Tuesday, November 20, 2018

"New American Nazis" in "Documenting Hate" series on PBS Frontline

PBS Frontline (and Pro Publica) aired an episode of “Documenting Hate”, “NewAmerican Nazis” at 9 PM Tuesday, November 20, 2018 (Episode 17 of Series 36). 
The episode is written and directed by Richard Rowley and the interviewing is done largely by A.C. Thompson.

The episode focused on an informal group “Atomwaffen” of lone wolves who want to create particularly violent attacks.  Four members were living in an apartment in Tampa, FL when one teenager shot two others.  That group tried apparent to attack a nuclear power plant near Miami but was intercepted and stopped by the sheriff’s office and FBI intelligence.  One or two members of the group were said to possess radioactive materials.  It sounds plausible that the rifle attack on a power station near Sunnyvale CA in April 2013 (or a few other similar attacks) could be associated with people who have connections to this group.  One member of the group will stand trial in California for the murder of a gay male Jewish college student. 

The documentary explored various other connections, including Dylann Roof in S.C., links in the past to Timothy McVeigh and Oklahoma City, and to Charles Manson in California, particularly in the Death Valley and Scott’s Castle areas, where there were “hate camps” or “reeducation centers”, which might be outgrowths of civilian reservist groups that had been proposed in the 1980s to deal with any potential nuclear war with the Soviets. .

The documentary maintains that the group tries to “recruit” military members and claims that in a few cases young men have joined ROTC to get access to neo-Nazi contacts.

The documentary finally interviews author James Mason, who had gone dark for 15 years after being in jail.  But Mason, in a particularly chilling conclusion, talked about  Fields at Charlottesville, as well as many others, as “heroes”.  There was a strikingly irrational and superficial ideology that claims “Jews” are the “virus” and that “people of color” and “gays” are the “symptoms”. 

Thompson meets some members of the group in a country bar in Texas (it looks like Houston). 
The film presented the only collection of Mason’s follower’s literature, at the University of Kansas in Lawrence (where I went to graduate school myself in the 1960s).  Thompson also interviewed a professor at the University of Chicago.

The film presents some footage from Pittsburgh Tree of Life (outdoors only).
The obvious question is whether Trump’s presidency and behavior is adding more fuel to their fires.

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