I lived in New York through 9/11, orange alerts, red alerts, purple alerts and all the rest, and never really felt a visceral fear of Al Qaeda, any more than I felt afraid of the IRA living in London during the bombing campaign. The danger was real, of course, but perhaps because of the way the governments in both countries manipulated and amplified the threat to suit their own purposes, I soon became quite blase.
The kindly-looking old guy mentioned in this article, however, scares the living shit out of me. He’s the owner of the “Redneck Shop” in Laurens, South Carolina, and according to this article he said of an eight-year-old boy cycling past his shop “There’s a nigger there I’d like to hang.”
The occasion of his comment was a convention of the white supremacist Aryan Nations group. Other comments from the meeting:
Hispanics “breed like rats, worse than niggers, and send their money back to Mexico. Only thing I got for them is a bullet right between the eyes. Ship their dead butts back to Mexico.”
“The biggest lie besides the Holocaust is that Jews are the chosen people. Satan is their father.”
“Blacks are soulless mud people who never had Yahweh’s breath of life.”
“You want to see blood in the streets? I DO!”
Fortunately their numbers are not large – probably no more than a few hundred. And they split into two factions recently – one group hates Jews so much that they support Al Qaeda because they see it as “doing the Lord’s work” in killing Jews, while the other hates Jews but not quite enough to overcome its hatred of Arabs. With so much hate flowing around, it can understandably be complex work deciding who to pin it on.
The group was also weakened according to the article when it “lost a $6.3 million lawsuit brought by Victoria and Jason Keenan, a mother and son who, while looking for a lost wallet on a lonely Idaho road, had been chased, shot at and beaten by Aryan Nations guards. The Keenans’ offense? The guards fantasized the two were militant Jews; they were, in fact, of Cherokee descent.”
The numbers are small, but the potential for violence is clearly real. And it was people with similar views who were responsible for the Oklahoma City bombing (although funnily enough white men were not scapegoated after that, as Muslims have been since 9/11).
Even more worrying to me than these fringe lunatics, however, are the much larger numbers of people who share similar views, albeit in less extreme form and less openly expressed. Scroll down to the bottom of the article, for example, and read the two comments left by readers. You might, as I did, expect to see people expressing shock, outrage and things like that. Instead you’ll see them complaining about affirmative action and saying that black people are racist too.
It’s these people who are terrifying to me, almost as much as the owner of the Redneck Shop. Because while the redneck is out lynching the kid on the bicycle, it’s these resentful, angry, uncomprehending white people who will stand by and do nothing. And in case anyone thinks this shit is confined to America, check out the support for the British National Party and their ilk, as well as a previous post of mine on Noel Martin, a Jamaican-born Brit who was paralysed by neo-Nazis in Berlin. With people like this around, and Islamophobia on the rise, it’s more important than ever for people of good conscience to state loudly and unequivocally that this stuff is abhorrent, hateful and just downright ignorant.