White Power, White Pride: The White Separatist Movement In The United States
Betty A. Dobratz and Stephanie L. Shanks-Meile
Reviewed by Bill Mithoefer
Saturday, November 24 2001, 8:27 AM
"For two decades, the GOP has sought to southernize American politics. At the same time, David Duke shifted away from the overt racism of his Nazi-Klan past towards the "socially acceptable" realm of symbolic racism. Pat Buchanan, Newt Gingrich, and the "Republican Revolution" have openly brought the "white rights" agenda of David Duke and other mainstreaming white separatists 'into the fold.'"
-From White Power, White Pride
An October 21st Washington Post article entitled FBI and CIA Suspect Domestic Extremists asserts that federal agents believe right-wing hate groups are responsible for the recent anthrax attacks in the U.S. This should be of particular interest to those of us wondering where the much ballyhooed militia movement disappeared to after the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing. While a great deal of literature on the militia movement and its historical antecedents was published during the years leading up to this event such as James William Gibson's much written about Warrior Dreams (1994), Michael Barkun's Religion and the Racist Right (1994) and the paperback edition of James Aho's groundbreaking sociological study of the Christian Identity movement The Politics of Rigtheousness (1995), there have been very few published works attempting to discuss the significance of racist social movements in any detail since the mid-1990s. Thus, despite how depressing the conclusions of studies such as Dobratz and Shanks-Meile's contribution to this body of scholarship, the publication of White Power, White Pride could not arrive at a more appropriate time.
White Power traces the development of racist, anti-semitic American hate groups, locating and analyzing them in historical context. The use of the term 'white separatist' allows the authors to group together the KKK, neo-Nazis, skinheads and the various Christian Identity movements with stereotypical right-wing militias. Dobratz and Shanks-Meile present the groups' ideologies, use of protest and violence and try to develop a political economy of white supremacy. The book's only weakness lies in the authors' development of an overly sympathetic relationship with some of the members. This sympathy, however gives the reader enormous insight into the thoughts and psychology of these abhorrent hate groups.
Race hatred in America has quite a colorful history. The KKK was founded in Pulaski, Tennessee in 1865 by former Confederate soldiers. Its second incarnation in the twenties and thirties was a mass movement estimated to be anywhere from two to eight million members. President Warren Harding, Supreme Court Justice Hugo Black , Chief Justice Edward White, and possibly President Truman were members of this second phase. Contemporary factions of the Klan began after World War II, evolving into David Duke's mainstream National Klan, which included amongst its membership the insidious Tom Metzger, who left to form the California Klan, and finally, White Aryan Resistance. The authors also expose the history and ideologies of the American Nazi Party, the NSWPP, Dr. William Pierce and the National Alliance, the National Socialist Party of America, the National Socialist German Workers Party, the SS Action Group, Confederate Northern and Eastern Hammerskins.
Christian Identity movements, however, lie at the heart of White Power. These movements link white separatist organizations with fundamentalist Christians and right-wing militias. Christian racists, they maintain that "Aryans" are the lost tribes of Israel, Jews are direct descendants of Satan, and the world is on the verge of an apocalypse in which the good Aryans will battle the evil Jews and ZOG (the Zionist Occupation Government.) These ludicrous beliefs, however, underlie a fanatic militancy. From the Aryan Nations' prison branch The Order's hijacking and armed robbery of a bank truck in Northern California, (netting 3 million dollars), to Tom Metzger's incitement of racist skins' to murder Ethiopian immigrant Mulugeta Seraw in Portland, Oregon in 1988 make for a fascinating portrait of an increasingly violent, ideologically complex community that cannot be ignored.
Perhaps the best part about White Power is the fact that the authors never lapse into the sensationalism all too common in literature about racialist movements such as James Ridgeway's Blood in the Face and much of the armchair "hate culture" analysis pushed by organizations such as the Anti-Defamation League. Dobratz and Shanks-Meile attempt and succeed in locating the movement in a socio-economic context while tying together apparently disparate movement elements. Hysterical federal government reactions to Waco, Ruby Ridge and other incidents strengthen their mutant viewpoints. As Metzger points out, white separatists permeate all levels and socio-economic strata of American society including top members of the U.S. government and multi-national corporations. This book is an essential addition to any library on race, ethnicity and inter-ethnic relations. My only gripe is that the authors' never really develop a political economy of white separatism, but instead provide a compelling historical class analysis of the white power movement.
White Power is available from Johns Hopkins University Press