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Repairing wrongs gives rise to hate groups

In January news organizations carried stories announcing that the Aryan Nation was about to move to Coudersport in Pennsylvania's remote Potter County. The county is located in northwest Pennsylvania and was chosen because, a spokesman said, this is one of the whitest counties in the country. Although there are white supremacist groups in a number of countries around the world, the Aryan Nation is one of those with peculiarly American roots and characteristics. Similar groups like the KKK were formed in response to the emancipation of slaves over a hundred years ago, and the Montana Freemen, the Posse Comitatus and Aryan Nations came into being during the 1960s, the decade of the civil rights movement.

Nazism is a European counterpart to these groups. Hitler thought that the struggle for world hegemony would be fought out in wars that were not among states or nations or class struggles, but among races. His writings and ideas display an imaginative and paranoid construction of international conspiracy to humiliate Germany and cause the loss of World War I. His racial hatred was primarily directed at Jews, a favorite scapegoat in Europe, and there is good evidence he launched a military conquest of Eastern Europe, home to millions of Jews, to expand Germany and create "living room" for a superior Aryan race.

The war which resulted from this racially-instigated aggression cost tens of millions of lives. Racism was a major factor in the most dramatic and destructive event of the twentieth century and, perhaps, all of human history. If history has any lessons it is that regressive ideologies like Nazism can lead to global conflagration and horror.

The Aryan Nation and its allies want to take the United States along a similar path of hatred and scapegoating intended to cloak ambitions of privilege and plunder. The AN announced it would begin its presence in Coudersport by building a church. Groups like the Aryan Nation and the Montana Freeman have evolved their own version of Christianity. Unhappy that the Bible identifies the Jews as a chosen people, and hateful of all peoples, including Jews, who are not by their definition White People, they have broken with Judeo-Christian tradition and interpreted the story of Adam to suit their own ends. According to this version, Adam was the progenitor of the Lost Tribes of Israel, which became the White Nations of which they are descendants. This was understandably a necessary leap because, by their definitions, there are no White People in the Bible.

The logic by which white privilege is founded and black citizenship denied is necessarily twisted, to say the least. According to these hate groups, Adam was the ancestor of the Lost Tribes of Israel including the Nation of Dan -- which populated Western Europe and provided ancestors for Sovereign Individual White American Citizens. The U.S. Constitution enshrined the rights of these SIWAC's, but Jewish-led conspiracies have undermined these rights and privileges. Because of this betrayal nothing since the original Bill of Rights is legal.

They especially point to the 1868 Fourteenth Amendment, which granted citizenship to blacks as illegitimate. Their project is to create a separate category of citizenship that denies the legitimacy of black, non-white, or mixed race citizenship. The most radical of this group of ideologies claims they are warriors in a Racial Holy War and that, as a category of pre-1868 citizens they are not subject to the laws of the United States. Thus they see the IRS as illegitimate and themselves as individual sovereign white citizens immune to such taxes and not subject to such government instruments as driver's licenses, social security cards, marriage licenses, and so forth. As presently constituted, their ideology excludes the vast majority of the population of North America. The Posse Comitatus declared the county sheriff the only legitimate law enforcement officer and stated they would execute federal officials who were enforcing federal law. They had, in effect, declared war on the United States.

There are many variations of hate groups around the United States, including right wing militias such as the Minute Men organized in response to urban riots in the 1960s and an array of protest groups which appear whenever anyone other than established privileged Anglos gain recognition of rights. The KKK was born in response to the rights of black people to not be enslaved, the Aryan Nation and others in response to blacks gaining civil rights and anti-discrimination legislation.

A number turn their attention to American Indian nations, including the Interstate Congress for Rights and Responsibilities (ICERR), a group composed of non-Indian landholders inside Indian reservations which at one time boasted of membership in 26 states. Three decades ago "white backlash" promoted anti-Indian sentiments in the Pacific Northwest when Indian nations there won some fishing rights. Two decades ago we heard from CLSDC (Civil Liberties for South Dakota Citizens) composed of people who lived on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation who opposed any form of restoration of Lakota jurisdiction. Something similar has appeared at Burnt Church in Canada's Maritimes in an argument over lobster fishing. Recently we saw anti-Indian groups arise in the fishing rights struggles in Wisconsin and Michigan. We find them in Central New York in the form of UCE, Upstate Citizens for Equality.

Historic wrongs done to black people held in slavery were paralleled by extrajudicial taking of Indian land. In 1823 the U.S. Supreme Court acknowledged that the U.S. had no grounds for taking Piankeshaw land but then stated the courts could do nothing about it because it was a "political question." Equal protection of the law did not extend to Indians. Land was routinely taken without due process and without just compensation. Indian peoples had no rights.

Since the 1970s the courts have been recognizing some rights in the form of land claims and a recognition of various domains of Indian sovereignty including fishing and hunting rights. Whenever that happens, there follows a white backlash movement that embraces various degrees of white supremacy. It is almost always clothed in some rhetoric of "equality," and always dismisses the injustice that brought the necessity for change.

And in Coudersport, the Aryan Nation, in celebration of white supremacy, is building a church. Well, sort of a church. I wish them well. May a thousand camels spit in their soup.