(Tonight’s guest poster is Matt Stoller of MyDD)
Did you know that not supporting racist vigilante group the Minutemen means that you are not serious about national security? Well I didn’t, until I read California Yankee at Redstate. This immigration debate sure is bringing some fine people into the Republican coalition.
Now, let’s drill down a bit into the Minutemen, a group that relies for its support on racist and economically disposessed angry whites. The Minutemen is part of a wave of ‘nativist’ groups, who usually flourish in economically dour times and channel a sense of rage and powerlessness against immigrants, and usually those with brown skin at that. Want to know how nice the Minutemen are? Check out their founder Jim Gilchrist’s statements, from the Southern Poverty Law Center:
Less than a year ago, Jim Gilchrist’s vision of the future was plainly apocalyptic. The country, he predicted to one newspaper reporter, will have "100 tribes with 100 languages," a situation from which "mayhem" will result. "I see neighborhood armies of 20 to 40 going out and killing and invading one another," he said. Too many immigrants, he added, could even result in a full-scale civil war — a situation he suggested might be avoided by inciting a revolution in Mexico.
But Gilchrist has larger ambitions. He just ran and lost an independent bid for Congress in the 48th district in California to replace Representative Chris Cox. And though he didn’t run on the Republican Party line, he did offer to caucus with the GOP, Tom Tancredo endorsed him, and his supporters certainly were Republican stalwarts. I followed the race through the Powder Blue blog, which covers immigration and Orange County Republican politics. Though bucking the party this once, the blogger at Powder Blue is a staunch Republican activist who started blogging because his neighbor Hugh Hewitt gave him enouragement. In other words, Gilchrist is well within the mainstream of the Republican Party and the right-wing blogosphere. 100 tribes with 100 languages, and neighbors killing one another. Mainstream alright.
And what does Redstate say about the Minutemen? Redstate is my favorite racist right-wing blog, famous for calling Coretta Scott King’s funeral a ‘Def Comedy Jam spectacle’ with ‘demands for handouts’. Their opinion is that Howard Dean and the DNC, in condemning the Minutemen, wasn’t serious about protecting America’s national security. This is a constant right-wing theme, that Democrats are weak at protecting America (though we do tend to win wars, and they tend to lose them). But in this case, right-wing bloggers are going out of their way to support grassroots vigiliante activity.
Today, we’re seeing the rise of the Minutemen — a group of American citizens that have banded together to do the job our government refuses to do. And, it’s a group of sane adult Americans — clerks, doctors, engineers, businessmen, teachers, housewives and retirees who have felt moved to leave the comfort of their homes to sit in a lawnchair in sizzling heat along the southern border.
Writing your Senator, giving money to candidates, calling AM talk shows, writing letters to the editor, buying rubber stamps, tabling, outreach – this is activism on the left. The right-wing blogs by contrast are actually writing laudatory pieces about supporting vigilante groups whose leadership openly fantasizes about race-based wars.
But it gets more extreme. Take a gander over to Stormfront, a site for actual white supremacists, and you’ll see that Jim Gilchrist is (or was) admired there as a leader, though there are two specific complaints. One, he is always explaining to the press that he is not a racist, and the skinheads don’t like that because it is seen as pandering to the excessively PC press. Two, he is seen as a bit too greedy and ineffective for their tastes. You see, the Stormfronters agree with Gilchrist’s aims, they just don’t think he’s doing a very good job. Keep in mind that this is a neo-Nazi community, one whose motto is ‘White Pride World Wide’. The links between the Minutemen and the white supremacist groups are real, though not formal. The Minutemen are very good at mainstreaming neo-Nazi groups, as David Neiwert has documented repeatedly in his superb blog. Now this is not to say that the Minutemen are neo-Nazis, because they aren’t. But the fact that you have Jim Gilchrist openly predicting a race war, neo-Nazis expressing admiration and respect for him, and Redstate community leaders like California Yankee using Gilchrist’s organization as the model for patriotism and national security, well, that’s just really creepy.
One thing that the internet is doing is bringing out the little noticed barroom-like discussions all over the country, and making them google accessible. That’s the case with these discussions on various right-wing web sites. Now, let me make one thing very clear. Redstate is NOT Stormfront. It is NOT a neo-Nazi site. But the links between the white supremacist movement and the mainstream right-wing, through intermediaries like the Minutemen, are quite clear. The same linguistic tricks are in evidence, the paranoia, the hatred of an excessively ‘PC’ media, the hatred of big government, the lionization of guns, the strong profession of love for personal liberty, the hatred of gays, and the extreme distaste of ‘multiculturalism’. The difference is that there is a lot more anti-semitism and lunacy on Stormfront, as well as a vague economic populism and hatred of both parties.
Here’s where it gets interesting. White supremacists do have political aims, and there are strategic arguments about how to achieve them. Many argue that there is no point in participating and guns are the answer, others argue for a third party, and a some argue that hijacking the Republican party makes the most sense. I really recommend this thread, titled ‘can we infiltrate the Republican party?’
You know so many people in the WN movement try to be in the "third position" i don’t even know if that group who went by that name is even still around. I think what’s important is that white nationalists infiltrate the republican and democratic party because it’s impossible to have a third party at least in the long run. Just infilatrate, like the communists did the democrat party, like the NeoCons did to the republican party.
It’s easy to, I’ve done it and it’s not that hard. Just go to your local republican office and attend a few meetings. Make friends with a few, volunteer to help out with things. Help out on some campaigns and then run on a non-racist platform. You think Jews run on a pro-Jewish platform? They’re smarter than that, why don’t we do it?
This isn’t just idle chatter. This strategy is in effect.
American never had space for a third party. It would be nice to entertain that thought, maybe for a certain small region, but money is what wins elections and if you aren’t in either large party then you are missing it. Having grown up in San Francisco, I also think the republican voters would be a lot easier to convert, but if you want to go ahead and vote democrat then do so.
Goldwater is in the past, let’s focus on the future. Many learned from the Golwater campaign and led successful political careers. Jews right now control both parties, but I was elected to a high position in midwest state’s college republicans and I’m sure anyone else can do that too. You know what I did with my conservative club? Besides watching the presidential elections and sponsoring republican speakers I showed the movie about the USS LIberty and tried to get a Straight Pride Day going.
First, notice the conflation of sexuality, antisemitism, and white supremacy with the ‘Straight Pride Day’. Second, realize that this person feels that the movement conservative club is his most appropriate mainstream political home. This potential alliance, which exists only in rhetorical form, is very very dangerous. It’s not at political maturity, and it won’t be for some years. White supremacy will take a lot more work to become mainstreamed, but like a virus in transition from one species to another, its linguistic patterns are taking on more and more mainstream conservative libertarian tones. And from the other end, the movement conservatives are getting angrier and more frustrated, more prone to appeals from extremists. I spent seven months in New Jersey reading the newspaper forums at NJ.com, and the coded racial language was crystal clear. I’ve been to townhall.com Meetups, where one person told me that he was just waiting for the order to put the brownshirts on. This is not a joke. We’re far away from a real politial alliance between these groups, but it’s not inconceivable.
I’m pretty apprehensive at what’s going on in this country. Not because I believe that we’re in immediate danger, but because we could very well be in a situation where very violent social forces are beginning to organize themselves, and given the right set of circumstances, to achieve and wield some measure of power. These circumstances might include an economic depression or long recession, a massive terrorist incident, a pandemic where the military becomes the primary instrument of effective government policy, hyperinflation, or an unnaturally large series of natural disasters. Now, some of these events are more likely than others, but none of them are out of the realm of possibility. Political systems can snap pretty quickly; FDR’s 100 days took, well, 100 days. But the combination of Presidential lawlessness, violent rhetoric, and increasing calls for vigilante-style violence are an architecture for something that could be much worse down the road.
In other words, this extremist sentiment is extraordinarily disturbing, because I don’t think this is just rhetoric. I think that they mean what they say.
(I couldn’t have written this without David Neiwert’s amazing Orcinus blog. He is truly an expert on this subject.)
Previous posts in the series:
Matt O. over at The Great Society has been compiling racist quotes from right-wing websites. It is quite a resource.