Chapter One: America's Violent Decline
How do you tell when a great civilization is in decline? When a great nation is on the rocks spiritually, morally, racially, and economically?
I look closely at my country, and everywhere I see signs of decadence, decay, and self-destruction.
Respect for law and order has declined drastically, except in the phony speeches of politicians.
The nation's capital is awash with special counsel and special prosecutors, taking testimony from the President, the First Lady, key members of the cabinet and the Congress--all accused or suspected of criminal wrongdoing. The FBI is far short of being trustworthy, its agents and former agents deep in partisan politics. Local police departments reek with corruption, including condoned lawlessness by some policemen. Our prisons bulge with record numbers of young Americans, mostly the fruit flies of the drug trade, while the big bumblebees of the crime and drug syndicates peddle their wares with impunity.
Every day our newscasts begin with stories of grisly murders, sexual assaults, grotesque abuses of children, mass killings on job sites, and worse.
America is sinking in greed. Our workers fear tomorrow and their bosses grab what they can today. A corporate fatcat can get a $10 million reward for "downsizing" his firm--that is, putting thousands of employees out of work.
Public morality has probably never been lower. Lawmakers writhe and wrangle over how to deal with television programming that spews out sexual rot and gratuitous violence morning, afternoon, and night--prime time sewers. Congress makes believe that a meaningless "rating system" and a V-chip will solve the problem.
Racism has not been as virulent throughout America since the Civil War, with short fuses burning on a thousand powder kegs. We have seen our greatest law enforcement agency, the FBI, sit for weeks in a stalemate with a small Montana cult, the Freemen, whose leaders preach that the descendants of northern Europeans are "God's chosen people," that Jews are "the children of Satan," and that African Americans and other people of color are by nature dumb and immoral.
We see the Freemen and other hate groups like the Aryan Nation, the skinheads, the Ku Klux Klan, and assorted militias piling up arms for what they say is a coming race war in America that will precede the return of Christ.
These are the adherents of a "Christian Identity" movement whose, followers refuse to pay governmental levies, but collect taxes themselves. They rake in millions through extortion, the widespread use of bogus checks and phony credit cards, and simple extortion.
But local law enforcers and even the FBI are afraid to tangle with them, wary since their disastrous confrontations with the David Koresh cult in Waco, Texas, and the Randy Weaver group at Ruby Ridge in Idaho.
Official, open coddling of these groups pretty much ensures that the race war these white supremacists predict will really come.
I know that these harsh judgments about America as it nears the turn of the century are not what most Americans want to hear. In the wake of the fall of the "Evil Empire" that was the old Soviet Union, with the still-limited development of China and the Third World, and the starkly limited hegemony of European and other "first world" nations, Americans prefer to boast that the United States is the last of the great powers. As proof we cite our nuclear arsenals and the fact that we have the only quick-strike forces capable of moving into Bosnia, Africa, and the Middle East, to wage war or peace, within hours of a White House go-ahead to strike. We like to boast of our economic might, even though we've seen a frightful decline in good, high-paying jobs. We like to think that we are the world's cultural giant because our movies and music, our top television shows, are coveted the world over, this much to the dismay of foreign leaders who think the cultural fare that we export carries the seeds of national destruction.
So much of what Americans boast about nowadays is superficial, even delusionary. Look below the surface. I have done so and concluded that this country, for which I have fought in war and peace, is in precipitous decline. The leaders of Rome, Greece, the Third Reich, the British Empire, never saw the onset of decadence and internal rot in time; we can, and we must, if the United States is not to succumb to its internal hatreds and moral excesses, to be consumed by its own self-destruction.
Who can overlook the decline of marriage as an American institution, with Hollywood and television stars, and so many social and political leaders, abusing drugs and having sex and babies out of wedlock? Our teenagers see no stigma in this lifestyle. Licentiousness and depravity have made the United States a hollow remake of Sodom and Gomorrah, with even preachers and priests, nuns and schoolteachers, unveiled as the practitioners of child abuse, as marriage killers, and as outright murderers.
Take a look at this society's decline in terms of organized religion. Preachers preach and rabbis teach, but fewer and fewer people listen, and those who visit churches and synagogues rarely heed what they hear. Look at what the Greeks and Romans have written that they saw too late--and what we see now, everywhere in this nation: racial and religious bigotries, blind nationalisms, and myriad other injustices tolerated and even glorified by our philosophers, politicians, Presidents, the "wise men" allowing this, the greatest of societies, to be consumed in hatred.
Look at the piling up of economic injustice and ask how long we can live in peace and prosperity.
The January 22, 1996, issue of U.S. News & World Report carried an article about how WORKERS TAKE IT ON THE CHIN which noted:
* that in 1982 dollars, U.S. workers had suffered a decline in earnings, from an average of $298 weekly in 1970 to $256 in 1994
* that during the last five years "the upper class" has gained economically by 76 percent, while the middle class has risen by 6 percent, the working class by 2 percent, and the poorest class by 6 percent
* that in 1945 the top 1 percent of U.S. families held 32.4 percent of the nation's wealth, but in 1992 that top 1 percent held 42 percent of the wealth. Here was indisputable evidence that while the privileged were assailing attempts of the New Deal and the Great Society to redistribute wealth from the rich to the poor, the rich have been getting richer while the poor have lapsed into deeper poverty
A less conservative publication would have been accused of spreading "inflammatory class warfare verbiage" or "an anti-capitalist, pinko diatribe."
What we have to recognize is that we are a society stumbling into a vast darkness, because we do not really seek answers to the issues that I have raised, issues that are of concern to all of us. Instead we look for scapegoats!
The result: in just the last decade we have seen some gruesome manifestations of racial and ethnic hatred in America--literally, murder in the streets, blood spilling everywhere. We have seen political fights in Congress over who should get the most of America's goodies--fights that have caused shutdowns of the federal government and mind-boggling gridlock in Washington. One senses that our nation is split irrevocably and that there is no one to bring us together again.
The blame game seems to be played with every American failure.
Some U.S. auto dealers blame Japan's supremacy in selling certain products on "unfair trading practices." From time to time the U.S. industrialists who feel cheated, and the politicians who deplore the trade imbalance with Japan, create almost enough hysteria to foment a trade war between Washington and Tokyo.
Some American industrialists find scapegoats in the men and women of organized labor, claiming that the "exorbitant" demands of U.S. workers drive them to move plants to Taiwan, Singapore, and, yes, Mexico, where they can enjoy cheap labor. So these employers have engaged in economy-crippling wars with the organized-labor movement, which itself is struggling to emerge from a long, tragic decline.
Still, it is clear that organized laborers and their pay, health care, and other demands are not the cause of the rot in industrial America. If greedy union leaders are not responsible for the disappearance of "good jobs"--of high-paying posts as computer chip makers and camera makers and even shirtmakers and shoemakers in the United States, then who is?
The political flamethrowers, such as Governor Pete Wilson of California, think they see advantage in blaming our economic decline on the great influx into the United States of "illegal aliens." They are bent on making immigration the issue on which many politicians in California, Texas, Colorado, Florida, and other states will rise or fall in the 1996 elections and the remaining years of this century.
The one explosive issue that may trigger the actual burning of America, and certainly exacerbates the ever-widening divisions between and among its citizens, is "affirmative action." Almost every presidential and congressional candidate now strives to convince voters that black, Hispanic, Asian, and female recipients of undeserved economic preferences are really to blame for the economic malaise that has produced so many millions of "angry white men."
These simplistic blame games have already created a disrespect, even hatred, not only for the poor, but for government officials at all levels. They are seen as the ones who proposed, enacted, and protected the laws that supposedly have lowered the levels of life of white men. Others who think their plight is far worse than that of white men have also made the government their worst villain. The government is seen as the invader, controller, and circumscriber of the lives of everyone--the middle class that has lost ground, the underclass that never had sufficient chance.
So citizen militias, operating publicly and secretly, have sprung up across America--a fact that exploded into our consciousness with the dreadful bombing of the federal Alfred P. Murrah office building in Oklahoma City in 1995.
Some Americans prefer to think that some grotesque mental illness affecting only a handful of individuals would provoke the bombing of a huge building and the murder of 168 people--but only the next bombing will show us the level to which "the government" has become the enemy of "the people."
Yes, I can virtually guarantee you that there will be other bombings of the magnitude of the one that occurred in Oklahoma City. That is because the forces that prompted the Oklahoma City crime have influenced hundreds of thousands of other Americans who nurse precisely the same hatreds that were unleashed in Oklahoma.
Note, for example, that the crazy defiance and the spirit of violence of the Montana Freemen did not end with their "surrender" to the FBI. They still defied the authority of the federal courts. In late June, in a Billings, Montana, courtroom, one of the Freemen, Steven Charles Hance, said to U.S. magistrate Richard Anderson, "You're going down, son." The Freemen had already been charged with threatening the life of another federal judge, and yet they were handled with kid gloves.
We cannot afford to ignore the fact that the Freemen are just a tiny part of a nationwide horror--the sprouting up of highly armed militias and paramilitary groups across America, all of them expressing some degree of racial paranoia and hatred. The most watched of these "patriot" right-wing groups are the Militia of Montana, the Unorganized Militia of the United States, the Michigan Militia, Police Against the New World Order, the Idaho Sovereignty Association, United Sovereigns of America, the North American Freedom Council, and the Texas Constitutional Militia. But those pressing to create a constitutional crisis by promoting a ghastly race war are going underground.
The nation was stunned late in June 1996 when federal officials announced that they had arrested ten men and two women in Phoenix on charges that they had plotted to blow up buildings that housed the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, the Internal Revenue Service, the Secret Service, and other federal agencies. These twelve members of a group called the Viper Militia, which almost no one had heard of, had gone so far as to videotape the columns in these buildings where explosives should be put so as to most effectively cause the buildings to collapse. Their plan had been foiled through a marvelous piece of police work. An Arizona law officer infiltrated the group and in meeting after meeting listened to the militiamen boast of how they would quickly kill any infiltrator.
Police learned quickly that these twelve alienated Americans had the explosives and weapons with which to carry out what would have been a devastating act of domestic terrorism. In the home of one Viper alone, that of Gary C. Bauer, the group's ordnance expert, federal agents found almost one-half ton of ammonium nitrate. This little Viper Militia group had stashed away in one Phoenix house half a ton of ammonium nitrate; fifty-five gallons of nitromethane; a highly toxic yellow powder explosive called picric acid; many blasting caps; and more than seventy automatic rifles. This tiny band of self-styled revolutionaries had, right in residential Phoenix, the ingredients for a bomb at least half as large as the one used to blow up the Alfred P. Murrah federal building in Oklahoma City, killing 168 people.
The evidence mounts that many of the eight hundred or so militia groups that have sprung up in this country are amassing even greater caches of explosives and firearms, and that the serious terrorists are operating in units of fewer than a handful of people, so as to prevent infiltration by lawmen.
Yet, FBI and other officials in Washington tell me that Americans as a whole are not yet sufficiently aware of the gravity of the situation. These "patriot" criminals are now regularly robbing banks with automatic weapons. They are planning assassinations and attacks on police and military units. They are suspected of the sabotage derailment of an Amtrak train outside Phoenix in October 1995.
Incredibly, within weeks, for most Americans it was as though the events in Phoenix never occurred. The Viper Militia had produced no bodies to bury, no loved ones to mourn, so the threat didn't seem as real as was the Oklahoma City bombing.
It may be years before we learn how many paramilitary groups like the Vipers were driven underground by the arrests and seizures of weapons in Arizona.
But overt or covert, all these groups profess to believe that dangerous conspirators, including Jewish bankers and publishers and animal-like blacks, have usurped the U.S. Constitution, corrupted the courts and the banks, and moved to take arms away from loyal citizens. Their solution is to fight what the fringe leaders call "the System" by setting up common-law courts, robbing banks, and engaging in terrorism.
You cannot dismiss all these whites as mere "angry men" who shout a lot about their grievance but aren't likely to become violent. They have done violence almost beyond comprehension in Oklahoma City. And "they" were clearly influenced by a weird novel, The Turner Diaries, published in 1978 under the pseudonym of Andrew Macdonald by a former physics professor named William Pierce. This uncompromising racist, Pierce, has become the prophet of a Caucasian war, and his book has become the bible of the "save the White race" movement.
In May 1996, I wrote to the National Alliance in Hillsboro, West Virginia, to purchase a copy of William Pierce's The Turner Diaries. Along with the book I got a sheet stating:
For far too long, we of European descent have allowed clever aliens to rob us of our identity and our history and to impose on us an alien morality in which the highest virtue is to hate our own race.
The time has come for a courageous rethinking of all our values--for a new morality for White people, based firmly on Nature's laws and on the highest ideals of our Race-soul, a morality in which the first principle is the survival and advancement of our race--a principle to which all other things are subordinate.
Clearly, the lives of all those people who died in Oklahoma City were subordinate to the mad-dog, white-supremacist goals of those who are waging war to gain the power to say who can live in America. I have read the most racist of all the literature of slavery days, and of the bitter conflicts of the 1950s and 1960s, and I recall nothing as bigoted as The Turner Diaries. Almost every page reeks with talk of "depraved blacks raping white women," "the corruption of our people by the Jewish-liberal-democratic-egalitarian plague," details of the assassination of white editors who side with blacks; with the conclusion that "it is frighteningly clear now that there is no way to win the struggle in which we [whites] are engaged without shedding torrents--veritable rivers--of blood."
I am aware that white people who have just begun to read this book are probably fixated on the question of when and why angry blacks will begin the race war. There is no question in my mind that the disciples of William Pierce will start the fires of what some of them refer to as "Armageddon." Pierce wrote the "fictional" details of how to blow up the FBI headquarters in Washington, D.C. His scheme, right down to the use of ammonium nitrate fertilizer, was copied in the Oklahoma City tragedy. It is known that right-wing militiamen Timothy McVeigh, who was indicted on charges of carrying out that bombing, regarded The Turner Diaries as his gospel.
When Mike Wallace of CBS's "60 Minutes" confronted Pierce in the mountains of West Virginia, he found a man who would express no sorrow about the Oklahoma City bombing, just regret about the timing of it.
"[The bombing] does not make sense under the present conditions that we have when there's no group capable of actually taking on the federal government and defeating it," Pierce said. "I do not believe that we are in a revolutionary phase yet. I believe that the people have a lot of waking up and understanding to do first."
By way of "educating" the people, Pierce told Wallace that he had sympathy for the Montana Freemen and the Unabomber, favored shipping American blacks to Africa, and admired more than any man Adolf Hitler--an admiration he expressed by keeping two original copies of Mein Kampf right over his shoulder in his office.
Pierce has sold some two hundred thousand copies of The Turner Diaries since 1978. He has made a deal with publisher Lyle Stuart, a Jew, to republish the book and give it wider circulation. Stuart told Mike Wallace that he wants the world to know what Pierce stands for.
The Clinton administration's timid handling of the Freemen emboldened not just the Freemen, but lawless militiamen everywhere. Some of the most reactionary politicians in America went to that Jordan, Montana, farmhouse to try to negotiate a peaceful end to the standoff, but came away saying that the Freemen did not want a peaceful end to the dispute. That event made it clear that if the FBI and state law enforcement units continue to be intimidated, these groups that declare themselves to be beyond the jurisdictions of the law agencies of "the System" will strike out violently, making a race war inevitable.
Are you worried yet?
Just note that amidst all the concern about The Turner Diaries, the FBI's National Security Division was issuing a bulletin to police agencies that some militia leaders had issued directives for their "Project Worst Nightmare," in which militia units were told to prepare to "shut federal operations down" in the event that federal forces were used to assault the Montana Freemen farmhouse. The private militias were given "targets of opportunity," including communications facilities, senior federal law enforcement officials, and "selected news media."
In May, the FBI made more headlines by confirming that it had learned of anonymous threats to alcoholic beverage producers and broadcasters who air alcohol commercials, federal government officials, members of the news media, and Jewish executives and physicians.
The threat to kill government officials was based on cries that the Freemen standoff was a plot to attack all militias and seize their weapons. The threat to Jews involved an alleged plan to murder twelve hundred Jewish executives and physicians if Israel did not withdraw its military from Lebanon immediately.
In Georgia, just before the Olympic Games in Atlanta, federal treasury agents arrested two members of the Georgia Republic Militia on charges that they were plotting to make dozens of pipe bombs for use in a "war" against the United Nations and the "new world order." Fears were expressed that Robert Starr, the militia commander, and William James McCranie, Jr., planned to explode devices during the Olympics. A pipe bomb was exploded, with no evidence of involvement by the Georgia Republic Militia. The FBI poured hundreds of agents into efforts to identify the perpetrator of a crime that killed one woman and injured more than a hundred people.
How far can the madness go? The incidents and developments cited above represent mostly the homegrown threats. Add in the likelihood of foreign terrorists intervening in alliance with whatever groups stand up against Pierce and his Hitlerite punks and you have the makings of a terrible conflagration--one worse than the Civil War. Worse because the 200 million handguns on America's streets will come into play, along with the automatic guns and other weapons held by militias, weapons stolen from U.S. armories and gun stores, and sophisticated weapons provided by some foreign countries.
In April 1996, the FBI declared that Islamic radicals represent "the greatest threat coming to us domestically in the United States."
John P. O'Neill, chief of the FBI's counterterrorism section, said investigations of international terrorists had increased by 600 percent since the bombing of New York's World Trade Center in February 1993. "No longer is it just the fear of being attacked by international terrorist organizations--attacks against Americans and American interests overseas," O'Neill added. "A lot of these groups now have the capability and the support infrastructure in the United States to attack us here if they choose to.... Our largest growth area is in the anti-government movement, particularly in the area of militias.... We are seeing a threat from the international groups and the domestic groups at the same time."
Although international Islamic terrorists and local militias all profess to hate the U.S. government, they surely will not be on the same side in an American race war. They will be killing each other, turning the United States into a killing field, with blacks, Jews, Hispanics--well, everybody--forced to become combatants or to be slaughtered.
Clearly, no one in America can gain from such a war. But how to stop it? Tragically, the hated "System," as Pierce has labeled our federal government, must do some of what Pierce and the militiamen say they fear. Federal authorities must rein in to some degree the militia leaders who talk openly about killing federal judges and assassinating other elected officials, and who espouse murdering newspaper editors and destroying banks by writing billions of dollars worth of phony checks.
In April 1996, O'Neill warned against walking into what he called "a crescendo" of anti-government feeling fueled mostly by the Waco siege of the Branch Davidian compound and the shoot-out with the Weavers at Ruby Ridge. He said the image of a U.S. Army tank, with a white star painted on the side, moving against a civilian target, contributed to the anti-government movement "more than anything else." That thinking virtually paralyzed the FBI, leading to a long standoff during which most of the militia leaders decided they could do almost anything they wanted to do.
The American dilemma now? If we can restrain the crazy, violent, paranoid white men, conceding the existence of millions of white people who secretly sympathize with William Pierce, we will have a chance to pacify the millions of nonwhites who are more than ready to rumble.
We have gone too long without taking "the race problem" seriously enough to put it on a war footing. But we have a little time in which to try to avert the spilling of what Pierce calls "torrents--veritable rivers--of blood."
Before the big rumble, we are going to have a propaganda war, the guts of which are discernible in this "60 Minutes" exchange between Wallace and Pierce:
WALLACE: (Voiceover) The central message of his novel The Turner Diaries, indeed, his own abiding conviction, is that the United States is being ruined by blacks, Hispanics, Jews--just about everyone but those he calls his people, Aryan whites.
The breakdown of our society, you blame, basically, mainly on blacks and Jews.
DR. PIERCE: No, not--not primarily. I--I blame it on the fact that we have ...
WALLACE: Dr. Pierce ...
DR. PIERCE: ... allowed this society to become excessively cosmopolitan; that we have not had real white leadership in this country.
WALLACE: That's the buzzword; that's the code word, "cosmopolitan."
DR. PIERCE: Mm-hmm.
WALLACE: That's Jews and blacks, and you know it is.
DR. PIERCE: Well, if you want to put it that way, but it involves a lot of other people, too. It involves the mestizos coming across the--our southern border. And ...
WALLACE: Race mixing?
DR. PIERCE: Race mixing is--is one of the things which is causing the breakdown of American society, and the alienation of the people generally.
The people who sold me the copy of The Turner Diaries, the price hiked from $5.95 to $12.95, sent me gratis a copy of a National Vanguard Books catalog that listed dozens of racially inflammatory titles, plus many U.S. Army manuals such as Boobytraps, Incendiaries, Explosives and Demolitions, Improved Munitions Handbook, and an assortment of fiction about "Race and Revolution."
The centerpiece of this catalog is a long article headlined WHO RULES AMERICA?, with a subhead declaring that The Alien Grip on Our News and Entertainment Media Must Be Broken. Who are the "aliens" in this tirade of hatred? Michael Eisner of Walt Disney Company and Capital Cities / ABC; Gerald M. Levin of Time Warner Inc; Sumner Redstone of Viacom; David Geffen, Jeffrey Katzenberg, and Steven Spielberg of Dream Works; the heads of the Newhouse newspapers-books-magazines-and-cable empire, Samuel and Donald Newhouse; the publisher of the New York Times, Arthur Ochs Sulzberger, Jr.; and the publisher of the Washington Post, Donald Graham. You've guessed it. All of the people being assailed and threatened in this screed are Jews.
"The Jewish control of the American mass media is the single most important fact of life, not just in America, but in the whole world today," this article screams. "There is nothing--plague, famine, economic collapse, even nuclear war--more dangerous to the future of our people."
What are Jews doing to justify such extreme condemnation? The catalog says:
The Jew-controlled entertainment media have taken the lead in persuading a whole generation that homosexuality is a normal and acceptable way of life; that there is nothing at all wrong with White women dating or marrying Black men, or with White men marrying Asiatic women; that all races are inherently equal in ability and character--except that the character of the White race is suspect because of a history of oppressing other races; and that any effort by Whites at racial self-preservation is reprehensible.
I am sure that many Jews hate being tied to African Americans whenever the advocates of a race revolution spread their bigotry. It must be especially irritating when some African Americans like Louis Farrakhan make attacks on Jews a major thrust of their efforts to gain followers and make money. But neither Jews nor blacks can escape the fact that the white-supremacist killers wish both groups a common destiny of either expulsion from these shores or genocide.
I am one black man who wants Pierce and the militiamen to know that there will be no expulsion and no timid voluntary return to Africa.
If decent Americans become afraid to stand up to the threats and violence of the white supremacists, things will become worse very fast. Pierce and his followers will believe that they are in what he calls "a revolutionary phase" in which the federal government "can be defeated."
The conflict that I foresee will be as crazily complex as it will be violent, cruel, and heinous. We now see the skinheads and Ku Klux Klansmen emboldened in their campaigns against blacks, Jews, Catholics. We see the Muslims at war not only against Jews, but against the Italian mayor of New York, Rudolph Giuliani, and against America as a whole, as reflected in terrorist bombings. We hear black students talk about "the basis of truth" in a speech full of anti-Semitic invective by Nation of Islam minister Khalid Muhammad at Kean College in New Jersey. We see blacks in political struggle with Hispanics. And from Los Angeles to Detroit to New York, we see a growing underclass at war against "the establishment."
This dreadful upsurge in hurting and hatred in America, the increase in murders that are both random and born of rage, flows in part from the denied but obvious racism and contempt for the poor that were so venomous during the Reagan years, and before that from the spineless neglect and indifference of the Nixon and Ford years. But that is history. A race war of destructive proportions that will shock the world is probable because of these facts:
While President Clinton is no closet bigot, he is not as committed to racial and social equality as were Harry Truman, John F. Kennedy, and Lyndon B. Johnson. Clinton has fed the fever over welfare reform, even after discovering that "the poor must work" rhetoric was hollow, because for millions of impoverished men and women our society has no jobs, offers no training, and will not pay for day care for their children. He has gone along with the pretense that building more and more prisons at obscene costs is a solution to the crime problem. In an effort to prove that he is not "soft on crime" he has not only voiced the "rock 'em up" mentality, but led the way to designate more federal crimes as reasons to execute offenders.
During the heat of the presidential primaries, Clinton looked like a leader only because the warring Republicans looked so atrociously unpresidential. Pat Buchanan revealed himself to be shamelessly anti-Semitic, anti-black, and anti-Hispanic, thus destroying what little chance he had of winning the GOP nomination. The winner, Bob Dole, began immediately to play the race card, as have all the winning Republican candidates since Eisenhower. They bring the race war closer, but either don't know it or don't care.
Sophisticated hatemongers are in their heyday in the American media. The Rush Limbaughs, Howard Sterns, Pat Buchanans, and other socially and morally blind electronic pamphleteers write the nation's bestselling books because they moderate and dominate the nation's most-listened-to or most-watched radio and television shows.
Limbaugh and others of his ilk have manipulated public opinion in dangerous ways.
The idea is to make Limbaugh look great while making poor people look like bums, environmentalists appear to be "wackos," and decent-minded people look like enemies of democracy.
The politicians who love Limbaugh have virtually destroyed the social safety net in America, but they still rant about "reverse discrimination" and the so-called "special privileges" given to minorities. White male paranoia has become epidemic. This despite the fact that the median net worth of black households in this country is $4,604, or just one tenth the median net worth of white families--$44,408. The comparable figure for Hispanics is $5,345.
On talk shows and elsewhere I am frequently asked why "blacks get all the college scholarships." The General Accounting Office report that 96 percent of all the scholarship money in America goes to whites has done little to wipe out the white cries of persecution, many inspired by the likes of Limbaugh but reverberating in political campaigns across America.
Black judges and generals, cabinet officers and columnists, and talk-show hosts and television anchors are prominent symbols of the racial progress that has taken place in this society over the last two generations. But these symbols create a veneer that hides the truth that for the overwhelming mass of black people, Hispanics, and other nonwhites, precious little has changed during the thirty years that gave us the so-called civil rights revolution.
This harsh truth was never clearer to me than on August 27, 1993, when some seventy-five thousand people marched on Washington, D.C., to commemorate the celebrated March on Washington of 1963 when the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., gave his great "I Have a Dream" speech.
Only the most embittered flamethrowers could argue that no racial progress had been made over those thirty years. Sane people of sufficient age remembered that in 1963 petty apartheid was still a deeply ingrained way of life in the old slave states, and Jim Crow held sway over more of the North than most Yankees would admit. Black children were getting their heads battered and bloodied simply because they tried to buy a hamburger or drink a cola in Jim Crow restaurants, or even fancy department stores. Black travelers were being humiliated on buses and trains, or when they sought shelter in "white" hotels and motels. Jim Crow was king from Indianapolis, Indiana, to Indianola, Mississippi.
That 1963 March on Washington provoked the Congress to pass the Public Accommodations Act of 1964, which erased most of the ugly racism manifested in segregated movie theaters, recreation facilities, and other public places. That law gave a measure of dignity to black people. Few Americans have tried to force blacks into the backs of buses, or deny them the right to sit among whites at theaters, in restaurants, and now even in beauty parlors and dance classes. We have had problems with Denny's and other fast-food operations, but for the most part a black man's dollar has come to look as green and good as that of anyone else. Stores that once refused to let black women try on dresses or other garments now spend billions of dollars a year pitching their merchandise to black women.
But those who perceive a dramatic decline in racism in the United States, or who embrace Ronald Reagan's line that it no longer exists, will point out, accurately, that black political power was relatively inconsequential in 1963.
That 1963 march struck the consciences of millions of white Americans and enabled President Johnson to secure passage of the Voting Rights Act of 1965. As a result, by the time of the 1993 march, blacks from Georgia, North Carolina, Louisiana, Mississippi, had been elected to Congress, and some eight thousand other black elected officials were holding office.
It was notable in 1963 that no black person had ever been a member of a President's cabinet. In 1963 there were no black syndicated newspaper columnists, no black presidents of major white universities, no black military men who even dreamed of becoming chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. And no one listening to King's dream would have stretched it to a belief that by 1993 blacks would have served as mayors of Atlanta, Washington, D.C., Baltimore, Philadelphia, New York, Cleveland, Detroit, Los Angeles, New Orleans, and other cities.
But therein lies a damning story of the indelible curse of racism. It was only when the cities were watching their tax bases erode as affluent whites and some privileged blacks fled to suburbs, urban crime rates began to soar, and the public schools were falling into disrepair that the white power structure said: "OK, let's turn this mess over to a black mayor. And let him have a black police chief and a black superintendent of schools. Let them wrestle with this fucking problem!"
Political leaders moved deliberately to create "black majority" districts--in some cases creating district boundaries that looked absurd. Now politicians who benefited from gerrymandering for decades are screaming that gerrymandering to benefit blacks is unconstitutional. These efforts to rip away the political power blacks have obtained also carry the seeds of violent upheaval.
Then the businessmen who called the shots moved their businesses out of the cities. And Republican Presidents, seeing that our cities were populated more and more by blacks, Hispanics, immigrants legal and mostly illegal, who tended to vote for Democrats, said the big cities could "DROP DEAD!"
The Fair Housing Act of 1968 has never been much more than a joke. Big cities such as Chicago, New York, Detroit, may be more segregated in terms of housing now than was the case twenty-eight years ago.
Jim Crow is maintained as much by bankers and mortgage companies as by hood-wearing white hoodlums. In city after city investigative reporters and others have established the fact that even a black person of exceptional prestige and large financial resources has a more difficult time getting a housing loan than a white applicant with lesser qualifications. The difficulty is magnified if the black applicant is trying to integrate public housing projects in formerly white neighborhoods! In January 1996 we saw the spectacle of FBI agents and U.S. marshals accompanying four black families, including eight children, into the Vidor Village federal housing project in Vidor, Texas, an all-white suburb of Beaumont. The Department of Housing and Urban Development had taken over the project after nine previous black residents were driven out by harassment and threats of violence.
The result is that there is no sense of community that reaches across racial lines. So walls of fear, suspicion, and hatred are maintained. And that makes the unthinkable, a race war in America, possible.
The long-heralded 1954 Supreme Court decision Brown v. Board of Education has failed in many important respects to wipe out Jim Crow in public education and to give blacks the most basic opportunities they were guaranteed forty years ago. The University of Alabama, which once was violently opposed to the admission of any black citizen, can now field a predominantly black football team, or even an all-black basketball team. Cheering fans may think for a moment that racism has vanished. But a visitor to the public schools of Birmingham, Atlanta, Washington, D.C., or Summerton, South Carolina, sees only token integration.
Now, the most pernicious discrimination in public schooling takes place in the North--in the cities such as Boston, Chicago, Detroit. White flight to suburbs, gerrymandering of school district lines, unfair distributions of everything from books, computers, and discretionary funds for teachers have poisoned such relationships as exist between black and white children.
Blacks gained dignity from the Public Accommodations Act and political power from the Voting Rights Act. But the whole truth is that there can be only limited dignity and self-respect for those who live in poverty, and there is only limited political power for Americans who have no money and can afford no lobbyists or political action committees.
The curse of racism was never more evident than in the fact that while some blacks found dignity and political clout and economic opportunity over the last thirty years, the great mass of black Americans have not. And that fact lies at the heart of the breakdown of so many American families, the rise in rage and violent criminal behavior, and the worries about personal safety that we all feel.
In July 1963 unemployment was 5.1 percent for white Americans and 10.2 percent for nonwhites; in July 1993 joblessness was 6.0 for whites and 12.9 for blacks. In 1963 unemployment for white teenagers was 16.5 percent, but 31.2 percent for nonwhites; in 1993 it was 15.6 for white teenagers, but 32.7 percent for blacks. Over all these years you could bet your life that black unemployment would at any time be at least double that for whites. That is how and why black people have become the heart of America's permanent underclass.
In 1963, people marched on Washington in part to protest the fact that the median income of black families was only 53 percent of the median income of white families. That march provoked social legislation during LBJ's presidency that lifted black families to the point where they had $64 for every $100 available to the white family. But then came the racist "white blacklash" that wiped out the heart of Johnson's bid for a "Great Society." Black family income fell, so today the normal black family has $57 for every $100 available to the normal white family. That is pitiful, tragic "progress."
No law has provided for blacks and other minorities what ought to be the most basic of civil rights: the opportunity to work and earn a decent living. I have lived through all the promises of urban renewal, the War on Poverty, Community Action programs, Community Development corporations, Model Cities, Community Development block grants, Urban Development action grants, Enterprise Zones, and now "Empowerment Zones." But no life-changing money went into urban ghettos or the pockets of rural poverty, because slicksters already eating at the federal gravy train found ways to siphon off, or just plain steal, the monies intended to revitalize the most depressed neighborhoods. Ronald Reagan has been out of office for years now, but prosecutors are still trying to convict and imprison all the HUD officials and their co-conspirators who looted that department of billions of dollars on Reagan's watch.
You ask why, even with all the new evidence of bigotry, greed, exploitation of the underclass, anyone would be upset enough to start a race-class war. White Americans who have not endured the roller-coaster nightmare of political promises and burgeoning hopes, followed by dashed dreams and more of the traditional neglect, deliberate abuse, and institutionalized racism will never understand why some people stop hoping and start fighting.
From the time I was in elementary school in then Jim Crow Tennessee I have heard optimists, the self-styled keepers of "the American dream," say: "We can never change this generation of adults, but the kids will solve the problem. They haven't been fed racism in mother's milk."
We are sliding headlong into terrible racial conflict that will dwarf the Los Angeles riots precisely because the baby boomers have not grown up devoted to racial equality the way we thought or hoped they would. In fact, white youngsters--the children of the baby boomers--have swallowed more of the stereotypes that engender fear and hatred in recent years than at any time I have known. Thus, when they see that white girls are fornicating promiscuously, with larger and larger percentages getting pregnant out of wedlock, a "social scientist," Charles Murray, and his mouthpieces can alarm the nation with warnings that white girls have begun to act like black girls.
In his State of the Union address in January 1994, President Clinton exhorted the nation to "remember that even as we say no to crime, we must give people, especially our young people, something to say yes to." He said, "We must take the guns out of their hands and give them books."
But white denial makes good steps difficult to achieve. There are only a few white people--the skinheads, assorted Klansmen--who will openly say they are racists. But corporate boardrooms, local governments, education districts, are full of powerful men and women who are virulent bigots but will be come stridently indignant and threaten to sue if someone calls them a racist. So racism thrives, safe behind a curtain of politically correct language. What constructive things have we actually given to the millions of underclass youth that they can say yes to? Not even books. Most readers of this book will have seen on TV numerous times the wretched public schools for blacks in which there are no encyclopedias, only a few termite-ridden books, not even a magnifying glass, let alone a modern piece of scientific equipment.
For almost seven years I have run a scholarship program for black high school seniors, and I have seen needed and deserved grants go to many hundreds of youngsters who display the learning, achievement, and personal integrity manifested by children who have been given a decent chance. But I see, with growing alarm, that millions of the children who can't get nominated for a Project Excellence scholarship have never been given a fair shake, never been offered even a tiny stake in this society.
White Americans expect blacks to say yes when they get only the backs of white people's hands.
Do they expect black youth who are desperate for ways to make an honest dollar to say yes to 40 percent or higher unemployment?
Do they expect proud and angry young black men to say yes to a Congress that allocates billions for new prisons but refuses to fund "dead-end" public service jobs? A "dead-end" job is a blessing for all of us compared with the dead people we keep counting in our pockets of unemployment.
We are at the brink of tragic racial strife because young black men have, in shameful numbers, been given prison cells to bolster the pretense that the bureaucrats are making progress in "the war against drugs." Bureaucrats fired the first salvos in the race war when they let the white kingpins of the drug trade, corrupt cops and sheriffs, and rich drug-buying actors, publishers, athletes, lawyers, and stockbrokers skate free.
For a generation we have seen a law enforcement version of genocide: our failed drug war has incarcerated, or destroyed the reputations of, a fourth of the young black men in this country.
And now we hear a Democratic President, Bill Clinton, endorse "boot camps" for first-time violators of the law. And Newt Gingrich urging a "wartime" stance in which the federal government builds detention camps.
Welcome to the old South Africa and Nazi Germany!
There is a limit to how much oppression black Americans will take, no matter how much comfortable African Americans such as Carl Rowan tell them that they can never match the firepower of national guardsmen, or the troops that would surely be deployed to put down a black rebellion. Surely the Mayan Indians in Mexico's southern state of Chiapas knew that their Zapatista National Liberation Army was no match for the military power that Mexico's corrupt then-president Carlos Salinas de Gortari could throw against them. But rage and desperation provoked the Indians to seize San Cristobal de las Casas and other towns and villages, to take over a radio station, bust open a prison, take many hostages, and make it clear that life in Mexico could never be the same. They wouldn't take it anymore.
If Gingrich and others think 33 million black people will accept his "stockades" in dumb docility, they had better ponder these facts:
* In every war, in every crisis, no group of Americans has been more loyal than African Americans. But the African American potential for destruction is incalculable should even a thousand desperately angry blacks become allies of the foreign terrorists who wish to do great harm to this country. The gates to the new concentration camps will swing shut much too late to stop those who think it is time for rebellion.
* There are now five million or more Muslims living in the United States, a million in deeply troubled California alone, and close to a million in New York. Some 42 percent of the Muslim residents are United States-born African Americans. We would be fools to assume that they will listen only to moderate black pacifists. Louis Farrakhan was surely referring to them when he said in Iran that "God will give the Muslims the honor of destroying America."
Let me reiterate that black involvement in a race war will largely be reactive--a response to deliberate provocations by the soul brothers of William Pierce and the other white supremacists, but also to those "law and order" Americans whose abuses of the criminal justice system drive blacks to say, "We've had enough!" It will be for the most part a black-versus-white war, because the rapidly growing Latin American population has not yet quite learned that the paranoiacs who spew forth rhetoric about killing to save the white race have no more respect for brown people than they do for black people. But Hispanics are sure to learn a lot faster than most Americans think. That is why from the White House to Capitol Hill to the largest and smallest city halls in America, there should be no priority greater than making the moves of justice that will prevent a race war.
You are saying, perhaps, that there can't possibly be provocations that are serious enough to provoke a race war. Then you have no idea of what goes on in America every day. Consider, for example:
Two Days in December
It was December 6, 1995, a routine night at Fort Bragg, near the Fayetteville, North Carolina, home of the fabled 82nd Airborne Division of the U.S. Army. Many of the fifteen thousand members of this elite unit just sat around drinking beer--not yet sobered by the prospect of having to do duty in Bosnia or any other trouble spot.
One small gathering of drinkers included Private James N. Burmeister II, twenty, of Thompson, Pennsylvania, Private Malcolm Wright, twenty-one, of Lexington, Kentucky, and Specialist Randy Lee Meadows, Jr., twenty-one, of Mulkeytown, Illinois--all Caucasians. With each beer, Burmeister spoke with more agitation about wanting to earn his "spider web tattoo"--a symbol that he had committed a murder "for the cause." The "cause," later testimony showed, was white supremacy and the right-wing political agenda.
According to police and court records, Burmeister and Wright set out that December night, with Meadows driving, to find some black people to harass. They came upon a black man, Michael James, thirty-six, and a black woman, Jackie Burden, twenty-seven. After racial insults were hurled, one of the military men shot the two blacks to death.
Police arrested Burmeister and Wright on charges of first degree murder. They charged Meadows with two counts of conspiracy to commit murder.
When police searched Burmeister's rented room, they realized that these were not random, drunken killings. They found a Nazi flag, white-supremacist literature, pamphlets on Adolf Hitler and Nazi Germany, and a videotape of the movie Natural Born Killers. Among the hate literature was a clandestine newsletter published at Fort Bragg called The Resister. A group called "Special Forces Underground" was publishing this newsletter, which in recent issues had railed against the United Nations, opposed United States policy in Haiti, and declared support for "individual rights, strict constitutionalism, limited government, isolationism, laissez-faire capitalism and republicanism." Police also found a 9mm Ruger that they said was used to execute Mr. James and Ms. Burden.
When Burmeister, Wright, and Meadows admitted that they were skinheads--a neo-Nazi white-supremacy group that in recent years has become increasingly violent across most of the nation--military authorities at Fort Bragg and in Washington were aghast. Could a brutal, racist, revolutionary group have invaded the army and its celebrated "special forces" in such a frightening way? They must have remembered the two army men who had become buddies at Fort Riley, Kansas, and had been accused of bombing a federal building in Oklahoma City on April 19, 1995. And just two months earlier, at Fort Bragg, a sergeant had been charged with a predawn sniper attack on soldiers who were warming up for a morning run. He had killed one member of the 82nd Airborne and wounded eighteen others.
Here were killings far more disturbing than any number of hate-inspired assaults by whites on blacks, Jews, Asians, and homosexuals. Here was a possible cancer within America's most vital military forces, an affliction of right-wing hatred that would leave everyone, including the President, vulnerable to wanton murder.
Naturally, neither Pentagon nor White House officials wanted to portray the problem as a national security threat. On December 12, Secretary of the Army Togo D. West, Jr., announced a worldwide investigation of the presence of political extremists in army ranks, and a determination to oust from the military the hate groups that seemed to be gaining influence in American life. But West's announcement was shrouded in a maze of military mumbo jumbo and political caveats about what the country could do or should do about, or to, haters in military uniforms.
The Pentagon said army regulations prohibit soldiers from active participation in groups that espouse supremacist causes, attempt to create illegal discrimination based on race, creed, religion, or sex, or that advocate the use of violence. The Pentagon said soldiers are discouraged, but not prohibited, from merely being members of hate groups, receiving mail from them, or attending their meetings while off duty.
Lieutenant Colonel Kenneth McGraw, spokesman for the Special Operations Command at Fort Bragg, told the media that the extremists who published The Resister and opposed U.S. policies were not in violation of any regulations.
Was anything being said, or planned, that would deter those ready to kill to earn a tattoo? Or even those military men who printed in The Resister things that went to the heart of the army's ability to fulfill a mission? Such as:
"The U.S. military has become a slave service for the wealth redistribution schemes of internationalists and gangs of weeping do-gooder mystics. One need simply note the circling of media carrion eaters to predict in which third world toilet these altruists will flush hundreds of millions of U.S. tax dollars and the lives of U.S. servicemen. Peacekeeping is a monumental fraud."
Secretary West said that he believes the extremists of Christian militia mentality or other haters "are not a sizable proportion of our Army." But the question arises, "How large, how well-organized, do these groups have to be if they have access to army training, army weapons, army secrets?"
Burmeister was not the only unheeded symptom of racial troubles in the military. Race riots had occurred in Korea years before. The navy had had hate-based eruptions on some ships. White members of hate groups on army bases in Germany wrote racial slurs on the cars of black soldiers. Skinhead groups in Colorado armed themselves with guns stolen by sympathizers on military bases.
Sad to say, the upsurge of violent racism in armed groups in America involves more than the United States Army, Navy, and Marine Corps. It now includes every police force in any city and county in America. the National Guard, federal agencies, and even some private "protective" groups.
On that December day in 1995 when Secretary West declared his intention to ferret out the haters in the army, I reacted with pessimism. I explained why with these words:
Do you remember that half a year ago we were shocked by revelations about an orgy of racism by law enforcement officers at a "Good Ol' Boys Roundup" in Tennessee? White officials and ordinary agents of the FBI, the Secret Service, the Customs Service, the Drug Enforcement Administration, the U.S. Marshals Service, the Internal Revenue Service, the Immigration and Naturalization Service, the Bureau of Prisons, and even the District of Columbia Metropolitan Police would gather in Ocoee, Tenn., hiding behind a "Nigger Check Point," to get drunk and vent their racism. Employees of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms had begun this event, called "sickening" by President Clinton, in 1985.
ATF Director John W. Magaw and the heads of the other law enforcement agencies promised investigations in July. Even though there are videotapes of some of their employees attending those "roundups of hatred," we haven't seen a single report of any punishment being meted out to anyone.
It's time we faced the fact that some people--white, black, brown, or whatever--have violent, authoritarian personalities. The only places where they can legally get a gun, bayonet, or baton and occasionally use them to maim or kill is in a law enforcement agency or the military. We know about the crisis they have brought to the policing of America's cities. We are learning, much too late, of the frightening problems these authoritarians, especially those driven by hate, are bringing to our legitimate military--and to the "militias" that are springing up.
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