Minutemen Nazis for Congress: What could go wrong with white nationalist border militia?

There is a lot of weird shit on the Internet, and the last few days' dark December surfing have brought me to some mean and lowly places.

I have not said much about the Minutemen militia / vigilante groups that have spontaneously mobilized on the southern border. Healthy democracies don't usually have strange mobs milling around their border deserts, acting out militant nationalist fantasies of control. No, not healthy at all.

While I sensed an violent undercurrent right away, I underestimated the direct white supremacist organizational ties to Minutemen. It seems that neo-Nazi and white supremacist groups are deeply tied in with the Minutemen, seeing them as an instrument to attempt to mainstream their unpopular views.

One of the Minutemen leaders, Jim Gilchrist, is running for Congress in California's 48th CD, where he will probably split the hard-right vote as the grassroots goes xenophobic, possibly allowing a Democrat to squeak into victory. Small plus, but if this one-issue movement expands further it could herald a New Intolerance.

In times that feel this right-wing, it seems unlikely for mainstream politicians to veer fully into racist politics, but I worry that it could mushroom easily.

These groups are using the Internet to chat and organize, of course. The average armchair militant racist, who formerly had to find physical groups, now finds virtual community among the 'white' genome purists. But this allows we who fear them to peer in and see what they are really thinking, and publicize it.

 Uploaded Images Minutemen-Rally-2-706494-1In particular, the Internet exchanges around a set of Minutemen and "SOS" (Save Our State) protest rallies in California — where a Nazi flag was suddenly unveiled — show that the display of the swastika is a debated but widely accepted move among the hardcore racists and border vigilantes. (the photos came from an Indymedia post)

The (liberal) blogger David Neiwart at Orcinus, who has written a book about right-wing extremists, offered a fine summary and links to a neo-Nazi white supremacist forum called Stormfront and its discussion of the Minutemen rallies and the Nazi flag. Some argued that it would turn whites off of the message, but there seemed to be no real sense of shock that such a symbol was an element of their movement. As Neiwart explained,

The Stormfront forum is especially enlightening, since it is a specifically neo-Nazi chatroom. Especially noteworthy were the many posts questioning the use of the Nazi symbology at the rally, since it would "turn off" many whites. It's worth remembering that most dedicated racists take care not to let it show publicly -- unlike these fellows. But the whole thread makes clear to what extent these extremists now move among allegedly "mainstream" right-wing operations and not infiltrate them, but fully hijack them.

(Neiwart's work called "Rush, Newspeak and Fascism: An Exegesis" (PDF) is a classic at explaining where a latent fascist movement or proto-ideology could lie in America today)

The idea that such openly racist stuff is going straight into the mainstream right via sites like RedState.org ought to be considered as well.

George Wallace and David Duke left their mark on the American political landscape (Duke is still involved with Stormfront) by scapegoating the Other, as so many experienced politicians did before them. American political discourse these days is in a twitchy state of paranoia, and the Borders remain a favorite topic for cable news anchors like Lou Dobbs to bitch about, to burnish their tough-nationalist credentials.

Most of what I found today pointed out that Republicans are reluctant to criticize these groups, and instead co-opt them. Their outward agenda is just a thin facade for traditional xenophobic white supremacism. Their members know it. Why doesn't the media?

National Socialists of some sort also have a TV show on MTN - Minneapolis public access TV. I support the marketplace of ideas, and I think that we can disprove racist genetic dogma quite easily nowadays, so it's not surprising that they have coded their virtual-KKK politics into the matter of immigration. I think that they have the right to organize for peaceful politics on the Internet, and if that lets the concerned Real World peer in and get an idea of their basic idiocy, then perhaps the consequences will be positive.

But this Nazi-Minutemen thing is spooky. It ought to be talked about.

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