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Lift High the Cross: Where White Supremacy and the Christian Right Converge
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Ann Burlein
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Philip Jenkins


The Other Terrorists

What a difference a few years makes. In the late 1990s, picking up a book or news story about "terrorism" usually meant encountering the same range of white, domestic, far-Right extremists. Whole shelves were devoted to titles like America's Militia Threat, or Harvest of Rage: Why Oklahoma City Is Only the Beginning. These books told of Terrorists Among Us, of The Birth of Paramilitary Terrorism in the Heartland. Paranoia reached a peak in the 1999 film Arlington Road, which depicted a vast conspiracy of lethal bombers and assassins: the audience is told that subversives can be anywhere, and even your pleasant next-door neighbors might turn out to be deadly enemies of national security. As the film's publicity warns, "Your paranoia is real!" On the other hand, suggesting that radical Muslim terrorists might pose any kind of threat invited charges of racism and "Islamophobia." Salon mocked the idea that Osama bin Laden might be "a cerebral Islamic Dr. No moving an army of terrorist troops on a vast world chessboard to checkmate the United States."

And then came September 11. Suddenly, the threat of far-Right extremists was forgotten, and those shelves of books devoted to the phenomenon looked about as relevant as tracts urging Southern secession. We can argue that the reaction went too far. No one interested in terrorism or extremism can avoid reading the two critical novels by William Pierce ("Andrew MacDonald"), The Turner Diaries and Hunter, which together offer a detailed blueprint for fascist revolution in the United States. The Oklahoma City bombing followed almost precisely the Turner Diaries account of the destruction of the FBI Building in Washington, D.C. Reminding us that terrorism fantasies are not a Muslim prerogative, the book ends when the hero flies a nuclear-armed aircraft on a suicide mission into the Pentagon. Both books still circulate in the hundreds of thousands, and both have enthusiastic readers; though law enforcement does not yet seem to have ...

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