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The SPLC's gathering storm of rage and fearmongering

Andrew W. Griffin / Red Dirt Report
Morris Dees' profile of "right-wing rage," circa 1996, has been gathering dust on a bookshelf here at RDR headquarters.
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OKLAHOMA CITY – Ah yes, the Southern Poverty Law Center. Can anyone think of the Oklahoma City Bombing without linking that esteemed Heart of Dixie-based nonprofit to that insidious terror plot. now nearly 18 years past? I know I can't.

And since poverty in the American South has long since been stamped out (have you been to, say, Wilcox County, Alabama lately?) by the slithery Morris Dees and co., these statist pimps in Montgomery, Alabama have to justify their existence by getting the nation’s media (and the nation at large, for that matter) in a lather about the rising number of adherents to “hate and extremism.”

Now, we dislike (hate?) “hate and extremism” as much as the next Constitution-loving American, but something tells me that the new SPLC Intelligence Report document “The Year in Hate and Extremism” is an example of their desire to further stir people up and divide the U.S. more than it already has. Just check out the left-leaning media reports who are salivating over the SPLC's latest attempt to stir up fear and resentment in our country.

A cursory overview of the report, written by media whore and Chicken Little-esque provocateur Mark Potok, reveals that the SPLC has discovered that the number of hate groups in America in 2012 reached an all-time high of 1,360 – far more than the “Patriot” movement  apex in 1996 of 858.

Potok and his staffers reveal that “conspiracy-minded antigovernment ‘Patriot’ groups” are angry at a black president being in office and of perceived attacks on 2nd amendment rights. Tea Partiers - dismissively insulted as "teabaggers" in some circles - are also implicated as being violent and unhinged. 

Writes Potok: “As President Obama enters his second term with an agenda of gun control and immigration reform, the rage on the right is likely to intensify.”

My sources in Montgomery inform me that noted civil rights lawyer Morris Dees is a good guy. He likes cocktail parties and such and wants a diverse and egalitarian America, as do most of us. But intellectually honest reporters also know Dees - who thinks the Jim Crow South still exists - has a dark side.

On my shelf here at the headquarters of Red Dirt Report, is a softcover copy of Morris Dees’ 1996 book Gathering Storm: America’s Militia Threat. It came out a time when I was starting out as a serious newspaper reporter and interest in the “radical right” and “unauthorized militias” was – to use a term Mr. Dees and Mr. Potok use abundantly – “all the rage,” particularly in the wake of the 1995 bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building here in Oklahoma City.

Back when Dees’ book came out, I was a cub reporter working alongside a stellar investigative reporter at the Fayetteville, Ark. bureau of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. In my spare time I also offered my services to the Ozark Gazette, based in Fayetteville. While learning the trade at both papers, I compiled clippings and other information largely on the prevalence of right-wing terror and white supremacy. I recall info about the Aryan Nations and the Kehoe brothers, in particular, as well as the murder of gun dealer William Mueller in Tilly, Arkansas. As it turns out, white supremacists, many associated with the racist Christian Identity movement, have found solace in the Ozark mountains of Arkansas and Missouri, a region that includes the bucolic college town of Fayetteville - a place where I found myself quite a bit during much of the 1990's.

As an adolescent in Little Rock in 1985, I recall the racist doomsday cult, The Covenant, the Sword, and the Arm of the Lord in north Arkansas and their demise following a federal siege. I've always known the Ozarks to have its fair share of crazies and cultists. In fact, the CSA siege intrigued me and inspired a close friend of mine to include the event in a panel he did for a cartoon strip he drew at the time called "Scranton Village." Some good memories.

But back to Dees, Potok and the SPLC. At the opening of Gathering Storm, Dees’s “Author’s Note” begins: “This is the story of a very dangerous movement, one the public knows almost nothing about. To some it might read like fiction, but, unfortunately, it is all true. Much of what I write about, I learned from close contact with many of the far-right extremists who are behind the militia movement. Some of the information was gained through undercover operations I cannot reveal …”

Can’t reveal it, huh Morris? Perhaps because it might implicate you or your minions in a serious crime or cover-up?

In 2003, the late McCurtain Daily Gazette investigative reporter J.D. Cash reported that the SPLC had an informant at Elohim City, where Timothy McVeigh had spent some time.

Wrote Cash and Lt. Col. Roger Charles in ‘03: “References to an informant working for the SPLC at Elohim City on the even of the Oklahoma City bombing raises serious questions as to what the SPLC might know about McVeigh’s activities during the final hours before the fuse was lit in Oklahoma City – but which the SPLC has failed to disclose publicly.”

Makes one wonder why the SPLC is taken so seriously when there are state-sponsored crimes that remain un-investigated.

Three years ago, in a Red Dirt Report article headlined “McVeigh and the ‘Hispanic man’ – what did the feds know?”, we wrote that Dees, at the time, was questioned about the SPLC’s ties to infiltrating the militia movement and their involvement at the racist Elohim City compound in rural Adair County, Oklahoma. Dees replied: “If I told you what we were doing there, I would have to kill you.”

Jesse Trentadue, the Salt Lake City, Utah attorney whose brother was caught in the dragnet, and murdered by federal agents in a case of mistaken identity following the OKC bombing, said the FBI was working with the SPLC to infiltrate the militias, like those at Elohim City. This was after their botched raids at Ruby Ridge and the Mt. Carmel Branch Davidian compound at Waco, Texas.

At the time I wrote that, in 2010, the Hutaree militia, a group in Michigan that adhered to the ideology of the Christian Patriot movement, was being touted as the beginning of a new right-wing rage campaign that would sweep the country into a raging civil war.

But it never happened.

At the time of the Hutaree hoopla, posted an article essentially saying that Dees, Potok and the SPLC gang made a mountain out of a molehill, turning the “raving(s) of an isolated group of white supremacists” having paintball fights in the Michigan woods into something far more sinister, which, as it turned out, was not the case. Again, Eric Holder’s Justice Department blew it. Just because the Hutaree were exposed of being gun-toting illiterates did not mean most Constitutionalists and critics of the global elite were talking of violence. Again, the SPLC were wrong and in 2012, 7 of the 9 Hutaree defendants the DOJ arrested and charged were acquitted and the remaining two were “sentenced to time served on weapons-related charges.” Holder and co. would have to look for new boogeymen to point to. The Ku Klux Klan is largely gone and marginalized. White Power groups are openly mocked and a new generation of young Americans are openly embracing a multicultural American society where support of same-sex marriage grows by the month. When the SPLC accepts this, what will they do? 

Yes, we have reported on through-the-roof gun sales. We have reported on the strange circumstances surrounding recent tragedies as witnessed in Tucson, Arizona, Aurora, Colorado and Newtown, Connecticut. And knowing that the SPLC is often looking to raise funds in the wake of these horrible tragedies, one has to wonder if there isn’t something more afoot. They wouldn’t be preying on people's fears of a rise in cross-burners and Bull Connor-types running amok, would they? Of course to even suggest such a thing or to ask questions that make authority figures uncomfortable automatically lumps me in with the crazies who say a global “one-world government” is in the making. They are crazy, after all, right?

So, with all the attention being paid to the SPLC this month in the wake of the release of their annual “hate and extremism” report, we see that a lot of their concerns have to do with various incidents of racism, anti-gay activities, and actual murders, including the attack on the Sikh temple in Wisconsin, the bizarre plot by racists to take over Fort Stewart, Ga. and other crimes. These obviously should not be ignored by the "Klanwatchers" in Montgomery, but are things as seriously bad or worse than they were during Bill Clinton's first term? Granted, the economy is worse today than it was then, but the concerns the SPLC raises in its new report appear blown out of proportion.

“These were only the latest incidents of just over 100 domestic radical-right plots, conspiracies and racist rampages that the SPLC has counted since the Oklahoma City bombing left 168 men, women and children dead in 1995.”

Ah yes, the Oklahoma City bombing. Just like David Cid, the executive director of the Oklahoma City-based Memorial Institute for the Prevention of Terrorism said back in 2010: "(there has been) a resurgence in 'domestic militancy' similar to what was seen before the Oklahoma City bombing." Cid is a former FBI man with a penchant for rooting out terrorism, particularly the domestic sort. And naturally he loves to invoke the Oklahoma City bombing. It's when he and Dees and other government shills are asked real questions that they balk and make excuses and walk away. Oh well ...

Yet, with all of the news gathering and so forth we conduct here at Red Dirt Report, the SPLC seems to be making far more out of this report – and its implications – than is necessary. Of course they have to work to remain relevant, I suppose. In any event, nothing is said about left-oriented environmental or animal-rights extremists. Is the SPLC monitoring eco terrorists with possible sights on, say, the Keystone XL pipeline here in our fair state? They've had plenty of arrests involving protesters of the pipeline. I don't recall seeing anything about that in the SPLC report. What about the recent reports of racist hoaxes where – in the case of colleges – a minority student, for instance, will secretly place a noose on their door, seeking attention and trying to stir up hatred and resentment among their fellow students. Again, these incidents provoke a lot mistrust and when it is discovered to be a hoax, it makes matters even worse, particularly when real incidents of hate and racial violence occur.

Yes, we will be monitoring the activities of extremist groups and individuals and churches and so forth. They are out there. But just as Attorney General Janet Reno noted in the fall of 1994 that “domestic extremism” was on the rise – and the Murrah bombing took place the following spring – discerning Americans need to research all the facts and not fall prey to the fearmongering being touted by the Justice Department and their suspicious comrades at the disreputable Southern Poverty Law Center.

Copyright 2013 Red Dirt Report

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Andrew W. Griffin

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Andrew W. Griffin received his Bachelor of Science in Journalism from...

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About Red Dirt Report

Red Dirt Report was launched July 4, 2007 as an independent news website covering all manner of news, culture, entertainment and lifestyle stories that affect and interest Oklahoma readers and readers outside of our state. Our mission is to educate, promote civic engagement and discourse on public policy, government and politics. Our experienced journalists provided balanced in-depth coverage of news stories that affect Oklahomans. Our opinion/editorial stories come from a wide range of political view points. We carry out our mission by reporting, writing, and posting news and information. read more

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