Since the inauguration of Barack Obama there have been nine murders by men and women who have intersected with ideologies of White Supremacy, xenophobia, and antisemitism. Across America there is a rising crescendo of diverse voices clamoring for a public discussion of the connection between demonizing rhetoric by high profile pundits and politicians and the rash of violent attacks by individuals enmeshed in bigotry and conspiracy theories.
During the election campaign in 2008 it was clear some people on the political Right were becoming agitated about the potential for a Black man backed by liberals to become the next President of the United States.
Shortly before the election, police broke up an alleged plot by racist skinheads in Tennessee to kill Black people and then assassinate candidate Obama.
On election night Ali Kamara, a teenage Muslim and Black immigrant from Liberia who lives on Staten Island, New York , was brutally assaulted by attackers who shouted “Obama.” That same night a church serving a predominantly Black congregation in Springfield, Massachusetts , was burned to the ground in an arson attack later determined to be a racist hate crime. In Maine residents discovered Black figures hanging from nooses tied to trees. In Pennsylvania and New Jersey crosses were burned in the yards of Obama supporters.
The acts of bigotry and violence continued. In December a man in Maine was shot to death by his wife who said he had become increasingly agitated about the election of Obama and had collected bomb-making materials in their home. Police found a filled-out application for joining a neonazi group.
Just a day after Obama’s inauguration in January, a young White man is alleged to have killed two people of color in the Cape Verdean community in Brockton, Massachusetts. Reports indicate he had been browsing White Supremacist and neonazi websites and had come to believe that White people were facing genocide at the hands of non-Whites, Hispanics and Jews.
What you can do... 1) Spread the word about today's Fresh Air program and the Media Matters for America press conference also scheduled for today. Read Media Matters' Report on Right-wing media and the fringe: A growing history of violence (and denial). 2) Download and Read Toxic to Democracy: Conspiracy Theories, Demonization, & Scapegoating. 3) Browse the list of resources from a number of civil rights and human right groups concerned about this toxic environment of bigotry. Then pick a group to work with and support them. Get involved. 4) Resist further erosion of our civil liberties. The recent government report on so-called "Right-Wing Extremism" had valuable information, but was flawed by dubious claims and a failure to differentiate between right-wing ideas and criminal activity.
Get educated and get activeSee also:
- Behind the murder at the Holocaust Memorial Museum.
- For articles that shed light on the complex relationships between thought and action behind the assassination of Dr. Tiller.
- PRA Senior Analyst Chip Berlet and Public Eye magazine contributor Fred Clarkson speak about the murder on this Democracy Now video.
- Explaining the social science dynamics: Right-Wing Populism, the Patriot Movement, and Organized White Supremacy
(photo copyright 2009, Chip Berlet)
Follow Chip Berlet on Twitter: www.twitter.com/cberlet