Freedom Caucasus

July 20, 2018 Featured, Politics / Religion Comments (0) 209

It was March of 2015 when Maria Butina emailed David Keene to say the time was right for Russia to build constructive relationships with the Republican Party. This was three months before Donald Trump entered the race for President, a year before he won a primary and became a political contender. Antonin Scalia had eleven months to live, and Bernie Sanders had been in the race almost a month. Gallup and CNN both put the Democrats and Hillary Clinton slightly ahead in early election polls–but Butina informed Keene that the Republicans would likely control the U.S. government after the 2016 Election.

Butina is the Russian spy indicted on Monday by Robert Mueller. Her mentor and handler, Aleksandr Torshin, is a Russian politician with close personal ties to Vladimir Putin. Keene is an American, a highly influential Republican political operative who worked on the campaigns of Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush, Bob Dole, and Mitt Romney. When Butina and Keene first met, in 2013, he was President of the NRA, and that is how the two agreed to build Russian influence: The NRA plays a central place and influence in the Republican Party, Butina wrote in March of 2015.

Photo of David Keene speaking at podium

David Keene, former NRA President, believed to be “Person 1” in the Butina filing (Image from Wikimedia)

By October of 2016, Keene bragged to a friend that he had established a “VERY private line of communication between the Kremlin and key Republican leaders through, of all conduits, the NRA.”

These are among the most remarkable revelations in the affidavit unsealed on Monday, when Butina was arrested. The affidavit itself anonymizes the names of Keene, the Republican Party, and the NRA, but it’s not hard for anyone with Google — or even a basic knowledge of American politics — to connect the dots. While the prevailing narrative among left-leaning Americans today is “Trump is in bed with Russia,” the truth is much more troubling: Russian influence on the Republican Party far predates Trump.

The secret hand of Vladimir Putin

Vladimir Putin did not rise to power through open conquest. In his youth, he was known for keeping a low profile, staying in the background and navigating relationships. His first presidency was a surprise to the world, as Boris Yeltsin resigned without warning and made Putin — appointed by Yeltsin as Prime Minister only four months prior, after one year heading the FSB — President. Then he pardoned Yeltsin, grating the former President immunity from any investigation.

In the two decades since, Putin has moved from elected official to autocrat, and shifted Russia from democracy to dictatorship, not through blunt force but through subterfuge and influence. He built close relationships with Russia’s powerful oligarchs, eliminated critics through assassination and imprisonment, secured electoral victories through fraud, and built what’s been described as a “death cult” of Russian identity, playing on nationalism and white supremacy.

When Russia invaded Crimea in 2014, they did not send armies marching across the border in uniform. Instead, Russian soldiers disguised themselves as Ukrainian separatists, and even as the world saw through the ruse, Putin insisted the conflict in Crimea was a civil war, not an invasion. A few months later, Russian hackers would have handed the Ukrainian presidency to far-right candidate Dmytro Yarosh (who actually received 1% of the vote) if election observers had not noticed the hack in time.

Russian soldiers, bearing no official markings, guarding a seized Ukrainian base in Crimea in March of 2014. Image via Wikimedia.

Russian soldiers, bearing no official markings, guarding a seized Ukrainian base in Crimea in March of 2014. Image via Wikimedia.

In short, Putin might be a sort of 21st century Littlefinger, seeking power through back-channels and recognizing the opportunities presented by corporatism, wealth consolidation, technology, and worldwide white nationalism. In the US, these ingredients opened an opportunity for partnership with the Republican Party, which even Butina recognized had long been antagonistic toward Russia.

The American Insurgency

The idea of an conservative alliance between Russia and the United States predates Trump and Butina. Pat Buchanan, whose hard-right nationalism has barely marginalized him within his party, has long advocated a strong partnership between the two nations, and has long admired Putin. In 2008, with Russian forces occupying the independent nation of Georgia, Buchanan suggested the US join the conflict on Russia’s side. In 2014, after Russia invaded Ukraine, Buchanan said that “God is on Russia’s side,” referring to Putin’s Russia as the “third Rome,” defending Christian values against the “Gomorrah” of Western culture.

This theory comes not only from Buchanan, but often from far-right white nationalists, who view “European culture” as something that must be protected against “invasion” from the outside. Such views, always a factor in Republican rhetoric, came to the fore following the election of Barack Obama.

The reaction of many white conservatives following the election of America’s first Black President was less that of a minority party, and more like that of an insurgency against a hostile occupation. Sales of firearms skyrocketed, as NRA President Wayne LaPierre stood at podium after podium claiming Obama, who took no action to limit gun sales, was a secret tyrant. Conspiracy theories abounded, to the point where Texas Governor Greg Abbott mobilized the state’s national guard against a simple military training exercise. Far-right Americans were further mobilized by expanded rights for LGBTQ Americans, and by grassroots movements like Black Lives Matter.

One could argue the rage and fear from America’s far-right walked us right into Putin’s hands. A Reuters poll in March of 2015, around the same time Maria Butina emailed David Keene about a Russian-Republican alliance, showed that a third of Republicans viewed Barack Obama as a greater threat to the United States than Vladimir Putin.

And so Putin set about courting Republicans. In March of 2015, in an email titled “Your Path Forward,” Keene provided her with a list of officials, media personalities, and politicians with whom she should meet. This list was not included in the affidavit, so the names on it are unknown. In February of 2016, Butina and Torshin attended the National Prayer Breakfast in Washington DC, an important event attended by many elected officials, including — usually — the U.S. President, and organized by The Fellowship, AKA “The Family,” a secretive Christian organization active in international politics.

In March of that year, Butina exchanged emails with Keene and another American, named in the affidavit as “Person 2” about setting up dinners in Washington later that year with high-level officials. Though also anonymized, Person 2 is believed to be Paul Erickson, a long-time Republican activist who worked on the campaigns of Pat Buchanan and Mitt Romney, and who claimed after Donald Trump’s election to be on his transition team. In an email between Butina and this person in March of 2016, Butina refers to Torshin’s “desire in our Russian-American project,” and that “all we needed is <<yes>> from Putin’s side.”

Alabama Senator Richard Shelby speaking into a microphone

Senator Richard Shelby (R-AL) who arranged and led the July 2018 visit by eight US Senators to Russia, was a top recipient of NRA dollars toward the 2016 Election. (DoD Image, Public Domain)

GOP: Grand Old Party? Or Generous Oligarch Putin?

In August of 2016, Butina entered the U.S. on a student visa, apparently to pursue the strategy developed in cooperation with Keene, Torshin, and other US and Russian officials. We do not know all the details of Russian entanglements with the Republican party; we don’t know the list of people Keene provided for Butina to meet, and we don’t know who she met. We don’t know who attended the dinners she arranged, and we don’t know the identity of the anonymous “Political Candidate” with whom she had a private meeting at the NRA’s annual members meeting in 2015.

We know that Congressman Dana Rohrabacher set up an August 2015 visit to Russia, where he met with an unnamed Russian official generally believed to be Torshin. Rohrabacher has long shown an affinity for Russia, such that Republican Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy once privately joked, “There’s two people I think Putin pays: Rohrabacher and Trump.”

We know that eight Republican Senators spent their Fourth of July break on a strange trip to Russia, where they met with the foreign minister and parliamentarians, and hoped to meet with Putin himself. The Senators claimed they were there to deliver a message that the U.S. would take a hard line with Russia, but this newly revealed information should call that claim into question.

The NRA spent an unprecedented amount in the 2016 election, and not all of it on Donald Trump. Even before the revelations of the Butina affidavit, many suspected the Kremlin was using the NRA to launder contributions to American political candidates. This makes anyone who received cash from the NRA suspect — Donald Trump, yes, but also people like North Carolina Senator Richard Burr, Marco Rubio, and Roy Blunt.

Alabama Senator Richard Shelby, who organized and led that July 4 Republican field trip to Russia, received nearly $280,000 from the NRA in February of 2016, roughly a year after Butina and Keene conspired to use the NRA as a back-channel between Russia and Republicans. All combined, those eight Republicans who visited Russia in July — and hoped to meet with Putin himself — received half a million dollars ($483,589, to be precise) in NRA donations in 2016. Were they visiting to send a tough message, or to shake the hand of their campaign donor?

It’s become common, following a school shooting, for activists to respond to Republican thoughts and prayers with the amount that official accepted in NRA donations. Now those numbers may serve another metric: Just how much is that official under the influence of Vladimir Putin?

Because it’s almost certainly true that Donald Trump and the Trump family owe some allegiance to Putin. We’ve seen all the evidence, from his idiot sons bragging about Russian funding for their real estate ventures, to the President’s lying denials about Putin’s direct influence on our election. I won’t list them all here. What’s important to recognize, though, is that Putin’s influence did not begin with Trump, and it will not end with Trump.

As we learned from the Butina filing, and will likely continue to learn from Robert Mueller’s investigation, Vladimir Putin’s Russia has infiltrated the Republican Party.

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America will never heal from Trump

July 11, 2018 Featured, In The News, Politics / Religion Comments (0) 214

I’d ask you to begin by reading Hector Acosta’s account of applying for citizenship after the 2016 Election. Full disclosure, Hector is a personal friend and co-organizer of the writer’s group I run. The short version is that Hector, a Mexican immigrant, lived in the US for 20 years as a resident alien. After Trump’s election, suddenly worried that he might not be welcome, he applied for citizenship and spent 15 months sweating when he saw police, lying awake at night, and wondering whether his next appointment would end in deportation.

Hector’s story ends happily, in that he did finally attain citizenship. But the consequences of that experience will stay with him for a long time, maybe forever. One day he was an American, who never doubted his place in his adopted home country. The next he was an immigrant, different and unwelcome, and even as a citizen that feeling will always linger.

And that is the truth of Trump: As focused as many of us are on opposing him, on stopping his racist, fascist-light policies, and even possibly removing him from office, America will never fully recover from Trump. We will always wear the scars of his election.

As of this writing, thousands of immigrant children remain separated from their families, kidnapped and held for ransom so Trump could demand his wall. Yes, a court has ordered the reunification of those families, which may feel like victory to some–but those children, some as young as infants, will suffer very literal psychological damage that will affect their entire lives.

Experts in child development say the experience of being torn from their families and held in cages may cause permanent psychological and even physical change to the brain development of these children. Something as simple as being denied human contact during vital developmental stages can lead to depression, isolation, and diminished health later in life. Even if we return every child to their family, even if we pay settlements for our crimes, those children are permanently and irrevocably harmed.

So, of course, is our nation. The US will always be the nation that put children in cages on the border. Nothing can undo that. Add it to the long list of shameful, hypocritical betrayals of the values we claim to hold dear.

These scars will never heal

The election of Donald Trump revealed the ugly side of America: Just how many Americans are racist, nationalist zealots who would fall in line behind a dictator if he promised to protect white supremacy. It’s very true that many Americans already knew this, and many of us (especially white Americans) are better for seeing it laid out in all its ugliness.

For other people, however, ignorance was bliss. Young Black and brown children are entitled to their innocence. Adult immigrants deserve to feel like full Americans, even if they know deep down there are people here who hate them. No one deserves the daily stress and trauma of being told you aren’t equal, being made to feel like an outsider.

There’s little doubt that the racists among us have been emboldened by Trump’s rise. We see new evidence almost daily: A white Manhattanite shouting because he heard Spanish in the salad line, a white man assaulting a woman who proudly wore the flag of her US territory, a seemingly endless parade of white people calling the police because Black people are having fun. We’ve seen the marchers chanting racist and antisemitic slogans in Charlottesville and elsewhere, and the constant presence of symbols of hate in our daily lives.

That genie will never return to its bottle. Long after Trump is gone from office, these racists will still feel empowered. And even if their rhetoric is muted, American immigrants, people of color, Jews, LGBTQ people, and other marginalized groups, will always retain the memory and the trauma of this era. They will always feel unwelcome, they will always feel other. Those scars may fade, but they cannot be erased.

So what can we do?

This is all pretty bleak, I know. It’s a bleak time, and I don’t believe in papering over the truth with “positivity.” And part of Trumpism is to overwhelm decent Americans with an onslaught of attacks, putting us into a sort of emergency room triage. Our most immediate priorities, of course, are to protect vulnerable people from immediate harm by opposing and undoing the worst policies: Get children out of cages. Reunite families. Stop deportations. Protect the rights of women.

To the subtler, less tangible consequences, I don’t know if there is a solution. I suspect the best we can do is act locally–do what we can to help people in our own communities feel like they belong.

In 2015, in my own neighborhood in Queens, a convenience store teller from Bangladesh was assaulted by a stranger who told him “I kill Muslims.” After the story made the news, community members held rallies, and posted signs, and made a point to shop in his store, many telling him outright that yes, he was welcome. Not every action needs to be this dramatic, and I certainly hope people aren’t attacked first, but there are small things you can do to help people feel that the racists are the outliers, and their neighbors appreciate them.

You can learn a little Spanish–something as simple as hearing “gracias” from white Americans sends a signal to Spanish-speakers that their language is not seen as other. You can make a point to greet Muslim Americans, who are often met with suspicion by white people–although I’d be cautious you aren’t intruding in someone’s day just to make yourself feel good. Oh, and for god’s sake, you can stop calling the police when you see Black people (or anyone else with brown skin) just having a good time and not harming anyone.

I don’t think you should be stopping strangers to tell them they belong here, but a smile and wave go a long way. As to your friends and neighbors, who might be justifiably suspicious of their white friends’ true feelings, it doesn’t hurt to tell them what I told Hector: A person isn’t American because of a document, or religion, or language, or any other quality–a person is American because they live in America. And I don’t care if you’ve been here five generations or five minutes. We’re all equally American.

That’s what Trump is taking away from us, and that’s what we need to defend.

The AMAZING cartoon that serves as a banner image is by DonkeyHotey on Flickr, and used under creative commons license.

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In rural Bilgewater, Trump voters stand by their man.

June 29, 2018 Featured, Politics / Religion Comments (0) 160

Tildy Vintner lost her job as a coal chute lubricator in May, but that hasn’t changed her faith in Donald Trump.

“He’s white, like me,” Tildy says, in between visits to customers at her new place of work, Jimmy’s Pancake Shack. “I don’t like people who aren’t white, and neither does my President.”

Most everyone seems to agree here in the little Appalachian town of Bilgewater. On a muggy summer Saturday, serenaded by the rattle of cicadas and the rumble of distant combines, you can watch kids with skinned knees ride rusted bicycles down Main Street, past clapboard houses and the chained link fence around the tire yard. On rickety wooden porches, built before the Great Depression, men with robust bellies rest on rocking chairs and talk about the “Good old days,” while nearby their wives hang klan hoods on the clothesline to dry.

“I voted for that Arab fella last time,” says Stenny Feltman, who at age 83 still maintains the same gravel farm his great-great-grandfather took by eradicating a tribe of Native Americans. “I didn’t trust that Mormon, and my grandson told me if I elected a half-Black, then the liberals would have to stop making everything about race.”

Stenny sips coffee from a mug that reads THE HOLOCAUST WAS A GOOD START. Across the breakfast table, Burt Huebner scrolls through his Twitter feed on his iPhone.

Burt, who lost his job scraping septic tanks just a month ago, just surpassed four hundred thousand followers. He doesn’t make any money from his Twitter following, but he makes ends meet “living off the state.”

“I reply to every tweet from the President,” says Burt, “to tell him what a good job he’s doing. I have fifty, sixty memes, I guess. I like to use them. Also news stories, anything I read on Breitbart, Daily Caller, Fox News. I post all them. Only sites I read. You can’t trust the media, you know.”

When asked about his political affiliation, Burt laughs and says he doesn’t have one. “I consider the facts and draw my own conclusions.”

Pushed for examples, he cites the “false flag” of the Trump Administration’s family separation policy.

“Hillary and Podesta ate them kids,” Burt says. “Spirit Cooking. Everybody knows it, but the media just wants to cover for Hillary.”

Life in Bilgewater harkens back to a simpler time. On the town’s largest intersection, two blonde girls in pigtails have assembled a lemonade stand. Their handpainted sign reads “FORTEEN OZ FOR 88 CENTS.” A customer complements their matching dresses, and they politely inform him the specific shade is called Prussian Blue.

Through Burt Huebner’s Twitter feed, I meet Tyler Pass, captain of the local school’s football team. Tyler is well over six feet tall, gets straight A’s, and expects to go to college on a full scholarship, “if they don’t give it away for Affirmative Action instead.” He spends his Saturday working out, doing bench-presses and curls on rusty equipment in his back yard. The tattoos on his shoulders contort as his muscles flex: one an Iron Cross, the other a banner emblazoned with the words “DON’T LET THE SUN GO DOWN ON YOU IN MY TOWN.”

His phone, never more than an arm’s length away, chirps rhythmically.

“Reddit,” he says, laughing as he holds it up to display a meme. “You need to find places like this online, where it’s still safe to be straight and white.”

Unprompted, he goes into an explanation of the Civil War. “Abraham Lincoln was a Black,” he says. He pauses before the word ‘Black,’ his eyes narrowing as he decides which word to use. “Won’t read that in any government-approved history book. He invented Welfare, though. That was always the plan, quit working and live off hard-working whites.”

Asked what his family does for a living, Tyler explains that his father has been on disability since a cow kicked him in 1987.

“We need to get back to what made this country great,” Tyler tells me. “I didn’t get to vote Trump last time, but I will in 2020, and hopefully again after that.”

Everyone in Bilgewater agrees that Trump should be President for life. “I don’t care if we all lose our jobs,” says Stenny. “He promised to hurt brown people, and that’s all I need to hear.”

Most cite economic anxiety as their top motive for their vote. “Economically anxious,” Tyler tells me. “That’s what we are. All the Blacks and Mexicans, they want to take our jobs and then collect welfare from out of our paychecks.”

It’s true that Bilgewater’s main employers have all closed in the last nine months: The coal chute factory, the offal distributor, even the jaw-harp factory that relocated in September to Bangladesh. It’s true unemployment in town nears seventy percent, but few of the resident seemed bothered.

“He’s turned the economy around,” Burt tells me. “Deporting all them freeloaders from El Salvador? They’re not stealing my hard-earned money any more.”

What about the threat of nuclear war?

“They’re only gonna bomb them illegals in Jew York City,” says Tildy. “And hell, even if there is a nuclear winter and we all got to resort to cannibalism, all that matters here is that he’s making them immigrants suffer.”

That elicits a cheer from the collective crowd at Jimmy’s. A man near the back, who won’t identify himself, shouts “I’ll lose my house, lose my job, watch my whole family starve, as long as I know the Mexicans are getting it worse.”

As the sun begins to set on Bilgewater, and those men on their porches fetch their shotguns and watch the streets, conversation turns to the new postal delivery person, who “looks Oriental.”

Asked for my opinion, this reporter declines to answer. My face must have revealed my distaste, because Burt Huebner is moved to comment.

“See, you East Coast elites think you’re so much better than us,” he says. “You’re always so rude. That’s why Hillary lost.”

[For the love of God, please recognize this as work of parody. Banner image is by Phil Roeder on Flickr, used under Creative Commons license.]

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Racism is Driving Modern American Gun Culture

February 23, 2018 Featured, In The News Comments (0) 126

The most memorable conversation I ever had about gun ownership was with a friend, a gun owner and NRA member. Though our political views diverged, we liked and respected one another, and often talked about his enthusiasm for guns. He enjoyed shooting, and brought his kids to the range sometimes so they could learn to use the several models of pistol, shotgun, and military-style rifle he collected. At home, he kept his guns safely locked up, spending money on locks and modern gun safes. He even had a biometric safe that allowed him to keep a pistol right beside his bed, but prevent the kids from getting it.

I asked why he felt the need to keep a pistol beside his bed. “Because,” he said, “someday, some thug is going to come for me and my family, and I need to be ready.”

A variation on the male power fantasy that motivates many gun owners, yes, but the part that struck me was the choice of word, “thug.” I’d seen him use this word before, on Facebook and in conversation. It always meant the same thing: A black man.

I’ve had versions of this conversation with many gun owners over the years, and found it to be a consistent truth: That “responsible gun owner” might keep his weapons safely locked away, taking them out on weekends to shoot clay pigeons or targets the way other hobbyists shoot golf balls, but if you drill down far enough you’ll find his gun ownership is motivated by a deep fear and distrust of other races.

Maxim Gun circa 1985, photo from Wikimedia

Far from being limited to a few conversations with friends, the racism that informs gun culture is deeply embedded in American history, and in the history of firearms themselves. As early as the 1500s, Spanish conquistadors used a primitive musket, called a harquebus, to intimidate and murder indigenous Americans. In the colonies that would become the United States, European settlers were required by law to own firearms for the specific purpose of fighting off the Indians who had been deposed from their land. Samuel Colt invented his revolver, the weapon that “won the west,” specifically to quell slave rebellions. The Maxim gun, one of the earliest machine guns, was so vital to the European colonization of Africa that it was commemorated in a famous poem: “Whatever happens / We have got / The Maxim Gun / And they have not.”

The common refrain among pro-gun activists that guns “protect liberty” is patently absurd. One common myth holds that the U.S. Constitution’s Second Amendment was intended to arm Americans against a tyrannical government. Quite to the contrary; the “Well-regulated militia” referenced in the amendment were, very specifically, those able-bodied men required by law to arm themselves and fight for their state governments —most frequently, against Indians.

Another common myth holds that the Nazis disarmed the German populace, leading to the Holocaust. While it’s true the Nazis used Weimar-era lists of gun owners to disarm specific political enemies, the Nazi regime in fact loosened restrictions on firearm ownership — for Germans who were not Jewish.

Such racial disparity in gun ownership is familiar today. The NRA regularly decries the “persecution” of gun owners, and shouts about tyranny at the merest suggestion of gun safety regulation — and yet when Philando Castile was shot to death despite warning police that he was a licensed owner with a permit to carry a weapon, the NRA was strangely silent. When a police officer killed Tamir Rice, a child with a toy gun, in less than two seconds — in an open-carry state — the NRA said nothing. When Keith Lamont Scott was shot and killed for holding a handgun in North Carolina, another open-carry state, the NRA said nothing. Why is that? Might it be that these three people were black?

Bobby Seale and Huey P. Newton, via Wikimedia

The NRA’s racist history is somewhat cloudy. Liberals are fond of pointing out that the NRA was founded mere months after federal law declared the KKK an illegal terrorist organization, however there is little evidence one led directly to the other. NRA defenders, meanwhile, repeat an equally mythological origin story in which Union founders sought to defend freed slaves from the KKK — there is no evidence for this, either. What we do know is that the NRA, historically, supported gun control laws when those laws targeted black Americans, including the 1967 Mulford Act and 1968 Federal Gun Control Act, intended to disarm the Black Panthers and similar activist organizations. And we know that the modern NRA, regardless of its history, produces propaganda videos laden with racist dogwhistles, and that its leader, Wayne Lapierre, delivered a speech at CPAC just this week in which he labeled immigrants, the Chinese, Black Lives Matter, and George Soros as enemies.

The NRA is not a white supremacist organization. They are a lobby group funded by gun manufacturers, and their only goal is to sell more guns. It just happens that the primary consumers of guns today are steeped in white supremacy, racism, and fear of the other. Statistics show that half of all guns in the United States are owned by just three percent of our population. The motives for gun ownership have diminished over 250 years, as our nation has urbanized, the frontier has vanished, and most of us obtain our food from the supermarket instead of the forest.

Sure, there are still rural populations who encounter bears and choose to hunt for food, and weekend hobby shooters — but the greatest driving motive behind American gun sales today, and that to which the NRA and conservative lawmakers pander, is racism.

In 1978, the author William Luther Pierce (writing as Andrew Macdonald) published his apocalyptic novel The Turner Diaries. The novel begins just after the passage of the Cohen Act (please note the name), a federal law that prohibits firearm ownership. The Jewish-controlled government sends “Negroes” [his word] with machetes to confiscate all guns from white households. As the story proceeds, the protagonist Earl Turner and his heavily-armed white militia fight to overthrow the American government; in an epilogue, we learn that all non-white people on the planet Earth were killed, and that “the dream of a white world finally became a certainty.”

It’s unknown how many people have read The Turner Diaries. Today it is widely available for free on the Internet, but we know since publication it’s sold more than 500,000 physical copies. The Anti-Defamation League calls it “One of the most widely read and cited books on the far-right.” The Southern Poverty Law Center calls it a “bible of the racist right.” Last year, the Atlantic reported that the book had inspired “dozens of armed robberies, and at least 200 murders.” It’s cited by any number of far-right organizations, and was famously found in the car of Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh, who reportedly had a habit of carrying multiple copies of the book on his person, and selling them to people at a loss — mostly at gun shows, where McVeigh also met the people who helped him carry out his bombing.

Belief in the coming race war is widespread in white supremacist circles. At this point, even people who have never heard of The Turner Diaries know the future scenario it depicts. It is the specific scenario envisioned by white supremacists when they talk about the government “coming for your guns.” It’s the scenario referenced when conservatives like Charlie Kirk speculate about the government becoming “too powerful against us.

And yes, it’s what my gun-enthusiast friend was likely imagining when he described that “thug” one day coming for him and his family. As in so much of what’s wrong with American culture, you don’t usually have to dig very far to find that racism is the true motive behind our gun culture.

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