Albion Monitor /News
[Editor's note: For related stories, see Others Unknown" about possible co-conspirators in the Oklahoma case, and "McVeigh is Hardly a 'Lone Nut,'" also in this edition. Among the many other stories on the far right that have appeared in past issues of the Monitor, most significant is "Crusade: The War on Abortion" which shows links between isolated extremists and an organized and well-funded national leadership.]

McVeigh Conviction Won't Deter Extremists

by Farhan Haq

"The bombing was a fine thing," says Dennis Mahon of the White Aryan Resistance
(IPS) NEW YORK -- The conviction of former U.S. Army soldier Timothy McVeigh of the 1995 bombing of a federal building in Oklahoma has made him a pariah in much of the United States -- but not among the country's extreme right wing, militia analysts say.

Among the more than 200 rightist militia groups that have been active throughout the country since the bombing are many "hard-core" militia supporters who still believe McVeigh is innocent of the bombing that killed 168 people and injured more than 500 others. They contend that the real culprit is the U.S. government.

Some of the pro-McVeigh sentiment was apparent on June 2, just hours after the right-wing Michigan native was found guilty by a Denver, Colorado jury of 11 counts of murder, conspiracy, and use of a weapon of mass destruction. One note posted on the Internet said that if McVeigh were guilty, "it seems to me the feds were in on it too."

James Nichols, brother of McVeigh's accused co-conspirator Terry Nichols, who still faces trial, released a statement alleging that the government had prevented crucial evidence from appearing before the jury in McVeigh's trial.

The aftermath of the Oklahoma City bombing saw more people flock to the militias, and to white supremacist groups
Other rightists and militia supporters actually admire McVeigh for the crimes for which he has been committed, and for which he will receive either life in prison or the death penalty when the sentencing phase of the trial begins today.

"The bombing was a fine thing," says Dennis Mahon of the White Aryan Resistance, a California-based racist group. "I hate the federal government with a personal hatred...I'm surprised that this hasn't happened all over the country."

The bottom line, for many militia-watchers, is that McVeigh is either a martyr or a patsy in the eyes of the extremist anti-government movement. His conviction therefore will not deter the growth of the far-right militias.

"Statistics don't show any decrease in the numbers of militia members," says Noah Chandler, a research associate at the Atlanta-based Center for Democratic Renewal, which monitors hate groups. "Quite the opposite. This (verdict) will only serve to enhance the movement."

For many white men who feel neglected by U.S. politics -- the main base of support for the far right -- McVeigh's conviction may actually bolster the image of the violent right wing as committed to action and not words, Chandler argues. "Once you get into this realm of thought paranoia, you lose all reason...You could convince yourself of anything," he says of the militia mindset.

At the same time, the horror of the April 19, 1995 Oklahoma City bombing may deter other Americans away from the extremist racist, anti-government views McVeigh espoused, says Robert Crawford, research director for the Coalition for Human Dignity, a Seattle-based group that has studied the militias' rise.

The bomb, which went off shortly after federal workers and children attending morning day-care arrived in the Alfred E. Murrah federal building, was the bloodiest terrorist act ever committed on U.S. soil.

More importantly, McVeigh's trial painted the picture of a hostile recluse who steeled himself to treat anyone connected to the government as inhuman. "They may be individually innocent, but because they were part of the evil empire, they were guilty by association," McVeigh's former colleague Michael Fortier -- who testified for the government side -- said of the bombing suspect's views of government employees.

"It's going to be difficult for (the extreme right) to make McVeigh a martyr," says Crawford. "The brutality of his act is so widely looked down on."

At the same time, the aftermath of the Oklahoma City bombing saw more people flock to the militias, and to white supremacist groups such as the Christian Patriot movement or neo-Nazi groups like White Aryan Resistance.

Militia-watchers estimate that there are some 30,000 committed white separatists, about 18,000 of whom belong to the Christian Patriot movement. The movement includes the Christian Identity movement, a racist Christian offshoot which, according to the New York-based Anti-Defamation League, "holds that white Anglo-Saxons are the Biblical chosen people and that non-whites are 'mud people'."

Many of those groups no longer hold the large public rallies which they used to stage a few years ago, Crawford says. But that does not mean their influence is waning, he adds: "A number of their ideas have gotten broad play," particularly, he notes, among rightist politicians like Republican Representative Helen Chenoweth of Idaho and Larry Pratt, aide to 1996 presidential candidate Pat Buchanan.

"We are definitely in for some more political violence"
In some respects, Chandler argues, violent militia activity is actually growing. He notes that the Atlanta area has been hit by three homemade bomb attacks over the past year: a bombing at Centennial Park during the Olympics last July, in which two people were killed, and subsequent attacks on an abortion clinic and a lesbian bar.

Although Atlanta police have not formally connected the three cases, Chandler contends that there were several similarities in the bombs and that all three were at venues targeted by the far right.

Other white separatist operations have been quickly quashed by federal authorities. A short-lived plan by nine Texan men and their families to take hostages and declare themselves "the republic of Texas" two months ago was defused by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). Police recently arrested a man in Yuba City, California, who was found with 300 pounds of plastic explosives -- enough to destroy three city blocks.

"I don't think the movement is made up of Timothy McVeighs," Chandler says. But he adds that, even if many militia members do not condone the violence perpetrated by a few hard-core members, they provide the atmosphere for political ends to be achieved through violence. "We are definitely in for some more political violence," he says.

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Albion Monitor June 9, 1997 (

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