The Hatewatch blog is managed by the staff of the Intelligence Project of the Southern Poverty Law Center, an Alabama-based civil rights organization.
In the wake of last week’s black riots in Ferguson, Mo., conspiracy theorists from the far-right antigovernment movement have whipped themselves into a frenzy over the prospect of a nationwide “race war,” though it is difficult to tell whether they fear such a prospect or are actively hoping for it.
In truth, the notion that Obama is inciting a race war in America has been floating around the extremist right almost since the beginning Obama’s presidency. Right-wing pundit Wayne Allyn Root theorized along similar lines when the situation in Ferguson first erupted this summer. Gun-rights extremist Larry Pratt has argued for some time that Obama’s immigration policies are intended to provoke a race war. Some anti-immigration extremists accused Obama of intending to spark such a conflict with his executive order on immigration.
But leading the parade has been Alex Jones, whose radio broadcasts for the past week have focused on the civic unrest erupting nationally after a grand jury ruled not to indict a white police officer for the shooting death of Michael Brown in Ferguson this summer.
Jones’ theory is that President Obama and the media are combining forces to stir up so much racial unrest that it will give them a pretext to declare martial law and impose a dictatorship. Joining Jones in this theory have been right-wing pundits such as Austin Miles at Renew America; radio host Rick Wiles; onetime presidential candidate Alan Keyes; and Glenn Beck, who has been pitching a version of the theory for over a year now.
Jones laid out his version of the theory for listeners on Monday, noting that he had been issuing warnings about this possibility for some time:
They [globalists] want to cause a civil war in order to go confiscate the guns, and then we are forced to defend ourselves and then it kicks off, and the police and military get taken out, along with the Patriots, in a civil war against each other. … This is the grand game. This is divide and conquer. This is what I have warned you about thousands of times, no exaggeration.
Jones, citing a Time magazine op-ed piece justifying riots as an expression of civic anger, explained that the media has been complicit in this conspiracy, using race to attack Obama’s critics while whipping up anger in the black community:
That’s what’s going on: Media nationwide is pushing race war. That’s all they’ve got. Don’t like Obamacare, you’re a racist. Don’t want to turn your guns in, you’re a racist. Michael Moore – ‘if you own guns and you’re white, it’s because you’re scared of black people.’ That’s a quote from CNN. This is all they’ve got, while these big foreign banks that own the country loot the treasury with bailout money, Obamacare scamming everybody, Obama opening the borders up, giving free welfare to tens of millions of people, all these unconstitutional scams happening. And all they’ve got is getting us to fight with each other.
Jones has frequently attacked law enforcement around the nation for their supposed attacks on American civil liberties, typically in cases involving gun owners and right-wing extremists. At the same time, most of his reporting about Ferguson has focused on the supposed violent depravity of the demonstrators and the need for police intervention.
Indeed, the most popular stories at Jones’ InfoWars website so far have featured such headlines as “Blacks Screamed ‘Kill the White People’ Before Brutal Murder of Zemir Bergic” and “Rap Star ‘Jokes’ About ‘Killing Crackers’ in Their Sleep.” The effect of this barrage of dubious information is to whip up fear of an imminent civil war featuring hordes of rampaging black people.
And there are others with variations of the idea.
- Miles’ theory includes the idea – also promoted by would-be presidential candidate Ben Carson – that Obama intends to cancel the 2016 election: “If all works according to plan, there will be no further presidential elections. Obama will declare a crisis (he can pick from a large number of those) so he can use Executive Privilege to declare himself President for Life, which he fully intends to do.” Miles contends that Obama is the product of a long-running Communist conspiracy (indicated by his “lack” of a birth certificate) to control America. “The Communists are scheming for the Ferguson, Missouri incident to be the fuse that explodes into a national race riot,” he said. “That is what Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton are hoping to accomplish since this would put citizens at war with themselves in a new civil war while at the same time sapping the strength out of America, making her easier to control.”
- Wiles used one of Alex Jones’ pet concepts—the “false flag” operation in which a violent incident is actually a government-fabricated media event—to explain the situation in Ferguson: “I was thinking how easily something like this could get out of control and there’s gunfire in the cities, if they go into the suburban neighborhoods and begin burning buildings and upsetting cars, homeowners are going to come out with their firearms and begin defending their property,” he said. “And that sets the stage for Emperor Obama to say, ‘We have to get guns off the streets and this Congress has refused to implement my gun control legislation, therefore by executive order I am doing this, this and this.’ ”
- Keyes, meanwhile, has accused Obama of “exploiting this situation by way of threatening the Republicans, saying that there will be massive unrest if they don’t knuckle under to his will and trying to prove that he’s got the power to turn our cities into powder kegs that will explode in the face of anybody who opposes him.” He went on to describe it as “a Hitlerian situation.”
Antigovernment activist Bernard von NotHaus was convicted three years ago of counterfeiting for making and selling his own silver coins. Now he gets to create his own jail.
The 70-year-old antigovernment activist – called a numismatic gadfly by some – was sentenced this week to six months of home detention and three years of probation by U.S. District Judge Richard L. Voorhees of the Western District of North Carolina.
Local authorities have intervened and demanded that the Oath Keepers, an antigovernment group comprised of former military and law enforcement personnel, cease providing security for several Ferguson, Mo., businesses in the aftermath of a grand jury decision not to indict the white police officer who killed Michael Brown.
In a public statement, the St. Louis County Police Department confirmed that the Oath Keepers had travelled to Ferguson and begun “walking the rooftops of businesses” with “semi-automatic rifles” “for the purported reason of providing security to local business during the civil unrest in the area.” In so doing, police say, they broke the law.
“[T]he individuals from the group did not adhere to St. Louis County ordinance regulating security officers, couriers, and guard,” a statement the St. Louis Police Department provided Hatewatch said. The ordinance “prohibits anyone from providing security without first obtaining a license.”
A man who went on a shooting spree last week in Austin, Tex., firing at government buildings and a police headquarters, was a “homegrown American extremist” with “hate in his heart,” the city’s police chief said.
Larry Steve McQuilliams, 49, also appeared to have been a devotee of a doctrine known as the Phineas Priesthood, an ideology that believes violence to be divinely justified if used against race-mixers, gay people, abortion proponents and others.
“He is a homegrown American extremist,” Austin Police Chief Art Acevedo said Monday at a news briefing in the Texas capital city. “Hate in his heart was part of his problem. … What keeps me up at night is these guys—the lone wolf.”
A gunman displaying violent “antigovernment behavior” fired more than 100 rounds yesterday at the U.S. Courthouse, the Mexican consulate and a police headquarters in Austin, Texas, before dying of a gunshot wound, authorities say.
Hours after the shooting, various media sources identified the gunman as, Larry Steve McQuilliams, a 49-year-old resident of Austin. No one else was injured in 12-minute shooting spree which began about 2:20 a.m. (CST) and briefly shut down Interstate 35 through downtown Austin.
The suspect, who was wearing a vest, died from a gunshot near police headquarters and close to his vehicle that police suspected may have contained an explosive device, Assistant Chief Raul Munguia told the Austin Statesman. A police SWAT team later searched the gunman’s Austin home, but the results of that search weren’t immediately released. ( continue to full post… )
Gavin Seim believes that it’s self-evident that Washington state’s recently approved gun-control initiative is unconstitutional, which in turn means that the state’s citizens don’t have to obey its requirement of a background check for most gun sales. And he is organizing a rally – “We Will Not Comply” – at the state capitol in Olympia in mid-December to make their defiance manifest in a massive act of civil disobedience.
There’s one problem, however: None of the activities that Seim and his anti-gun-control cohorts say they will be engaging in on the Capitol steps is illegal on its face, even if people openly sell guns to each other there. And so, state police say, they wouldn’t be likely to arrest anyone for failing to comply with the new law – at least not right away.
Seim is a youthful “constitutionalist” from the central Washington town of Ephrata whose former career as a photographer has been overtaken by his new occupation as a “liberty speaker” – lecturing fellow “Patriots” about the Constitution and organizing events such as the Dec. 13 “We Will Not Comply” rally. ( continue to full post… )
Funeral services were held today in Tallahassee, Fla., for a 47-year-old sheriff’s deputy who was fatally shot Saturday by a man with antigovernment views who started his house on fire, setting a trap for first responders.
Leon County Deputy Chris Smith, a married father of two, was ambushed and shot with a 40-caliber handgun moments after arriving at the burning home of Curtis Wade Holley, 53, in the Plantation Woods neighborhood just northwest of Tallahassee, authorities say.
Another deputy, Colin Wulfekuhl, was struck in the back by a bullet, but was saved from serious injury by a vest during the 12-minute mid-day gun battle that left Holley dead outside his burning home, the Tallahassee Democrat reported.
Two Tallahassee police officers, Scott Angulo and Mark Lewis, arrived as backup four minutes after the shooting began. Angulo fatally shot Holley in the ensuring gun battle, according to various media accounts.
“We have information that we have received that this person was anti-government, was anti-establishment and had discussed at some point in time planning to harm law enforcement,” Lt. James McQuaig, a spokesman for the Leon County Sheriff’s Office, told the newspaper.
McQuaig and other sheriff’s officials, apparently attending the funeral for their slain comrade, didn’t immediately return calls today from Hatewatch seeking clarification of Holley’s “antigovernment views.”
At an earlier press briefing, the sheriff’s office spokesman said Holley “planned his attack to kill as many first responders as possible,” the newspaper reported.
After starting a fire in the home where he’d lived for a year, Holley waited for it to become fully engulfed before going to his next door neighbor’s house and asking her to call 911.
“It was a 100 percent ambush,” McQuaig said at the press conference after the shooting. “This guy had a plan and he put this plan into action.”
Dispatchers gave first responders the neighbor’s name and address and not Holley’s name from a computer data base which presumably had a temperament warning because of his antigovernment activities.
Deputy Wulfekuhl kept the gunman engaged while warning firefighters who arrived to stay back and evacuate. Multiple engines were called to the scene of the fire.
“It is extremely important to recognize that Colin Wulfekuhl probably saved the life of every firefighter that was there initially responding,” McQuaig said.
A reporter for the Tallahassee newspaper told Hatewatch that authorities investigating the shooting were being tight-lipped about Holley’s background, but did say he had a history of “antigovernment” activity.
Public records show that Holley had minor criminal records in Florida, Texas and North Carolina, including driving without a license and failure to have auto insurance.
Bill Warner, who owns a private detective agency in Sarasota, Fla., told Hatewatch that he has researched Holley’s background and is convinced from his research that Holley was a “sovereign citizen” who put his antigovernment views into action.
Given the title, you might think that Michael Savage’s Stop the Coming Civil War: My Savage Truth would be about preventing and healing the nation’s cultural rift before it erupts into violence. Instead, what he delivers is a manifesto accusing the Obama administration of fomenting just such a war—a war only far-right ideologues like himself can prevent.
None of this is really a surprise given Savage’s long history of incendiary right-wing extremism and hateful rhetoric. In recent months, though, Savage has been ratcheting up attacks to extraordinary levels, claiming that President Obama is trying to wipe out Americans by allowing migrant children to bring disease and culture across the border; that he is trying to bring an Ebola epidemic to the United States; and that soldiers with post-traumatic stress disorder—who he called “a bunch of losers”—are weaklings symptomatic of the forces he believes are destroying the country. He also wants the new Republican Congress to promptly arrest the president.
True to form, Stop the Coming Civil War is replete with the usual right-wing attacks on Obama, who he claims is “a metrosexual”intent on destroying the nation and placing it under a dictatorship. True patriots, he claims, will rise up to resist this.
When ATF agents arrested Kevin “K.C.” Massey III at a Brownsville-area hotel last week on charges that he had been illegally carrying weapons while leading border-militia patrols in Texas, they found more in his hotel room than just guns and ammo. There was also a container of ammonium nitrate and fuel—a potent bomb in the making.
According to an inventory of items taken during Massey’s arrest, an “ammo box filled with ammonium nitrate (suspected) and fuel” was found in the room, which participants at Camp LoneStar—the border-militia operation at which Massey had been dubbed a “commander”—had described as a place rented out by the camp as “a place to take a shower and get a good night’s rest.”
As the San Antonio Express-News noted in a report on the arrest, ammonium nitrate, which can be purchased as a farm fertilizer, can make a potent explosion when mixed with diesel fuel and detonated. It was the explosive Timothy McVeigh used in his 1995 terrorist attack on the Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City.
A little over 22 years ago, shooting broke out on a lonely Idaho mountaintop known as Ruby Ridge. The violence left a U.S. marshal and a 14-year-old boy dead, led to the death of the boy’s mother in the 11-day standoff that followed, and became, in the end, a seminal lesson in how law enforcement should not act in such situations.
Earlier this week, Retro Report, a critically acclaimed video documentary series that is distributed by The New York Times, released a thoughtful piece re-examining the 1992 FBI siege of a cabin inhabited by white supremacist Randy Weaver and his family. In the aftermath of that siege, which helped spark the militia movement of the 1990s, Weaver and another man who was in the cabin were acquitted of the murder of Marshal William Degan, and the federal government ultimately paid the surviving Weavers $3.1 million to settle their countervailing legal claims.
The film features Mark Potok, senior fellow at the Southern Poverty Law Center and editor of its investigative magazine, Intelligence Report. “The Ruby Ridge standoff became a kind of founding myth of the radical right,” Potok says in the film. “It not only made the government look bad, it was bad. People, whatever views they had, whatever illegal activities they had [engaged in], should not be shot down by government snipers when they are not actively threatening the life of somebody.”