Category Archives: History

James Baldwin FBI Files: How the Author’s Fearlessness Led to a Decade Long Witch-hunt

One of the many paradoxes of American society is that the Federal Bureau of Investigation has become both destroyer and archivists of 20th-century American radicalism. It has consistently provided to the public the intellectually sexiest of all public government documents — an FBI file on the life of an American radical. The bureau’s counter-intelligence program (COINTEL-PRO), a division of the FBI that spied on and attempted to disrupt and destroy American radical movements from the late 1950s to the mid-1970s, produced tons of paper that scholars and others have asked for, read and studied for the past 40 years.

Enter William Maxwell, a major scholar of the FBI and Black literature. In his new book, he shows that from the 1960s through the mid-1970s, the bureau treated James Baldwin, the Negro writer, as a “civil rights VIP” because the author and activist was at the crossroads of every shade of Black American activism of that period — Martin Luther King and his Southern Christian Leadership Conference, the radical Black leftist Robert Williams, the Nation of Islam under Malcolm X and Elijah Muhammad, and the Black Panther Party. Because he kept this level of company and integrity, the FBI put Baldwin in its “Independent Black Nationalist Extremist” category.

The book shows not only how the novelist was monitored by the FBI, but how Baldwin, who often claimed in interviews and speeches that he knew that the bureau and the Central Intelligence Agency were stalking him, fought back by publicly claiming he was going to write about the bureau’s devilish acts. The intellectual’s public threat enraged FBI director J. Edgar Hoover, who had become one of the most powerful men in 20th-century America by mastering the sinister art of spying and disruption. Baldwin referred to Hoover as “history’s most highly paid (and most utterly useless) voyeur.”

“James Baldwin: The FBI File” is exciting and humorous in all the right and wrong historical ways. The disturbing civil liberties and privacy issues aside, it is always historically entertaining to see how afraid and ignorant white authorities were of Black people, particularly Black activists. One burst-out-laughing moment was when one agent described Baldwin’s elegant, flamboyant diction as a French accent. “Both uncloseted homosexuality and open criticism of the FBI were capital offenses in Hoover’s extra-legal criminal code,” reminds Maxwell, “and Baldwin was especially suspect for combining them in one super-articulate package. … The more Baldwin spoke out against FBI failings, the more dangerous he was judged and the more starkly this tension was set: one of America’s greatest living writers was also one of America’s most wanted.”

Baldwin made statements in these pages that in 2017 would get him banned from sitting on an MSNBC live roundtable but would get detailed negative coverage from Fox News. In a summary report, the FBI took the writer/activist’s quotes from a 1963 Washington, D.C., newspaper account of him speaking at Howard: “I wonder how long we can endure — stand and not fight back. … Many … even members of my own family who would think nothing of picking up arms tomorrow.” He was not afraid to often say that it was revolution that the United States needed — and not the mostly symbolic, electoral one Bernie Sanders is talking about today. One of Baldwin’s softer statements, translated from French, states, “We represent around 10 percent of the American population. Without talking about starting a revolution, it is certainly enough to destroy society.”

The bureau, which also created internal reviews of Baldwin’s books, officially gave up harassing the writer in 1974. Wrote Maxwell: “The nearly 2,000-page Bureau biography of Baldwin that took off with his speech before the Liberation Committee for Africa in 1961 thus landed with a whimper, a delisting rather [than] an arrest, an escape or a hard-to-imagine conversion to Hooverism.”

Like his Black activist contemporaries, Baldwin’s FBI files remind the reader how powerful Black activism was before it was co-opted by desegregation, Corporate America, the Democratic Party, the expansion of local and national broadcasting and film (and now, social media), and white nonprofit grant givers. That time’s political and social improvisation, along with the audacity of optimistic public self-determination, well documented here, makes the spirit hum.

Not surprisingly, this story of FBI easedropping doesn’t hide the movement infighting. Reading about how Stanley Levinson, Dr. King’s (white) leftist aide and ghostwriter, used the homophobic card in attacking Baldwin for saying (white) liberals were partly responsible for the bombing of the four little girls in a Birmingham, Ala., Baptist church, was fascinating. (Hoover, who saw Baldwin as both militant Black terrorist and homosexual pervert, enjoyed that tidbit.) The reports remind us now in 2017 how angry and militant Black activists were after that bombing.

The book’s major disappointment, however, is that the publisher, literally photocopying the bureau’s file, didn’t take the time, spend the money or make the effort to digitally clear up the unnecessarily unreadable English-language articles and translate the French interviews included. Even if this scholarly book supposedly triples as a coffee-table text and an advertisement for the author’s historically significant website archiving the FBI files of major Black American writers, Arcade’s refusal to do the extra work makes the total product pointlessly annoying; the author should be slightly embarrassed. Showcasing the powerful, public resistance of this world-historical figure should involve the most effort possible, because his words, public associations and open-air acts were so brave, bold and inspiring. No idea, no statement, should be left undocumented, untranslated and unanalyzed. History demands better, and Maxwell and Arcade know that and should have done better.

Maxwell, who correctly describes the FBI’s COINTEL-PRO files as “strange documents of both literally criticism and secret police work,” is yet another intellectual who has taken the academic field of Baldwin Studies a significant public step toward the full biographies that will one day exist now that Baldwin’s family has finally released much of his papers to the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture. “James Baldwin: The FBI File” includes a particularly powerful introduction by Maxwell comparing Baldwin’s public work and government harassment to the largely Facebooked and Tweeted, and therefore heavily monitored, Black Lives Matter movement: “Likely the single thing that Hoover’s bureau shares with Black Lives Matter, in fact, is the once-uncommon judgment that Baldwin was the ’60s’ most significant Black author.”

This collection of documents reminds Black America what real power looked like and could look like again. It should be experienced along with Raoul Peck’s superb Baldwin documentary “I Am Not Your Negro.” It must be purchased, read, passed around Black America and discussed in and out of the classroom immediately. Maxwell should be congratulated for allowing the reader, the recipient of Baldwin’s life and work, to read (into) the raw rage and fear of those faraway, somewhen days and nights filled with revolutionary fervor — that powerful time the pen and the sword threatened to merge.

By Todd Burroughs/AtlantaBlackStar

Posted by The NON-Conformist

US repeatedly interfered in Russian elections – Putin

The US has repeatedly meddled in Russian politics, “especially aggressively” in the 2012 presidential elections, President Vladimir Putin told Oliver Stone, while dismissing allegations that Moscow hacked the US elections as lies from Trump’s opponents.

In the final part of US filmmaker Oliver Stone’s documentary series, Putin Interviews, which was aired on Showtime on Thursday night, the Russian leader told the Oscar-winning director about how Washington has attempted to interfere in the Russian electoral process through US diplomatic staff and by pouring money into NGOs.

“[They did it] in 2000, and in 2012, this always happened. But especially aggressively in 2012. I will not go into details,” Putin said, adding that all of the other post-Soviet republics have also been subject to US meddling.

As one of the most glaring examples, Putin pointed out that US diplomatic workers had actually campaigned for the Russian opposition.

“They gathered opposition forces and financed them, went to opposition rallies,” the Russia leader noted, adding that he had broached this issue with members of the past administration, including former US President Barack Obama and former Secretary of State John Kerry.

Engaging in the power struggle within Russia runs contrary to the role of diplomats, which is to “establish interstate relations,” Putin argued. Another tool the US uses to project influence is NGOs, which “are frequently financed through a number of layers and structures either from the State Department or some other quasi-governmental sources,” he said, adding that Washington employs the same interference strategy all over the world.

Dismissing the allegations that Russia meddled in the November presidential elections as a “lie,” Putin said that US-Russia relations are being held hostage to US domestic squabbles and used as “a tool in the intra-political fight in the United States.”

Putin said he had read the US intelligence report alleging Russia’s involvement in the US elections and found it superficial, as it lacks concrete details and is based on speculation rather than hard facts.

Putin stressed that Russia has not carried out cyberattacks targeting the infrastructure of other countries.

“We have not engaged in any cyberattacks. It is hard to imagine that any country, including a country like Russia, could seriously influence the electoral campaign and its results,” he said.

When asked whether a “secret war” was underway between Russia and the US in the cybersphere, the Russian president simply said that for every action, there is always an equal and opposite reaction.

The Russian president admitted that it had taken some time for Russia to grasp the threat to its cybersecurity that had come with the hardware and software it procured from Europe and the US soon after the collapse of the Soviet Union.

“Since the early 1990s, we assumed that the Cold War was over. We thought there was no need to take any extra security measures because we were an organic part of the world community,” Putin said, adding that now Russia is “taking certain steps” to reclaim its technological independence.

From RT

Posted by The NON-Conformist

History Channel Portrays Hannibal as Black, White People Cry Foul Over ‘Historical Revisionism’

History Channel‘s newest documentary series, Barbarians Rising, tackles the fall of Rome over the course of 700 years of invasions. However, the most recent episode that aired Monday depicts Hannibal of Carthage as a Black man, and many white history buffs are crying foul over the “historical inaccuracy.”

Image result for barbarians rising

In the series, Hannibal is portrayed by Black British actor Nicholas Pinnock. The famous Carthaginian was a thorn in the empire’s side. He became a general at the age of 26 and managed to unite barbarian tribes to stop Rome’s imperial rise. The military genius was famous for climbing the Alps with war elephants whose sole purpose was to stomp the Roman army.

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More from Atlanta Black Star

Posted by the NON-Conformist

“Staggering” civilian deaths from U.S.-led air strikes in Raqqa – U.N.

Intensified coalition air strikes supporting an assault by U.S.-backed forces on Islamic State’s stronghold of Raqqa in Syria are causing a “staggering loss of civilian life”, United Nations war crimes investigators said on Wednesday.

The Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), a group of Kurdish and Arab militias supported by a U.S.-led coalition, began to attack Raqqa a week ago to take it from the jihadists. The SDF, supported by heavy coalition air strikes, have taken territory to the west, east and north of the city.

“We note in particular that the intensification of air strikes, which have paved the ground for an SDF advance in Raqqa, has resulted not only in staggering loss of civilian life, but has also led to 160,000 civilians fleeing their homes and becoming internally displaced,” Paulo Pinheiro, chairman of the U.N. Commission of Inquiry told the Human Rights Council.

Pinheiro provided no figure for civilian casualties in Raqqa, where rival forces are racing to capture ground from Islamic State. The Syrian army is also advancing on the desert area west of the city.

Separately, Human Rights Watch expressed concern in a statement about the use of incendiary white phosphorous weapons by the U.S.-led coalition fighting Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, saying it endangered civilians when used in populated areas.

In its speech to the 47-member forum in Geneva, the U.S. delegation made no reference to Raqqa or the air strikes. U.S. diplomat Jason Mack called the Syrian government “the primary perpetrator” of egregious human rights violations in the country.

Pinheiro said that if the international coalition’s offensive is successful, it could liberate Raqqa’s civilian population, including Yazidi women and girls, “whom the group has kept sexually enslaved for almost three years as part of an ongoing and unaddressed genocide”.

“The imperative to fight terrorism must not, however, be undertaken at the expense of civilians who unwillingly find themselves living in areas where ISIL is present,” he added.

Pinheiro also said that 10 agreements between the Syrian government and armed groups to evacuate fighters and civilians from besieged areas, including eastern Aleppo last December, “in some cases amount to war crimes” as civilians had “no choice”.

Syria’s ambassador to the U.N. in Geneva, Hussam Edin Aaala, denounced violations “committed by the unlawful U.S.-led coalition which targets infrastructure, killing hundreds of civilians including the deaths of 30 civilians in Deir al-Zor.”

By Stephanie Nebehay/Reuters

Posted by The NON-Conformist

Colin Kaepernick: Patriotism and the Owning Class

Colin Kaepernick took a courageous and principled stand last season by kneeling during the national anthem before NFL games. This was done in response to a society that continues to systematically, culturally, and institutionally devalue Black lives. This devaluation is played out in many areas, including politics, economics, housing, employment, and perhaps most notably, within the criminal punishment system. Black lives are routinely extinguished by police in the streets without recourse, in the courts without pause, and in the prisons without hesitation. Entire generations of Black Americans have essentially been destroyed through the “school-to-prison pipeline” and a system of mass incarceration, for which author Michelle Alexander has properly deemed, The New Jim Crow.

Kaepernick recognized this and felt compelled to bring attention to it. He openly protested the national anthem, donated hundreds of thousands of dollars to community agencies, and started a national youth camp program to teach children from marginalized communities about self-empowerment. This off-season he brought a box of 100 suits to hand out to parolees outside a Queens (NYC) parole office, has continued to donate $100,000 per month to various community programs, with $50,000 recently going to Meals-On-Wheels (after Trump’s budget cuts were announced), and has and even arranged (with Turkish Airlines) for food and water to be flown into Somalia in an attempt to address famine-stricken areas there.

He is now a free agent, in the prime of his career, and without a job. By all “measurables” (and the NFL is big on “measurables”), Kaepernick should have a starting job somewhere. He is only 29 years old and has a prototypical QB build at 6’4 and 230 pounds. He’s brought a team to the Superbowl. His career numbers, in what amounts to just over three full seasons, are very impressive: 12,271 passing yards, 2,300 rushing yards, a passer rating of 88.9, and a 72/30 TD/INT ratio, which is remarkable for an NFL QB with such little experience. Despite playing for one of the worst teams in the NFL in 2016, he still managed to put up very good numbers in only 12 games: 2,241 passing yard, 468 rushing yards on a 6.8 yards-per-carry average, a 16/4 TD/INT ratio, and a passer rating of 90.7. His passer rating in 2016 was higher than that of 13 other starting QBs, including Eli Manning, Cam Newton, Philip Rivers, Carson Palmer, and Joe Flacco.

When considering these measurables, his performance record, and the fact that he is in the prime of his football career, it is unimaginable that he is not only without a roster spot, but that he is without a starting job on one of the 32 teams in the NFL. The only reasonable explanation for Kaepernick’s newfound unemployment status is that he’s being blackballed by billionaire NFL owners. We’ve seen this before. Muhammad Ali, Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf, Craig Hodges, Tommie Smith, and John Carlos all faced similar treatment after using their platforms to take principled stands. Kaepernick has made millions of dollars in the NFL, so he will be fine either way. But there are many lessons to be learned from this situation.

One important lesson is how the owning class relies on patriotism to help protect and secure its position in society. The notion of patriotism is one that tells the American working class that they have a deep, common bond with the American capitalist class. This, of course, couldn’t be further from the truth. As being consistent with capitalism, the owning-class minority has driven the working-class majority into widespread deprivation in order to secure more and more wealth for itself. One way to hide this reality is to create an artificial bond based in geographic and cultural nationalism — patriotism.

While globalizing its capital, the owning class calls for “national unity.” While laying off American workers in mass, it airs multi-million-dollar ad campaigns celebrating patriotic loyalty. While employing foreign workers for slave wages, it parades its brand name during celebrations of “national independence.” While driving wages down and forcing American workers on to welfare rolls, it asks that you celebrate “American values.” While systematically exploiting the majority, it demands that this majority remain loyal to its nationalistic ties.

It is not enough that Colin Kaepernick is proving to be a modern-day Roberto Clemente, or that he’s following the path of the great Muhammad Ali; American society (and its sports industries) under capitalism demands that profit remains a priority over people. In order to maintain this, it must insist that workers bow down to bosses; that citizens refrain from questioning their rulers; that everyday people not dare to step out of line. Patriotism (and the unquestioned obedience that comes with it) is a crucial tool for the owning class. To them, Kaepernick’s refusal to submit to this nationalistic ritual was not merely “disrespect”; it was a potentially damaging challenge to this important tool that is wielded in their quest to extract all of society’s wealth (through a docile working class). For this reason, it is vitally important that Kaepernick be taught a lesson. The NFL’s billionaire class is in the process of carrying out this lesson.

By Colin Jenkins/DissidentVoice

Posted by The NON-Conformist

What is “white supremacy”? A brief history of a term, and a movement, that continues to haunt America

First in a series: The term gets thrown around carelessly, but the history of this ideology is long and tangled

What is "white supremacy"? A brief history of a term, and a movement, that continues to haunt AmericaA member of the Ku Klux Klan in Hampton Bays, New York on November 22, 2016 (Credit: Getty/William Edwards)

We must secure the existence of our people and the future of White children. — David Lane’s 14-word creed.

Hardly any concept is thrown around as carelessly these days as “white supremacy.” It has become the go-to term of condemnation, applied as loosely as “fascism,” with similar ramifications in terms of lack of clarity. Are all white supremacists separatists, and are all separatists supremacists? Is anti-Semitism (and, more recently, Islamophobia) always a part of white supremacy? Are white supremacists interested in combating government or taking it over for their own ends? Are all white supremacists violent, or do some value peaceful means of attaining their aims? Are all white supremacists even Christians? If they’re not, then how does religious diversity accommodate the overall principles of white supremacy?

Getting a grip on the real meaning of white supremacy allows us to be clear about essential questions of behavior and policy. To what extent has white supremacy infiltrated mainstream political parties and actors, and how might this back-and-forth influence be addressed? What is the general set of beliefs under which white supremacy operates, and have those beliefs changed over time or remained constant? What is the actual power and strength of white supremacy, and are groups of people entering or exiting the movement in ways we can measure and understand? Finally, if we’re clear about the meaning of white supremacy, we can then legitimately ask how white supremacy is or is not a product of the values we all share, regardless of our stated opposition to this ideology.

Short of these clarifications, white supremacy (like the term “hate”) simply becomes an abstraction that perpetuates the very dynamics of injustice and tyranny that progressives claim to abhor. If we define the concept too broadly, then the attack on all of our civil liberties is likely to be too great. If we define the concept too narrowly, then we absolve liberal institutions for their responsibility.

White supremacy is and always has been in a deep symbiotic relationship with our structures of government, and with our theoretical beliefs going back to the American Revolution and even before. Both sides — the supremacists and their opponents — seem to need each other in equal measure in order for the tense dynamic to continue playing out. If white supremacy is truly the threat it’s made out to be, if it really poses a revolutionary challenge to the foundations of the existing order, then we cannot at the same time pursue ambiguous or half-hearted measures, such as delegating surveillance functions to watchdog groups that may have their own private interests in mind. If white supremacy is as rampant as liberal analysis currently makes it out to be, then how is it that white supremacists continue to feel embattled and victimized, excluded from permitted discourse in the way of pariahs and outlaws? To what extent does liberalism itself turn white supremacists into heroes?

In future essays I will take on in detail some central issues, such as the extent to which mainstream American political parties have borrowed from and adapted to white supremacy and continue to do so, the degree to which stylistically and substantively the “alt-right” movement differs from the known content of white supremacy throughout its 20th-century struggle with modernity, and the most effective and ethical ways to handle white supremacy as a polity committed to tolerance and freedom of discourse. For now, I’m interested in setting the stage for later discussion by highlighting what seem to me some of the least understood dimensions of white supremacy in America today.

The continuities go back to our very origins

White supremacy obviously means the belief that the white race is unambiguously superior, so we must be careful in leveling the charge because most people who are called that don’t fit the definition. It is a difficult ideal to live up to. Once the protagonist defines what the “white race” is, then a set of inescapable dilemmas follow from that: What to do about the necessarily inferior races that the white race is set against? Should there be cohabitation or separation, and what degree of rights should be extended to nonwhites, both in the white homelands and in the native countries of nonwhites already living separately? Does the white race believe in a religion or political ideology that is universalistic, and if so how can the inferior races be accommodated while being philosophically consistent? Is the white race obligated to exterminate other races as the eventual goal?

Defining what is white is not so easy as it might seem at first glance. In the age of Enlightenment, as the American republic was being founded, there was a lot of struggle with the definition, as both racist ideologues and liberal universalists parried back and forth with different classifications. Races were categorized in both America and Europe with an eye to delineating Aryanism and its origins. What exactly were the differences between Teutons, Anglo-Saxons, Celts and other identifiably white people, and did they all originate in the Caucasus? What happens to the white race in the context of intermarriage? Does it become stronger, by assimilating the inferior race, or weaker, by diluting the gene pool?

One of the earliest manifestations of white supremacism in this country, to which all later manifestations harken back in some way, was the Anti-Masonic Movement of the early 19th century. The Illuminati (adopting the vehicle of the Masons) were seen to be instigating forms of elitism that deprived the common white people of economic power. This crisis of suspicion and anxiety was to end in the renewal and reshaping of the American party system, with Andrew Jackson as our first populist president, but the yearning to purge the body politic of polluting elements became a constant. The Anti-Masonic Movement wasn’t just an economic struggle, it had an indispensable racial component as well (targeting Jews and Catholics), as has been true of supremacist movements since then.

White attitudes toward blacks, in terms of institutionalizing slavery, were not always as rigid as they became during the course of the 19th century in America. When the colonies were first being settled, blacks were closer in status to white indentured servants. However, as the Enlightenment went on in subsequent centuries, categorization of the races became a central taxonomic venture, and this in due course had its effect in sharpening racial attitudes. The discourse about the black race (and to a lesser extent Native Americans) hardened during the 19th century. At the onset of the last big wave of imperialism at the end of the 19th century, fantastic new theories about the Aryan race and its others started proliferating throughout Europe and America.

Just how special is the “Aryan race,” and why does it have to be so?

Imperialism is difficult to justify without assertions of racial supremacy. So whenever we encounter an upsurge of white supremacy, we are probably also dealing with the natural consequences of imperialism. In Germany in the late 19th century, all sorts of mythologies of Aryan superiority manifested in music, fiction, philosophy and the arts, often expressed in an occult manner. The music of Richard Wagner is said to have reflected this, just as in a debased way contemporary Black Metal articulates its own aesthetic of supremacy. German theorists in the early 20th century found a lot of affinity with the caste system in India, with its occupational stratification according to skin color, and many scholars suggested that the original colonizers of India were the same Aryan race that over time had become diluted to near-blackness. It was this tragic fate, following miscegenation, that German thinkers were keen to avoid for the present era.

In America too, with the onset of the Spanish-American War and other imperial ventures, a scientific racism, using and abusing Darwin’s ideas, began to flourish. The coming of Adolf Hitler, in the midst of the rising popularity of eugenics and other pseudo-sciences, could not have been more timely for American racists who saw him as the avatar to fight the dark age. Various Hitler-worshipping groups formed in the 1930s, such as the German American Bund, but under pressure of wartime censorship and patriotism they didn’t last.

In Europe, meanwhile, with the coming to power of the Nazi regime, ever more fantastic interpretations of Ariosophy proliferated. Savitri Devi (real name Maximiani Portas) lived in India, married a famous Indian yogic teacher and synthesized, like so many esoteric scholars of her time, whatever myths of racial superiority she could find in the Orient with the homegrown Teutonic versions. Sometimes these myths posed the Hyperborean origin of Aryans, sometimes they suggested that the Aryans came from the three sunken continents (one being Atlantis), and sometimes they suggested the race’s extraterrestrial genesis. Later in the century, the Chilean diplomat and author Miguel Serrano continued Devi’s speculations in his many books, speculating that the Nazis continue living underneath Antarctica, and heavily implicating UFOs in the fate of the Aryan race.

When George H. W. Bush pronounced the inauguration of the New World Order in the wake of the first Gulf War in 1991, he kick-started the most prominent white supremacist group of the 1990s, the militia movement, with its links to various strains of American white supremacy, from Christian Identity to Posse Comitatus — although the militia movement (which is more aptly called the Patriot movement) cannot be reduced to any of these. Just as the founding of the various American Nazi movements in the 1950s was deeply connected to the onset of the national security state in the wake of the cold war, the various movements that burgeoned in the 1990s are inextricably linked to the forms of imperialism typical of the post-Cold War era. The gains that liberal humanism perceives are often insuperable losses for white supremacists.

Who are the founding fathers and do they still matter?

It was only after the end of World War II, when McCarthyism reigned strong and the world became sharply divided between the capitalist and communist camps, that the founders of the American white supremacist movement of the second half of the 20th century came into their own, among whom we may count the following luminaries.

Francis Parker Yockey, who worked as an attorney at the Nuremberg war crimes trials, grew disenchanted with American attitudes toward Europe, and wrote what supremacists to this day consider a magisterial tome. He wrote “Imperium: The Philosophy of History and Politics,” a 600-plus page Spenglerian analysis of race decline as caused by the “culture-disrupters” (the Jews), in 1947 in Ireland, allegedly in six months. Yockey committed suicide when he was arrested for passport violations in 1960, but not before meeting Willis Carto, founder of the Liberty Lobby (terminated 2001), in jail, and authorizing Carto to publish “Imperium.”

Carto was a central intellectual figure in the white supremacist movement, publishing the influential journal Right and then Spotlight, and also founding the Institute for Historical Review, which until 2002 published the Journal of Historical Review, the leading journal of Holocaust revisionism.

Carto was inspired by George Lincoln Rockwell, the founder of the American Nazi Party and a strong presence in the early 1960s, who was mysteriously assassinated in 1967. He was seen as the next Führer, and articulated as much in his book “White Power.” Also in the early 1960s, the Minutemen, a forerunner of the 1990s militia movement, had their heyday under Robert Bolivar dePugh. Meanwhile, the John Birch Society (JBS) remained strong, although it had an increasingly antagonistic relationship with mainstream conservatism, with William F. Buckley of National Review excommunicating Robert Welch, the JBS’ founder, for being too extremist. Unlike, say, the American Nazi Party, the JBS did not seem invested in overt anti-Semitism, but Buckley and other conservatives found it too unsavory nonetheless.

Certainly, for establishment conservatives someone like Richard Butler, founder of Aryan Nations, was entirely outside the pale, with a message of unabashed anti-Semitism and a strong desire to reclaim the American homeland for whites, with either repatriation or extermination awaiting nonwhites. The headquarters of Aryan Nations, the fabled Hayden, Idaho, compound, was a nexus for many strains of white supremacy during the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s. Often at conclaves scattered around the Mountain West, different supremacist groups would come together to discuss strategy, particularly in the wake of government action leading to arrest or death. It was at one of these conferences that the idea of “leaderless resistance” took hold in the early 1990s, because it was felt that any central organization would be easily infiltrated and neutralized by government, as indeed was the case.

Finally, if anyone can be considered an imaginative inspiration to white supremacists, it would have to be William L. Pierce, whose 1978 novel “The Turner Diaries“ (and his later book “Hunter“), inspired many militants, such as Timothy McVeigh, to commit acts of violence against what they considered the illegitimate government. Not surprisingly, when the leading Black Metal record label was in trouble, because of government action, it was Pierce who took it over as Resistance Records, which continues to this day despite Pierce’s death in 2002.

The social status of the founders and the followers

A number of these founders were well-educated, and worked in the industries associated with the rising military-industrial complex — Richard Butler was an aerospace engineer and Ben Klassen, founder of Church of the Creator, was an electrical engineer — and there was always a love-hate relationship with the conservative establishment. As mentioned, Buckley’s National Review took issue with the JBS, and with others as well when particular groups were seen to have crossed the line.

Yet we may conceive of white supremacy, as it has always been practiced in this country, as merely the exaggerated form of our official creed, and think of all the meanings this implies for social status. Obviously the libertarian dimension is highly pronounced in the Posse Comitatus and Patriot movements, but this draws on the suspicion of government in all its larger manifestations, from the Federal Reserve Bank to the IRS, that is a staple of more acceptable conservative thinking. The John Birch movement arose in response to McCarthyism (calling Eisenhower himself a tool of the communists), just as the Patriot movement of the 1990s arose in a dynamic relationship with post-Cold War globalization and the new forms of war that went with it.

If war inspired by illegitimate government was a collective endeavor, then how was the patriotic American to preserve individual liberty? How could the true American patriot’s existing social status be leveraged? It is not always a question of perceived inferiority, or status anxiety, and it would be a mistake to reduce white supremacy to those terms.

The social status of white supremacists has always been subject to interpretation. The same has recently been asked of Trump’s supporters: Were they dispossessed voters trying to reclaim lost economic and social rights, or were they privileged voters seeking to disbar others from gaining equality?

What we learn from history is that no easy generalizations are possible; white supremacism is pervasive to the extent that it can’t be isolated as a phenomenon. Some of the most intellectually respectable among our founding fathers were supremacists, as were many establishment scientists and philosophers in the 19th century. The second-era Ku Klux Klan, which at its peak in the 1920s could boast millions of adherents and real control over policy, had legions of followers in the middle and even aristocratic classes. The JBS attracted solid bourgeois citizens, with the stage set by McCarthyism, while the third-era KKK of the 1970s easily transformed, for the most part, into respectable White Citizens’ Councils (now the Council of Conservative Citizens) which bridged the gap with establishment Republicans in the wake of the George Wallace candidacy.

More recently, the Posse Comitatus, which believes in government at the county level and nothing beyond that, and which provoked great irritation during the farm crisis of the Reagan years by filing fictitious liens against IRS agents and other officials, drew sympathy from tax resisters and dissidents of every class. Even the Patriot movement of the 1990s drew from a wide mix of the population, from alienated veterans (such as Timothy McVeigh) to dispossessed workers in the industrial and agricultural heartland (the Michigan and Montana militias were among the strongest) to those with exaggerated fears of globalization. The differences in social status between followers of Pat Buchanan, Pat Robertson, William Pierce and now Donald Trump are simply not as clear-cut as we would like to believe.

Are they all Christians?

White supremacy is naturally attracted to versions of Christianity that reinforce the race narrative. The most extreme manifestation of this is the religion known as Christian Identity, which was popular among the different strains of extremists in the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s. Likewise, various Nordic religions — going by the names of Odinism, Asatru and Wotansvolk in America — put the Aryan race at the center of the world, though they may often just be separatist and not inclined to violence.

Christian Identity grew from British Israelism (or Anglo-Israelism) of the 19th and early 20th centuries. This theology posited more than one seed of humankind, which seems to be another constant of racist thinking throughout the ages — seeing mankind as divided rather than a single species, the easier to set superior races against inferior ones. Adam and Eve are believed to be the forerunners of the white race, but Eve was seduced by the serpent to create the Jews — hence, the two-seed theory, meaning that the so-called “mud races” are fundamentally different from the progeny of Adam and Eve.

Christian Identity believes that the lost tribes of Israel are in fact the settlers of Britain and the Nordic countries, from where they went to America. Jesus was not a Jew but an Aryan, and it is one of the great calumnies of the Jews to claim him as one of their own. In America, Wesley Swift was a leading originator of this theology in the mid-20th century, from whom, via the Church of Jesus Christ, Christian, it was transmitted to Richard Butler of the Aryan Nations, turning Hayden, Idaho, into the center of this theology. As is usually the case with white supremacist circles, this led to close interchange and dissemination of Identity beliefs in various branches of the movement.

While it is true that Christian Identity despises Christianity for its weakness in allowing interracial mingling, and in cohabiting with the mud races whose only aim is to end the purity of the white race, the same disdain toward Christianity is also true of the neo-pagan Teuton religions, who look back to the Nazi regime for validation of the material success of their theology. The true religion of Aryans is said to be their ancestral one, rather than the imposition of enervating Christianity, and a plethora of mystical rites — using runes and symbols — reinforce separatist neo-pagan theology. There may be a question about the extent to which Odinists are supremacists — some in the Asatru religion believe that not only northern Europeans but all white people can claim paganism as their true religion — but there is little question about Odinism’s separatism.

In both Christian Identity circles (influencing in turn the Patriot movement) and among Odinists, the Pacific Northwest is often seen as the starting point for a regained homeland where neo-paganism can be practiced freely. Again, this theology returns the ordinary white person to the center of the moral universe, endowing him with an ingrained and undefeatable aristocracy. David and Katja Lane, and later their friend Ron McVan, ran the 14 Words Press to propagate Odinism. David continued his mission from jail, where he spent 22 years before his death in 2007 for his early 1980s militant role with the Brüder Schweigen — or Silent Order, or to insiders simply the Order.

Finally, it would be remiss not to return to the aforementioned Ben Klassen, founder of the World Church of the Creator (COTC), or Creativity, which was taken over by Matt Hale after Klassen’s suicide in 1993. Klassen’s many writings propagate a religion that verges on the naturist, advocating a macrobiotic diet (true of many incarnations of white supremacy) and a relationship to the environment that borrows something from the leftist version of it that we know better.

The grand narrative of contemporary white supremacy

In the broadest sense, white supremacy is a populist movement. The conspiracy for leftists is an elite-driven globalization that creates inequality and makes minorities and poor people suffer inordinately, whereas the conspiracy for white supremacists today is the New World Order that operates through a centuries-old chain of international bankers and is determined to end the purity of the white race. The logic in each instance — the conspiracy on the left and the right — is parallel, and leads to similar resentment of elites, who have access to special knowledge not available to the ordinary person. On the extreme right it is a mythology of battle and leverage, of heroism and valor, of Robin Hoods and dark cabals, of the Illuminati and Freemasons, of the heartland American values of liberty and individualism under assault by a globalist conspiracy to introduce monotony and conformism. In a way, the grand narrative is simply a much exaggerated version of yeoman values such as a founding father like Jefferson would have advocated.

As the reality of the industrialized economy throughout the 20th century eroded the possibility of independent freeholding such as was possible during 19th-century America and earlier, the grand narrative became more and more powerful in shaping imaginations. We can hardly claim that the emphasis on race is an innovation, because this was a constant throughout our history of oppression of Native Americans (were the Mathers and other New England luminaries of the 17th century any less racist than those we wish to condemn to perdition today?), African-American slaves, and then Catholic and Asian immigrants, except that each of America’s entanglements in foreign wars has provided increasing depth and circumstantial providence to the grand narrative.

I find it not coincidental that the KKK’s great rebirth came in the 1920s, after we had “won” World War I, and that the peak of Bircherism occurred in the 1950s, soon after we claimed victory in World War II. Each major war is seen to have been brought about by international conspiracy, leading to the progressive diminishment of the rights of white Americans. It is perhaps easier to condemn a government that has been taken over by a secret cabal (as set out in the influential “Protocols of the Elders of Zion,” which were vigorously disseminated by Henry Ford, the leading founder of American industrialization, and which have in turn shaped the conspiratorial view of the Zionist Occupation Government, or ZOG, followed by those caught up in industrial decline) than to condemn our whole system of government, because to do the latter is to leave no way out, whereas to believe in a conspiracy is to set oneself up as a hero with a shot at salvation.

Are they just patriots in a besieged homeland?

Gordon Kahl, a member of the Posse Comitatus, became one of the leading martyrs of the white supremacist movement in the late 20th century, when he was killed in a fiery shootout in 1983. The Posse Comitatus, as noted earlier, does not recognize any jurisdiction larger than the county, and wishes to disobey federal functions such as taxation, banking, currency and all forms of regulation. The Posse is separatist, but not necessarily supremacist. It was during the farm crisis engendered by Ronald Reagan’s monetarist policies in the early 1980s that the Posse took off. Kahl refused to pay his taxes (for income of less than $10,000) time and time again, eventually leading to a bloody confrontation, despite the doubts of certain local officials in going after him. It’s possible to think of the Posse as an extremist manifestation of tax-resistance.

Robert Jay Mathews is probably the best-known martyr in the white supremacist pantheon. Allied with Aryan Nations, he decided to take matters to the next level by embarking on a revolutionary strategy of armed robberies and assassination of selected targets (such as Denver Nazi-baiting radio host Alan Berg, whom Mathews and his allies succeeded in killing). Caught after a major robbery of an armored car, Mathews met the same fate as Kahl, dying in a fiery shootout. Later, in the 1990s, the two most famous heroes of martyrology were Randy Weaver at Ruby Ridge, Idaho, and David Koresh at Waco, Texas, their families and supporters confronting extended standoffs ending in death.

I will take up the patterns of FBI dealings with white supremacists later, but we should note that the Posse Comitatus and the Patriot movement took hold in the midst of extreme economic crisis in the American Midwest. A sense of too much change (such as the urbanization and industrialization of the 1920s, or the reverse tendency of post-industrialization in the 1990s) brings out the white supremacist demons, but when there is an acute feeling of economic depression, as was the case during the 1980s and early 1990s, then the grand narrative becomes all the more important to explain why there aren’t enough jobs and why certain distant people seem to hold all the economic power. In this narrative, affirmative action is a form of reverse discrimination against whites, aimed at the core philosophy of individualism, and the economic crisis faced by white Americans is just a stepping stone to their extermination.

Concluding thoughts about problems of definition

Given the diversity of thought and strategy, is “white supremacy” still a useful term? Should we think about abandoning it altogether? Likewise, when it comes to “hate” (as in hate speech or hate crimes), is that even a valid concept, if we consider that the white supremacist grand narrative fundamentally rests on accusations of hate coming their own way? Does hate become a transmitter belt, in other words, where traffic between liberal opposition groups and white supremacist groups becomes increasingly abstract, strengthening both sides in equal measure?

More importantly, how can the various legacies of white supremacy be separated from populism, something to which liberals don’t have as much aversion? If we claim to be principled opponents of white supremacy, then what about the liberal universalist manifestations of white supremacy well into the 21st century, by way of our continuing wars (of compassion and liberation)?

Could it be that white supremacy, as I have described its substance here, actually ended for the most part around the turn of the millennium? Was the 1990s Patriot movement its last gasp? We know that the KKK was already in severe decline from the 1970s to the 1990s, with quite anemic membership, and we also know that the number of adherents of the various white supremacist movements discussed here, from Aryan Nations to the American Nazi Party and its successors, was minuscule in comparison to the overall population. But could it be that, with the death of many of the founders of the postwar white supremacist movement in the 1990s and early 2000s, white supremacy, of the kind that was rooted in 20th-century philosophies, has actually ended?

Certainly, white supremacy in some form continues, otherwise we wouldn’t have President Donald Trump. But is the heavily internet-reliant alt-right movement a continuation of the 20th century’s white supremacy movement, or a new thing altogether?

The intellectual leaders of white supremacy were very keen on computer technology and other means of mass communication. They were early users of computer bulletin boards in the 1980s. Their entire movement can be said to have been tract or pamphlet-based from the 1950s to the 1990s. They were good at getting the word out through videos, public-access cable shows and radio shows, and they were excited by the advent of the internet. But could it be that the internet has actually killed white supremacy?

Instead of separating themselves from society and dreaming of a white homeland in the Northwest, and eventually cleansing the rest of the country, and instead of mobilizing in discrete physical groups defined by leaderless resistance and coming up with creative strategies to fight the enemy ZOG — tactics borrowed from the more extreme manifestations of the New Left that the white supremacists adapted to great ability in the 1970s, 1980s and on into the 1990s — are white supremacists now irreparably fractured by living out a virtual fantasy life on the internet rather than adopting physical separation?

I suspect this is a strong possibility, and that a number of changes, particularly in the wake of 9/11, ended 20th-century white supremacy in fundamental ways, so that to continue to chase that particular enemy may be to fight a phantom war. It’s also interesting to note what happened to the neo-paganists, who seemed to be the wave of the future about 20 years ago, but whose presence does not seem to be palpable in the culture to the extent we might expect, given their esoteric appeal. Recent fears of a worldwide neo-Nazi “alliance” likewise seem to me to be overblown.

Where white supremacy is helpful is in understanding systems of thought that otherwise seem random or incoherent. If we consider the white supremacy grand narrative, then someone like Ron Paul makes a lot more sense as a white supremacist than a libertarian. This explains his animus against the Federal Reserve or the IRS, against globalization and immigration, and against various powers of the federal government that have become enshrined over the course of the 20th century. Paul, Pat Robertson and Pat Buchanan throughout the 1990s, and Donald Trump today, articulate positions that foreign policy analysts describe as “isolationist” or “protectionist” but are more correctly understood as assertions of white supremacy, as ways to protect the purity of the white race against the encroachments of global multiculturalism (which dilutes the white gene pool) and against the entanglements of foreign adventures seen as emanating from the ZOG conspiracy.

Government is occupied, in the grand sense, in all white supremacist thinking; many who come across as merely “loving” the white race, as the new protocol has it, and claim not to be supremacist in the sense of “hating” other races (former Louisiana Klansman David Duke follows this template), are bent on taking government back from the forces that are set on exterminating the white race. Many who believe in Aryans as the “chosen race” desire an imminent racial holy war (RaHoWa), a term first popularized by Ben Klassen, and in some of the people who have lately taken power at the highest levels we can detect this urge. And yet there are those who do not have political power and would be labeled as supremacists, who would claim their source of inspiration as the libertarian impulse in the American revolution.

By ANIS SHIVANI/Salon

Capital City of Jackson, MS elects Black Mayor!

He enjoyed his win in the general election for Jackson mayor in the same place he celebrated a landslide victory in the primary a month earlier.

TCL Lumumba Celebration Mayoral Elections
Image: Clarion Ledger

An energized Chokwe Antar Lumumba addressed a room of hundreds of supporters at the King Edward Hotel after defeating eight candidates in the democratic primary in May. But it was Tuesday’s celebration that solidified his position as Jackson’s next mayor.

“I’m really, really, really happy,” Lumumba said just before 9 p.m Tuesday. “At the same time, I don’t know it’s entirely sunk in yet.”

Tuesday’s general election, a ticket including a popular, well-known democrat and five virtually faceless opponents, was not expected to drive the same kind of excitement, or voters, as the primary.

Yet, more than 23,100 Jacksonians voted Tuesday for the 34-year-old defense attorney and son of late-Mayor Chokwe Lumumba — nearly 5,000 more than voted for him in the primary.

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