Air Date 1/26/2021
JAY TOMLINSON - HOST, BEST OF THE LEFT: [00:00:00] During today's episode, I am going to be telling you about a new podcast I think you should check out. It's called Unf-ing the Republic, but they don't say f-ing. It'll help level up anyone's political arguing game. So hear me out mid-show, when I tell you more about it.
And now, welcome to this episode of the award-winning Best of the Left Podcast in which we shall learn about our long history of ignoring domestic right-wing terrorism, from the Oklahoma City bombing through to the predictable actions of militia groups in 2020 and beyond. Clips today are from the PBS News Hour, It's Been a Minute with Sam Sanders, Democracy Now!, AJ+, The David Pakman Show, the Washington Post, MSNBC and The Real News.
Tracing the roots of the America's biggest domestic terror attack - PBS News Hour - Air Date 2-17-20
MAN: [00:00:47] There's heavy damage done.
JEFFREY BROWN - HOST, PBS NEWSHOUR: [00:00:51] April 19, 1995.
MAN: [00:00:56] About a third of the building has been blown away.
JEFFREY BROWN - HOST, PBS NEWSHOUR: [00:00:56] A Ryder rental truck with 5,000 pounds of explosives ripped through the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City; 168 people were killed, 19 children among them.
WOMAN: [00:01:08] Who has come in here and done this terrible thing?
BARAK GOODMAN: [00:01:12] I knew very little of the story. I mean, I remember — like a lot of people remember that day, and the image of that building, you know, with its face blown off, an image that we weren't used to or accustomed to at the time.
JEFFREY BROWN - HOST, PBS NEWSHOUR: [00:01:25] Barak Goodman is the director of the film "Oklahoma City."
BARAK GOODMAN: [00:01:28] While I think a lot of people remember this as a simple story of a lone terrorist committing an act, it actually has very deep roots. And when we pulled on those roots, a whole 'nother story sort of appeared.
JEFFREY BROWN - HOST, PBS NEWSHOUR: [00:01:41] The film delves into the rise of white nationalist militias in the 1980s, and two later events that galvanized the country and deeply influenced Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh: the siege of Ruby Ridge in 1992, when the FBI and U.S. Marshals confronted Randy Weaver at his home in rural Idaho, resulting in the deaths of Weaver's wife, son and a U.S. Marshal.
And the following year, Waco, Texas, when federal agents, responding to reports of weapons stockpiling, attempted to arrest the leader of a religious sect known as the Branch Davidians. A firefight broke out, killing 10, including four ATF agents. And after a 51-day standoff, the complex went up in flames as agents moved in with tear gas. More than 70 people died.
During the long standoff, then 24-year-old Army veteran Timothy McVeigh had been watching nearby.
WOMAN: [00:02:47] Timothy McVeigh had already apparently been very concerned about what had happened at Ruby Ridge. So he came down to Waco and sold bumper stickers with pro-gun, anti-government slogans.
He saw the raid as clear evidence of what the government would do to try to confiscate guns and persecute gun owners.
JEFFREY BROWN - HOST, PBS NEWSHOUR: [00:03:14] Timothy McVeigh himself wasn't a member of a militia, but you're convinced that that context is the way to understand him?
BARAK GOODMAN: [00:03:22] Without question.
McVeigh himself writes — he talks in interviews that we got access to and tape-recorded interviews about the anger he felt, the rage he felt at Ruby Ridge in particular, and Waco, and the radicalization that happened in part because of those events, and, in addition to that, a series of other exposures to this movement.
"The Turner Diaries" was his bible. "The Turner Diaries" is a horrible novel, racist novel that became a — it's almost a talisman to this movement, a very important motivating force. And I think it actually describes the bombing of an FBI building in Washington.
JEFFREY BROWN - HOST, PBS NEWSHOUR: [00:04:01] It's even a model.
BARAK GOODMAN: [00:04:02] It describes the kind of bomb. It's very similar to the one McVeigh used.
So, he was steeped in the ideas of this movement. He was steeped in the ideology. It's a very diffuse movement. And being a member of a militia is really sort of irrelevant.
JERRY FLOWERS: [00:04:18] We could hear people screaming. We could hear them screaming. We could hear them crying. You just couldn't see them because it was so dark.
JEFFREY BROWN - HOST, PBS NEWSHOUR: [00:04:24] The documentary breaks often from that history to return to the bombing itself, talking with eyewitnesses who still hold painful memories.
MAN: [00:04:33] They had no idea.
JEFFREY BROWN - HOST, PBS NEWSHOUR: [00:04:35] It shows how much confusion there was initially about who had carried it out, and the surprise when McVeigh was arrested.
MAN: [00:04:42] I think everybody felt this sudden sense of betrayal. I think everyone thought, you're one of us.
BARAK GOODMAN: [00:04:49] People forget that, in the days and hours after the bombing, everyone assumed it had been Middle Eastern terrorism. This was bandied about on national television and CNN and CBS and all the networks. They were all focused on Middle Eastern terrorism. And their sources were telling them that it was likely a Middle Eastern terrorist.
JEFFREY BROWN - HOST, PBS NEWSHOUR: [00:05:07] The film also shows the role conspiracy theories about Waco and Ruby Ridge played in roiling this right-wing movement. Some will no doubt see parallels to today.
Goodman takes a longer view.
BARAK GOODMAN: [00:05:20] I would say that this is a movement that waxes and wanes throughout American history and sort of appears in different forms, whether it's going back to Shays' Rebellion at the beginning of the history of our country, up through the Red Scare, the Klan years.
There's a lot of different manifestations. But what unites all of it are two things, really. One is a deep enmity towards the federal government, a feeling that the federal government is the seed of all evil and it's a tool in the hands of enemies, like the Jews, like blacks, like the U.N. now.
The other thing that really characterizes it is sort of conspiratorial thinking, that — a way of connecting dots that places movement in a kind of context of a war.
KERRY NOBLE, Former Militia Member:
And in this war, it's an all or nothing. We are either going to win as the white race, or we're going to lose.
JEFFREY BROWN - HOST, PBS NEWSHOUR: [00:06:14] Despite the theories of a larger conspiracy at work, the film shows how McVeigh, with some help from two friends, was able to pull off the bombing.
Did you come to any conclusions about how this act of domestic terrorism changed the country or changed our sense of our own security, ourselves?
BARAK GOODMAN: [00:06:30] I think it had a tremendously transformative effect.
I think, first of all, for law enforcement, there was never again a naivete about the threat from domestic terrorism. I think, if you went to the FBI today and you really talked to people, unlike perhaps some politicians, they are very focused on the threat from domestic terrorism. They understand it and they're paying attention to it.
And I think, just for the ordinary citizen, although this movement is so — kind of oscillates. It sort of can, and it did after Oklahoma City, retreat and recede, that we sometimes forget about it. It's still there. It never goes away. And then it will come back.
And I think, in recent years, you have seen more and more of an uptick. Dylann Roof in Charleston and any number of other such actions are no longer quite as shocking. We understand that this is part now of a motif in American life. and I think that the recent incarnation of that started with Oklahoma city and Timothy McVeigh.
The Dangers of White Supremacy - It's Been a Minute with Sam Sanders - Air Date 10-2-20
KATHLEEN BELEW: [00:07:31] I'm actually, as a person that studies the movement as a whole, much more concerned about the underground of the movement and the question of, Trump can perhaps give a call to arms, and I think that that much is quite clear. It is not clear to me and other experts who study the movement, whether he can also give a call to stop.
Many of these groups are not interested in defense of the nation or even in the nation at all. So one thing to understand, that's a kind of a widely misinterpreted bit, is that when people think of White nationalism, I think sometimes people think of overzealous patriotism, but the nation and White nationalism is not the United States, the nation and White nationalism from 1983 forward is the Aryan Nation. They see race as nation. Some want a White ethno-state, some want a minority role of government, some want systematic disenfranchisement such that they can assert White supremacist systems. That's not a democratic project.
SAM SANDER - HOST, IT'S BEEN A MINUTE: [00:08:32] I'm so glad that you brought this up the way that some of these White power factions view the government. I noticed that in your work and in your writing, you don't use the phrase White nationalists, you use the phrase White power because in lots of situations, these groups are anti-government and they want to establish a new kind of global Aryan government that doesn't know boundaries really. Is there a problem when people on the outside looking in, don't see that and perhaps tie this current White power movement too much to Donald Trump?
KATHLEEN BELEW: [00:09:11] Absolutely. And that's one of several major misunderstandings that have allowed this movement to continue to wage war on America for decades, if not generations. One way to think about this is this is the movement responsible for the Oklahoma City bombing. That bombing was the largest deliberate mass casualty event on American soil between Pearl Harbor and 9/11, but most people still don't know what it was or what it meant. People think of it as the work of one or a few people who were disaffected, maybe didn't like the government, but it was an organized event, carried out by a social movement that has largely gone unopposed.
These are activists who, although they are small in number are incredibly effective, both at waging, acts of violence and on evading public understanding and public prosecution. And one of the reasons for that is that this strategy of cell style terror, which they called leaderless resistance, they've been doing that strategy since 1983-84 so it's often misreported as they've borrowed the playbook from Al Qaeda or jihad, in fact, its just the reverse.
These activists adopted that strategy of working in cells without communication with each other, without communication with leadership, largely because there had been pretty effective infiltration of these groups in the civil rights era by FBI and ATF agents, and because they didn't want to be prosecuted in court. But there was an unforeseen consequence in that what happened was that the strategy allowed the entire movement to disappear. And because of leaderless resistance, what we usually read about are disconnected acts of " lone wolf actors" instead of understanding them as interconnected and part of the same groundswell.
So, for instance, we read about the attack in Christchurch as Islamophobic violence. The attack in Charleston is anti-Black violence. The attack in Pittsburgh is anti-Semitic violence. The attack in El Paso is anti-Latino or anti-immigrant violence. And they are all of those things, but those were all gunmen who were motivated by the White power movement.
SAM SANDER - HOST, IT'S BEEN A MINUTE: [00:11:17] You've already probably laid out a very new idea for most of our listeners. The reality that the Oklahoma City bombing was part of the White power movement. Something else in your work and in your writing, that I think a lot of folks might not realize or put together, is that you trace the history of this current manifestation of the White power movement that we know and see now, you write that it goes back to the aftermath of the Vietnam war.
KATHLEEN BELEW: [00:11:47] So the Vietnam war turned out to be a watershed for vigilante organizing in the United States because what happened was that a narrative of the war about government betrayal created the space for a series of alliances between groups that previously would not get in the same room. So what we see in the late 1970s and early 80s is that using the Vietnam war as a common story, people like Klansmen, neo-Nazis, radical tax resisters, and followers of White supremacist religions, and then later on skinheads in some parts of the militia movement were able to band together as an organized White power movement. And these activists regularly circulated between groups. It would be very common to go to a meeting where there were multiple affiliations present, and it really worked as an organized milieu of people.
The other thing that the Vietnam war did was to make available a set of weapons and tactics and uniforms and strategies or what we might think of as paramilitarism more broadly— I just mean the appearance of military stuff outside of military apparatuses, but instead of in civilian spaces— that paramilitarism dramatically escalated the kind of violence that these groups were able to carry out. It is a military project starting in the post Vietnam moment and we see vestiges of that kind of organizational structure into the present.
Now I will say, we don't see as many camo fatigues today and that's partly because in every kind of moment of klan activity or White power activity in American history, part of what these groups do is an opportunistic kind of organizing that picks up on whatever is the prevailing cultural form.
SAM SANDER - HOST, IT'S BEEN A MINUTE: [00:13:31] I'm thinking like Richard Spencer wearing his suit having his hair all slicked back now.
KATHLEEN BELEW: [00:13:36] Yeah, exactly. Or like the polo shirts in Charlottesville. So what they're doing is using the forum that they think will be appealing to people. So part of why they're in fatigues and the 80s is operational, but part of it is just that people thought camo fatigues were cool in the 80s. So now when we see something like the Hawaiian shirts and Boogaloo, part of that is because they think it will be appealing and cool.
SAM SANDER - HOST, IT'S BEEN A MINUTE: [00:13:59] My biggest question when I hear you talk about this, when I read about the current White power movement and start to see how it's been just simmering and there for decades, I mean, White power has been around since the station's beginning, but its current manifestation has always kind of been there, and yet you read these stories of the federal government kind of ignoring it or the American public labeling their attacks as "lone wolf shooters" and not seeing what it's really about. Why is that? Why has America writ large been so inclined to ignore the White power movement and its threat for decades? I mean, I have a theory, but I want to hear yours.
KATHLEEN BELEW: [00:14:41] Well, so I think that it is a complex problem. There's a series of explanations and some of them have to do with simply the history of what this movement is and how it's been organized. But additionally, there has been an enormous amount of political pushback against the prosecution of these activists, against even depiction of what this is and why it might be a problem. There was a GOP talking points memo going around after the El Paso shooting, directing people to deflect attention from the idea of White power organized violence and towards the idea of a lone wolf gunman. So people in politics are interested in deflecting our attention from what this is, and I think that people interested in democracy should be very, very concerned about that.
Former DHS Analyst Daryl Johnson on How He Was Silenced for Warning of Far-Right Militants - Democracy Now - Air Date 9-9-12
AMY GOODMAN - HOST, DEMOCRACY NOW: [00:15:26] While many people were shocked by Sunday’s massacre at the Sikh temple in Wisconsin, our next guest warned years ago about the resurgence of right-wing violence. Daryl Johnson, former analyst for the Department of Homeland Security, called attention to the threat of far-right extremist groups back in 2009 and sparked a political firestorm in the process. He was the principal author of a report called “Rightwing Extremism: Current Economic and Political Climate Fueling Resurgence in Radicalization and Recruitment.”
The report noted the election of the first African-American president, combined with the recession-era economic anxieties, could fuel a rise in far-right violence. It went on to say, “rightwing extremists will attempt to recruit and radicalize returning veterans in order to boost their violent capabilities.” Johnson drew his conclusion on his 15 years of experience studying domestic terrorist groups—particularly white supremacists and neo-Nazis.
The report set off a maelstrom of discontent among conservatives. The media watch group, Media Matters, produced a video featuring the numerous TV personalities who slammed the report, including CNN’s Lou Dobbs, conservative radio host Rush Limbaugh, Fox News’ Sean Hannity, Fox News national political commentator Andrea Tantaros and Fox News contributor Michelle Malkin. This is a clip.
UNIDENTIFIED COMMENTATOR: [00:16:43] A new report from Homeland Security suggests the bad economy may drive people to right-wing extremist groups.
PETE WILLIAMS: [00:16:49] Right-wing extremist groups, neo-Nazis, skinheads, the National Alliance, racist groups, anti-Semitic groups.
DAVID ASMAN: [00:16:58] Gathering information on right-wing extremist activity in the United States. Does that mean they’re going to be spending—sending spies to these tea parties?
JAMES DOBSON: [00:17:06] There are no Timothy McVeighs out there right now.
ANDREA TANTAROS: [00:17:09] If they’re going to issue these reports for this made-up threat.
RUSH LIMBAUGH: [00:17:14] Portraying standard, ordinary, everyday conservatives as posing a bigger threat to this country than al-Qaeda terrorists.
BRIAN SULLIVAN: [00:17:22] Naming veterans’ groups as possible extremist groups.
AMY GOODMAN - HOST, DEMOCRACY NOW: [00:17:27] Under intense pressure from the talk show hosts and from Republican lawmakers, the Department of Homeland Security ultimately repudiated Daryl Johnson’s paper, and in June 2009 the Washington Post reported the DHS cut the number of personnel studying domestic terrorism unrelated to Islam and canceled numerous state and local law enforcement briefings. The DHS reportedly also held up dissemination of nearly a dozen reports on extremist groups.
For more, we go to Washington, D.C., where we’re joined by Daryl Johnson, the former Department of Homeland Security senior analyst, who has written the book, Right Wing Resurgence: How a Domestic Terrorist Threat Is Being Ignored — it will be published next month—now owns and founded DT Analytics, a privacy consultancy firm.
Daryl Johnson, welcome to Democracy Now! So, tell us what happened, what you were finding, what this report was, and what happened to it.
DARYL JOHNSON: [00:18:20] Well, thank you, Amy, for having me on your show.
Basically, the genesis of the report started as early as January of 2007, when I received a phone call from the U.S. Capitol Police saying that a young senator from Illinois, who’s African American, was considering running for president. And they basically wanted to know if we had seen any extremist chatter that was threatening in nature towards Barack Obama. So we did a quick search of the internet sites. We did not find any threats. And so, we pretty much closed that request out. But in the ensuing months, I sat down with my analysts, and we postulated: what if an African-American senator got elected to be president? What would that do to extremism here in the United States? And so, we basically put this question out, we brainstormed it and came to the conclusion that it would be a recruitment boom for these groups. And coupled with the ailing economy that we were experiencing, a lot of people on unemployment would basically be ripe for recruitment by these types of groups.
AMY GOODMAN - HOST, DEMOCRACY NOW: [00:19:25] And you were working in the Department of Homeland Security at the time under President Bush, is that right?
DARYL JOHNSON: [00:19:32] Yes, I arrived there in August of 2004.
AMY GOODMAN - HOST, DEMOCRACY NOW: [00:19:35] And so, you write up this report. And talk about what—what your key findings were and then the response to it.
DARYL JOHNSON: [00:19:47] Well, basically, we put together, over a period of over a year, collected a massive amount of data that actually filled an entire box of open source information we had gathered off the internet, law enforcement information, FBI information that had come in, and we started drafting a report. And right around the time Janet Napolitano was sworn as the new secretary of Homeland Security, we started receiving questions from Secretary Napolitano, and she wanted to know what was an extremist, what are they doing, what groups were out there that we were concerned about. And we answered those questions, and then she came back with more questions. She wanted to know if we were seeing a rise in right-wing extremism and whether it was a result of the election of an African-American president and what we’re going to do about it. And so, basically, through this questioning period we decided that not only was the paper that was originally designed to be sent to law enforcement, could also serve as an answer to the secretary’s questions.
AMY GOODMAN - HOST, DEMOCRACY NOW: [00:20:48] And what were the critical findings?
DARYL JOHNSON: [00:20:52] Basically that we were seeing a resurgence. We had experienced, very early on—right after the election, we saw arson activity at black churches. We had a bombing out in the Pacific Northwest, where some police officers were killed that were carried out by anti-government extremists. We had a neo-Nazi up in Massachusetts that went on a shooting spree. And we saw a lot of extremist chatter talking about how they were fearful of an African-American president and possible gun confiscations and gun bans, and the immigration issue was still being unresolved. So all these things kind of came together into the perfect storm, which we saw very clearly and put out in the report what our findings were.
AMY GOODMAN - HOST, DEMOCRACY NOW: [00:21:33] And what did you find about white supremacy in the military?
DARYL JOHNSON: [00:21:40] Well, it’s interesting that you ask that question. I actually was a counterterrorism analyst in the U.S. Army from 1991 to 1999, so I was in working for the Army as a counterterrorism analyst at the time that this gentleman up in Wisconsin was enlisted. I actually have an entire chapter devoted in my book on my observations on extremism activity in the military. But just basically, briefly, the one thing that I found, that this is a very small percentage, but since we have such a large military, that small percentage could actually equal hundreds, if not a few thousand, people. And it only takes one person like Timothy McVeigh, with the skills that he learned in the military and the mindset and training he received, to carry out a massive bombing or to kill people.
AMY GOODMAN - HOST, DEMOCRACY NOW: [00:22:28] Back in 2009, a handful of Republicans in the House called for Janet Napolitano to step down as head of the Department of Homeland Security in the wake of your memo that warned of right-wing political extremism in the United States. House Minority Leader John Boehner said the report focuses on, quote, “about two-thirds of Americans who might go to church, who may have served in the military, who may be involved in community activities… I just don’t understand how our government can look at the American people and say, ’You’re all potential terrorist threats.’” Those were Boehner’s comments. Daryl Johnson, your response?
DARYL JOHNSON: [00:23:04] That is a gross misrepresentation of what was said in the report. Basically, I think what Boehner is alluding to is a very broad, vague definition that was in the footnote of one of the pages. And basically, the definition was written very broadly so it could encompass the wide range of extremist groups we were talking about, which were primarily the white supremacist movement, which has neo-Nazi groups, Ku Klux Klan groups, Christian Identity groups, which is a racist religion that thinks whites are the true Israelites. We have skinhead groups. We have other types of white supremacists. It also was alluding to sovereign citizens, those that reject federal and state authority in favor of local authority. It was also talking about the militia extremists. So, basically, some of the conservative radio talk show hosts took this definition out of context and without the scope of talking about violent extremism and terrorism, which was said—stated upfront in the footnote, or in the scope note, and took this definition out of context and applied it to a broad range of people. And I think it was just done deliberately as a political maneuver.
AMY GOODMAN - HOST, DEMOCRACY NOW: [00:24:12] And so, what happened to you, Daryl Johnson, and your unit within the Department of Homeland Security that was looking at domestic terror threats, and particularly at white supremacy and neo-Nazi groups?
DARYL JOHNSON: [00:24:25] Well, what happened was quite shocking, actually. I never anticipated that, you know, the Department of Homeland Security, my employer, would actually clamp down on the unit and stop all of the valuable work we were doing. Leading up to this report—and I’ll talk about this at length in my book—my team was doing a lot of good things throughout the country. We received numerous accolades from law enforcement, intelligence officials, talking about the great work we were doing in the fight against domestic terrorism. And then, in lieu of the political backlash, the department decided to not only stop all of our work, stop all of the training and briefings that we were scheduled to give, but they also disbanded the unit, reassigned us to other areas within the office, and then made life increasingly difficult for us. Not only did they stop the work that we were doing, but they also tried to blame us for some of the attacks that were occurring.
AMY GOODMAN - HOST, DEMOCRACY NOW: [00:25:20] And so, you lost your job.
DARYL JOHNSON: [00:25:23] Well, I didn’t lose my job. They just made it a very difficult environment for me to continue working there, so I, on my own recognizance, sought employment elsewhere and started my own consulting company.
How the Oklahoma City Bombing Changed the U.S. - AJ+ - Air Date 2-26-19
IMAEYEN IBANGA - NARRATOR: [00:25:34] The plot Timothy McVeigh and Terry Nichols concocted is eerily similar to one that a trio of white men had hoped to execute the day after the 2016 presidential election in Garden City, Kansas. The militia men who dubbed themselves The Crusaders schemed to kill as many Somali refugees as possible by detonating four car bombs outside of an apartment complex that also doubled as a mosque.
DAVID NEIWERT: [00:25:59] They were planning to blow up this community in Garden City, with Timothy McVeigh-style truck bombs, situate themselves at the exits to the community with machine guns and shoot anybody who tried to flee. So it was going to be a horrible massacre.
IMAEYEN IBANGA - NARRATOR: [00:26:18] This is David Neiwert, and the reason he knows so much about what happened in Kansas is because he's been studying far-right extremism in the US since the 1970s.
A judge sentenced those three Kansas men to 25 to 30 years in jail. And their plot shows something Neiwert says the nation has forgotten.
DAVID NEIWERT: [00:26:38] People understood prior to 9/11, that terrorism could take a variety of shapes; after 9/11, the only kind of terrorism that people thought of were essentially Arabs and Muslims.
PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH: [00:26:57] Today, we've had a national tragedy. Two airplanes have crashed into the World Trade Center in an apparent terrorist attack on our
IMAEYEN IBANGA - NARRATOR: [00:27:18] country,
Bush's focus was on threats coming from overseas. His so-called war on terror didn't address far-right figures like McVeigh, Nichols, or Rudolph.
PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH: [00:27:32] But we're going to smoke them out. Our mission is to battle terrorism and to join with freedom-loving people. This is a long-term battle -- war.
IMAEYEN IBANGA - NARRATOR: [00:27:45] And while president Bush literally said, "Islam is peace" to make a distinction between religion and acts of terror, the country's focus on Iraq and Afghanistan meant that the far right threat that's so recently had its attention faded from its collective memory. While the United States was focused on Al Qaeda and Muslims, far-right hate was organizing and energizing.
DARYL JOHNSON: [00:28:07] Unfortunately, America, a lot of times our legislators and even law enforcement to some degree, are reactive. Something significant has to happen in order for people to actually do something about the problem.
IMAEYEN IBANGA - NARRATOR: [00:28:22] Former Department of Homeland Security analyst Darryl Johnson watched as far-right extremism became a bigger threat to the country, particularly after Donald Trump was elected.
DARYL JOHNSON: [00:28:32] So typically during democratic administrations, like Obama administration, Clinton administration, we see a rise of the far right. And then typically during Republican administrations we see just the opposite. But this time in 2016, we had a Republican administration coming into power and the far right has continued to operate at a heightened level, which goes against all the trending that I've seen over the past 30 to 40 years.
IMAEYEN IBANGA - NARRATOR: [00:28:58] Johnson and Neiwert both believed the president's heated rhetoric has mainstreamed extremist messages. And Neiwert says president Trump has soft pedaled a version of white nationalism and made it more palatable for a wider audience.
DAVID NEIWERT: [00:29:12] The people who were committing these trends were either referencing Trump's name directly like shouting, "Trump Trump, Trump," as they beat people up or threatened people; or using his name to say, you know, well, Trump's going to get you out of here. This problem. Didn't start with Donald Trump. He took advantage of it, but he definitely fueled it. And it's massively expanded because of his presidency.
PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: [00:29:40] And yes, we will build the wall; we've already started planning. It will be built.
IMAEYEN IBANGA - NARRATOR: [00:29:50] Neiwert says there's a thread he's seen connect the philosophy of far-right extremism to its believers.
DAVID NEIWERT: [00:29:57] The personality type that is drawn to these movements consistently is what we call right-wing authoritarians. Authoritarian personalities are basically people who want to be told what to do -- people who want an authoritarian rule because they feel more safe and secure. This is the role that Trump plays.
Polar Bear Plunge Ad
JAY TOMLINSON - HOST, BEST OF THE LEFT: [00:30:18] Admittedly, I'm switching gears here a bit from right-wing physical violence to talk for a minute about violence being done to the climate. Longtime listeners may know that I in a previous life worked at a climate change non-profit called the Chesapeake Climate Action Network or C-CAN for short. That is where I figured out that the real energy in the country is outside the halls of power shouting in. And when that energy gets organized, it focuses on a specific policy goals, finds champions in those halls of power and helps orchestrate the kind of inside-outside strategy that actually gets stuff done. And it sounds kind of clean and simple when you put it that way.
The hitch is that all that takes money and we don't have billionaires shoveling unlimited amounts of cash at climate activist organizations to lobby for a livable future. And so, organizations like C-CAN have to raise much of their own money from small dollar donations. And if that weren't bad enough already, the way they've chosen to run their big annual fundraiser is not with a big, fancy gala, as you might think. No, they've chosen to raise money by getting hundreds of people to plunge into the Potomac River in January. This year, of course, it's going to be a little bit different. They won't be gathering in one big super-spreader event this year, but that means that all of their plungers can make themselves very cold and very uncomfortable for the climate right from the comfort of their own homes. And since it doesn't matter where you live, this means that you, even, yes, you! could join in on the fund from wherever you are. The plunge is on Saturday, February 13th at 1:00 PM. Eastern. You can sign up to plunge and raise money yourself for a chance to win a bike, or just simply donate to the cause.
All the information is at keepwintercold.org. I sincerely encourage you to support their efforts because they are doing it for all of us, and the last thing you want on your conscience is the knowledge that all of these people are dumping buckets of ice water on themselves, and that you didn't even donate to make that kind of ordeal worth the effort.
Again, get all of the details keepwintercold.org.
Most Violence is Right Wing. Period. Stop Lying - David Pakman Show - Air Date 8-22-19
DAVID PAKMAN - HOST, THE DAVID PAKMAN SHOW: [00:32:41] I'm completely fine covering instances of right wing violence based on politics and of left-wing political violence. And that we shouldn't be hypocrites.
We shouldn't hide left-wing violence to the extent that it exists. But when I do those stories, I will remind you that it's important to remember that most politically oriented violence in the United States is right wing. It's important to remind you of that. Not for some kind of what about ism, but because if we really want to deal with the issue of political violence, as an apparatus in the United States, as a problem, we have to understand where it comes from.
And it mostly comes from the right, most religious violence in the United States is from right-wingers. So let's actually dig into that. And the way we know things is through studying data. And there are countless ways that you can come to the same conclusion. So let's go through some of the sources. I'm sure many of you will have problems with some of these sources, which is why I'm presenting a number of different ones.
Let's start with the Anti-Defamation league, the Anti-Defamation league. I studied this for a very long time. Their latest report is from 2018, which makes sense. Since we're in 2019. Right now it is on domestic extremist murder. 50 of 50 people killed in 2018 were because of right-wing extremism. 78% were white supremacists.
16% were anti-government extremists. 4% were incell extremists and 2% meaning one guy. Was an Islamist extremists now, but we can argue over whether Islamist extremism has left or right wing the right loves to say Islamist extremism is left wing because Muslims, I guess often don't like Republicans.
This is extraordinarily simplistic and shortsighted religious belief to a degree that you become radicalized. Uh, is by nature a right-wing perversion of religion, but we can ignore it. And we can say 49 of 50, 2018 domestic extremist murders were definitely right-wing extremists. One out of 50, I guess we can debate, uh, uh, the, the specifics of it.
That's the Anti-Defamation league. Now I know some of you dislike the ADL. Or you don't trust the ADL. So let's go to another set of data. This C S I S the center for strategic and international studies. They've identified that indeed the overwhelming majority of violence from extremists in the United States is coming from white supremacists anti-government extremists, including militias and so-called sovereign citizens groups.
Very, very clear on the data. Some of, you will say, David, I don't like the ADL and I don't like CSI S well, then you've got the data from the center for investigative reporting, who also looked at this from 2008 to 2016 and they found 115 right-wing terror incidents, 63 Islamist inspired terror incidents and 19 left-wing incidents.
So if you include radical Islam is right wing, which I do. It is almost 91%. Right-wing if you consider Islamic terror, its own thing, it's still about 60% right-wing and bear in mind that this includes a way broader definition of domestic terror. Yeah. Any of the other studies? What if you don't like any of these three studies?
Well, then you can look at the national consortium. For the study of terrorism and responses to terrorism, they maintain profiles of individual radicalization in the United States. They look at individuals radicalized since 1948. And they have found that 40% are far right. 24% were Islamist. 17% are far left and 18% are what are called single issue.
Individuals. Who could be anywhere on the political spectrum or even sort of outside of it. So no matter how you want to catalog this, no matter what set of data you look at, when you look at radicalization in the United States, when you look at what movements are leading people to commit violence in order to try to achieve their political goal goals or enforce what they see as their vision of what the United States is or should be.
It is at minimum, a clear plurality right-wing. And in some ways, when we're looking at, for example, extremist murders, Uh, uh, we're talking about 90 plus percent. Right-wing The normal responses that I hear when I talk about this. Well, yeah, not really. Right-wing uh, and this is a sort of a no true Scotsman fallacy sort of thing, which we could delve into.
Uh, but listen, I mean, these militia groups are right-wing white. Nationalism is right-wing sovereign citizens movement is right-wing, uh, extreme dogmatic, religious belief that leads you to violence, uh, because you're angry that other people don't follow your religion, whether that's Christianity or Judaism or Islam.
That is also right wing by any common sense interpretation of what we're talking about here. Uh, so that one is a common talking point. You'll hear. They're not really, right-wing hard to talk to people who are going to make that argument. Uh, what about Antifa? Right. But Antifa is a common one that you hear, uh, look at the data, big picture and tifo is tiny.
Okay. I am not a fan of Antifa. I have denounced. Antifa is methods to the extent that Antifa is a sort of coherent and discreet group with methods I'm against all of the stuff that has been reported under the guise of Antifa. Antifa is tiny. These are the broader numbers. You can't look at anecdotes, both sides do it is another common one that you will hear where that's, why we're looking at the data.
To point out that yes, both sides do it in drastically different proportion and two drastically different degrees. So we've got to take the narrative back. We don't have to be afraid of talking about a guy who attempted to fire bomb an ice facility where no one died or was even injured. We denounce it.
Uh, uh, we criticize it. We point out that that person should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law, but we don't lose the narrative. The big picture narrative that most political violence in the United States is coming from the right.
Far-right militias and domestic terrorism in America: 'This threat got ahead of us' - Washington Post - Air Date 9-29-20
TOM BROKAW - ARCHIVAL AUDIO: [00:38:45] A massive car bomb exploded outside of a large federal building in downtown Oklahoma city. Shattering that building
REPORTER 1 - ARCHIVAL AUDIO: [00:38:51] the chaos in downtown Oklahoma city did indeed resemble Beirut after what police believe to be a 1200 pound car bomb rip through the nine story. Federal building
DARYL JOHNSON: [00:39:00] terrorism is ideologically motivated. Silence
REPORTER 2 - ARCHIVAL AUDIO: [00:39:04] in Beirut Lebanon today. A pickup truck bloated with explosives drove to the American embassy and there was a tremendous explosion there during the lunch hour.
DARYL JOHNSON: [00:39:13] There needs to be some sort of belief system behind the violence,
REPORTER 3 - ARCHIVAL AUDIO: [00:39:16] the death toll here Rose today to 22, when a gunman opened fire in this Walmart store just right here.
DARYL JOHNSON: [00:39:22] And you're trying to instill fear in society or change government policy. Once again, here we are with another mass shooting in America. That's been perpetrated by a white nationalist.
REPORTER 4 - ARCHIVAL AUDIO: [00:39:34] The El Paso incident is now the seventh deadliest mass shooting in the nation's history.
MICHAEL McGARRITY: [00:39:38] In fact, there've been more arrests in destiny. United States caused by domestic terrorists and international terrorists. In recent years,
DARYL JOHNSON: [00:39:50] in 2009, I wrote a report about the rise of right wing extremism with the combination of the Empress of the election of an African-American president that coupled with the downturn in the economy just created this fertile ground for recruiting. Extremists and to the far right movements, we all thought we had done a great service to the country and sent out this prescient warning.
So it was a big surprise when I came to the office on Monday and saw my Report all over the conservator.
SEAN HANNITY - HOST, FOX NEWS: [00:40:17] The department of Homeland security, Dr. Dobson is, uh, warning law enforcement officials, uh, about the rise. In right-wing extremist activity.
JAMES DOBSON: [00:40:28] Isn't it interesting that the media has jumped all over this when there aren't any examples of it?
There are no Timothy McVeigh's out there right now. Uh, they're making a big deal out of something that hasn't happened and may not happen.
VOICEOVER: [00:40:43] ONE MONTH lATER
AMY GOODMAN - HOST, DEMOCRACY NOW: [00:40:43] Supporters of reproductive rights are morning. Killing of the abortion provider, Dr. George tiller
9-1-1 CALL AUDIO: [00:40:50] There's a balding male with glasses, may have gone inside with a gun and there were shots fired.
REPORTER 5 - ARCHIVAL AUDIO: [00:40:55] And investigation is underway in Colorado. Following a deadly attack on a planned Parenthood facility.
REPORTER 6 - ARCHIVAL AUDIO: [00:41:01] A Wednesday night Bible study erupts in gunshots at the scene. Eight are pronounced dead, six females, two males. Another man dies later in the hospitals.
DYLANN ROOF: [00:41:11] I do consider myself sure.
DARYL JOHNSON: [00:41:14] So when we have Democrats in power, typically the far right gets very agitated because they're fearful of minority rights being expanded.
They're also fearful of a pending gun legislation or outright gun ban. What makes this unique is the fact that we have a Republican administration and yet. These far right groups are still operating at a very heightened level. This goes against all the trending data that I've looked at in the past 40 years
REPORTER 7 - ARCHIVAL AUDIO: [00:41:39] far, right. Attacks in Europe jumped 43% between 2016 and 2017 in the U S right-wing extremists were linked to at least 50 murders. Last year. That's a 35% increase over 2017.
DARYL JOHNSON: [00:41:54] Why it's different this time is going back to the 2016. Presidential election. The president started dehumanizing his opponents. When he got elected, he started dehumanizing the media
PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: [00:42:06] a few days ago. I called the fake news, the enemy of the people and they are,
DARYL JOHNSON: [00:42:11] Oh crap. Uh, people of color, people that are of the Muslim faith, even immigrants using terms like invaders and rodents
PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: [00:42:21] right now. As a large group of people, they could, the caravan that is an assault on our country. That's an
DARYL JOHNSON: [00:42:33] assault right into these extremist narratives.
Who've been doing that for decades. And Trump has actually mainstream some of their ideas, things like a border wall, things like travel ban on Muslims, mass deportation of immigrants.
PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: [00:42:48] Stop it. Okay. The world was shocked, but how do you stop these people?
You can't. There's nothing.
CROWD MEMBER: [00:42:55] Shoot them!
PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: [00:42:57] [LAUGHING] That's only in the panhandle. You can get away with that
DARYL JOHNSON: [00:43:00] snake things that I saw on KKK and new Nazi websites 15 years ago, and now they're being put forth as policies.
PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: [00:43:08] Only in the panhandle!
DARYL JOHNSON: [00:43:10] This threat got ahead of us. It's grown year after year for the past decade,
REP ALEXANDRIA OCASIO CORTEZ: [00:43:16] you're saying that Amy was charged with domestic terrorism, Dylan roof.
MICHAEL McGARRITY: [00:43:19] So you're using the word charge. So as I said before, there's no domestic terrorism charge like 18 USC, 2339, a B, C, D for a foreign terrorist organization.
REP ALEXANDRIA OCASIO CORTEZ: [00:43:30] It's white supremacy, not a global issue.
MICHAEL McGARRITY: [00:43:35] It is a global issue.
REP ALEXANDRIA OCASIO CORTEZ: [00:43:37] So why are they not charged with foreign
MICHAEL McGARRITY: [00:43:39] because of the United States? Congress doesn't have a statute for us.
For domestic terrorism, like we do on a foreign terrorist organization like ISIS, Al-Qaeda Al Shabaab,
DARYL JOHNSON: [00:43:48] having such a staff that you would give investigators an extra tool in the toolbox to add penalty enhancements, which may be a deterrent to some people. The internet is a force multiplier and enables people in the privacy of their homes to connect with like-minded individuals.
This leads to more emboldened, uh, radical activities. People are basically. Copycatting other extremist attacks throughout the world here in America.
determined today to stop this threat, it's going to take years to slow down the momentum and growth of these movements. We need to make a decision now that we're going to draw a line in the sand and do what we can to STEM this tide of hate. .
What’s Fueling Far-Right Hate in America? - AJ+ - Air Date 2-19-19
IMAEYEN IBANGA - NARRATOR: [00:44:39] For decades, the US government has poured money into programs to fight what it calls "violent extremists" and "terrorism", but those are terms which it doesn't even apply consistently. Here's president Trump talking about a mass shooting a White man committed that killed 26 people in Sutherland Springs, Texas in November, 2017.
PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: [00:45:04] I think that mental health is your problem here. This was a very, based on preliminary reports, very deranged individual. A lot of problems over a long period of time.
IMAEYEN IBANGA - NARRATOR: [00:45:17] And here he is talking about allegedly religiously motivated violence.
PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: [00:45:22] We're also taking strong measures to protect our nation from radical Islamic Terrorism.
IMAEYEN IBANGA - NARRATOR: [00:45:35] Most governmental programs have focused almost entirely on Muslims, not only stigmatizing that group, but also paying very little attention to what statistics show is the actual threat. White far-right violence, which doesn't often learn the label of terrorism or extremism, hasn't been the government's priority. But you don't have to take my word for it. Take a look at how the nation spends its money.
We don't really, really know how much of the country has spent on its so-called "global war on terror" because the U S doesn't have an accurate accounting of the funds, but one report estimates that from 2002 to 2017, the US government spent $2.8 trillion on wars in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Syria. Even as funding declined in 2017 from previous levels, the government still spent $175 billion that year.
While the nation was shelling out all that money on what it says was countering foreign threats to America, the rate of right-wing domestic attacks increased nearly six fold from the two thousands to the 2010s.
What did you recommend in your testimony that the government should do?
DARYL JOHNSON: [00:46:49] I recommended that they look at domestic terrorism definition that's caudified in our laws because right now it doesn't really fit the definition of what domestic terrorism is, so that leads to confusion. I also recommended that we need to have federal dollars devoted to training state and local law enforcement on these types of threats. But to this day, really nothing that I recommended has been implemented.
IMAEYEN IBANGA - NARRATOR: [00:47:11] And there's something else that's happened since Johnson has given his congressional testimony that's fueled the rise of far-right hate.
JASON DOWNARD: [00:47:18] If I were still in the movement, I would be doing what everybody else is doing too. I'd be voting for Trump because he's saying all the right stuff.
IMAEYEN IBANGA - NARRATOR: [00:47:27] Jason Downard is a former Neo-Nazi who became involved with the group when he was convicted for his role in a 2009 drive by shooting.
JASON DOWNARD: [00:47:36] Now that you have somebody like Donald Trump, it's about what he's saying, and he's the President of the United States of America, so you get these Neo-Nazis like here we got this president is pretty much giving us the okay to do whatever the hell we want.
IMAEYEN IBANGA - NARRATOR: [00:47:50] He is not the only one who thinks President Trump bears some responsibility for the current wave of far-right fanaticism.
HEIDI BEIRICH: [00:47:57] He activated them in a way that they hadn't been before, and this is the tragedy of the Trump era.
IMAEYEN IBANGA - NARRATOR: [00:48:04] Critics have skewered Trump for failing to respond clearly and firmly to far-right violence. Here's what he said after that deadly attack in Charlottesville.
PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: [00:48:12] I think there's blame on both sides. You look at, you look at both sides. I think there's blame on both sides and I have no doubt about it and you don't have any doubt about it either.
IMAEYEN IBANGA - NARRATOR: [00:48:22] He's also identified as a nationalist, which some see as a wink and a nod to those who call themselves White nationalists. So anti-racist critics find it difficult to believe Trump's being sincere when he says,
PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: [00:48:35] We will reject bigotry and hatred and oppression.
IMAEYEN IBANGA - NARRATOR: [00:48:41] Instead of putting the government's focus on the rights growing extremism, Trump's then attorney general Jeff Sessions made it a mission to crack down on so-called "Black identity extremist".
JEFF SESSIONS: [00:48:53] Thank you all.
HEIDI BEIRICH: [00:48:54] This business with the "Black identity extremists" is a classic example of where the federal government under Trump is focusing on something that doesn't exist. And the report that was leaked to the talked about this issue and talked about how there's a rising threat from "Black identity extremists" basically has no factual backing.
IMAEYEN IBANGA - NARRATOR: [00:49:11] The FBI even did a 12 page report on so-called "Black identity extremist groups" it says we're targeting law enforcement. Here's what they didn't do a report on.
REPRESENTATIVE BASS: [00:49:22] Has the FBI done a report on "White identity extremists" that are likely motivated to target law enforcement officers?
JEFF SESSIONS: [00:49:28] I'm not aware of that.
IMAEYEN IBANGA - NARRATOR: [00:49:30] Meanwhile, far-right groups like the Sovereign Citizens actually have targeted law enforcement.
DARYL JOHNSON: [00:49:37] They have a significant threat to law enforcement, especially during traffic stops and other unplanned encounters, because a lot of these groups look at law enforcement as being the foot soldiers of a tyrannical government. They view law enforcement as the government intrusion on their lives.
IMAEYEN IBANGA - NARRATOR: [00:49:54] This administration's pursuit of so-called "Black identity extremism" has drawn comparisons to J Edgar Hoover's infamous COINTELPRO. It was a covert action program that relied on infiltration, dirty tricks, and even violence to neutralize dissidents like Martin Luther King, Jr., and the Black Panthers. Trump's response to the far-right extremism is set against this historically blemished backdrop.
HEIDI BEIRICH: [00:50:20] What is the FBI pursuing in terms of domestic terrorism? Nobody knows. Like we don't know, are there a thousand open cases on this topic? We have no information, so it's really hard to say the government should be doing X if we don't even know what the government's been doing.
IMAEYEN IBANGA - NARRATOR: [00:50:37] And then there's the fact that the Trump administration nixed a grant to fund a group fighting far-right violence. In the waning days of his presidency, Barack Obama awarded $10 million to 31 group's countering violent extremism. Only one of those organizations was focused on fighting far-right extremism, Life After Hate. Then Donald Trump took office. His administration re-evaluated all the grants. He ended up giving out only 12 and didn't dole out the $400,000 grant previously earmarked for Life After Hate. The distorted narrative of far-right extremism has deep roots within the birth of this nation.
HEIDI BEIRICH: [00:51:18] Well, you know, the country was founded on the idea of racial supremacy. One thing that's interesting is a lot of the White supremacists who are active in the United States today really what they asked for when they want a White homeland, they're hearkening back to a period that was real. Where White men made all the decisions and pretty much made life horrible for the rest of the population is in the United States.
Fmr. DHS Sec. Jeh Johnson: 'Principal Terrorist Threat Is Far-Right Violent Extremism' - MSNBC - Air Date 1-20-21
MSNBC HOST: [00:51:41] Mr. Secretary, we spoke two Wednesdays ago while that insurrection was underway. And I detected in you along with the sadness and the concern and fear that I think we all felt watching the horrors, some enduring concerns about the security picture. Can you help us understand what Joe Biden, his national security team are contending with?
JEH JOHNSON: [00:52:03] Yes. Good morning. Thanks for having me. Since 9/11, those of us who've been involved in national security have been principally concerned with foreign-inspired, foreign-directed terrorist threats to our homeland. That threat picture is now very different. The principle terrorist threat is far-right violent extremism, far-right white nationalism of a violent nature. That has been apparent now for some time, the Anti-Defamation League for example, has tracked this for years. Terrorist attacks now in the United States are predominantly domestic-based far-right violent extremism. And so I'm pleased to hear that the incoming national security team will make threats like QAnon part of their principle focus.
Former DHS Analyst Trump Administration Not Taking White Nationalist Threat Seriously Enough - Democracy Now - Air Date 4-30-19
AMY GOODMAN - HOST, DEMOCRACY NOW: [00:53:00] The latest white nationalist killing comes after the department of Homeland Security disbanded its domestic terrorism unit last year, reassigning its analysts to other departments. DHS says the threat of homegrown extremism has been significantly reduced, but in a review of 50 murders, committed by extremists in 2018, the Anti-Defamation league found 49 came at the hand of right-wing extremists with white supremacists alone, accounting for 39 of the murders. To talk about the rise of white supremacist violence and the Trump administration's response, we're joined now by Daryl Johnson, former senior analyst at the department of Homeland Security. In 2009 Johnson authored a report warning about the increasing dangers of violent right-wing extremism in the United States, sparking a political firestorm in the process. Under pressure from Republican lawmakers and popular talk show hosts, DHS ultimately repudiated Daryl Johnson’s paper. His forthcoming book is titled Hateland: A Long, Hard Look at America’s Extremist Heart. It’ll be out in June.
Daryl Johnson, welcome to Democracy Now! It’s great to have you with us in these last few minutes. Can you talk about this latest attack and the attack before that, both at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh, the San Diego attack at the synagogue this past weekend, white supremacist violence, looking at Charlottesville a year ago, where President Trump said of the white supremacist Klan marchers, “There are fine people on both sides”?
DARYL JOHNSON: [00:54:28] Well, Amy, this has become the new normal. And what people don’t realize is, between that Pittsburgh synagogue attack and the one that we had this week in California, there were other arson attacks against other places of worship. We had a mosque that was arsoned in California, allegedly by the same perpetrator that conducted the latest synagogue shooting. We had three black churches down in the South that were arsoned. So, domestic terrorism is alive and well today.
AMY GOODMAN - HOST, DEMOCRACY NOW: [00:54:55] So, talk about the fact that Homeland Security disbanded its counterterrorism unit, disbanded it last year, despite the fact that violent extremism, violent attacks are up. And the vast majority of them are being committed by white supremacists, but the investigations of them by the Department of Homeland Security, the unit in charge, Trump disbanded.
DARYL JOHNSON: [00:55:23] Yeah, and this wasn’t the first time. I mean, my unit was disbanded back in 2009, and they reconstituted it with a few analysts in between this latest disbanding. But it’s not a very good sign that our government is getting rid of resources that could actually be helping state and local law enforcement combat this problem.
AMY GOODMAN - HOST, DEMOCRACY NOW: [00:55:47] So, the cutting of funds to the groups within the government that investigate white supremacists, can you talk about what this means? What were these resources used for?
DARYL JOHNSON: [00:55:55] Yeah, so, we’ve had state and local anti-terrorism training funding pulled last year under Trump. This was the U.S.'s pre-eminent domestic terrorism training for state and local law enforcement. It no longer exists. We've had grant funding pulled from organizations that wanted to study the trends that we’re seeing, as well as conduct countering violent extremism efforts to try to pull people out of these movements and reform them and acclimate them back into society. We need all hands on deck. We need every resource to be devoted to combat this problem. And it doesn’t seem like this administration is very committed to doing that.
AMY GOODMAN - HOST, DEMOCRACY NOW: [00:56:32] Daryl Johnson, even before Trump came to power in the United States, you wrote a column for The New York Times, “For Domestic Hate, Apply the Vigor and Strategy Used for Muslim Terror." Your piece began, “Domestic terrorism is the national security threat whose name we dare not speak.”
DARYL JOHNSON: [00:56:52] Yeah, and what I’m referring to is, a lot of these attacks, we hear in the media, as well as our politicians and even police chiefs, talk about how, you know, it’s a “crazed gunman,” or it’s a “hate crime.” These are terms to kind of disguise the fact that these are ideologically motivated attacks that fit the definition of terrorism. So, why not call it what it is?
AMY GOODMAN - HOST, DEMOCRACY NOW: [00:57:13] Finally, how has the threat of right-wing violence changed since you did the report in 2009 under President Obama, that the right wing so fiercely attacked, the government withdrew it?
DARYL JOHNSON: [00:57:28] Amy, I’m standing here today in disbelief that this threat is still ongoing 10 years after I wrote that report warning of the rise of this threat. That’s very disturbing. And the fact that our government at the national level hasn’t even recognized this threat and call it terrorism is pause for concern.
AMY GOODMAN - HOST, DEMOCRACY NOW: [00:57:46] Do you think there would be a different response if it was a Muslim attacker at the Tree of Life, a Muslim attacker in San Diego? Which, again, we know it isn’t. Both were avowed white supremacists.
DARYL JOHNSON: [00:57:59] Yeah, we clearly see there’s a double standard when it comes to our policymakers when they call out terrorism, and they pretty much apply it solely to the Muslim variety.
DHS Was Tracking White Supremacist Terrorists, but Nobody Wanted to Listen - The Real News - Air Date 9-20-19
JACQUELINE LUQMAN: [00:58:10] I think it's easy to criticize the Republicans for their response to the report. But you also bring up in your article, in Facing South, the Democrats’ response to not necessarily the report so much, but the Democrats’ response to the Republicans’ response to the report. Can you go into that a little bit?
GREG HUFFMAN: [00:58:32] Yeah. There was very little disagreement from the Democrats. There was either silence or a very tepid, bland rebuttal. For example, the White House really gave the DHS no support at all in regard to the report. And actually, the committee chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee actually kind of sided with the Republicans in expressing concerns about the report, and was kind of headed toward letting them investigate the investigators at one point.
JACQUELINE LUQMAN: [00:59:13] And just to be clear, this is the Obama White House?
GREG HUFFMAN: [00:59:16] Right.
JACQUELINE LUQMAN: [00:59:16] The same White House that the report–the report existed because of the uptick in threats of violence against President Barack Obama because he was the first black president of the United States of America.
GREG HUFFMAN: [00:59:34] Correct.
JACQUELINE LUQMAN: [00:59:35] So… Oh, I’m sorry. Please continue.
GREG HUFFMAN: [00:59:39] No. I mean, you almost got the sense that this newly-elected administration didn’t have the appetite or feel like it had the political capital at the moment to really fight this fight.
JACQUELINE LUQMAN: [00:59:52] In fact, weren’t there congressional hearings about this report, Greg? But the hearings, pretty much… Well, what happened with the hearings? What happened with the congressional hearings?
GREG HUFFMAN: [01:00:06] The Homeland Security Committee was headed toward having a hearing, and then they kind of pulled back and ended up rolling some questions about the report itself into a budget hearing in May of 2009. And it was apparent from the discussion in the committee that Secretary Napolitano had done a lot of damage control behind the scenes with the Republican members of the committee, as well as the chair of the committee, Bennie Thompson from Mississippi. They didn’t discuss the report in detail, and they didn’t discuss the threat assessments. The Republican members just expressed their displeasure about the mention of veterans and the broad definition of right-wing.
JACQUELINE LUQMAN: [01:00:58] Daryl, I see you nodding your head over in your frame. Now, even though the Obama administration actually did establish and fund a task force in 2011 to address the rise in white supremacist–or at least domestic–terrorism, it didn’t seem to have the impact it should have in curbing this problem that your team and your report raised. Why do you think that is?
DARYL JOHNSON: [01:01:29] Well, this whole topic of domestic terrorism is a political minefield. You’re talking about very divisive issues here in America, like gun rights, abortion rights, immigration, and other topics. And so, these issues, depending on how politicians react to them, could impact them on the next election. So a lot of them bury their head in the sand and just don’t want to confront the problem.
JACQUELINE LUQMAN: [01:01:52] Let me go back to you Greg, and ask, since you do focus on the Southern Republicans who were instrumental in blocking any kind of substantive review and examination of this report. Since these horrific violent attacks have occurred, these horrible terrorist murders have occurred in the past few weeks–let alone the past few years–that we have seen, has anyone taken any of these politicians who are still in office to task, who were involved in squashing this report back in 2009? Has anyone brought this to their attention for them to answer for?
GREG HUFFMAN: [01:02:39] Not in any substantive way. I think a lot of people over the years have forgotten about this report until it became much more public in the last several weeks. But to my knowledge, it really has not been an issue probably since 2009, and then I think it cropped up again around 2012. But otherwise, there hasn’t been a lot of very public discussion about it.
JACQUELINE LUQMAN: [01:03:10] So Daryl, let me ask you to piggyback on that. Recently, there was another leaked document that exposed the FBI’s tactic of focusing on black activists after the Ferguson uprising, categorizing them as “black identity extremists,” even though the same report lists militia extremists and white supremacists as a higher threat level than these so-called black identity extremists. And just a week ago, it was revealed that the Trump administration blocked the release of another document confirming the rise in white supremacist/far right extremist violence and murders, even as this administration has defunded the very programs that were implemented to stop them under the Obama administration. Daryl, do you believe the politically-motivated campaign to discredit your team’s report, and their work, contributed to this environment where these political actions are taking place now, to the deadly detriment of citizens?
DARYL JOHNSON: [01:04:17] Yeah. So I guess one of the aftermath of the backlash of my report in 2009 is the fact that it created a chilling effect within both the law enforcement and intelligence communities, which sent a message that “If you’re going to write about these topics, we’re going to expose you and we’re going to take things out of context. We’re going to spin it, and we’re going to raise hell to make you stop focusing on this and to deter you from focusing on this topic.” So that’s the unfortunate thing that’s happened. The warning and the indication that we gave to policymakers very early on, which could have helped us in the long run develop programs and mature them to the point where we could actually do some prevention, it stopped everything. And nobody’s really paid attention to this threat until the attacks become more frequent and the body counts keep getting bigger and bigger.
JAY TOMLINSON - HOST, BEST OF THE LEFT: [01:05:12] We've just heard clips today starting with the PBS News Hour tracing the routes of the Oklahoma City bombing, It's Been a Minute with Sam Sanders spoke with Kathleen Belew about White nationalism, a clip of Democracy Now from 2012 laid out the conservative media backlash to the DHS report warning of right-wing terrorism. AJ+ did a report on the fallout from the Oklahoma City bombing. David Pakman laid out the data proving that the vast majority of politically motivated violence in the US is right-wing in nature. The Washington Post put together a video featuring Daryl Johnson breaking down how we've allowed domestic terrorism to get out of control. AJ+ highlighted the rise of far right hate in the Trump era, and MSNBC spoke to Jay Johnson about the Biden administration's notable shift of focus toward right-wing terrorism and conspiracy theorists. That is what everyone heard with the exception of the David Pacman Show clip. That was also just for members, but in addition to all of that, minus the Pacman clip, members also heard to finish up the show a Democracy Now clip from 2019 talking again with Darryl Johnson about the DHS going so far as to disband its domestic terrorism unit and The Real News spoke also with Daryl Johnson about how it may have been the Republicans who most stridently demanded the retraction of his report, but that the Democrats did an absolutely pitiful job of pushing back on that narrative, giving into the pressure almost immediately.
For non-members, those clips are linked in today's show notes and are part of the transcript for today's episode so you can find them if you want to make the effort. But to hear that and all of our bonus content delivered seamlessly into your podcast feed, sign up to support the show at bestoftheleft.com/supp Or request a financial hardship membership, because we don't make a lack of funds a barrier to hearing more information. Every request is granted; no questions asked. And now we'll hear from you.
We made it! (But not all of us) - Nick from California
VOICEMAILER: NICK FROM CALIFORNIA: [01:07:20] Hey, Jay! It's Dick from California. And your last episode made me reflect on, well, two basic things: one, I'm very grateful for the fact that we made it. I was deeply concerned, with what was happening in North Korea and his statements on nuclear weapons, that Trump clearly being an evil idiot and that we would all be dead and nuclear holocaust, all of us, all of humanity.
He did in fact at one point talk about nuking hurricanes, so I don't think my concern was that far off-base. When people ask me, you know, have asked me recently, did you think it would be this bad? I honestly answered them, actually, I thought it would be worse. I really thought that we would all be dead in nuclear war. So, I'm mostly grateful for us survivors that we're here; let's take a moment for that.
However, this brings me to my second point to reflect on the many who aren't. My heart goes out for everyone who lost a loved one during COVID. But also for all those migrants who had to spend time in one of those detention center gulags separated from their families, alone in inadequate sanitation. Horrendous. And for anyone else by the way that I missed during this, that was hurt by this administration, I really am sorry for. I want to see him impeached. I really think he deserves to lose his benefits, that he gets as an ex-president. I don't think he deserves any of that. And I'd like to see him go to jail for all of his crimes, but to be honest, I'm never going to feel that justice was served until he is sleeping in an overcrowded facility on a space blanket with improper sanitation like some of the children that he sentenced to that, crying for their parents. I'll never get over that. It's a national embarrassment. And, I don't know, maybe in an episode, you could play a few clips reminding us of these things because I never want people to forget about what we did to those migrant children -- and the other atrocities he's committed. Anyway, Jay, stay awesome.
The cause and result of moral panic - Paul from Vermont
VOICEDMAILER: PAUL FROM VERMONT: [01:09:31] Good morning, Jay and Amanda. Thanks once again for your incredible podcast work. Your episode #1333, the repost about An Examination of Fear, continues to roll around my mind as I observe myself demonize the insurrectionists, at the same time feeling fairly confident that acting on those thoughts and impulses would be counterproductive. Thank you MLK and Mr. Rogers.
While struggling to understand the insurrectionists and the millions of people who are convinced the election was stolen from Trump, I wondered whether the "Stop-the-Steal" mania could be put in the category of "mass hysteria," like that attributed to the panic reportedly triggered in 1938 by Orson Welles' "War of the Worlds" radio broadcast. A bit of internet research led me to a term and concept that seems more to the point: "moral panic." It's defined in one piece as "a social reaction of mass anxiety based on the impression that a certain person, status or a group of people present a danger to society." Here is a paragraph from the article.
"Many sociologists have observed that those in power ultimately benefit from moral panics since they lead to increased control of the population and the reinforcement of the authority of those in charge. Others have commented that moral panics offer a mutually beneficial relationship between news media and the state. For the media, reporting on threats that become moral panics increases viewership and makes money for news organizations. For the state, the creation of a moral panic can give it cause to enact legislation and laws that would seem illegitimate without the perceived threat at the center of the moral panic."
Sounds like the relationship between Trumpists and Fox News. Also, in the run-up to the invasion of Iraq, the relationship between G.W. Bush and the NY Times.
I have yet to find any discussion of moral panic that goes beyond describing the phenomenon. One article suggested, limply, that the cure might be calm presentation of evidence contradicting the delusion. Good luck!! Sixty courts and more than sixty judges, many Trump appointees, did just that about the allegedly stolen election. The truth may have won in court, but the truth did not win many or any hearts and minds. Why not? I guess once a delusional belief system forms, it stays put. We humans are vulnerable.
How should our nation address the problem of millions of our citizens in the grip of a moral panic? Demonization is simply the wrong tactic, not helpful as a long-term strategy. Prompt consequences and accountability? Yes, indeed imperative. Jail for those at the Capitol? A great training ground for alt-right radicals to become further radicalized. A more important problem: our nation includes millions of deluded voting citizens. How do we work constructively and lovingly with them? I'm working on it. Hopefully, someone smarter than I, maybe you two or one of your listeners, will figure it out sooner.
That's enough for now. Here's hoping you are both enjoying this day.
Final comments on moral panic and the shifting eras of white supremacist violence
JAY TOMLINSON - HOST, BEST OF THE LEFT: [01:12:17] Thanks to all of those who called into the voicemail line or wrote in their messages to be played as VoicedMails. If you'd like to leave a comment or question of your own to be played on the show, you can record a message at (202) 999-3991 or write me a message to email@example.com. I've lots of little things to mention today.
The first is a personal message to V from upstate New York. We heard from him in the most recent show that wasn't a rerun show. And I have to ask him on the show because I don't think I have his current email address. Anyway, after hearing your message, V, another anonymous listener would like to give you a one-year membership, but I have to be able to get in touch with you to make that happen. So, please write me an email.
Secondly, I've started doing something that is against my preference, but is what I hope for the greater good. The show has been going through a little bit of financial turmoil, and we are pushing our referral program, our Refer-o-Matic, hard these days trying to grow the audience, and another of those strategies is for me to get famous. It's not my preference. I've never particularly been interested in being famous, but I've started putting myself out there, offering myself as an interviewee to go on other shows and be interviewed. And I just went on a show called Spoonful of News.
I'm telling you about it because it went pretty well. I mean, it went well if listening to me talk for almost two and a half hours is up your alley, then that is the place you're going to want to go. The reason I say it went well is because we set out to talk about hyper-partisanship -- well-timed -- and the way the conversation meandered, I was able to hit on a lot of my sort of greatest hits smartest points, maybe of all time. And so they're all in one place and these are all things that I tend to not repeat myself that often. I, to be honest, I should repeat myself more. So in this interview, I pull these ideas that I've been gathering, mostly stealing from other people. I mean, there might be an original idea in there, but mostly it's me collecting other people's good ideas and then adopting them as my own. And half a dozen real gems happened to come out in that conversation. So it's in two parts, actually. So, it's the Spoonful of News podcast or if you're a member, it's already in your members' feed, or if you signed up for a membership right now, then it would be there waiting for you all in one place. But if you want to go find it on its own, check out the Spoonful of News podcast, then look for my name in the list there.
Third note, I wanted to respond to Paul about moral panic. I think he's onto something, and I'm not sure if it's exactly right or not. I haven't done much research on moral panics, but the slight flaw in that analysis may be, unless I'm misunderstanding, is that the way he described the definition of a moral panic seemed like the vast majority of people can be whipped into a frenzy, focusing their anger on a small group of people. And to some degree that is true, you know, whipping up anger against minorities or immigrants and that sort of thing, that's definitely happening. But it's still sort of a minority of people who are even getting whipped up in that way. Whereas, maybe a more accurate description of what we are living through is, I think as we have pointed out on the show before, it is the majority group, the former majority dominant culture group slowly, or maybe quickly, recognizing its impending minority status. In all sorts of ways, White people are going to go from the Majority to just to be the largest minority, you know, give it another few decades.
But also culturally speaking, if you're a cultural conservative, you are right to think that you are losing the culture war. They are; they don't have the culture. And there was a comment recently, I think, Joy-Ann Reid, because we were doing some cable news watching which we don't usually do, but she made a point that really resonated with us talking about how conservatives want the culture more than they want the politics. And that made so many things click into place when she said that: that they hate Hollywood and they hate liberal media and they hate universities and all of that, because these are all the mechanisms that help shape culture, and they are losing it. They're losing the culture because they have a outdated, backward thinking, terrible perspective on culture. So, they are losing that battle and rightfully so, but they're upset about it. And when they have political power, it seems like what they want to do more than anything is impose their culture on the left. We sort of have the culture, so we move onto the next thing. We want policy; we're interested in actually making the world better or making people's lives better or saving ourselves from climate catastrophe, and so on. But when conservatives have power, the thing that they are focused on the most is making liberals cry, just colloquially speaking, if you've talked to the politicians or the funders, well, they have their own ideas about tax cuts and business and things like that. But your average run-of-the-mill conservative, they get the most excited about winning these relatively meaningless culture battles because they are losing the culture war so badly. Anyway, that's a long way of saying that it seems different than the moral panic of the War of the Worlds where everyone collectively gets scared of a particular thing, because this is a relatively small group who are afraid of the whole world. So, the dynamics are a little inverted, but I don't know. I would love to hear other people's thoughts. If you think Paul is onto something with moral panic, please call in and let us know.
And then, just the very last thing I have to say today was a realization I had during the research phase of today's episode because we started with a much broader perspective than we ended up with. And the research included going way back into the annals of White terrorism, thinking of the Jim Crow era and lynching and all of those sorts of institutionalized terrorism coming from right-wing White people and how the government ignored that, in a way. And so it's not that that didn't fit. It just ended up not being where I decided to take the focus of today's episode.
But my initial thought was no, that's a different kind of White violence. I'm more interested in focusing on the anti-government White violence. And then, it slowly dawned on me that those feel like different things, but I think it might be more accurate to refer to them as simply being from different eras because when the government was institutionally White supremacist more than it is now, before the Civil Rights era, then you could be a White supremacist and also pro-government because they thought, well, the government's pretty much on my side. To be a White nationalist and to be an actual American patriot weren't necessarily in conflict with one another. Whereas now, the government has the . . . it's dealing with the legacies of White supremacy, obviously, but it is not explicitly White supremacist. We've gotten rid of the laws that explicitly create segregation, etc., so if you are a White supremacist and your government pivots on you like that, that can be the moment -- and, you know, you might need some time to really notice from like the sixties to the beginning of the Reagan era, there was this big transition period, but once they all caught on, okay, the government is gone, like, we've lost the government. They're going to be a, not overtly White supremacist power structure anymore. Well, then for those extremists really, really opened to the idea of being extremist in the cause of White supremacy. That is when you pivot from simply lynching people to seeing the government as the enemy. And that is that period when the militia movement comes into existence in the early eighties, sort of in the wake, a slow-moving wake of the Civil Rights era. And so what I once thought of as hate-based violence and anti-government violence are two different kinds of violence -- not so much, not so much, I don't think. I think that the reason we have anti-government violence is because the government is refusing to be as hateful as it used to be. And if you have to choose between supporting your government and supporting your hateful ideologies, there's a decent number of people who are going to go with hate and that makes the government your enemy. And that was just something that had never occurred to me before until making today's episode, so I wanted to share.
As always, keep the comments coming in at (202) 999-3991 or by emailing me to [email protected]. That is going to be it for today. Thanks to everyone for listening. Thanks to Deon Clark and Erin Clayton for their research work for the show. Thanks to the Monosyllabic Transcriptionist Trio Ben, Dan, and Ken for their volunteer work helping put our transcripts together. Thanks to Amanda Hoffman for all of her work on our social media outlets, activism segments, graphic design, web mastering, occasional bonus show co-hosting and on and on. And thanks to those who support the show by becoming a member or purchasing gift memberships at bestoftheleft.com/support, as that is absolutely how the program survives. And now everyone can earn rewards, particularly our super secret, curiosity-inducing Best of the Left artwork by telling everyone you know about the show using our Refer-o-Matic. Check that out at bestoftheleft.com/refer. Links to the Refer-o-Matic and membership and all of that of course are linked right in the show notes. For details on the show itself, including links to all of the sources and music used in this and every episode, all that information can always be found in the show notes, on the blog and likely right on the device you're using to listen.
So, coming to from far outside the conventional wisdom of Washington, DC, my name is Jay and this has been the Best of the Left Podcast coming to twice weekly. Thanks entirely to the members and donors to the show from bestoftheleft.com.