AlterNet.org: Ryan Lenz http://www.alternet.org/authors/ryan-lenz en Trump Appoints Hate Group Figures to Voter Fraud Commission http://www.alternet.org/right-wing/hate-group-figures-voter-fraud-commission <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-teaser field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even">For Kris Klobah and Ken Blackwell, a blank check for voter suppression.</div></div></div><!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-story-image field-type-image field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"><img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://www.alternet.org/sites/default/files/styles/story_image/public/story_images/8566717881_58f36f5a37_z_1.jpg?itok=gN-fP0mm" /></div></div></div><!-- BODY --> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--> <p>In an executive order signed in private, President Trump named Kansas Secretary of State <a href="https://www.splcenter.org/20161118/kris-kobach-lawyer-americas-nativist-movement">Kris Kobach</a>, who moonlights as an attorney for the legal arm of the <a href="https://www.splcenter.org/fighting-hate/extremist-files/group/federation-american-immigration-reform">Federation for American Immigration Reform</a> (FAIR), to serve as vice-chair of a commission to review claims of voter fraud, which will be chaired by Vice President Mike Pence. </p><p>The panel will “look at allegations of improper voting and fraudulent voter registration in states and across the nation,” <em>The New York Times</em> <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/aponline/2017/05/11/us/politics/ap-us-voter-fraud-the-latest.html" target="_blank">reported</a> on Thursday. The commission’s formation follows Trump’s false claim that millions of people voted illegally in the 2016 election, costing him the popular vote.  </p><p>Trump’s action was viewed by civil rights groups, including the Southern Poverty Law Center, as a vehicle to promote voter ID laws and other restrictions that suppress the votes of minorities and the poor.</p><p>As early as October, three weeks before Election Day, Trump questioned the legitimacy of the presidential vote, prompting many far-right extremists to warn of violence if Hillary Clinton were to win. Since then, the president has claimed, without any evidence, that as many as 5 million “illegals” voted.</p><p>All available research demonstrates that voter fraud is exceedingly rare. Trump’s claims have received no support from experts and little or none even from GOP politicians.</p><p>The White House said Kobach will co-chair the commission along with Vice President Mike Pence. Kobach has long advocated for highly restrictive voting laws.</p><p>“I’ve followed Kris Kobach’s career for 20 years. He is seriously dangerous, a xenophobic threat to democracy,” Jed Shugerman, a law professor at Fordham University, tweeted on May 11.</p><p>In addition to crusading for voting restrictions, Kobach has been a central figure in the nativist movement for more than a decade. He is the architect of Arizona’s notorious SB 1070, or “papers please” law, as well as a series of other anti-immigrant statutes enacted by states and municipalities. In 2011 the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) <a href="https://www.splcenter.org/20110130/when-mr-kobach-comes-town-nativist-laws-and-communities-they-damage">documented</a> the harm caused by anti-immigrant laws he championed in several communities.</p><p>A graduate of Yale law, Kobach has served as counsel to the Immigration Reform Law Institute (IRLI) since 2004. IRLI is the legal arm of the FAIR, a group whose <a href="https://www.splcenter.org/fighting-hate/extremist-files/individual/john-tanton">leaders</a> have historic ties to white supremacists and eugenicists and who have made <a href="https://www.splcenter.org/fighting-hate/extremist-files/individual/dan-stein">numerous</a> racist statements. Kobach himself <a href="https://www.splcenter.org/hatewatch/2015/11/02/what%E2%80%99s-matter-kansas%E2%80%99-kris-kobach">addressed</a> a racist gathering in 2015.</p><p>On May 11, the Trump administration announced five other members of the commission, including Ken Blackwell. Blackwell, a former Ohio secretary of state who previously headed up Trump’s transition team on domestic issues, is a senior fellow at the <a href="https://www.splcenter.org/fighting-hate/extremist-files/group/family-research-council">Family Research Council</a> (FRC), designated by the SPLC as an anti-LGBT hate group. The FRC is known for making false and defamatory claims about LGBT people, including the baseless claim that very large numbers of gay men are child molesters. According to Right Wing Watch, Blackwell has attacked President Obama for his endorsement of LGBT rights, saying the president was “weakening the family.” A senior official with the Human Rights Campaign, an LGBT rights group, today described Blackwell as “a man who has spent his entire career going after LGBTQ Americans.”</p><p><strong>Ken Blackwell</strong></p><p>Like Kobach, Blackwell has a long history of voter suppression. A 2005 <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/mojo/2011/04/ken-blackwell-ohio-brown-senate" target="_blank">report</a> commissioned by Rep. John Conyers (D-MI) found that Blackwell was at fault for “massive and unprecedented voter irregularities and anomalies in Ohio” during the 2004 election. <a href="http://imagine2050.newcomm.org/2014/05/19/ken-blackwell-with-history-of-election-irregularities-leading-voter-suppression-campaign/" target="_blank">According</a> to the civil rights group Center for New Community (CNC), in 2014 Blackwell was preparing to announce that he would serve as chairman of something called the SOS4SOS PAC. “The PAC — which was created in January for the sole purpose of promoting and establishing voter suppression measures in states — seeks to raise millions of dollars to support the campaigns of incumbent secretaries of state and new candidates in eight states” CNC’s blog Imagine2050, stated in May of that year.  </p><p>SPLC President Richard Cohen <a href="https://www.splcenter.org/news/2017/05/11/kris-kobach-lawyer-far-right-extremists-unfit-serve-trumps-commission-study-voter-fraud">warned</a> that Kobach’s appointment to the voting commission “shows that the commission itself will be fraudulent.”</p><p>“Kobach is a longtime lawyer for far-right extremist groups with ties to white nationalists and is a leader in the movement to suppress the votes of minorities,” Cohen said. “He is unfit to serve in this capacity, and his appointment is nothing less than an outrage.”</p><p> </p> Wed, 17 May 2017 10:45:00 -0700 Ryan Lenz, Stephen Piggott, Southern Poverty Law Center 1077072 at http://www.alternet.org The Right Wing The Right Wing Kris Klobach ken blackwell voter suppression voting rights 'Constitutional Sheriffs': The Latest Extreme Right-Wing Pox on Our Republic http://www.alternet.org/right-wing/constitutional-sherriffs-right-wing-pox <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-teaser field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even">A radical and growing organization of ‘constitutional sheriffs’ is promoting defiance of federal laws it doesn’t like.</div></div></div><!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-story-image field-type-image field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"><img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://www.alternet.org/sites/default/files/styles/story_image/public/story_images/screen_shot_2016-07-28_at_1.40.21_pm.png?itok=J6h-s8Nn" /></div></div></div><!-- BODY --> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--> <p>In the minutes before he was killed as he apparently tried to draw a 9mm pistol on law enforcement officials attempting to arrest him at an Oregon roadblock early this year, antigovernment militant Robert “LaVoy” Finicum repeatedly shouted out to officers that he was on his way to meet with “the sheriff.”</p><p>And, indeed, Grant County Sheriff Glenn Palmer was in John Day, Ore., waiting for a town hall meeting 90 minutes later featuring principals of the then 24-day-old occupation of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge, including Finicum and occupation leader Ammon Bundy. Both Palmer and Bundy were expected to speak at the gathering that had been organized by occupation sympathizers.</p><p>But Palmer, whose county adjoins Harney County, where the occupation took place, had been told nothing of the Jan. 26 roadblock — for very good reasons.</p><p>He had already met twice with leaders of the occupation, and witnesses described how he had them autograph his pocket copy of the Constitution. He had referred to the occupiers as “patriots” and endorsed their demands for the release of two ranchers imprisoned for arson on public lands and the departure of the FBI. He boasted about his refusal to enforce laws that he believed were unconstitutional, and he was known for picking fights with land use officials. Unlike the sheriffs of the four other adjoining counties, he had sent no deputies to help out in Harney County. Glenn Palmer was not trusted in law enforcement circles.</p><p>So when organizing began for the arrests of the people who had broken into, occupied, and trashed the Malheur park building, officials moved their plans for a roadblock from Grant to Harney County. Then, apparently fearing Palmer might warn off the militants, the officials decided not to tell him anything about it.</p><p>In the aftermath of the shutdown of the Malheur occupation — a total of 25 people were charged in connection with the occupation in the weeks after Finicum’s death — Palmer described the roadblock as an “ambush,” sounding remarkably similar to militants who claimed Finicum’s shooting was an assassination. That drew an immediate rebuke from the Oregon State Sheriffs’ Association, which told The Oregonian that it was actually a carefully planned operation “to take into custody armed persons who had openly engaged in a variety of criminal activities.”</p><p>In the following days, nine complaints — two of them from John Day officials, including the town’s police chief — were lodged against Palmer, who did not return repeated requests for comment from the Intelligence Report, with the Department of Public Safety Standards and Training. And the state Department of Justice has now opened a criminal investigation into one of those complaints.</p><p>Sheriff Palmer, who is running for his fifth four-year term this November, is a dramatic example of a new kind of radical that is springing up around the country — the so-called “constitutional sheriff.” In fact, in 2012 Palmer became the very first to be named “Sheriff of the Year” by the Constitutional Sheriffs and Peace Officers Association (CSPOA), a far-right group that calls itself “the last line of defense standing between the overreaching government and your Constitutionally guaranteed rights.” The CSPOA has long claimed the support of more than 400 sheriffs.</p><p>The group says it is part of “a growing movement of public officials who are drawing a line in the sand” by “interposing themselves between the sometimes overreaching Federal Government and your constitutionally guaranteed rights.” It claims that local county sheriffs can stop outside law enforcement officials from enforcing laws they deem unconstitutional. “The sheriff,’ it says, “is the highest elected official in the county and has the authority to stop this insanity.”</p><p>At a time when anger at the federal government over issues like land use and environmental regulation in the rural West is running higher than it has in years, the CSPOA and a closely related group, the Oath Keepers, are working tirelessly to make inroads into the ranks of American law enforcement. Sheriffs around the country report that they regularly hear from the groups, by phone, fax and other means, as they attempt to enlarge support for their positions. The country has rarely, if ever, seen such a concerted and long-term effort to bring sheriffs and other law enforcement officials to an ideology that proposes to openly defy federal law.</p><p>The rise of the CSPOA comes in the context of an antigovernment “Patriot” movement that has grown enormously since the election of Barack Obama in 2008, from about 150 groups that year to almost 1,000 today. CSPOA members have joined in the battle over the use of public lands — such as that at Malheur and, in 2014, a similar but larger armed standoff at the Nevada ranch owned by Ammon Bundy’s father, Cliven — and even more so the fight against further gun control. In 2013, many members wrote Vice President Joe Biden to say, as Palmer wrote, that they would not “permit” any “federal incursion” into their counties “where any type of gun control legislation aimed at disarming law abiding citizens is the goal.”</p><p>How strong are the CSPOA and its leader, former Arizona sheriff Richard Mack? Does Mack, who once worked for the radical gun rights group Gun Owners of America, really have the support of hundreds of the nation’s 3,000-plus sheriffs in defying the rule of law? The Intelligence Report recently tried to find out.</p><p><strong>The Radicals</strong></p><p>Richard Mack, who formed the CSPOA in 2011 with a promise to persuade local governments to issue declarations to the federal government “regarding the abuses we will no longer tolerate,” has repeatedly declined to publish or provide a list of the sheriffs he says are backers or members of the CSPOA. Although media outlets have reported that he claims more than 400 supporters or members, Mack told the Reportthat the CSPOA had only “trained” that number of sheriffs.</p><p>He said the focus of his group was not on recruiting members but on persuading sheriffs to adopt the group’s positions. But he also claimed the CSPOA has “about 5,000 members,” including sheriffs, police chiefs, peace officers and other citizens. He said he didn’t know how many of those were sheriffs, but noted that the CSPOA is now making a major effort to run sheriff’s candidates.</p><p>In 2014, however, the CSPOA did publish a list (since taken down) of 485 sheriffs who, in the group’s words, “have vowed to uphold and defend the Constitution against Obama’s unconstitutional gun measures.” Although that is not the same thing as being CSPOA supporters or members, the number of 485 is notably similar to the number of CSPOA trainees claimed by Mack.</p><p>The Report worked in May and June to contact all the sheriffs listed to get a sense of their support for the CSPOA and its policies. A small percentage of those men and women had retired, died or lost bids for reelection. A much larger percentage failed to respond to phone calls or emailed questionnaires.</p><p>In the end, the Report spoke to about 50 sheriffs.</p><p>The sampling was not large enough to come to any definitive conclusions. But it almost certainly understates the level of radicalism among the nation’s sheriffs. That is partly because many of those most sympathetic to Mack were likely among the 400 or so sheriffs who declined to answer queries from the Report, which has published articles that were critical of Mack and the CSPOA in the past.</p><p>Fifteen of the sheriffs reached by the Report described themselves as present or former members or supporters of the CSPOA. Seven said that they had written letters or made statements in conjunction with the organization. And seven said they were likely to resist federal authorities trying to impose new gun controls.</p><p>Beaver County, Utah, Sheriff Cameron Noel said he believed that he could keep federal officials out of his county or at least demand that they seek his permission. Sheriffs, he said, are a last line of defense against federal tyranny.</p><p>“I am the only elected official in my county that performs law enforcement functions,” he said. “The federal government, the BLM [Bureau of Land Management], the Forest Service, the FBI, the DEA, any of those guys, they’re not elected. … Those other entities, they answer to me. If they want to come in here and perform functions, I’m not saying that I’m always going to prevent them from doing that. I work hand in hand with the federal government on a lot of different issues and things, but they’re going to check with me before they do anything.”</p><p>Oddie Shoupe, the sheriff of White County, Tenn., said that he would fight the federal government, if it came down to it, and that any attempt to seize guns in his jurisdiction would result in “war.” He said he didn’t oppose citizen militias, so long as they reported to him, and added that if further federal gun control came to his county, he would deputize every militia member he had to resist.</p><p>In Colorado, Hinsdale County Sheriff Ronald Bruce said he would order any federal agency trying to seize guns from his constituents to leave, unless they were being taken from a convicted felon or someone else who had lost the legal right to possess weapons. “But if it’s somebody that I can see no discernible reason for their firearms to be seized except that the federal government is overreaching, then I will stand shoulder to shoulder with my constituents and fight that,” Bruce told the Report. “So if it means resisting with force, then we’ll resist with force.”</p><p>Churchill County, Nev., Sheriff Benjamin Trotter was more moderate, saying that he found the CSPOA “maybe a little too far to the right” and adding that if new federal gun control laws came down, he would challenge them in court. But if such attempts failed, “I’m a man of my word and the Constitution is what it is. It doesn’t mince any words on the Second Amendment. If they [the government] decided to do the brute force tactic, I’d probably end up in federal prison or dead.”</p><p>In Texas, Angelina County Sheriff Greg Sanches said he would accept gun control if it were accomplished by a constitutional amendment that was upheld by the Supreme Court. Absent that, however, “If the federal government comes in here trying to violate the constitutional freedoms of my constituents, of course I’m going to stand up for the people. If they came in for the guns, I’d stand up.”</p><p>Hamblen County, Tenn., Sheriff Esco Jarnagin, said he only supported the original Constitution, without amendments, and said it “has been abused, stepped on, rewrote, taken away, added on.” If federal authorities came to enforce new gun controls, he said, “just to be pointblank, there would be a showdown, because I believe the citizens of this county have the right to protect themselves. If you come in here trying to take up the guns, it’s not going to be a nice day for somebody.”</p><p>That’s only the start. Scores of sheriffs around the country who did not speak to theReport have been quoted in the media making similar statements. According to High Country News, for instance, Montezuma County, Colo., Sheriff Dennis Spruell appeared on the white nationalist radio show, “The Political Cesspool,” and threatened to arrest federal officials who closed roads on public lands.</p><p>This June, California officials were in Siskiyou County monitoring polling places on primary election day after reports that Hmongs, members of an Asian ethnic group, were facing voting intimidation led by Sheriff Jon Lopey. According to the online news outlet Raw Story, Lopey, a former CSPOA board member, set up a checkpoint and deputies allegedly stopped only cars driven by Hmongs. A Hmong leader also told theRedding Searchlight that officials carrying assault rifles went to Hmong homes and threatened to arrest people who tried to vote illegally. Lopey, who renounced his membership with CSPOA over what he said were the organization’s increasingly “extreme positions” on the Constitution and federal government, denied those allegations. “No one was threatened, and I would never condone discrimination against any person or group,” Lopey said.</p><p>And in 2013, 28 of the 29 sheriffs who make up the Utah Sheriffs’ Association wrote President Obama, concluding with this: “No federal official will be permitted to descend upon our constituents and take from them what the Bill of Rights — in particular Amendment II — has given them. We, like you, swore a solemn oath to protect and defend the Constitution of the United States, and we are prepared to trade our lives for the preservation of its traditional interpretation.”</p><p><strong>Checking It Twice</strong></p><p>The Report’s survey revealed another remarkable fact about the CSPOA’s list. Time and again, sheriffs told the Report that they had never spoken to Mack, did not support the CSPOA, had never signed a CSPOA document or letter, but still somehow ended up on the organization’s list. Many of them were strong supporters of the Second Amendment, but many also sharply criticized the CSPOA.</p><p>Sheriff Leo Dutton of Lewis and Clark County, Mont., said he had had no contact whatsoever with the CSPOA or its principals, yet found himself on the list. “What happened,” he said, “is I got asked by our local newspaper, ‘Are you going to confiscate guns?’ I said, ‘No, I’m not going to confiscate guns. That’s not what the president is saying. … That’s not what is being asked.’ … Anyway, they wrote me up as a constitutional sheriff. Ask them to find where I signed.”</p><p>In South Carolina, Charleston County Sheriff Al Cannon also said that he had “never spoken to or had any correspondence” with the CSPOA, but he, too, soon learned his name was on Mack’s list. “I suspect that it was because of an interview I had with Carol Costello on CNN” in which he defended the Second Amendment, he said. But, Cannon told the Report, “From the practical standing, a local sheriff has no authority to enforce federal laws, so that’s not an issue. I said if it were a law that I thought was questionable, I would confer with my state’s attorney.”</p><p>Ken Christesen, the sheriff of San Juan County, N.M., said that the New Mexico Sheriffs’ Association he chairs did come out early with a statement saying it would not enforce executive orders imposing gun control and that its members would abide by the Constitution. As a result, he said, all New Mexico sheriffs were placed on Mack’s list and the association felt forced to contact him and demand that their names be removed. (Mack told the Report that he had no memory of that, and that just two sheriffs had complained to him.) Christesen added that contrary to the CSPOA’s claims, sheriffs have no right to keep federal agents out of their counties, although “we do have a right to make sure they’re only enforcing federal laws.”</p><p>“If you look at Richard Mack’s organization, it sounds like a good organization, but when you start trying to enforce things and rally people like a militia and go to guns over issues like at the Bundy ranch [in 2014] — we narrowly avoided a blood bath,” he said. Mack, he added, “just tries to further his cause and, quite frankly, he’s a fool. If you talk to him, you can tell him I said that.”</p><p><strong>To Build a Movement</strong></p><p>The battle over the use of public lands — which also includes fights over environmental regulations, closing of formerly public roads, and law enforcement powers accorded to the BLM and other federal agencies — is not new.</p><p>Ever since a 1976 federal law ended the historic practice of homesteading, there has been resistance in the rural West to the idea that unelected federal agencies were legitimate stewards of publicly owned lands, even though a large number of court decisions in the 1980s would conclude definitively that they were. Farmers, ranchers, extractive industries and others wanted more access to the land.</p><p>The Sagebrush Rebellion of the 1970s and 1980s, followed by the Wise Use movement of the late 1980s and early 1990s, explicitly sought an end to all federal control of public lands and an expansive definition of property rights. They were cheered by tens of thousands of Westerners, along with interest groups like those associated with extractive industries. A large number of politicians — then-President Ronald Reagan called himself a Sagebrush rebel — also joined the chorus.</p><p>But the real root of the “county supremacy” movement that has been explicitly embraced by the CSPOA is the Posse Comitatus, a racist and anti-Semitic group of the 1970s and 1980s that also defined the county sheriff as the highest “legitimate” law enforcement authority in the country. The Posse, whose Latin name translates as “power of the county,” said government officials who “disobey” the Constitution should be taken to a downtown intersection and “hung there by the neck.”</p><p>Richard Mack had nothing to do with the Posse, and he has repeatedly disavowed violence. He says that the CSPOA did not support the Malheur standoff, although he did speak at a nearby rally that was attended by militants who invaded Malheur just hours later. The CSPOA did, however, support the Bundy family and others in the 2014 Nevada standoff, for which 19 people now face criminal charges.</p><p>Mack has been associated with other hardliners. He became an iconic figure in the militia movement after he sued the federal government in 1994 over the Brady gun control bill and won a partial victory, prompting the National Rifle Association to name him “Law Enforcement Officer of the Year.” Later in the 1990s, he wrote the introduction to a book by white supremacist Randy Weaver, who engaged in a deadly standoff with federal officials in Ruby Ridge, Idaho, that began after Weaver was arrested for selling a sawed-off shotgun to a federal agent. More recently, he has worked with the John Birch Society — the group that infamously called President Dwight D. Eisenhower a communist agent — the Oath Keepers (on whose board he sits), a variety of Tea Parties, and a host of antigovernment organizations.</p><p>In 2009, Mack wrote The County Sheriff: America’s Last Hope, portraying sheriffs as the “last line of defense” against Washington. He began to claim that if there had been a “constitutional sheriff” in Montgomery, Ala., in 1955, that person would have ignored local segregation ordinances and freed Rosa Parks.</p><p>In the next years, the movement began to take off.</p><p>In 2013, newly elected Liberty County, Fla., Sheriff Nick Finch caused a furor when he freed a driver who had been arrested for carrying an illegal concealed weapon. Although Finch was charged with misconduct, Mack and other supporters packed the courtroom, and Finch was acquitted and even later won back pay.</p><p>The same year, responding to pressure for gun control following the 2012 massacre of school children at Sandy Hook Elementary School, dozens of sheriffs, including Grant County’s Glenn Palmer, were spurred by Mack to write the White House promising that they would not enforce “unconstitutional” gun laws.</p><p>But it was the 2014 standoff at the Bundy ranch in Nevada, and the federal government’s decision to stand down when confronted by hundreds of armed Bundy supporters, that truly sent the movement soaring. Militants forced their way into a closed canyon in San Juan County, Utah, provided armed defenses for miners in disputes with the government in Oregon and Montana, and engaged in other similar provocative actions. On Jan. 2 of this year, the Malheur occupation began.</p><p><strong>Assessing the Movement</strong></p><p>More than two years after the 2014 standoff in Bunkerville, Nev., and in the aftermath of the Malheur occupation’s final rout after 41 days this year, it’s obvious the federal government is finally getting serious about the abuses of the militants seeking to end federal control of rural American public lands; 44 people now face serious criminal charges in connection with the two Bundy standoffs. But Richard Mack and his group continue to work overtime to spread the ideology that is behind this movement, even if they disavow some of the more extreme results.</p><p>“We’re supporting hundreds of sheriff candidates all across the country,” Mack boasted in a June interview with the Report. “I’m in Dallas right now, we’re going to Oklahoma next, and we’ve got sheriff candidates that are calling us every day and we can’t keep up with all of it.” He added: “We’ve changed the political structure of the sheriff’s office in this country. That’s what we’re after.”</p><p>If that is so, it’s not a good thing.</p><p>As a recent report on the movement from the Center for Public Integrity (CPI) concluded, the CSPOA’s “ambition is to encourage law enforcement officers to defy laws they decide themselves are illegal.” The CPI also reported that Mack, during a recent training for police, told officers “gun control is against the law” and added that his goal is to get a quarter of the nation’s sheriffs to join his group.</p><p>“It’s terrifying to me,” Justin Nix, a University of Louisville criminology professor who specializes in police fairness and legitimacy, told The Washington Post this spring. “It’s not up to the police to decide what the law is going to be. They’re sworn to uphold the law. It’s not up to them to pick and choose.”</p><p>The spread of this ideology has consequences. The number of threats and assaults against the BLM rose from 15 incidents in 2014 to 28 in 2015, according to Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility. The number of incidents targeting the U.S. Forest Service rose from 97 in 2014 to 155 last year.</p><p>Remarkably, the National Sheriffs' Association — which says it is “dedicated to raising the level of professionalism among sheriffs, their deputies, and others in the field of criminal justice and public safety so that they may perform their jobs in the best possible manner” — has little say about the CSPOA and its goals. Despite the spread of an ideology among sheriffs that virtually no legal scholar agrees with, the organization says only that it doesn’t offer advice to individual sheriffs.</p><p>“The association’s leaders never opines [sic] on how individual sheriffs should behave because their authorities vary so widely from state to state, and because they are ultimately accountable to voters,” according to a statement from Deputy Director John Thompson responding to questions from the Report.</p><p>Chris Hoffman, the sheriff of Ravalli County, Mont., may have said it best. He told theReport that he sympathizes with his constituents’ anger at environmental, land use, and gun regulations that seem to grow more stringent by the day.</p><p>But, he added, the United States is a nation of laws and sheriffs need to help restore tranquility. “I think you’ve got a lot of scared people in this country right now and we can speculate and talk all day about why people are as afraid as they are,” the sheriff said. “But if we’re not part of the solution toward calming those fears and getting those people calmed down, then we’re part of the problem.”</p><p> </p> Sun, 31 Jul 2016 10:22:00 -0700 Mark Potok, Ryan Lenz, SPLC&#039;s Hate Watch 1060960 at http://www.alternet.org The Right Wing The Right Wing constitutional sheriffs far right Robert “LaVoy” Finicum CSPOA anti-government militias Inside the Mind of a Lone Wolf Terrorist http://www.alternet.org/news-amp-politics/inside-mind-lone-wolf-terrorist <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-teaser field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even">Former FBI agent Joe Navarro discusses the psychology of lone wolf terrorism.</div></div></div><!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-story-image field-type-image field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"><img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://www.alternet.org/sites/default/files/styles/story_image/public/story_images/shutterstock_163002434-edited.jpg?itok=LNfCVYHo" /></div></div></div><!-- BODY --> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--> <p>There has been a tremendous amount of research about what causes a terrorist to pick up a weapon or build a bomb and, without discussing his plans or seeking affirmation from compatriots, lash out with violence — what we call lone-wolf terrorism. But while this violence has frequently been assessed based on political and social motivations, few have looked at its psychological underpinnings. That is the specialty of Joe Navarro, a former FBI agent and one of the founders of the agency’s elite Behavioral Analysis Program. The author of many books, including Hunting Terrorists: A Look at the Psychology of Terror and Interviewing Terrorists: The Definitive How-to Guide From an Ex-FBI Special Agent, Navarro has spent a lifetime studying the criminal mind. He has interviewed hundreds of terrorists and offers some profound insights for understanding what drives someone like Frazier Glenn Miller, an aging anti-Semite who in April 2014 allegedly went on a shooting spree at two Kansas Jewish facilities, killing three people, after a lifetime of racist activism. Whether discussing jihadist or radical-right terrorism, Navarro argues that all terrorists find justification for their actions through a fairly standard process that begins with the formation of a grievance against the outside world. Ultimately, they see violence as the only answer for addressing their grievance. No matter the lone wolf’s politics, Navarro says the psychology involved is essentially the same.</p><p><strong>In your study of terrorism and those who commit lone-wolf attacks, have you found universal factors that guide their actions?</strong></p><p>The one thing we know is that the psychology has always been the same. By that, I mean you have individuals who are collecting wounds, they’re looking for social ills, or things that have gone wrong, and they are nourishing these things that they’re ideating, that they’re thinking about. The solution for them is violence. The psychology is always the same.</p><p><strong>What do you mean, collecting wounds?</strong></p><p>Every terrorist I’ve ever interviewed, these people collect wounds. They will go back in history and tell you about the Crusades. That’s a thousand years ago, and they’ll tell you about it. They’re collecting these injustices and they just hang on to them, and they feed them and nourish them.</p><p><strong>Doesn’t everybody, to a degree, collect wounds?</strong></p><p>You and I don’t collect wounds. We experience wounds, but we don’t feed them and nourish them.</p><p><strong>What then compels a would-be terrorist to start collecting these wounds that ultimately cause him or her to act out violently?</strong></p><p>Every human is different. And what triggers one individual may not trigger his brother living under the same circumstances. We see this over and over. It’s a personal sort of thing. Either they experience it, they witness it, they start ideating it, or it’s imbued in them by someone, by a mentor, or they’re seduced by an ideology. I’ve talked to Palestinians who said they just grew tired of the fact that their father was being humiliated and searched every day, and that Jews didn’t have to go through that. As for terrorists in the United States, look at Ted Kaczynski. He had an enlightened education. He came from a good background, and yet a lot what drove him was his paranoia and his fear of technology. If you read his manifesto, basically what he is saying is that electricity is bad and that we should use pen and pencil and no computers. Wow.</p><p><strong>Is this a universal template to understanding terrorism?</strong></p><p>To say that there is one giant template that applies to everybody, well, there isn’t. What we do know is that all these individuals, what they have in common is that once they begin to ideate this philosophy, whatever their passion is, whatever their hatred is, whatever their ideology is, they certainly all begin to communicate this to people around them. And when we go back and do the post-event analysis, we find that they were talking about this, they were telling people about this, and the people either ignored it, didn’t pay attention or didn’t think it would go any further.</p><p><strong>What happens then, when a person collecting wounds decides to follow through with their plans?</strong></p><p>What we do know is that from ideation, they go to the next step, which is to isolate themselves, and when they begin to isolate themselves, both psychologically and physically, that’s when they became very dangerous. Because now they’re not getting a balance of ideas and thoughts. Now, they’re fulfilling themselves and their beliefs, and so they’re repetitively thinking about the same thing. Or they’re hanging out with a group that feeds that.</p><p><strong>If there is no template to understand how this happens, what does that mean for law enforcement? How do they find someone on the edge?</strong></p><p>Obviously, it makes it very tough. Because isolating yourself and ideating hatred in and of itself is not an offense. There’s a lot of people out there who hate passionately. The thing that makes it tough for law enforcement is if family and friends don’t keep tabs on this, then there is no way to identify where this potential threat may come from other than from the usual, which is groups, associations that are anti-this, or anti-that. Like the KKK. The FBI had penetrated the KKK so much that at one point, there were only informants. So you would have to penetrate these groups and listen to the chatter in hate groups and so forth. But what if you pull a Ted Kaczynski, what if you decide you don’t want to communicate with anybody? That becomes very tough. Law enforcement can never catch that guy.</p><p><strong>What is that X factor that pushes an extremist to act on the wounds he has collected?</strong></p><p>That’s a profound question. Under ideal situations, you’re tracking and you’re tracking. When did this individual start ideating this stuff, when did he start communicating this stuff, who are his associates, who is the biggest influence on him? Are they posting online? Are they increasing their posts? Is the verbal attack becoming more vicious? Does it look like they are psychologically crossing this line where they’ve convinced themselves that violence is the only thing to do? And keep in mind, when these individuals are in that froth, they have a lot of anxiety. And a lot of times they feel like the only way to relieve that anxiety is to kill somebody or to harm somebody.</p><p><strong>As someone approaches that end, is there anything anyone can do? And is it possible to track how close someone is to that line?</strong></p><p>You can’t keep track of everybody that is approaching the precipice and will cross over. So I don’t think that we have the answer. Theoretically, we have that model of how these individuals progress, but I don’t think anybody has a really good predictive model. Although this model comes close: Once they begin to isolate themselves, then they become increasingly more dangerous.</p> Wed, 18 Mar 2015 15:33:00 -0700 Ryan Lenz, Southern Poverty Law Center 1033485 at http://www.alternet.org News & Politics News & Politics Lone wolf terrorism fbi The Disturbing Tale of How a Former Leftist Turned into One of America's Biggest Islamophobes http://www.alternet.org/news-amp-politics/disturbing-tale-how-former-leftist-turned-one-americas-biggest-islamophobes <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-teaser field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even">David Horowitz&#039;s invectives pose a threat.</div></div></div><!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-story-image field-type-image field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"><img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://www.alternet.org/sites/default/files/styles/story_image/public/story_images/david_horowitz.jpg?itok=gKdH89Sh" /></div></div></div><!-- BODY --> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--><div class="fieldlayout node-field-content"><p>For David Horowitz, the godfather of the modern anti-Muslim movement, the culture war that began when he was young never ended. Only the target has changed.</p><p>As one of the founding Marxist intellectuals of the New Left in the 1960s, Horowitz was a self-professed political radical — a pugnacious advocate of civil rights and equality. Now, a half-century later, he has undergone an about-face and set his sights on Muslims.</p><p>For Horowitz, Muslim Student Associations “are arms of the Muslim Brotherhood, which is the fountainhead of the terrorist jihad against the West.” Hillary Clinton adviser and Muslim Huma Abedin is a “Muslim Brotherhood operative” who is “worse than Alger Hiss.” And the Palestinians, all of them, are even worse.</p><p>“No people have shown themselves as so morally sick as the Palestinians,” Horowitz said. “In the history of all mankind, there was never a people who strapped bombs on their bodies and killed innocent people. No other people has sunk so low as the Palestinians, and everyone is afraid to say it.”</p><p>In the last decade, Horowitz has become a respected elder of a growing movement of hawkish neoconservatives, conspiracy theorists and former federal officials united in their twisted fears that Islam is on the march — a movement he describes in Orwellian terms as a “counterjihad.”</p><p>Through his David Horowitz Freedom Center, a wealthy nonprofit based in Sherman Oaks, Calif., he has financed leading Islamophobes driving public opinion and attacked universities as leftist “indoctrination” programs. He leads several conservative publications, all dedicated to tenaciously defending Israel and viciously attacking Islam as a religion of “hate, violence and racism.”</p><p>A report from the liberal think tank Center for American Progress, “Fear, Inc.,” exposed Horowitz as a prominent member of a “small network [that] produces talking points and messages relied upon and repeated by every segment of this interconnected network of money, grassroots leaders, media talking heads, and elected officials.” The report’s author, Wajahat Ali, chastised Horowitz as a self-serving and toxic presence in a field of anti-Muslim pundits. </p><p>Virulent Muslim-basher Robert Spencer, director of the website Jihad Watch, is on his nonprofit’s payroll, and Horowitz’s online FrontPage Magazine publishes the work of Daniel Greenfield and Daniel Pipes, both of whom add to right-wing fears that Muslims are infiltrating the West. Horowitz also works closely with Pamela Geller, collecting money for her anti-Muslim hate group, Stop Islamization of America.<span style="white-space: pre;"></span></p><p>What led Horowitz to this moment, such that he seems to have abandoned his former radicalism for civil rights in favor of blind rage against the left-wing of American politics and now Muslims? At 75, is it merely an overcorrection to views he held as a young man? Or, as his parents were communists, is it as the New York Times Magazine described, a “fierce Oedipal struggle entwined with radicalism”? </p><p>“He’s a person who is, first and foremost, a self-promoter, who has used his name to champion political causes and used the guise of media and freedom and democracy and free speech to actually inject poison into the pluralist racial and religious dynamic of America,” Ali told the Intelligence Report. </p><p><strong>Red Diaper Baby</strong><br />For a man who was raised in the heart of the Communist Party, who saw his parents targeted by McCarthyism, it seems needless to point out the irony of Horowitz’s worry that radical Islamists have infiltrated the halls of American power with nefarious plans to tear down constitutional freedoms. </p><p>David Joel Horowitz was born on Jan. 10, 1939, in Forest Hills, N.Y., a neighborhood in Queens, to parents who were both schoolteachers and members of the Communist Party USA. It was an exciting childhood, filled with intrigue. </p><p>“Underneath the ordinary surfaces of their lives, my parents and their friends thought of themselves as secret agents. … Even if we never encountered a Soviet agent or engaged in a single illegal act, each of us knew that our commitment to socialism implied the obligation to commit treason, too,” Horowitz recounted in his 1998 memoir, Radical Son. </p><p>His family eventually broke from the party after Soviet General Secretary Nikita Khrushchev delivered his 1956 speech “On the Cult of Personality and Its Consequences,” which outlined violations of human rights under Joseph Stalin. It was also that year that Horowitz graduated from Columbia University with a degree in English and left for London to work at the Bertrand Russell Peace Foundation, returning home in 1968 to lead Ramparts, the political and literary magazine of the “New Left” — a movement of liberal activists seeking to drastically reform the cultural landscape with a wide range of social reforms. </p><p>The magazine was shuttered in 1975, but by that time Horowitz was already in the Bay Area working for the Black Panthers and quickly became a confidant of the group’s co-founder, Huey P. Newton. It wasn’t long before that relationship began to sour, beginning with the murder of Betty Van Patter, a bookkeeper at Ramparts who Horowitz had brought to the Panthers. On Dec. 13, 1974, she disappeared from the Berkeley Square tavern in Berkeley. Her body was found in San Francisco Bay. </p><p>As fate would have it, it was then, as the wave of left-wing activism born in the 1960s began to break, that Horowitz felt the first rumblings of doubt regarding his political views. </p><p>Horowitz was convinced that Van Patter’s murder led directly to the Panthers, and her death plunged him into a depressive episode revolving around his inability to marry his political convictions with what he feared was a harsher reality — that the very people he thought were the answer to the world’s injustice had carried out her murder. “It was inconceivable to me that the Panthers would kill Betty Van Patter,” he wrote, despite coming to believe exactly that. </p><p>The Black Panthers were never officially tied to Van Patter’s death, but the event proved to be decisive in guiding Horowitz’s political future. </p><p>Spurred by his doubts and perhaps the prevailing political winds, Horowitz leaned increasingly right on issues such as sexual promiscuity in the gay community and LGBT rights, U.S. foreign policy, the question of racial equality and affirmative action. But it wasn’t until 1985 that Horowitz would make an entrance as a major player on the conservative right.</p><p>That year, Horowitz publicly announced that he had voted for Ronald Reagan in the presidential election, an act of political treason to his allies. </p><p>In a coming-out essay titled, “Goodbye to All That” and published in The Washington Post, Horowitz and his writing partner Peter Collier chastised the Left and set out to break ranks, once and for all, with all they knew. “Casting our ballots for Ronald Reagan was indeed a way of saying goodbye to all that — to the self-aggrandizing romance with corrupt Third Worldism; to the casual indulgence of Soviet totalitarianism; to the hypocritical mainstream politics,” the pair wrote. </p><p>Horowitz had changed. </p><p><strong>Enemies Everywhere</strong><br />Fueled by a bitter sense of betrayal, and a hunger to correct the errors of his own personal politics, Horowitz carried the bare-knuckled activism he practiced in the tumultuous 1960s into the heart of the modern conservative movement. </p><p>In 1988, he formed the Center for the Study of Popular Culture (CSPC) in Los Angeles, hoping, according to the group’s website, to “establish a conservative presence in Hollywood and show how popular culture had become a political battleground.” He had minor successes, including getting PBS to broadcast a documentary about the horrors of communist Cuba. </p><p>Then Horowitz turned his attention to targeting “tenured radicals” at American universities. He went after them with a fevered intensity, publishing the tabloid “Heterodoxy” to present conservative interests to university students who, he feared, were being indoctrinated by the entrenched Left. He began tracking the activities of liberal professors — an effort designed, more honestly, to target intellectuals with views at odds with his own. </p><p>He was prolific. He published wild tracts and pamphlets, including “Hating Whitey,” which argued that modern black leaders had squandered the legacy of the civil rights movement by restructuring “the civil rights agenda as a radical cause.” In a book of that same title, published in 1999, he made white nationalist claims about black-on-white crime, voicing criticisms of affirmative action that would last through the election of President Obama, who he called a communist with a “curious background.” Horowitz went on a crusade against reparations for slavery. He has attacked minority “demands for special treatment” as “only necessary because some blacks can’t seem to locate the ladder of opportunity within reach of others,” rejecting the idea that they could be the victims of lingering racism.</p><p>“The fact is that it is not tolerable in America to hate blacks, but it is okay in our politically correct culture to hate white people,” he wrote in “Hating Whitey.</p><p>“Of course, the leftist academy has a ready answer for every question about black racism: Only whites can be racist.” </p><p>But it wasn’t until after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks that Horowitz discovered a new enemy in “radical Islam.” In 2006, the CSPC was rebranded as the David Horowitz Freedom Center, focusing its attention on “the efforts of the radical left and its Islamist allies to destroy American values.” Horowitz began financing Jihad Watch, a quasi-academic blog that spreads misinformation about Islam. </p><p>Directed by Robert Spencer, a Catholic, the blog aims to “track the attempts of radical Islam to subvert Western Culture.” It is popular among those who see the mere presence of Muslims outside the Middle East as a threat to freedom. His ideas have appealed to people such as Anders Breivik, the Norwegian who killed 76 people as a political statement against immigration. Breivik’s 1,500-page manifesto attacking multiculturalism, and especially Muslims, mentioned Spencer 162 times. </p><p>Since 2007, the Freedom Center has held annual Islamo-Fascism Awareness Week on multiple college campuses — 119 to date — to “protect students from indoctrination and harassment.” In reality, as with most of Horowitz’s public events, the program is focused on creating controversy, if nothing else. </p><p>During one such week in 2010, Horowitz appeared at the University of California-Santa Barbara. Midway through the program, he began to debate a Muslim student wearing a traditional Palestinian keffiyah — what Horowitz called a “terrorist neckerchief.” When the young woman asked Horowitz to clarify the connections he had been drawing between the Muslim Student Association on campus and radical terrorists, he instead asked the woman to denounce Hamas. </p><p> “For it, or against it?” he barked, demanding an answer. It was a trap. </p><p>While she would later claim she was thinking unclearly and intimidated, she bashfully replied, “For it.” Horowitz nodded and smiled. It was a rhetorical trick — the kind Horowitz has perfected. If she supported Hamas, Horowitz argued, the Muslim Student Association to which she belonged was actually tied to a terrorist organization, as defined by the State Department.  </p><p>The video made the rounds on conservative news outlets, seeming to confirm for Horowitz and his followers that his fight with the “radical faith” was on target. Islam was on the move — everywhere. </p><p><strong>Fueling the Fire</strong><br />To understand the harm caused by Horowitz, it is important to see just how deep his influence goes on the political right. As the GOP becomes increasingly influenced by Tea Party politicians who bring conspiracy theories to the debate, Horowitz and his acolytes have emerged as the experts on radical Islam and its terrifying infiltration into American society and government.</p><p>Horowitz has accused anti-tax activist Grover Norquist of being a secret Muslim plant in the federal government. More famously, he has led the charge that Huma Abedin, a long-time aide to former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, is a Muslim Brotherhood agent sent to “penetrate” the U.S. government. Horowitz argues that Abedin, who is married to former U.S. Rep. Anthony Weiner, has “been given a special dispensation to marry a Jew so she can infiltrate our government.” </p><p>“If you wondered how it’s possible that Obama and Hillary would not know or would pretend what was happening wasn’t happening in the Middle East, or how they could turn over Egypt as they have to the Muslim Brotherhood, which is the fountainhead of Al Qaida and all these terrible Islamic Nazi organizations, the answer is not really hard to find: the chief adviser to the American government on Muslim affairs,” Horowitz said in a 2012 radio interview with Janet Mefferd. </p><p>Yet, somehow, Horowitz has mostly avoided charges of racism or bias, often citing First Amendment protections and relying on young audiences of politically conservative college students — where the “leftist offensive is most visible” — to popularize his views and draw support. A gifted rhetorician, his attack on Islam is often couched in a defense of Israel and civil rights, or defended as necessary for security. </p><p>Given his annual salary of more than $540,000, according to federal tax filings from 2013, Horowitz has not avoided charges of political opportunism — a point made clear in his wildly vacillating history of political views. </p><p>In 1991, Fred Gardner, a former colleague at Ramparts, said Horowitz and his writing partner Peter Collier “were never radicals for a minute.” “Their goal was and is personal success. It’s no coincidence that they were ‘left’ in the ’60s and ‘right’ in the ’80s,” Gardner said. </p><p>Neither Horowitz, nor a representative from the Freedom Center, responded to multiple requests for interviews. But it’s no surprise his rise comes as anti-Muslim sentiment finds a home on the far right of American politics, where Muslims are often decried and where Tea Party activists and xenophobic conservatives happily count Horowitz as their friends. Tea Party favorites Texas Gov. Rick Perry, U.S. Rep. Louie Gohmert and U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz are all regular participants at Horowitz’s annual, lavish Restoration Weekend, summits appealingly held in five-star hotels that bring together influential Islamophobes and public officials to exchange ideas.</p></div><p>Is it any wonder that Cruz has ranted that “Shariah law is an enormous problem” or that Gohmert has said, “This administration has so many Muslim Brotherhood members that have influence that they just are making wrong decisions for America”? </p><p>It is these connections to powerful politicians that are concerning, ensuring that Horowitz’s toxic activities affect the mainstream — and the lives of American Muslims.</p><p>“He hires the Luca Brasis of the anti-Islam movement,” Ali said, comparing Robert Spencer to Mario Puzo’s famed hitman from The Godfather. “He subsidizes. He gives them a platform. He enables and supports people who share his ideological vision. And what’s more dangerous than that?”</p> Wed, 13 Aug 2014 06:31:00 -0700 Ryan Lenz, SPLC Intelligence Report 1015300 at http://www.alternet.org News & Politics News & Politics david horowitz islamophobia Outrageous: Ammo Maker Selling Pork-Coated Bullets to Fight Muslims http://www.alternet.org/civil-liberties/outrageous-ammo-maker-selling-pork-coated-bullets-fight-muslims <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-teaser field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even">Jihawg Ammunition, an Idaho-based company, is marketing their product with the slogan &quot;Put some Ham in MoHAMed&quot;</div></div></div><!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-story-image field-type-image field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"><img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://www.alternet.org/sites/default/files/styles/story_image/public/story_images/screen_shot_2013-06-27_at_5.02.38_pm.png?itok=7a-Qvf1X" /></div></div></div><!-- BODY --> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--><p style="margin: 15px 0px; padding: 0px; border: 0px; outline: 0px; font-size: 16px; vertical-align: baseline; list-style: none; line-height: 20px; color: rgb(0, 0, 0); font-family: Times;">The advertising pitch says it all: “Put some Ham in MoHAMed.”</p><p style="margin: 15px 0px; padding: 0px; border: 0px; outline: 0px; font-size: 16px; vertical-align: baseline; list-style: none; line-height: 20px; color: rgb(0, 0, 0); font-family: Times;">Jihawg Ammunition, based in Dalton Gardens, Idaho, has recently begun selling bullets laced with a pork coating, promising “patriot” gun owners that the bullets “will strike fear into the hearts of those bent upon hate, violence and murder.”</p><p style="margin: 15px 0px; padding: 0px; border: 0px; outline: 0px; font-size: 16px; vertical-align: baseline; list-style: none; line-height: 20px; color: rgb(0, 0, 0); font-family: Times;">Consumption of pork is forbidden in Islam. The idea behind the bullets is that a Muslim hit by them would be desecrated and unable to go to heaven.</p><p style="margin: 15px 0px; padding: 0px; border: 0px; outline: 0px; font-size: 16px; vertical-align: baseline; list-style: none; line-height: 20px; color: rgb(0, 0, 0); font-family: Times;">This isn’t the first time Hatewatch has heard claims of pork-coated bullets from Muslim-bashing profiteers. In May 2011, we reported on a company called <a href="http://www.splcenter.org/blog/2011/05/26/company-sells-gun-oil-laced-with-pig-fat-to-deny-muslims-paradise/" style="margin: 0px; padding: 0px; border: 0px; outline: 0px; vertical-align: baseline; background-color: transparent; list-style: none; color: rgb(255, 0, 0); text-decoration: none;">Silver Bullet Gun Oil</a>, which said it had produced for sale a gun oil laced with pork fat. In that case, the creator openly affirmed the offensiveness of his product. “It is designed as an affront to an entire belief structure,” the business owner told Hatewatch at the time.</p><p style="margin: 15px 0px; padding: 0px; border: 0px; outline: 0px; font-size: 16px; vertical-align: baseline; list-style: none; line-height: 20px; color: rgb(0, 0, 0); font-family: Times;">A request to Jihawg Ammunition for comment today was not immediately answered.</p> Thu, 27 Jun 2013 14:02:00 -0700 Ryan Lenz, Southern Poverty Law Center 861546 at http://www.alternet.org Human Rights Human Rights News & Politics jihawg Are American Vigilantes Hunting Down and Murdering Immigrants as They Cross the Arizona Border? http://www.alternet.org/immigration/are-american-vigilantes-hunting-down-and-murdering-immigrants-they-cross-arizona-border <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-teaser field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even">&quot;A lot of angry, militant white men on the border sitting like hunters,&quot; a former detective warns, as the number of unsolved murders piles up.</div></div></div><!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-story-image field-type-image field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"><img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://www.alternet.org/sites/default/files/styles/story_image/public/story_images/photo_-__2012-10-10_at_9.32.50_am.jpg?itok=PXsJjQW-" /></div></div></div><!-- BODY --> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--> <p>The mountains near here rise as jagged and unforgiving obstacles on the horizon for immigrants and smugglers who cross the border by moonlight and make their way northward along the foothills, stopping in the cypress groves for rest. It’s a natural passage and the easiest route to travel.</p><p>But it was also here, on April 8, that a group of what was described as four white men wearing camouflage opened fire on a packed truck carrying immigrants illegally into the country, killing two of them. The victims, Gerardo Perez-Ruiz from the central Mexican city of Toluca and another man believed to be from Guatemala, were part of a group of 20 to 30 immigrants driving through a remote desert wash near Eloy when the group of gunmen suddenly appeared.</p><p>According to statements provided by five surviving immigrants, the gunmen yelled, “Alto!” — “Halt!” — as the truck neared, then fired their weapons before disappearing without another word into the pre-dawn darkness.</p><p>The murders this spring were not the first in the smuggling corridor near Eloy. In fact, they bear distinct similarities to the killings of four immigrants in the area in 2007 — high-profile incidents that accelerated fears that U.S.-born vigilantes had begun a shooting war meant to turn back the tide of undocumented immigrants.</p><p>For more than 10 years now, the bulk of undocumented immigrants from the south have poured across the Arizona border, pushed by a change in U.S. border policy from the coastal cities and states into the far more treacherous Sonora Desert crossing. Partly as a result, the number of those dying, or being killed, as they cross the border has accelerated dramatically. Between 2004 and 2011, an average of 223 bodies of migrants have been found every year in just the Tucson Sector, now the busiest section of the border — and that doesn’t include hundreds of skeletonized remains. Although most of the deaths certainly were the result of searing heat, in hundreds of cases, the victims’ remains were too rotted to be sure.</p><p>The recent shootings near Eloy, coupled with the murders in January and February of 2007, have raised these worries again. An internal Department of Homeland Security (DHS) report from the earlier period, obtained by the Report, said the 2007 shootings were likely connected to each other. And in the second incident that year, police found two men with non-Hispanic names “concealed in the brush” nearby watching the police response — a “curious” fact, the DHS report said.</p><p>Through it all, most Arizona authorities have dismissed virtually all the non-weather-related deaths as the result of attacks by drug and human smugglers — and there is little doubt that that is behind some of the mayhem. But many activists and at least some in law enforcement fear that a small but committed cadre of hard-core extremists on the border may actually be engaging in murder.</p><p>Matt Browning, a retired Mesa police detective who spent years undercover infiltrating racist border and neo-Nazi skinhead groups, is one of them.</p><p>“In Arizona, we might not have Hammerskins or Volksfront or the Klan,” Browning said, referencing some of the more prominent contemporary white supremacist groups. “What we do have is a lot of angry, militant white men on the border sitting like hunters waiting for these people to come across.”</p><p><strong>‘Hispanics Would Be Killed’</strong></p><p>This May 2, a man named Jason Todd “J.T.” Ready strode into the house he shared with his girlfriend and her family in the Phoenix suburb of Gilbert. Minutes later, a frantic Lisa Mederos was on the phone to 911 reporting threats from an enraged Ready. Next came the sound of a shot, and the line went dead.</p><p>By the time police arrived, Ready had shot Mederos, her grown daughter and her boyfriend, and the young couple’s 15-month-old daughter, before walking outside and shooting himself dead as well. Another Mederos daughter, who survived by hiding in a bedroom, told police Ready had done all the killing.</p><p>Authorities quickly concluded that the quadruple murder and suicide was the result of a domestic dispute, although the details remain murky. But the slaughter, coming 24 days after the latest Eloy murders, again raised the specter of vigilante violence — Ready was a well-known neo-Nazi who since 2010 had been heading armed, aggressive border patrols with a group he started, U.S. Border Guard. He had been close to Russell Pearce, the legislator who authored Arizona’s S.B. 1070 anti-immigrant law and went on to become state Senate president as a result.</p><p>The Pima County Sheriff’s Department, which investigated both the 2007 and the 2012 killings near Eloy, cleared Ready of involvement in the April attack — and, indeed, it still has no suspects in any of the Eloy area murders. But after Ready’s death, the special-agent-in-charge of the FBI’s Phoenix office, James Turgal, revealed his agency had been investigating Ready’s activities for nearly five years.</p><p>Ready, Turgal told a local TV news reporter, “rode the edge of that dividing line between protected speech and criminal activity.” Turgal said his probe involved “domestic terrorism” and the shooting of immigrants. But he did not further clarify those comments, and the FBI declined to elaborate on them to the Report.</p><p>Still, the news was not entirely surprising.</p><p>Ready was an ex-Marine court-martialed twice for bad conduct, and over his years in Arizona he had developed a reputation for intemperate talk and violence. Running for Mesa City Council in 2006, for instance, he chased a Latino man into a dead-end street in a car, apparently because he thought the man was undocumented. Ready later claimed the man fired at him with a BB gun. Ready returned fire with a .38-caliber revolver he kept in an ankle holster. Neither man was hurt, and police ultimately arrested the Latino man, who allegedly had fired first.</p><p>In the ensuing years, Ready would attend several neo-Nazi events and joined, for a time, the National Socialist Movement (NSM), currently the country’s largest neo-Nazi group. At one point, at a Tea Party rally in Tempe, he distributed an NSM flier featuring his name, a picture of a landmine, and the following words: “We should be actively advocating daily to mainstream America the most humane, non-racist, fair border security plan available. Namely, A MINEFIELD!”</p><p>In 2009, an anti-immigrant activist who had worked with Ready approached Stephen Lemons, a columnist with the Phoenix New Times newspaper. According to Lemons, David Heppler said that Ready had recently told him of plans “to drive into South Phoenix on a Friday night disguised as officials with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and look for a house or yard party to raid, during which several Hispanics would be killed.” Heppler said Ready and friends had drawn up a list of equipment for the planned raids and even asked him to join them on dry runs.</p><p>Lemons turned Heppler over to the FBI, he said, and the man agreed to become an informant. However, he was later reportedly dropped by the FBI after telling a business partner that he was working as an informant.</p><p>In another incident, on Sept. 27, 2010, a U.S. citizen called the Border Patrol to say he’d encountered Ready while hiking and that Ready had asked him to join his U.S. Border Guard group. According to Border Patrol documents obtained by the Talking Points Memo (TPM) news site, the man said he was reporting the incident “because JT Ready mentioned ‘killing’ and harming the illegal aliens.”</p><p>While still with NSM, Ready also recruited Jeffrey Harbin, son of a well-known local neo-Nazi. In January 2011, the younger Harbin was arrested with three homemade bombs that he was apparently transporting for use against immigrants on the border. Twelve more devices were found in Harbin’s home. Ready said he didn’t know what the bombs were for, “but I will say that domestic terrorism is real.”</p><p>Twice during 2011 — on Feb. 26 and July 17 — Border Patrol agents found Ready and others detaining immigrants in the desert, according to documents. Ready had flex-cuffed an immigrant in the first incident and pointed guns at a group in the second, both likely criminal acts of false imprisonment. Agents reported the incidents to the U.S. Attorney’s office, but no action was taken.</p><p>Ready was growing increasingly paranoid. This April 29, he E-mailed friends about his fears: “I sleep with a Loaded shotgun under my bed and a 9 mm on the nightstand. I have 2 Ar-15’s, other hardware, and a trained German Shepherd in the backyard. Mossad or ZOG [a neo-Nazi acronym for Zionist Occupied Government] or the Cartel or some ANTIFA [antifascist] freak may make a move on me.</p><p>“Hopefully I can give them their just desserts first.”</p><p>Three days later, J.T. Ready murdered his girlfriend and her family and then committed suicide. Arriving at the bloody scene, police found, among other things, six 40 mm anti-tank grenades.</p><p><strong>Hints of Violence</strong></p><p>The suspicion of vigilante violence in Arizona does not rest only on the exploits of J.T. Ready, or even the six murders near Eloy. Over the years, a number of cases have cropped up that hint at possible campaigns of killing.</p><p>In 2005, during the first major muster of the anti-immigrant Minuteman Project, the Intelligence Report interviewed two men who described themselves as members of the neo-Nazi National Alliance (see related story, p. 12). Identifying themselves only as Johnny and Michael, the two said they were part of a six-man team who had joined the muster, in part, to scout future sniping positions.</p><p>“You get up there with a rifle and start shooting four or five of them a week,” said Michael, outfitted with body armor and a semi-automatic pistol, “the other four or five thousand behind them are going to think twice about crossing that line.”</p><p>In 2009, a Border Patrol agent found a live pipe bomb on a smuggling route near Tucson that was described as “moderately complex,” according to a classified memo released by a group that hacked the Pima County Sheriff’s Office.</p><p>Another hacked memo, this one from the Arizona Department of Public Safety, revealed that a militant group called “A Concerned Citizen” was trying to shut down a stretch of interstate to stop smugglers in 2010. The memo warned of the “potential for human rights violations and a possibility of violence.”</p><p>Other documents also revealed episodes of apparent extremism that were previously unknown to the public. In March 2011, for example, Border Patrol agents encountered a heavily armed man in the desert south of Tucson. The man, identified as Tim Foley, told the agents he had military experience as a sniper and that he planned to conduct “mercenary type operations” along the border. He also allegedy told them he had deployed an improvised explosive device in the desert.</p><p>The deadly rage of many nativists who came to Arizona in recent years was highlighted in the person of Shawna Forde, founder of the vigilante group Minuteman American Defense. Forde, along with two confederates, is on death row for the 2009 murder of a Latino man and his 9-year-old daughter. The pair were shot in their own Arivaca, Ariz., home, not while trying to cross any border. They were U.S. citizens who Forde intended to rob in order to fund her nativist activities.</p><p>Chris Simcox, who co-founded the Minuteman Project and went on to form the now-defunct Minuteman Civil Defense Corps, told the Report in an interview that he knew nothing of any specific murders, but recognized a reality that has long plagued the movement — that some do come to the border to hunt Latinos.</p><p>“You don’t know who you’re attracting [to the border],” said Simcox, who is now working as a private math tutor in Phoenix. “You got guys spinning off, and spinning off, all the time. That was the thing that concerned me the most.”</p><p>Still, the most intriguing cases may be those near Eloy.</p><p>Investigators have noted a number of marked similarities linking the 2007 cases and the murders last April. In each case, authorities believe there were four attackers who were described by at least some witnesses as white. In 2007, they wore similar “military style” clothing; in 2011, the attackers were described as wearing camouflage-style clothes. No spent shell casings were recovered in any of the attacks, suggesting that the killers used “brass-catchers” to avoid leaving evidence. In all three, the attackers wasted few shots and seemed to coordinate their work carefully, covering each other as if they had military training.</p><p>The DHS document analyzing the 2007 attacks contained another remarkable detail. After the Jan. 27 shooting, responding law enforcement officials heard vehicles a short distance from the shooting site, but out of sight. They found two men who claimed that they were watching the police response to the shooting — but were actually not in a position where they could see that response. “It is curious,” the document said, “that the subjects did not attempt to approach the scene as several other onlookers had, but they choose [sic] to remain concealed in the brush.”</p><p>The DHS’ conclusions were not definitive, but they were intriguing. “It appears that the same group of individuals is working in concert to intentionally kill [illegal aliens],” it said. Robbery or theft of drugs “did not appear to be the motive in either incident as the subjects were left unmolested after the shootings.”</p><p>Recently, the Arizona Daily Star reported an apparent resurgence in border activities by groups led by men like Jack Foote, a Texan who once headed a paramilitary anti-immigrant group called Ranch Rescue (and who reportedly recruited Tim Foley, the man who told officials in 2011 he had sniper experience). Foote’s Ranch Rescue disbanded following a 2003 lawsuit filed by the Southern Poverty Law Center on behalf of immigrants terrorized on a Texas ranch. But the Daily Star reported that Foote recently returned to the Arizona border with a new group, the Arizona State Defense Force Foundation. The group is recruiting “field researchers” with “prior Tactical Ground Operations training and experience” to scout the border for “evidence of the ongoing cross-border insurgency.”</p><p>Are some individuals or even groups in Arizona targeting immigrants for death? It remains impossible to say. But it’s hard not to think about the kind of anger that came from Jack Foote recently, after the state Legislature rejected the Arizona Special Missions Unit, a newly proposed state-sanctioned border militia.</p><p>“We have now washed our hands of our state’s Legislature,” Foote said in words that worried many. “Now we are going to do things our own way.”</p><p>And there is much to suggest that something else may be going on. For years, the area has been crisscrossed by “civilian border patrols” — the “Minutemen” groups that President George W. Bush characterized as “vigilantes” and that were enraged by what they saw as a purposeful invasion. A neo-Nazi leader who led fellow armed radicals to the border spoke of laying mines to prevent non-whites from entering — and later reportedly asked a witness to help him surveill homes where he hoped to murder Latinos. Law enforcement has found at least one pipe bomb planted on a smuggling trail, and last year a neo-Nazi was arrested with other bombs he was taking to the border. Still other neo-Nazis told the Intelligence Report several years earlier that they were scouting sniper positions at the border.</p> Wed, 07 Nov 2012 09:16:00 -0800 Ryan Lenz, SPLC Intelligence Report 724701 at http://www.alternet.org Immigration Immigration arizona murder immigrants UN's Agenda 21: The Main Target In The Right's Fight To Deny Climate Change http://www.alternet.org/story/154555/un%27s_agenda_21%3A_the_main_target_in_the_right%27s_fight_to_deny_climate_change <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-teaser field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even">How an obscure UN smart-growth plan became the biggest rightwing rage target since Obama&#039;s birth certificate</div></div></div><!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-story-image field-type-image field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"><img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://www.alternet.org/sites/default/files/styles/story_image/public/images/managed/storyimages_1331766655_4532539758a6675f1e00.jpg?itok=kXk7a1jF" alt="" /></div></div></div><!-- BODY --> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--><p> In the last several years, an obscure United Nations accord called Agenda 21 has emerged as something of a unified field theory for the antigovernment movement. On its face, Agenda 21 does nothing but provide countries and communities with a set of principles to grow smartly –– a plan, in short, to fight overpopulation, pollution, poverty and resource depletion.</p> <p>But for a far-flung network of antigovernment extremists who have risen up to attack it, the nonbinding document that was approved 20 years ago at the UN’s Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro is not really about preserving the planet at all. Between the lines, they argue, lies a blueprint for the “New World Order.”</p> <p>In his final days on Fox News, Glenn Beck passionately argued that by agreeing to follow Agenda 21, the U.S. government had colluded with internationalists to undermine its own sovereignty and turn the nation into an environmental refuge where nature would take precedence over people.</p> <p>“Those pushing … government control on a global level have mastered the art of hiding it in plain sight, and then just dismissing it as a joke,” Beck told his viewers, holding up the 294-page document. He cautioned: “Once [internationalists] put their fangs into our communities and suck all the blood out of it, we will not be able to survive.”</p> <p>The irony is that Agenda 21 is all about survival. It was intended to offer a strategic plan to scale down the use of natural resources to levels that meet “the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations.” (The 21 stands for the 21st century.) One hundred and seventy-eight world leaders, including President George H.W. Bush, signed on to the agreement in 1992.</p> <p>While there is some opposition to Agenda 21 from the left –– from groups like Democrats Against Agenda 21 –– it’s on the radical right that the UN plan has become a touchstone of a larger theme that equates environmentalism with totalitarianism and the loss of individual freedom. For a growing cast of far-right hardliners, Agenda 21 is a sort of Trojan horse, a totalitarian scheme with a green environmental mask, lying in wait to destroy America as we know it.</p> <p>How such an arcane UN document that defines the concept of “smart growth” and environmental sustainability became so controversial, even though it gives the UN no enforcement powers, has a lot to do with the work of a tight cadre of antigovernment “Patriot” activists whose fears are rooted in right-wing lore about a New World Order, a kind of authoritarian one-world government. Figures such as Tom DeWeese, head of the American Policy Center, Phyllis Schlafly, founder of the anti-feminist Eagle Forum, and John Bush, with Texans for Accountable Government, have in recent years crisscrossed the country to put on seminars and conferences that strike terror into those inclined to believe conspiracy theories about powerful global elites plotting to install a socialistic global government. The John Birch Society, an archconservative group formed during the Red Scare of the 1950s, regularly assails Agenda 21 with the fervor it once reserved for communists.</p> <p>Under Agenda 21, these activists argue, the expansive American way of life, in which everyone can aspire to the dream of owning a house with a big yard and two cars in the driveway, will be replaced by one in which increasing numbers are crammed into urbanized “pack ’em and stack ’em” apartment complexes, and forced to use mass transportation and live according to a collectivist ethos. Once the UN’s radical utopia is achieved, gun ownership will be forbidden and the UN will raise an army intent on terrorizing the populace in the name of social order and equality, sustainability and smart growth –– all words that anti-Agenda 21 activists believe signal the true intent of the UN’s plan.</p> <p>Armed with suspicions and “research,” activists have disrupted meetings from Oklahoma to Ohio, where a Facebook group called Ohio Agenda 21 Watch keeps tabs on “the many socialist groups working in Ohio whose aim is take away our sovereignty and incorporate Ohio into UN control.” In Maine, the Tea Party-backed governor canceled plans to ease congestion along a busy road in response to anti-Agenda 21 protests, <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2012/02/04/us/activists-fight-green-projects-seeing-un-plot.html?_r=1&amp;scp=1&amp;sq=agenda%2021&amp;st=cse">The New York Times reported</a>.</p> <p>In Edmond, Okla., protestors shut down a community workshop held to gather public input on environmental sustainability. After 20 minutes, police were called to disrupt the melee, and the backlash to the city’s decision to follow Agenda 21 ultimately prompted officials to stop coordinating with the UN. Shannon Entz, a community development manager in Edmond who helped organize the workshop in December 2010, told the Intelligence Report that a group called Govern Edmond Locally had enraged the audience with fliers vilifying the UN.</p> <p>“I can understand how people, in some cases, may be fearful of government,” Entz said. “[But] where it loses steam is they give cities and government a little too much credit. … We certainly don’t have the money or the political will to hurt, or harm, or take private property [to protect the environment].”</p> <p>In Colorado, Patriots have fiercely resisted environmental initiatives proposed by the U.S. Forest Service. Some are convinced the UN is cutting off access to national forests to leverage natural treasures against foreign debt, or worse, to build prison camps for U.S. citizens. The Tenth Amendment Center and the Oath Keepers have launched propaganda campaigns to curb the supposed UN advance. Even the League of the South (LOS), a neo-Confederate group that advocates a second Southern succession, has gotten involved. Those attending the grand opening in January of the LOS compound in Wetumpka, Ala., had to wipe their shoes on a UN flag before entering the building.</p> <p>During a speech in late 2010 to the City Council in Austin, Texas, where he lives, John Bush of Texans for Accountable Government summarized the global plot that these activists believed they have unmasked. He had come to challenge a local resolution designed to make the city more energy efficient.</p> <p>“Before carbon was thought of as the most evil thing in the world,” Bush said, “there were … internationalists hashing out a plan to further their scheme for world government through the means of excessive environmentalism.”</p> <p>Experts who study conspiracy theories attribute the rise of Agenda 21 fears to distrust of the UN that existed long before the document was drafted and approved at the Earth Summit. “Any time you get some sort of UN program that suggests any kind of change in the way people live, even if it seems outwardly benign and even voluntary, it’s going to be taken up by people of a conspiracist bent,” Michael Barkun, a political science professor at Syracuse University, told the Report.</p> <p>The fact is that Americans on the extreme right have harbored wild fears about global control, and the loss of national and local power, for at least a century, going back to the League of Nations and even before. Much more recently, in 1991, President George H.W. Bush deepened suspicions about the designs of global elites when he used the term “new world order” during a speech to Congress following the Gulf War — an utterance that, in retrospect, has been interpreted as a revealing slip of the tongue. The signing of Agenda 21 came the next year.</p> <p>Now, with the resurgence of the Patriot movement since President Obama’s election, Agenda 21 has moved to the top echelon of radical-right fears and has become a mainstream issue as well. The Republican Party this January adopted a resolution opposing Agenda 21, characterizing it as “destructive and insidious.”</p> <p>Just as it did with communism, the John Birch Society has done as much or more than any other group on the radical right to drum up panic and outrage. It has held more than a dozen conferences across of the nation in the last six months to sound the alarm. “It boils down to control,” spokesman Bill Hahn told The Missoulianafter a protest in Missoula, Mont. “Do we allow an international organization to implement its extreme environmental agenda through innocuous names of sustainability, smart growth, etc., or do we retain the sovereignty that allows us to govern ourselves and decide locally what is best?”</p> <p>There seems to be an even better question: Is there something real to fear in Agenda 21 — or is it just another bogeyman of the politically paranoid?</p> <p>Arthur Goldwag contributed to this report.</p> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-bio field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--> </div></div></div> Wed, 14 Mar 2012 13:00:01 -0700 Ryan Lenz, SPLC&#039;s Hate Watch 669913 at http://www.alternet.org Visions The Right Wing Environment News & Politics Visions World new world order climate science agenda 21 Meet the Secessionist Group Waiting for the Collapse of US Empire So the "South Can Rise Again" http://www.alternet.org/story/153275/meet_the_secessionist_group_waiting_for_the_collapse_of_us_empire_so_the_%22south_can_rise_again%22 <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-teaser field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even">The League of the South (LOS) pines for the independence denied the region by federal troops 150 years ago.</div></div></div><!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-story-image field-type-image field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"><img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://www.alternet.org/sites/default/files/styles/story_image/public/images/managed/storyimages_1322684876_screenshot20111130at3.27.22pm.png?itok=gYKhaXKz" alt="" /></div></div></div><!-- BODY --> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--><p>Since its bookish beginnings as a group dominated by academics in 1994, the <a style="font-family: Arial, Helvetica, Verdana, Tahoma, sans-serif; font-size: 14px; line-height: 1.25em; text-decoration: none; color: rgb(0, 102, 153); " href="http://www.splcenter.org/get-informed/intelligence-files/groups/league-of-the-south">League of the South</a> (LOS) has been obsessively driven to glorify Southern history and culture, pining for the independence denied the region by federal troops 150 years ago.</p> <p>But over the years, the <a style="line-height: 1.25em; text-decoration: none; color: rgb(0, 102, 153); " href="http://www.splcenter.org/get-informed/intelligence-files/ideology/neo-confederate">neo-Confederate</a> group’s platform grew to be distinctly racist, with the goal of building a theocratic South defined by “the cultural dominance of the Anglo-Celtic people and their institutions,” as its president, former Stillman College professor Michael Hill, once put it. At the same time, its early rhetoric angrily demanding that the rest of the country treat the South with more respect was replaced with explicit calls for a second secession from the “ungodly” North.</p> <p style="margin-top: 0px; margin-right: 0px; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-left: 0px; padding-top: 0px; padding-right: 0px; padding-bottom: 0px; padding-left: 0px; line-height: 16px; color: rgb(51, 51, 51); font-family: Arial, Helvetica, Verdana, Tahoma, sans-serif; font-size: 13px; ">Now, the LOS agenda appears to be evolving even further, this time away from the ivory tower. Beginning in 2007, when its national conference was titled “Southern Secession: Antidote to Empire and Tyranny,” each year has seen further and more militant dedication to that idea. The theme in 2008 was “Surviving the Empire’s Collapse” — an idea of survivalist resistance that similarly has since been echoed each year with increasing enthusiasm.</p> <p style="margin-top: 0px; margin-right: 0px; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-left: 0px; padding-top: 0px; padding-right: 0px; padding-bottom: 0px; padding-left: 0px; line-height: 16px; color: rgb(51, 51, 51); font-family: Arial, Helvetica, Verdana, Tahoma, sans-serif; font-size: 13px; ">During its national conference this July in Abbeville, S.C. — the self-proclaimed “birthplace and deathbed of the Confederacy” — the LOS continued in the same vein of preparing for the day the federal government collapses and the South rises again. “The mantra [that] violence, or the serious threat thereof, never settles anything is patently false,” Hill said in a prepared speech that was later posted on the group’s website. “History shows that it indeed does settle many things. Please don’t forget this — your enemy hasn’t.”</p> <p style="margin-top: 0px; margin-right: 0px; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-left: 0px; padding-top: 0px; padding-right: 0px; padding-bottom: 0px; padding-left: 0px; font-size: 13px; ">For two days at the conference, more than 100 members sat through workshops delivered with end-of-days flair and focused on surviving the unrest to come. Pastor John Weaver, former “chaplain-in-chief” for the Southern heritage group Sons of Confederate Veterans and a member of the white supremacist Council of Conservative Citizens, gave lessons on basic gun safety. Franklin Sanders, considered the LOS’s No. 2 man, encouraged members to invest in silver and gold — the idea being that when the government collapses, so will the Federal Reserve. There were also training sessions on how to stock and maintain a home pantry, lessons on how to hunt and track, and calls for members to buy shortwave radios and begin using them instead of telephones.</p> <p style="margin-top: 0px; margin-right: 0px; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-left: 0px; padding-top: 0px; padding-right: 0px; padding-bottom: 0px; padding-left: 0px; font-size: 13px; ">Hill said much to suggest that a physical fight is brewing. “He who is willing to die for a cause will defeat one who isn’t,” he told his listeners. “Always act as if you are fighting in the last ditch for the survival of all you hold dear.” Later, Hill added, “We are already at war — we just don’t know it.”</p> <p style="margin-top: 0px; margin-right: 0px; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-left: 0px; padding-top: 0px; padding-right: 0px; padding-bottom: 0px; padding-left: 0px; font-size: 13px; ">For a group that initially defined itself as a kind of political club for culturally concerned intellectual Southerners, this apparent embrace of survivalist paramilitarism comes as something of a surprise. But in many ways, the conference marked the culmination of a long and steady march toward the extremist fringe.</p> <p style="margin-top: 0px; margin-right: 0px; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-left: 0px; padding-top: 0px; padding-right: 0px; padding-bottom: 0px; padding-left: 0px; font-size: 13px; ">For years, in fact, there have been hints of hard-line militancy from some key LOS members. At a meeting of the LOS’s Georgia chapter in March, Hill had compiled a list of supplies to keep for the day the “Evil Empire” toppled. He encouraged members to stock up on assault weapons (AK-47s are preferred because they require less maintenance) and plenty of ammunition. He said a family would need 400 rounds of ammunition to last in the woods for two days, and he even recommended the style of bullets — deadly hollow points. He also recommended families equip themselves with tools to derail trains and a deer-hunting rifle with a scope.</p> <p style="margin-top: 0px; margin-right: 0px; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-left: 0px; padding-top: 0px; padding-right: 0px; padding-bottom: 0px; padding-left: 0px; font-size: 13px; ">“American deer hunters are the largest army in the world,” Hill said.</p> <p style="margin-top: 0px; margin-right: 0px; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-left: 0px; padding-top: 0px; padding-right: 0px; padding-bottom: 0px; padding-left: 0px; font-size: 13px; "> </p> <p style="margin-top: 0px; margin-right: 0px; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-left: 0px; padding-top: 0px; padding-right: 0px; padding-bottom: 0px; padding-left: 0px; font-size: 13px; ">As clear as this evolution seems, the LOS has fervently denied anything is afoot beyond a reasoned response to troubled times. After the Southern Poverty Law Center’s Hatewatch blog drew attention to the group’s increasing militancy, Mike Tuggle, editor of the LOS blog Rebellion, mocked the suggestion that the game had changed. “Lord help us, they’re canning vegetables!” he wrote of his compatriots.</p> <p style="margin-top: 0px; margin-right: 0px; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-left: 0px; padding-top: 0px; padding-right: 0px; padding-bottom: 0px; padding-left: 0px; font-size: 13px; ">But there is other evidence of the league’s mounting radicalism. Consider the case of Michael Tubbs of the Florida division of LOS and the increasingly prominent role the former Green Beret demolitions expert has played in the group in recent years.</p> <p style="margin-top: 0px; margin-right: 0px; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-left: 0px; padding-top: 0px; padding-right: 0px; padding-bottom: 0px; padding-left: 0px; font-size: 13px; ">In the 1990s, Tubbs pleaded guilty to theft and conspiracy for stealing weapons from the military — some of them at gunpoint from fellow soldiers. The case went back to 1987, when then-Sgt. 1st Class Michael R. Tubbs and another Army Green Beret, toting automatic weapons fitted with silencers and dressed completely in black, robbed two fellow soldiers of their M-16 rifles during a routine exercise at Fort Bragg. “This is for the KKK!” they shouted as they fled.</p> <p style="margin-top: 0px; margin-right: 0px; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-left: 0px; padding-top: 0px; padding-right: 0px; padding-bottom: 0px; padding-left: 0px; font-size: 13px; ">Years later, after an informant talked, authorities broke the case and found several caches containing machine guns, 25 pounds of TNT, land mines, an anti-aircraft gun, grenades, 45 pounds of C-4 plastic explosive and more. Prosecutors said Tubbs had drawn up a list of targets including newspapers, television stations and businesses owned by Jews and black people, though none was ever attacked.</p> <p style="margin-top: 0px; margin-right: 0px; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-left: 0px; padding-top: 0px; padding-right: 0px; padding-bottom: 0px; padding-left: 0px; font-size: 13px; ">But none of that caused the LOS to back away from Tubbs. In fact, Hill and others in the LOS today seem to be giving Tubbs more airtime than ever.</p> <p style="margin-top: 0px; margin-right: 0px; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-left: 0px; padding-top: 0px; padding-right: 0px; padding-bottom: 0px; padding-left: 0px; font-size: 13px; ">At the Abbeville conference this summer, Tubbs gave a major speech on why reforming the federal system is impossible. Using rhetoric reminiscent of that of the antigovernment “Patriot” movement, Tubbs told the national gathering to withhold loyalty from the federal government and instead pledge allegiance to the Southern National Congress, a neo-Confederate group focused exclusively on advancing a new secession through political means. Tubbs’ presentation also included a seven-part strategy to “delegitimate” the federal government through the establishment of “organic local communities.”</p> <p style="margin-top: 0px; margin-right: 0px; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-left: 0px; padding-top: 0px; padding-right: 0px; padding-bottom: 0px; padding-left: 0px; font-size: 13px; ">“The beast is dying and dragging us with it,” Tubbs said.</p> <p style="margin-top: 0px; margin-right: 0px; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-left: 0px; padding-top: 0px; padding-right: 0px; padding-bottom: 0px; padding-left: 0px; font-size: 13px; ">For Hill — a former history professor, with expertise in Celtic traditions, at Alabama’s historically black Stillman College — the coming fight is no different than Scottish freedom fighter William Wallace’s insurgent war against the British. In fact, he first developed his ideas about Southern heritage in the 1970s, expanding on the theory that the South was different from the materialistic, ungodly North because its white population was “Anglo-Celtic” and fully embraced “Orthodox” Christianity — a belief that led to the creation of the LOS. Now, Hill seems to believe that the only way to defend the South against the “Jacobin” egalitarianism and secular humanism of the North is through force of arms.</p> <p style="margin-top: 0px; margin-right: 0px; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-left: 0px; padding-top: 0px; padding-right: 0px; padding-bottom: 0px; padding-left: 0px; font-size: 13px; "> </p> <p style="margin-top: 0px; margin-right: 0px; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-left: 0px; padding-top: 0px; padding-right: 0px; padding-bottom: 0px; padding-left: 0px; font-size: 13px; ">“What would it take to get you to fight? … What would it take to turn you into a William Wallace?” Hill asked in opening his Abbeville speech. “We are not made to live in isolation. Rather, we here in the South are a people. … The South is where we make our stand.”</p> <p style="margin-top: 0px; margin-right: 0px; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-left: 0px; padding-top: 0px; padding-right: 0px; padding-bottom: 0px; padding-left: 0px; font-size: 13px; ">The LOS also continues to associate itself with other hard-line extremists, including Larry Darby, an Alabama man who was once a leading atheist activist but more recently has spent time associating on friendly terms with neo-Nazis and denying the Holocaust. Even Pastor John Weaver, who has defended American slavery, continues to be a mainstay.</p> <p style="margin-top: 0px; margin-right: 0px; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-left: 0px; padding-top: 0px; padding-right: 0px; padding-bottom: 0px; padding-left: 0px; font-size: 13px; ">At the same time, there are worries that LOS’ influence on the radical right may be spreading. Matthew Heimbach, a member of the league’s Maryland division and an attendee of the Abbeville conference, claimed on a YouTube video posted this July that his league chapter would be working with Youth for Western Civilization (YWC), a campus group that already had ties to a number of other white nationalist organizations. Heimbach described YWC as having “similar principles to us and similar goals.”</p> <p style="margin-top: 0px; margin-right: 0px; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-left: 0px; padding-top: 0px; padding-right: 0px; padding-bottom: 0px; padding-left: 0px; font-size: 13px; ">Also at this year’s conference in South Carolina, Weaver held a class with a focus on armed battle. He showed a gathering of about 60 people how to draw a pistol, how to hold it and not accidentally shoot the weapon, even how to draw down on an enemy. “Divine providence always arranges the time for fighting. You must remember, God is the god of war,” he reassured them. “Do you realize when God is involved, the outcome is guaranteed? When God is involved, victory is assured. When God is involved, there is no failure.”</p> <p> </p> <p> </p> <p> </p> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-bio field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--> </div></div></div> Wed, 30 Nov 2011 09:00:01 -0800 Janet Smith, Ryan Lenz, Southern Poverty Law Center 668650 at http://www.alternet.org News & Politics south confederacy league of south