trojan Horse, allowing ideas to sneak into someone’s mind, cloaked as jokes. Actual fascists know this—it’s why the Nazis on 8chan spend so much time crafting memes to spread their ideas. But this process can take place even within the head of an individual fascist.
In 2016, Jo Cox, a member of Parliament for the Labour party, was shot and stabbed to death by a fascist terrorist named Thomas Maier. Maier’s chief stated influence was an earlier British fascist terrorist, David Copeland. Back in the year 2000, Copeland killed three people and injured many more by setting off a series of nail bombs. He picked the locations he bombed because they had high Black and Asian populations. According to the Guardian, “He came up with the idea when a bomb went off in Centennial Park during the Olympic Games in Atlanta four years ago. He told the police that the Notting Hill Carnival was on about the same time, said Mr. Sweeney. He began to wish that someone would blow up the Notting Hill Carnival. To start off with, he treated the thought as a joke, but he couldn’t get it out of his head. The thought became stronger. He woke up one day and decided that he was going to do it.” Last year I carried out a study for the journalistic collective Bellingcat. I combed through hundreds of online conversations between fascist activists who planned the first deadly Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville. My goal was to find out how these men had been “red-pilled”, or converted to their extremist beliefs. Over and over again, these fascists mentioned the influence ironic jokes had on their ideological evolution. One conversation stands out to me in particular. In it, one fascist recalled how his first red pill came during an argument over an anti-Semitic joke he saw posted to Facebook. The joke spawned an argument, “Then I saw people negging Jews so I joined in as a meme first off. Then all of a sudden, it stopped being a meme.”
Much of “The War on Everyone” will discuss moments in the history of the American fascist movement that are much bloodier and much silly than shit posters on the internet. We will talk about hard bitten militia men, vicious acts of terror, and methodical plans of genocide that are everything but ironic. When we talk about the original Nazi party or George Lincoln Rockwell, the American militia movement that culminated in the Oklahoma City bombing, or today’s meme-spouting ironic fascists, it’s easy to look at all these things as separate, discreet problems, sprouting up at different times and inspired by different causes. I think that’s as wrong as looking at men like Timothy McVeigh or Brenton Terrant as lone wolves. Each swell and surge of fascism across the world and across time is more like an eruption of a cold sore. The underlying cause of the virus that is ever present. During World War II, we bombed it into submission for a while. But like the herpes virus, it never quite went away. It continued to lurk underneath the surface, hiding in off color jokes at bars, hand printed magazines, and eventually internet forums until our nation’s immune system grew weak enough for it to flare up once more. It’s anyone’s guess what happens next.
Chapter 2: An American Fascist Faith
At 9:50 AM, on October 27, 2018, Robert Bowers entered the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. He carried a Colt AR-15, three Glock handguns chambered in .357 sig, body armor, and a substantial amount of ammunition. Bowers proceeded to open fire during a Shabbat morning service. He killed eleven of the 75 people worshipping at the synagogue that morning. In the hours and days that followed, journalists and researchers in the countering violent extremism community began to dig into Mr. Bowers’s social media presence and internet footprint. If you read or listened to any coverage about this, it probably focused on his use of the social media website Gab, which is essentially Twitter for Nazis. Gab earned a lot of attention because it’s where Bowers chose to announce his attack and his belief that a Jewish conspiracy was responsible for flooding the United States with non-white migrant “invaders”. But Bowers said other things on the site, stranger things. In various posts, he claimed that people of Anglo-European descent were the “chosen people”, and that Jews were their ancient enemy. He warned his fellow racists of a coming false flag attack that would be “one of the final desperate attempts by the Jewish international oligarchy to maintain power in the face of collapsing public trust in the media” which he believed they controlled. On the profile page for his account, Bowers included a quote: “Jews are the children of Satan.” A little more than two weeks before his rampage, he reposted a link to the Wikipedia page for Christian Identity and wrote, “If the Jews hate it, then it must be the truth.”
If you haven’t heard much about Christian Identity, don’t worry, neither had I before Bowers went on his rampage, and this is where I give a shout-out to my friend, Sarah. She’s a CVE researcher who made damn sure I got learned up about this topic before I started writing this book. Christian Identity is not a widely known belief system in modern America.The vast majority of people who have been influenced by it have probably never actually heard the term. It’s been around for so long, and embedded itself so deeply in the consciousness of the far right, that it’s woven itself into the DNA of American fascism. It did not, however, begin in America. The origin of Christian Identity traces back to Britain, in 1791, when crazy person and retired Navy man named Richard Brothers started having visions. Rather than writing these visions off as a result of bad canned sardines or ergot poisoned bread, he decided these visions were God telling him that he had to lead the Jews back to Palestine.
He also decided that he was a descendent of the Biblical King David. Revelation followed revelation, as they so often do for people with these particular sorts of illnesses, and by the time Richard Brothers was done, he concluded that the majority of Jewish people were actually hidden in Britain. This “hidden Israel” as he called it became one of the central tenants of British Israelism. Brothers was eventually declared insane by, which is probably fair. He was stuck in an institution from to 1795 1806. But in the four years before he got locked up, he earned himself some followers. And although his flock didn’t stick together until he got out of crazy people jail, some of his ideas persisted for years amongst the fringes of British society.
In 1840, a writer named John Wilson wrote “Lectures on Our Israelitish Origin” and began lecturing across England and Ireland about the theory that the real Jews were basically everyone but Jewish people. According to the book, “Religion and the Right” by Michael Barcun, “The Lectures depended less on the interpretation of Biblical prophecy than on Wilson’s attempt to demonstrate empirically that the Lost Tribes had in fact migrated from the Near East to Europe. Like many writers after him, one of his favorite techniques was to look for words in different languages that sounded the same, assuming, usually erroneously, that if the sounds were similar, then the languages and their speakers had to be connected.” Since similar sounds often crop up in otherwise unrelated languages, they allowed Wilson to claim and to believe that he had proved that “many of our most common English words and names of familiar objects are almost pure Hebrew.”
Now I find this part particularly interesting because it’s a tactic still used by charlatans of many stripes today, to make lurid claims about ancient aliens influencing cultures, based on the fact that multiple languages have words that sound sort of similar. Terrible minds think alike. Anyway.
British Israelism continued to evolve. A guy named Hine added the assertion that Germans were really Assyrians because apparently those people had gotten lost too and wound up in Europe somehow. Hine claimed that the United States was also full of Israelites. Now at that this point in the history of British Israelism, actual Jewish people were not seen as bad guys. They were considered part of a greater “All Israel”, which was made up of the House of Israel, which was Europe, and the House of Judah, which was the people we would actually consider Jewish. There was no evidence for any of this but nonsense and mental illness, but that’s never stopped an idea from taking off.
A fellow named Joseph Wild was the first American British Israelite. Or, if he wasn’t the first, he’s the first guy who tried to popularize it here that we have any record of. Wild was a pastor at the Union Congregational Church in Brooklyn. At this point, the theory, or whatever you would call it, was fundamentally pretty harmless. But as it drifted across the United States, from the frigid to the East, to the also frigid Northwest, something funny happened. British Israelism turned racist as fuck.
The man most responsible for this turn seems to have been, appropriately enough, an Oregonian - Reuben H. Sawyer. In the late 19-teens, he started writing for a monthly magazine “The Watchmen of Israel”, which was dedicated to the idea that “The English speaking peoples of today are the lineal descendants of the Lost 10 Tribes of Israel and must fulfill in these Latter days the responsibilities to creed for them through the Patriarchs and Prophets.” Rueben was the pastor of the Eastside Christian Church in Portland, Oregon and over the years, he built up a sizable British Israel group in the city of roses. In fact, he was so successful at this that he left his job as a pastor in 1921 to lecture and write about British Israelism full time. Well, not quite full time. He did have one other side gig—as a member of the Oregon Ku Klux Klan. If you’ve listened to any of my episodes of Behind the Bastards on the origins of the KKK, you know that the early 1920s were a massive boom period for America’s most famous racist organization. Rueben was big into the Klan for several years. In fact, he helped sell his fellow Portlanders on it, addressing 6,000 of them on December 22, 1921 at the Municipal Auditorium. He told them the KKK sought “a cleansed and purified Americanism where law abiding citizens will be respected and their rights defended irrespective of race, religion, or color, so long as they make an honest effort to be Americans, and Americans only.” Now, at this point, what he’s saying wasn’t totally bullshit. The 20s Klan was more a pyramid scheme than a terrorist organization. It was racist, but not more racist than mainstream American society, at least not when it came to skin color. The KKK was more racist than mainstream Americans about some things though. They hated the Catholic, the foreign-born, Asians, and of course, Jews.
This presented an issue for Reuben Sawyer; British Israelism loved the Jews, but over time, and exposure to the other anti-Semites in the Klan, Reuben radicalized. In his first speech about the Klan, he brought up “the Jewish question”, but made a point of noting that some Jews were of ancient and honorable faith, while only some were objectionable. According to “Religion and the Right,” “by 1922, however, this innuendo had been replaced by full-blown anti-Semitism that was as crude as it was open. ‘Jews are either Bolshevists undermining our government or are Shylocks in finance or commerce who gain control and command Christians as borrowers or as employers. It is repugnant to a true American to be bossed by a Sheeney, and in and in some parts of America, the kikes are so thick that a white man can hardly find room to walk on the sidewalk. And where they are so thick, it is Bolshevism there talking. Bolshevism and revolution.’ The transformation is so startling that one wonders at first if it is the same person speaking.” The key lies in the distinction Sawyer had begun to make in 1921 between authentic and inauthentic Jews. The former, ill treated and in need of protection, the latter masquerading as genuine members of All Israel, even as they plotted the destruction of Christendom.
Reuben became a major force for pushing his fellow American British Israelites toward anti-Semitism. In the early and mid-1920s, the Dearborn Independent, the newspaper funded by Henry Ford, began pushing even more extreme anti-Semitic ideas on the wider American public. Its editor, William Cameron, was a British Israelite. Thanks to people like Reuben and Cameron, the category of “good Jews” shrank every year, and the dangers of the “bad ones” expanded to something resembling the all-encompassing anti-Semitic conspiracy theory that set Robert Bowers off on his rampage.
From the late 1920s to the 1930s, Howard Rand, a British Israelite from New England became a thought leader in the movement. His goal was to build it into a political organization. In 1933, he formed the Anglo-Saxon Federation of America, that claimed that actual Jewish people were not in fact descended from Judah. By the late 1930s, Rand’s ideas had evolved to the point where he began to claim that Jewish people were literally the children of the Devil. If you’re curious about how this went down, here’s an explanation from the website of a modern Christian Identity group: “Most that call themselves Jews today are in fact the race of Lucifer through his son Cain. Cain was inherently evil from the beginning because he was of Lucifer’s seed. Eve was beguiled by Lucifer and did, in the carnal sense, lay with and begot Cain. It was a pear on the ground, not an apple on the tree. Eve was deceived by Lucifer and was led to believe that she was laying with Yahweh God.” Rand was the very first person to use the term “Christian Identity” and his thinking had a huge impact on William Dudley Pelley, the founder of the American Fascist Silver Shirts movement, who I also talk about on an episode of “Behind the Bastards.”
By the 1940s, the core of the Christian Identity belief system was more or less formed. It includes three specific ideas: Number one, Aryans are descendants of the Biblical tribes of Israel. Number two, real Jews are the result of the Devil having sex with Eve in the Garden of Eden. And number three, the apocalypse is nigh, and when it comes, Aryans will have to go toe-to-toe with the worldwide Jewish conspiracy in order to save the world. When he walked into the Tree of Life Synagogue that cold October morning, Robert Bowers saw himself as a soldier taking part in this great battle.
Hart and his fellow Christian Identity believers had to be careful during World War II, since their belief system was essentially just Nazism without swastikas. But that didn’t stop him from railing against FDR’s appointment of the first Jewish Supreme Court Justice, Felix Frankfurter. It also didn’t stop him from opposing the admission of Jewish refugees into the United States after 1938. Hart’s specific beliefs were always fringe, but they bled over into the mainstream American rightwing due to the Right’s obsessive fear of socialism.
I’d like to quote next from a great Tablet magazine article “The Bloody History of America’s Christian Identity Movement”, “The broader concern of Hart and his allies and the ‘respectable’ wing of anti-Semitism, liberal journalist Casey McWilliams called them the “’armchair anti-Semites of the Right’ was that liberal and socialist Jews were ultimately behind the hated New Deal and the corresponding transformations in American society. These armchair anti-Semites believed that admitting Holocaust survivors into the United States after World War II would be the first step in dismantling the Immigration Act of 1924 to preserve the racial character of America. American Jews, many of whom supported easing immigration restrictions broadly, were the boogeymen of the nativist Right, and since Right wing nativists also often subscribed to Judeo-Bolshevik conspiracy theories, opposing immigration was a way to strike a blow against communism as well as Judaism, and to preserve the white Christian character of the United States.
From the beginning, Christian Identity connected more with the dark and violent chunks of the far Right than mainstream conservatism. This started with the Silver Shirts and the KKK, and continued into 1964 when this peculiarly American fascist cult met George Lincoln Rockwell.
If you haven’t, I’d recommend listening to the three-part episode of my podcast, Behind the Bastards, where I talk about George Lincoln Rockwell. The first two episodes of that cover his life and career in detail. But just so we’re all caught up, I’ll summarize his life here.
Rockwell was the founder of the American Nazi Party, not much more than a decade after World War II ended. He was the first post-war Holocaust denier, the first fascist to make money by lecturing in American colleges and provoking fights with anti-fascists, he invented the term “white power” and was basically the Johnny Appleseed of the modern fascist movement. Rockwell was an original thinker, a pioneer of the tactics that fashy folks still use today to get media coverage and play the victim. But he came into the game early enough that he never quite figured out how to hide his “power level”, which is a term modern fascists use for hiding their beliefs as garden-variety conservatism. Rockwell was initially somewhat anti-Christian, because, you know, Jesus was Jewish, which was something that didn’t exactly play well with 1960s conservatives. In 1964 though, he met with Wesley Swift, the leader of the Christian Identity Church. Rockwell instantly recognized what an opportunity Christian Identity represented for Nazis in America. As it stood at that point the party, and as a result all American fascism, was basically just a cheap rip-off of German fascism. This was good for triggering Jewish war veterans and civil-rights activists, but it didn’t click with regular Americans in a way that would allow it to spread. American fascism, Rockwell thought, needed a spiritual core, something esoteric, a little occult, and thoroughly American.
Whenever it arises in the world, fascism takes pieces of different spiritual traditions and hammers them together around its central authoritarian framework. This is part of what allows it to spread in different cultures. Umberto Eco identified this trait as “syncretism”. “The Nazi gnosis was nourished by traditionalist, syncretistic, occult elements. The most influential theoretical source of the theories of the new Italian right, Julius Evola, merged the Holy Grail with The Protocols of the Elders of Zion, alchemy with the Holy Roman and Germanic Empire. If you browse in the shelves that, in American bookstores, are labeled as New Age, you can find there even Saint Augustine who, as far as I know, was not a fascist. But combining Saint Augustine and Stonehenge — that is a symptom of Ur-Fascism.”
Obviously, Eco didn’t write his essay until thirty years after Rockwell’s death, but GLR was such a natural fascist; such an instinctive Fuhrer type that he instantly seemed to know that grafting Christian Identity onto American Nazism was going to be critical. He appointed Ralph Forbes, head of the California branch of the Nazi party, to be the party Christian Identity Minister. “For Race and Nation”, my favorite Rockwell biography, says this about Forbes: “His strident racial views, his flair for the dramatic, and his loyalty to Rockwell made Forbes the perfect man for the job. California was an ideal location, there were numerous Identity ministries successfully operating there. Forbes would be the first Nazi officer to preside over a flock. By fusing Christian Identity and National Socialism, Rockwell hoped to maximize the synergies of the groups and broaden the potential membership for each group. Nazis could find religious justification and legitimization in the Church, Identity members could find political expression for their ideology in the ANP. A riot could now be expressed as religion under the guise of the Identity Church. The push was on within the party to legitimize the cause, to de-emphasize Nazism and push racial issues to the forefront. Racial issues could be easily exploited, because they preyed upon nativist fears of the white population.”
Thankfully for all of us, Rockwell was assassinated by one of his own men on August 25, 1967. We’ll talk about what happened to the American Nazi party after his death in more detail in the next chapter. Right now, what’s important is that Rockwell’s marriage of American Nazism with Christian Identity took. It spread throughout the fascist right. Richard Butler, the reverend who founded the Aryans Nations’ compound in Idaho, was a Christian Identity believer. Throughout the 1980s and 1990s, the Aryan Nations acted as one of the linchpins of American fascism. a place where every kind of violent, right wing extremist would gather and meet and make connections with one another. From the Aryan Nations, Christian Identity beliefs were able to make inroads, not just among Klansmen and neo-Nazis, but into the American militia movement.
Tanya Telfair Sharp, a researcher with the Journal of Black Studies, was one of the first academics to document the spread of Christian Identity outside of explicit fascists and into the murkier world of white “patriots”. She documented evidence of Christian Identity pamphlets and underground literature spreading in small local gun and knife shows around the country from 1995 to 1999. It had, of course been prominent in that world well before 1995. Christian Identity’s focus on the inevitable apocalyptic battle against Aryans and satanic Jews meshed well with the apocalyptic fetishism of the survivalist and militia communities. As Tanya Sharp wrote, “Both groups were tied together by their belief that ‘reestablishment of white sovereignty depends on the use of organized aggression against the enemies of the true Christians; all non-whites and all non-white Protestants. The first two letters of ‘race holy war’ make up the battle cry RAHOWA , often used in Christian Identity speeches and publications.”
Christian Identity literature focused on preparing for this apocalyptic battle, which allowed them to subtly recruit preppers by focusing on not-explicitly ideological tasks, like acquiring dried food and weaponry, or building anti-personnel traps in order to protect woodland compounds. Y2K was a goldmine for Christian Identity. Fear of the year 2000 brought thousands of new Americans into the world of survivalist magazines, conventions, and online message boards. The worlds of the militia movement and the survivalist communities are of course closely tied into the world of conspiracy theories. In the late 1990s, guys like Alex Jones weren’t preaching overt anti-Semitic conspiracy theories. You’d never catch him claiming that Jews were the spawn of Satan, for example. But Jones and his ilk were major proponents of the New World Order, the king of conspiracy theories throughout the 1990s and early 2000s.
The NWO took different forms in the mouths of different conspiracy theorists. The most mainstream and least racist version of the theory was that a secret world government of shadowy globalists was now slowly taking over the US federal government and the governments of the world, with the aim of enforcing total Orwellian control over the populace and massacring the vast majority of the world’s population, particularly the Christians, for unclear reasons. The New World Order conspiracy was again, not inherently anti-Semitic or racist, but in practice, most expressions of the theory wound up focusing on beliefs that a Jewish-led cabal of Blacks, homosexuals, Hispanics, immigrants, and liberals was trying to wipe out all straight, white, Christian Americans. Christian Identity believers introduced the term “Zionist Occupation Government”, or ZOG, into the lexicon of American fringe politics. It took off like wildfire, entering the vocabularies of countless Americans on the far right who would never have considered calling themselves a Nazi.
Christian Identity beliefs just happened to mesh perfectly with every other extremist right wing belief in the United States. In the late 1980s and early 1990s, tax protesting became more common. Christian Identity fit in with that too, arguing that paying taxes was really just paying for the “demonic Jews” to carry out their white genocide aims even faster. In 1997, William Luther Pierce, a former devotee of Rockwell, and head of a Nazi group called the National Alliance, wrote this in a newsletter, “The truth of the matter is that the new world order people ultimately aim to create a new world population of serfs for their global plantation, a homogenous population of coffee-colored serfs, a population of docile, predictable, and interchangeable serfs, and they definitely don’t want any large reservoir of white people anywhere who might rebel.” If you take the word “white” out, that sentiment matches almost word-for-word with any one of a thousand rants Alex Jones has gone on over the years.
Under Rockwell, the American Nazi Party never numbered more than a few dozen real, committed members, and its ideas failed to gain any kind of mainstream hold. His vulgar, racist cartoons and explicitly hateful, divisive rhetoric left a bad taste in most people’s mouths. By the late 1990s, American fascists were no less hateful or violent than they had ever been, but their rhetoric had evolved to fit with the deep conspiratorial undercurrents sweeping through American society. Rockwell had shotgunned out hardcore racism, and as a result he’d only been able to recruit a small number of the craziest assholes in America. New American fascism, blended with Christian Identity, was capable of hiding out in more moderate spaces, and luring in new believers without waving swastikas in their faces. Perhaps the most potent weapon Christian Identity added to the arsenal of American fascism was the idea of white genocide.
If you spent much time studying neo-Nazis, you’re aware of the significance of the number 14. It stands in for the 14 words “We must secure the existence of our people and a future for white children.” This is the invention of a guy named David Lane, a neo-Nazi bank robber and, for decades, a Christian Identity believer. While Lane has moved on from Christian identity to some weird sort of bastardized Norse mythology rip-off, he and other Christian Identity believers in the 80s and 90s were largely responsible for seeding the fear of white genocide into American fascism. From Tanya Sharp’s article, “The Identity literature is filled with negative images full of white women caring for mixed-race babies. Race mixing in and of itself is a cause for an organized and radical plan to separate the races.” The National Vanguard magazine, a leading neo-Nazi publication suggests that the cult of miscegenation, which according to them has proliferated over the past 30 years, has placed the white race on the precipice of biological extinction. Furthermore, they argue that only radical action will end the morality of death. The urge to protect white babies and ensure the future of the white race, inspired Eric Rudolph to bomb an Alabama abortion clinic in 1996. Rudolph was a Christian Identity believer, and his beliefs led him to bomb Atlanta’s Olympic Park the same year, along with a gay nightclub. Rudolph spent more than a year hiding in the woods, eluding federal agents. He killed two and injured more than 120 people over his almost two year bombing spree.
He was not the last person moved to violence by this picture of a declining white race. Everyone listening to this will remember the 2019 Christchurch massacre, in which a fascist extremist murdered 50 Muslim worshipers at a New Zealand mosque. That shooter did not identify as a Nazi, and his manifesto lacked the expected anti-Semitic rambling, but he ranted at length about the threat of white genocide and what he called “The Great Replacement”. In between those two terrorists are dozens and dozens of other attacks, with bits of Christian Identity DNA coded into them. John Earnest, the Poway synagogue shooter did not identify himself as a follower of Christian Identity theology, but according to Tablet magazine, “The manifesto left behind by the Poway shooter reads like a hybrid of classical Christian anti-Semitism and contemporary white nationalism. He alternated within paragraphs, sometimes within sentences, from charging the Jews with the responsibility for the deaths of Jesus and the early Christian saints to declaring that Jews fund politicians and organizations who use mass immigration to displace the European race. The document is riddled with contradictions, and is inarticulate even by white nationalist manifesto standards as it moves between citing the gospels and the killer’s love of Frédéric Chopin, with explosive hatred toward Jews. But what it does evince, clearly, is a grounding of a form of anti-Semitism that’s equally in debt to older Christian traditions and more modern secular variants centered on race and soil.”
Christian Identity’s influence in the fascist right is so deep and so well woven that attacks are now carried out by terrorists who have been inspired by its tenants without ever learning the words “Christian Identity.” You will be hearing about it regularly throughout the rest of this audio book. I’ll be sure to point out wherever groups or individuals we discuss are Christian Identity believers, but it almost isn’t necessary. Christian Identity is now just a part of the furniture of American fascism.
Chapter 3: The Apostle of Fascism
If the international fascist movement has a single founding father, that man would be George Lincoln Rockwell. George took the ideologies and the hateful, vicious drive to exterminate and dominate that Adolf Hitler established, and he found a way to let these things function in a post-world war two era. After the war, fascism had lost its ability to attract a mass audience in the United States. It was seen as the ideology that had torn the world apart - because it was. People wouldn’t show up to Nazi party meetings, or pay dues, or vote as fascists, and so Rockwell instead focused on generating mass media attention with the few men he actually had at his disposal. He picketed civil rights marches wielding signs covered in racial slurs and trusting in the police to defend him and his outnumbered crew. Even if he could only get 9 or 10 men to march with them, the rage and violence his signs inspired in counter-protesters were a guarantee of mass media coverage. He spoke at colleges for the same reason, knowing the protests and attacks caused by his presence would get him in the papers and ensure a steady stream of donations. Rockwell positioned himself as a free speech crusader, since arguing to the public about his desire for genocide would have seemed less appealing. These are all tactics modern fascists use today. We see them on display with men like Milo Yiannopoulos, Gavin McInnes and his Proud Boys, Joey Gibson and Patriot Prayer. Whether they know it or not, all these men cribbed from the playbook of George Lincoln Rockwell.
But the fascist movement has evolved considerably since GLR’s days. While many of the tools he pioneered are still incredibly effective today, his obsession with Nazi imagery and the swastika in particular was doom for his hopes of ever creating a mass movement. He had started to realize this near the end of his career. In 1966 he came up with the brilliant slogan “White power”, which he had printed up on t-shirts and protest placards. He worked the phrase into his speeches in Chicago, where he arrived to counterprotest Martin Luther King Jr. Dr. King was in the city to organize a protest that advocated for more public housing in traditionally white, and thus more affluent, parts of the city. For the first time in his career, Rockwell was able to strike a nerve with a large number of white Americans, by focusing on their fear and resentment of black people. On August 6th, 1966, Martin Luther King Jr. Led a group of marchers through Gauge park. He was met by an enormous crowd of counter-protestors, organized, and radicalized, by George Lincoln Rockwell. They numbered more than 2,500. The crowd carried placards and banners emblazoned with Rockwell quotes like “Join the White Rebellion”, and “We Worked Hard for What We Got”. Thousands of furious voices shouted “White Power” at king and his comrades. It marked one of the most violent and vicious receptions Dr. King ever received. And it also marked the high point of Rockwell’s career. He was shot dead one year later. His dream of fomenting a white revolution, however, did not die with him. It lived on in his apostles, and chief among them was a man named William Luther Pierce.
Pierce was born in Atlanta, Georgia, on September 11th, 1933. His father, also William Luther Pierce, died in a car accident when he was 8 years old. His mother had to scramble to support him and his younger brother. Leonard Zeskind, author of the crucial book, Blood and Politics, suspects her background heavily influenced the fascist Pierce would later become. “Marguerite, his mother’s biological father had run off when she was a child, leaving her fatherless until Marguerite’s mother, Bill’s grandmother, remarried. The new stepfather was a Jewish man, from New York, who had moved south and Marguerite had a bitter relationship with him. William Pierce’s story thus begins with his own absent father, and his mother’s unhappy tie to a Jewish stepfather. Marguerite moved about the south with their two young sons in tow. From these travails, William Pierce claimed he learned the virtues of self-discipline, and the importance of delaying immediate gratification for a greater goal. Values, he said, that became constant themes in his life. Pierce worked as a child to help his mom feed the family. He would later write that his difficult upbringing made him into the man he later became. “I think this external discipline, this external control, being forced over a long period of time to do things I didn’t want to do but were necessary to do helped me develop self-discipline. A lot of children these days never learn that. It’s amazing how many adults can’t do that. They can’t stick at a job they don’t want to do.” Young Bill was clearly a brilliant boy. He did well in high school and went to a military Academy in Brine, Texas, from 1949 to 1951. He earned a job there, cleaning the chemistry lab stockroom, and that job wound up stoking what would become a deep love of science. William went to college and then graduate school where he studied to become a physicist. He worked at the jet propulsion lab in Pasadena for a year, and married Patricia Jones, who was also a brilliant mathematician. The couple moved to Boulder and Pierce finished his doctorate in physics in 1962. His dissertation, which had something to do with nuclear dipole and electric quadrupole resonance, held no hints as to the sort of man he would become. Pierce got a job as the assistant professor of physics at Oregon State University, in Corvallis. He and his wife had twins and they settled into what seemed like It would be a perfectly dull, normal, healthy life. Pierce later wrote “Until I was 30 years old, I had hardly given a thought to politics, to race, or to social questions.” That changed after he started working at Oregon State University. He started showing up at meetings of the John Birch Society.
Now, you may not have heard of these guys, but they’re one of the most important organizations in the history of the American radical right. Named after an American advisor in China, who the group’s founder, Robert Welsh, considered to be the first American who died fighting communists, the John Birch Society publications encouraged the US to withdraw from the UN, urged the impeachments of Chief Justice Earl Warren, accused former president Eisenhower of being a secret communist, and other similar battiness. Here’s a quote from one of their 1960 publications, “The Blue Book'', which William Peirce would certainly have read. “Now if the danger from the Communist conspiracy were all we had to worry about, it would be enough, but every thinking and informed man senses that even as cunning and ruthless, and as determined as are the activists whom we call Communists, with a capital C, the conspiracy could never have reached it’s present extensiveness and the gangsters at the head of it could never have reached their present power, unless there were tremendous weaknesses in the whole body of our civilization; weaknesses to make the advance of such a disease so rapid and it’s ravages so disastrous.” Now Robert Welch always denied any anti-Semitic leanings within the John Birch Society, but many people suspected that the weaknesses Welch saw in American society were, in fact, Jewish people. This is because John Birch Society propaganda was often incredibly similar to the Third Reich’s own propaganda. The Nazis also felt like Communism was brought down on society by hidden actors who weakened the state enough for this disease to advance on it. The main difference between the two is that the Nazis named the Jews explicitly, and the John Birch society did not. Pierce’s primary issues with the John Birch Society is that it wasn’t willing to discuss “the Jews'' or explicitly racial issues. The Birchers were far-right, but they didn’t want anyone to mistake them for literal Nazis. Peirce later wrote, “I quickly found out that the two topics on which I wanted an intelligent discussion, race and Jews, were precisely the two topics Birch society members were forbidden to discuss!”.
William Pierce maintained a successful career as a physicist while he devoured more and more John Birch propaganda. In 1965 he left the university, and got a job in Connecticut, working for the Pratt & Whitney aircraft plant as a senior research associate physicist. He made good money and he did well, but his coworkers described him as a real loner, who worked poorly with others and seemed almost unable to manage subordinance. Pierce’s political leanings were kept more or less under wraps until the plant’s workers went on strike. This face to face contact with what Pierce considered Communism, infuriated him so much that he tried to drive his car through a picket of a thousand union men. This is perhaps not so surprising since William Pierce had used his move to the East coast as an opportunity to start visiting the American Nazi Party headquarters in Arlington, Virginia.
William and George Lincoln Rockwell got along well, and Pierce found national socialism a perfect fit with the beliefs he’d been developing since his move to Oregon. His only issue with Rockwell, and the Nazis was, well, all the Nazi stuff. Pierce thought that the old fashioned fashy uniforms and swastikas made them look like they were LARP-ers, rather than serious revolutionaries. Obviously he didn’t use the term “LARP-er” but he accused them of “Hollywood antics”, which amounts to the same thing. In May of 1966, Pierce resigned from his factory job, and moved his family to Virginia. His wife, Patricia, started teaching university math so she could support her husband in his, you know, Nazi efforts. Weirdly enough Patricia wasn’t a Nazi, and later divorced her husband for his beliefs. But for a time she was willing to, I don’t know, humor him? She may have thought it was a phase he was going to get over eventually. Spoilers; he did not.
In Blood and Politics, Zeskind writes, “Over the decades Pierce showed little emotional commitment to his two sons or multiple wives. Only his mother, Marguerite, and his Siamese cats successfully vied with his single-minded devotion to national socialist politics. During these early years he began a small business selling guns, NS arms, and registered with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms. His inventory included machine guns. The business folded after passage of gun control legislation in 1968. (One guess as to what “NS Arms'' stood for.) Now Rockwell and Pierce embarked on a publishing venture together, putting out 6 issues of a Nazi magazine, but William refused to actually join the group until Rockwell changed its name from the American Nazi Party to the National Socialist White People’s Partty. When Rockwell was gunned down outside the parking lot of that laundromat, the movement he had spent his adult life crafting quickly began to fracture. Nazis were, then, as now and always, catty bitches. GLR had kept his party together by sheer force of will, and even he hadn’t done a great job of that, what with the whole “getting murdered by one of his own men'' thing.
Pierce stuck with the NSWPP, which retained the most members after Rockwell’s death. For a while, he tried to take Rockwell’s place, acting as the functional head of the party, writing all its propaganda, and even speaking at university campuses. He did not have Rockwell’s talent for drawing media attention. His only real success was saying that Nixon should be dragged out of his office and shot, which drew some coverage and got the FBI to start looking into him. During this period, Pierce became something of a mentor to a fella names James Mason.
Young James had joined Rockwell’s American Nazi Party back in 1966, when he was 14. Two years later, at age 16, James got in trouble at school; he was disciplined by his principle and in retaliation started planning to go on a shooting spree, and murder multiple members of the school administration. Before carrying out his plan he called the NSWPP’s headquarters and wound up on the horn with William Pierce. The two talked it out, and Peirce convinced Mason to move to Virginia, work for the party, and learn how to run a printing machine instead of massacring his classmates. We’ll be talking about Mason more in a later chapter. He would go one to write a book titled Siege, which provided the nuts and bolts inspiration for the terrorist group Attomwaffen, but I’m getting ahead of myself.
As the 60s wound to a close, Pierce started to get frustrated with the NSWPP, mainly with the fact that, again, it was just too darn Nazi-y. He believed fascism needed an authentically American character, and movement, if it was going to have any chance of taking over in this country. Just dressing up as Nazis was not going to cut it. He quit the party in July of 1970, and published a paper called “Prospectus for a National Front”, which he circulated around neo-Nazi circles. Here’s how it opened; “America today, and more specifically the American people, face the most serous and deadly menace which has arisen in their entire history. This menace far overshadows that post by any war we have fought and the economic catastrophe though which we have passed, or any domestic strife which has torn us. For today were are faced not just with a threat to out territorial integrity, or to our material possessions, or to our way of life, or even to our own lives, but to something far dearer. Today, all that we ever have been and all that we ever might be, our race itself, is threatened with extinction. “
Pierce went on to complain that none of the existing radical right-wing organizations existing in the United States had the ability to turn into a “large scale revolutionary movement”. “Their long established and unbroken record of failure is the best evidence of this fact.” He wrote. He attacked the movement for being filled with “overgrown children” and said “In essence, we need to stop waiting around for a new Hitler to rise up and unify all of our fringe little groups”. Instead, Pierce suggested America’s fascists take a leaf out of Communism’s book and create a national front; a large umbrella organization that would combine and coordinate all the different right-wing groups, and allow them to recruit people more easily, without the baggage of swastikas and Klan robes. Towards this end, William Pierce established the National Alliance in 1974. We’ll talk more about it throughout this book but obviously the National Alliance didn’t wind up being the trick to create a mass Fascist movement in the United States. It was, objectively, more successfully than Rockwell’s American Nazi party, drawing in thousands of members over the years and generating millions of dollars in income. But it proved no more capable of creating a popular revolution than the ANP had been. However, buried in Pierce’s prospectus, was a very important paragraph that contained a realization far more crucial than his National alliance would ever become. “About the only good thing which can be said about all these little groups is that they do generate quite a flood of pamphlets, leaflets, bulletins, newsletters, and other printed materials which express some excellent sentiment. But even here, it is largely an incestuous sort of affair in which the propaganda and the sentiment are circulated largely within the same vaguely defined ‘movement’ in which they were born. Any real contact or rapport with the general population is absent, and this lack of contact with the public is not due simply to problems of distribution or lack of access to the mass media. Most movement literature would fail to evoke a sympathetic response from the masses even if it could be placed regularly in their hands. It is, for the most part, too esoteric, too introverted, and too kooky to strike a responsive chord among the general public.” Pierce correctly understood that to really make progress, American Fascism was going to have to craft propaganda that could infect the hearts and minds of normal white Americans. It would take years for Pierce to translate this insight into action, but when he did, the result would quite literally shake the world.
First, however, came his dalliance with a spritely gentleman named Willis Carto. Now, Carto is one of the very few individuals in this story whose commitment to Fascism precedes the activism of George Lincoln Rockwell. He started a monthly paper in 1955 called (revealingly in my opinion), “Entitled Right, the Journal of Forward-Thinking American Nationalism”. According to Zeskind, “It promoted many of the anti-communist, anti-Semitic and segregationist ideas then circulating on the far right.” In 1957 Carto first wrote openly about his idea to create something called “The Liberty Lobby”, which he promised would “Lock horns with the minority special interest pressure groups in order to support the needs of white people.” who, it must be said, were suffering mightily in the 1950s. Carto wrote that “To the goal of political power all else must temporarily be sacrificed.” He spent his life embodying that creed. Now, Willis Carto was not an out-in-the-street bullhorn and placards activist. Nor was he an armed revolutionary, clutching a rifle and calling for racial holy war. Instead, he sought to bring anti-communists and segregationists together and craft a thoroughly American fascist movement. In 1962 he started publishing a magazine, “Western Destiny”, dedicated to inculcating these ideas among the American right. He wrote about “culture creators” (white people) and their eternal battle against “culture destroyers” (black people). “Tolerance”, Carto wrote, “can often be a culture-retarding and culture-distorting weakness”. “Western Destiny” began to attract a dedicated audience of budding extremists, including a teenager named David Duke. It is possible that Willis Carto is the man who red-pilled Duke.
Throughout the 1960s, as William Pierce was coming up with his idea for a National Front, Willis Carto built the Liberty Lobby into a moderately large mailing list for distribution of far-right, but not openly fascist, propaganda. He latched on to the 1968 presidential bid of a fellow named George Wallace. The 45th governor of Alabama, Wallace was one of the leading voices against the Civil Rights Movement. His most famous line is probably this: “In the name of the greatest people that have ever trod the earth, I draw a line in the dust and toss the gauntlet before the feet of tyranny, and I say ‘segregation today, segregation tomorrow, and segregation forever!’” One guess as to what color of people Wallace thought were the “greatest on earth”. So, you can see why George Wallace would appeal to a guy like Willis Carto. Carto turned the Liberty Lobby towards the cause of getting Wallace elected president. He was, of course, unsuccessful in this goal, but the campaign was an incredible success for the Liberty Lobby. By its end, they’d become the home for almost-but-not-quite Nazi politics in the United States. Their newsletter, “The Liberty Letter”, had 170,000 subscribers. When Wallace’s campaign fell apart, Carto was able to swoop in and acquire a mailing list with the names of another 230,000 people, members of a group called Youth for Wallace.
Willis felt that the failure of George Wallace to win the presidency was no good reason to let the movement of young fascists he’d inspired go to waste. Under Carto, Youth for Wallace was molded into the National Youth Alliance. According to Zeskind’s Blood and Politics, “In the subsequent months the National Youth Alliance sponsored several regional meetings, including its January 1969 event at Conley’s Motor Hotel in Monroeville, outside of Pittsburgh, PA. It was here that the youth organization first began to unravel. Several officers in the new group objected to the content and tenor of the meeting, at an attendant socialist supporters home. The claimed that the affair was awash in Nazi heraldry, including women who wore swastika jewelry and men who sang the Horst-Wessel-Leid, a Nazi party anthem from the 1930s. The host and MC promoted a new booklet by Carto’s west coast enterprise, Noontide press, Myth of the Six Million, it argued that the Nazi genocide was a figment of the Jewish imagination. One of the formal presentations was entitled “Plato the Fascist”.
So, Carto had revealed his power level too quickly, and the National Youth Alliance quickly alienated the majority of its potential membership. These people may not have felt black and white folks should use the same water fountains, but they weren’t about to identify themselves as Nazis. Most of them probably had parents who’d fought the Nazis. But Carto’s work had attracted some new blood. William Pierce and a sizable herd of national socialists. They started hovering around the Liberty Lobby like flies around the hovering corpse of George Wallace’s presidential ambitions. They worked together for a while, but it was an acrimonious pairing, and the straight up national socialists conflicted with Carto’s old guard who were fine with basically towing the Nazi line, but not fine actually identifying as Nazis. Carto and Pierce wound up breaking apart, and after a complex series of bureaucratic battles I don’t care to recount, Pierce wound up reincorporating the National Youth Alliance in Virginia, in October of 1970. Carto accused Pierce of stealing the Liberty Lobby’s mailing list, which was probably true. Peirce accused Carto of embezzling $55,000 from his own organization, which was also probably true. Carto accused Pierce’s faction who were, again, literal Nazis, of being Zionists. Pierce responded by calling Carto “swarthy”, which was racist code for “not white enough”.
The fighting between Pierce and Carto just underscored how unsuccessful Pierce’s efforts to build a National Front had been. His plan had been to start by recruiting more students, starting in the DC area but this was a miserable failure. When he was invited to speak at George Washington University for some reason, in February of 1972, Pierce couldn’t gather more than two dozen students. Anti-fascists showed up and threw raw eggs at him and his men. I should note that in the immediate wake of the Christchurch shooting, a far right Australian politician, senator Frasier Anning, blamed the massacre on “an immigration program which allowed Muslim fanatics to migrate to New Zealand in the first place”. Shortly thereafter, a heroic teenager hit him in the head with an egg. $70,000 was raised in a gofundme for the boys defense, which he donated instead to the victims of the Christchurch shooting. I write a lot in this book about the linkages between old-school and modern fascists, but let us also acknowledge that anti-fascists have their own long-standing traditions and one of them is, apparently, egging.
Anyway, on February 26th, 1974, William Pierce decided to revamp the National Youth Alliance into a new organization, the National Alliance, which he incorporated in Virginia. He continued to publish the organization’s newsletter, “Attack!”, which included guides on how to bomb movie theaters, and which guns would work best in urban uprisings. It was the sort of fare Nazi newsletters had always focused on. But the next year, in January of 1975, Pierce introduced his first real innovation into the annals of right wing terror, a book titled The Turner Diaries. Published in sections across several issues of “Attack!” The book is presented as a series of diary entries from a revolutionary. You might compare it to a Nazi answer to A Handmaid’s Tale. The Turner Diaries were meant to take place in a near-future America, in which a Jewish dominated liberal government had taken over and forcibly instituted such horrors as multiculturalism, and gun control. Peirce presents those things from a Nazi point of view, of course, so multi-culturalism is presented as feral, animalistic black people raping white women at will, and gun control is portrayed as the forcible confiscation of all privately owned firearms. There are “equality police'' in this book, to give you an idea of its tenor. The hero, Earl Turner, is a normal white man who gets swept up in a secret terrorist organization, led by a group called The Order, who organize their insurgency in a series of small cells to carry out a series of vicious terrorist attacks, including the bombing of an FBI headquarters. The goal of these attacks is to destabilize the American government and provoke a vicious race war. The Order funds its operations by robbing banks and armored cars, which allowed them to buy weapons and explosives to carry out more attacks and, gradually, to tip the country into a nightmare.
The book launched a number of concepts into the Fascist mindset, not the least of which is the idea of “the day of the rope”. I’m going to quote now from The Turner Diaries and the section later in the book, “Today has been the day of the rope, a grim and bloody day but an unavoidable one. Tonight, from tens of thousands of lamp posts, power poles, and trees throughout this vast metropolitan area, the grizzly forms hang. In the lighted streets one sees them everywhere, even the street signs at intersections have been pressed into service and at practically every street corner I passed this evening on the way to HQ there was a dangling corpse. Four at every intersection, hanging from a single overpass only about a mile from here is a group of about 30, each with an identical placard around its neck bearing the printed legend ‘I betrayed my race’. Two or three of that group had been decked out in academic robes before they were strung up, and the whole batch are apparently faculty members from the nearby UCLA campus. The first thing I saw in the moonlight was the placard with the legend, in large block letters, ‘I DEFILED MY RACE’. Above the placard leered the horribly bloated, purplish face of a young woman, her eyes wide open and bulging, her mouth agape. Finally I can make out the thin, vertical line of rope, disappearing into the branches above. Apparently the rope had slipped a bit, and the branch to which it was tied had sagged until the woman’s feet were resting on the pavement, giving the uncanny appearance of a corpse standing upright of its own volition. I shuddered and quickly went on my way. There are many thousands of hanging female corpses like that in the city tonight, all wearing identical placards around their necks. They are the white women who were married to, or living with blacks, with Jews, or with other non-white males.”
Earl Turner dies in the book, carrying out a suicidal but successful attack on the Pentagon, but the Order is victorious in the end. The book is essentially framed as a historical document, with researchers from Earl’s future commenting on it. They note that after the US was purged of all non-white people, the same thing was done to the rest of the planet, using a series of nuclear and chemical weapons attacks, to “cleanse” Asia. It’s super fucked up, but it took off like gangbusters among the American far-right. It was eventually published as a book, selling as many as 500,000 copies. The Turner Diaries did not sell the traditional way, in Barnes and Noble or whatever. Instead it proliferated virally on the gun show circuit, at survivalist conventions, and in tiny small-town shops owned by racists. 500,000 copies is a substantial success even by mainstream publishing standards. It’s not an earth-shattering book but, you know, it’s still really good sales. I found a good article in the Atlantic by J.M. Berger, who authored a scholarly paper called “The Turner Legacy”. It notes, “The Turner Diaries is notable for its lack of ideological persuasion. At one point its protagonist, Earl Turner, is given a book to read. Turner claims the book perfectly explains the reasons for white supremacy and the justification of all the Order’s actions. Importantly, this magical tome’s contents are never specified. Although the novel’s epilogue broadly hints at a Nazi orientation, the book never explicitly identifies the Order with a specific movement.” Due in part to Pierce’s desire to appeal to normal people, as well as the novel’s limited circulation among Neo-Nazis, Turner assumes its readers are already racist and do not need to be recruited to that mindset. The abandonment of “why” empowers a single narrative focus on “what” and “how”, the necessity of immediate, violent action and concrete suggestions about how to go about it. This is part of why the book has so often been associated with violence and terrorism.
The Turner Diaries would go on to become probably the most influential single piece of fascist propaganda since Mein Kampf. It’s inspired more than 200 murders since its publication. But it’s also inspired a hell of a lot more than just murder. The Turner Diaries became the ideological underpinning of a vicious American insurgency, which eventually led to hundreds and hundreds of armed men around the country working actively towards the establishment of a white supremacist state. The Turner Diaries also inspired a whole genre of fascist and quasi-fascist propaganda books, written to the same rubric but reining in on the racism, just a little bit, in order to avoid freaking out the “normies”. In 1996 John Ross published Unintended Consequences, a novel that is best described as The Turner Diaries but all the racism is whispered. The cover of the copy I have features a burning copy of the Constitution, with a black-clad cop attempting to sexually assault Lady Justice in front of it. Its main innovation from The Turner Diaries was to switch the focus of its revolutionaries away from race war and towards just gun rights. The plot focuses around a man, Henry Bowman, who winds up being framed by the ATF for some stupid reason related to their desire to take all of America’s guns. He kills most of the ATF agents who come for him and then brutally tortures one who he captures. Bowman and a small group of gun rights activists then carry out a terrorist campaign, horribly murdering gun control advocates around the nation until the president repeals all gun control law. Alex Jones has mentioned multiple times on InfoWars that Unintended Consequences is one of his favorite books.
In more recent years a guy named Matt Bracken has written a whole series of books starting with Enemies Foreign and Domestic. Like Unintended Consequences, his first book is basically Turner Diaries with less racism. The liberal government creates a false flag mass shooting to take away everyone’s guns. The ATF is the bad guy, and brave patriots beat them via terrorism. Bracken’s innovation was to have the cast of his books include numerous non-white people. The idea seems to be that if most of the people aren’t white, then the book can’t be racist. On an unrelated note, the second book in the series is Domestic Enemies: The Reconquista. Its plot is that the evil liberals orchestrate an invasion of Mexicans with the goal of having them ban English in the Southwest and secede from the United States. J.M. Berger, this time writing for The Daily Beast identified some similarities between Bracken’s third book and The Turner Diaries. “After an earthquake demolishes Memphis, black refugees turn into a seething mob of gang-rapists and cannibals, characterizations that feature memorably in The Turner Diaries, while urban blacks loot a path from Baltimore to Washington DC, where they demand and receive a new Socialist constitution engineered by a thinly veiled caricature of President Obama. The narrative disclaimers continue; one character condemns white racist killings in the chaos after the quake, and a battle-weary white racist girl near the end of the book accepts the hand of comfort offered by a black army medic, but these and other individual moments of race-grace are hard pressed to counter the otherwise vivid, lengthy depiction of African-Americans en masse as cannibal rapists directly responsible for destroying America’s constitution.”
In writing The Turner Diaries, William Pierce ignited a movement within the far right that is still very much present and relevant today. The next chapter will discuss, in depth, the generation of terrorists who were inspired by his words to take horrifying, bloody action. Like Christian Identity, The Turner Diaries have influenced many people who may never have even read the book. In his manifesto, the Christchurch Mosque shooter wrote about his hope that his attack would spark renewed calls for gun control in the United States, because he believed this would lead inevitably to a new civil war. The Poway Synagogue shooter repeated the same desire. William Peirce died in 2002 but his ideas live, and kill, to this day.
The struggle between William Pierce and Willis Carto would prove to be a microcosm of a larger struggle within the fascist right itself. On Carto’s side are the mainstreamers – their goal is to gain political power by pushing the Overton window further and further right and convincing more and more of their fellow Americans to adopt hardcore fascist politics. Carto supported political parties and candidates, most notably David Duke’s successful run for the Louisiana state senate, as a republican, and unsuccessful run for governor. He was also a backer of Pat Buchanan. Carto and other mainstreamers believe that the main majority of white Americans can be converted to their political ideals, so gaining power is just a matter of properly propagandizing to their fellow white people. William Peirce, on the other hand, was a vanguardist. Vanguardists believe that politics is hopeless, and the only way for their side to win is to, as in The Turner Diaries, form small, dedicated groups and basically bring on the collapse of society in order to take control. George Lincoln Rockwell himself is hard to pin down. He had elements of both mainstreamer and vanguardist in his writings and in his activism, but his most direct descendants, men like William Peirce and James Mason, became two of the most influential minds in the vanguardist movement, and the vanguardist movement is the chunk of the white supremacist movement that we are focusing on in this audiobook. Because in the late 1970s, a new wave of fascists and neo-Nazis began to rise. For more than a decade, they would build a potent insurgency, armed with missiles, machine guns and bombs, utterly dedicated to a single, dire mission; turning The Turner Diaries into reality.
Chapter 4: How to build an army
Everything you’re going to read about in this chapter really happened. It is documented history. I feel the need to emphasize that here, at the beginning, because the history I’m going to discuss is criminally underreported. I’d be willing to bet most of you have not come across any of it in textbooks or in news articles unless you’ve gone out of your way to learn about this particular subject. The question of why none of this is very well known is a good one, because the story I’m going to tell in this chapter is the story of a bloody, vicious, and exceptionally deadly insurgency that, had a few things broken differently, could have plunged this nation into mass violence. As it was, hundreds upon hundreds of people were killed, and the killing continues to this day. The story of this insurgency starts, as most of these stories do, with a single man named Louis Beam. Like me, Louis Beam was a Texan. Born in 1946 in Lufkin, he grew up in the America that modern conservatives still longingly harken back to. His parents were working class people and his father served in combat during world war two. That tradition inspired Beam to enlist in the army at age 19. He had a pregnant wife at this point and every reason to avoid conflict, but Beam sought out a baptism by fire.
Louis Beam entered a US military that was, for the first time, racially integrated. This did not sit well with him. He was a fierce supporter of George Wallace’s presidential campaign, which put him in the same ideological orbit as Willis Carto’s liberty lobby and Williams Peirce’s band of Nazi revolutionaries. It’s possible he read some of Carto’s newsletters during this period. Shortly after shipping out to Vietnam, Beam and some of his comrades hung Confederate flags in their barracks as an act of protest against the civil rights movement. "Bring the War Home" by Kathleen Belew provides a good context for the nature of racial strife among American soldiers in Vietnam during this period. “While white and black soldiers faced combat together, the rear echelon was intensely segregated. One black soldier described Saigon as ‘just like Mississippi’”. In Beam’s camp at Chu Chi in Vietnam, black and white soldiers frequently exchanged insults, slights, and blows. Beam served in the 25th aviation battalion at a moment of escalating racial tensions. As the language of black power circulated between home and battlefront, black soldiers created a culture of Afros and black berets, greeting each other with fist bumps. Some white soldiers in the 25th reported feeling alienated or threatened because of such actions. Klansmen serving as active duty personnel in Vietnam announced plans for cross burnings and spray-painted racial epithets on rear echelon buildings. By 1970 the marine corps recorded more than a thousand incidents of racial violence at installations both in Vietnam and back home. Now, in 1964 four members of the united Klans of America murdered a black army reserve lieutenant colonel. Later in the 1960s the camp Pendleton Klan chapter reached 200 members in size and carried a campaign of shooting, firebombing, torture and harassment of black marines.
Louis Beam did not join the Klan until being discharged from service, but he served in a military where racial violence was common, and where membership in extremist groups by uniformed service members was common. Beam was a helicopter door gunner, manning a 50-caliber machine gun, and, by his own recollection, killing over 50 people. He expressed appreciation for “The joys of killing your enemy” but also struggled with what would later come to be known as PTSD. Beam called it “Post Vietnam Stress Syndrome”. After coming home from the war, he said this to an undercover reporter at a KKK event. “After I got home from the war, things didn’t seem like they were before I went to Vietnam. Everything seemed different. The whole climate of the nation had changed. Before I went over to fight most of the people seemed behind us soldiers, but when I returned it seemed the majority of Americans were against us; against war as a whole”. Louis Beam came home in 1968 and almost immediately joined the KKK. He was racist, certainly, but the primary hatred he’d developed in Vietnam was an intense disgust with the left, and communism. In the early 1970s he was involved in a spate of terroristic crimes. A machine gun attack on a communist party headquarters in Houston, and the bombing of a left-wing radio station. No one died and he managed to avoid charges for either attack, so in 1976 he switched to a different sect of the KKK. The Knights of the Ku Klux Klan led by a guy named David Duke.
Now Duke had grown up reading Willis Carto’s Western Destiny Newsletter before flirting with Naziism in college, dressing in an SS uniform as he marched up and down his school’s free speech alley. His Knights of the KKK became the most prominent Klan group of the 1970s, in large part due to Duke’s decision to wed the organization more closely with outright Nazism and help organize Klan border patrols to stop migrants. Racial paranoia and fear of communism led to a vast surge in Klan ranks throughout the state throughout the 1970s in 1975 there were an estimated 6,500 Klansmen nationwide. By 1979 that number had increased to 10,000 plus another 75,000 Klan sympathizers. For a while, David Duke seemed like a good pick for someone who might manage to take on the role of being the next George Lincoln Rockwell. He was charismatic and good at drawing media attention. In 1978 and 1979 he became a constant figure on American talk shows. In 1975 Willis Carto covered Duke’s campaign for the Louisiana senate in an issue of his weekly magazine, the National Spotlight. Carto wrote: “he sees the Klan not as a terrorist organization, but as a political movement with ideological leadership.” Duke only won about a third of the vote but that was still seen, rightly, as a massive improvement in the political fortunes of the fascist right. Gallup reported that the number of people with favorable opinions of the Klan had nearly doubled from 1967 to ’75. Duke then represented the best hope of mainstreamers in the late 1970’s. Beam and a number of other Klansmen would wind up on the side of the vanguardists.
One of these men was Bill Wilkinson, a former mid-level leader in Duke’s Klan who created his own group, the Invisible Empire, in the late 1970s. Bill was noteworthy for his sheer willingness to make violent threats, saying in an interview “I’m the only Klan member who believes in having guns around. These guns aren’t for shooting rabbits, they’re for wasting people.” In 1979, his Klan protested a march by the Southern Christian Leadership Conference in Decatur, Alabama. They showed up with clubs and wound up fighting with both the marchers and with local police. Gun fire ensued and three people were wounded. No one was killed, but that would change in November of 1980, when Wilkinson’s Klan marched against communist demonstrators in Greensboro, NC. They opened fire there, killing 5 of the protestors. Later investigation revealed that the police were complicit in the massacre, actively directing officers away from the site in order to ensure that no law enforcement was present at when the Klan attacked. None of the killers were found guilty in a subsequent criminal trial. They argued that firing into the crowd, often from the back of moving vehicles, had been justified because of the threat to their lives posed by the communists. A later civil trial found the Klansmen and the local police jointly liable for the death of one of the protestors. Greensboro was a huge moment for the Klan and seen by many within the American fascist movement as nothing less than the first shots fired in a war to take back their country from communist infiltrators. The Greensboro Klansmen went on to become heroes in the movement, giving speaking tours and acting as living billboards to the cause. And this brings us back to Louis Beam.
While he was not present at Greensboro, Beam kept extremely busy in the late 1970s. In 1979 Deng Xiaoping, the leader of China at the time, visited the United States. When he arrived in Texas, Louis Beam attempted to spray him with red paint in the lobby of his hotel. He was punched out by a security guard. Later variations of the story would mark it down as an assassination attempt against the Chinese statesman, but the reality seems to be much dumber than that. Beam, however, was not a joke. Right around the time he began to help operate a paramilitary training camp in Oklahoma called Camp Puller. White supremacists would gather there to train in combined arms techniques, and prepare to fight a civil war against communists, blacks, and Jews. Attendees with military experience were encouraged to wear their medals and insignia over their Klan fatigues. I found a UPI article from November of 1980 covering the camp. “A Ku Klux Klansman who says he’s prepared to do battle against communists and homosexuals instructs explorer scouts and several air patrol cadets in guerilla warfare techniques at a paramilitary camp, a newspaper report. The post, which has not been fully chartered by the Boy Scouts of America is run by Robert John Sisente of deer park who denies he is a Klan member, and Louis Beam of Pasadena, grand dragon of the Texas KKK ‘I am proud to be a member of the Klan’ said Bogart, a former marine from La Porte, Texas, who said he had been a member for two years, ‘There are only two groups I’ll battle with; communists and homosexuals. That’s the basic reason I joined the Klan’” The article notes that concerns about the camp were initially sparked when the parents of explorer scouts and civil air patrol cadets complained that their 15-19 year old sons were learning guerilla warfare techniques, and racial slurs from leaders at the camp. Civil Air patrol major Paul Renfro, who investigated the camp, stated “There was nothing Boy Scout about it. They were on maneuvers, they were firing, unloading, using live ammunition and the parents were very upset because they were told nothing about this. These guys mislead the Scouts”. Camp Puller came together during a very different time in the United States, when membership in extremist groups like the KKK was not explicitly forbidden for active duty service members. It was also a time when weapons theft, and the smuggling of military grade arms to civilian militias and domestic terror groups was vastly more common. These two facts were very much connected.
In 2019, as I write this episode, the state of Oregon is currently ground zero for a resurgent militia movement. You can trace the start of our most recent band of troubles back to the standoff at the Bundy compound in Bunkerville, Nevada, which led to the occupation of the Malheur Wildlife Refuge in Oregon. A number of the men who were involved in that are currently helping state-level republican legislators hide in Idaho after they fled the state in an attempt to stop a cap and trade bill. Oregon governor Kate Brown sent state police to bring the recalcitrant senators in. When informed of this, senator Brian Boquist, hiding in Idaho said, “send the bachelors, and come heavily armed”. Even from that brief summary it should be obvious how groups like this work. They do not have the numbers to enforce their will democratically, and they are not willing to yield to the preferences of the majority. So, they take up guns, and they use violence, or like Boquist, the threat of violence, to get what they want. And they gamble on the fact that no one else will have the guts to use force against them. When these people are not confronted, and made to face consequences for breaking the law, they will continue to push. This was the strategy Louis Beam pursued in the early 1980s while his camp trained new guerilla fighters for the war he felt was coming to the United States. He looked for opportunities for him and his militiamen to enforce their own rule of law in places where they felt the government would not have the courage to stand against them. Greensboro had been proof that Klansmen could get away with taking justice into their own hands. The state had stood aside while they murdered communists and acquitted them afterwards. So, Louis Beam looked south after Camp Puller, and saw the town of Seadrift, Texas as another place where he and his comrades could exercise their will and force the cowardly state to flee before them.
Seadrift was a crabbing town, with a population of about a thousand people. Life there had recently been disrupted by the arrival of roughly 100 Vietnamese refugees. Overnight, Seadrift went from a very homogenous culture, where everyone spoke English, to a town where 10% of the people were native Vietnamese speakers. That on its own might not have been an issue, but the Vietnamese families proved to be extremely adept crab fishermen. They worked together, in large collaborative family fishing groups, and worked more efficiently and more effectively than the native crabbers of Seadrift. In August 1979, there was a dispute over the distance between two sets of crab traps. A fight ensued, and a white crabber was shot dead. Two Vietnamese crabbers were acquitted for the shooting, on self defense grounds. What happened next will sound very familiar to all of you. Rumors began to percolate that the Vietnamese refugees were being funded on sketchy government welfare checks, and that they’d smuggled gold out of Vietnam when they’d fled. Several of the men in Seadrift were Vietnam veterans, and the scars of war had hardened their hatred to their new neighbors, which was ironic, because the Vietnamese refugees who settled in Seadrift did so because they’d sided with the Americans and worked for South Vietnamese government. They had more cause to hate communists than most of the white crabbers who cursed them as red infiltrators.
In 1980 the first of these new immigrants earned their American citizenship. This provoked a paroxysm of rage. Three of the Vietnamese boats and one mobile home were firebombed. There were beatings. One man pulled a gun on a Vietnamese fisherman walking home across a dock and shot him in the leg. Louis Beam and his men waded into this mess with glee and consummate expertise. They started pointing out reams of propaganda, newsletters and magazines, calling the Vietnamese refugees “boat people” and accusing them of being riddled with tuberculosis and malaria. Klan propaganda also sought to stoke fears that the new immigrants would sexually assault local white women. They even named their activities in Seadrift “operation hemline”, a reference to the modest, decent white women they were supposedly protecting. In one interview with a reporter, a Klansman in Seadrift said, “Galveston bay is just like a fine woman, if you rape her, she’s never good anymore”. On January 10th, 1981, the Vietnamese owned shrimping vessel Trudy B was lit on fire in its dock. The next night, another Vietnamese shrimping boat was burned. Local police reported seeing four white males, in Klan robes, starting the fires. This would prove to be but a prelude. In February of 1981 the Texas KKK held a massive Klan rally in Santa Fe, Texas, drawing three our four hundred armed paramilitaries. Louis Beam, master of ceremonies, burned a small rowboat named USS Vietcong. He told the gathered Klansmen to pay attention to his technique, because it was illustrated the proper way to destroy a boat by arson. He decried the theft of job security of “real Americans” by immigrants and promised that if the Vietnamese fishermen in Seadrift didn’t flee by May 15th, the KKK would “take matters into its own hands”. In March, robed Klansmen started carrying armed boat patrols of the Galveston bay, wielding assault rifles and displaying an effigy of a lynched Vietnamese person on the rigging of their boat. Several Vietnamese families living on the water fled their homes after close passes by the Klan’s armed patrol. There are pictures of these patrols you can find, and they are quite shocking to behold. In one we see seven men and one young woman in a mix of Klan robes and military fatigues. They wear rifles and stare out with surly expressions into the sea. Most of them are overweight and on an individual basis they look distinctly absurd in their costumes and military gear. But there is nothing funny about the broader image of a squadron of armed and uniformed racists enforcing their own laws on American soil.
Camp Puller had closed briefly after that controversy over their recruiting of boy scouts, but it reopened in April 1981, in the middle of all this. Dozens of uniformed militiamen began showing up again and firing their guns past the homes of several black families who lived nearby. The local sheriff complained that he could do nothing because “No one has filed a complaint. They won’t filed complaints because they fear reprisal, or potential reprisal.” The mayor of Kima, a small neighboring town to Seadrift, where many of the threatened Vietnamese fishermen lived, was less sympathetic. He admitted that the sight of the Klansmen in robes was disturbing but declared “I don’t have any reason to believe the Vietnamese are not safe.” So, help did not come from the local government, or from law enforcement. Instead it came from the Southern Poverty Law Center, who helped a group of Vietnamese fishermen file suit against the Knights of the Ku Klux Klan. Beam showed up in court to defend himself wearing his Klan robes, and claimed “I’m only charged with loving this country”. Beam wore a gun to his own trial, and challenged Morris Dees, the lawyer for the SPLC, to a duel to the death. Eventually, however, the sunlight of this court case acted as a moderate disinfectant. Or at least, the first sign of real resistance finally checked the Klan’s escalating use of force. During the trial, video was played of Beam training militiamen at Camp Puller. In that segment he was seen advising his soldiers on how to conduct themselves in battle. He told them “Utterly destroy everybody. Maximum damage. Maximum violence in the shortest period of time. They can do only one thing. Die”. Finally, on December 3rd, 1989, under an avalanche of death threats, the judge issued a court order demanding an end to Klan harassment. Beam’s paramilitary group, Camp Puller, and four other far-right militia training camps in the area were ordered shut down. Vietnamese fishermen had won. But Louis Beam was far from defeated. He continued to write speeches, newsletters and articles in various far right journals of record, culminating in his 1983 book, Essays of a Klansman. In this book, he encouraged his fellow fascist Vietnam veterans to “bring the war on home to the United States”.
While the legal prescriptions against Beam and his fellow Klansman after Seadrift were more effective than the complete exoneration they received after Greensboro, it effectively did nothing to actually stop Klan organizing. While the far right receded ever so slightly in the first years after Reagan’s election, by 1984 America’s fascists had realized that the president was not going to be the quasi-Nazi leader they hoped he might be. His failure to do things like ban abortion and reinstate segregation was proof to them that politics was useless. The mainstreamers were wrong. Consequently, the white power movement began to grow again, particularly its vanguardist section. According to "Bring the War Home", “Scholars and watchdog groups who’ve attempted to calculate the numbers of people in the movement’s varied branches, including, for instance, Klansmen and neo-Nazis, who are often counted separately, estimated that there are about 25,000 hardcore members in the 1980s. An additional 150-150,000 bought white power literature, sent contributions to groups, or attended rallies or other events, signifying a larger, although less formal, level of membership. Another 450,000 did not, themselves, participate or purchase materials but read the literature. The John Birch society, in contrast, reached only 100,000 members at it’s 1965 peak. A Klansman in the south might participate in burning crosses, wearing the white robe and hood, and embrace the Confederate battle flag alongside a lost cause narrative of the civil war. A neo-Nazi in the north might march under the banner of the swastika and don an SS uniform. But the once disparate approaches to white supremacy represented by these symbols and ideas were drawn together in the white power movement. A suburban California skinhead might bear Klan tattoos, read Nazi tracts, and attend meetings of a local Klan chapter, a National Socialist political party, the Militant White Aryan Resistance, or all three."
Now in this chapter, we focus mostly on Louis Beam, the KKK, and the Neo-Nazis but it’s important you know that an awful, awful lot of other fascist groups were active, organizing, and growing during this period. Militant right-wing organizations popped up constantly throughout the 1980s. One important group was the Posse Comitatus. In brief, the Posses were a series of militant antigovernment cells. They were believers in Christian Identity Theology and these “true Israelites” also subscribed to a conspiratorial interpretation of American history in which all government above the county level was fundamentally illegitimate. Posse believers felt that the Federal Reserve and the IRS were part of a Jewish plot to wipe out the white man. In their view, the county sheriff was the only legitimate power in the land and if he did not act in accordance with the wishes of the county, he should be hung by the neck until dead. As a general rule, Posse members were big fans of hanging. Modern day sovereign citizens descend from the Posse Comitatus and you can draw a direct line between them and many modern militia movements, including the Constitutional Sheriffs who supported the Bundy clans Malheur occupation. Appropriately enough, the first Posse Comitatus cell seems to have been formed in Portland, Oregon, back in 1969. But Posse beliefs did not generate national awareness until 1983 when a guy named Gordon Kahl got in a series of gunfights with authorities. Kahl had declared himself a “tax protestor” in 1967, writing the IRS to let them know he would no longer pay taxes to the “synagogue of Satan”. He was arrested in 1976 but got out on parole and went to ground near Medina, North Dakota. A warrant was eventually issued for his arrest over parole violations, which prompted US Marshalls to try and arrest him while he and his family were driving home from a Posse-related meeting in February of 1983. A shootout ensued, and Kahl and his family killed two US Marshalls. Gordon went on the run after that and was finally brought down in June, after a viscous gun fight that left an Arkansas Sheriff and Kahl himself dead.
By the time Kahl died, the Posse movement had metastasized into a series of townships filled with White Supremacist Christian Ideology believers who considered the federal government illegitimate, were heavily armed, fiercely independent, and more than willing to kill for their beliefs. This was part of a broader trend on the far-right to attempt to create autonomous enclaves for their ideologies in isolated rural communities. Another such group was the Aryan Nations, a Neo-Nazi organization centered around a compound in Hayden Lake, Idaho. On paper, the Nations were officially a Christian Identity Church, but by the self-proclaimed reverend Richard Butler. In the early 1980’s Butler’s group began to reach out to incarcerated white Americans, eventually leading to the formation of the Aryan brotherhood, a Christian identity prison gang that remains influential to this day. Another Christian Identity compound was, and still it, Elohim city in Oklahoma. By the early 1980s, Elohim was a totally self-sufficient community with it sown sawmill, crops, and weapons ranges on 400 sprawling acres. Elohim’s operations were funded by a trans-continental trucking company and construction business operated from the compound. The denizens of Elohim considered American society to be decadent and sinful beyond salvation, and they homeschooled their children and stockpiled weapons in anticipation of societal collapse. There were numerous other right-wing groups doing similar things around the country in the 1980s. Most of them fell either into the mold of Elohim city, urging total separation from society, or the mold of the Aryan Nations, attempting to build a white insurgency against the Zionist occupied government. These disparate groups were tied together loosely by Christian Identity Theology, and recruited heavily from the nascent “prepping” movement that had started to crop up in the 1980s. In Blood and Politics, Leonard Zeskind notes: “For William Pierce, survivalist events became an opportunity for national alliance cadres to sell literature and find new recruits”. Pierce wasn’t concerned about human existence per se, rather he worried about the preservation of white genes during a time of “racial decay”. To ensure this preservation, he needed to influence the large survivalist movement’s direction. As usual, he began with a cold-eyed analysis. One can recognize three distinguishing traits in the survivalist, Pierce’s National Vanguard opined. The first was the strong personal identity, the second was a will to survive, and the third was alienation from the present society.
Despite this positive assessment, Pierce also looked for weak spots. The largely individualistic approach bothered him the most. Survivalists were interested in self-preservation, like professionals practicing lifeboat ethics, rather than the advancement of the white race. So Pierce’s goal in this time became to infuse white racial consciousness into the survivalist movement, and then turn it from a disconnected community of armed loners into something he could use to bring about the fascist revolution he so desired. Independently, Klasnman Louis Beam spent the early 1980s working on a similar goal – spreading white racial consciousness and a desire for revolution to disaffected white Vietnam veterans. In 1982 he wrote “America’s political leaders, Bankers, church ministers, newsman, sport stars and hippies called us ‘baby killers’ and threw chicken blood on some of us when we returned home. You’re damn right I’m mad, I’ve had enough. I want those same traitors to face their enemy now. The American fighting man they betrayed; all 3 million of us”. Beam wrote articles in which he warned of a coming mass gun confiscation. He told his readers to arm up and hide their weapons and hope the future might bring headlines like “Millions of formerly peaceful, law-abiding citizens up at arms”, “Vigilantes of one and two persons take law into own hands”, “Politician cut in two by shotgun blast as he steps from car”, “Federal judge killed by bomb blast as he starts car”, “Judge found dead, hands tied behind back, throat cut”, “US Senator found hanging from limb of tree on river”. In June of 2019 Walter Lubke, a Christian democratic union politician in Germany was shot dead by a Neo-Nazi terrorist. Lubke was hated for his support of Angele Merkel’s open door refugee policy. His killer had ties to a large organization of German Nazi radicals which included of law enforcement, with a massive stockpile of arms and a list of other politicians they’d planned to murder. Their goal was nothing less than the overthrow of democratic Germany, in a manner vey similar to the story traced out in the those fantasy headlines written so long ago by Louis Beam. Like many white nationalists in the 1980s, Beam expressed a growing dissatisfaction with the Republican party, and American conservatives in general. He damned compromise and wrote that his readers should take up the sword, adding “The sword need not be literal, although many of us would enjoy a righteous satisfaction from lopping off heads of the enemy. A sword in the year od our lord 1981 could be an M16, 3 sticks of dynamite taped together, a twelve-gauge, a can of gas, or whatever is suitable to carry out any commission of the Lord that has been entrusted to you”.
In 1983 Louis Beam published an essay in the inter-Klan newsletter titled Leaderless Resistance. In it, he argued that the top-down organization of traditional fascist group, like his own Klan, Rockwell’s old Nazi party, and its successor William Pierce’s National Alliance, were fundamentally vulnerable to penetration from law enforcement. This was backed up by the well-known fact that Rockwell’s marches had often been half composed of federal informants. It was also backed up by the disastrous 1981 attempt of several American Klansmen to conquer the island of Dominica. Now, Dominica is a small island nation near Venezuela, an assortment of Neo-Nazi commandos, including a Klan leader named Don Black, who’d previously been the driver of George Lincoln Rockwell’s hate bus, had gathered enough weaponry that they believed they could deploy enough force to overthrow the prime minister and install their own government on the tiny island. They could then use Dominica as a base of operations and a funding engine to support an insurgency in the United States. The whole thing fell apart before Black and his minions could set sail. FBI agents arrested 10 Nazi commandos in New Orleans on a rented boat filled with guns, dynamite, bullets, and Confederate and Nazi flags. Don Black and his comrades spent a bit of time in prison, and when Don Black got out, he went on to found the Neo-Nazi website Stormfront, but we’ll talk about him a little more later.
After Dominica, fascist thinkers like Louis Beam were eager to find a new way to organize that wouldn’t just get them infiltrated by the FBI. As he noted in Leaderless Resistance “An Infiltrator can destroy anything which is beneath him in the pyramid of organization.” In order to counter this, Beam suggested white supremacists adopt a cell-type organization, similar to those used by communist insurgencies. I’m going to quote again from Zeskind and his Blood and Politics: “In these small groups of people worked together but were known only to one another. Other small groups worked independently and the participants of one cell remained unknown to the personnel of another. Thus, an enemy infiltrator could possibly betray the one cell, but couldn’t break up the entire underground. While the cell structure was an improvement over the traditional pyramid, Beam decided it also had weaknesses. The problem was that it required a central command to give direction to all the cells, and their new vision of vanguardism did not support one single leadership. Beam proposed instead a structure composed of cells, like the communists, each operating independently of the others, but without a headquarters. Now, this put Louis Beam in direct opposition with William Pierce. His National Alliance and the idealized Neo-Nazi insurgency he’d imagined In the Turner Diaries. The Order had included a strong central structure directing a series of small independent cells and wielding them as weapons towards the greater goal of destroying society and rendering it ungovernable. Pierce and Beam and their separate camps were at loggerheads. But in 1983 a man came along with a vision to synthesize their dueling theories into one, violent whole.
Robert J. Matthews was born in Martha, Texas on January 16th 1953. He joined the John Birch Society at age 11. In 1971 as a young adult, he was on his way to enlist at Fort Huachuca, Arizona, when he heard a radio report on the prosecution of Lieutenant Bill Calley, the American officer who’d presided over the murder of hundreds of Vietnamese civilians at Mai Alai. Matthews obviously, thought the killing of women and children was imminently justified in the fight against Communism. He decided he would not join an army that wouldn’t let him murder little kids with impunity. Matthew’s first found himself first drawn to violent extremism as part of the tax protest movement. He formed an anti-communist militia called the Sons of Liberty and did time for tax fraud in the early 1970s. through his involvement with the survivalist movement Matthews was gradually drawn into the cause of white nationalism. He moved to Metaline falls, Washington in the mid-1970s and, in 1980, he joined William Pierce’s National Alliance. Robert Matthews fell in love with the Turner Dairies and the vision of a possible white revolution it provided. His earliest on-the-ground activism involved the kind of childish fistfights with antifascist protestors that have become so common today. During a Nazi rally in a Spokane public park, he single-handedly fended off several anti-fascists and earned a place in Richard Butler’s inner circle. And so, Matthew’s was on the Aryan nation’s compound in Idaho in July, 1983 for the annual congress of white power leaders. That summer day, 300 wannabe Aryan revolutionaries sat down to plan the future of their movement. Louis Beam and another fascist thinker, Robert Miles, seem to have dominated the discussion. Now there aren’t minutes taken in such meeting since what was being planned at the congress was nothing less than the violent overthrow of the United States government, but it is generally accepted that the white supremacist leaders who assembled that day walked away with two broad conclusions about the future of their movement. The first, was that they would need to use computer networks to organize and coordinate the leaderless resistance Beam’d advocated. And the second was the value of cell-style organizations, and taking their movement forward into the future. Their dreams were grand indeed. Robert Miles sought to establish a series of no less than 600 cells, each 100 miles apart, so the nuclear war the all feared was coming wouldn’t wipe them all out. Miles’ theories were very much focused on the importance of building a white supremacist movement that could dominate America in the wake of a nuclear exchange with the USSR. Beam anticipated nuclear war too. But he was more interested in building a network of terrorist cells that could start carrying out attacks on the “enemies of the white race” at once. But in order to do all this, Beam and his fellow fascists were going to need a lot of money. Computer equipment was not cheap in the 1980s, and the insurgency they planned to build required weapons, too. Not just civilian weapons and sidearms, but military grade equipment. Rocket launchers, and machine guns, often bought from bribed military supply officers. In order to fund all this, Miles suggested robbing armored cars. Bit by bit, a plan became to take place. Louis Beam and Williams Pierce had spent years sketching out theories and passing out propaganda. They’d been rewarded by an American fascist movement that was hundreds of times larger and more capable than anything George Lincoln Rockwell had ever commanded. Now it was time for them to take the next step forward, and make the fantasies William Pierce had written down in the Tuner Diaries into a reality. Young Bob Matthews would be the man to do that.
Chapter 5: The Hidden Civil War
One of the issues with discussing the history of secret organizations formed to overthrow the government is that, for obvious reasons, an awful lot is left in shadow. We do not know the precise day or the hour that the Order was founded. We do not know its exact composition or to what precise extent men like Louis Beam or William Pierce were involved in it. Officially, the Order was founded in September of 1983 by Robert Matthews during a convention he attended for Pierce’s National Alliance in Arlington. While Beam and Pierce tended to approach the issue of sparking a fascist revolution rather differently, Matthews had deep ties to both men. It was profoundly influenced by Beam’s ideas and writing, and was also an obsessive fan of the Tuner Diaries. He essentially aced as a bridge between the two sides of the vanguardist movement, tying Beam’s Klansmen and Christian Identity nuts together with Pierce’s Neo Nazis. William Pierce called the Order “The Aryan Resistance Movement”. Robert Miles called it Brüder Schweigen, or “The Silent Brotherhood”. But to Bob Matthews, and to most of its members, it was simply known as the Order, in direct imitation of the group responsible for organizing the fictional white nationalist insurgency in the Turner Diaries.
It originally had just 9 men. Three members of the National Alliance, four men from the Aryan Nations, and one former Klansman. Matthews devised a six-step strategy for his new terror organization. He would start by recruiting a base of soldiers around the nation, and train them at sundry fascist compounds. Once Matthews had trained a corps of soldiers, they would begin committing robberies and counterfeiting money. This would fund the men’s purchase of an arsenal, which would allow them to commit more ambitious robberies and raise millions of dollars, which they would then dispense to various fascist groups around the nation. In essence, Bob Matthews had looked out at all the white supremacist compounds around the nation. Places like Elohim City, the Aryan Nations, Nehemiah township and various Posse Comitatus communities. He felt these groups had huge potential if only they were connected and funded more effectively. The Order was a way to do that. In carrying out this plan Matthews was both working to fulfill Pierce’s dream of a big tent fascist organization, and funding Beam’s plan to connect these different groups via the early internet. The Order’s end goal was a white ethno-state in the Pacific Northwest. Here, too, Matthews was following in the footsteps of other fascist thinkers.
The Northwest Imperative, as it is now known, first popped up in the 1970’s, and was initially cheered on by Christian Identity pastor, and Aryan Nations leader, Richard Butler. In creating the Order, Matthews had synthesized decades of far-right thinking with his love of the turner Diaries into a serious plan for revolution. And on paper, it all looked kind of like ridiculous LARP. It was even, you know, inspired by a piece of speculative science fiction. But Matthews quickly turned his plans into action. On October 28th, 1983, Bob and several of his men held up an adult bookstore in Spokane, Washington, netting $300. It was an anxious, small-scale crime. Perhaps even a laughable one when compared with their ambitions. But Matthews and his crew kept right on robbing. Two months later, they stole $25,000 from a Seattle bank, and then $3,600 from a Spokane bank. They robbed a courier after picking up the daily cash receipts from a Shonie’s restaurant and made off with $8,000. The order professionalized quickly, and within a matter of months they’d already started counterfeiting $50 bills.
By spring of 1984 Robert Matthews had proved himself to be a competent and dangerous guerilla leader, and his Order was quickly becoming the New Big Thing in American fascism. Dozens of young militants flocked to join and do their part to further the cause. They flooded in from other far-right groups with names like The Covenant, the Sword, and the Arm of the Lord, sundry Posse Comitatus crews and assorted KKK chapters. In order to build camaraderie and loyalty, Matthews developed rituals for his warrior elite. I’m going to quote again from Bring the War Home, “They took their inductions up on Matthews’ farm. They stood in a circle around a white female infant, who symbolized the race they sought to protect. They raised their arms in a Hitler salute. ‘I, as a free Aryan man’, they recited, ‘hereby swear an unrelenting oath upon the green graves of our sires, upon the children in the wombs of our wives’. They swore they had no fear of death or foe but had a sacred duty to do ‘whatever is necessary to deliver out people from the Jew and bring total victory to the Aryan race’. They pledged secrecy about all activities to follow. They swore to rescue any of their number taken prisoner. ‘Should an enemy agent hurt you’, they promised their silent brothers, ‘I will chase him to the ends of the earth and remove his head from his body’. Their oath recognized them as racial warriors, but also transformed them into weapons. ‘My brothers, let us be God’s battle axe and weapons of war. Let us go forth by ones and twos, by scores and by legions, as true Aryan men’ they vowed. ‘We are in a state of war, and will not lay down our weapons until we have driven the enemy into the sea and reclaimed the land which was promised to our fathers of old, and through our blood and His will becomes the land of our children to be’”.
In March, 1984, the Order carried out their first robbery of an armored car. They netted $43,000. They robbed the same armored car again and got their biggest score yet; $230,000. Later that month, members of the Order also bombed a synagogue in Boise, Idaho. As the summer of 1984 rolled along, Matthews and the other members of his inner circle began to worry that one of their men, Walter West, might talk. Two of Bob’s men shot and buried him in the woods on June 1st. A little more than two weeks later, on June 17th, Matthews and three of his men shot and killed Alan Berg, a Jewish radio host and anti-fascist, who regularly attacked Neo Nazis on the air. The Berg murder officially raised the Order’s profile, and guaranteed major law enforcement attention. The group’s danger was reinforced a month later when they heisted a Brinks truck in Ukiah, California, and made of with a staggering $3.6 million. Now flush with enough cash to wage a revolution, Matthews and his order began buying up guns like they were going out of style. They also purchased a 300-acre plot of land in Missouri, and 110 acres in Idaho. Each participant in the robbery got $40,000 but the bulk of the money went to other fascists around the country. Different organizations received grants in $100,000 increments. Matthews tithed 10% of his stolen money to the Aryan Nations. Members developed crude codenames and acquired fake IDs. Matthews even had silver medallions crafted to act as proof of membership. The nicknames were suitably grandiose, and what you’d expect from people who…I don’t know…they’re all giant nerds. “Lone Wolf”, “Field Marshall”, “Yosemite Sam”. One member was nicknamed “Mr. Closet” for his love of assaulting gay men. Louis Beam was codenamed “Jolly”, and “Lonestar”. Pierce was codenamed “Brigham” after Mormon leader Brigham young. Both men had medallions.
In nine months, Bob Matthews had turned the dreams and theories of men like Beam and Pierce into a real revolutionary movement. He’d made the Turner Diaries real. New recruits to the Order were reportedly handed copies of the book, and for quite awhile law enforcement seemed powerless to do anything to stop them. According to Bring the War Home “Even if federal agents and a few journalists were aware of the white power movement, the mainstream public continued to see most white power violence as the work of errant madmen. The phrase ‘lone wolf’, previously used to describe criminals acting alone, was employed increasingly in the 1980s and 1990s to describe white power activists. This played into the movement’s aim to prevent anyone from putting together a cohesive account of the group’s actions.”
Their undoing came from an Order member and former National Alliance goon named Tom Martinez. Matthews had brought Martinez in to help pass counterfeit bills around his home in Philadelphia. He was caught by the FBI and turned informant to avoid prison. The FBI used his information to trace Matthews to Portland, Oregon, where they engaged him in a short gun battle. Bob was wounded but managed to flee to Whidbey Island in Washington with several of his most loyal soldiers. The FBI surrounded the house and eventually all of Matthews’ men surrendered. But Robert Matthews refused to give up. Alone, he fought the FBI off for an astonishing 40 hours. The FBI eventually burned the cabin down around Matthews, killing him on December 8th, 1984. With their leader dead, the Order eventually crumbled. Proving, by the way, that Louis Beam had been wise to emphasize Leaderless Resistance. After five months of arrests around the country, more than 50 members of the order had been arrested. The FBI recovered a great deal of cash as well, but millions remained unaccounted for. They found some of what that money had bought though, when they eventually raided the heavily armed Ozarks compound of the Covenant, the Sword, and the Arm of the Lord. LAW anti tank rockets and machine guns were found hidden on the property. The CSA was not the only group who had bought rocket launchers with the Order’s ill gotten gains.
The first trial associated with the Order took place in Seattle, and included several members of the CSA. They plead guilty on weapons charges, and were convicted of racketeering. Next the US attorney brought a 93-page indictment against 23 members of the Order. Robert Miles, Louis Beam, and William Pierce were not indicted. In the months leading up to the trial, members of the Order rolled over on their comrades with unusual regularity. By the time the trial rolled around in September of 1985, only ten of them actually faced trial. This hardened corps of loyal racists included David Lane, the man who would years later coin the 14 words that Neo Nazis still use to this day as a calling card. During the case, prosecutors specifically noted that the Tuner Diaries had acted as a blueprint for Bob Matthews. According to Blood and Politics, “In an opening statement a defense attorney acknowledges that his client was a Klan member and an avowed white separatist. ‘Now I say white separatist’, he continued ‘Because there is a significant difference in an individual who professes to be a white supremacist as opposed to a white separatist. What was that difference? The white separatist is nothing different than a black nationalist who advocates a separation of races, wants to live only with those members of his own races. He advocates the fact that races, when mixed together, cannot survive because of their division and their cultural backgrounds, their upbringing, and their history.’” The Seattle Jury did not buy this spurious distinction between white supremacy and white separatism in 1985, anymore than the US Supreme Court was willing to endorse the separate but equal doctrine in 1954. Neither did the jury believe defense efforts to impugn the credibility of Aryans who became prosecution witnesses. Nor did jurors accept contentions that the defendants’ beliefs were unrelated to the enumerated crimes. After four months at trial, all were found guilty.
In death, Bob Matthews’ Order became a potent symbol for fascists around the nation. In Raleigh, North Carolina, hundreds of them rallied under banners that said “We Love the Order”. In Idaho, a group called “Order 2” set off several bombs in Coeur d’Alene. The date of Matthew’s death, December 8th, became martyr’s day to many Neo-Nazi. Some of them started carrying out memorial camping trips near where he had died on Whidbey Island. But still, the Order had failed in it’s goals, and that failure had come at a substantial cost. William Pierce and Louis Beam had not been indicted or charged as a result of Matthews’ activities, but they now found themselves at the center of way, way more FBI attention. In an operation named “Clean Sweep” the FBI began seeding white supremacist organizations around the country with undercover operatives. Later, in 1985, they stopped an Aryan Nations plot to kill a government informant. Another terrorist associated with that group was stopped after bombing a federal building, several business and a rectory in Coeur d’Alene. In 1986, the feds busted William Potter-Gale, founder of the Posse Comitatus, in Nevada. Gale and several allies were convicted of planning to bomb the IRS. Near the end of 1986 the FBI busted 8 members of a new group, the Arizona Patriots, before they could carry out their goal of following in Bob Matthew’s footsteps. The group had planned to rob banks to finance a domestic insurgency. All around the United States, white supremacists continued to plot and launch attacks. One of these men was Glen Miller. Formerly the leader of a group called the White Patriot Party, he’d received at least $75,000 in Order money from Bob Matthews. As the FBI busted more and more of these guys, they found more evidence of the Order’s influence and money. Gradually they pieced together the story of what had really gone on, and came to realize that Matthews’ group had sought nothing less than the complete overthrow of the United States government.
In mid 1986, Louis Beam, Richard Butler, Robert Miles, and several other ideological leaders of the American Fascist movement were finally indicted for their role in the order. The Justice Department charged these men with a number of crimes, including seditious conspiracy to Overthrow, put down and destroy by force the government of the United States and form a new Aryan Nation.” William Pierce, oddly enough, was not indicted. Seditious conspiracy was a crime numerous communists and Puerto Rican nationalists had already been successfully convicted of committed. But no Nazis or white supremacists had ever been convicted of the crime. Despite the Order’s shocking violence and well-documented goals, this fact was not about to change. The trial convened in February of 1988 and the fascist defense attorney managed to exclude any black people from the jury. The trial was, almost instantly, a shitshow and served more to allow Louis Beam to preach his views to the nation than to guarantee justice. In his opening stamen, he told the jury “The only reason I’m here is because I said what I think. If the constitution is still alive, I’m innocent.” Beam admitted that he’d set up computer bulletin boards for different fascist groups around the country, but denied that these boards were used for any illicit communication. He told the jury he’d been changing his daughter’s diaper when the purported meeting that created the Order had occurred. He dubbed the government’s case “The baby diaper conspiracy”. Beam ended one speech in his defense with an almost word-for-word recitation of something he’d written in Essays of a Klansman about his anger at the protestors he’d supposedly encountered after returning home from Vietnam. “As I sat there watching the flag disintegrate, rage and bitterness began to engulf me. The flames consuming the flag changed to flames enveloping an armored personnel carrier in the Ho Bo woods north of Saigon. The cheers of the demonstrators became the screams of a 19 year old soldier over his radio as he burned to death, trapped inside what was fast becoming his coffin. The clapping of hands as the flag fell to the ground became the deafening roar of my M16 machine gun as I literally melted the barrel in an attempt to pin the enemy down long enough for the dying soldier’s friends to reach him. Finally, at last, came the laughter of those demonstrators as they spit on the ashes of their feet, blending in my mind with the sobs of grown men as I remember the armored personnel carrier disappearing in a ball of orange flame.” After seven weeks of trial Louis Beam and all of his fellow defendants were found not guilty of seditious conspiracy. They were released, presumably free to return to their lives and the movement.
The Justice Department had taken it’s shot at the intellectual center of white supremacism. They’d failed. And ultimately, their failure came not from law enforcement’s unwillingness to prosecute Nazi revolutionaries, but from ordinary white Americans, and the sympathy they held for men like Beam, who billed themselves as warrior against communism, and patriotic Americans. Beam’s racism, and his desire to overthrow the government, simply weren’t seen as all that bad by a jury of his peers. The leaders of the white supremacist movement had gotten off, more or less, scot-free. But the court battle, and the months many of them had spent on the lam before being arrested, had aged them all horribly. Richard Butler’s influence would gradually fade after he returned home to Idaho. Louis Beam continued to be an influential mind within the movement, but he would be more careful and much quieter from now on. The heat brought on by the crackdown forced Beam to retire his beloved inter-Klan newsletter and survival alert. The last issue contained an essay by an unknown author – probably Beam. In it, he wrote, “The second American revolution will be a revolution of individuals, a revolution without exact precedent in recorded history. Because individuals can accomplish complex acts of resistance without peril or betrayal or even detection by the most advanced snooping devices. Missions formerly assigned to groups may be undertaken by individuals equipped to fight alone.” It would not be long before a young man named Timothy McVey would prove these words prophetic.
Chapter 6: The Perfect Soldier
[Transcriber's Note: I'm leaving out Robert & guest's off-script comments except where relevant, they will appear in brackets. Occasionally, 2-3 words were changed to better adapt speech to writing. If using in academic text please reference actual recording as there are points (specifically Robert quoting from 'American Terrorist') where proper quotation became unclear & I just went with my best guess.]
The 1988 Seditious conspiracy trial held important lessons for the chief minds behind the white supremacist movement. When they leaned into their patriotism, their love of an America that was white and Christian, but America nonetheless, they could draw significant sympathy from their fellow white men and women. Swastikas and klan robes were much less useful than tearful stories of hippie protestors spitting on flags.
The 1990s saw continuous growth in both the survivalist and the american militia movement. Neither of these things was inherently white supremacist, but Beam and his colleagues had been remarkably successful at seeding their propaganda into gun shows and conventions. As a result, the early 90s brought them a whole crop of fellow travelers: men and women who did not identify as nazis and had never held Klan membership, but who were also quite capable of reading the Turner Diaries and identifying with its message.
Randy Weaver is a perfect example of this new sort of recruit. He was a former green beret, a patriot who loved his country and working with his hands. He and his wife Vicky were Christian conservatives. They fell in love with the first generation of evangelical TV preachers - men like Jerry Falwell - they also read a book called "The Late Great Planet Earth" by Hal Lindsey which focused on using the bible to predict the near future. Lindsey's book convinced Randy and Vicky that Gog, an anti-Christian empire from the book of Ezekiel was the Soviet Union. They became more and more gone into conspiracy theories and convinced themselves that a great and firey apocalypse was imminent. I'm gonna quote next from 'American Experience' by PBS. "Concerned citizens, they set out to spread the word. They weren't able to find a church that approached these matters with what they felt was the appropriate level of seriousness, so they held their own Bible studies with like minded friends and neighbors. This sparked the attention of a local reporter who came to do a story on them. The Weavers, Walter learned, did not appreciate the results. They felt betrayed, but they'd never been more sure in their beliefs: a great conflagration was coming, and they felt increasingly unsafe in Iowa. Vicky started having visions in the bathtub - God was speaking to her - and God was telling her to go west to find for her family a mountaintop. They would be safe there."
The Weavers moved to a place that would later come to be called 'Ruby Ridge' in Idaho, not far from Richard Butler's Aryan Nations compound. Randy Weaver began to visit the compound, attending several events and beginning to make friends among the neo-nazis. The exact nature of what he believed precisely is unclear and heavily debated. It seems that he identified with some aspects of Christian Identity theology, and it's safe to say he was racist by normal people standards, but it's also fair to say that Randy Weaver was not really a nazi or really an ideological white supremacist. He hung around Aryan Nations because he lived in the middle of nowhere, they were the only people to hang with, and he just didn't care about their racism. He was not the kind of man who'd have joined a group like 'The Order' BUT he would come to play an important role in the next step of the white supremacist movement.
Now, the FBI wound up wiretapping several of the fascists that Randy Weaver befriended. It was quite immediately obvious to them that Mr. Weaver had no plans to overthrow the government, spark a race war, or do anything more subversive than live off the land with his family and picnic with Nazis from time to time. In fact, when other people in these wiretapped conversations would suggest committing crimes [lynchings], Randy would say something like, "We don't really go in for that stuff." While the feds knew that Randy Weaver wasn't really dangerous they saw him as the perfect guy to approach as an informant. He wasn't a true believer, and he was VERY poor. If they could entrap him into committing a crime, they could scare him with prison time til he agreed to wear a wire and help them catch some of the big fish in the Aryan Nations community. An undercover agent approached Randy and offered him good money to illegally saw off a couple shotguns. Now, Randy was not a believer in the legitimacy of American gun control regulations, and he needed the cash, so he gladly acquiesced and was subsequently busted for it. The feds made their offer, and Randy refused them. He was arrested on federal firearms charges and taken to jail. Randy made bail though and he fled back to Ruby Ridge and holed up with his family, and a whole bunch of guns, in the hope the federales would not follow. They did.
But the attempted arrest did not go well. A US marshal was shot dead by the Weaver clan and the authorities responded with a blizzard of indiscriminate gunfire which killed Randy's 14 year old son, the family dog, and his unarmed wife, Vicky. A standoff ensued, the law came in with helicopters, armored vehicles, and the kind of militarized police that look familiar to us now but were new and terrifying back in 1992. The media descended on Ruby Ridge too, and the assault on the Weaver family was spread virally throughout the far right. The Weavers were the perfect poster family to illustrate government overreach. Footage of black helicopters floating over Ruby Ridge, and saint-like photos of Vicky Weaver were almost tailor-made to sell the idea that a New World Order was coming for white Christian gun-owning Americans.
Louie Beam and his fellow fascists knew a great opportunity when one came a-knockin. In 1992, while Ruby Ridge was still in the news, the leading minds of the white supremacist movement gathered in Estes Park for a summit on how, precisely, they could use this tragedy to their advantage. The Summit was convened by Pete Peters, a Christian Identity preacher from Colorado and the head of a sizeable Christian Identity church, the LaPort Church of Christ. Here's how Leonard Zeskind summarizes the proceedings in "Blood and Politics": "For two days they met in committee, deliberated in plenary sessions, and engaged in the kind of one-on-one conversation known in the parlance of business professionals as networking. They made decisions in the name of Jesus Christ and Yahw-h, sang 'Arms for Christian Soldiers', and carried themselves in a manner of quiet resolve appropriate for their surroundings: a YMCA in a facility abutting the park. No guns were waved, and even the most heated rhetoric seemed to have the blood drained out of it." Estes Park signified a radical shift in the tactics of the white power movement. Like the 1983 Aryan Nations conference, we mostly know what was discussed at Estes park because of the things that happened after it. The Nazis started reaching out to more moderate americans.
Louis Beam published an article in his magazine appropriately named 'the Seditionist' - because he'd gotten declared innocent of sedition. He called for leaderless sedition in the wake of Ruby Ridge. Big Star One, a militia with members in Texas, Oklahoma, and New Mexico carried out grenade launcher and mortar training exercises in rural Texas. The Montana militia published a guidebook on how to engage in domestic terrorism. In 1993 law enforcement across the nation found explosives caches meant to be used as attacks in various-- National Afro-American Museum in Ohio, and a black church in LA. None of this made the news in a big way because of something that happened in mid-1993. The siege of the Branch Davidian compound in Waco Texas.
The Branch Davidians were not a Christian Identity sect, their leader David Koresh was not affiliated with the white supremacist movement, but the ATF siege of their compound so close after Ruby Ridge was useful for Louis Beam and his congregants to propagandize around. On --1993, ATF agents attempted to serve a search warrant about sexual abuse and illegal weapons charges. People inside the compound opened fire, 4 agents and 5 Branch Davidians were killed, and the situation devolved into a bloody siege. On April 19th, the FBI, who'd taken control of the situation, launched an assault on the compound. In the ensuing melee several fires broke out and quickly swept through the structures. By the time the smoke had cleared and it was all over 53 adults and 23 children were dead.
The whole tragedy was inarguably a clusterfuck on the federal government, which of course helped groups like the fascists.
Kirk Lyons, a close friend of Louis Beam and a white supremacist militia leader himself, sent out an issue of his groups fundraising letter that featured a photo of a 14 year old girl who'd died in the Waco siege. The girl was of course, white, and the photo was captioned 'Why We Fight'. There were dozens, hundreds, and eventually thousands of pieces of similar propaganda. Gradually, day by day, and month by month, explicitly fascist and white supremacist groups began to wrap their ideological claws around the militia movement and suck in ever more patriots. British Journalist John Ronson was one of the few journalists who spent a great deal of time embedded with the fringe right during. The Michigan militia during this time had about 12,000 members, which was a significant surge in the wake of Ruby Ridge and Waco. One of those members was a young Desert Storm veteran named Tim McVeigh.
Timothy McVeigh was born on April 23 1968. McVeigh grew up in Pendelton New York and had an early childhood that was pretty standard for the 70s and 80s. He watched 'Gumby' and 'Truth or Consequences', he played cowboys and indians or cops and robbers with other kids in the neighborhood. Tim preferred playing the good guys as he saw them, cops or cowboys, whenever possible. He was sickly and somewhat prone to accidents, hurting himself in all sorts of ways that young boys who spend a lot of time in the woods tend to do. Tim was an energetic boy and he might've been someone who'd ended up on Ritalin had he been born a decade or two later. He was constantly in trouble for minor things, but he also had a good heart, as this story from 'American Terrorist' makes clear. Tim was playing near the pond when he noticed one of the older neighborhood boys carrying a burlap sack. The sack was weighted down with rocks, curious Tim could see there was something else wriggling in the sack and he watches as the older boy pitched the sack out into the pond where it quickly sank to the bottom. "What was that?" Tim asked, running to the far shore of the pond where the neighborhood boy stood. "Those are kittens my dad had," the boy answered in a matter of fact tone, "we had to get rid of them". For Tim, who loved animals and especially kittens, the realization of what he had witnessed hit him hard. He cried about the incident for days.
[They break from script to chat, at some point Robert summarizes: "He was a sensitive kid. The story of Tim McVeigh is the story of how a young mind got enraptured with this kind of terroristic apocalyptic ideology who wouldn't have gotten caught in the first iteration of it. This is a guy who would only have been caught by the changes made to the movement's propaganda outreach after Estes Park."]
Tim fell in love with guns at an early age, his grandfather first took him shooting when he was 7, and Tim's Grandpa, Ed McVeigh, everyone said, was a stickler about firearm safety. He considered safe gun ownership to be an integral part of American citizenship. [So he likes guns, but he doesn't like killing things, he's like a target shooter and stuff] . Being small and sort of weird, Tim McVeigh was a bit of a magnet for bullies. He developed a deep hatred for bullying and a reflexive rage at the sight of anything he saw as bully behavior whether it came from an individual or an institution. Tim's parents divorced when the kids were young, his sisters chose to go live with their mother but Tim stayed with his father so that he would not have to be alone [again, sensitive kid]. After the OKC bombing, a number of pundits would try to tie his parents' divorce to his evolution as a terrorist; this would seem to be an overstatement, but he did tie his mother leaving his father to broader social trends, later stating in an interview that, "In the past 30 years because of the women's movement they've taken an influence out of the household."
When one reads about McVeigh they get the feeling that had he been born later he might've found a home within the alt-right. For one thing, he was obsessed with the Star Wars movies and identified heavily with Luke Skywalker. As the 80s rolled along and home computers started to become more common, McVeigh became one of the first generation of computer nerds. He was on the internet before basically anyone else. His handle on those early message boards was "The Wanderer". We can't know everywhere McVeigh went in the early internet, but it's unlikely to be pure coincidence that Timothy grew obsessed with survivalism and the second amendment during the years he was most involved in nascent internet culture. It's entirely possible he came across some of Louis Beam's writings during this time. We know for a fact that he fell in love with a book... 'The Turner Diaries'. He first heard about 'the Turner Diaries' from an ad in 'Soldier of Fortune' magazine. He ordered the book by mail, and fell madly in love with it. For the rest of his life he'd insist that the book's gun rights advocacy was what drew him to it, not its depiction of a genocidal worldwide race war. [and it's kinda likely he was telling the truth. Again, like Randy Weaver, Tim McVeigh was a racist, but it's not his motivation.]
Post-Estes Park, the Turner Diaries remained on of the lynchpins of white supremacist recruitment in the US. Ads for it in magazines like Soldier of Fortune often posed the question "What would you do if the government comes for your guns?". None of this is to say McVeigh wasn't racist, he grew up in a place where everyone was white, at age 19 he got a job as a guard on an armored car, he later recalled his colleagues expressing casual racism towards black residents on the east side of Buffalo and eventually he adopted those beliefs and their propensity for using racial slurs. Racism was a fact of Tim's life, but again, it wasn't like the main thing for him. What was his main thing, were guns. During his time spent as a security guard, McVeigh spent most of his recreational time shooting. He eventually got in trouble with his neighbors for doing so and this seems to have influenced his desire to join the army. McVeigh was an excellent recruit and by all accounts a very good soldier. He fell in love with most aspects of army life, although he disliked the emphasis training placed on killing. In a later interview he recalled, "20 times a day they'd make us say 'blood makes the grass grow, kill kill kill', you'd be screaming that til your throat was raw. If somebody put a video camera on that they'd think it was a bunch of sickos."
On base McVeigh continued to read far-right literature, devouring conspiracy theories about the United States and UN conspiring to steal the freedoms and guns of Americans. He handed out copies of the Turner Diaries to his closest comrades. He was warned several times by friends who had read the book that people would think he was 'fucking racist' if he kept passing that stuff around. The Gulf War would give Tim McVeigh his first chance to actually use guns against other human beings, and interestingly enough, he seems to have hated it. He was not on board with the war from the beginning. McVeigh felt the US military should only get involved in conflicts that directly affected the lives of american citizens. He saw the US intervention against Iraq as bullying. Tim Mcveigh hated bullies. When he shipped over to Iraq, McVeigh was the gunner on a Bradley fighting vehicle. In a battle in country he killed two Iraqi soldiers with the Bradley's very large gun, and watched in horror as their bodies disappeared into a red mist. The incident scarred him. Unlike Louis Beam, McVeigh did not enjoy killing.
The whole war left a bad taste in Tim's mouth. He was particularly furious when he read about the US Air Force bombing of the Al-Amira bomb shelter in Baghdad which killed 300 women and children. McVeigh returned to America much less enchanted by military life. He focused some of that frustration on the black soldiers he served alongside. Several of them walked around the base in black power shirts, which infuriated Tim. He was heard several times using the n-word, and had a reputation for ordering some of his black subordinates to sweep up the motor pool. When pressed about this later, McVeigh pointed out that "some of [his] closest comrades in the military were black". I'm going to quote again from 'American Terrorist', "While he swore he never embraced racism, McVeigh actively explored the racist point of view. He had already begun selling copies of 'the Turner Diaries' at gun shows, and because of the racist content of the book McVeigh wound up on a mailing list for the Ku Klux Klan. McVeigh claimed he had virtually no idea what the KKK was all about the first time he had received literature from the racist group, but he was impressed by one of its pamphlets which expressed concerns about the loss of individual rights in american society and the desire to go back to the way things were in the days of the founding fathers. McVeigh spent $20 for the trial membership of the KKK headquarters in North Carolina. One of the enticements for joining was a "WHITE POWER" t-shirt that McVeigh planned to wear around Fort Raleigh. Why would a non-racist want a WHITE POWER t-shirt? McVeigh maintained that it was to protest what he saw as a growing double standard in the army. He said that he never did wear the shirt but made no apologies for buying it. "I wanted to make a point," he said, "black guys were wearing black power t-shirts on the base, they weren't supposed to. I wanted to see what would happen if I wore the white power t-shirt." McVeigh didn't renew his KKK membership when his first year was up. He had joined the KKK, he said, because he thought the Klan was fighting for the restoration of individual rights, especially gun rights, but the more research and reading he did, the more he realized the Klan was almost entirely devoted to the cause of racism. He decided the KKK was manipulative to young people, and didn't renew his membership.
Tim McVeigh, like Randy Weaver, was a perfect example of the type of man Louis Beam was hoping to reach: not motivated enough by racism to have sought out the movement, but comfortable enough with racism, and frustrated with mainstream American culture to be radicalized by the anti-gun control NWO conspiracies peddled by the propagandists of the white power movement. McVeigh opted not to reenlist after his time of service ran out, and outside of the military McVeigh's life was just one frustration after another. Despite his glowing service record he had trouble finding work, the civil service jobs he had applied for in the state and federal government had turned him down. He convinced himself that this was because he was a young white man, and thus the victim of what he referred to as 'reverse discrimination'. Affirmative action became the focus of McVeigh's boarded ambitions. He started spending more and more time around gun shows and flirted vaguely with some militias including the Michigan Militia. He started sending his sister, Jennifer, stories he'd read about the Feller?** family and their supposed control of most of the organs of state power. The conspiracists McVeigh embraced were not quite open neo-nazi anti-semites, but they were kissing cousins to that kind of belief. From 'American Terrorist', quote, "The brother and sister's conversations sprawled from the bible to the pyramid and its all-seeing-eye on the back of the dollar bill. McVeigh was reading more anti-government books and pamphlets, and he shared them with his inquisitive younger sister. He wanted to expand her perspective, but some of the claims in the literature seemed bizarre and inconceivable to Jennifer, including one writer's contention that the government was building massive crematoriums and 130 concentration camps to exterminate individuals who disagreed with the federal government's policies.
The authors of the pamphlets, anticipating skepticism, warned that americans risked becoming victims of 'it can't happen here' syndrome when it came to government usurping power from the people. Jennifer wasn't sold on everything she read, but just as McVeigh hoped, the literature got her thinking about the government and individual rights. She looked up to her older brother, flattered that he thought enough of her to engage her in political discourse. McVeigh believed that the federal government intended to disarm the american public gradually and take away their right to bear arms under the second amendment. In the summer of 1992, he pointed to events in Ruby Ridge Idaho as proof positive that his theory was correct. One of the publications that McVeigh read during this period was called 'the White Patriot'. It was published by the former KKK leader, the attempted invader of the island of Dominica, and the founder of Stormfront, Don Black. It featured articles with titles like, 'Why is the Klan opposed to Jews?', and also hosted essays from William Pierce.
As McVeigh's life prospects dimmed, he grew more obsessed with guns and gun shows, traveling around the country selling weapons, literature, and survivalist gear. The gun show circuit introduced him to more fringe right-wing literature. McVeigh began to express frustration that American women were unfairly withholding sex from American men. He called them 'prudish' and 'stingy'. When the Waco siege began, Mcveigh was instantly obsessed with the story. He drove to Mt. Carmel and sold t-shirts outside the siege lines, communing with his fellow survivalists and militiamen as they worriedly awaited the outcome, and when that outcome came it radicalized Tim McVeigh as nothing else could've. He read that the government had used CS gas which McVeigh had been exposed to during his military training. To McVeigh, this was the ultimate representation of government overreach. Pure vicious, murderous bully behaviour. McVeigh didn't stop being furious at the murder of dozens of innocent people. He became convince that Waco was the prelude to a mass government crackdown on gun owners and freedom. He told one friend that he suspected the feds had purposefully started the fires in the compound. "The government wanted it to burn, the government couldn't win, the public sentiment was changing," he said.
McVeigh's rage was reciprocated by the other men he met on the gun show circuit. Men like Terry Nichols, a sovereign citizen whose beliefs were essentially descended from the Posse Comitatus movement. Mcveigh spent time living on Nichols's farm and crafting explosives and small homemade bombs, initially just for amusement. Over the months that followed Waco, McVeigh's rage, and the paranoia stoked by fringe right-wing conspiracy theories and his love of 'the Turner Diaries' metastasized into a plan. A plan to bomb the Murrah building in Oklahoma City.
The structure of McVeigh's attack was directly inspired by a passage from 'the Turner Diaries'. At one point Earl Turner's cell bombs the FBI's headquarters. Pierce goes into exhaustive detail about the device they use, a truck bomb made with 44 lbs of ammonium nitrate: essentially the same weapon McVeigh constructed and used to destroy the Murrah building. On the day he detonated his bomb, wounding 168 people, McVeigh put together a manifesto of sorts in an envelope in his car. It included many photocopied pages of 'the Turner Diaries', McVeigh had highlighted one passage in particular from a chunk of the book where Earl Turner's cell carries out a mortar attack on Washington DC. "The real value of our attack today lies in the psychological impact, not in the immediate casualties. More importantly though is what we taught the politicians and bureaucrats: they learned this afternoon that not one of them is beyond our reach. They can huddle behind barbed wire and tanks in the city, they can hide behind the walls of their country estates, but we can still find them and kill them."
In Tim McVeigh, Louis Beam and his fellow fascists had found the perfect soldier, the perfect exemplar of Beam's concept of leaderless resistance. He was not a lone wolf as some foolish pretenders in journalism had named him. McVeigh was radicalized by a constellation of writers and thinkers as well as hundreds of men he had spoke with at gun shows and survivalist conventions and sitting outside the siege lines at Waco. He was radicalized by William Pierce, who wrote 'the Turner Diaries' hoping desperately that someone would do exactly what McVeigh did. McVeigh's attack prompted response from federal law enforcement, but not the one you might expect. While there were some crackdowns on militia cells and organizations, the justice department largely responded by taking a lighter hand with white supremacists and militias.
In 1996 'the Montana Freemen' wound up in a standoff with the federal government. As a group they represented a synthesis of Christian Identity and Posse Comatatus beliefs. They declared themselves independent of federal control and wound up in an 81 day standoff with law enforcement. For awhile it looked like the Freemen compound might become another Waco. But the standoff ended peacefully. Video footage of the 23 adults and 4 children surrendering showed no giant armored vehicles or military-looking police. The FBI's hostage rescue team wore sneakers and casual civilian clothing. McVeigh would go to his grave convinced that the lighter hand used on the Montana Freemen was the result of his attack on Oklahoma City. And he might have been right. According to 'American Terrorist', "Clinton R. VanZandt, the former FBI agent who'd tried without success to negotiate a peaceful end to the Waco standoff three years earlier, agreed with McVeigh, at least on that point. Retired from the FBI and working as a security consultant, VanZandt feels that the government learned a painful lesson from the OKC bombing. In VanZandt's words, 'the government realized that it must become a velvet brick, not a battering ram.' 'What an absolute classic tragedy,' VanZandt had said soon after the conflagration at Waco, 'what a total indictment of mankind's inability to communicate and relate even though we have different religious beliefs and personal philosophies.' While VanZandt condemned the OKC bombing, he felt that Waco had started a war and that McVeigh's bombing had not only been an escalation, but a turning point in the war."
My only disagreement with Mr. VanZandt is the idea that the war Mr. McVeigh wound up fighting in had started with Waco. This war had been going on much longer than that, at least as far back as the days of George Lincoln Rockwell. Timothy McVeigh may have seen himself as a patriotic American, but he fought as a soldier of the american fascist movement under generals Louis Beam and William Pierce. The failure of the federal government, and almost everyone, to see this war is one reason why things have gotten so bad in 2019 as I write this. McVeigh would be joined on down 30 years by dozens of other angry young men. Men like Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold, the infamous Columbine shooters. Most experts would agree that Harris was the motivating force behind the attacks, more or less pulling Klebold along with him. This is not often reported on, but Harris was obsessed with Adolf Hitler and Nazism. He wrote constantly about Nazi ideology, his hatred of free speech, the press, and his desire to see mentally defective people executed. Harris was also obsessed with Timothy McVeigh.
Dave Colon is a journalist who spent more than a decade studying the massacre. He found regular references to OKC and McVeigh in Harris's writings before the shooting. Colon writes, "In his journal, Eric would brag about topping McVeigh. Oklahoma City was a one-note performance, McVeigh set his timer and walked away. He didn't even see his spectacle unfold. Harris admired McVeigh, but desperately wanted to beat him, carrying out a larger attack, killing more people." Eric Harris and DK did not succeed in their goal of topping McVeigh, but Harris may yet manage to beat McVeigh's 'High Score'. In the decades since the 1996 shooting at Columbine it has inspired at least 74 copycat attacks which have killed 89 people and injured 126 more. You can draw a direct line from George Lincoln Rockwell to William Pierce and Louis Beam, to Tim McVeigh, and then to Eric Harris. By the late 1990s, it was incredibly clear that leaderless resistance as a tactic was the best weapon in the white supremacist arsenal; but it would take the mass adoption of the internet and the era of the smartphone for Louis Beam's deadliest innovation to see its full potential.
Chapter 7: The Digital Reich
In the years since the OKC bombing, the white supremacist movement seems to have spent most of its fury. Nothing like Seadrift occurred in the late 90s. Nazi violence, when it happened, was mostly focused around racist skinheads and groups like 'the White Aryan Resistance' or 'the Hammerskin Nation'. In 1996, a group called 'the Aryan Republican Army' robbed 22 banks in the midwest. Several of them had ties to Elohim City, where Tim McVeigh had also tried to hide out after his attack, but these, and other eruptions of violence, were dealt with in short order. By the time the early 2000s rolled along, and the War on Terror kicked off, you could be forgiven for thinking the white supremacist movement was on its way out.
"Everything You Love Will Burn", by Vegas Tenholdt, chronicles the movement during this period. One of the largest actions in these days was an 80 man march in Toledo by the National Socialist Movement. Putting together a march that large was the work of the entire national organization, and they were so overwhelmed by counter-protesters that they were never able to take to the streets. Back in Seadrift Louis Beam got three-or-four-hundred Klansman just to show up in Texas. In 2010, the National Socialist movement held a gathering in Trenton, New Jersey. Vegas attended to chronicle the event and the night before the march he was present when a group called 'Anti-racist Action' assaulted the nazis as they ate dinner in a rented meeting hall. The next day, the National Socialist movement marched, "The entire route of the march was lined with national guard and riot police, they'd closed off every access point and no one was around to watch the nazis trudge along the wet streets while the rain soaked their black uniforms. They arrived at a wide square in front of the capitol building, a few modest steps led up to the entrance, and a small podium stood at the top. Police had cordoned there, and off in the distance counter-protesters had gathered. The police, fearing another showdown, kept them two blocks away from the nazis, just barely within shouting distance, so the rally was reduced to a couple dozen neo-nazis screaming obscenities at 50 or so anti-racist demonstrators down the street while the anti-racists screamed right back." The National Socialist Movement billed itself as direct successors to George Lincoln Rockwell's party. In 5 years they'd gone from being able to make a national gathering of 80 men down to less than 30. But looking at those numbers does not give a full picture of the American fascist movement during this period. While the ability of old guard fascist groups like the NSM and the clan to draw numbers had declined, the movement was deep in the process of spreading to a new generation through new means.
In the last chapter, I mentioned John Ronson's 'Them'. John;s book givews us a look at the movment in the late 1990s from the perspective of individuals like Alex Jones. Jones first rose to prominence within the fringe-right in the mid/late 1990s, and his career illustrates the first stages of what would grow to be known as the alt-right. Now on paper, Jones was a libertarian, a political independent who attacked democrats and republicans with equal vigor, seeing both as agents of the NWO and the globalist elite. You would not hear attacks on the Jews and ethnic groups from Jones, nor would you see him sporting a swastika, but if you dig in just a little bit, there have always been connections between Alex Jones and the fascist right. At one point in 'Them', John tried to infiltrate a meeting of the Bilderbirg Group with a writer named Big Jim Tucker, editor of 'the Spotlight', Willis Cartow's magazine. Big Jim Tucker was a friend and frequent guest on Alex Jones's 'Infowars' in its early days. Like Jones, Jim was obsessed with the Bilderbirg group, he viewed it as part of the Jewish conspiracy to dominate the globe. Jones possessed the same beliefs, minus the J-word. That 1999 gathering at the ruins of the Branch Davidian compound near Waco... well that gathering was an attempt to rebuild the Branch Davidian Church, organized by 25 year old Alex Jones. He told 'the Oklahoman', "We've had schoolteachers and black single mothers and auto-mechanics and doctors, there was even a Jewish rabbi out here one day helping us. Sure we've had folks in their camo hats with the militias helping us too." One of the men who gathered at Mt. Carmel that day to help Alex Jones was Col. Bo Grits.
Grits was a legendary figure in the patriot movement: a decorated veteran, the supposed inspiration behind the character John Rambo, and a hardcore believer in Christian Identity theology. In 1998, right before the Mt. Carmel meeting, he sent out this in an online bulletin to his followers, "Do you see the sign, the scent, the stain, and mark of the beast on America today? Are you willing to submit and join this seedline of Satan? Look to those who are openly antichrist - who in the world are promoting abortion, pornography, pedophilia, godless laws, adultery, new-age international banking, entertainment industry, and world publishing - wherever you find perversions of god's laws you will find the worshipers of Baal with their roots still in Babylonian mysticism." Now, 'new age banking, the entertainment industry, and international publishing' is a bit coyer than just shouting 'THE JEWS', but Bo Grits was more direct in a bulletin he sent out a year later during the 2000 election: "Jews, feminists, sodomites, other liberal activists may install Gore over an apathetic moral majority. If so, runaway abortion, antichrist God, and globalism are certain."
Now, think about those messages as I read this quote as Alex Jones as related in 'Them' was said at the Mt Carmel meeting. "The Bilderbergers," he said, "are the Roman senate. It's a pyramid, they're way up there, below them you got the IMF the world bank, the UN, then you got us down here, the cattle, the human resources, and Randy Weaver is way out over there, see? He left, they hate that so they scare the cattle back in the pen, see? Burn em out. I'm living in a place where black helicopters 150 miles south of me are burning buildings, terrorizing people, and I'm the extremist?" "Who says you're an extremist?" I ask (Ronson Speaking). "The Anti-defamation League," he yelled, "the ADL are a bucket of black paint and a brush, they are worse than the clan. They get massive funding from the globalists, it doesn't matter if your girlfriend's Jewish, your little sister is Korean, anybody who wants to live free is a racist. The ADL is the scum of the Earth." So these are more or less than same beliefs that AJ has spent years broadcasting to millions of listeners around America in the late 1990s and early 2000s. Viewed independently, Jones looks like a harmless conspiracy theorist, but placed next to Bo Grits we can see him for what he really is: a way to ease people into Christian Identity style beliefs that lead inevitably to exterminationist anti-semetic beliefs.
17 years later, I published a study with the journalist collective Bellingcat on how 75 fascists were initially 'redpilled' to the cause. My research was based on leaked internal conversations where these neo-nazis, klansman, and other extremists discussed their ideological evolution. 6 of them credited Alex Jones with their redpilling, they even had a name for it, 'taking the conspiracy pill'. There was an explicit understanding that . One user wrote, "IDGAF if you think it [the secret rulers of the world] are aliens or not, as long as those rulers are Jewish at the end of the day."
For those of us who grew up online in the early 00s the past 5 or so years have been a continuous dispiriting process of watching outright fascist beliefs bubble up on places like reddit and 4chan. It seems at times as if the Nazis have literally eaten the internet we all knew and loved as kids. This did not happen by accident, Alex Jones is just one prong of a concerted digital power grab that began before most of us knew the internet existed. In 1994, Louis Beam used money he received from Robert Matthews's 'The Order' to create 'LibertyNet', an international network of code-word accessed message boards. The goal of LibertyNet was to link the white power movement together. It was used to spread recruitment materials, and its establishment allowed the movement to switch tactics quickly as was seen after Estes Park. It also included personal ads and penpal programs which could be as innocuous as connecting racists for social purposes, but was also useful in planning crimes. The internet allowed Beam to send racist propaganda into places where it was illegal, like Canada and Germany. After setting up LibertyNet, Beam wrote, "Finally we're all going to be linked together at one point in time. Imagine, if you will, all the great minds of the patriotic christian movement linked together and joined to one computer. Imagine any patriot in the country being able to call up and access these minds. You are online with the Aryan Nations braintrust, it is here to serve the folk. It has been said that knowledge is power, which it most assuredly is. The computer offers to those proficient in its use power undreamed of by rulers of the past." [Louis Beam, 1984]
Computers were not cheap in the 1980s, Beam's work require the modern equivalent of tens of thousands of dollars in seed money. A single Apple computer cost $2000 at the time. Without 'The Order', none of this would've been possible, and while law enforcement was diligent about trying to track down all the rocket launchers, and machineguns, and explosives, bought with the Order's ill-gotten gains, they barely seemed to notice the computer equipment that Louis Beam had bought. By 1995, slightly over a decade later, nazi efforts online had crystallized into a cohesive and effective digital reich. Fascists were some of the first people to effectively harness the power of the internet in an organized way. The book 'Nation and Race', edited by Jeffrey Kaplan and Tore Bjørgo, includes a chapter that delves into the state of the online white power movement at this time. They cite Walter Benjamin, a scholar who wrote an essay about how new technology like photography was harnessed by nazis. "Mass movements are usually discerned more clearly by a camera than by the naked eye. A birds-eye view best captures gatherings of 100s of thousands, and even though such a view may be as accessible to the human eye as it is to the camera, the image perceived by the eye cannot be enlarged the way a negative is enlarged." While photographs and film best captured the character of the original nazi movement, its modern descendent is best captured online, in countless conversations and debates across message boards, image boards, youtube comments sections, and the like. In the wake of the OKC bombing, and in response to the effectiveness with which anti-racist movements like 'Skinheads Against Racial Prejudice' shut down fascist street gatherings, the internet became increasingly central to the development of American fascism.
In the early 1990s, Milton John Kleim Jr. was a 25 year old studying at St. Cloud University. His school provided him with a free Usenet account, and one of his professors rather accidentally gave him the listing where he came upon alt.skinheads, a neo-nazi news group. Milton was one of the first young men to become radicalized into fascism through the internet. Kleim grew obsessed, spending hours a day writing thousands of newsgroup posts and emails. He'd become a coordinator for several digitally inclined fascists. Kleim graduated in 1995 and shortly thereafter had his first face-to-face encounter with a member of the movement, Lin Young, William Pierce's secretary. She gave Kleim a check for $500 which he used to buy a computer to continue his work now that he had left the university. Kleim never again met another neo-nazi in person, but he continued his activities and later that year wrote an essay on digital strategy that he posted to the Aryan Digital Crusader's Library website. In it he wrote that the internet, "offers enormous opportunity for the Aryan resitance to disseminate our message to the unaware and the ignorant. It is the only relatively uncensored, freeform, mass medium which we have available. The state cannot yet stop us from advertising our ideas and organizations. Now is the time to grasp the weapon which is the net and wield it skillfully and wisely while you may still do so freely."
In the mid 1990s, Usenet - an early predecessor to modern forum culture - was where most online discussions occured. The most critical nazi destinations had names like alt.nationalism.white, alt.revolution.counter, alt.skinhead, and as a prelude to 8Chan's pol board, alt.politics. This was all very much in line with the ideas that Beam had laid out a decade earlier, but Kleim wanted to see his fellow fascists move on from their digital safe spaces and become what he called 'cyber guerrillas'. He decided they should, "take up positions on mainstream groups. Except on our groups, avoid the race issue, sidestep it as much as possible, we don't have time to defend our stance on this issue against the comments of hundreds of fools, liars, and degenerates who, spouting the Jewish line, will slaughter our message with half-truths, slander, and the ever-used sophistry." Kleim's writing is particularly fascinating to me for the similarities between it and the things I've encountered in my own explorations of modern online nazi haven 8chan. Near the end of his essay, Kleim writes, "All of my comrades and I, none of whom have ever met face to face, share a unique camaraderie, feeling as though we've been friends for a long time. Selfless cooperation occurs regularly amongst my comrades for a variety of endeavors. This feeling of comradeship is irrespective of national identity or state borders." What Kleim expressed there is not so different from what Poway Synagogue shooter John Earnest related in the 8chan post he made announcing the start of his rampage, "It's been real dudes. From the bottom of my heart, thank you for everything. Keep up the infographic redpill threads, I've only been lurking for a year and a half, but what I've learned here is priceless. It's been an honor."
Kleim's last line about feeling comradeship across national barriers, would prove to be an eerie premonition of the future of the international fascist movement, because during the late 1990s and early 2000s the American fascist movement went international in a way it never had been before. Even back in the 30s & 40s, Italian, German, and Spanish fascism were all very different beasts. One side effect of the propaganda that started emanating out of the US as a result of Beam's LibertyNet was that all the world's sundry fascists started getting on the same page. I found a 2002 study by Les Black published in The Journal of Ethnic and Racial Studies: Les interviewed an Irish fascist with the internet handle WhiteWolf, "During the height of his involvement in the movement he was spending 5 hours a day online. He lives in an Irish town where there are virtually no visible minorities, he was drawn to the white power movement through a fascination with Nazism. He concluded, 'mostly Americans are on the net, but there are British, Irish and lots of others from different countries. In spite of the distance, a person who was living on a 2000 acre farm in Australia and had nobody to talk to about his views suddenly understands that he can link people who would never have met and talk with them, plan with them, learn and teach one another things, help each other. Our Aussie friend, who may may be well-removed from the rest of his comrades can nevertheless take part in forwarding the agenda of a group'." Racists LOVE the internet.
17 years later, a young man who might have well been the Aussie friend that WhiteWolf was talking about, drove to a mosque in Christchurch New Zealand and gunned down more than 50 people. Like WhiteWolf, he was a loner, spending hours a day online building a sense of rapport with his far-flung digital comrades in fascism before finally deciding to take action.
The thing that really shocked me when I first began doing this research was how damned groundbreaking the fascists were in their understanding of what online culture would become and how to manipulate it. From 'Nation and Race', "This arena has spawned its own language and combines previous forms of right-wing organizing with new political strategies. CNG, variously referred to as the Cyber Nationalist Group, Cyber Nazi Group, or Computer Nationalist Group, is the brainchild of activist Jeff Voss. In his article entitled 'The CNG, an Idea for Online Organization, a complete division of labor is outlined that assigns operative to particular roles within an overall strategy. Voss makes a distinction between idea men and men of action, the former provide background information for the latter to post within usenet. This manifesto outlines four different types of foreground operative:
-DISS: a subtle disseminator of information, places it on FTP sites, and makes subtle references to endorsements of such info on news usually pretending to be a disinterested observer.
-A Pirate: a person who will pirate an account for one-shot high saturation dissemination of propaganda.
-An Impersonator: who impersonates the enemy posting, embarrassing the left and infuriating the enemy.
-Infiltrator: who infiltrates the enemy camp. 
Fascists were some of the first folks to develop a cohesive strategy around what they called 'flaming'. As early as 1995, researchers into online extremism had realized that, "a common endpoint used by right-wing activists is the stylized disclaimer 'I am not a nazi'." Those same researchers also noted the use of 'mail bombs', or software that allowed fascists to deluge a recipient in 100s and 100s of pieces of spam email in order to make an opponent's account functionally unusable. 21 years later, when I wrote my first article critical of 8chan in the leadup to the 2016 election, my work account was deluged in a massive flow of spam emails which is why I still get emails from homeschooling dot com everyday.
Wyatt Kaldenberg was an internet activist affiliated with Tom Metzger's White Aryan Resistance, or WAR. Tom was a major part of the skinhead movement as well as an associate of the Order. Back in the 1970s he worked with David Duke to help organize the Klan border watch. Wyatt helped spread WAR's message online and gained infamy as one of the first proponents for what would come to be known as 'brigading', interrupting other online communities in an organized way. Wyatt wrote, "this oughta be our new tactic. Instead of hanging around the four racist news groups we can hit news groups as a mob. We cannot win when we are outnumbered by Jews but if we go in as a group we can win with the average Joe Six-pack. Post facts about black crime, give them your update numbers, web addresses; push books, newspapers."
Fascist groups like 'the Carolinian Lords of the Caucuses' started going into news groups dedicated to loneliness and people who had just ended relationships. They went into news groups for popular musicians and even the news group for Denny's. Raids like this were often just for the purpose of harassment, but over the years fascists got better and better at spreading their ideology this way. They basically hit upon the tactic of hiding their beliefs as humor, retreating behind the shield of 'we're just joking' when people responded badly to their rants about Jewish people or black-on-black crime. Christian Identity theology also spread online in this period. I found an article in the Journal of Black studies written by Tonya Sharp in 2000. She noted, "the internet has become a primary means for disseminating information for these groups. Currently there are 25 websites and 13 newsgroups specifically devoted to identity christianity on the world wide web, as well as 130 websites that are devoted to similar and related topics. Individuals can tap into these websites to find procedures for making bombs, obtain hate propaganda tracts, and request catalogues that market white supremacist books and paraphernalia."
Bit-by-bit, and almost entirely in a decentralized manner, the digital reich came together in the early 2000s. Law enforcement was not only helpless to do anything, it's debatable whether or not they even realized what was happening. Most of their online efforts were spent keeping track of known-quantities with long-standing online ties, like Don Black's popular fascist website, Stormfront. Stormfront is important, nearly 180 hate crime murders have been traced to the site, but the FBI wasn't even particularly good at monitoring them. In July of 2019, in response to a FOIA request, the Bureau admitted that they had - somehow - lost almost all of their files on Stormfront.
The FBI only did a quarter-ass job of monitoring even the most obvious nazis online, so it's no surprise that they completely failed to notice when fascists began infiltrating communities like 4chan and reddit. It happened slowly, camouflaged in irony and humor. As a young man I was only vaguely aware of the changes in the digital spaces I had grown up around. Holocaust jokes became more common, so did racist humor. More than just growing more frequent, these jokes grew more specific, evolving from jibes about Jewish people being stingy with money - clearly inspired by South Park - to memes about 'Hitler Did Nothing Wrong' and image macros that repeated bad science about race and IQ. In 2018 I found an article from 'the Observer' by holocaust scholar Timothy Snyder. In it he comments on the use of irony and humor by fascists to mainstream their views. Quote, "What the 21st century culture has introduced is that nothing is really serious, and that is an interestingly dangerous idea, because if nothing is really serious you can have this ambiguity where you can actually be doing something very serious but you're pretending not to, and you can always fall back and say 'well that was just a joke', because everything is just a joke, but of course you don't really believe that everything is just a joke or you wouldn't be promoting fascism, or white supremacy, or whatever it may be."
In 2014, things on the internet rather suddenly boiled over into the cultural phenomenon known as 'gamergate'. On the surface, gamergate was a reaction to corruption in video games journalism. In reality, it was an eruption of white and male supremacist hatred, an attack on modernity and liberalism by an army of young men who believed they'd been wronged by society. There has not yet been a great deal of research into whether or not there'd been an organized attempt by the white supremacist movement to co-opt gamergate, but there is ample evidence that the ideas of that movement quickly made it into popular memes spread by gamergaters. During my research I came across a thread on the website recetera filled with other confused digital natives trying to figure out just what the fuck had happened with gamergate. One user posted a series of memes he'd saved during that time. In retrospect they seem to show a progressive descent into white nationalism. The first is a propaganda poster featuring a cartoon mascot of 4chan's /pol/ board, 'Polina', advising the anons of pol on how to effectively aid the movement. Polina is blond haired and blue eyed. At the top of the poster are the words 'Who is that girl? Blond haired, blue eyed, fair skin? Why, it must be Polina!' Another meme, from further on in the collection, is significantly nazier. It's based around an old labour movement political cartoon, 'the pyramid of a modern capitalist system', showing laborers at the very bottom being exploited by the classes above them. In the gamergate adaptation, gamers are at the bottom of the pyramid, with games journalists above them, critical theorists and social justice warriors above them, cultural marxist academia above them, and then FAFSA loans above them at the top represented by the all-seeing illuminati eye symbol. We don't see explicit anti-semitism in this cartoon, but it is there subtly, in the caricature drawings of Jewish video game critics. It's clear at this point that some white supremacist talking points had started to mutate to better appeal to modern and extremely online youths.
Eventually the harassment of video game journalists and critics, most of whom were women, grew severe and illegal enough that 4chan exiled its gamergaters. Many of them migrated to 8chan and over the next several years, they grew more radical and more explicitly fascist until, eventually, they were openly planning for how to cause a new holocaust. It's impossible to know how much of the ironic fascist shitposting started off innocently, and how much of it was seeded by white power activists, but we know they were engaging in that sort of behavior purposefully for over 20 years, and in the years after gamergate this work has paid dividends. The true danger of the digital reich was best expressed by Alex Curtis, publisher of a neo-nazi magazine and self-proclaimed 'lone wolf of hate'. In the early 2000s he wrote of his hope that, "Some well placed Aryans will one day cause some serious wreckage. A thousand Timothy McVeigh's would end any semblance of stability in this racially corrupt society." We have not yet reached 1000 Timothy McVeighs thankfully, but we have seen a marked increase in the amount of right-wing domestic terror over the last several years, and it certainly seems to be driven largely by online radicalization. Robert Bowers, the Tree of Life Synagogue shooter, was radicalized in part on Gab, a social network for nazis.
He announced the start of his rampage there. Six months later, the Poway Synagogue shooter announced the start of his rampage on 8chan, as had the Christchurch shooter 6 weeks prior. There are other names in the roll-call of internet inspired fascist violence, the Atomwaffen terrorist group responsible for 3 murders so far, started off with extremely online nazis working to form a terrorist cell in imitation of the book 'Siege' written by James Mason. We talked briefly about Mason and 'Siege' at the start of this book, he was a student of William Pierce, and 'Siege' might best be understood as a more academic accompanying text to 'the Turner Diaries'. Where the diaries proposes fiction, 'Siege' outlines in strategic depth. Mason advocates for leaderless resistance and lone-wolf style attacks. "The lone-wolf cannot be detected, cannot be prevented, and seldom can be traced. If I were asked by anyone of my opinion on what to look for or hope for next, I would tell them a wave of killings or assassinations of system bureaucrats by roving gunmen who have their strategy well mapped out in advance and well-nigh impossible to stop."
Early in 2019, Coast Guard Lt. Christopher Hasson was caught planning this exact sort of attack. He had a cache of weapons and ammo and a kill-list of journalists and democratic politicians. Hasson was obsessed with the manifesto of Anders Brevik, a right-wing shooter who murdered dozens of students in Utoya, Norway. We don't know where he first came into contact with that manifesto, but spreading it has been a priority of online fascists for years. In the wake of the Christchurch shooting, fascists have started spreading Tarrant's manifesto as well. The Poway synagogue shooter cited both manifestos as inspirations for his attack. In his own rampage thread on 8chan, the Poway shooter stated his desire to beat Tarrant's 'high score'. In this we see echoes of Eric Harris, the Columbine shooter who was obsessed with beating Timothy McVeigh's 'high score'. Right now, as I read this, violent men in 8chan's pol board and numerous dischord chat rooms are plotting ways that they might beat their heroes and win a 'high score' of their own. On telegram, 'the Bowl Patrol', a group of young fascists dedicated to Charleston church shooter Dylan Roof, celebrate St. Roof and fantasize about new acts of violence in his name.
The early harvest in blood these young men will reap was sown by Louis Beam, William Pierce, and Bob Matthews. Now, though, there is no need for an organization to buy up arms and plan terror attacks. 'The Order' proved to be less resilient than the completely decentralized radicalization and killing machine made possible by the advent of the internet. The internet had given the white power movement a steady supply of armed and ready young killers, living cruise missiles who strike unpredictably at targets around the country. Bit-by-bit, their attacks chisel away at our sense of security, our national stability, and our trust in each other. It took decades, but Louis Beam and his comrades did bring the war home, to all of us, and against all of us.