White Nationalists

When Governments Act on Fear and Panic, Injustice Is Often the Result

It's necessary to confront the threat of white nationalism on the political right, but it must be done without handing new powers to law enforcement and government.


There was a saying, which sprung from the French Revolution and was used during the Russian Revolution: "No enemies on the Left." It was the idea that left-wing revolutionaries should moderate their criticism of anyone on their side of the aisle, no matter what type of extremism they embraced. During the Cold War, conservatives rightly mocked liberals who hedged about the evils of communism. They struggled to condemn anyone to their Left.

Last week, I wrote about the apparent re-emergence of white nationalist thinking. Some mass shooters (El Paso, Pittsburgh, Charleston) seem to subscribe to a white-supremacist ideology, based on their alleged manifestos and police statements. Judging by the reactions to some of the latest shootings, there's a similar philosophy at work: "No enemies on the Right." Everyone condemns the killers, of course, but people hem and haw about the far-right danger.

My column simply called for a recognition of the problem—and the use of existing laws to deal with self-radicalizing white supremacists who break the law. It's the same solution I embraced after the 9-11 terrorist attacks, and after home-grown killers with an alleged Islamic radical viewpoint murdered Americans in a couple of shooting sprees. Facing the issue and using the vast law-enforcement tools already at our government's disposal beats emotion-driven approaches that curtail our civil liberties.

Unfortunately, there are many pitfalls even with using those existing tools. As analysis of the latest shootings subsided, another news story has grabbed attention here in northern California. It offers warnings about what happens when fear and emotion rule the day—and when our government seems driven more by panic than justice. It's from the small Central Valley city of Lodi, but has nationwide implications.

In late July, U.S. District Judge Garland E. Burrell Jr. vacated the conviction and 24-year sentence for a suspect in a 2006 terrorism case. Burrell was the judge who oversaw the trial of Lodi cherry picker Hamid Hayat, who was accused of training in a Pakistani terrorism camp. The feds argued that he allegedly gained weapons and explosives training that used President George W. Bush as a target, according to newspaper reports. This had the makings of a sensational case.

In January, a different federal judge, Deborah Barnes, called for the sentence to be overturned based in part on the inexperience of Hayat's attorney and the government's failure to consider exonerating evidence. She heard "new testimony from witnesses who said, Hayat, a California native, never had time to receive terror training while visiting relatives and getting married in his ancestral village in Pakistan," according to a Sacramento Bee report.

In a 2018 hearing that re-examined aspects of that controversial case, Hayat's attorney alleged that the FBI coerced a confession, "that the training camp he supposedly visited was not even open at the time … and that alibi witnesses who could prove his innocence were not produced at the original trial," according to the newspaper. Here's the best spin to put on this injustice: Our system still is willing to examine evidence years after a case is closed.

In hindsight, the whole matter is so unseemly. The New York Times chaptered-and-versed some of the problems. One former FBI agent watched the testimony and said "it's the sorriest interrogation, the sorriest confession, I've ever seen." (False or coerced confessions are not unusual, but comprise more than a third of the nation's murder exonerations, according to recent studies.)

Meanwhile, newspaper headlines announced the government's dismantling of an apparent terror cell is a tranquil city in wine country. The director of national intelligence, it noted, told Congress that, "A network of Islamic extremists in Lodi, California, for example, maintained connections with Pakistani militant groups, recruited United States citizens."

Except that there was no network. Hayat was the only scalp the FBI could secure, although the agency investigated (but never filed charges) possible immigration violations against local imams. If the Hayat case seemed dubious, it wasn't an outlier.

As LA Weekly reported at the time of the trial in 2006, "The Bush administration claims that more than 400 people have been charged with terrorism-related crimes in the post-September 11 era, and that 228 have been convicted. But the vast majority of these cases have involved minor crimes not directly related to terrorism, such as immigration violations." The feds can appeal Burrell's decision, but after 14 years in prison, Hayat has a good chance of finally being freed. It's unclear how many of those other cases were re-examined.

None of us should minimize potential terror threats, from whatever swamp they might emerge. But our government has plenty of power to investigate and prosecute potential miscreants. Yes, we should all recognize that there are enemies on our Left and Right. But before calling for new governmental powers, we should remember the Lodi case and what happens when emotion rules and the government overplays its hand.

This column was first published in the Orange County Register.

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  1. Methinks the oddly named PATRIOT Act should be repealed. We can start there. Law enforcement has an array of tools outside of the PATRIOT Act that they can use without having to continually violate our individual liberties.

    As for Mr. Hayat, if he was wrongly imprisoned, he has the Courts to adjudicate any remuneration for time wrongly spent behind bars.

    1. Let’s hope so – it’s one form of govt spending which is eminently justifiable, with the caveat that after paying damages to the victim, the government should then be able to recover the money from the prosecutors and cops who contributed to the wrongful conviction.

      Now, as to the issue of white supremacists. If Greenhut mean we already have enough laws against murder – whether committed by white supremacists or not – then I’d concur.

      But who exactly is playing “no enemies on the right” with white supremacists (which Greenhut, if I read him right, seems to be implying)? The “race realists” complain that other conservatives freeze them out – the speak with derision of right-wing “gatekeepers” keeping racialists out of respectable conservative gatherings.

      Many conservatives seem fairly active in bashing fellow-conservatives for supposed white supremacy.

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    2. The Patriot Act is supposed to be (if I recall correctly) a limited time thing that has to be extended. Which it was under Bush II The Bushening and then (just to show that it isn’t a Right Wing problem) under Obamaramadigdong.

      Isn’t there a ‘temporary’ tax that was enacted during WWI that was only allowed to lapse recently, when somebody pointed out that the thing being taxed had vanished into history?

      1. Yes, but I think the tax was instituted during the Spanish American war.

        1. Accept something on a temporary basis, be prepared to be saddled with it forever.

          A temporary federal “luxury” tax on telephone service was added to help fund the Spanish-American War of 1898. It has had a start-stop history but currently still is in effect. It is a “luxury tax” on what most folks consider a necessity of modern life. Anti-war folks consider it a war tax.

          To help the victims of the Johnstown Flood of 1936, Pennsylvania imposed a temporary 10 percent tax on liquor with an expiration date of 1937 to help victims rebuild. The tax stayed after 1937, after 1942 when Johnstown was considered rebuilt, and is still in effect, jacked up to 18 percent. That is of course a sin tax, like the $55 fee for a UBC for a private gun sale.

          The 1994 Assault Weapon Ban was supposed to be a ten year experiment. As the AWB renewal approached, the Centers for Disease Control and the National Research Council independently did reviews of empirical research of the type that would pass the door of the American Society of Criminology as working papers or be accepted in a peer-refereed law journal and found no studies indicating a reduction in crime from the AWB. There were not enough votes for renewal in Congress and the AWB sunset in 2004. Now the Democrat party is campaigning for an enhanced AWB for 2020.

  2. the government’s dismantling of an apparent terror cell is a tranquil city in wine country.

    Very poetic.

  3. Reason has officially become an SJW rag.

    1. +10

    2. It’s the left wing bubble they live in. They can’t identify the right and are clueless what they think, say, and do. Conversely, they whitewash and excuse the left. It’s sad that Reason goes full attack mode against small government conservatives but bends over backwards to defend outright authoritarian socialists.

      1. “No enemies on the Right.”

        1. Hahaha. German Labour Front.

          The Nazi labor union.


    3. Bullshit. Right wing terrorism needs to be denounced by all libertarians.

      1. Of course it does. So does left-wing terrorism.

        The problem comes when you conflate the tiny, tiny fraction of the left or right that are terrorists, with the wider movements.

        Don’t replace “No enemy to the right” with “Nothing but enemies to the right”.

        Over at 538 they have an essay on mass shootings and suicide. It’s not even a bad article. But they have a chart listing “What happens when terrorists tell someone their plans”, and it divides terrorists into “Right-wing”, “Jihadi”, and “Single interest”.

        They can’t even bring themselves to admit there’s such a thing as left-wing terrorists!

      2. Buttplugger cannot even control himself around kids.

      3. What right wing terrorism? And what little there may be, is it even close, in scale, to the Antifa types in places like Portland and the like?

    4. I guess the bigots don’t like some parts of Reason.

      1. True, the parts of Reason without reason.

  4. It’s necessary to confront the threat of white nationalism on the political right


    1. To deflect that White Nationalist Socialists (Nazis) are actually on the political Left.

      1. It’s like watching people arguing about whether the North pole is in the East or West hemispheres.

        The political “spectrum”, if you’re using a line, curves, the two extremes meet, all totalitarianisms converge. If you use the Nolan chart, it’s a corner, but same thing.

        Left and right libertarians, if genuinely principled, may use different terminology, but who cares? They’re not going to be bossing you around either way, so who cares?

        Left and right totalitarians may use different terminology, but again, who cares? They’re both running totalitarian states, giant slave labor camps. You’ve got bigger problems than the words they use.

        It’s in the middle where left and right matter. Not the extremes.

        1. Exactly.

          On a linear spectrum, the most freedom is found in the center where Libertarians are at.

      2. “To deflect that White Nationalist Socialists (Nazis) are actually on the political Left.”

        As Steven Crowder pointed out, it is funny that the Left will defend antifa because they are “anti-fascist”, but get pissy when you note that Nazis were “National Socialists”.

        Names either matter or they do not.

        1. An answer on “Jeopardy” last night put fascism squarely on the far-right. What, you know more than Alex Trebek?

          1. Alex Trebek is a Canadian born (1940) naturalized American as of 1998. Yup Alex Trebek moved to the USA in 1973 and did not become a US citizen for 25 years. According to a
            Vulture interview, Trebek said I’m an independent.” I’m not ultraconservative. I’m not ultraliberal either. I told Sean Hannity once: “I’m a social liberal and a fiscal conservative. I want to help people, but I’m not necessarily eager to pay for it.”

            Trebek memorizes the material. Trebek also tries to play neutral in politics but he’s a Lefty.

    1. In 1984 he broke with the Libertarian Party when it supported eliminating all taxes. Since then, Koch has been a Republican.

      Extremism in defense of liberty is no vice.
      Moderation in pursuit of justice is no virtue

      1. Extremism in defense of liberty is no vice.

        Uh…yes, it is.

        Moderation in pursuit of justice is no virtue

        So, break out the torches, pitchforks, and rope? No, thanks.

        1. I wonder how he views ‘eternal vigilance’.

  5. Last week, I wrote about the apparent re-emergence of white nationalist thinking. Some mass shooters (El Paso, Pittsburgh, Charleston) seem to subscribe to a white-supremacist ideology, based on their alleged manifestos and police statements. Judging by the reactions to some of the latest shootings, there’s a similar philosophy at work: “No enemies on the Right.”

    Nazis are Lefties, Greenhut.

    They want to control the means of production based along racial and Socialist lines.

    You just look like a moron when you try to push a Narrative that Nazis are not Socialists (Lefties).

    1. Shut up, you fucking idiot. Billions of people know fascists/Nazis are right wing.

      1. Uh huh. And 50,000,000 Elvis fans can’t be wrong.

      2. “National Socialist German Workers’ Party”

        That sound left-ish to you? It does to everyone else.
        Worker’s Party
        Just swap out the nation for USSR, Cuba, China, Vietnam, Cambodia, etc
        Government control of the means of production; left wing all the way.

        1. Banning labor unions and exterminating minorities is not “socialist”, you moron. Both are classic right wing.

          ‘Right wing’ means a favored race, class, or ethnic group.

          1. exterminating minorities is not “socialist”


            1. Dum-dum Lefty Buttplugger leaves out that the Nazis had a union THE GERMAN LABOUR FRONT and got rid of all competition (all other unions)

              1. I love to systematically show how Lefties lie lie lie.

                One quick link.

          2. ‘Right wing’ means a favored … class ….

            Yeah, because class warfare is totally rightwing.

          3. So black nationalists and Arabs like Tlaib are right wing?

          4. Right wing and left wing are entirely arbitrary and usually used to generalized political beliefs and thus demonize the other side. If we are talking a straight line spectrum, the true poles would be totalitarianism/authoritarian on one end and anarchy on the other. The majority of self identified conservatives in the US would fall somewhere past the midpoint on the anarchy side. Most conservatives reject racism, because they believe in judging the individual over judging groups. However, a Venn diagram would be more appropriate (though still not accurate). I know it’s easier to argue against simplistic caricatures and ignore nuances, that is why so many people fall for it. And even most Libertarians and Anarchist have a little authoritarian in them, especially on certain subjects (it differs from person to person). Trying to keyhole anyone into a restrictive box, and especially a group of people, is simplistic and generally wrong.

        2. That and the Nazis tried to come to power via REVOLUTION, which is exactly what all Socialists use to steal power from Democracies.

      3. “Shut up, you fucking idiot. Billions of people know fascists/Nazis are right wing.”

        And antifa has no fascist tendencies, right?

      4. The Soviet Union banned all independent labor unions and made a specialty of exterminating ethnic minorities.

    2. >>>Nazis are Lefties, Greenhut.

      wrong of him to make you point this out like it’s Internets ’98

    3. You really want things to be simple. But they aren’t.

      1. Lefties makes things more difficult than they need to be.

        Nazis were/are Socialists.

        Zeb is an Anarchist.

        Loveconstitution1789 is a Libertarian

  6. “It’s necessary to confront the threat of white nationalism”

    It’s necessary to confront the threat of choking of jellybeans while doing the macarena.

    1. I actually think that the threat of choking on jellybeans while doing the macarena must be confronted first. It’s a bigger threat than white nationalism.

      1. My point

  7. When Governments Act on Fear and Panic, Injustice Is Often the Result

    Well no shit, why do you think governments create the fear and panic in the first place? That’s Government 101 – convince the sheep they need protection from the wolves and you’re just the wolf that can protect them.

  8. How many white supremacists are out there? Several thousands? And how many of those are 20-somethings likely to perpetrate violence, versus 70- and 80-somethings who complain about blacks and Jews and their sciatica but only perpetrate violence against their Depends?

    Whenever the government and media tells me there is a huge hidden threat and we all need to “see something/say something,” I get extremely suspicious that I’m being lied to. Then when they tell me that I can be protected from said threat for the low, low price or giving up just a teensy bit more of my liberty and privacy and awarding them just a smidge more power than they already posses, I don’t want to play.

    I (and my minority friends and neighbors) are far more likely to be killed in a no-knock raid on the completely wrong address than to be victims of white supremacists or Islamic terrorists—so fuck off, slavers! We’re wise to your bullshit.

    1. And, short of being killed in a raid and far more commonly, you can have your life and livelihood destroyed simply by being the target of a federal investigation, even if you’re never convicted of anything, or even charged.

    2. Depending on where you live, you could be in way more danger of being killed by your neighbors than cops in a raid, or terrorists of any sort.

      1. And unless you live somewhere really terrible, if you aren’t yourself a violent criminal, your chances of being murdered at all is very low.

        1. Yeah, in the neighborhood I live in, by far the greatest danger of violence or theft comes from law enforcement.

  9. Oof.

  10. Burrell was the judge who oversaw the trial of Lodi cherry picker Hamid Hayat…

    Deborah Barnes, called for the sentence to be overturned based in part on the inexperience of Hayat’s attorney and the government’s failure to consider exonerating evidence.

    So they cherry picked evidence against a cherry picker?

    1. X
      Just about a year ago,
      I set out on the road,
      Seeking my fame and fortune,
      Looking for a pot of gold.
      Things got bad, and things got worse,
      I guess you know the tune.
      Oh! Lord, Stuck in Lodi again.

      Rode in on the Greyhound,
      I’ll be walking out if I go.
      I was just passing through,
      Must be seven months or more.
      Ran out of time and money,
      Looks like they took my friends.
      Oh! Lord, I’m stuck in Lodi again.

      The man from the magazine said I was on my way.
      Somewhere I lost connections, ran out of songs to play.
      I came into town, a one night stand,
      Looks like my plans fell through
      Oh! Lord, Stuck in Lodi again.
      If I only had a dollar, for ev’ry song I’ve sung.
      And ev’ry time I’ve had to play
      While people sat there drunk.
      You know, I’d catch the next train back to where I live.
      Oh! Lord, I’m stuck in Lodi again.
      Oh! Lord, I’m stuck in Lodi again.

  11. Oh fuck you Greenhut, this is obviously manufactured bullshit. All you are accomplishing is further confirming your service to the DNC cause.

    1. And – be honest with yourself – that’s all you were hoping to accomplish anyway, amirite?

      1. Getting laid could be involved…

        1. Fair point, but mainly to the extent that getting laid is the metaphysical limit of most any man’s behavior.

        2. if this was an attempt to get laid yikes

  12. >>>It’s necessary to confront the threat of white nationalism on the political right

    hit the gym you can probably handle both guys yourself

  13. I just want to know if the lesson from the Lodi case will apply equally to the right and the left. And that we agree not to be overly sympathetic nor Inspector Javert toward either. Though we all want our team to win at the end of the day.

  14. I think a lot of the utter codswallop that has been done in the name of anti-terrorism is the consequence of abandoning a historical tactic with a proven track record ogg working at keeping violent fringe groups under control. One informs the head-of-state in charge of the country the bandits/revolutionaries operate out of and informs him that if he doesn’t get them under control he will be replaced with someone who will, Then one stands back and lets him get on with it, and refrains from complaining if he violates the norms of the ‘civilized’ West.

    It’s called Gunboat Diplomacy. It was messy, amoral, and effective. The post WWII era of UN inspired Human Rights hectoring and nut job appeasement conspicuously DOESN’T.

    And when effective tactics have been taken off the table, and action is still being demanded, the government WILL do the unreasonable.

  15. Seems to me the Goebbels Greenhut himself is the only nazi he has any real experience of

  16. It’s necessary to confront the threat of white nationalism on the political right

    Hopefully the author is able to recognize some degree of nuance between people who think that immigrants flooding over the border is a problem, and those people who think that it’s completely fine to just go and kill them all.

    I’m happy to spread the message that killing immigrants is wrong, if you think it will do any good to tell people that. Beyond that…how exactly do they confront the white nationalist threat? Nobody wants to hang out with those assholes and they’re in isolated groups because so few people can tolerate their vitriol.

    Didn’t Donald Trump himself say, at one point, “You racists out there, go away. I don’t want your support,” or something to that effect? I tried to find the quote but searching for Donald Trump and racists is just a losing endeavor.

    1. how exactly do they confront the white nationalist threat?

      Outlaw trailer parks and basement apartments?

    2. Yes but that was all a dog whistle. He blinked so we know he was lying. I mean he did say “good people on both sides”. Ignore the next sentence because it isn’t relevant. And we know he doesn’t like Jews, because he supports Israel and has his Jewish son-in-law as one of his closest advisors.

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