Joshua Kahn Russell
FROM THE WEB
Net Briefs 05-09
TMI at 30
John M. Laforge
El Salvador's Victory
Spies & Informers
Julia a. Shearson
Von Mises Rises
God, Guns, & Blood
GAY & LESBIAN COMMUNITY NOTES
Signs of Change
Savannah Schroll guz
The Black Vote
Herbert P. Bix
Nicolas J.S. Davies
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God, Guns, and Blood
An Interview with Leonard Zeskind
From the 1970s through the 1990s, the deeply held religious beliefs of an assortment of white nationalists were the scaffolding of a broad, and often violent, movement of racists and anti-Semites. With the election of America's first African American president and the symbolism of Washington's pre-inaugural "We Are One" concert, the political campaigns of former Ku Klux Klanner David Duke, the rise and fall of the Posse Comitatus, the string of bank robberies and murders committed by the Order and other Christian Identity-identified groups, the paramilitary survivalists, the Holocaust deniers, the assault on the Branch Davidian compound in Waco, Texas all appear to have passed from the national consciousness. Even the horrendous bombing of the Federal Building in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma on April 19, 1995 seems to be commemorated only by the families of the victims.
Nonetheless, during the 2008 presidential election, the nearly all-white conservative Christian audiences at rallies held by Senator John McCain and Alaska Governor Sarah Palin, were startlingly reminiscent of white citizens' gatherings from days gone by. There has also been a rise in hate crimes against immigrants along with the birth of a number of anti-immigrant organizations. The Year in Hate, a recent report from the Southern Poverty Law Center, has identified 926 hate groups active in 2008, a rise of 54 percent since the year 2000.
David Duke, commenting on the February election of Michael Steele, the first African American to head the Republican National Committee, said: "I am glad these traitorous leaders of the Republican Party appointed this Black racist, affirmative action advocate to the head of the Republican Party because this will lead to a huge revolt among the Republican base," he wrote on his website. "As a former Republican official, I can tell you that millions of rank-and-file Republicans are mad as hell and aren't going to take it anymore. We will either take the Republican Party back over the next four years or we will say, 'To Hell with the Republican Party.' And we will take 90 percent of Republicans with us into a New Party that will take its current place."
Leonard Zeskind, in his book Blood and Politics: The History of the White Nationalist Movement from the Margins to the Mainstream, details the growth of this "white nationalist" movement. As a long-time activist in the battle for civil and human rights, Zeskind understands that "for those of us who hope to protect and extend our multiracial democracy…we ignore this white nationalist movement at our own peril." I recently had the opportunity to talk with Zeskind about the role of certain beliefs in the development of a host of white nationalist organizations.
Berkowitz: How did you get started monitoring and investigating these movements?
ZESKIND: I came to the age of social consciousness when the black freedom movement was very strong and civil rights were high on the national agenda. I was taken by the notion, articulated during the mid-1960s, that white people should focus on organizing other white people to oppose racism. As a grass-roots activist that idea stayed with me. In 1970 I started doing anti-racist work with impoverished young working class white people who had previously been at odds with poor black people who lived virtually in the same neighborhood. For 13 years I worked as a welder, an iron worker, and on assembly lines. Around 1978, I noticed that Klan and neo-Nazi activity had picked up and this led me to research and write about the white supremacy movement. Between 1985 and 1994, I was the research director at the Center for Democratic Renewal (formerly the National Anti-Klan Network).
It became apparent to me that much of the received wisdom about white supremacists was wrong. These white-ists are not just a bunch of uneducated bumpkins down on their economic luck. Instead, they are demographically much like the rest of white Americans, working class and middle class, with a significant stratum of middle class professionals—professors, lawyers, chiropractors, etc.—as their leaders. These are not a string of disconnected organizations sharing only a common set of hatreds. This is a single movement, with a common set of leaders and interlocking memberships that hold a complete and sometimes sophisticated ideology.
Further, the white nationalist movement today is organized around the notion that the power of whites to control government and social policy has already been overthrown by people of color and Jews, rather unlike the Klan of the 1960s, which sought to defend a system of racial apartheid in the South.
How do the religious beliefs of the movement's different constituencies manifest themselves?
For some, religion is simply a way of expressing group identity. That is most obviously true among the pagans and Odinists in the skinhead scene where the invocation of the old Norse gods is not about theology or even ethics, but about style and promoting their subculture. In a similar sense, there are neo-Confederates and white nationalists who believe that "Christian-ness" is one aspect of their western civilization—along with respect for tradition, authority, and whites-only citizenship rights. For this wing of the movement, opposition to abortion is less a theological imperative and more a program plank alongside support for gun rights and opposition to immigration.
Then there are the so-called Christian patriots and Posse Comitatus types for whom a specific theological strain known as "Christian Identity" defines their notions of themselves as white people and their ideas of national identity and governmental power. They hold bible camp retreats for families where they teach each other how to live and what to believe. They also promote their belief that the United States is a white Christian republic rather than a multi-racial democracy. In a number of cases they turn their conviction that white Christians have superior civil and political rights than those they deem Fourteenth Amendment citizens (everybody else) into fraudulent schemes with fake money. In other instances they establish "Christian" courts and militia groups that act as if they are legitimate arms of government.
In this belief system, whites from northern Europe—the Anglo-Saxon, Celtic, Teutonic, and Lombard peoples—are the real descendents of the Biblical people of Israel. As such, Jews are fakes and considered either Satanic by nature or Satan incarnate. Black people and other people of color are considered "pre-Adamic," that is before Adam—not fully human in the way white people are. In this telling, interracial marriage is a sin akin to bestiality and the presence of Jews in their Christian society is a crime against their God.
This sounds like the more well-known Christian right. What are the similarities and what are the differences?
Much like the Christian right types, Identity believers oppose abortion and homosexuality as violations of what they deem to be God's Law. Similarly, they view women's role in the family and society as subordinate to men. They also support prayer in school and oppose secularism in society. But Christian Identity is much more forthright in its anti-Semitism and racism. They are decidedly not "Christian Zionists," and do not have an eschatology or theory of the End Times with Israel at its center. In fact, they tend to call themselves "End Times Overcomers," and believe the final conflict is a race war that they will win.
Explain the Christian Identity theory of the devil.
Actually they have two competing theories of Satan and Jews. In one case, they believe that the snake in the Garden of Eden was Satan and that he impregnated Eve and that Cain was not only Satan's offspring, but that Jews are descendants of Cain and Satan incarnate. In a second case, they believe that Satan worked through Esau and that the Jews are descendants of Esau (Edomites) and do the devils' work here on Earth.
Why do you describe this movement as "white nationalist?"
Most obviously because the movement's foremost aspect is its regard for white skin color as a badge of national identity. Many of the organizations and leaders look back to the constitutional order prior to the Civil War, when the national state was a whites-only republic. Others look forward to the creation of a new white nation-state carved out of the lands of North America. While these ideas were present in the movement from its re-inception in the mid-1970s, they only became dominant in the 1990s after the end of the Cold War ushered in a new era. Across the globe, nationalism became a language of opposition to the New Global Order and racial and ethnic nationalism became more salient than its liberal civic opposition. Books such as Blood and Belonging and Jihad vs. McWorld explored these issues globally. In the U.S., racial nationalism meant white nationalism, and the old white supremacist movement was thus transformed into 21st century white nationalism.
You argue that white nationalists have successfully moved from the "margins to the mainstream." How did this happen?
Through a combination of factors. First, through the slow accretion of organizing weekly events such as Klan rallies, bible camps, survivalist and gun shows, white power music concerts, etc. Second, when David Duke won a majority of white votes while running in two Louisiana statewide elections in 1990 and 1991, he uncovered a Middle American constituency that supported at least a portion of his national socialist ideas. Third, a group of respected ultra-conservatives broke with the Bush-era Republican consensus during the first Persian Gulf War and headed in the white direction. These were the Buchananites [led by Pat Buchanan] and they helped create a realignment of forces.
How does that show itself today?
Primarily in the anti-immigrant movement and among the lobbyists, Minuteman vigilantes, and racist think tanks that support it. It is here that the idea that the United States is or should be a "white" country takes on the form of a policy issue. If you follow the discussion among anti-immigrant groups, the dominant discourse is about how the U.S. is becoming a Third World country because of all the brown-skinned Spanish-speaking people crossing the Rio Grande. From this perspective, one of the most interesting Republican pieces of legislation languishing in Congress is a proposal to end birthright citizenship for children born in the United States of parents without the proper documents. If such a measure was enacted, it would run smack dab into the Fourteenth Amendment which guarantees birthright citizenship and equality before the law. In this sense, the Republicans who signed onto this bill are proposing measures that the Christian patriots and Posse Comitatus types talked about 25 years ago.
Now that the economy is in a severe tailspin, what are the implications for the white nationalist movement?
Although I loathe predicting the future, I will say that in the past, hard economic times have not automatically translated into an expansion for white nationalists. There was a growth surge during the Clinton years, for example, which were generally considered better economic conditions for middle class people. In the past, the politics of race and nation mattered more than economic hard times. White nationalists will support protectionist measures and they oppose free trade in capital goods because they oppose free trade (or open borders) for labor. Whether or not they gain traction by claiming that the stock market and banks are controlled by Jews depends on whether people of good will are able to offer a more compelling vision of change.
With Obama in the White House, I think we can expect more of the same. Some white nationalists will focus on tending to their current base, which is considerable. They will continue to push for secessionist-style white enclaves and might engage in militia-style violence. Others will attempt to widen their base and carve out a larger niche among conservative Republicans. Without an electoral vehicle of their own, they will suffer from the vicissitudes of the Republican leadership. Their natural base, however, will be the 5 percent of white voters who told pollsters last summer that they would never vote for a black person for president.
Z Magazine Archive
AnnouncementsLABOR - May 1 is May Day. Workers of the world will celebrate the 124th anniversary of International Worker’s Day. Born out of a call for an 8-hour workday in the United States, this day is an opportunity for all workers to show their solidarity with one another, as well as to renew the call for labor rights.
FARM CONFERENCE - The Farm Conference on Community and Sustainability will be held May 24-26 in Summertown, TN, in partnership with the Fellowship of Intentional Communities. Tour green homes, see sustainable food production, learn about solar installations, alternative education, midwifery, and more.
Contact: Douglas@thefarmcommunity.com; http://www.thefarmcommunity.com/.
PALESTINE - The Conference of the Palestinian Shatat in North American will be held June 3-5 in Vancouver. The conference will examine the future of the Palestinian liberation movement.
Contact: email@example.com; http://www.palestinianconference.org/.
LABOR - The Pacific Northwest Labor History Association’s 45th annual conference will be held May 3-5, in Portland, OR. This year’s theme is Labor Under Attack: Learning from the Past and Preparing for the Future. A call for presentations, workshops and papers is currently underway.
Contact: PNLHA, 27920 68th Ave. East, Graham, WA 98338; 206-406-2604; PNLHA1@aol.com; http://www3.telus.net.
MARIJUANA - On the first Saturday of May marijuana legalization activists will hold informational and educational events, rallies and marches in over 300 cities around the world.
ECONOMICS - The Union For Radical Political Economics will hold its 39th annual conference May 9-11 in New York City.
RECLAIM THE DREAM - The 2013 Poor People’s Campaign & March from Baltimore to Washington D.C. will be May 11. Communities, schools and unions interested in participating are encouraged to contact the Baltimore People’s Assembly.
Contact: 410-500-2168; 410-218-4835; BaltimorePeoplesAssembly@gmail.com; Southern Christian Leadership Conference of Baltimore and the Baltimore Peoples Power Assembly, 2011 N. Charles St., Baltimore, MD 21218.
MOTHER’S DAY - The 17th Annual Mother’s Day Walk For Peace will be May 12th, in Dorchester, MA. The walk began in 1996 for families who had lost children to violence. The day has become a way for thousands of people to financially support the work of the Louis Brown Peace Institute.
Contact: http://www.ldbpeaceinstitute.org/; http://mothersdaywalk4peace.org/.
NATO 5 - An International Week of Solidarity with the NATO 5 has been called for May 16-21. Supports call on supporters to raise awareness of the NATO 5 and support funds for the defendants on the one-year anniversary of their preemptive arrests.
Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org; https://nato5support.wordpress.com.
MOUNTAINTOP - The 2013 Mountain Justice Summer Activist Training Camp will be held May 19-27 in Damascus, VA. It will be a week of workshops, field trips to view Mountain Top Removal coal mines, direct actions, and service project.
FEMINIST SCI-FI - The feminist science fiction convention WisCon 37 is scheduled for May 24-27 in Madison, WI.
Contact: WisCon, ? SF3, PO Box 1624, Madison, WI 53701; email@example.com; http://www.wiscon.info/.
ANARCHY FEST - A month-long Festival of Anarchy is scheduled for May in Montreal. The festival includes The Montreal Anarchist Bookfair (May 19-20).
Contact: http://www.anarchistbookfair.ca/; http://www.radicalmontreal.com/.
LABOR - The International Labor Rights Forum will present: Down the Supply Chain, Driving Corporate Accountability, on May 22 in Washington, DC. The Labor Rights Awards Ceremony and Reception will honor pioneers in supply chain worker organizing, working solidarity and international labor rights policy.
MULTICULTURE - The 26th annual National Conference on Race & Ethnicity in American Higher Education (NCORE) will take place May 28-June 1, in New Orleans.
Contact: SWCHRS, 3200 Marshall Avenue, Suite 290, Norman, OK 73072; 405-325-3694; firstname.lastname@example.org; www.ncore.ou.edu.
MEDIA - The 2013 Alliance for Community Media Annual Conference will be held May 29-31, in San Francisco, CA. Participants will include educators, community leaders, media professionals, journalists, nonprofit leaders, policymakers and students.
RADIO - The 38th Annual Community Radio Conference is schedule for May 29-June 1, in San Francisco, CA, with discussions and workshops.
Contact: 1101 Pennsylvania Ave. NW, Suite 600, Washington, DC 20004; 202-756-2268; email@example.com; http://www.nfcb.org/.
BRADLEY MANNING - On June 1, a rally will be held at Fort Meade in support of Bradley Manning.
BIKES - Bikes Not Bombs is holding its 24th annual Bike-A-Thon and Green Roots Festival in Boston, MA on June 3, with several bike rides scheduled, music, exhibitors and more.
Contact: Bikes Not Bombs, 284 Amory St., Jamaica Plain, MA 02130; 617-522-0222; firstname.lastname@example.org; www.bikesnotbombs.org.
LEFT FORUM - The 2013 Left Forum will be held June 7-9, at Pace University in New York City.
Contact: 365 Fifth Avenue, CUNY Graduated Center, ? Sociology Dept., New York, NY 10016; http://www.leftforum.org/.
VEGAN FEST - Mad City Vegan Fest will be held in Madison, WI, June 8. The annual event features food, speakers, and exhibitors.
Contact: 122 State Street, Suite 405 B, Madison, WI 53701; email@example.com; http://veganfest.org/.
ADC CONFERENCE - The American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC) holds its annual conference June 13-16, in Washington, DC, with panel discussions and workshops on civil rights, media and other topics.
Contact: 1990 M Street, Suite 610, Washington, DC, 20036; 202-244-2990; firstname.lastname@example.org http://convention.adc.org/.
CUBA/SOCIALISM - A Cuban-North American Dialog on Socialist Renewal and Global Capitalist Crisis will be held in Havana, Cuba, June 16-30. There will be a 5 day Seminar at University of Havana, plus visits to a cooperative, urban garden, community development project, social research centers, and educational & medical institutions.
Contact: email@example.com; http://www.globaljusticecenter.org/.
NETROOTS - The 8th Annual Netroots Nation conference will take place June 20-23 in San Jose, CA. The event features panels, trainings, networking, screenings, and keynotes.
Contact: 164 Robles Way, #276, Vallejo, CA 94591; firstname.lastname@example.org; http://www.netrootsnation.org/.
MEDIA - The 15th annual Allied Media Conference will be held June 20-23, in Detroit.
Contact: 4126 Third Street, Detroit, MI 48201; http://alliedmedia.org/.
GRASSROOTS - The United We Stand Festival will be hosted by Free & Equal, June 22 in Little Rock, Arkansas. The festival aims to reform the electoral process throughout the U.S.
SOCIALISM - The Socialism 2013 Conference is scheduled for June 27-30 in Chicago, featuring talks and panel discussions.
Contact: email@example.com; http://www.socialismconference.org.
LITERACY - The National Association for Media Literacy Education (NAMLE) will hold its conference July 12-13 in Los Angeles under the heading, Intersections: Teaching and Learning Across Media.
Contact: 10 Laurel Hill Drive, Cherry Hill, NJ 08003; http://namle.net/conference/.
IWW - The North American Work People’s College will take place July 12-16 at Mesaba Co-op Park in northern Minnesota. The event will bring together Wobblies from branches across the continent to learn new skills and build One Big Union.
PEACESTOCK - On July 13th, the 11th Annual Peacestock: A Gathering for Peace, will take place at Windbeam Farm in Hager City, WI. The event is a mixture of music, speakers and community for peace. Sponsored by Veterans for Peace.
Contact: Bill Habedank, 1913 Grandview Ave., Red Wing, MN 55066; 651-388-7733; firstname.lastname@example.org; http://www.peacestockvfp.org.
CHILDREN’S DEFENSE - July 15-19, join clergy, seminarians, Christian educators, young adult leaders and other faith-based advocates for children at CDF Haley Farm in Clinton, Tennessee, for five days of spiritual renewal, networking, movement building workshops, and continuing education about the urgent needs of children at the 19th annual Proctor Institute for Child Advocacy Ministry.
Contact: email@example.com; http://www.childrensdefense.org.
ACTIVIST CAMP - Youth Empowered Action (YEA) Camp will have sessions in July and August in Ben Lomond, CA; Portland, OR; Charlton, MA. YEA Camp is designed for activists 12-17 years old who want to make a difference in the world.
Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org; http://yeacamp.org/.
LA RAZA - The annual National Council of La Raza (NCLR) Conference is scheduled for July 18-19 in New Orleans, with workshops, presentations and panel discussions.
Contact: NCLR Headquarters Office, Raul Yzaguirre Building, 1126 16th Street, NW, Washington, DC 20036; 202-785-1670; www.nclr.org.
LABOR - The Eastern Conference For Workplace Democracy: Growing Our Cooperatives, Growing Our Communities, will be held at Drexel University in Philadelphia, PA, July 26-28.
Contact: email@example.com; http://east.usworker.coop/.
WOMEN/LYNNE STEWART- Radical Women is asking for support letters and cards to be sent to Lynne Stewart. Stewart is a civil rights attorney and political prisoner who is currently in jail. She has breast cancer and authorities have denied her request for transfer from her Texas prison to the New York City hospital where she received medical attention during a prior bout of breast cancer. Send messages and cards to: Lynne Stewart 53504-054, Federal Medical Center Carswell, P.O. Box 27137, Fort Worth, TX 76127.
Contact: 747 Polk Street, San Francisco, CA 94109; 415-864-1278; RadicalWomenUS@gmail.com; http://lynnestewart.org/; http://www.radicalwomen.org/.
HAITI/WOMEN - Haiti’s government is considering a legal reform measure that would prohibit and punish all sexual assault, including marital rape. MADRE and the International Campaign to Stop Rape & Gender Violence in Conflict are launching a petition to raise international support for this push to address violence against women in Haiti.
Contact: 121 West 27th Street, #301, New York, NY 10001; 212-627-0444; firstname.lastname@example.org; http://www.madre.org.
SYRIA/MIDDLE EAST - The Middle East Children’s Alliance (MECA) is currently seeking funds to assist more than 200,000 refugees fleeing violence in Syria.
FOLK FESTIVAL - The Falcon Ridge Folk Festival will be held August 2-4, in the Berkshires, NY.
Contact: http://www.falconridgefolk.com/; email@example.com.
WAR RESISTERS - The War Resisters League will hold its 90th anniversary conference, Revolutionary Nonviolence: Building Bridges Across Generations and Communities, August 1-4, at Georgetown University. The event will focus on the U.S.’ long history of antimilitarism.
Contact: 339 Lafayette Street, New York, NY 10012; 212-228-0450; firstname.lastname@example.org; http://www.warresisters.org.
POPULAR ECONOMICS - The Center for Popular Economics is holding its 2013 Summer Institute August 4-9 at Hampshire College in Amherst, MA. No background in economics is needed for this intensive training. This year’s theme is, The Care Economy: Building a Just Economy with a Heart.
Contact: Center for Popular Economics, PO Box 785 Amherst, MA 01004; 413-545-0743; email@example.com; www.populareconomics.org.
VETERANS - Veterans for Peace is holding the 28th annual convention August 6-11 in Madison, WI. This year’s theme is, Power To The Peaceful.
DEMOCRACY - The Democracy Convention will take place August 7-11 in Madison, WI. The convention brings together nine conferences including topics such as media, education, defense, race, environment and others.
MEN - The 38th National Conference on Men & Masculinity: Forging Justice: Creating Safe, Equal and Accountable Communities, presented in partnership with HAVEN, will be held in Detroit, MI, August 8-10.
Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org; http://www.nomas.org/.
OCCUPY - An Occupy National Gathering will be held in Kalamazoo, MI, August 21-25.
Contact: email@example.com; http://occupynationalgathering.net/.
COMMUNITIES - The Communities Conference is a networking and learning opportunity for co-operative or communal lifestyles, with workshops, events and entertainment; scheduled for August 30-September 2 at the Twin Oaks Community in Louisa, Virginia.
LABOR DAY - The 29th annual Bread and Roses Festival, a celebration of the ethnic diversity and labor history of Lawrence, MA, will be held September 2, in honor of the 1912 Bread and Roses Strike. There will be music, dance, poetry, drama, ethnic food, historical demonstrations, walking & trolley tours.
Contact: PO Box 1137, Lawrence, MA 01842; 978-794-1655; http://www.breadandrosesheritage.org/.
OCCUPY WALL STREET - September 17 is the two-year anniversary of the Occupy Wall Street movement. Events are planned in New York City and worldwide.
TEACHERS - The 13th Annual Conference, “Teaching for Social Justice: The Politics of Pedagogy,” will be held October 12 in San Francisco, CA. The free event features workshops, resources, and free childcare.
Contact: 415-676-7844; firstname.lastname@example.org; http://www.t4sj.org/.
HAITI - International Action, which brings clean water and chlorinators to Haiti, seeks office space capable of housing up to six people and their office equipment.
Contact: Zach Bremer, Zbrehmer@haitiwater.org; 202-488-0735; http://www.haitiwater.org/.
MEDIA - The Union for Democratic Communications and Project Censored are sponsoring a joint conference on media democracy, media activism and social justice to be held November 1-3 at the University of San Francisco. Proposals for presentations, workshops and panels from activists and critical scholars are invited.