America has a serious terrorism problem – and refuses to acknowledge it

The United States of America contains a vast, nation-wide network of terrorist groups, armed to the teeth, conspiring to overthrow the federal government. These groups operate mostly in the shadows, a semi-legal world where they acquire the latest arms, organise secret cells, carry out operations to destabilise the government and undermine their authority, and rely on a reservoir of latent support in the communities they inhabit. These groups are fascinated by guns, absorbed by doctrines of supremacism that regard their community as elevated over the majority of the population, and are abusing the civil liberties and general tolerance of the wider community to spout their vitriol through various social and electronic media channels.

Oh and by the way, the terrorist groups which pose the greatest threat to the United States are not Muslim – they are white.

Professor Juan Cole, the Richard P. Mitchell Collegiate Professor of History at the University of Michigan, wrote a comment piece on his blog entitled ‘Top 3 White Terrorist Attacks in America this week’. In this article, he pointed out that the American white supremacist Right, with its fixation on ‘big government’ and obsession with guns and arms, poses a mortal threat to the federal government. Wrapping itself in the mantle of constitutional patriotism and portraying its fight against ‘tyranny’, the American far right has built up its strength, incorporating people disaffected with the system. Most of the victims of America’s violent ultra-right are civilians, their deaths rationalised away by the right wing’s supporters as the unfortunate casualties of a war against big government tyranny. As Professor Cole explained in his article;

Although their attacks are ideological, directed at civilian victims and violent, they are seldom categorized as ‘terrorists.’ Rather what they do is “mass shootings.” In the meantime, plots hatched by Muslims in the US during the past few years appear almost always to be a form of entrapment by the FBI.

Only a few months ago, in April 2014, a white supremacist gunman and organiser of several racist groups, targeted residents of the Jewish Community Centre in Kansas. The killer, Frazier Glenn Miller, was known to authorities as a violent anti-Semite with a history of espousing white supremacist views and targeting ethnic minorities. Miller continued his activities in a climate of racial hatred and vitriol, a climate created and abetted by mainstream media outlets, particularly those associated with the Republican party and right wing ideology. Media corporations operated by yellow media mogul Rupert Murdoch, Fox Cable News, CNN, and other media outlets, propound virulent hate speech that promotes a political discourse of hatred against ethnic minorities, the latest targets being the Arab and Islamic communities.

Miller’s outburst did not occur in isolation. Back in 2012, white supremacist and ‘citizen patriot’ gunman Wade Michael Page walked into a Sikh Temple in Oak Creek, Wisconsin, and killed six people, critically wounding three. He thought he was attacking Muslims. Page was also far from a ‘lone nut’. He was a vocal neo-Nazi, operating in white supremacist circles, and espoused hateful ideology by participating in bands that are categorised as ‘white power music’. Significantly, Page was an army veteran, and he brought his military training and knowledge into the service of white racist extremism. He transformed into a violent racist while serving in the army, the latter providing a milieu in which white racist ultra-rightist ‘patriotism’ could flourish.

These are not isolated incidents. The most recent example of white supremacist terrorism, given coverage in the corporate media, was the shooting of police officers in Las Vegas in June 2014 by Jared Miller and his wife, Amanda Woodruff Miller. The latter were steeped in white supremacist, ultra-right wing ‘patriotic’ ideology, blamed their setbacks in life on a tyrannical American government, and expressed their hopes of striking back through an obsession with guns. The two shooters began their terroristic rampage by killing two police officers, stripping the corpses of their weapons, and then covered the bodies with the Gadsden flag, a historical flag used during the American independence wars, featuring a coiled rattlesnake poised to strike with the words ‘Don’t tread on me.’

The Miller couple had long spoken of their alienation from the ‘system’, their lack of access to adequate health care, their contempt for the federal government, and their inability to make ends meet in tough economic times. From this wellspring of resentment, emerged a racial hatred, a fascination with guns, all cloaked in the ‘patriotic’ sentiments of ‘defending the constitution’ as designed by the fathers of American independence. Wrapping up anti-ethnic hysteria in the American flag is nothing new; it is a standard theme of the Tea Party ultra-right fanatics .

As the capitalist economic crisis worsens, wages stagnate while the pay of CEOs continue to increase, more people are declining into poverty, and becoming desperate. As this desperation takes hold, they are looking for ways to strike back. The Millers are just one couple among millions who had been pushed down into penurious circumstances. They represent the kind of people ripe for recruitment into white-supremacist, ultra-right wing militia groups that give vent to simmering hatreds. As the gulf between rich and poor widens, hope in the future of the current society is lost. The demise of hope contributes to a growth in crime, social disorder, and the appeal of escapist cults. The latter venerate martyrdom for a cause as a way to provide a new meaning to life. Sacrifice for a cause is very noble – but that cause must target the centres of economic and political power, not deflect hatred onto other ethnic and dispossessed minorities.

In a thoughtful and disturbing article for The Daily Beast online news web site, Dean Obeidallah wrote that the incidence of right wing terrorism is very real, frightening, and large in scope. However, the American political establishment, mainly the right wing Republican faction, refuses to see the problem for what it is. Obeidallah lists the most egregious examples of ultra-right terrorism in the United States over the last few years, and documents the reaction of the conservative media and political establishment in either ignoring the problem, or responding with sympathetic voices. In most cases, the American corporate media has enabled such ultra-right extremism to flourish. As Obeidallah explained, “The actual reason Republicans won’t investigate right-wing extremists is that it would not only anger their base, it would actually indict some parts of it.”

This is not the first, nor the last time, that the American Right has willfully ignored, and sometimes aided, the rise of violent white-supremacist extremism. The Cliven Bundy standoff provides an instructive example of how American politics is infected with the malaise of white, gun-friendly extremism. A rebellious rancher, Bundy has refused to pay taxes to the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) for the land on which his cattle grazes. Bundy claims it is his right to refuse to pay taxes – very true, but he also parasitically using federal land that thousands of other ranchers use in Nevada. He has scrounged off this land for free, making a profit for many years, and defeating numerous lawsuits against him. When he was confronted by BLM personnel, his case became a cause celebre among far-right militias. Here was a rancher, standing up to a tyrannical federal government. His case was taken up by right wing media outlets, Fox news, CNN, as well as Tea Party supporters and far-right libertarian politicians. But then Bundy opened his mouth and expounded his views. He is of the opinion that African Americans should be returned to slavery, that they never had it so good since the days of slave-owning, and that the sooner the black Americans were returned to a slave-owning system, the better.

The conservative politicians and media outlets then made awkward reversals and distanced themselves from Bundy. While the ravings of an out-of-touch racist scrounger like Bundy can be dismissed, it is harder to dismiss the reaction of mainstream politicians and pundits. Bundy became a lightning rod, attracting the ultra-right white supremacists from around the country, providing a beacon of support, and was enabled in his standoff because of the support he has for his racist views. The political and media establishment provided the oxygen for the Bundyite views to spread. As Margaret Kimberley of the Black Agenda Report commented in her article;

Bundy is no outlier in any of the opinions he holds. There are millions of Americans who would take up arms to kill mostly because they would enjoy it. They might defend their actions with an appeal to patriotism or a sage brush rebellion or doomsday prepping or whatever rationale would be most convenient, but the bottom line is that they would like to get away with killing as many people as possible.

Kimberley examined the undercurrent of racism that underpinned the gathering of ultra-right extremists at the Bundy standoff:

Bundy is also not alone in seeing chattel slavery as being worthy of nostalgia. It is not a coincidence that gun and slavery lovers so often find common cause. The two go together and the Second Amendment is directly tied to the granting of police force status to every white person in the country in the days of slavery. Bundy’s popularity is deep and dangerous and he is no less popular now in some circles than he was before he made his remarks. Most racists know how to filter their thoughts in polite society. But Bundy is an ignorant man with no clue about niceties and said what was on his and others’ minds. It doesn’t matter that Rand Paul and Fox News back tracked from the Bundy love fest. If millions of white Americans were granted their ultimate fantasy, black people would be back in chains on the auction block.

There is even less excuse for the racist diatribes of Donald Sterling, billionaire owner of the LA Clippers, who was caught on tape making racist derogatory remarks about African Americans. The irony of Sterling owning a sporting team in which African Americans are prominent participants was not lost upon the corporate media, countless comedians and talk-show hosts, who all quite rightly made Sterling the object of scorn, ridicule and derision for his repugnant views. But what is startling is that Sterling made his billions as a slumlord, hiring out his sub-standard tenements to African American, Hispanic American and people of other ethnic minorities. Sterling made his views about ethnic minorities quite clear earlier in his career, before he became involved in the professional sports business. For instance, he went on record stating that he did not like to rent his accommodation to Hispanics because they smoke, drink and are lazy, and that African American ‘smell and attract vermin.’

The real tragedy, according to Kevin Blackistone writing in The Guardian newspaper, is not that Sterling made racist comments, scandalous as they are. It is the fact that Sterling’s racism was allowed to go unnoticed and unpunished all these years, even when he entered the business of professional sports and became an owner of an NBA team. Where was the outrage, the denunciations, the ridicule and scorn as Sterling made his way up the corporate ladder?

Margaret Kimberley, in her article, noted that:

Sterling’s racism was well known in Los Angeles prior to the taped conversations being revealed but obedience to a rich man protected him from full exposure. In 2008 he was sued by former NBA star and Clippers general manager Elgin Baylor, who claimed a “plantation mentality” permeated the work environment in that organization. Also in 2009 the Sterlings were forced to pay $2.7 million due to discriminatory housing practices against black and Latino tenants in apartment buildings they owned in Los Angeles. It was the largest such judgment paid in a housing case at that time. None of this mattered to the Los Angeles branch of the NAACP, which honored Sterling with a humanitarian of the year award in 2009 and was prepared to give him a lifetime achievement award before the scandal was revealed.

Kimberley asks the obvious question – would African Americans, or Americans from any ethnic minority, be allowed to gather weapons, espouse a hateful ideology, encourage disobedience to the federal government, and form militaristic militias without any reaction from the US law enforcement authorities?

Tackling ultra-right extremism will take a concerted effort to change the deeply dysfunctional and brutalised system that American capitalism has become. The Department of Homeland Security released a report on right-wing extremism and analysed the political and economic climate that fuels such ultra-right violence, back in 2009. This report was attacked upon its release by the very forces of the corporate media establishment that enabled the Bundys and Sterlings of the world to vent their vitriolic hatred. The rightist purveyors of violence, like Frazier Glenn Miller mentioned above, operate in a political climate that is at least partially sympathetic to their views, and at worst, positive enablers of such violent ultra-right fanaticism. It is interesting to note that Miller’s terrorist attack, while driven by anti-Semitism, claimed the lives of a similar number of victims as the Boston Marathon bombings. (Many more were injured in the Boston bombing however). The Boston Marathon bombing, while reprehensible, received disproportionate media coverage. Miller’s attack, while noted, invited no soul-searching scrutiny.

Since the September 11 2001 attacks and the ‘war on terror’, Islamist groups that advocate a jihadist ideology have become the sole focus of concern. It is true that attacks could happen. Islamist guerrillas, returning from a war zone, could be sufficiently motivated to carry out similar attacks on their home soil. This is a case of circumstantial guilt by association. There are cases of merchant and investment bankers who, travelling overseas, are lured by the promise of easy money engage in illicit and illegal money-laundering activities upon their return to their home country. (And this has happened). Do we stop the activities of transnational financial corporations because some of their executives have turned into drug-money launderers and fraudsters? Given the extent of corporate criminality, perhaps we should.

The Bulletin of Atomic Scientists published an informative article examining the growth of right wing terrorism. The article elaborates upon the rise of the far right in times of economic hardship, how the majority of terrorist attacks in the United States have been committed by groups with an ultra-right, anti-immigrant ideology, far more than groups driven by an al-Qaeda-type mentality, and how many of the most violent groups contain members with backgrounds in the United States military. It appears that service in the US military is serving as an incubator of violent extremism, rather than the preachings of obscure Islamic clerics.

The entire article ‘Looking clearly at right-wing terrorism’, can be found here.

It is appropriate to conclude with the words of Dr Martin Luther King. In 1967, he gave a speech in which he remarked that the United States government is the main purveyor of violence around the world. He toured the cities of Detroit, Chicago, and the ghettos of the North American states, finding grinding poverty, helplessness and demoralisation. He then witnessed the financial exhaustion of the American economy as the military-industrial complex funded wars overseas, particularly in Vietnam. He drew the conclusions that an exhausted, impoverished people, bereft of hope and optimism, resort to desperate and violent means to survive. Some find expression by joining similarly disenchanted groups, focusing their resentments on the most vulnerable. Expressing his hope that a complete revolution of values and ideas occurs in American society, Dr King stated;

A true revolution of values will soon cause us to question the fairness and justice of many of our past and present policies. True compassion is more than flinging a coin to a beggar; it is not haphazard and superficial. It comes to see that an edifice which produces beggars needs restructuring. A true revolution of values will soon look easily on the glaring contrast of poverty and wealth. With righteous indignation, it will look across the seas and see individual capitalists of the West investing huge sums of money in Asia, Africa and South America, only to take the profits out with no concern for the social betterment of the countries, and say: This is not just.”

As the capitalist system lurches from crisis to crisis, and the individual capitalists of the West continue to fund wars of expansion overseas while millions remain mired in poverty, it is time to ask ourselves whether we can continue to live in such a dysfunctional system. We would do well to heed the words of Dr King, because they are still relevant all these years after they were first spoken.

 

Europe is a hotbed of ultra-right extremism

The ultra-right anti-immigrant parties are making sweeping gains electorally and politically in Europe since the economic crisis erupted in 2008. While focusing on the threat of Islamic extremism, real or imagined, we have ignored (in some cases encouraged) the growth of a greater and more urgent threat – the ultra-right parties that are targeting working people, ethnic minorities and the most vulnerable sectors of the crisis-ridden capitalist system.

Since the onset of the 2008 breakdown of the capitalist economic system, the political parties and organisations of the Left have been gaining ground. The growth of workers organisations, socialist parties and organised labour in Greece, Spain, Italy, and other European countries points to an encouraging resurgence of resistance to attacks by the capitalist financial elite. More people are recognising that austerity measures means that the burden of economic recovery will be paid by the people suffering from the economic malaise, and the people that caused the crisis are avoiding taking any responsibility.

However, while the Left has reaped rewards from the breakdown of the capitalist order, let us not be complacent – the economic crisis has also seen a surge of support for the ultra-right. The anti-immigrant parties, marketing themselves as ‘Euro-sceptics’, have exploited the grievances of workers and dispossessed people in Europe to make sweeping electoral and political gains.

As the mainstream bourgeois parties roll back the social and economic gains of the post-World War Two European system, privatising health care, education, and removing social benefits, more people are being pushed down into poverty and living in precarious financial circumstances. The ultra-right parties have gained significant traction in terms of their electoral appeal, and have mobilised thousands of members and supporters to influence the political process in various European countries.

To be sure, the ultra-right parties have been organising and active since the dissolution of the Eastern Bloc in 1990-91. They have appealed to the nationalist sectors of the population, railing against the injustices (real or perceived) of a growing European Union. Their populist opposition was always one of anti-immigration, in particular anti-Arab and anti-Islamic racism. Islamophobia is a vote-winner, and the populist appleal against the new and latest ‘outsiders’ has proven to be electorally beneficial. The French National Front has been the best exponent of this strategy.

The ultra-right parties in Eastern Europe have traditionally been anti-Semitic, drawing on the political experiences of these countries during the 1930s and 1940s when they were capitalist nation states. Anti-Semitic politics was a constant feature of the Eastern Europe nations in the inter-war years. With the reintroduction of capitalist in the early 1990s, openly fascistic and ultra-right parties started making a comeback. Cultural nationalism, and hostility to immigration, found an organised political expression. This political current has reached levels of political power in at least one Eastern European capital, Kiev, the Ukraine.

For the first time since 1945, political parties that trace their political lineage to wartime Nazi collaborators have taken key positions of power in a European country. The Kiev regime, installed in early 2014 after a popular uprising against the previous oligarchic government of Viktor Yanukovych, openly lionises those Ukrainians who fought alongside the Nazi German forces during World War Two. These ultra-nationalist and anti-Semitic Ukrainians killed Jews, Poles and anti-fascist Ukrainians in their roles as auxiliaries of the German army. The Svoboda party, which forms part of the Ukrainian Right Sector, routinely denounces the presence of Jews, Russians and other minorities in the Ukrainian polity. Stepan Bandera, the wartime leader of the Ukrainian nationalist organisation, led the pogroms against Jews, Russians, Poles and ethnically cleansed the areas he controlled as part of an effort to create a racially pure Ukrainian state. Bandera is currently hailed as a hero by the new far right Kiev government. There are positive references to the ‘Galician SS’, Hitler’s term for those Ukrainian collaborators who carried out his project of ethnic genocide during the war.

While there are no tears for the ousting of the oligarchic Yanukovych regime, who had integrated Ukraine into the capitalist system and traded with the EU and Russia, there are no celebrations for the mass fascistic parties that have taken power in the wake of the 2013-2014 putsch. The Ukraine of Yanukovych walked a fine line between the competing, balancing interests of the European Union and Russia, placating both sides and maintaining the Ukraine as a ‘buffer’. However, with the help of the EU and the United States, the most pro-Rightist forces, openly spouting their brand of anti-Semitism and white supremacism, organised the most politically active and coordinated elements of the anti-Yanukovych uprising. The neo-fascistic groups, happily displaying their white-power and swastika-resembling symbols, became the face of the pro-EU Maidan uprising. The ultra-right groups made no secret of their coordinating role in confronting the previous regime, and organising the uprising politically.

We also cannot ignore the role of the United States and European Union in financing and politically encouraging these ultra-right anti-Semitic parties, ensuring that the Right Sector were at the political heart of the Maidan protests. Imperialist-supported regime change is always a strong element in driving the political directions of mass protests in Europe. It is no secret that major US politicians, like US Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland, openly supported the Ukrainian ultra-right parties that formed the core of the anti-Yanukoych protests. This corresponds to the general imperialist strategy of incorporating the former Soviet republics into NATO and the western economic orbit. Politically encouraging the ultra-right as a battering ram in Eastern Europe is an integral step in absorbing these states into the imperialist economic and military network.

Not every single person that participated in the Maidan uprising was a card-carrying member of a neo-fascist party, far from it. But when the most politically organised forces are espousing a white-supremacist ideology, ranting against the influence of Russians, Jews, and ethnic minorities, advocating a Hitlerian view of history, and are friendly to the pro-business agenda of the imperialist states, it is all but inevitable that the Kiev regime will gravitate into the orbit of the EU and NATO, a regime in charge of a state right on Russia’s doorstep.

The Yanukovych regime was no friend of the working class, that is certain. That regime was responsible for corruption, maintaining the rule of the oligarchs that have left the Ukraine an economic mess. Yanukovych was part of the oligarchic capitalism that has enriched a tiny handful of billionaires, privatising state assets, and leaving the majority of the population struggling to survive in the post-Soviet capitalist economic order. However, this does not blind us to the fact that the beneficiaries of the Maidan protests have been the ultra-right, mass fascistic parties.

As Seumas Milne pointed out in his insightful article; “So in the week that the liberation of Auschwitz by the Red Army was commemorated as Holocaust Memorial Day, supporters of those who helped carry out the genocide are hailed by western politicians on the streets of Ukraine. “ Read the entire essay by Milne at The Guardian web site here.

It is not just in the Ukraine that the ultra-right is attaining political success. Hungary has witnessed the rise of its own homegrown variety of fascism, the Jobbik party, with its electoral wing and its paramilitary thuggish branch. Jobbik campaigns on an anti-immigrant, xenophobic platform, and not only wins seats in parliament, but also intimidates its opponents on the streets. Jobbik has contributed to the emergence of anti-Soviet and anti-Russian cultural nationalism in Hungary since the withdrawal of Russian troops in 1989. Winning further success in the wake of the growing capitalist economic crisis, Jobbik has exacerbated anti-Roma sentiments and blamed this particular ethnic group, along with the Jews, for Hungary’s economic doldrums. Any lingering doubts about the racist underpinnings of Jobbik would have been resolved by viewing the leaflets handed out by their supporters. Their campaign literature contained an image from the Easy Rider film accompanied by the slogan ‘Jews are the problem – time to step on the gas!’

Venturing further afield from Eastern Europe, we can see the emergence of a more united, coordinated ultra-right formation across the European continent – a ‘Brown International’ if you will. (Hat tip to Left Flank). In an article by the Greek socialist Thanasis Kampagiannis, the growth and cooperation of various ultra-right parties is examined. Written in January 2014, the author warned of a major electoral breakthrough by far right parties in the general European elections in May – he was proven correct, with the French National Front, exploiting anger about the mounting social costs of austerity, emerging as the big electoral winner in French elections.

After a public relations facelift, the extreme right-wing parties of the National Front led by Marianne Le Pen, and the Dutch Freedom Party headed by the execrable Geert Wilders, announced an alliance of sorts back in November 2013. Couched in the terms of Euro-scepticism, the ultra-right is using the breakdown of the capitalist order, and consequent surge in unemployment, to make significant political gains in the traditionally stable capitalist economies of Western Europe. While they distance themselves from the more openly pro-Nazi parties like the Greek Golden Dawn, they using the same anti-immigrant and populist platform to espouse their views, and they have received a friendly hearing from some mainstream bourgeois politicians as well. The ultra-right of Western Europe, including the Austrian Freedom Party, UKIP in Britain, the Italian Northern League and the Swedish far-right Democrats, have all toned down their more brazen fascistic thuggish image and cultivated an air of political sophistication. However, beneath the veneer of respectability is the strong lurch to the right.

Europe is increasingly resembling the economically and politically chaotic situation that obtained in the 1930s. We are not there yet, however, the coordination of ultra-right parties does present an urgent menace that must be confronted. The article by Kampagiannis above explains that;

If racism was the ticket for the fascist parties to pass from the margins to the central political scene, Islamophobia ensured that their seat would be Business Class. Islamophobia offered the adhesive tissue for the alliance of Le Pen and Wilders.

Open racism ensured that the ultra-right would get a hearing in the parliaments of Europe – Islamophobia guaranteed that they would receive a respectable hearing in the corporate boardrooms and political headquarters of European capital. The outsider enemy was necessary to unite all these disparate formations into a more cohesive force, as encapsulated in the following image from Left Flank;

3-faces-of-islamophobia

Hostility to Islamic migration has been the key electoral strategy that ultra-right needed to gain mainstream respectability, portraying themselves as the defenders of Western cultural nationalism from the intrusions of backward outsiders.

The legitimacy of the mass ultra-right parties must be confronted by an organised, multiethnic Left that opposes all forms of racism and xenophobia. It is not migrants or refugees that are responsible for the worst economic crisis in Europe since the end of World War Two. The capitalist class with its programme of neoliberalism and endless war is directly responsible for the privations of the workers and unemployed in Europe. As Jeremy Corbyn, a socialist politician from England explained, ultra-right populism ignores the true causes of pauperisation and war; blaming one minority group after another is a barren and futile exercise. The free-market fundamentalism that drives our economic programme is to blame. We have taken up the warnings about Islamic extremism (real or imagined) in the aftermath of September 11 and the bogus ‘war on terror’, but have ignored the rise of the greater and very real danger of an organised and politically active ultra-right.

 

We ignore the rise of the ultra-right at our own peril

Throughout the capitalist countries, the anti-immigrant ultra-right wing parties are making electoral advances and gaining new recruits to their brand of xenophobic hatred. We have ignored the rise of these parties at our own peril.

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Frazier Glenn Miller, a neo-fascist organiser and member of several white supremacist organisations, gunned down three people outside a Jewish Community Centre in Kansas. He was shouting racist comments and anti-Semitic sentiments right up to the point he was arrested by the police. His opinions about race, history and the ‘racial war’ were long known to activist groups, such as the Southern Poverty Law Centre. The details of his long career of racial hatred can be found here. A former US special forces soldier, he organised various white supremacist and Ku Klux Klan groups, and advocated his views in interviews he gave. The law enforcement authorities, such as the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) also knew of his activities as a violent white supremacist.

It is not necessary to go into all the details of his activities, but it was no secret that this person, with his track record, would one day turn his hatred and his guns on ethnic minorities in an anti-Semitic rage. What is interesting to note in this case is the reaction of the police chief responsible for the arrest of Miller. Police chief in Overland Park, John Douglass, gave Miller the benefit of the doubt – it was too early, Douglass said, to know for sure whether Miller was motivated by anti-Semitism. While the killing for which Miller was arrested was vicious, opined Douglass, it was doubtful whether the killing could be directly attributed to the anti-Semitic views that Miller held.

That is a telling reaction to a killing that was certainly motivated by an irrational xenophobic ethnic hatred. This is not necessarily completely wrong, because the motivations of criminal culprits must be thoroughly examined. However, this stands in stark contrast to the reaction against culprits from the Islamic faith.

April this year marked the first anniversary of the Boston Marathon bombings – a terrorist atrocity that was an outrageous attack on humanity. The survivors are proving resilient and resourceful, there is no question of that. But while the commemorations are held, and the emotions run high, we should not forget the reaction of the authorities. The Boston marathon bombing served as a convenient pretext to further militarise American society, with thousands of police and troops deployed to lock down Boston city and provide a climate akin to martial law. Searching for the suspects is one thing; locking down the entire city and treating the population as hostile and ordering them to remain indoors because there are suspects on the streets is quite another. The irony of the situation is that the suspect, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, was found after the lockdown was lifted. His brother, Tamerlan, was killed by federal law enforcement agents in a shootout, the circumstances of which still remain murky.

In the immediate aftermath of the Boston marathon bombing, there was absolute unanimity on what motivated the culprits – their Muslim faith. It was their irrational, religiously-motivated hatred of everything Western and ‘democratic’ that drove them to kill and maim – so the mainstream media reported. The tidal wave of Islamophobia was unleashed – the corporate commentariat was united in its conclusion that Arabs and Muslims needed to be targeted and excluded. For example, Aziza Berg reported for an article in the Socialist Worker magazine that;

Tarek Mehanna, a Muslim American pharmacist from Sudbury, Mass., was approached by the FBI and asked to spy on his mosque [6]. He refused. He later found himself and the antiwar views he expressed online at the center of an FBI investigation.

Spying on and svurveillance of Muslim and Arab communities has continued apace, and students from Muslim backgrounds have found themselves the targets of electronic surveillance.

So there is no question that a Muslim perpetrator is uniquely motivated by an irrational faith to commit savage acts of violence. The distorting lens of Islamophobia, predated the Boston marathon bombings but also inflamed by them, is employed with fervour to denounce this act as a particular vicious example of Muslim barbarity. Perhaps, just maybe, this act was more in common with all the other unfortunate but sadly frequent mass shootings in the United States, where the perpetrators are white. The tragic yet common mass killings in the US all have multiple causes, among them social alienation, mental illness perhaps, internal familial instabilities – all possible causes left unexplored in the case of the Boston marathon attack.

Since that bombing, Boston’s Muslim community has been under siege, the victim of racist attacks. The Islamic Society of Boston has been targeted as an incubator of extremism and hatred. It is no secret that anti-Islamic campaigns directed at the Arab and Muslim communities have proceeded for a long time, and the Boston marathon attack only added more fuel to the fire. While the survivors of that attack are rebuilding their lives, the tragedy is that the Boston Islamic community are the unspoken victims of an organised backlash, facing a wave of repression and hostility promoted by a mainstream media eager to cultivate an aura of panic.

Khury Petersen-Smith, who was at the marathon the day of the bombing, documented the hateful outpourings that the media and authorities have helped to incite in a thoughtful article ‘Unspoken casualties of the Marathon bombing’. He wrote:

Two days after the Marathon, Heba Abolaban and her friend were physically assaulted by a white man as they walked with their children on the street in nearby Malden. Heba, who is Palestinian, told the Malden Patch that the man screamed, “Fuck you Muslims! You are terrorists!” as he punched her. Both Heba and her friend were wearing headscarves.

The criminal actions of Miller could only occur in a society where ultra-right extremism and anti-immigrant xenophobia is normalised. The United States has witnessed numerous protests by extreme right-wing groups – anti-immigration, against Obama because the latter is ‘socialist’ and ‘Muslim’ (?), against increasing taxes on the wealthier class, and against government-funded health care because, apparently, government-funding is reminiscent of ‘communism’. What is becoming normal is the expression of anti-Arab, and by extension anti-Islamic, venom. It is not just the fringe-dwellers, the outcasts, that are joining the anti-immigrant parties. In Galway, New York state;

Glendon Scott Crawford, a General Electric employee, was a prominent member of the community. He was married to the local high school’s librarian and taught Sunday school in a local church. But Crawford was also a member of a radically right-wing tea party/militia group called “Americans Demanding Liberty and Freedom” as well as a self-proclaimed (but unconfirmed) member of the KKK.

On June 20, 2013, Crawford was arrested on charges connected with domestic terrorism. He had been attempting to build a truck-mounted radiation gun that he believed could be used to poison people from a distance. His targets included Muslims and leftists. According to members of the community Crawford was outspoken against Islam, women’s rights, immigrants’ rights, the presidency of Barack Obama and New York’s SAFE Act, a state gun control law passed in January.

As the economic crisis of capitalism continues, and more people find themselves unemployed, struggling to make ends meet, and generally sinking into poverty, they will become alienated. These are the potential recruits for the ultra-right parties and groups. We have seen the rise of far-right parties across Europe in the wake of the economic meltdown. That is the subject of the next article.

Old poison in new bottles – when scoundrels combine their venom

With Europe engulfed in an economic crisis that threatens to bring down the eurozone, and possibly shrink the European Union itself, it is noteworthy to see that some people are doing well out of this crisis – very well in fact. The capitalist system is lurching from crisis to crisis, and while the political Left and socialist parties have experienced some growth from the widespread disaffection with the imploding capitalist system, it is the extreme Right that is also benefiting from the generalised economic malaise.

Marine Le Pen, daughter of the racist founder of the National Front in France Jean Marie Le Pen, has been credited with a surge in popularity for the anti-immigrant, anti-refugee party. The Guardian newspaper reports that Marine Le Pen, head of the anti-Semitic and Islamophobic party, has brought a softer, gentler image to the party, in contrast to the blunt, brusque tone of the founding father, Jean Marie. She is currently a presidential candidate, and while she has toned down the hardline rhetoric, the program of the National Front remains the same – ceasing all immigration, particularly from the Arab and Muslim countries, glorifying the rabidly racist anti-Semitic and pro-Nazi Vichy regime of France during World War Two, and a melange of populist patriotism and state regulation of French industries. Vichy France was responsible for the deportation and subsequent deaths of thousands of Jews, and upheld conservative French patriotism, replacing the French Republican-era slogan of Liberty, ‘Equality, Fraternity’ with ‘Labour, Family, Fatherland’.  Vichy was notorious for its anti-immigrant xenophobia, directed particularly against the Jews, the personality cult surrounding its leader Marshal Henri Petain, and its suppression of democratic liberties, including the repression of trade unions and organised labour.

Marine Le Pen is effective is promoting her message, and is winning sympathy from those suffering under the capitalist economic crisis. The Muslim community has replaced the role of the Jews in the National Front’s ideology – a supposedly alien, dark, potentially traitorous element working within French society to undermine and eventually conquer it. But the anti-Semitic prejudice is never far from the surface. One of the tactics that the racist Right in Europe has used to combat its exclusion from the mainstream as a ‘fringe’ party is take up seemingly ‘respectable’ causes, thus recovering from its tarnished image. Europe’s anti-immigrant political parties needed to ‘mainstream’ themselves, and find a brand name that would win them credibility. Well, they have done just that – support for the Zionist state of Israel.

Antony Loewenstein, an independent Australian journalist and blogger, has an excellent article documenting the purportedly strange bedfellows of European anti-Semitic and anti-immigrant politicians, and the Zionist state of Israel. Today’s new demon, Loewenstein says, is the Islamic community, and the far-Right has found a new theme to tap into. Earlier this year, a Russian neo-fascist organisation sent a delegation on a visit to the Israeli state. The Russian neo-fascists and holocaust deniers were met by politicians from the Knesset, the Israeli parliament. The Russian delegates were reportedly impressed by the resolve of the Zionist movement, its dedication to creating an ethnically pure Jewish state, and the common recognition of a new enemy in the midst; Islam.  One member of the delegation bloviated that ‘radical Islam’ was an enemy of democracy, of humanity and progress.’ This was hardly a one-off incident.

Supporters of the extremist and racist Dutch politician Geert Wilders have expressed their warmest support for Israel, particularly in combating the Palestinian ‘terrorists’ and Islamic communities. Loewenstein explains that a collection of Europe’s anti-immigrant politicians from Belgium, Sweden and other countries visited Israel back in December 2010, where they visited Yad Vashem.  The Norweigan killer Anders Breivik expounded on his admiration for the Zionist state of Israel, and denounced the ‘failing’ of multiculturalism in Europe. No wonder that Breivik regarded himself as a friend of an apartheid state – the ruling circles in Zionist Israel are also striving to create an exclusively Jewish state, building settlements on occupied Palestinian land, corralling and expelling the Palestinian population from their homeland. The Zionist leaders, while condemning the Utoya killings, have long claimed that Islam is an alien presence, that undermines the harmony of any Western society.

That mindset corresponds with the statements by British Prime Minister David Cameron, and German chancellor Angela Merkel, that multiculturalism has failed in Europe, and the main consequence of this failing is the alleged creeping ‘Islamization’ of European society. While the actions of Breivik have been roundly condemned, the ideology that spawned his violent behaviour continues to be nourished. No wonder that the anti-immigrant Right finds sympathetic voters in Europe, and extends its support to the efforts by Israel to create a society that negates ethnic integration between Jews and Arabs. Loewenstein links to a thankfully sane article in Haaretz that demands Israeli leaders strongly reject Marine Le Pen and the European far Right. Let’s not hold our collective breath for that to happen though.

Richard Seymour, in a thoughtful article on the ABC’s The Drum, related an incident whereby a group of unionised journalists prevented the rancid and splashy tabloid paper Daily Star from printing an egregiously racist anti-Muslim article. This action holds the key for a wider solution – to overcome the competitive sectarianism fostered by the mainstreaming of Islamophobic and anti-immigrant hatred, we need a multiethnic fightback, where all of us, the ethnically diverse working class, unites to fight off the racist attacks of the corporate mainstream. The trade unions have slowly and sadly abandoned a fightback approach, and instead chosen a conciliatory avenue, simply accepting whatever crumbs might fall from the corporate table. A cross-ethnic, united approach to fight for the rights and conditions taken away by the ever-predatory corporate-financial class can overcome the racial and ethnic divisions that are worsened by a capitalist economic crisis.