Twenty years after the Oklahoma City bombing, federal authorities have lost sight of domestic extremists and failed to prevent acts of terrorism. The lack of focus, funding and information-sharing across disparate agencies has led to fatal consequences for unsuspecting victims around the country. Meanwhile, the violence is metastasizing and the threat is growing.
Officers Brandon Paudert and Bill Evans never saw it coming.
The white minivan pulled over on Interstate 40 near West Memphis, Ark., in 2010 came back registered to a church in Ohio. Inside the vehicle were a Bible and some documents quoting Scripture.
Minutes later, Evans lay dying in the ditch and Paudert was sprawled on the roadway, their bodies tattered by two dozen bullets from an AK-47.
The killers: members of the sovereign citizen movement, which the officers had never heard of.
“They didn’t realize that there are people at war with this country who are not international terrorists,” said Bob Paudert, then West Memphis police chief and father of one of the slain officers.
“These people are willing to kill and be killed for their beliefs. And they are more dangerous to us in law enforcement than international terrorists.” […]
Before you click on anything and wander off, allow me to introduce Mr. Leonard Zeskind, the author of Blood and Politics: The History of the White Nationalist Movement from the Margins to the Mainstream, which I’m currently working my way through with much fascination & horror:
Leonard Zeskind is the president of the Institute for Research &
Education on Human Rights and has spent the last 30 years studying
white nationalism. He recently sat down for an interview at the Hale
Center for Journalism at KCPT with The Kansas City Star’s Judy L. Thomas to talk about the threat he said white nationalists pose and how to combat them.
For more on domestic terrorism, go to flatlandkc.org.
Video by Todd Feeback. Interview conducted by Judy L. Thomas.
Below, Mr. Zeskind spends just over an hour discussing his book. The presentation took place in May 2009 at a branch of the Kansas City Public Library and provides lots of good info. If you prefer to listen to it at your leisure, you can download the MP3 file (as well as other formats) from the Internet Archive:
It can be a fun—a stress reliever of sorts—to point & laugh mockingly at the “wingnuts” and “tea baggers”, but these people aren’t kidding. They see the demographic changes in the U.S. as an existential threat (to their white privilege, which it is), and they truly believe that the loss of said privilege means they’re being persecuted and some sort of genocide is being inflicted upon them (both of which are patently absurd notions).
Thanks to the pandering & scare mongering of right-wing politicians, media outlets, and sundry grifters, white nationalist hate & racism and an extreme far-right Christian ideologies have been brought into the mainstream and allowed to spread, negatively influencing otherwise decent people.
They’re not funny—they’re playing for keeps. Regard what’s happening before your eyes with a cavalier attitude at your peril.
Last but not least, here are several of the people & places I read about last night in Mr. Zeskind’s book. It covers some of the Christian Identity stuff as well as white nationalism. You know what the worst part was for me as I watched it? How utterly normal they seemed until they started expressing their racism & bigotry:
Twenty years ago, the media was crawling all over Elohim City, as
suspicions about links to the Oklahoma City bombing and ties to the
bomber Timothy McVeigh were alleged. Federal authorities never confirmed any connections. The 400-acre secluded enclave has housed several extremists in the white supremacist movement, including James Ellison. Ellison is the former leader of the Covenant, the Sword and the Arm of the Lord, a white supremacist paramilitary encampment near the Missouri-Arkansas border that was raided by federal authorities in 1985. Ellison settled at Elohim City after serving several years in prison for weapons offenses and racketeering. Now in his mid-70s, Ellison has been at Elohim City for two decades.