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Vietnam and the Rise of White Power

A new book ties racist reactionary politics to the war, but overreaches when it comes to militias.

Bring the War Home: The White Power Movement and Paramilitary America, by Kathleen Belew, Harvard University Press, 339 pages, $29.95

Harvard University PressHarvard University PressAmerica's defeat in Vietnam produced a surge of men who felt betrayed by the federal government and who feared communism's spread to the United States. Further incensed by government scandals, economic struggles, and a changing cultural landscape in the wake of the civil rights movement's successes, some of these men sought to regain control through white power organizations.

So argues Kathleen Belew, a historian at the University of Chicago, in Bring the War Home, an engaging account of how and why the modern white power movement emerged from 1975 to 1995. By Belew's account, the movement encompasses the Klan, white separatists, neo-Nazis, and even radical tax resisters. Her research is thorough: She compares news reports, government records, and materials from the groups she studies to cross-check her analysis. Her argument falters, though, when it treats the militia movement of the 1990s as an "outgrowth" of this racist milieu rather than a separate movement with its own origins and concerns.

Belew is not the first writer to argue that the defeat in Vietnam helped fuel the growth of a new kind of reactionary politics. But she offers an unprecedented level of detail, engaging deeply with developments that other authors typically gloss over. Take her analysis of how white power activists sought out mercenary experiences in Latin America. (Klan leader Don Black, for example, was part of a failed effort to initiate a coup in Dominica. The aim was both to protect the U.S. from allegedly encroaching communism and to filter money to white power groups at home.) She links these members' decision to become mercenaries to tactics (such as booby traps), weaponry (such as AK-47s), and ideas (such as anti-communism) they associated with the Vietnam War. Through such shared concepts, Vietnam stayed relevant in white power circles long after the conflict ended.

A few other authors have mentioned white power figures' mercenary work and their lack of legal accountability for possible crimes committed along the way, from violations of the Neutrality Act to involvement in civilian massacres. But Belew alone shows these men's impact on the movement, as opposed to merely demonstrating their violent dedication to it. The mercenaries wanted to physically enact a redemption from the loss in Vietnam—in Belew's words, to "redeem the defeat." More radically, some prepared themselves to use these same techniques of war on home soil against a federal government they saw as increasingly hostile to their interests. Examples include a foiled plot to bomb an embassy and several groups' paramilitary activities at the U.S.-Mexico border.

Belew's analysis unfortunately outsteps its supporting data when the book reaches the 1990s. The author argues that militias—groups of mostly white, mostly male Americans who feel a civic duty to be prepared to defend the country from any threat—represent the "peak" of the white power movement because of their size.

As a sociologist who studies the contemporary militia movement, I think Belew overstates the connection to white power groups. My research and the work of several other scholars indicate that the racist right and the militias had separate aims and identities.

Some white power organizations did overlap somewhat, both in membership and in ideas, with some early militia groups. But as Belew herself notes, militia recruits "could, theoretically, participate in a local militia without deliberately participating in the white power movement." This is because, unlike white power organizations, most militia groups' aims were not racially oriented. Instead, they focused on gun rights and the federal government's size and power.

Belew rightly rejects the idea that a social movement needs a single leader or unified message. But distinct movements that share select interests or pool their resources under the right circumstances can maintain separate identities. This framework can be envisioned as a Venn diagram, where groups with different core characteristics have some, but not all, ideas, members, or other resources in common. For example: Black Lives Matter, Occupy Wall Street, the Sierra Club, and other movements on the left have recently coordinated with the Women's March against the current presidential administration.

In the case of white power groups and militias, the shared "field" of common interest was a perception of government overreach and abuse, particularly following the standoffs with Randy Weaver's family at Ruby Ridge in 1992 and with the Branch Davidian sect in Waco in 1993. Needless to say, this field was shared far beyond both movements, bringing in mainstream Americans across the political spectrum.

Belew's evidence for treating the militias as an outgrowth of the white power movement largely rests on two points. The first is that militia groups in Idaho and Montana had racist orientations. But most militia scholars recognize the Idaho Christian Patriot group as an overtly religious and supremacist organization—and while the Militia of Montana included "militia" in its name, it had no firearms proficiency requirements and little in the way of formal military-style training, both of which rapidly became central to other militias' identities.

The second piece of evidence relates to conservative radio host and conspiracy theorist Mark Koernke, whom she identifies as a Michigan Militia leader. Koernke successfully framed himself that way, but his name is absent from the original 3,000-plus pages of fax records—including lists of leaders—provided to me in 2010 by Michigan Militia founder Norm Olson. Members who were active in the '90s described Koernke to me as a "wannabe Alex Jones" who had little interest in anything except his own status, which he severely damaged by jumping into a lake while running from police searching for an unrelated marijuana grow.

Belew mentions a possible connection between Koernke and Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh, although unlike many authors, she is careful to note that McVeigh merely attended some militia meetings rather than calling him a member. To demonstrate the McVeigh-militia connection, Belew cites a 1995 news article where unnamed witnesses recalled that McVeigh had acted as Koernke's bodyguard a year prior. At least one journalist—ABC's Jonathan Karl, then of the New York Post—has reported that this was a case of mistaken identity, and that Koernke's bodyguard was actually a man named McKay. But even if the McVeigh report is true, it says more about Koernke and his small personality cult than it does about McVeigh's relationship to the militia movement as a whole. Koernke has a reputation for maintaining unpaid "bodyguards," drawing when he can from veterans and others he perceives as boosting his own status by proximity.

There is also evidence that groups under the white power umbrella tend not to accept militias as part of their movement. White Aryan Resistance founder Tom Metzger (a recurring figure in Belew's book) stated his opinion of the militias in 2001: "They are mostly uniform freaks that wanted to play war. The minute McVeigh committed a real act of war, the militias disappeared quickly. Most backtracked [on their anti-government ideology] and affirmed allegiance to the Iron Heel. Most now work directly with the FBI." Similar rants can be found in other publications from the '90s and on online message boards through the present day.

Treating the militias as a separate movement may seem like splitting trivial academic hairs, but the distinction has practical importance. Research suggests that overbroad labeling, especially from law enforcement, can help push people into violence or other extremism. A notable example came when the Department of Homeland Security released a report on "rightwing extremism" in 2009 that called the militias "violent," and that offended veterans by warning that former soldiers may be susceptible to terrorist recruitment. Attendance spiked at Michigan Militia events immediately following this report, and leaders of other states' militias reported the same response—presumably the exact opposite of what the writers had intended.

The label "white power" carries a race-focused orientation that isn't present in the militia movement as a whole. Applying it to nonracist militias undermines our understanding of both movements, making it harder to use our limited resources to address racism and extremist violence. But despite these problems, Bring the War Home is an excellent resource for anyone interested in the history of America's white power movement—whether for academic pursuits or to inform opposition to white supremacy. I wish the book had been available when I started my own studies in this area.

Photo Credit: Harvard University Press

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  • SQRLSY One||

    I have no comments about this...

    If that pisses you off?... I might go and start my own militia to defend my rights to have "no comment"!

  • gaoxiaen||

    I did Nazi that coming. Did Jew?

  • Rorschach||

  • sharmota4zeb||

    What ever you do, don't write "no comment" on a wedding cake. ;)

  • Oli||

    Aren't militia people basically guys that were too fat to get in the police force, but still want a reason for running around with guns?

  • DiegoF||

    I wasn't aware one needed a reason to "run around with guns." And I don't think that anyone too fat to join their local PD will be running much of anywhere. Maybe Rascaling around with guns.

    My impression is that most so-called "militias" are a bunch of harmless keyboard commandos (maybe they have one guy who credibly had a ground combat job, tops, and they're all in utter awe of him) who are incredibly creeped out and alarmed by any hangaround who seems like anything more than that. They will try to get him the fuck away from the rest of them; in fact, contrary to what you might think, they even tend to be one of the most important source of law enforcement tips about truly potentially dangerous characters.

  • Ken Shultz||

    Back when the militia movement was growing, few Americans had ever heard of the internet.

    The internet didn't really enter the public's consciousness until around the time that Netscape went public in late 1995. Circa 1997, most Americans still thought that AOL's website constituted the entirety of the internet. The Oklahoma City bombing probably marks the end of the growth phase of the militia movement, and that was in April of 1995.

    The militia movement was a grass roots reaction to an expanding federal government. The crazies always go over the edge first in reaction to that sort of thing--but that doesn't mean they went over the edge because they were crazy. The same sort of thing happened during the American revolution. It may have started out with instigators like The Loyal Nine AKA The Sons of Liberty, but by the time of the Declaration of Independence, only John Hancock was in any kind of position of leadership (around to sign the DoI). By then, the adults had taken over the revolution--and Benjamin Franklin, George Washington, John Adams, and others weren't in it because they were crazy.

  • Ken Shultz||

    Does anyone imagine that militia movement cared so much about Waco because they cared about David Koresh? They were as upset about innocent people being burned alive for no good reason as anyone else, but it was also about Clinton's expansion of federal law to impose gun control--with the ATF being emblematic of that. That was one part of it. There were plenty of other issues, like NAFTA, HillaryCare's attempt to nationalize the healthcare system, etc.

    In 1994, Newt Gingrich and the Republicans took control of the House for the first time since 1946. There was a huge wave of opposition to the changes Clinton made at the beginning of his first term, and the militia movement was made up of people who were part of that movement in the wider culture. The militia movement opposed Clinton and the Democrats for the same reason everyone else did. It's just that some people express themselves at church, writing a letter to their congressman, at the ballot box, or in the bar with their friends. Few militia people expressed themselves over the internet--few Americans even knew the internet existed circa 1994.

  • loveconstitution1789||

    Americans thought we were on the right track with Reagan and the fall of the USSR.

    Then under Clinton and the RINOs, the USA started to get oppressive again. As you say, NAFTA trade restrictions and rules, government expanding healthcare rules, gun control, militarization of the police, Clinton's era of Three Strikes and crack down on drug crimes....

    Trump is the answer to Bill Clinton, Booosh, and Obama repressing America again.

  • Cynical Asshole||

    it was also about Clinton's expansion of federal law to impose gun control--with the ATF being emblematic of that.

    Waco was the first time I had even heard of the ATF. I was only 16 at the time, so maybe that doesn't mean anything. There were a lot of executive departments I hadn't heard of. I did find it strange that there was this separate federal law enforcement agency dedicated specifically to policing alcohol, tobacco, and firearms.

  • Ken Shultz||

    I understand the Secret Service is responsible for counterfeiting.

    Protecting the president--and counterfeiting the currency? Why not let them monitor fishing licenses, too?

  • SQRLSY One||

    Well, along with the fishing licenses, maybe they could ALSO enforce laws against blowing on cheap plastic flutes w/o a physician's permission!

    WHATEVER YOU DO, DO ***NOT*** DO THIS!!! (Blowing on the cheap flutes thing, you know, or even, Government Almighty forbid, BUILDING YOUR OWN!!!)

    See here for what NOT to do!!!

    http://www.churchofsqrls.com/DONT_DO_THIS/

  • Ben of Houston||

    The Treasury responsibilities came first. You needed a federal department to investigate and run anti-counterfeiting measures, since it was a federal crime and often operated between states.

    After Lincoln's and Garfield's assassinations, it was decided that someone non-military had to protect the president full-time. Since the Secret Service was the only national police force at the time, they were assigned the job.

  • Flinch||

    Militias aren't about guns: its an opportunity for binge drinking while enjoying the last vestiges of adolescent pyromania. But the premise of the story... anyone reaching that far for a thesis probably ought to just go do something else.

  • Ken Shultz||

    Leave it to a progressive to blame everything on obesity.

    Never mind opposition to gun laws, unpopular attempts to nationalize the healthcare system, etc.

    No, the problem is sugary soft drinks and our failure to obey Michelle Obama.

  • sharmota4zeb||

    Oli, that reminds me. Tell Big Nick to text me. I hope he isn't delivering drugs for Stan. Oh, and cause it's almost Rosh Hashanna, tell Stan I'm sorry if I embarrassed him at the center. I didn't realize that convincing the guys he is straight was so important to him.

  • Cynical Asshole||

    I didn't think it was possible to be too fat to get in the police force.

  • Chasman1965||

    My observation is that they don't let fat people in to the police force. They simply don't kick people out of the police force for being fat.

  • dchang0||

    Re: "reason for running around with guns"

    DiegoF is right. There are plenty of action shooting sports including but not limited to IDPA, USPSA, IPSC, and cowboy competition shooting.

    I would say that the types of persons that join today's state militias are very different than the type that go into action shooting. From the few interviews with real militia members that I have seen, they seem to truly be focused on their distrust of the gov't (otherwise they would join the gov't as members of the armed forces or law enforcement) and spend much of their time practicing small squad tactics. The competition shooters seem to be far more interested in getting really good at shooting guns as individuals (they never shoot and move in a squad) and are much less interested in politics.

  • ||

    This obsession with attaching race to everything is extremely damaging.

    It seems like any group (or persons) not progressive is just tagged as such and just labelled 'alt-right'.

    But when you explore and delve deeper into their groups/ideas/comments etc., it's not so straightforward.

  • DiegoF||

    As a (young tho) GenX fart I never know what to make about the racists.

    They're as weak as they ever have been in meatspace, from all evidence--at least in the English-speaking countries. But damned if they don't seem to have a hell of a presence online. Seems like every forum you go, they're there tossing off a remark about the Jews, which then gets upvotes to dwarf every other. How do they do it? It's incredibly unsettling. I'm generally only amused and fascinated by racists, but then I'm just some generic brown guy. It might be different, I must concede, if you're a black or especially a Jew, where you know you have this horrifying history. So maybe not everyone can be as flippant and glib as me about it.

    I still hold that the "far right" is mostly a phantom menace convenient to the Left. But part of being a sworn enemy of the woke revolution is sounding the alarm that if they keep this shit up they will run the risk of driving young white men into the arms of the counter-identitarians, and that we liberals/conservatives are in a war with the racists for the future disaffected white souls so to speak.

  • DiegoF||

    *to dwarf every other comment. Seriously, these motherfuckers turn out! Apparently, at least.

    No matter what (((they))) would like you to believe.

  • ||

    As a Gen Xer myself, we had more clarity and still do.

  • DiegoF||

    I don't know if we do! I can't understand these kids today! I mean I know that Mexican Jewess was not sending out the bat signal for a white power uprising when she folded her arms during a boring ass judiciary hearing. But I never know the ratio of seriousness to bored lulz out there when I see one of their innumerable trolls--which again, are enormous in number, completely widespread, and always by far the most popular posts with the upvoters. I guess that's the point, to fuck with normies like me. I miss the old days of Stormfronters ranting about white kids wearing backward baseball caps.

  • Zeb||

    I'm going to guess that at least half of online racism is shit-head kids who just think it's hilarious to stir shit up and annoy people with that shit. There is always a pretty good segment of young men who love that shit.

  • Rorschach||

    I don't know if we've still got it, but I do remember that when I was growing up in the 1980s and 1990s, the teachers in my schools were always telling me that racism is about judging people by their skin color, and racism is bad, and therefore we shouldn't be judging people by their skin color. Now (so I'm told), teachers are telling kids that not judging people by their skin color is racism; I'm inclined to believe my teachers were right, and that these crybullies running around screaming "racism!" at everyone and everything they don't like are the real racists. I do indeed run across loads of those blame-the-Jews-first Nazis getting lots of upvotes from their fellow arm-chair goose-steppers (and, I suspect, no small number of their sock puppets; how much you can fake support for yourself mostly depends on how much free time you have on your hands) in comments sections these days in places like ZeroHedge and SHTFPlan and the like, but it's the fascist leftard academics like Ted Thornhill busy brainwashing educating today's kids who strike me as the most dangerous racists of our time, since they have actual power and influence over nearly all of our public institutions and no small number of the private ones as well.

  • damikesc||

    But damned if they don't seem to have a hell of a presence online. Seems like every forum you go, they're there tossing off a remark about the Jews

    Seems the far Left dislikes Jews more than white nationalists as of late.

  • DiegoF||

    Nobody dislikes Jews more than white nationalists. You have never seen anyone so fucking obsessed with anything.

    It is today as it long has been: The Far Right is indeed every bit as repugnant as the Far Left, perhaps more so. But the mainstream Left is much, much worse at separating themselves from the evils of their associated extremists--not coincidentally, given that the Far "Right" has much, much less in common with the mainstream Right than the Far Left does with the mainstream Left--fuck, much less than the mainstream Right does with the Far Left, as the mainstream Right never tires of pointing out.

  • JohnTheRevelator||

    the Far "Right" has much, much less in common with the mainstream Right than the Far Left does with the mainstream Left

    That's because the "mainstream right" as you call it, is actually the most significant remaining classical liberal faction in US politics. The GOP is a coalition of libertarians, old-timey liberals who believe in rationality and individual rights, and another large group whose presence with the first two is odd and always uneasy--social conservatives, most of whom are believing Christians. None of these groups have any relationship to the collectivist, racist "far right", which aside from its racism shares a lot of its views about organizing society with the progressive left. The only reason they are associated in the public mind is that the left controls the media and makes it its mission to create that association.

    On the other hand, the modern left is the direct ideological descendent of the Soviet-backed (this is documented in mainstream sources) 1960s radicals. They have pushed the classical liberals completely out of the Democrat party and have become what passes for mainstream there.

  • chemjeff radical individualist||

    The only reason they are associated in the public mind is that the left controls the media and makes it its mission to create that association.

    Oh Good Lord. The alt-righters THEMSELVES declare that they are the "true" inheritors of the conservative tradition. It's not some media conspiracy.

  • Kivlor||

    I'm pretty sure the alt right reject conservatism, although some claim to be the true defenders of tradition.

  • dchang0||

    The alt right doesn't seem to have any principled philosophical positions or arguments and thus can't be conservatives. They seem to simply be tribal and nostalgic ("oh, things were so much better in America when whites dominated.")

  • Flinch||

    Most of the so called alt-right are democrats from the last century - we should call them alt-left and not accept the moniker bestowed on them by our home grown progs following in Stalin's footsteps.

  • Azathoth!!||

    What is the alternative to the right?

    Ah hah!

  • Rorschach||

    Just about the only difference between the "alt-right" and "alt-left" is that the former wants white people to be proud of their skin color, while the latter demands that they be ashamed of it; in all else, they're very much the same kind of people. The alt-right is rife with socialist perverts of all stripes, including at least one former Occupy Wall Street member and no small number of "international socialists" i.e. out-and-out Commies. Like the leftards' patron saints Trumbo, Seeger, and Chaplin, they'd rather we forget there was a time when Hitler and Stalin were allies, and that their ilk were idolizing both of them at that time.

  • dchang0||

    It's basically identitarians fighting tribally.

    White identitarians on one side vs. black identitarians vs. various shades of brown identitarians (Latinos, Middle-Easterners, etc.) vs. various shades of yellow identitarians (these are rare but still out there--see the NY Times' Sarah Jeong's hateful tweets).

  • sharmota4zeb||

    Perhaps it's a hold over from the Antisemitism in second world and first world countries that was more prevalent during the Cold War. Many people in those countries got internet access and learned English in the past 20 years. Two wars and recovering from 9/11 distracted people in English-speaking countries from dealing with the trend. Now, we're addressing it. Hillary's attempt to turn it into a campaign issue was a factor in bringing these groups to light. They aren't very numerous or popular. The tide should turn in the other direction soon.

  • loveconstitution1789||

    I think us Gen Xers judged people for who they are and their character rather than superficial things like skin color.

    I had all sorts of friends- White, Black, Asians, Hispanic, Seiks.

    Boomers based a bunch of stuff on race, so Gen X seemed different in that way.

  • Flinch||

    Is the author bucking for a shot at dipping a beak in the SPLC offshore accounts?

  • TxJack 112||

    Having studied this issue in depth as a graduate student, I can say with confidence that attempting to group all militia groups under one banner is stupidity at the highest level. The "White Power" movement is not about politics, per se. It's focus is racism and the "religion" they practice is called Christian Identity. It is a perversion of Christianity that claims Jesus Christ was a white Aryan and Jews and all people of color are subhuman and the descendants of Cain. There are other militia groups who are purely political in that they see the political changes in this country as a threat to freedom. These are groups such as the "Republic of Texas" that seeks secession of Texas from the US. As for mercenaries, that aspect of the article is partly based on fact but the claims are taken much to far. There have always been former military personnel who are unable to leave war behind. The Hessians who fought for the British in the American Revolution were mercenaries. Mercenaries are soldiers for money and politics rarely has any part of why they fight.

  • SIV||

    (Klan leader Don Black, for example, was part of a failed effort to initiate a coup in Dominica. The aim was both to protect the U.S. from allegedly encroaching communism and to filter money to white power groups at home.)

    Alleged "Ron Paul connection"

    Repeal the Neutrality Act of 1794

  • sharmota4zeb||

    She links these members' decision to become mercenaries to tactics (such as booby traps), weaponry (such as AK-47s), and ideas (such as anti-communism) they associated with the Vietnam War.

    So the Taliban was Reagan's White Power group fighting the cuddly Soviets in Afghanistan?

    It's more likely that the White Power movement got upset after the Democrats finally started letting Blacks and Jews move up the ranks in their party. The 1968 Chicago riots was a protest against the Democrat Party excluding minorities from decision making at their convention. A few years later, we see the White Power movement. hmmmm

  • sharmota4zeb||

    A few other authors have mentioned white power figures' mercenary work and their lack of legal accountability for possible crimes committed along the way, from violations of the Neutrality Act to involvement in civilian massacres.

    And this is different from the Underground Weathermen, because ... TEAM BLUE!

  • loveconstitution1789||

    This is the stupidest theory ever.

    First rebuttal is that white supremacy has been fighting for power for Centuries. The Democrats started the KKK after the Civil War and actually lost power after Vietnam. The 1980s-2018 have not been kind to new soldiers for racists white groups.

    Second rebuttal is that Vietnam produced hundreds of thousands of soldiers that passed through that combat zone. Most became cops, firemen, career soldiers, peace supporters, and average Americans that worked hard.

    As to the paramilitary claim- America has always been a rebellious and paramilitary citizenry. We have a US Military supplemented by state National Guard units who have members who are part of private militias.

    Its like nobody critiques books anymore.

  • Longtorso, Johnny||

    Anyone want to borrow my copy of Unintended Consequences?

  • SIV||

    Free Download:

    Unintended Consequences

  • gaoxiaen||

    +1 Animal Mother, or minus.

  • Just Say'n||

    "an engaging account of how and why the modern white power movement emerged from 1975 to 1995"

    And the account would be a valid argument if it weren't for the uncomfortable fact that membership in the Klan and the neo-Nazi movement cratered between 1975 and 1995.

    This book sounds like the swan song of an embittered Boomer who doesn't want to admit how god awful their generation truly was.

  • loveconstitution1789||

    +1

    Boomers are the worst. They should have been called the 'Me' Generation.

  • Flinch||

    Welcome back. Now go look up a 1972 tune by Shel Silverstein...

  • Longtobefree||

    Truly is, no truly was.
    We will live long enough to drain your paycheck through social security alone.
    Now get back to work and pay taxes.

  • sharmota4zeb||

    Examples include a foiled plot to bomb an embassy and several groups' paramilitary activities at the U.S.-Mexico border.

    The hostage situation at the American embassy in Iran was a major concern during the Carter administration. Perhaps this inspired that bombing plot.

  • Adans smith||

    Stupid writes as stupid is.

  • sharmota4zeb||

    For example: Black Lives Matter, Occupy Wall Street, the Sierra Club, and other movements on the left have recently coordinated with the Women's March against the current presidential administration.

    I read a sci-fi book from the 1970's this year called "Seeds of Change" by Monteleone it tells the story of a dystopian future where totalitarian governments run cities and militias in the wilderness fight for freedom. A character in the book explained that the Sierra Club was the start of the resistance against those totalitarian governments. I suspect that both the left and the right had fringe elements that dreamed of changing the world via a second civil war in the USA in the 1970's.

  • Shirley Knott||

    I lived through the seventies and you are correct.

  • sharmota4zeb||

    Koernke has a reputation for maintaining unpaid "bodyguards," drawing when he can from veterans and others he perceives as boosting his own status by proximity.

    They are called "cousins" if you live in an urban neighborhood.

  • Inigo Montoya||

    Kathleen Belew it with the premise of this book.
    First off, I'm pretty sure Vietnam draftees were not all white guys. There were plenty of blacks and Latinos who served there too, and I'm sure they came back as similarly disaffected as their white counterparts, perhaps even more so.

    Second, I suspect the conflict did more to defuse racial tensions than increase them. For example, I had an ex-in-law who fought in Vietnam. He was a white guy from a small, all-white town. He told me when he first went into the service, he had no regard for black people. However, after serving with black guys and having his life saved more than once by a black guy, he could honestly say he no longer had any prejudice whatsoever. Yes, this is just one example, but surely it isn't unique?

    Finallly, this author ignores some simple demographics. Vietnam ended almost 45 years ago. The age range of those vets is 65-80 or so. I don't think white supremacists are all elderly geezers. It may be their grandfathers who were in Vietnam, not them.

  • ThomasD||

    Demographics appears to be just the tip of the iceberg the author needed to ignore in order to write this work.

  • Mark22||

    Short summary of the book: "If you're a white male and refuse to support war mongering, high taxes, racism, and corporate cronyism by progressives and statists, progressives are going to call you a Nazi."

  • ThomasD||

    Although fictional Steve Earle's Copperhead Road captures another portion of this zeitgeist of post Vietnam estrangement.

    Frankly, it's a theme you can dovetail into almost anything that has happened since 1965.

    Which is the main reason I will not be reading this book.

  • Alcibiades||

    Although fictional Steve Earle's Copperhead Road captures another portion of this zeitgeist of post Vietnam estrangement.

    Christ that's an incredible masterpiece of songwriting by one of the finest songwriters around. Earle turned out a whole string of three or four minute masterpieces (Guitar Town etc.) until he became more interested in penning lefty hack editorials masquerading as songs.

  • ThomasD||

    Um, Copperhead Road although indeed a fantastic exercise in songcraft, is a lefty hack editorial.

  • Alcibiades||

    Um, Copperhead Road although indeed a fantastic exercise in songcraft, is a lefty hack editorial.

    That sure isn't my reading of the song.

  • ThomasD||

    Not going to do a verse by verse Fisking of it, but suffice to say it is loaded with urban, lefty, college student type stereotypes of rural Appalachia, from the bits about 'white trash,' allusions to moonshine running being the origins of NASCAR, and the whole anti-revenuer vibe.

  • Alcibiades||

    So, celebrating drinking and driving, making moonshine and drugs plus tax evasion and fuck you to the authorities is a hymn to lefty causes....

    Got it.

    As for the "stereotypes"...badge of honor.

  • ThomasD||

    That you take 'fuck you to the authorities' as Earle's message, as opposed to his stereotype - even with everything you now know about his political bent - says you are missing the forest for the trees.

    It's a cliche, not a cri du coeur.

  • ThomasD||

    It's the southern Appalachian version of Deer Hunter.

  • ThomasD||

    And it's not so much a 'fuck you' to the authorities as a 'thanks for giving me a lucrative business model.'

    Because if you think anyone who profits from prohibition has much interest in ending prohibition, well think again.

    I get that this might be a romantic sore spot, and that you like many others, are so steeped in leftist pop culture that you are like a fish that cannot see water.

    The protagonist of that song is a stereotypical antihero. Which is very much a leftist thing.

  • NashTiger||

    Yet ANOTHER article about how their are Kluxers hiding behind every bush, and now, 25 years after the craze, there are MILITIAS everywhere as well.

    But don't dare say anything bad about Antifa, they are just a reaction to the thousands of dangerous white militiamen you see every time you leave the house

  • Echospinner||

    Small as these groups may be it is good to know that there are people out there keeping track of them. History is full of examples of terrible outcomes that began from small groups who learned to organize and grow.

  • Mark22||

    History is full of examples of terrible outcomes that began from small groups who learned to organize and grow.

    And how do you think slavery was abolished? How do you think we got to live in a free country?

    All political movements, good or bad, start small and grow, and they are always hated by the establishment, who sees their power threatened.

  • vek||

    Yeah! Like those pesky Sons Of Liberty! Gotta watch out for radicals like them!

  • buybuydandavis||

    Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #46,304 Paid in Kindle Store

    When there aren't any White Supremacists so much as jaywalking in America, dig up a book by some Leftist hack to trumpet how racity racist America is.

    Reason: All Woketarian, All the Time
    "All the News that Fits The Narrative"

  • cosMICjester||

    Far left loons in higher education just love writing about white supremacist groups. Methinks we got another whitey hating yenta bolshevik hag. I wonder when her expose on Farrakhan is coming out. I'm sure never

  • Rock Lobster||

    So, a leftist academic in need of some progressive bona fides looks around and "discovers" that the long suffering Vietnam veterans haven't sufficiently atoned for their "baby killer" ways.

    Solution? Smear them as violent racists, of course.

  • Johannes Dänske||

    Or smear them like Gigolo Jean "Winter Soldier" Kerée did while wearing an illegal uniform. It's booshwah. 220 Swift Boat Vets for Truth can't be wrong.

  • Johannes Dänske||

    "As a sociologist who studies the contemporary militia movement, I think Belew overstates the connection to white power groups. My research and the work of several other scholars indicate that the racist right and the militias had separate aims and identities." - Amy Cooter
    ** Thank you, Ma'am! As a fellow Sociologist and clinically-certified forensic behavioral assessor, I agree. I was there and I know exactly how some in the Army flew their "colors". In the days and years in which I served, I witnessed the alleged "white power movement" first hand. I can state unequivocably that it was in direct opposition to Black troops yelling "Black Power!" and "Power Check!" all day every day on the Soviet, er East German border. The Mess Hall, the Post Theater, the Bowling alley and even the Enlisted Mens' Club where hate-filled Black troops humiliated and assaulted White troops.
    A man in my Infantry Company had a NSWPP (National Socialist White People's Party) flag and swastika hanging in his quarters. One day during inspection, the BN CO, Lt. Col. _______ told him to remove all of his materials. The troop said, "I will do as ordered sir, but I also demand to see the Division JAG because MY rights are being violated". The Judge Advocate General told Lt. Col. ______ to "stand down, the man has rights". The regalia went up the very next day and remained there.

    Johannes Dänske, US Army Infantry 1972-1976

  • Johannes Dänske||

    BTW - As a former decades-long criminal justice professional, I am also intimately familiar with various state militia groups. The Feds locked 'em up - some in my facilities. Most, like Arizona (I could go about those goofs), as well as Missouri and Michigan are equally as goofy and harmless. They're more likely to blow up themselves like Jack Oliphant.

  • vek||

    Honestly, I think the main reason most "normal" IE non explicitly racial militia groups are almost entirely white is... Because culture. White Americans are basically the only ones who have the "Rah rah rah, America #1! The constitution is awesome! Guns are awesome!" mindset. You can blame it on whatever reasons you want, but it's simply a fact.

    Blacks and others just tend to not hold those opinions, so they're not interested in groups that are freaked out by a massive overbearing federal government. I'm quite sure that 99% of those militia groups would gladly welcome a black, Hispanic, or whatever military veteran who shared their concerns about the government.

    While a lot of these guys are doofuses, there are also a lot of them that are badasses. It depends on the group. Also, the time may come in the future where a lot of people are very glad these types of guys/groups are around. I still keep my fingers crossed that America will dodge a bullet and change the horrible trajectory we're on peacefully... But I'm not 100% that it will happen.

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