IS RIGHT BEFORE ALL OF US
29 December 2002
What if he were Arab?
How about Chinese?
What if Buford Furrow weren't a balding
white iman with a midlife middle? What if he were a wiry young black man
in the brightly colored cloth of Africa, sitting at a computer terminal,
preaching annihilation of the white race and arming himself to the teeth
to achieve it?
What if the enemy didn't look like the white
majority, if he stood apart as different, or foreign? Would we then
take seriously the hate groups that have declared war on the United
Every year, the Southern Poverty Law Center and other
groups that track the hate movement put out reports that are
distressingly predictable. Hate is going up.
Every year, the
newspapers give the reports a paragraph, maybe not even that. the TV
networks do not -re-empt the latest sex scandal to bring you the urgent
news that in every region of the United States, people are using the
Internet to teach white supremacy and promote violence as a way to make
Somehow this is not considered more important than
the latest turn of the stock market. Mostly, the Buford Furrows of this
land are presented as isolated nuts, not terrorists driven by ideology,
just like the terrorists who blew up the World Trade Center and Pam Am
Mostly, once the headlines fade, we are not seized
by worry. We have knowns for years nwo that this bad seed is growing
and have done nothing to uproot it.
In 1995 -- even after the
Oklahoma City bombing finally woke the FBI up to to the fact that
right-wing militia groups ad suremacist sects weren't just boys playing
games in the woods -- Congress refused to schedule hearings.
It was left to then-representative Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y), to conduct
renegade hearings in defiance of the Republican leadership. There,
public officials from Western states testified about threats, stalking,
intimidation and assaults from anti-government militia members, many
with links to white supremacist groups.
Schumer and others who
have watched law enforcement's attitude toward the hate groups now say
the FBI has been more vigilant, more likely to view groups that en
ourage violence as real threats.
So the FBI might be able to
stop a bomb plot, and it has a few times. But it not equipped to do
battle with a popular and political culture that allows hate to
The perpetrators of the massacre at Columbine High School
were drawn to the unsavory on the Internet. they had neo-Nazi
literature and instructions for making bombs. In response, the chairman
of the House Judiciary Committee tried to ban young peoples' access to
smut. Forget the Nazis. The real threat is bare breatss.
official policy of the federal government is that homosecuals are unfit,
per se, to serve in the military. It kicks them out if they say they're
gay. The official policy of the U.S. Senate is to refuse to allow an
openly gay man to serve as an ambassador.
rhetoric of the anaati-abortion movement is to call women who have had
abortions or those who support that choice "baby killers."
The word infanticide is used over and over again to refer to abortions,
particularly those conducgedf late in pregnancy, even if that pregnancy
has become medically hopeless.
The official position of the
ederal govenrment with respect to Chinese espionage at nuclear weapons
laboratories is that no one knows if spying occurred.
Ho Lee, a naturalized U.S. citizen, was fingered by the media and some
members of Congress as perpetrator of the worosot spying sine the
Rosenbergs. He may be charged with lesser violations for a common
Do not wonder where the hate comes from. Do
not kid yourself about what kind of climate allows people to believe
they an go out and shoot Jews, bomb abortion clinics and gay bars, burn
This is the atmosphere we nurture each time we
avert our eyes from the worst of it, and turn blissfully blind to all
Reprinted without permission from the San Francisco
Chronicle, Tuesday, August 24, 1999.
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