Oct 28, 2008

U.S.: Neo-nazis charged over Obama 'assassination plot'

"Daniel Cowart, 20, from Tennessee, and Paul Schlesselman 18, from Arkansas, are charged with making threats against a presidential candidate, illegal possession of a sawn-off shotgun and conspiracy to rob a gun dealer"

This is the second reported bust up of a plot to assassinate Democratic Presidential nominee, Barak Obama. The first publicized "plot" was during the Democratic National Convention this past August.

The reports of this new plot are horrendous. The reports state that two neo-Nazis were going to murder 88 Black people, beheading 14 of them. The killing spree was to begin at a school and end in the high-speed car ramming of Obama. The neo-Nazis are reported to have said that they did not expect to succeed in the assassination of Obama, but that they were willing to die trying. Unlike the first plot from August where Obama was the sole target, this new plot was aimed at everyday Black people who are unconnected in any way to the election or Obama. The victims would be targeted because of their “race”. This attack resembles both the murder spree by neo-Nazi WCOTC Matt Hale’s one time right-hand man, Ben August Smith, and the recent beheadings supposedly carried out by Russian neo-Nazis against ethnic Dagestanis and Tajiks. Anti-racist and anti-fascist organizations must keep a watchful eye on the fascists and reactionaries for the possibility of violence and murder. There has to be education and organizing against such threats.

But there is also a real need to look on these reports with a critical eye. Not in that we should think that such plots are absurd or fabricated by the Federal government or media. We are acutely aware of the potentials for plots against Obama and symbols of the Federal Government if there is to be a Democrat/Obama Administration. Attacks against Obama and what he is considered to represent will happen. That should be considered fact. What should also be considered fact is the increased level of Federal counter insurgency against the various manifestations of the “Far-Right”. The System is at constant war with its various antagonists.

Looking back in thinking about the future, before 9/11 it was with the Clinton era that the largest act of recent domestic fascist resistance took place, the bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City, OK. This bombing took place during the tail end of the rise of the Militia Movements and was in partial response to the ATF/FBI attacks on figures such as White Separatist Randy Weaver, and the FBI siege against David Koresh and the Branch Davidians at Waco, TX. The symbolism of the Democratic Party in power is to the various Far-Right populist and reactionary (and fascist) movements a symbol of these movements own disenfranchisement to the System. While most radical far-Righters have little sympathy for the Republicans the Democrats represent a set of politics and organization to be fought tooth and nail. Looking deeper at the ideologies of the Far-Right and fascist movements, Matthew Lyons writes,

By right-wing I mean a political orientation that reinforces or intensifies social oppression as part of a backlash against movements for greater equality, freedom, or inclusiveness. Populism means a form of politics that uses mass mobilization to rally "the people" around some form of anti-elitism…Combining these two concepts, right-wing populism mobilizes a mass movement around a twisted anti-elitism (often based on conspiracy theories) at the same time that it intensifies oppression. In place of leftist conceptions of class struggle, fascists often draw a phony distinction between "producers" (including "productive" capitalists, workers, and middle classes) and "parasites" (defined variously as financiers, bureaucrats, foreign corporations, Jews, immigrants, welfare mothers, etc.) Right-wing populism appeals largely to middle groups in the social hierarchy, who have historically formed an important part of fascism's mass base.

Returning to the example of the Militia Movement, I cite Lyons again with this passage from a little further down the same essay,

The Patriot movement, which included armed "citizens militias" and peaked in the mid/late 1990s, represented the United States' first large-scale coalition of committed nazis and non-fascist activists since World War II. The Patriot movement promoted the apocalyptic specter of an elite conspiracy to destroy U.S. sovereignty and impose a tyrannical collectivist system run by the United Nations. The movement's program centered on forming armed "militias" to defend against the expected crackdown, but more extreme proposals circulated widely, such as bogus "constitutional" theories that would relegalize slavery, abolish women's right to vote, and give people of color an inferior citizenship status. A loose-knit and unstable network mainly based among rural, working-class whites, the Patriot movement attracted millions of supporters at its height. It fed not only on fears of government repression but also reactions to economic hardship connected with globalization (such as the farm crisis of the 1980s), the erosion of traditional white male privilege, the decline of U.S. global dominance, and disillusionment with mainstream political options. (Many of the same impulses fueled grassroots support for Pat Buchanan's 1992 and 1996 Republican presidential campaigns. Buchanan blended attacks on immigrants, homosexuals, and feminists with a critique of corporate globalization and an anti-interventionist foreign policy, but did not challenge the established political framework.)

Making a few final comments, when I said we should question these reports, it is meant to raise the idea of how these plots come into being. Past activities of the FBI/ATF included posing as members of the Far-Right and fascist movements. The attacks on Weaver at Ruby Ridge were precipitated when ATF agents posed as Aryan Nations supporters and asked Weaver to supply illegal weapons. ATF agents later approached Weaver threatening arrest for the “possession and sale of illegal weapons” if he did not cooperate with authorities in becoming a mole in the Aryan Nations. Weaver’s refusal to aid the authorities resulted in their attacks on his home and murder of his wife and son.

The recent assassination/rampage plot by these two Nazis is suspicious. Either these two Nazis were just stupid in their photo posing and online chit chat, or that there are workings that we don’t see. Questions should be asked about who encouraged these people and what surveillance took place. How did the ATF/FBI come to pinpoint these Nazis and understand their plot? Any serious paramilitary cell would not have been identified and broken up so easily. The specter of fascism and Far-Right reaction is real, but the System and its adjunct forces also bolster their own influence and control through the promotion/exposure of “Far-Right” – like all other “terror” plots - as away to scare people into accepting government authority and control.


Anonymous said...

i'm interested to see a threewayfight piece on the recent u.s. presidential election.

Anonymous said...

Word. True dat. And for those BTR heads analysis...Where's that, hmm? Y'all sleeping, or what? People are studying DuBois's "Black Reconstruction," but there's nothing to stay on a black man winning the White House? On the heels, of what is arguably, the most vibrant exercise of multiracial democracy in America, and the world, for that matter.

Middle American Radical
Red State, USA

Anonymous said...

I’d also like to see something on the election.

Some radical leftists are probably trying to figure out to relate to an Obama presidency and understand the significance of the first African-American President in history for an analysis that has made the institution of white supremacy a critically defining feature of American capitalism. There may be some disorientation on the left. Many on the Left no doubt look to an Obama presidency as creating an opening for progressive change, e.g., Howard Zinn’s piece at Znet, “Obama’s Historic Victory.” At CounterPunch.org you can find more skeptical, and maybe more realistic appraisals of the Obama candidacy and the shape of his coming administration.

To MAR: So, what are your thoughts? (I’m not a member of BTR or 3-W-F, incidentally.) Are you being sarcastic when you say Obama’s election represents a “vibrant exercise of multi-racial democracy”? And what is a “Middle American Radical”?

Another way of thinking about this claim about Obama and “multi-racial democracy” can be found in J. Sakai’s argument about the “desettlerization” of U.S. empire, in his essay, “The Shock of Recognition,” in the collection, Confronting Fascism, written as a response to D Hamerquist’s, “Fascism & Anti-Fascism.” Sakai sees a transnationalization, or globalization of the “U.S.” empire which is partly registered by the growing presence of people of color in high levels of the state apparatus – e.g., Rice, Powell, and others in the Bush Administration. He argues that this globalization of empire is disrupting the system of white-skin privilege, which creates the potential for a white fascist mass movement: while white preference will be around for a long time, “the big guys are sending a message down to ordinary white men. It’s like a bomb. In the new globalized multicularal capitalism…the provincial, sheltered white settler life of America is going to be as over as the white settler life of the South African 'Afrikaners’ is” (pp.96-97).

Sakai’s reasoning about globalization's undermining of white privileges, and fascism, is in accord with a lot of what’s been said on on 3-W-F. Sakai also makes me think of Obama in terms of this new, “multicultural, globalized capitalism.” (I put US in quotation marks above because of the view, advanced by Hamerquist, that a global ruling class is ascendant and that the concept of “US imperialism” is increasingly inadequate in a globalized capitalism. Hamerquist’s position is of course also controversial.)

Nick Paretsky