The white power movement in America wants a revolution. It has declared all-out war against the federal government and its agents, and has carried out—with military precision—an escalating campaign of terror against the American public. Its soldiers are not lone wolves but are highly organized cadres motivated by a coherent and deeply troubling worldview of white supremacy, anticommunism, and apocalypse. In Bring the War Home, Kathleen Belew gives us the first full history of the movement that consolidated in the 1970s and 1980s around a potent sense of betrayal in the Vietnam War and made tragic headlines in the 1995 bombing of the Oklahoma City federal building.
Returning to an America ripped apart by a war that, in their view, they were not allowed to win, a small but driven group of veterans, active-duty personnel, and civilian supporters concluded that waging war on their own country was justified. They unified people from a variety of militant groups, including Klansmen, neo-Nazis, skinheads, radical tax protestors, and white separatists. The white power movement operated with discipline and clarity, undertaking assassinations, mercenary soldiering, armed robbery, counterfeiting, and weapons trafficking. Its command structure gave women a prominent place in brokering intergroup alliances and giving birth to future recruits.
Belew’s disturbing history reveals how war cannot be contained in time and space. In its wake, grievances intensify and violence becomes a logical course of action for some. Bring the War Home argues for awareness of the heightened potential for paramilitarism in a present defined by ongoing war.
* Duke advanced a new public image of the Klan, one that was better-educated and genteel. He gave witty talk-show interviews wearing a suit and tie, claiming to be not racist but “racialist,” and advocating separatism rather than violence. His Klan advocated not for the denial of minority rights, he explained, but for the right of Klansmen to associate only with whites. Duke explained that people of color weren’t the enemy but merely childlike dupes of Jews and, especially, communists. Racism, although still a major motivating force of KKKK members, slipped behind the veil of Duke’s softened language. He and his associates attempted to appeal to the mainstream in the New Right, where libertarian ideas of choice and coercion had found traction. They also spoke to a centrist silent majority that mobilized around contemporary issues such as busing and housing segregation. Although this group discussed such issues through ideas of consumerism and meritocracy—for instance, arguing that their hard work and success should allow them to maintain their property values through neighborhood segregation and opposing school integration through busing—they accorded with white supremacist political goals.11 Public interviews, mainstream outreach, and political campaigns represented only one arena of Klan strategy. Even as they presented a softened public front, the same activists built an underground of violent, overtly racist activity utterly at odds with many of their public statements. They constructed a paramilitary infrastructure and expanded their membership through violent training and action.
* Klan paramilitary camps attempted to duplicate both the indoctrination and the violence of the experience of army boot camp…