June 13, 2014
By Glen Ford
The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) keeps a running tab of armed rightwing domestic “plots and conspiracies” since April, 1995, when Timothy McVeigh and his associates blew up the federal building in Oklahoma City, killing 168 people. The attack soiled the reputations of grassroots fascists throughout the American “heartland” and prompted the U.S. Justice Department to announce formation of a “special unit” to, ostensibly, track and disrupt rightwing militants.
Over the next several years, the feds busted a number of individuals involved in armed operations. Press coverage revealed that the racist “underground” functions largely in plain view, and that government operatives are all but a permanent presence in their ranks (just as FBI informant Gary Rowe was in the Ku Klux Klan car – and maybe on the trigger – when civil rights volunteer Viola Liuzzo was murdered on an Alabama highway in 1965). The whole pretense came to a halt on the morning of September 11, 2001, when the last scheduled meeting of the Justice Department unit was cancelled, for obvious reasons.
In 2009, Department of Homeland Security analyst Darryl Johnson wrote a report urging his superiors to pay more attention to “rightwing extremism.” At the time, DHS assigned eight people to track “non-Islamic” domestic extremism. Johnson thought the job required 12 people. Instead, his unit was dismantled by Obama’s newly-appointed DHS secretary Janet Napolitano, with only one analyst remaining, according to Salon.com.
The unit was ‘revived’ just two weeks ago, part of Attorney General Eric Holder’s flurry of cosmetic Obama legacy-building initiatives. Holder’s announcement was vaguely worded, so as not to create a firestorm on the Right. The unit would go after “’lone wolf’-style actors aimed to harm our nation,” and would focus on anti-government plots and racist violence. Days later, husband and wife Jerad and Amanda Miller, who earlier this year had been among an army of fascists gathered in defense of racist rancher Cliven Bundy, shot two Las Vegas cops in the head and killed a bystander at a Wal-Mart. After declaring, “This is the start of a revolution,” they committed suicide.
Southern Poverty Law Center senior fellow Mark Potok told Democracy Now! he thinks “the movement is at least a bit on fire at the moment” – meaning, the armed, racist Right is on a roll. In thousands of churches, barber shops and hair salons, African Americans wonder aloud if the Black President and his Black top law enforcement officer are going to crack down on the neo-Klan uprising.
The answer, of course, is No, not a chance. The FBI’s war has always been against Blacks, radicals, and now Muslims – ideally, Black Muslims. The national security state’s legitimacy is based on (white) mass fear and loathing of the Other, in whose pursuit all civil liberties are extraneous. Such dark energies are not conjured out of thin air, but mined from the deep reservoirs of America’s racial history. Hate sits like a thermal resource to be tapped and redirected at the whim of those in power. The U.S. national security state needs the ferocious hatreds of the Bundys and Millers – and the McVeighs – to sustain a planetary War-Against-All, a war that, on its own premises, must end with annihilation of the Other.
Who do you think is manning Obama’s Killer Elite Special Ops legions in Asia and Africa? What kind of domestic law and order troops will be necessary to contain a largely Black and brown America to which the rulers offer absolutely nothing, but who must be made the scapegoats for social collapse?
That’s why the FBI puts a bounty on the head of sister Assata Shakur, living peacefully in Cuba, while allowing white racists to point high-powered rifles at the heads of federal officers in rural Nevada. Two of those fascists later put bullets in the brains of policemen in Las Vegas, but there will be no general crackdown on the Millers’ comrades in arms, no assassinations of Cliven Bundys in their sleep, no great Gulag of lifetime solitary confinement for white militiamen.
The Empire needs them. It always has.
Glen Ford is executive editor of Black Agenda Report