Historical

Bring the War Home: The White Power Movement and Paramilitary America by Kathleen Belew

In our country, there are people who see themselves as defenders of a white homeland. Beginning with the Pacific Northwest and expanding to include the US and Canada north of Mexico, they plan, by exclusion, removal, and killing of nonwhites and Jews, to create a country for whites only. Small, independent groups trained in military tactics and stockpiling modern weapons are working to achieve this vision through race war and actions against the US government.

This history is meticulously documented. Despite historic links to the Klu Klux Klan, the author argues that the present white power movement is something new. It surged in membership and popularity after the Vietnam War when veterans were sent home, some disillusioned with a government they felt would not allow them to win the war. In the 80s and 90s, they faced economic and cultural shocks from unemployment, civil rights laws, womens’ rights, and changing immigration patterns, and, post Watergate, lost confidence in government institutions.

With recruitment of veterans, active military, and others, the white power movement developed the training and tools needed to conduct war against the federal government, a war declared in 1983. Paramilitary training camps sprang up around the country; robberies of banks, armored cars, and businesses provided funding for land and weapons purchases.

Acts of violence occurred. Richard Wayne Snell, for example, member of the Covenant, the Sword, and the Arm of the Lord (CSA), blew up a natural gas pipeline in Arkansas in 1983, plotted to bomb the federal building in Oklahoma City, and killed a black state trooper during a routine traffic stop a year later. The Arkansas CSA compound included workshops where they built silencers for automatic weapons and produced high-tech hand grenades and land mines. They firebombed a synagogue, Jewish businesses, and a gay community church. In 1985, ATF agents tried to serve a warrant for manufacture of a silencer. After a 4 day siege, members of the CSA compound surrendered. Among those arrested was Richard Snell, who was eventually scheduled for execution April 19, 1995.

White power actions continue today, but Below ends her history with the bombing of the federal building in Oklahoma City by Timothy McVeigh. He loaded a Ryder truck with 7000-pounds of fertilizer, blasting gelatin, dynamite, and fuses with the help of accomplices, drove it to the federal building, lit the fuses, and walked away. The blast killed 168 people, including 19 children in a day care center, and injured more than 500. McVeigh was arrested later that day, April 19, 1995.

By FBI report from the prison log, in the hours before his execution, Richard Snell lay on his bunk “smiling and chuckling” as he watched television coverage of the bombing he had proposed 12 years earlier.

This is history to know, for it does not bear repeating.

~Alison

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