White Supremacist Movements and Anti-Indianism Zoltan Grossman

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White Supremacist Movements and Anti-Indianism

Zoltan Grossman

Anti-Indian movements are organized around a wide variety of ideologies—from conservative opponents of Native treaties or tribal jurisdiction to liberal opponents of Indian gaming or whaling. In some cases, much as we have seen with populist anti-immigrant groups such as the Minutemen, there is often an overlap between anti-Indian groups and openly white supremacist or fascist political networks.
Fascism is an extreme nationalist political ideology, born in Europe after World War I, which seeks to place one ethnic or racial group at the head of a right-wing authoritarian government and social system. It political economic analysis binds together workers and bosses in a common nationalist agenda, thereby outlawing strikes and favoring the military-industrial corporations (the fasces is a bundle of sticks lashed together, as on the back of the old Mercury dime). Fascism is associated with World War II, but the ideology survived its military defeat by the Allies (partly because it opposed the postwar Communist enemy). In modern Europe, fascist groups have mainly opposed immigration or supported the ethnic cleansing of national minorities. In the modern U.S. and Canada, fascist groups oppose immigration, religious pluralism, racial minority rights such as affirmative action, and sometimes Native sovereignty.
As early as the late 1950s, the Lumbee and Cherokee in North Carolina battled the Ku Klux Klan, which has reappeared from time to time. A major connection between the white supremacist right and the anti-Indian movement has been Washington’s own congressman Jack Metcalf, a prominent opponent of tribal fishing rights after the 1974 Boldt treaty ruling, and more recently of Makah whaling rights. His father was actually a member of the pro-Nazi Silver Shirts before WWII, and his speeches reflect a far-right ideology.
There were some overlaps between the white supremacist movement and the Wisconsin anti-treaty movement. Wisconsin was, after all, the stronghold of the Posse Comitatus which organized rural residents against farm foreclosures, and has more recently seen some Klan activity. Leaders of Protect Americans' Rights and Resources (PARR) spoke at the state conference of the far-right Populist Party, or ran for office under its banner. Milwaukee Skinheads were seen at an anti-treaty rally, and the Aryan Nations Underground sent a message to anti-treaty militants, urging them not to kill Ojibwe spearers, but to shoot holes in their boats on the way to the lakes.
The Wisconsin anti-treaty crisis was in the same period as the ascendancy of former Klan and Nazi leader David Duke as a candidate for office in Louisiana. In 1990, Stop Treaty Abuse (STA) leader Dean Crist said, "I was listening to David Duke speak the other day, and he was good, very good....What he was saying was the same stuff we have been saying. It was like he might have been reading it from STA literature." David Duke was the founder of the National Association for the Advancement of White People, and more recently the European-American Unity and Rights Organization (EURO). In 1988, David Duke ran for president on the Populist Party ticket (coming in fourth place in much of the country). In 1989, he was elected as a Republican state representative from the New Orleans suburb of Metairie, after first running as a Democrat. He ran unsuccessfully for the U.S. Senate. In his 1990 bid to become Louisiana governor, he won a 55% majority of the white vote, but lost the election with 39% overall, after figuring in “minority” voters.
As a Louisiana state representative, David Duke proposed racist legislation, including a bill for temporary Norplant sterilization of mothers receiving welfare. But most attention has focussed on his past career as a Nazi and Grand Wizard of the Knights of the Ku Klux Klan, including dressing in swastikas and hoods, urging the gassing of Jewish leftists, and later pulling his friends into his electoral strategy. In 2002, he was sentenced to 15 months for tax evasion and mail fraud, but kept many of his followers after his release, and earned a degree at a nationalist university in Ukraine. While some would ignore Duke as a kook, this allows him to present his "moderate" image unchallenged. American reporters' 1920s descriptions of Hitler's' followers as a "bunch of Boy Scouts" comes to mind, as does Hitler's later accession to power in a democratic election.
During the Duke campaigns, the embarrassed Republicans symbolically portrayed themselves as anti-fascists to limit the damage. Democrats saw the "Duke card" as part of a political game to embarrass the Republicans. Both the Democrats and Republicans, like the politicians in 1920s Germany, often see violent groups simply as minor threats compared to their rival party. It is not the fascists' speech that has brought attention, but their acts. Far-right campaigns can embolden racists to physically attack people of color or Jews, whom they scapegoat for economic problems. There doesn't have to be a full-blown depression or dictatorship for fascist groups to do a lot of damage, and for a lot of people to get hurt.
The New Klan represented by Duke is not the same as the Klan mythologized in the media. It is not the Southern ex-Confederate Klan of the 1870s, or the Northern anti-immigrant Klan of the 1920s, or the Southern segregationist Klan of the 1960s. All these Klans harkened back to an old order, representing a longing for a white supremacist past. The New Klan looks forward to a New Order. It has its roots in the 1930s, when U.S. fascist sympathizers included Father Charles Coughlin, Charles Lindbergh, auto tycoon Henry Ford, Time publisher Henry Luce, the German-American Bund, and Louisiana Governor Huey Long's deputy Gerald L.K. Smith. U.S. entry into the war cut off Smith's efforts to build a Klan-Nazi alliance, and it wasn't until the 1970s that such a link was forged, by Birmingham church bomber J. B. Stoner. In 1979, it was a joint Klan-Nazi death squad that massacred five communist activists in Greensboro, North Carolina. Duke was a product of this coalition, along with “Christian Identity” groups such as the Posse Comitatus and the Aryan Nations.
If we expect good 'ole boys burning crosses, we will not be prepared for the smooth-talking, educated fascists who mask their true identity behind rhetoric about immigration or affirmative action. Duke is simply an American suit-and-tie version of other racist and neo-fascist politicians around the world, including French anti-immigrant zealot Jean-Marie Le Pen (who came in second for the presidency of France in 2002), the Austrian fascist Jörg Haider (the Governor of Carinthia, whose party was part of Austrian government in 2000-04), and the Russian ultranationalist leader Vladimir Zhirinovsky. In these countries, fascists would be prosecuted if they publically displayed the swastika or questioned the existence of the Holocaust, so they instead drape themselves in a patriotic veneer. In all these countries, conservatives have let neo-fascists do their "dirty work," but have ultimately come into conflict with them. On the other hand, fascists have in effect test-marketed repressive ideas that later became part of the conservative mainstream.
Mississippi activist Ken Lawrence points to the fascists’ more sophisticated organizing tactics, in unions, high schools, prisons, community groups, and political parties. He also points to paramilitary militia camps that use as a training handbook The Turner Diaries, a realistic account of a future fascist revolution, which inspired Tim McVeigh’s bombing. In the book by William Pierce, a national fascist network destabilizes the U.S. with terrorist actions, and eventually seizes Southern California, forcibly relocating most Jews and "non-Whites," slaughtering others, and executing mixed-race people and white "race-traitors." Lawrence says, "The role of racism and the role of anti-Semitism and of scapegoating in general is quite different for a fascist movement from that of a right-wing conservative movement or a traditional Klan-type movement. That is, it is not to put people in their place. It is not to make a sub-class out of them and to exploit, or super-exploit, their labor. It is genocidal. It is exterminationist." In other words, it resembles the prevailing anti-Indian ideology of the 1830s or 1950s which tried not only to assimilate Indians, but to “remove” or “terminate” their collective existence.
It's too easy for some progressives to call conservative Republicans "fascists," or to lump Bush together with Duke. It is true that the two movements can reinforce each other—racist conservative policies legitimize fascist ideology, while fascists can make conservatives seem more "moderate." They can also work together at times—for example, Republican and Reform Party candidate Pat Buchanan has included Eastern European expatriate Nazis in his campaign networks. But though both movements are objectionable, they are so for different reasons. It is worth examining white supremacist ideology as distinct.
Conservatives generally support the socio-economic status quo—capitalism, male and heterosexual dominance, militarism, and white racism. African Americans, immigrants, feminists, leftists, and others, are seen as self-thinking threats to this system. The lynchpin of fascism, on the other hand, is to portray these groups (along with many liberals and conservatives) as passive participants in a giant Conspiracy, usually run by the federal government or Jews (called “British” by the LaRouchies). Fascists see themselves as a revolutionary alternative to the system, not as a defender of it. Right-wing populists blame people below them in the racial pecking order, rather than focusing on those above them in the racial hierarchy. Like the fascists of the past (such as Hitler during the Depression), they have an economic critique of society paralleling that of the Left, but use a racial, cultural, or national analysis rather than a class analysis to explain the world.
Ever since Bacon’s Rebellion in the 1670s, white working-class populism in North America has had two faces—one face opposing corporate control and supporting workers, farmers and small businesses, but the other face with a racist and reactionary stance toward people of color. This was true of Andrew Jackson in the 1820s, Jefferson Davis in the 1860s, the anti-Chinese unions in the 1870s, the Georgia Populist Thomas Watson in the 1890s, Louisiana Sen. Huey Long in the 1930s, Alabama Governor George Wallace in the 1960s, or Pat Buchanan, Lou Dobbs or Duncan Hunter today. Their message is that white “Middle America” is sandwiched between two threats—a white corporate elite above them, working in collaboration with poor communities of color below them. Whether it is the anti-Indian movement in Wisconsin or Montana, or the Minutemen in Arizona or Washington, the rhetoric is remarkably similar and consistent.
Today, fascists such as Lyndon LaRouche or former Populist presidential candidate Bo Gritz can oppose corporate globalization, the outsourcing of jobs to Mexico or China, environmental pollution, the demise of the family farm, consumerist culture, the Iraq War, CIA drug running, arms sales to Israel, and NAFTA and the WTO, but for all the wrong reasons. They exploit and manipulate legitimate issues for their own nefarious ends. Hitler himself promoted the “purity” of vegetarianism, organic foods, and healthy living (at least for Aryans he didn’t kill). Duke repackages similar themes in conservative language (someone could do even better without his Klan baggage), but he too can turn his followers against the Republicans. The extreme Right is competing with the Left for the minds of angry working-class and middle-class whites, and unless the Left emphasizes reaching this constituency, the Right can win them over.

Progressives face two related dangers. One trend (prevelant in the mainstream press) is to either minimize or sensationalize the fascist threat without dealing with the economic conditions and institutional racism that create the conditions for fascism. The other trend (prevelant among progressives) is to criticize only the government, ignoring the tendency of fascists to build on to a progressive critique with their own programs. This is especially true if the critique is based on a conspiracy theory, or a simplistic explanation of how the world works—such as the idea that Bush planned 9/11. In other words, progressives need to simultaneously criticize conservatives, and expose the fascists. It is not enough to be against government policies, but to be for a different society. The deadliest error is to try to use one group against the other. Underestimating the special threat of fascism was the mistake made by German democrats in the 1920s, and by Americans in the 1990s when they saw the gun-toting militias (angered by federal repression of religious cultists at Waco and Ruby Ridge), turn into the terrorists who bombed the federal building in Oklahoma City.

How does the anti-Indian movement fit into this picture? Even if they do not hold fascist beliefs themselves, they often buy into the theory that Indian tribes represent or symbolize not themselves as sovereign nations, but the power of the federal government. Many of the anti-treaty groups in Montana, Washington and Wisconsin followed the idea that Native Americans were passive pawns in a federal land grab. The Indians are viewed as too stupid to guide their own affairs, so they must by used by some superior master. This is one reason the anti-treaty groups went so vociferously after federal judges who affirmed treaty rights, and hung them in effigy. They assumed the tribes were going along with treaty rights lawsuits in order to secure a federal or state payoff, trading their culture for a cash payment.
Anacortes commercial gillnetter Bill Lowman in 1978 published a central tract of the anti-treaty movement, entitled 220 Million Custers. He painted a picture of a national scandal he called “Teepee Gate,” which he defined as “the idea of using Indians as pawns in a huge game to secure greater federal control over the nation’s energy resources.” Lowman saw the court affirmation of treaties as a “small part of a more sinister plan” by Exxon and other Big Oil companies coveting minerals on Indian land. He described the tribes as “unknowing, but willing pawns” in a “gigantic Federal power drama” that could ultimately involve dismantling dams in the Northwest.
Anti-treaty groups grew confused when they saw tribes not filling their role as federal pawns, particularly when tribal opposed BIA policies, or tribes even used the treaties to block or alter giant corporate or government projects. In his ironically named 1986 anti-treaty book Don't Blame the Indians: Native Americans and the Mechanized Destruction of Fish and Wildlife, outdoor sports journalist Ted Williams denounced what he saw as “America’s Indian problem,” and harshly criticized Native American harvesters of natural resources. Yet although Williams perceived Native harvesting practices as “wasteful,” he did not view the treaties themselves as the tools of a larger conspiracy. In particular, he differed with Lowman over the potential use of treaties to protect natural resources from harmful development. Williams acknowledged that treaties can and should be used to stop projects that could harm a fishery, and even supported the tribal veto of Washington dams under co-management programs. A possible basis for solving treaty conflicts was thus prefigured even in this anti-treaty work, although Williams would perhaps be the last to acknowledge this claim.
Anti-treaty groups are not a monolith, and have a diversity of opinion, just as openly fascist white supremacist groups have a range of positions. For example, some extreme-right groups welcomed 9/11 as a strike against the Jews, while others used 9/11 as a way to oppose immigration. In the same way, different groups have different opinions about Native Americans. Most oppose Native rights because Indians are people of color, but a few groups have taken a different position, romanticizing Indians as so-called pagan warriors, close to their roots in “blood and soil.” (Hitler and many of his Nazi followers similarly exploited pre-Christian Germanic traditions, and today some white power music bands--such as Prussian Blue--manipulate Nordic or Celtic pagan images.) The Posse Comitatus, for example, in its Posse Noose Report portrayed Navajos fighting coal mining as standing up to the supposedly “Jewish” Peabody mining company. Some Nazis back the partition of North America into racially based countries, and would relocated all Indians to the Navajo Nation.
Whether they oppose or support Native rights, fascist and white supremacist groups view Native peoples as not capable of controlling their own land, or determining their own destiny. At worst, they represent the extreme anti-Indianism of the 19th century, the anti-Indianism of Andrew Jackson and Nelson Miles, today in the 21st century. We would do well to heed the words of Jesse Owens, who said of his experience at the 1936 Berlin Olympics, "The false leaders and sick movements of this earth must be stopped in the beginning, for they turn humanity against itself."






First Klan

(N. B. Forrest


Huey Long LA.

(G.L.K. Smith)
Third Klan


David Duke LA.


Second Klan



(Bund, Luce, Ford, Lindbergh, Fr. Coughlin)

Nazi groups


Posse Comitatus, Aryan Nations


Civil War



S./E. European




African-American migration north
Entry into WWII;

African-American migration north

McCarthyism; Korea
Civil rights
Vietnam War
Women's movement
LGBT movement


Waco, Ruby Ridge
Globalization (WTO,

(NAFTA, Internet, etc)

9/11, Iraq War




European emigration

Growth of socialism

World War I
Soviet revolutions
Growth of fascism
World War II
Retention of

many ex-fascists

Cold war
Student rebellion



Fascist parties

in W. Europe

Soviet collapse

(Fascist groups in E. Europe and ex-USSR)

Fourth Klan


Populist Party;

Pat Buchanan

Militia movement

(Oklahoma City)


(from neo-fascist point of view)

Common people
Closeness to the soil / land

Blood / nation / tribe

Cultural heritage
Take care of domestic
Women fulfill motherhood
Hard work/pioneers
Local (county) control
People of color controlled by whites or exterminated
Togetherness/harmony (fasces)
Cultural distinctiveness
Natural competition
Ancient rituals /

original Christians

The strongest survive

“Rootless” peoples

(Jews, Gypsies, African Americans)

Political systems
Sloth, drugs, promiscuity
Intervention abroad
Women's liberation
Poor moochers/stealing bankers
Federal control/conspiracy
People of color passive pawns

of federal or Jewish forces

Class conflict (union vs. mgt.)
Cultural mixing/loss of place
Artificial cooperation/altruism
Organized churches

The weak lose everything

Olympia United Against Hate http://olyunity.blogspot.com

OlyBlog http://olyblog.net

Olympia Movement for Justice & Peace http://www.OMJP.org

Olympia Unity in the Community


Free Radio Olympia 98.5 FM http://www.frolympia.org



When Neo-Nazis Terrorized OIympia: It Did Happen Here


Buford Furrow from OIympia, and his 1999 massacre in L.A.


Center for New Community


Turn it Down: Campaign Against White Power Music


Center for Democratic Renewal


Political Research Associates


Searchlight (UK)


Hate symbols http://www.adl.org/hate_symbols/default.asp

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