Organized right-wing extremists groups have evolved from their historic beginnings of the Ku Klux Klan and the neo-Nazi organizations and over time, they have spread into a wide range of competing forms and ideologies. These extremists share common elements and characteristics, such as the view of racial hierarchy, anti-Semitism, apocalypticism, and a masculinity perspective. They also share common ground with all social movements; however, there are distinct differences among the groups in the political, religious, and youth cultural realms. The ideology of right-wing extremism is difficult to define because devotees of these groups have multiple memberships in many right-wing groups.
People involved in right-wing extremism have come from other right-wing organizations and will likely move on to other groups as their beliefs change (Baysinger 2006). The Christian Identity movement is the core of right-wing extremism and has become a meaningful religious belief for many right-wing extremists. Christian Identity involves two separate theological ideas. The first and most prominent form of Christian Identity is the “seed-line” theology.
Through this religious thinking, Jews are depicted as the actual offspring of Satan and Eve and all non-whites are considered to be “beasts in the field” according to the biblical passage contained in Genesis 1:24. Right-wing extremists who embrace “seed-line” Christian Identity believe this justifies death, enslavement, or expulsion of all non-whites from their country. The second theological belief embraced by right-wing extremists is the British-Israel version of Christian Identity. In this religious belief, Aryans, rather than Jews, are God’s chosen people.
True Israel is made up of Anglo-Saxon, British, Scandinavian, and Germanic peoples, not Semitic or Ashkenazi Jews. Both “seed-line” and British-Israel Christian identity followers refer to information contained in The Thirteenth Tribe by Arthur Koestler to support their views of modern day Jews (Baysinger 2006). Anti-Semitism acts as the vital, internationally adaptable ideological glue that holds this ideology together. Violence is seen as the last resort in the fight for survival. This position on political violence is the only solution to the fundamental oppression of the Aryan race (Grumke 2012).Organized right-wing extremists groups have evolved from their historic beginnings of the Ku Klux Klan and the neo-Nazi organizations and over time, they have spread into a wide range of competing forms and ideologies. These extremists share common elements and characteristics, such as the view of racial hierarchy, anti-Semitism, apocalypticism, and a masculinity perspective.
They also share common ground with all social movements; however, there are distinct differences among the groups in the political, religious, and youth cultural realms. The ideology of right-wing extremism is difficult to define because devotees of these groups have multiple memberships in many right-wing groups that have span the globe. People involved in right-wing extremism have come from other right-wing organizations and will likely move on to other groups as their beliefs change (Baysinger 2006). The Christian Identity movement is the core of right-wing extremism and has become a meaningful religious belief for many right-wing extremists. Christian Identity involves two separate theological ideas. The first and most prominent form of Christian Identity is the “seed-line” theology. Through this religious thinking, Jews are depicted as the actual offspring of Satan and Eve and all non-whites are considered to be “beasts in the field” according to the biblical passage contained in Genesis 1:24. Right-wing extremists who embrace “seed-line” Christian Identity believe this justifies death, enslavement, or expulsion of all non-whites from their country.
The second theological belief embraced by right-wing extremists is the British-Israel version of Christian Identity. In this religious belief, Aryans, rather than Jews, are God’s chosen people. True Israel is made up of Anglo-Saxon, British, Scandinavian, and Germanic peoples, not Semitic or Ashkenazi Jews. Both “seed-line” and British-Israel Christian identity followers refer to information contained in The Thirteenth Tribe by Arthur Koestler to support their views of modern day Jews (Baysinger 2006). Anti-Semitism acts as the vital, internationally adaptable ideological glue that holds this ideology together. Violence is seen as the last resort in the fight for survival.
This position on political violence is the only solution to the fundamental oppression of the Aryan race (Grumke 2012). During the mid nineteenth century, British-Israelism became a movement as a result of the works by John Wilson. His books and speeches started to appeal to the British middle class located in Canada. This movement started to catch steam and eventually migrated to the United States, which started to impact followers in Washington and Oregon.
This movement influenced the emergence of Christian Identity through its participation in conferences held in the western United States from 1937 to 1947. The movement started to spread and support information that furthered apocalyptic, conspiratorial, and anti-Semitic beliefs (Baysinger 2006). The connection between Christian Identity and racism can be attributed to fundamentalist Protestants, which included Wesley Swift, from the Midwest Bible Belt and southern states that were advocates of the movement that would eventually become Christian Identity.
Wesley Swift, who had been affiliated with the Ku Klux Klan in the 1940s, is identified as one source of Christian Identity that furthered “seed-line” Identity theology (Post 2015). While the Christian Identity movement can be traced back to the nineteenth century, the present trend got its start over forty years ago. Swift was allied with many notable figures in the Christian Identity movement after World War II which included William Gale, the founder of the Posse Comitatus in 1970. The Posse Comitatus was founded on a belief that, constitutionally, no governmental body higher than the county level is legitimate.
The movement did not gain serious traction until Gale was able to incorporate his Christian Identity beliefs with the anti-tax movement laced with anti-Semitism and beliefs about Jewish banking conspiracies (Post 2015). The Posse Comitatus evolved into three different stages. In the early 1970s, Gale developed theories of the Christian Identity and the “citizen’s government” into vigilantism.
When the agricultural crisis emerged in the late 1970s, Gale was able to use this catastrophe to spread the Posse Comitatus ideology throughout the United States, namely the Farm Belt. The Posse Comitatus publicity really began to spread in the early 1980s, with the killing of two Federal Marshals by Posse member and tax protester Gordon Kahl. This action began the downfall of the Posse Comitatus in 1983 due to the negative publicity and aggressive state/federal prosecutions. A series of liberal groups rose up who organized the farmers in a positive way and debunked the Jewish banking conspiracy which dealt a significant blow to Posse recruitment.
By 1988, the Posse Comitatus had collapsed with the death of Gale due to increased farm foreclosures and no more farmers left to organize. Even with the collapse of the Posse Comitatus, you can still see the original concepts developed by Gale in today’s militias, common law courts, and the county supremacy movement (Levitas 1998). Right-wing religious hyperbole appeals to many extremists for many reasons and has evolved into beliefs other than religion. Timothy McVeigh, the Oklahoma City bomber, was not a believer in organized religion.
He distanced himself from Christianity and believed natural law guided a person between right and wrong. McVeigh had an obsession with The Turner Diaries written by William Pierce. Even though McVeigh admitted he lost touch with religion, he responded to Christian Identity beliefs that were throughout Pierce’s book. McVeigh believed he needed to receive authorization for the bombing through a common law court. His right-wing beliefs were something he had in common with other militia and patriot groups, such as a significant belief that opposed government regulation of the Second Amendment to the Constitution and more importantly he had a solid belief in a New World Order – a single ruling government in the form of the United States. Timothy McVeigh was influenced by the Christian Identity movement but should not be recognized as a true follower of the ideology (Vysosky 2006). To bring the followers of the Christian Identity ideology and non-religious ideology together, Richard Butler established the Aryan Nations, which served as a consolidator of right-wing groups. This included those members who followed the Christian Identity doctrine and members who did not follow the movement.
Bruce Hoffman, the author of Inside Terrorism, describes the Aryan Nations as being extremist, anti-Semitic, neo-Nazi group of white supremacists, survivalist and militant tax resisters (Hoffman 2006). Murderous violence does not embody the Aryan Nations, but anti-government and anti-Jewish hatred is the common language among the Aryan Nations. They believe in a Volkish (Nationalist) state and more politically motivated than following the strict adherence to the Christian Identity doctrine. The violence of the Aryan Nations picked up in the 1980s with the killing of a Denver, Colorado Jewish talk show host by the Aryan Nations splinter group known as The Order. Members of The Order also committed several bank robberies and bombings through its reign of terror. By the start of the twenty-first century, the Aryan Nations began to crumble due to a civil judgment against the organization. However, there seems to be a matter of concern with the Aryan Nations today due to its commitment to support Al-Qaeda since their ideology shares a common enemy: The US Government and the Jews (Baysinger 2006). The terrorist youth subculture label has been used to describe the groups popularly known as the skinheads.
They first materialized in the late 1960s in London, England as a working-class youth response to the hippie trend. One of the most violent and best organized neo-Nazi skinhead groups is known as the Hammerskin Nation. A number of its members have been convicted of beating and murdering of minorities.
The Hammerskin Nation describe themselves as a leaderless group of men and women who have adopted the White Power Skinhead lifestyle with a goal that can be summed up in fourteen words: “We must secure the existence of our people and a future for White Children.” Between 1984 and 1987 the Skinhead scene in Dallas, Texas reached a peak for violence but lacked political direction, however, has always been geared towards the Christian Identity doctrine. Since its inception, many regional and global Hammerskin groups have appeared. Since 2000, the national Hammerskin website listed nineteen chapters in the United States, as well as chapters in Canada, France, England, the Netherlands, Spain, Switzerland, Australia, and Germany. In recent years the Hammerskin chapters have been decreasing giving evidence that the group is deteriorating in numbers. One of the major elements connecting Hammerskins together globally is through white power music. The Hammerskins use the power of music to educate people of their ideology through hate rock bands, which is politics through music.
Hate rock has been an inspirational force and effective recruiting tool for extremists like the Hammerskins. Given the violent and racist lyrics of white power music, it is not surprising Hammerskin concerts have been associated with violence (Reynolds 1999). The militia has evolved during the past three decades, redefining its purpose, ideology, and appeal to future members. The consistent theme is the distrust of the federal government especially when it comes to the Second Amendment. The militia movement has varied as militias have adapted their ideology to address emerging issues.
Militias are part of the patriot movement that emerged from the challenges of the civil rights and feminist movements of the 1960s and 1970s to social and economic systems for regulating race and gender relations (Keller 2009). There were two forces responsible for is right-wing movement. The first force was the stress of the genuine economic suffering that resulted from global restructuring and the second force was the stemming outrage regarding the societal gains achieved by oppressed groups (Baysinger 2006). The rise of the militia groups gained ground in the 1990s with incidents that included the passage of the Brady Bill and North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA – 1994), the Ruby Ridge shootout (1992), the assault rifle ban (1994), and the Branch Davidian standoff in Waco, Texas (1993) (Baysinger 2006). Bruce Hoffman stated in his book, Inside Terrorism, militias come in two varieties. The first variety is the talking militia. They do not advocate the overthrow of the government and are primarily concerned with preserving the right to bear arms (Hoffman 2006).
We have a talking militia group in Tarrant County Texas called Tarrant County Open Carry. They advocate constitutional carry through peaceful means. The second variety is the marching or up-front militias. These are the militias that use force and violence to accomplish their goals. They embrace the more radical principles of right-wing extremism. Marching militias operate in closed cell groups reserved for relatives and trusted friend. While many militia members are not law violators, the presence of members who have more radical beliefs, such as Christian Identity, have become a matter of concern in the twenty-first century (Hoffman 2006). The majority of terrorist attacks on U.
S. soil are carried out by white supremacists, not Muslim terrorists. In the years since the attack on the World Trade Center in New York, nearly twice as many people have been killed in the United States by right-wing extremists and anti-government radicals than by Muslim jihadists (Baysinger 2006). White supremacist and anti-government idealists are a major problem, and their growth rate needs to be addressed. This has been an ignored threat that has assimilated into American society. Each time a right-wing extremist is perpetrated, it is dismissed as a lone actor or mental health issues.
It is very important not to ignore these threats. Debates on terrorism focus intensely on religious terrorism. This focus does not include domestic terrorism from right-wing extremists and the low number of plots in the United States perpetrated by Muslims. The Global Terrorism database (GTD) stated there were 65 attacks in the United States associated with right-wing ideologies compared to only 24 by Muslim extremists since 9/11 (Post 2015).
It does a disservice to a minority group that suffers from increasingly hostile public opinion. We need a constant reminder that right-wing extremism is the leading source of ideological violence in the United States and has changed in its way of doing business over the last few decades. Social media, ideology through music, and a big propaganda network with affiliates have pushed right-wing extremism to the forefront from the way these groups operated a few decades ago. They are encouraging more lone attackers than terrorist attacks in groups. Militias, neo-Nazis and sovereign citizens are the biggest threat we, as a nation, face in regard to extremism due to it being an emerging threat we have ignored due to the war on terrorism where our enemy is religious based terrorism (Vysotsky 2006). The Hammerskin Nation was born in violence. In the summer of 1988, five of its members started a crime spree of hate in Dallas, Texas. They sprayed swastikas on local Jewish temples and shot out the windows of a Jewish community center.
They severely beat some minorities that dare set foot inside a public park named for the Confederate general Robert E. Lee. The Dallas County district attorney claimed it was the beginning of the end for the Hammerskin Nation after the conviction of these men. This was far from the truth. More than twenty-five years later, the Hammerskin Nation is still unleashing chaos through terrorist activities. In 2012, two terrorist attacks have been linked to the Hammerskin Nation, with the latest and most violent happened when member walked into a Sikh temple in Wisconsin and opened fire on worshippers.
The shooter, Wade Page, killed six people and wounded three others before killing himself during a gun battle with police. Page was a guitarist in multiple white power rock bands connected with the Hammerskin Nation. The recent violence shows how unhinged members of the racist Hammerskin Nation can be. The Hammerskin Nation has had its ups and downs as a right-wing extremist group; however, they still show themselves as an organized white supremacy group of anti-Semitism through the promotion of white power rock music. They have earned the distinction of one of the most violent extremist groups around (Reynolds 1998).
The 1990s saw the rise and fall of the militia movement sparked by a combination of anger at the federal government and the deaths of dissenters at Ruby Ridge, Idaho and a year later at the Branch Davidian compound in Waco, Texas. The movement escalated in the mid 1990s and continued to grow after 168 people were killed by Timothy McVeigh in the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing. In the years that followed, the militia movement largely faded due to systematic prosecutions, and the election of the highly conservative president, George H. Bush. After almost a decade after the right-wing militias disappeared from public view, they have been reappearing in large numbers around the country. The key to the reemergence of the militia movement is the election and reelection of Barak Obama and his dissention of radical right views.
The large levels of non-white immigration and the drop of the percentage of the overall white population have help radicalize the movement once again. This is largely due to politician and the media pushing conspiracy theories and spreading Patriot propaganda such as claims about Barak Obama’s country of birth. The militia movement may not have the inspiration it once did in the 1990s but it is clearly growing again and has the same predisposition for violence (Baysinger 2006). Paranoia has fueled the fire of right-wing extremism’s recent reemergence. The Internet serves as a catalyst on how quickly these extremists can mobilize on a worldwide scale. Evidence that angry Americans are arming themselves for action is growing. An example of this is the reaction to a National Guard exercise planned in the town of Arcadia, Iowa. The guardsmen intended to conduct a four day mock search for an arms dealer that would include patrolling the streets, distributing photos of the fictional bad guy and knocking on neighborhood doors.
The people feared the exercise was about posing a dictatorship or martial law on the country. The National Guard quickly cancelled its planned exercise do to disturbing signs posted by The Idaho Citizens Constitutional Militia’s search for a “field sniper.” (Keller 2009). This incident is a disturbing example of how easily right-wing extremism can emerge and quickly turn to the possibility of violence if ideology is threatened. The number of right-wing extremists within a community is not a reliable indicator of the likelihood of right-wing violence.
Different strategies must be developed to prevent large scale terror attacks by individuals with right-wing extremist views. The problems with hate related crimes and right-wing radical beliefs can be addressed by a combination of many things. A strategy focused on preventive measures in the European community is social intervention. This intervention’s goal is to reintegrate individuals involved in right-wing extremism into their communities.
These communities have focused on reform rather than punishment. The actors responsible for prevention of racism and right-wing extremism are schools, child care services, outreach workers, youth clubs, local police, anti-racist organizations, and religious groups. This type of prevention would be ideal; however, it would not be effective to prevent lone actor terrorism. Early intervention and prevention are the only long term practical solutions to this violent extremism (Kiess 2017). It’s vital to empower citizens to take action at the grass roots level. Countries have to support the initiatives put forth by communities to combat extremism. They are the best in the position to connect with individuals vulnerable of being drawn into extremist behavior and political violence.
One policy proposal in Europe is to help individuals leave violent extremist groups and help train local police on how to spot early signs of violent behavior among suspects. Institutions, such as schools, have an important role to play in challenging extremism. They must be encouraged to engage with potential extremists and challenge them in the classroom (Melzer 2013). The sophisticated use of the Internet and social media as propaganda and a tool for violence adds another challenge to countering right-wing extremism. A number of right-wing groups use Internet forums to initiate violence and attacks.
One proposal would be to get the assistance of powerful Internet corporations and social media sites to ban or shut down extremist’s websites, chat rooms and forums. Government entities and Non-Governmental Organizations need to develop effective responses to violent messages by supporting the creation of counter narrative sites challenge extremist ideologies by developing partnerships with the public and private sector to create and disseminate counter and alternate narratives. Governments need to focus on how the Internet and social media sites can be used to enhance the reach and impact of these narratives by including testimonials of victims and former extremists. The most important step in countering right-wing extremism is strong political leadership condemning extremist groups and violent acts committed by these organizations. Leadership needs to expose the claims made by extremists and active respond to them (Malstrom 2013). An important issue to countering right-wing extremism is to address the socioeconomic issues and not center on the cultural ones which opens the door to right-wing extremism. To avoid this trap will require a renewed focus on socioeconomic issues by building positive political programs to combat radicalization (Kiess 2017).