And now they have no idea how to stop it.
[Editor’s Note: This is a stunning piece of reporting on not just the ignoring of fascist organizing and violence but a deadly fostering through neglect. As Timothy Snyder notes in his book “Twenty Lessons From The Twentieth Century”, when the police and military begin to align with the fascist paramilitaries the game is over. — Mark L. Taylor]
By Janet Reitman
The New York Times (11/3/18)
The first indication to Lt. Dan Stout that law enforcement’s handling of white supremacy was broken came in September 2017, as he was sitting in an emergency-operations center in Gainesville, Fla., preparing for the onslaught of Hurricane Irma and watching what felt like his thousandth YouTube video of the recent violence in Charlottesville, Va. Jesus Christ, he thought, studying the footage in which crowds of angry men, who had gathered to attend or protest the Unite the Right rally, set upon one another with sticks and flagpole spears and flame throwers and God knows what else. A black man held an aerosol can, igniting the spray, and in retaliation, a white man picked up his gun, pointed it toward the black man and fired it at the ground. The Virginia state troopers, inexplicably, stood by and watched. Stout fixated on this image, wondering what kind of organizational failure had led to the debacle. He had one month to ensure that the same thing didn’t happen in Gainesville.
For two decades, domestic counterterrorism strategy has ignored the rising danger of far-right extremism. In the atmosphere of willful indifference, a virulent movement has grown and metastasized.
Before that August, Stout, a 24-year veteran of the Gainesville police force, had never heard of Richard Spencer and knew next to nothing about his self-declared alt-right movement, or of their “anti-fascist” archnemesis known as Antifa. Then, on the Monday after deadly violence in Charlottesville, in which a protester was killed when a driver plowed his car into the crowd, Stout learned to his horror that Spencer was planning a speech at the University of Florida. He spent weeks frantically trying to get up to speed, scouring far-right and anti-fascist websites and videos, each click driving him further into despair. Aside from the few white nationalists who had been identified by the media or on Twitter, Stout had no clue who most of these people were, and neither, it seemed, did anyone else in law enforcement.
Bermuda Triangle of intelligence
There were no current intelligence reports he could find on the alt-right, the sometimes-violent fringe movement that embraces white nationalism and a range of racist positions. The state police couldn’t offer much insight. Things were equally bleak at the federal level. Whatever the F.B.I. knew (which wasn’t a lot, Stout suspected), they weren’t sharing. The Department of Homeland Security, which produced regular intelligence and threat assessments for local law enforcement, had only scant material on white supremacists, all of it vague and ultimately not much help. Local politicians, including the governor, were also in the dark. This is like a Bermuda Triangle of intelligence, Stout thought, incredulous. He reached out to their state partners. “So you’re telling us that there’s nothing? No names we can plug into the automatic license-plate readers? No players with a propensity for violence? No one you have in the system? Nothing?’’
One of those coming to Gainesville was William Fears, a 31-year-old from Houston. Fears, who online went by variations of the handle Antagonizer, was one of the most dedicated foot soldiers of the alt-right. …
- How YouTube Built A Powerful Recruitment & Radicalization Machine For The Far-Right — Former extremists say they were sucked in by propaganda as teenagers thanks an algorithm’s dark side. For David Sherratt, like so many teenagers, far-right radicalization began with video game tutorials on YouTube. He was 15 years old and loosely liberal, mostly interested in “Call of Duty” clips. Then YouTube’s recommendations led him elsewhere. … Read the Rest
(Commoner Call cartoon by Mark L. Taylor, 2018. Open source and free for non-derivative use with link to www.thecommonercall.org )
The Rise Of Domestic Radical Right Wing Terrorism, And How U.S. Law Enforcement Encourages It Through Neglect
22 million Americans think white supremacist and Nazi views are acceptable.
The Daily Podcast / The New York Times (12/13/18)
Despite repeated warnings over the past two decades, federal law enforcement officials in the United States have ignored the threat of violence from far-right extremists. Now, they have no idea how to stop it.
On today’s episode:
Janet Reitman, a contributing writer for The New York Times Magazine who is working on a book about the rise of the far right in post-9/11 America.
White supremacists and other far-right extremists have killed more people in the United States since Sept. 11, 2001, than any other category of domestic extremist — but the country’s counterterrorism strategy has been focused elsewhere. Read Janet Reitman’s article for the New York Times Magazine.
A jury has recommended that the man who drove into a crowd of anti-racism protesters at a white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Va., last year spend the rest of his life in prison.
A History Professor Reminds Us Of The Danger When Law Enforcement Neglects & Encourages Fascist Thugs & Gangs
17. Watch out for the paramilitaries. When the men with guns who have always claimed to be against the system start wearing uniforms and marching around with torches and pictures of a Leader, the end is nigh. When the pro-Leader paramilitary and the official police and military intermingle, the game is over.
— Timothy Snyder, 20 Lessons from the 20th Century on How to Survive in Trump’s America.