“It is completely a sideshow to distract from the real threat and it’s extremely dangerous,” Neumann said on “Skullduggery,” a Yahoo News podcast, of the administration’s posture. “There are multiple arrests that the FBI has conducted in the last few months at these peaceful protests where you have right-wing extremists coming in trying to take advantage of the cover of the protests to carry out these violent acts and they are trying to start a race war. They’re very clear about their ideology and what they’re trying to do and we won’t say it. We won’t call it like it is and that’s a problem.”
The FBI warned over the years that the far right is dangerous. It could be a source of terrorism. We know from aggregate data that the far right is currently engaged in the majority of terrorist attacks in the United States. Whether they are hate crimes or others. According to the Center for Strategic and International Studies:
Right-wing terrorism not only accounts for the majority of incidents but has also grown in quantity over the past six years. This increase is reminiscent of the wave of right-wing activity in the 1990s that peaked with 43 right-wing incidents in 1995. The Oklahoma City bombing, which occurred on April 19, 1995, was the second-most deadly terrorist attack in U.S. history, after September 11, 2001. In three recent years — 2016, 2017, and 2019 — the number of right-wing terrorist events matched or exceeded the number in 1995, including a recent high of 53 right-wing terrorist incidents in 2017. Despite a moderate decrease in 2018 to 29 incidents, right-wing activity again increased in 2019 to 44 incidents. Religious attacks and plots have also shown some increases during this period — notably in 2015, 2017, and 2019 — but at a significantly smaller magnitude than right-wing events.
The left, and in particular Antifa, has remained at very low numbers if at all. They were important earlier in the century, insofar as animal rights groups were concerned. But ANTIFA and anarchists are not involved (at present) in even smilier numbers of attacks.
At this point, the far right is engaging in false equivalency and what about-ism. This includes members of the Republican Party and the president of the United States since they perceive this as an electoral advantage, and the law and order campaign.
The FBI has yet to point to Antifa as a source of terrorism. This matters because the law and order campaign relies on this false equivalency between peaceful protesters (mostly) and the far right threatening to stop them, or as we have seen, kill them. The rhetoric from the White House paints these as anarchists and thugs torching cities, mostly “democrat run.” Let’s be clear about this, the right has projected onto the so called radical left whatever they plan to do. This is hardly new. Why? How else can you justify the formation of far right paramilitaries to protect yourself from these enemies that threaten you? How can you say we are in an existential battle for the survival of the nation?
This is hardly an American innovation. The first two strong men to do this were Benito Mussolini and Adolph Hitler. Both were on the far right of the political spectrum and both used paramilitaries to fight these enemies of the people. For El Duce, it was the Black Shirts who were enforcers within the system. For Hitler, the SA became essential in his rise to power. That is 1934 the leadership would be killed in the night of the Long Knives, and the organization dissolved is immaterial. They were the street soldiers of the street battles of the 1920s and early part of the ‘30s.
Those of us who have studied the rise of the Third Reich, and fascism in general, the militias in the United States have a very familiar tone. They are fast becoming an equivalent body to either of these two groups. However, that’s hardly the only parallel. The far-right has emerged as a powerful force repeatedly and the rise of paramilitaries usually is part of the process. For how paramilitaries become even more fundamental, we need to look at another place and time. This would be the Chile of the 1970s and the rise of Augusto Pinochet, who was a general in the Chilean army.
Pinochet used similar tactics and called the left in his country Marxist, and used the power of the state to persecute them. After the coup in which he took power from a democratically elected Salvador Allende, he surpassed labor and the rights of the individual in the name of state security. Incidentally, he attacked that election as corrupt and broken, in effect delegitimizing it. So if you think Donald Trump is joking, he is not.
One of the things the American right is celebrating is precisely one of Pinochet’s terror tactics. This was to fly enemies of the state over open water and throw them into the void from helicopters. Therefore, a militia member opening fire and killing people during a mostly peaceful protest should not surprise any of us. These militias have been given tacit permission to engage in open racism and antisemitism from the president’s Twitter feed. This is why hate crimes are up.
The American right also has its own media bubble, which has become increasingly extreme. They think of other Americans are their enemy. They see them as the other and less than human, and I emphasize this point because it needs to. This started after the end of the Fairness Doctrine, passed during the New Deal to prevent this kind of radical propaganda radio.
I have seen this in person. The language used by proto-Fascist includes classics of the movement going back to the Nazis. When people engage in talk of the others as a parasite, we are nearing the point of genocide. What do you do with parasites at home, and with insects and other things? Think.
There is a trend in the right to distort history. One of the most common distortions is that the Nazis were left-wing radical commies (see the Socialism part in National Socialism), It is not like these people understand that this was part of the propaganda as the Nazi party rose to power. This historical revisionism extends to the denial of the Holocaust, ranging from it was not that bad, to it did not happen.
It is quite disturbing when Jews repeat this claptrap. But some are, so there is that. Don’t discount this because Jews should know better, and they should. Stephen Miller is not an aberration, but a product of a far-right system led by people like Allan Dershowitz. There is also a healthy corner of those who are children of survivors who have turned towards the far right because they themselves feel the kind of alienation leading to radicalization. They have fully embraced it and made it their own. They do not understand that they will be killed as well if we reach that point.
Sadly, there is a parallel to the 1930s. Some Jews voted for Hitler, who I should remind all, gained power legally. The fact that people who should know better don’t is a problem. But these fools are a great tool to the nationalist right. See, they get our plight! We are victims! As they prepare to carry out their plans to get the ultimate power and clean the swamp. Oh never mind that QAnbon is antisemitic as hell, and anti-other minority as well.
It is even more disturbing when people who should know better engage in revisionist history as well. But this is where we are. We are at a historic moment when this far-right nationalist thinking is also present with people who should know better.
This also includes members of target minorities who somehow believe they will be excused because they are like them. They are not. No Black or Latino will ever be accepted as white in this new white supremacist order. In this sense, since this is Christian fundamentalism, neither will Catholics.
For Fundamentalist Christians this is what needs to happen. It is an ideology. The country is a Christian nation, which we all should be clear, means a WHITE Christian nation. It does not include Black Southern Baptists, and it relies on the idea that they are a persecuted minority in a country increasingly secular, that is rejecting them. This is where the cultures come in. For them, it is about recapturing the country and why Donald J Trump is a tool if nothing else. He will be the one to bring their vision to fruition.
Militias and the SA
This is the perfect storm for the rise of armed militias, which should more properly be called paramilitaries. Many of them are coming from this environment of aggrieved reality where they feel they are persecuted. Why they have armed themselves and formed defend and patriot groups all over the country. They see this moment as one when they have to defend their way of life. Marching around in tactical gear, what I call Tacticool, is meant to put fear in the hearts of their enemies. It’s also Live Action Role Playing, LARping, not to be confused with that fantasy role players have been doing for decades. They are, in many cases, playing characters in their minds. Many have no actual military experience, however, some do. But they are LARPing and creating an image of threat, which is exactly what the SA did in the late 1920s and early 1930s.
They also tell themselves fiction. The police will not act because the police has its hands tied behind their back by liberal politicians. The latter is also propaganda and there is a certain level of understanding between the right-wing militias and police forces across the country. We saw it clearly in Kenosha when a 17-year-old was allowed to walk away. We have witnessed this locally as well, but not this blatant.
We know the SA had a similar rapport with police in Germany we know the police also stood back as the SA fought left-wing radicals. They needed chaos to justify the latter clampdown. We know this pattern and here are a few more examples.
On June 2, amid the nationwide demonstrations to protest the killing of George Floyd, officers in Philadelphia allowed men armed with bats to linger outside a police station past curfew, then looked on while members of the group beat protesters. Around the same time, authorities in Curry County, Oregon, seemed to welcome “local boys” defending the community against a rumored appearance from the left-wing group antifa. A constable in Texas called on members of a far-right paramilitary organization called Oath Keepers to guard a hair salon from threats of looting and arson. A police officer in Salem, Oregon, was filmed politely asking a group of armed men to disperse ahead of curfew “so we don’t look like we’re playing favorites.”
But deferential treatment of armed counterprotesters suggests that police are playing favorites. When law enforcement reacts leniently to far-right militant organizations, those groups tend to believe any violence on their part is authorized, says Michael German, a retired FBI agent who spent months in the early 1990s working undercover among white supremacists and right-wing militants. Consistent leniency, he told me, “has created a monster that’s going to be hard to contain.”
This week’s violence suggests that “you’re going to see more people arming themselves and deciding they’re going to police the environment,” Erroll Southers, the director of Homegrown Violent Extremism Studies at the University of Southern California’s Price School of Public Policy, told me.
These are effectively right-wing paramilitaries who have, at the very least, received tacit permission to engage in violence. This is where we are. Some may even be engaging in death squad tactics at this point.
It is extremely dangerous because this is precisely how dirty wars start. We also are effectively watching the rise of a parallel paramilitary force that is taking the law into its own hands. These vigilantes will get emboldened every time there is no pushback from law enforcement. Or for that matter with every presidential tweet. This is also leading to increasing violence because of the stochastic nature of the terrorism we are dealing with. It is time for the media, in general, to talk of this as a movement, and a fascist moment. None of this is the product of lone wolves.