American Extremists Find Delight in September11th Attacks

While the carnage of Sept. 11 left most Americans shocked, angry and more tightly knit as a nation, the reaction of much of the American radical right was markedly different. For many American extremists, it boiled down to one simple emotion: pure delight.

In a year that saw significant growth in U.S. hate groups, the most remarkable moment of all came in the immediate aftermath of the September terrorist attacks.

Figure after figure rose to applaud the murder of more than 3,000 of their countrymen, revealing as never before the militantly anti-American and pro-Nazi features of contemporary right-wing extremism.

"Twenty-five years ago, your typical white supremacist wrapped himself in the flag and spoke about '100% Americanism,' " said Joe Roy, director of the Southern Poverty Law Center's Intelligence Project. "Today, that same extremist is burning the flag."

The extremists' message — that the United States has become the spearhead of globalization and multiculturalism — has fueled the rise of ethnic nationalism and the growth of hate groups in recent years.

In its annual count, the Intelligence Project found that the number of hate groups operating in the United States jumped by almost 12% in 2001, the second such increase in as many years.

The latest increase, from 602 in 2000 to 676 last year, was almost entirely accounted for by upticks in the number of neo-Nazi and softer-line neo-Confederate groups.

Although these groups differ greatly, both see multiculturalism as undermining white society — and both have benefited from sympathy for that message in today's globalizing world.

For the neo-Nazis, the "international Jew" represents all that threatens ethnically pure nations.

In the words of William Pierce, leader of the neo-Nazi National Alliance, the September terrorists "had been pushed into a corner by the U.S. government acting on behalf of the Jews."

For the neo-Confederates, the enemy is non-white immigration and the ideology of multiculturalism.

In the words of Michael Hill, leader of the League of the South, the massacre was the result of "massive Third World immigration" and "a regime committed to multiculturalism and diversity."

Hill was not the only one to attack non-white immigration. Anti-immigrant hate group leaders like Glenn Spencer of the Voice of Citizens Together (see "Blood on the Border," Spring 2001 issue, Intelligence Report) called for the immediate repatriation of all non-citizens.

At the same time, in one of the most dramatic and violent rashes of hate crime in recent memory, hundreds of Americans attacked Muslims, Arabs and others suspected of being in the same ethnic or religious group as the terrorists (see "Raging Against the Other," Winter 2001 issue, Intelligence Report).

At least six people are believed to have been killed (see The Forgotten).