On Tuesday, October 1, at 7 PM First Tuesday Films will join with the Dallas Peace and Justice Center to how two Frontline episodes. Documenting Hate: Charlottesville and New American Nazis are the results of exhaustive research, conducted by Frontline and ProPublica, into the activities of Neo-Nazi groups across the country. In the films they uncover who the primary leaders of the movement are and how they recruit new members.
Documenting Hate: Charlottesville covers the 2017 Unite the Right rally in which one protester, Heather Heyer, was slain and nineteen others were critically injured when James Alex Fields, Jr., of Ohio drove his car into the crowd. Heyer’s death made her the national symbol for Civil Rights of this generation and brought to light the true nature of the white supremacist movement.
The primary focus on Charlottesville was how incredibly unprepared the city and police force were for the ensuing violence. They were not given any help from higher authorities in dealing with the crisis, nor were they even told of the possible dangers. This despite violence that had been popping up across the country involving the very leaders who led their followers to this rally. Even after the terror attack by Fields, authorities were strangely quiet on the matter. When Trump callously stated there was violence on both sides Neo-Nazis felt emboldened to come out into the open. David Duke, Grand Wizard of the KKK, thanked him for his support.
There appear to be at least two primary sources for the rise of the Neo-Nazi movement. One group is the Rise Above Movement (RAM), which advocates chaos and disorder. The other is the Atomwaffen Division which is, arguably, more dangerous because these followers hide in plain sight and advocate lone wolf attacks.
The second part of the series shown is Documenting Hate: New American Nazis. This report follows the Atomwaffen Division which has been actively recruiting from inside the military. Frontline and ProPublica follow the leads to both active military and those who served. Timothy McVeigh, infamously known for the Oklahoma bombing, was one such recruit.
The Atomwaffen Division was first discovered when a young man was arrested for the killings of two roommates. Although Devin Arthurs warned the authorities of the dangerous group and its intentions it never became clear whether his warnings were heeded by the FBI. He was later deemed insane and not culpable for his own actions.
Many of the hate groups seem to stem from only a few people, with James Mason being a primary inspiration. Mason wrote a newsletter in the 1980’s advocating Nazi beliefs. The only known archive of his work is at the University of Kansas library which has been receiving an increase in interest the past few years. His newsletter Siege is required reading for new recruits of Atomwaffen Division. In his on camera interview he claims no knowledge of the chaos he created but stated he would not deny those who committed the crimes and asserted the only way to Make America Great Again is to make it white again.
While the numbers of actual members in the White Supremacy groups is relatively small, we cannot discount their potential danger. Timothy McVeigh acted alone, as did Robert Gregory Bowers who committed the mass shooting in the Pittsburgh synagogue. Just as it takes only a small group of people to change the world for the better, it also only takes a small group to destroy it. We must always be diligent and aware of our enemies. The secrets that lie in the dark cannot stay hidden once we have exposed them to the light.
This is, indeed, a couple of difficult films to watch. However, as I stated in the last paragraph, what we know empowers us and gives us the tools to destroy the evil.
Be sure to join us for what is sure to be an animated discussion after the films.