Brownshirt Anarchism, Bogus Journalism
Anarchists who suggest forming anti-government coalitions with the political right (and even fascists) represent a small phenomenon, but one that deserves exposure when it reoccurs. Many anarchists are only familiar with the progressive wing of anarchism, but in her pathbreaking 1994 book Anarchism: Left, Right, and Green, Ulrike Heider looked at the political divergence within the historic anarchist movement and the differing critiques of state power and social organization.
Proposals for a left/right anti-regime alliance are nothing new on the left. The national socialist faction that aided Hitler’s rise to power sought to fuse left and right in an amalgam they claimed transcended capitalism and communism. When a left/right alliance was proposed a decade ago, Janet Biehl warned in the social ecology newsletter Green Perspectives that anarchists needed to be alert to the fact that "antistatism has been adopted by a movement of insurgent hate."
It is disappointing, therefore, to see Joshua Frank and Jeffrey St. Clair, the editors of the book, Red State Rebels: Tales of Grassroots Resistance in the Heartland, include a chapter that encourages an alliance of left and right activists against the perceived statist menace. In their introduction, Frank and St. Clair write, "These are tales of rebellion and courage." That’s mostly true and there are some terrific and uplifting chapters. The one titled "The Ambush at Ruby Ridge" is not one of them. The chapter, by Alan W. Bock, originally appeared in the right-wing libertarian magazine Reason in 1993 and was expanded into a book. The article carried the subtitle "How Government Agents Set Randy Weaver Up and Took His Family Down."
Let’s set the scene. Anger in the right-wing Patriot movement began to grow in the 1980s as federal agents cracked down on illegal activity within the white supremacist subculture, the semi-underground armed resistance movement the Posse Comitatus, and inside survivalist hideouts. The government sometimes overreached and engaged in entrapment.
In 1987 the feds issued sweeping conspiracy indictments against a group of neo-Nazi and Patriot movement leaders. A jury acquitted the defendants due to the dubious claims of government witnesses, adding to growing anti-government anger. This increased after two raids were mishandled by government authorities. In August 1992 a raid on the survivalist Weaver family at Ruby Ridge, Idaho left the mother, Vicki, and teenage son, Samuel, dead, along with Deputy Federal Marshal William Degan. In April 1993 a standoff at the Branch Davidian compound in Waco, Texas led to a shootout and conflagration in which 74 members died. Four federal agents also died during the course of the Waco standoff.
Bock is unwilling to let the facts speak for themselves and his chapter is a model of skewed and manipulative misrepresentation in service to a preconceived ideological position.
Bock: "It has been pretty well established that Randy and Vicki were loosely affiliated with or sympathetic to the Christian Identity movement, which holds, among other off-center beliefs, that the true descendants of the tribes of Israel are the modern nationalities of Europe…"
Fact Check: Off center? Christian Identity believes God’s chosen people are white people who have inherited a special covenant with God; that the people who call themselves Jews today are considered either fakes or evil agents; the true identity of the biblical "promised land" is really the United States—that place in the Middle East called Israel is a hoax.
Bock: "…that today’s Jews are impostors and that Yahweh has fierce punishment planned for sinful America and its Babylonian Occupational Government."
Fact Check: "Zionist Occupational Government" is the more common term, not the seldom used "Babylonian Occupational Government." Either way both terms are a euphemism used by activists in Christian Identity and neo-Nazi movements for a nasty conspiracy theory about Jewish bankers, Israeli agents, and their supposed kinfolk plotting world domination and subjugating true Christians.
Bock: "Christian Identity believers claim to live by Old Testament laws, to be the true heirs of Israel."
Fact Check: Old Testament laws include the death penalty for homosexuals, adulterers, and recalcitrant children. Christian Identity practitioners also read the Old Testament to mean that God demands that races live separately and that women are to be subordinate to men.
Bock: "Many or most are white separatists. (Unlike white supremacists, separatists say they want to live apart from other races, rather than persecuting or subjugating them.)"
Fact Check: The term "white separatist" was developed by white supremacists to distinguish them from sectors that pursue segregation, expulsion, and genocide. They are all white supremacists in practice. "White separatism" envisions all-white homelands where people of color are forcibly removed and relocated.
Bock: "The Weavers taught their children their unusual religious beliefs…"
Fact Check: "Unusual" means that Jews were considered either agents of Satan or the literal children of Satan placed on earth to plot against Christians—now considered the real Jews of the biblical covenant with God. Blacks and other people of color are considered "pre-Adamic," a euphemism meaning subhuman—like cattle or monkeys. In general, Christian Identity believers think that those who call themselves Jews need to be exterminated. There was also a debate as to whether people of color were to be murdered or shipped back to their country of origin or made slaves and used as beasts of burden.
Bock: "…but [the Weavers] weren’t particularly active in either Christian Identity or white separatist activities. They went to a few Aryan Nation meetings—there’s an active organization around Hayden Lake, about 50 miles south of Naples—and to some Christian Identity summer camps."
Fact Check: The campers may have toasted marshmallows at night, but during the day they talked about murdering Blacks and Jews. Aryan Nations was the major neo-Nazi compound in the United States at the time. Its leader, Pastor Butler, revered Adolf Hitler and kept a collection of portraits and busts of the genocidal dictator. As the Telegraph newspaper in Britain reported, "’It got me thinking,’ [Butler] said in [an] interview, ‘that we, the white race, were losing the war.’ Hitler, he was convinced, had the right idea: ‘It seemed like he was the only one who stood up to fight for the life of our race.’ [Butler] came to regard the Nazi dictator as the second greatest man who ever lived—after Jesus Christ."
Bock: "A sign at the entrance to their driveway reads ‘Every Knee Shall Bow to Jahshuah Messiah’ (Jesus)."
Fact Check: Not exactly. Only a handful of cranks use the terminology "Jahshuwah" or "Jahshuah" teamed with "Messiah." One group promotes a two-seed racial bloodline theory in which some Jews and their allies are descendants of Satan. Another group traces a vast timeless conspiracy theory of evil cabals, and some meld the two bogus theories together.
Bock: "They weren’t active churchgoers."
Fact Check: There are only a tiny handful of actual physical Christian Identity church buildings. The vast majority of Christian Identity believers hold services in their homes with their families and perhaps a few friends—just like the Weaver family.
What government agents did to the Weaver family was an outrage, no matter what their theology or ideology. I said so at the time and have repeatedly condemned the government abuses at Ruby Ridge, in Waco at the Branch Davidian compound, and elsewhere. We all should oppose government repression and the erosion of civil liberties—even when our political opponents are the targets. That’s the point. We needed to stand up against the deadly government repression targeting the Weaver family despite the fact that they were white supremacists. That’s the lesson to be learned through an accurate recounting of the facts.
Victims of government abuse are not necessarily our role models. They deserve our support against the abuse, but not automatically our support in strategic alliances where their views undermine our existing alliances as a progressive coalition with women, people of color, immigrants, and others.
Chip Berlet is senior analyst at Political Research Associates (PRA). The views are his own and not necessarily those of PRA or any other group. Berlet is a vice president of the Defending Dissent Foundation.