Sunday, March 7, 2021

American History; Dancing With the Devil.

January 24, 2021 by  
Filed under News, Opinion, Politics, Weekly Columns

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( Ray Charles could have seen this coming; the insurrection at the Capitol on January 6th.  Nor was this a singular terrifying event in American history.  Study up on Colfax, Louisiana in 1873 and Wilmington, North Carolina in 1898.  And this is not the first time a president has been impeached for “incitement.”  One of the Articles of Impeachment against Andrew Johnson was for inciting whites to riot against black residents in Memphis and New Orleans in 1866.

I wrote a blog post about “Angry White Men” in 2016 and another about “White Terror” in 2017.  Anyone who has been paying attention could see that events like Charlottesville and mass shootings were harbingers of the rise of violent white extremism both here and globally.

10,000 Lone Wolves

If anything, January 6th should put to rest the narrative about violent white extremists being lone wolves:

  • The shooter at Mother Emanuel AME Church killed Blacks.
  • The shooter at the Tree of Life Synagogue killed Jews.
  • The shooter at the El Paso Walmart killed Latinos; and
  • The shooter at the New Zealand Mosque killed Muslims.

These men have been called ‘lone wolves’ but they share a common ideology.  In the ‘manifestos’ they left behind, they all shared antipathy towards people of color and a belief their actions would ‘accelerate’ a race war or clash of civilizations.  If anything, they are like kamikazes from World War II, solo attackers in the same army, fighting for the same purpose.  Such was the angry mob that stormed the Capitol threatening to shoot Nancy Pelosi and hang Mike Pence.  Thousands of lone wolves I guess.


Inside Job

The most troubling aspect of the Capitol riot was the extent to which active duty and retired military and off-duty cops were involved.  Some estimates are as high as one-in-five of the rioters fell into those categories.  The dangers this presents have been pointed out previously too.

In 2006, the FBI issued an Intelligence Assessment on “White Supremacist Infiltration of Law Enforcement.”  It said, “Cases that have been reported tend to reflect self-initiated efforts by White supremacist sympathizers, particularly those already in law enforcement, to use their professional skills for the benefit of white supremacist causes.”  It continued, “The apparent sporadic reporting… could be an indication of successful infiltration that has gone unreported.”

William Pierce, author of “The Turner Diaries”, advocated infiltration, and the FBI assessment said his works are “interpreted as practical guidance [for how to] within white supremacist circles.”  The intelligence assessment recounted a speech at “Aryanfest” where extremists were encouraged to “refocus their energies from street violence to infiltration of the military, local government, school boards and law enforcement.”  They call these people ‘ghost skins.’  It doesn’t seem to me to be a stretch to connect this practice to police shootings of unarmed black people today.

The Department of Homeland Security wrote a report about the rise of violent white extremism at the beginning of the Obama administration in 2009.  After the report was leaked to the press, the furor was so great, especially among Republicans in congress, that then Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano withdrew the report and apologized.

What comes next…

Immediately after the insurrection, some of the very people who were part of the plot, or at least supplied fuel for it, began to call for unity.  But as has been said, there can be no unity without accountability.  White supremacy is a “splinter” in the American body politic.  And like with any splinter, the body can’t heal until it is removed, lest it continue to fester.

We first have to acknowledge that the attack on the Capitol was part of a larger historical context of violence against people of color as a means of retaining control, and then have a full accounting of what happened and who were the main actors.  We also have to acknowledge the response to the insurrection can’t be solely by law enforcement, but must include educational and cultural components as well.

On its way out the door, the last administration published the report of its “1776 Commission.”  It was a lame attempt to rebut “The 1619 Project.”  Their report essentially says that pointing out the inequalities of America’s past is worse than the inequalities themselves.  Unless and until we roundly discredit that way of thinking, we will never have “liberty and justice for all.”

Staff Writer; Harry Sewell

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