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The Terrorist Next Door: The Militia Movement and the Radical Right Paperback – January 20, 2004
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From Publishers Weekly
The militia movement burst into the consciousness of Americans with the Oklahoma City bombing, but hate groups have a long, shameful lineage in America. In this detailed, provocative examination, Levitas focuses on the ideas of William Potter Gale, who, despite Jewish roots, became one of the progenitors of contemporary hate ("If a Jew comes near you, run a sword through him," he told radio listeners in 1982). Gale adapted the idea of the Posse Comitatus, based on a little-known 19th-century law, to spread his notion of the need for citizen militias to defend whites. But, as Levitas, an expert on the radical right, shows, Gale is just one in a long line of racists who have used American ideas and language (such as freedom, rights and private property) to disseminate their message, which often finds a home with the alienated, sparked by specific events such as the shootouts at Ruby Ridge and Waco in the 1990s. Perhaps most disturbingly, Levitas makes a strong argument that these groups have a broad-based "weak sympathy" in numbers that far exceed their small active membership. He also shows how state and local governments have been reluctant to act against these groups, either out of sympathy or in an effort to keep the spotlight away from them. But as Levitas emphasizes, Oklahoma City and the hate groups' cheering for the September 11 attacks demonstrate that these groups will be ignored at our peril. Photos not seen by PW.
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
With so much attention focused on international terrorism, this book hits closer to home with an eye-opening look at potential domestic terrorist threats. Levitas explores the historic roots of Far Right hate groups in the U.S., how they have developed and evolved, and how the government has responded or failed to respond to this potent threat from within. Levitas traces the virulent racial hatred of these groups to similar sentiments in Europe during the Middle Ages; through U.S. slavery, the Civil War, and Reconstruction; during World War II; and through desegregation and the civil rights movement. He also traces the metamorphosis of various groups, including the Citizens' Council, Ku Klux Klan, and John Birch Society, detailing their bizarre theories of racial superiority and escalating violence. Levitas notes the groups' efforts to broaden their appeal beyond racism by promoting tax protests, resistance to gun control, and discontent about government intrusion, and the troubling political trends that have lent support to antigovernment militia groups since the 1960s. This is a well-researched, disturbing look at domestic terrorism. Vanessa Bush
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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That leads to the second major criticism: that the work too often reads like an insiders' case study rather than a work easily accessible to the general public or academia. The author assumes that the reader will be instantly familiar with all the terms and tactics of the hate groups mentioned in this book. Many aren't, and a lot of the background "big picture" history is either left out or treated cursorily.
Nevertheless, looking past these faults one can find a great wealth of information on the phenomenon of the far-right and its place in late 20th century American society.
A broad canvas filled with intimate details -- not the least of which is the dramatic -- and surprising -- story of William Potter Gale -- the seminal figure in the militiamovement who became a hate-monger despite his Russian Jewish ancestry.
The Terrorist Next Door provides the reader with the "who", "what", "where", and the all-important "why" of the militia movement. Where most other books on the subject gloss-over the importance of race and religion in the evolution of the militia movement, this book tackles the issue head-on. In it, Levitas proves that he is not only an amazing researcher, but a skilled analyst and writer. This is one of those refreshing books that not only provides insight and analysis but provides you with the information to back it up.
It should come as no suprise that this book has been nominated for both a National Book Award and a Pulitzer Prize.