Voice of America reports the white supremacist group Russian Imperial Movement (RIM) is declared a global terrorist organization by the U.S. State Department. Places of worship are soft targets now that RIM and similar groups are on a mission to borderlessly spread ideas from nation to nation.
Any assets of RIM in the U.S. are now frozen, and RIM affiliates cannot enter the country. The United Nations says white supremacy groups are growing bolder and more lethal. A 2019 EU study says supremacist groups "entrench a climate of fear and animosity against minority groups." In "The Logic of Violence in Civil War," author Stathis Kalyvas says that fear, not hate, sparks insurgency: fear of other social groups, fear that those other groups are encroaching on one's territory, and fear that the state no longer has the ability to protect the people.
Insurgency is defined as "organized use of subversion and violence to seize, nullify, or challenge political control" of an area. An "incipient insurgency" may exist when "inchoate actions by a range of groups" - followed by organizing, training, acquisition of resources (including arms), and the buildup of public support - lead to "increasingly frequent" incidents of violence, reflecting "improved organization and forethought."
Recent militia clashes with civil rights protesters and a local incident heightens my concern about bold, outspoken people. Wouldn't it be nice to have peace and feel secure that every person can express his or her right to free speech and peaceable assembly, freedom of worship and fair treatment without someone wanting a louder voice, a more intimidating voice, a shout-down? We call that civility.
When law enforcement officers stand by and let intimidators bludgeon protesters - regardless of the protesters' message - with paint guns or pepper spray, after the right to peaceably assemble and speak freely is gone, the next right Americans will lose is religious freedom. Calling themselves "Patriot Prayer" fools no one. They're thugs.
This year marks the 25th anniversary of the Oklahoma City Murrah Federal Building bombing by domestic terrorist and white supremacist Timothy McVeigh. Before his execution by lethal injection in 2001, he inspired the attempted murder of an Ohio policeman by a young follower. The speculation was that Timothy McVeigh was sheltered by a separatist enclave in Oklahoma before detonating the explosion that took 168 lives. Some say it was revenge for executing CSA spree killer Richard Snell.
Southern Poverty Law Center reports Oklahoma has four outspoken white supremacy groups. Nationwide, 2020 gun sales are up; some 20 million people carry a gun when they leave home; partisans have called the flashpoint of civil unrest in New York City a "hellscape" and Portland Oregon "ablaze all the time." Dehumanizing rhetoric goes unchallenged.
Free speech is like raising an unruly teenager. If you flinch - if your eyes drift to a glass of milk or to the car door handle during a battle of the wills, you may find yourself drenched in milk or screeching to a halt so an erratic child doesn't get road rash as he bails irrationally from a moving vehicle. Crazy teens will spontaneously do uncalculable things with Goya beans, wake waves and flags, and spray paint. America, we can't discount those underlying movements. They are organized and real, cracking the country into two disparate, unmendable directions.
We once were a nation united by the confident and authentic voice of reason. We remembered history. Bloodshed was the tragic failure to enfranchise every citizen. Life is not a violent video game, where productivity is measured in the body count. Today, this society is saturated with public violence. If we cannot lead beyond objectifying one another, this pandemic will be solved by population sparsity from civil war. That is no legacy.
Kathy Tibbits is a Cherokee citizen, attorney, and artist living at Lake Tenkiller.