US 'hate groups' bolstered by Obama's election
Quote:6 July 2011
By Jonny Dymond BBC News, USA
Did the election of Barack Obama as US president boost the growth of right-wing and so-called "hate groups"?
A curious thing happens when you walk down the street in Spokane, Washington, first thing in the morning. Complete strangers look you in the eye, and say, with a little smile: "Good morning."
It is that kind of a town; if not close-knit, then, compared to some of the other towns and cities in America, human in scale and friendly to strangers.
Which makes the attempted bombing here of a civil rights march in January all the more difficult to comprehend.
The man alleged to have left a rucksack filled with explosives and shrapnel - covered in rat poison so as to stop blood clotting - is Kevin Harpham, an Army veteran with an interest in neo-Nazi groups.
The difficult truth for Spokane, for Washington State, for neighbouring Idaho and for all of the US, is that hate groups - anti-black, anti-Jew, neo-Nazi - are on the rise again.
And nearly everyone, including members of those groups, agrees that the election of Barack Obama has been a catalyst for the increase in support.
"I wouldn't say it surprises me," says Spokane's mayor Mary Verner, "though it is alarming to me".
"We are seeing a resurgence in hate groups because we are seeing democratic activity and empowered citizens who are not Anglo-Saxon protestants."
There was the same sort of reaction from the local sheriff, Ozzie Knezovich, when he heard that a bomb had been left by the path of the Martin Luther King Jr Day march.
"Surprised? No," he says. "We live in a different world now - hate seems to be a widespread phenomenon right now."
'Explosion' of groups
And there are ordinary citizens - and their children - who are at the receiving end of hate group activity in Washington and Idaho.
Rachel Dolezal, who teaches art and African-American studies, has been repeatedly harassed since word got out about what she taught.
Her homes - she has moved several times - have been broken into. Nooses have been left for her, and a swastika was left on the door of her workplace.
And she has acted to protect her son.
"I actually bought him a pair of earphones for the bus," she says, "because he hears the word 'nigger' every day.
"It seems things were kind of hush and sanitised and cleaned up, or something, and then Barack Obama just brought things to the surface that were already existent within people."
Hate groups and other groups on the far right - so-called Patriot groups which vow to resist the encroachments of the Federal government, and anti-immigrant nativist groups - are tracked by the Southern Poverty Law Centre (SPLC).
"In the fall (autumn) of 2008," says the director of the SPLC's Intelligence Project, Mark Potok, "we started to see an explosion in hate groups, but more generally in right-wing groups of general types."
Rise in requests
If Mark Potok wanted confirmation of his research, he could find it just across the border from Spokane, in the city of Coeur d'Alene, northern Idaho.
Sitting on his porch as the day fades into night is Jerald O'Brien, flanked by the flags of the Aryan Nations group and the Church of Jesus Christ-Christian.
Aryan Nations is a wildly anti-Jewish white separatist group. The faded plastic children's toys on the lawn seem more than a little incongruous.
He insists he does not condone or encourage any acts of violence. He calls Jews "the children of Satan".
He accuses Barack Obama of being Jewish - he is not - and of not being a US citizen - he is. But he has cause to thank the president.
"The day after Barack Obama's election," he says, "my phone would not stop ringing. It was up to four or five a day asking for education and information."
Some will dismiss men such as Jerald O'Brien, and groups such as Aryan Nations, as "wackos" and "nut-jobs".
But Mark Potok is concerned.
"I think we are in a very similar period as were in the run up to the Oklahoma City bombing," he says, "as far as a bombing or an attack like that, whether that will come, we don't know.
"We are very close in numbers to the numbers we had at the very peak of the militia movement."
The trial of Kevin Harpham, accused of attempting to the bomb the Martin Luther King Jr Day march in Spokane, begins in August.
Inspite of the small truths and huge amount of crap in this article, I have to say this probably made me chuckle the most:
Quote:Hate groups and other groups on the far right - so-called Patriot groups which vow to resist the encroachments of the Federal government
I don't know if he was joking but that is a very telling word to use (encroachment), and such behaviour would certainly justify resistance:
To take another's possessions or rights gradually or stealthily: encroach on a neighbor's land.
to intrude gradually, stealthily, or insidiously upon the rights, property, etc., of another
impinge or infringe upon; "This impinges on my rights as an individual", take advantage, trespass
from Old French encrochier to seize, literally: fasten upon with hooks, from en-1 + croc hook, of Germanic origin; see crook
One who makes a living by dishonest methods.
Nah, probably reading too much into it, but the point is here we see, once again, equating those that insist upon having their rights respected and not impinged upon with neo-Nazis, anti-Semites, lone-wolf terrorists (although they won't say terrorist as the word, in the public domain, is only supposed to conjure up images of bearded, brown-skinned, Arabs - who also happen to be Semites, but only Europeans masquerading as Jews are allowed to be victims of anti-Semitism, just ask Jonny Dymond and his wife Hettie Judah) but I guess this kind of convoluted logic can also be a result of the old wacky-backy - again ask Jonny:
Quote:Top BBC reporter fined over airport cannabis arrest 'but won't be sacked'