In the age of Obama, the racist hate group has turned into the racist “lone wolf,” executing or attempting an act of domestic terrorism an average of once every 34 days, according to a new report by the Southern Poverty Law Center.
Spurred by the election of the first Black president, white racist hate groups and anti-government militias have become more sophisticated in carrying out their plots. They have discovered they run a seriously reduced chance of being caught if they work alone or in small groups instead of in the large militias of old. With the assistance of websites and social media, they can communicate and become activated without ever being in the same room.
Though the focus of many American politicians has been centered on the threat of violence from Islamists, particularly after the Charlie Hebdo massacre in Paris, the Southern Poverty Law Center report reveals that domestic terrorism and related radical violence should be of more concern to the government.
These conclusions are explored in the report, “Age of the Wolf: A Study of the Rise of Lone Wolf and Leaderless Resistance Terrorism.” The report covers 2009 to 2015, the period Obama has been in office, and finds that a terrorist incident took place or was disrupted every 34 days. The SPLC’s and other studies have indicated that since the 9/11 mass murder, more people have been killed in America by non-Islamic domestic terrorists than jihadists.
This fact should be of concern to African-Americans and other non-whites who will likely be the first targets of these racist, self-activated white extremists.
The SPLC expressed concern that the upcoming summit hosted by Obama, which the White House said is meant to “better understand, identify, and prevent the cycle of radicalization to violence at home in the United States and abroad,” will be too focused on Islamist terror.
“That would be a serious mistake,” the report said.
“Since 9/11, however, the government has focused very heavily on jihadists, sometimes to the exclusion of violence from various forms of domestic extremists,” the report said. “That was first apparent in the immediate aftermath of the Al Qaeda attacks, when almost all government resources were channeled toward battling foreign jihadists. A stark example of that is the way the Justice Department has allowed its Domestic Terrorism Executive Committee to go into hibernation since that day.”
But the government is beginning to turn its eye back at home. Attorney General Eric Holder recently announced the coming reconstitution of the Domestic Terrorism Executive Committee and there has been a recent increase in funding for studies of terrorism and radicalization. In addition, the FBI has produced a number of informative reports.
Holder recently acknowledged that lone wolves and small cells are an increasing threat.
“It’s something that frankly keeps me up at night, worrying about the lone wolf or a group of people, a very small group of people, who decide to get arms on their own and do what we saw in France,” he said.
The SPLC report credits Louis Beam, an early 1980s Ku Klux Klan leader in Texas, with popularizing the concept of “leaderless resistance” in a seminal (for the white supremacist movement) 1983 essay he wrote about the dangers of large, top-down groups. Beam implored his followers to move into single or small-cell terrorism. He specified no more than six men, an idea that was picked up and adopted by white supremacists, and also by jihadists.
Frustration by a perceived lack of action by large groups helps fuel these individuals, said Southern Poverty Law Center Senior Fellow Mark Potok.
“They get tired of the meet, eat, and retreat crowd, all the talk about the evils of black people, gay people, Muslim people,” he said. “They get sick of all the talk, and they’re moving out on their own and begin to shoot.”
The SPLC tells the story of Tom Metzger, the prominent neo-Nazi in Indiana who took up the leaderless banner after Beam, promoting his ideas with such publications as his “Laws for the Lone Wolf,” posted on his Resist.com website. Metzger’s advice for fellow racists: avoid membership in groups, keep cash on hand for emergencies and “never truly admit to anything.”
“Never keep any records of your activities that can connect you to the activity,” he wrote. “Keep in mind that repeated activity in one area will lead to increased attention to the area and possibly to you. The more you change your tactics, the more effective you will become.”
As an example of the dangers posed by public membership in racist groups, Potok pointed to House Republican Whip, Rep. Steve Scalise of Louisiana, who was ripped for speaking at a David Duke-connected white supremacist conference.
“He was able to hang on to his job and post, but it was very, very costly, and that’s what’s making people move away from these groups,” Potok said.
The shocking murder of three Muslim students this week in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, raised questions about whether the shooting was about a parking space or about a hate-filled lone wolf attacking their religion.
“It’s very hard to disentangle,” says Potok, noting that the women wore headscarves and that one of the slain women had told her father she was wary of a neighbor—the neighbor who, in the end, killed her.