Date: Sun, 15 Aug 1999 12:30:22 -0500 (CDT)
From: (Rich Winkel)
Organization: PACH
Subject: RIGHTS-US: Latest Shootings Show Reach of Racist Network
Article: 72807
To: undisclosed-recipients:;
Message-ID: <>

/** ips.english: 463.0 **/
** Topic: RIGHTS-US: Latest Shootings Show Reach of Racist Network **
** Written 9:06 PM Aug 13, 1999 by newsdesk in cdp:ips.english **

Latest Shootings Show Reach of Racist Network

By Farhan Haq, IPS, 12 August 1999

NEW YORK, Aug 12 (IPS) When Buford Furrow Jr, charged with the shooting at a Jewish community centre in California, surrendered to Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) Wednesday he told agents that he wanted to send a message to America by killing Jews.

Furrow failed in his mission. None of the five peoplefour of them childrenthat he shot 24 hours earlier at the Jewish community centre in Granada Hills, near Los Angeles, has since died.

But the 37-year-old Furrow, also charged with killing a postal worker that day, did succeed in focusing attention on the rise of racist groups in the United States that do not flinch from shooting five-year-old children in order to send a message.

Police said Buford told them he had killed the mail carrier because of his skin colour and assumed he was Latino or Asian

According to some hate group monitors, the US racist right wing has become particularly activesometimes for theological reasons, or out of concern about the impact of the 'Y2K' computer bugas the millennium approaches.

There are people openly talking about the year 2000 having graet significance, says Chip Berlet, senior analyst for Political Research Associates, a Massachusetts organisation which tracks hate groups.

For many on the racist right, he says, the next few years will be important because they see the coming of the millennium as the advent of a racial war.

Furrow's ties to the US racist right wing were easily detected: a photograph of Furrow, in the garb of a security official for a conference held by the far-right Aryan Nations, was published in a 1996 report circulated by the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), a New York-based Jewish organisation.

Also, Furrow's acquaintances reported that he had lived together with Denise Mathews, widow of the founder of the extremist group The Order, a violent Aryan Nations offshoot which robbed banks and planted bombs in the Western United States in the early 1980s.

The Order is believed to be defunct since US authorities arrested most key leaders in 1985, but Furrow's shootout in Los Angeles, and subsequent reports of his hatred of Jews, brought the group's agenda back into the spotlight.

Berlet contends that, far from being an extreme offshoot of Aryan Nations, The Order was the applied form of the ideology of Aryan Nations, and its violent ethos is still shared by many individuals today.

Several US rights groups are concerned that thousands of white Americans continue to participate in Aryan Nations and other groups that share the ideology of 'Christian Identity,' an explicitly racist version of Christianity.

The Christian Identity movement believes that Jews are the 'seeds of Satan,' that blacks and Hispanics are 'mud people' without souls, says Gail Gans, director of the Civil Rights Information Centre of the ADL. From our standpoint, it's a very unfriendly theology.

Berlet says that the Aryan Nations' version of Christian Identity beliefs is little different from those of neo-Nazi groups: the ideology, formulated by Aryan Nations leader Richard Butler, ties in the anti-Semitic writings of Henry Ford and racist texts like 'The Protocols of the Elders of Zion.'

Aryan Nations, which is based near Hayden Lake, Idaho, is a Christian Identity group which has repeatedly been linked to violence, Gans argues.

There are some groups that are definitely dangerous because they're engaged in violence, and Aryan Nationsas well as The Orderfit that definition, she says.

In 1996, Aryan Nations published its own version of the Declaration of Independence, in which it claimed that the history of the present Zionist Occupation Government of the United States of America is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations.

Accordingly, the group absolved its members from allegiance to the US federal government, and called for a new free and independent nation to be formed among its members.

Federal authorities also have alleged that Furrow could have been involved with the 'Phineas Preisthood,' a shadowy armed group also linked to the Christian Identity movement which has been connected to several killings and robberies in recent years. To become a member, officials say, one has to engage in armed violence against non-whites.

The Southern Poverty Law Centre has linked the Priesthood to Byron de la Beckwith, the murderer of civil rights leader Medgar Evers, as well as to The Order.

Michael Novick, who monitors hate groups for the California- based People Against Racist Terror, also links the Priesthood to Timothy McVeigh, who was convicted for bombing the Alfred Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City in 1995.

Gans says that the risk posed by violent racist groups is so great that the FBI should be free to investigate all organisations which openly preach racial hatred and incite violence. At present, she says, the FBI can only investigate those individuals who have committed crimes within such groups, but cannot monitor hate groups' publications or Internet sites.

You don't violate a group's First Amendment rights (to freedom of speech) by looking at its Web sites, she argues.

The FBI can't just blanket the country looking for evidence of hate crimes, Berlet counters. That would violate the Constitution, he says, adding that the rise of hate groups is not a law enforcement problem but one of educating people to the surge in racism, scapegoating and conspiracy theories.

In the United States, he adds, the racist right may number a few thousand people, but only a few hundred may be drawn to the violent side of the movement, and cannot be easily determined from the broader population of law-abiding racists.

It's no different from what is happening in the rest of the world, with the rise of ethno-nationalist movements, Berlet says. But with the millennium approaching, the racist movement in the United States is particularly excitedand may continue to be abuzz with activity in the coming months, he warns.