Excerpt from the chapter “Civil War”
A report published this week by former FBI agent Mike German, now a fellow at New York University’s Brennan Center for Justice, documented how police ties to ‘white supremacist groups or far-right militant activities’ have been uncovered in over a dozen states since 2000…
Nick Estes, a professor of American studies at the University of New Mexico and author of the book ‘Our History Is The Future,’ remembers listening to the police scanner earlier this summer when the gun-toting militia group New Mexico Civil Guard turned up to harass and attack anti-racist protesters in Albuquerque.
He said cops could be heard on the scanner referring to this group of vigilantes — founded by a neo-Nazi — as ‘heavily armed friendlies.’
A short time later, one of those ‘friendlies’ shot and badly injured an anti-racist protester...
What’s happening now, he added, is ‘an intensification of that kind of citizen policing’ in response to a growing tide of Black Lives Matter and anti-fascist organizing.
Steven Gardiner, a research analyst at Political Research Associates, a social justice think tank that monitors the far-right, said there has been a ‘tremendous increase’ in right-wing paramilitary activity this year.
It gained momentum, he said, during protests against lockdown measures meant to stem the spread of the coronavirus. Armed militias circled — and sometimes even entered — state Capitol buildings, showing the often hands-off approach with which governments often treat white vigilantes.
At Black Lives Matter protests following the police killing of Floyd, disparate paramilitary and vigilante groups — Boogaloo Bois, III Percenters, Oath Keepers, Proud Boys and white nationalists — became a regular fixture of right-wing counterprotests.
‘If you get counterprotesters showing up who are armed, cops are almost always facing towards the Black Lives Matter and racial justice protesters, not towards the armed counterprotesters,’ Gardiner said.
This, he argued, has created an atmosphere in which paramilitary groups feel emboldened.
‘Going forward, we need to seriously reconsider the permissiveness with which we are allowing armed paramilitaries to roam the streets of our nation’s towns and cities, as if this is normal,’ Gardiner said. ‘There’s nothing normal about this. We don’t want to be living in a war zone.” (Christoper Mathias, 2020)
Excerpt from the chapter “The Emperor Has No Clothes”
There was some debate of the president’s intent when he said that “there were some fine people on both sides” when a far-right counter-protester drove through a crowd in Charlottesville and killed a protestor.
There is no confusion about his support for Kyle Rittenhouse after he illegally brought an assault rifle to Kenosha, Wisconsin, and killed two people. The president has done and said some outlandish, cruel, divisive, false, crass things before, but his most recent actions will likely embolden the next Kyle Rittenhouse or even entire hate groups.
“‘The people who carry out these attacks are already violent and hateful people,’ said Nathan P. Kalmoe, an assistant professor at Louisiana State University who has studied hate speech. ‘But top political leaders and partisan media figures encourage extremism when they endorse white supremacist ideas and play with violent language. Having the most powerful person on Earth echo their hateful views may even give extremists a sense of impunity.’
This has come up repeatedly during Mr. Trump’s presidency, whether it be the white supremacists who marched in Charlottesville, VA, or the bomber who sent explosives to Mr. Trump’s political adversaries and prominent news media figures or the gunman who stormed a Pittsburgh synagogue after ranting online about ‘invaders’ to the United States.
David Livingstone Smith, a philosophy professor at the University of New England and the author of a book on dehumanization of whole categories of people, said Mr. Trump had emboldened Americans whose views were seen as unacceptable in everyday society not long ago.
‘This has always been part of American life,’ he said. ‘But Trump has given people permission to say what they think. And that’s crack cocaine. That’s powerful. When someone allows you to be authentic, that’s a very, very potent thing. People have come out of the shadows.’” (Peter Baker, 2019)
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