Profile picture
John Horgan @Drjohnhorgan
, 112 tweets, 43 min read Read on Twitter
Hey everyone. A very good evening to you all. Thanks for joining me and thank you @PBSfrontline for inviting me back to do another “live engagement” for tonight's #frontlinePBS special
The show begins in thirty minutes from now - at 9pm EST #frontlinePBS
I’d like to spend the next 25 minutes providing some background, data, links etc. that may be of interest to those of you wanting to learn more about the growing menace of hate crimes and violent extremism here in the US #frontlinePBS
Quick intro! I’m a professor at @GeorgiaStateU. I’m a psychologist, and I study terrorism - sometimes called ‘violent extremism’ #frontlinePBS
Terrorism is a bit complicated. The more I study it, the harder I find it to give easy answers about it! #frontlinePBS
Seriously, it is complicated, messy, and not easy to study. You can’t truly appreciate the nature of terrorism from one perspective alone (academic or otherwise) #frontlinePBS
Terrorism is about history, politics, religion, social movements, economics, psychology, psychiatry, the law, and a lot more in between #frontlinePBS
Terrorist lives are about failure, disappointment, loss, fear, hatred, jealousy, love, bitterness, self-loathing, violence, fantasy, delusions and vanity #frontlinePBS
The study of terrorism is currently thriving. That’s not because of an increase in terrorism, but because the field itself is improving. #frontlinePBS
Despite this, temper your expectations. Beware simple answers, and especially beware answers that cannot be supported with data. #frontlinePBS
A few years ago @PBSfrontline asked me to do my first live engagement with them. That was 2015. #frontlinePBS
I offered commentary on the extraordinary documentary “My Brother’s Bomber”. The film featured Ken Dornstein’s attempts to search for the terrorists responsible for killing his brother David and 188 others. #frontlinePBS
Those people were killed when a bomb exploded on Pan Am 103. The aircraft exploded over the town of Lockerbie, Scotland. #frontlinePBS
Tonight, we are focusing on a different kind of terrorism. It goes by many names. #frontlinePBS
Bottom line up front? Neo-Nazis are back. They are actively training, recruiting, organizing and plotting. They are confident, popular, and increasingly finding encouragement from the highest levels of American political life. #frontlinePBS
They are often considered “domestic” terrorists, or domestic extremists. That’s not an entirely accurate characterization for what they truly are. There are certainly domestic strains, and there are also significant international linkages. #frontlinePBS
Those distinctions serve local categorization functions, but more often than not, tend to be confusing to onlookers (with good reason) #frontlinePBS
But ok, let’s take this one step at a time… #frontlinePBS
First things first, hate crimes in the United States are on the rise #frontlinePBS
According to @FBI data released a few weeks ago, reported hate crimes in the US rose by 17% #frontlinePBS
As this @washingtonpost report by @DevlinBarrett explains, the increase might be explained in part by the fact that more police departments reported hate crimes to the FBI wapo.st/2Ffy1dw?tid=ss… #frontlinePBS
But @DevlinBarrett added in that same piece, that “overall there is still a large number of departments that report NO hate crimes to the federal database” (emphasis mine). #frontlinePBS
You might be wondering, I thought we were talking about terrorism - what’s a hate crime? #frontlinePBS
The FBI defines a hate crime as a “criminal offense against a person or property motivated in whole or in part by an offender’s bias against a race, religion, disability, sexual orientation, ethnicity, gender, or gender identity.” #frontlinePBS
The @FBI clarifies: “Hate itself is not a crime—and the FBI is mindful of protecting freedom of speech and other civil liberties.” #frontlinePBS
You can learn about the FBI’s role in investigating hate crimes here: fbi.gov/investigate/ci… #frontlinePBS
Actually (and yes, I'm an academic, so...) if you *really* want to dive deep, with access to data, incident tables, victimology, offender data and location data, take a look over here: ucr.fbi.gov/hate-crime/2017 #frontlinePBS
Stay with me. That @FBI report came just under a month after the single worst anti-Semitic attack ever seen in the US - when 11 people were murdered at a Pittsburgh Synagogue. #frontlinePBS
These are the victims of the “Tree of Life” Synagogue massacre. Graphic via the @NYTimes #frontlinePBS
You can learn more about those victims and their legacies here: nytimes.com/2018/10/28/us/… #frontlinePBS
Glancing up quickly at some replies (sorry I can't respond quickly here), I see one important observation - and yes, you are right - for those analysts, academics, former extremists and others who have studied these groups, none of this is new. #frontlinePBS
We have warned about them for some time. Those claims were often ignored, ridiculed, characterized as fear-mongering. #frontlinePBS
Some of those who saw this coming lost much more than credibility. #frontlinePBS
Daryl Johnson is a former analyst for the Department of Homeland Security. #frontlinePBS
In 2009 he produced a report on the rise of “Right Wing Extremism” in the United States. You can read his actual report here: fas.org/irp/eprint/rig… #frontlinePBS (I highly recommend that you do)
Johnson warned of “a fertile recruiting environment for rightwing extremists and even result in confrontations between such groups and government authorities similar to those in the past” #frontlinePBS
His report sparked considerable controversy. #frontlinePBS
Facing political pressure, DHS “repudiated” the paper. Journalist Spencer Ackerman (@attackerman) wrote about Daryl Johnson for @WIRED in 2012: wired.com/2012/08/dhs/ #frontlinePBS
Almost ten years after Johnson’s warnings, a larger pattern of increasing white supremacy appears to be emerging. #frontlinePBS
Tonight’s #frontlinePBS special is a collaboration with @Propublica. #frontlinePBS
This morning, A.C. Thompson (@acinvestigates) penned this feature for @propublica: propublica.org/article/an-ato… #frontlinePBS
In case you’re not familiar with the work of @acinvestigates, well, better later than never. Check out his latest here propublica.org/people/ac-thom… and be sure to immediately follow him on twitter (again, via @acinvestigates). #frontlinePBS
Oh while I’m on this, you should be aware of another new piece from today. It is really important. #frontlinePBS
A new social networking platform called “The Base” is trying to mobilize neo-Nazis to prepare for violent insurgency. See this important story from ⁦@BMakuch⁩ and ⁦@MackLamoureux

vice.com/en_us/article/… #frontlinePBS
Ironically, “The Base” is the English translation of the name of a certain other terrorist organization. Anyone care to guess which? Hint: It’s not #ISIS. #frontlinePBS
Yes, that’s right: al-Qaeda #frontlinePBS
Given that the person behind "the base" seeks to unify otherwise diverse online groups, it seems unlikely that he isn’t aware of the obvious parallels and perhaps chose “The Base” on purpose. #frontlinePBS
A guess at this point, but I suspect it’s a classic troll move. And I don’t believe in coincidences - but that’s just me. Anyway, moving on… #frontlinePBS
Ok where was I? Oh yes, well…It’s easy to feel bombarded by information on this subject. Do you seriously want to learn about neo-Nazis in America? #frontlinePBS
I recommend you begin with going to the source. There are many autobiographies written by former neo-Nazis. Not easy reads. The stories are horrendous, disturbing and often deeply upsetting accounts of racial violence. They are also stories of redemption and hope #frontlinePBS
Some of the most memorable I’ve read, in part because I’ve spent time with the authors include:

Christian Picciolini (@cpicciolini), author of Romantic Violence and White American Youth: My Descent into America’s Most Violent Hate Movement #frontlinePBS
Here’s a really neat (via @NPR) feature about Christian: npr.org/2018/01/18/578… #frontlinePBS
Christian has a fascinating @TEDTalks presentation, which you can access here (also the transcript is available in 17 languages!) ted.com/talks/christia… #frontlinePBS
Frank Meeink (@frankiemeeink) was both in south Philadelphia and is a former skinhead. #frontlinePBS
"American History X" is ***loosely*** based on Frank’s life. It’s an extraordinarily film, but I would instead urge you to read Frank’s book “A Recovering Skinhead”. Here’s a link to a very interesting @NPR feature on Frank: npr.org/templates/stor… #frontlinePBS
Frank is also the co-founder of one of the most important groups fighting racist violence and extremism in the US - Life After Hate. Learn about Life After Hate here: lifeafterhate.org #frontlinePBS
Speaking of Life After Hate, another person has played a central role in this group. His name is Arno Michaelis (@mylifeafterhate). #frontlinePBS
Arno was, from the age of 17, a deeply committed member of one of the biggest skinhead groups in the world, and was lead singer of the race-metal band Centurion. #frontlinePBS
Music plays a huge role in attracting and sustaining membership of white power groups. Arno’s band, Centurion, sold over 20,000 CDs to young racists around the world. Learn more about Arno here: theforgivenessproject.com/arno-michaelis #frontlinePBS
Arno’s book “My Life After Hate” is an important read, and I recently read his 2018 book “The Gift of our Wounds” -- an incredible story. Highly recommended. #frontlinePBS
There are many more ex-skinheads, “formers” and those who have managed to escape white power groups. Their accounts should not be ignored, but studied carefully. Government and non-govt. organizations alike have much to learn from them. #frontlinePBS
Oh wow, time's almost up! Tune back in after the show and I'll continue to provide a whole bunch of links to resources. In the meantime, let's take a two minute break and get ready for @frontlinepbs #FrontlinePBS
Pittsburgh, PA - Oct 27th 2018 - Robert Bowers kills 11 Jewish worshippers shouting "all these Jews need to die" #FrontlinePBS
It was the deadliest known attack on the Jewish community in American history #FrontlinePBS
Images from Charlottesville are as shocking today as they were one year ago #FrontlinePBS
"John" is a one-time member of Atomwaffen, who revealed to #FrontlinePBS and @ProPublica how post-Charlottesville, they were flooded with members
Side note: true "lone wolves" are exceptionally rare. The term is used mostly to characterize autonomous actors not bound by group structures or traditional dynamics
A feeling of being "under siege" is a common theme in the mentality of Neo-Nazis #FrontlinePBS
Manson and Mason - a bizarre correspondence #FrontlinePBS
Atomwaffen member "John" - "the main thing is lone wolf activity" #FrontlinePBS
"John" - "they [Atomwaffen] see the United States as the ultimate terrorist" #FrontlinePBS
"John" - "All it takes is one guy to snap..." - invoked the example of Dylann Wolf #FrontlinePBS
"Atomwaffen" was founded in 2015 by Brandon Russell #FrontlinePBS
Devon Arthur's father: "[my son told me] I shot them. They upset me and I shot 'em" #FrontlinePBS
"He was really interested in the military"

"That's what he said"

"what do you think he was really interested in?"

"So you think he was joining the ROTC group because there were other kids interested in Neo-Nazis?"

#FrontlinePBS
"Atomwaffen Division is a terrorist organization....[targets of interest include...] power lines, nuclear reactors, uh, synagogues" -- Devon Arthurs confessing to Tampa police #FrontlinePBS
Sorry folks - I know I'm slowing down here. Intriguing details and I'm glued to this...
#FrontlinePBS
Side note: and this may be very obvious to many of you - this is unquestionably terrorism. #FrontlinePBS
Devon Arthurs is a "deeply troubled young man" - ultimately deemed "mentally unfit to stand trial" #frontlinePBS
Atomwaffen's "Hate Camp"was located in Death Valley, CA apparently chosen because of the Manson connection (bizarre, again) #frontlinePBS
At this and other Hate Camps located around the US, the group films themselves training, "raiding rooms", getting "schooled in firearms tactics" #frontlinePBS
Side note: disengagement from terrorism (and its causes - disenchantment, disillusionment etc.) is an area undergoing intensive research from academics right now #frontlinePBS
"We [Atomwaffen] definitely wanted to appeal to veterans....we say that they have the fighting spirit" #frontlinePBS
"Jews were the number one enemy...the virus" #frontlinePBS
7 of 80 figures in @ACInvestigates research are veterans, and likely more #frontlinePBS
Professor @kathleen_belew is an expert in white power movements, and not surprised by Atomwaffen's attempts at recruitment of the military #frontlinePBS
.@kathleen_belew outlines long history of military men who became key figures in the white power movement #frontlinePBS
This list, of course, includes Timothy McVeigh, the Oklahoma City bomber #frontlinePBS
.@kathleen_belew cautions that Oklahoma was not a lone actor, but an example of leaderless resistance #frontlinePBS
Daryl Johnson now being interviewed - see my earlier tweets! #frontlinePBS
Johnson: "it's actually worse than we anticipated" #frontlinePBS
Johnson's report provoked a Conservative backlash. The report was retracted and his unit disbanded #frontlinePBS
Two former Homeland Security officials tell @ACInvestigates that the government is under-resourced and ill-positioned to deal with this threat #frontlinePBS
7 members of Atomwaffen are "current or former military" #frontlinePBS

The @splcenter believe this figure to be low, and true prevalence likely significantly higher
This is a "very small fraction of the US military", yet it is "too important" to ignore #frontlinePBS
From federal prison, Atomwaffen founder issues a threat to former members,
"traitors...the sword has been drawn...there is no turning back" #frontlinePBS
Atomwaffen members are "far less aggressive in person...than the skinhead members I've met in the past" (@ACInvestigates) #frontlinePBS
By the way, if you are interested in the serious study of white power groups, well, you will not be short of sources. #frontlinePBS
One of the first books I read on the militant radical right in the US was by Daniel Levitas. The book is "The Terrorist Next Door” #frontlinePBS
Almost ten years ago I met Danny in Atlanta, GA (ironically, where I now work and live) #frontlinePBS
Danny taught me a lot about white power, and it was he who turned me towards another key text, by Leonard Ziskind #frontlinePBS
Ziskind’s “Blood and Poliitics: The History of the White Nationalist Movement from the Margins of the Mainstream”. A very comprehensive text - and an essential one for researchers. #frontlinePBS
A more recent book, and one I have just finished reading is “Bring the War Home: The White Power Movement and Paramilitary America“, by @kathleen_belew. Dr. Belew is also live-tweeting tonight and is featured in the #frontlinePBS special, so be sure to follow her! #frontlinePBS
"With Trump winning that election...I now believe anything could be possible. If you want to make America great again, you have to make America white again" - Mason #frontlinePBS
Robert Bowers, the Pittsburgh Synagogue shooter, was clearly part of white power ideology #frontlinePBS
.@kathleen_belew says Bowers may have been a lone gunman, but was also clearly part of a leaderless resistance movement #frontlinePBS
Let me squeeze in some quick points about terminology (I am an academic, folks...) #frontlinePBS
There’s a lot to digest here, aside from figuring out Atomwaffen - extremism, violent extremism, terrorism, white power, white nationalism, white supremacy, hate crimes, alt-right, right-wing, extreme right-wing…. #frontlinePBS
A superb primer on the meaning of ‘extremism’ is @intelwire’s “Extremism”. His definition of extremism is that it embraces “a solution to the crisis that requires hostile action against an out-group”. #frontlinePBS
You should certainly read Berger’s book. #frontlinePBS
Seriously. If you want to know your “shitposters” from your “Christian White Nationalists”, your “Russian troll influenced actors” from your “International White Supremacy” fans, @intelwire recently wrote a helpful guide: theatlantic.com/ideas/archive/… #frontlinePBS
And we're done. To quote @ACInvestigates's final comments, this is not over. Well done @frontlinepbs and @ProPublica for a superb piece of work. Thanks everyone for tuning in tonight.
Missing some Tweet in this thread?
You can try to force a refresh.

Like this thread? Get email updates or save it to PDF!

Subscribe to John Horgan
Profile picture

Get real-time email alerts when new unrolls are available from this author!

This content may be removed anytime!

Twitter may remove this content at anytime, convert it as a PDF, save and print for later use!

Try unrolling a thread yourself!

how to unroll video

1) Follow Thread Reader App on Twitter so you can easily mention us!

2) Go to a Twitter thread (series of Tweets by the same owner) and mention us with a keyword "unroll" @threadreaderapp unroll

You can practice here first or read more on our help page!

Did Thread Reader help you today?

Support us! We are indie developers!


This site is made by just three indie developers on a laptop doing marketing, support and development! Read more about the story.

Become a Premium Member and get exclusive features!

Premium member ($30.00/year)

Too expensive? Make a small donation by buying us coffee ($5) or help with server cost ($10)

Donate via Paypal Become our Patreon

Thank you for your support!