Saturday, November 03, 2018

History of hate in the US

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Studies of genocide show that those who kill their neighbors must dehumanize them before such attacks are widely accepted. In America, white Americans had been dehumanizing blacks and unleashing violence on black bodies for 300 years before the rise of the re-formed Ku Klux Klan in the 1920s, when the organized targeting of Jews by hate movements began. 

The small population of Jews who lived in America throughout the 17th, 18th, and most of the 19th centuries did so in an environment of relative tolerance, backed by the assurance of the letter written by President George Washington, a slave owner, to the Hebrew Congregations of Rhode Island, stating that “the Government of the United States gives to bigotry no sanction, to persecution no assistance.”

Yet while American Jews avoided direct attack by the Ku Klux Klan in the 1920s and 1930s, anti-Semitism itself was beginning to change as a small group of anti-Semitic radicals within the Klan moved from passivity to aggression, giving rise to a native-born American anti-Semitic movement whose radical ideology helped inspire the murder of 11 congregants at Pittsburgh’s Tree of Life synagogue. 

Auto tycoon Henry Ford played a key role in this transformation. Through his widely circulated Dearborn Independent, Ford popularized alarming slurs against the Jewish people, borrowing from the fraudulent and anti-Semitic Protocols of the Elders of Zion to accuse Jews of a secret, global financial conspiracy to undermine the United States and the western world...

By the late 1980s, a prominent terrorism expert, Bruce Hoffman, argued that every significant right-wing terrorist group in the nation fell under the influence of Christian Identity ideology. Hoffman wrote this after a decade of high-profile acts of domestic terrorism. 

The Order, a group that included a number of Christian Identity believers, plotted domestic assassinations, murdered Jewish radio host Alan Berg, and attempted to counterfeit U.S. currency in hopes of destabilizing the U.S. financial system. 

The Covenant Sword and Arm of the Lord engaged in a number of low-level, sometimes bungled acts of terrorism; they were also arrested with chemicals that they hoped to use to poison the New York City and Washington, D.C. water systems. In both instances, near-siege-like raids became necessary to subdue the groups.

Law enforcement deserves substantial credit for undermining the anti-Semitic, racist Christian Identity terrorist groups of the 1980s and ’90s. Although their efforts sometimes led to unintended consequences, the FBI infiltrated these groups for decades, often turning member against member, and capitalizing on the inherent paranoia within each group to destroy them from within. 

The net effect was to push these groups into smaller and smaller units, from large group to cell-based and finally, to lone wolf...

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