The problem here is that we still have to explain "the Oklahoma City bombing (1995)". We're talking about the largest deliberate mass casualty on American soil between Pearl Harbor and 9/11, but most Americans don't know what it was (1)
(2) Most Americans don't know the Oklahoma City bombing was the work of a wide-ranging social movement--the white power movement--that included men and women, people in all parts of the country.
(3) But it was, and not just the work of one man. The question isn't about how many wannabe McVeighs are out there, but about the durability of the movement--
(4) and even more, about the failure of our institutions and public discourse in naming and confronting the white power movement, which is now decades, if not generations, old.
(5) But yes, experts across the board are predicting mass violence. I add my concerns to that chorus.
(6) AMA
(7) If you would like to learn about why McVeigh was not a lone wolf, but part of a social movement, you can always read Bring the War Home. I have a chapter just on this.
........ do you want to hear about how this movement has been using social media since 1983?
(1a) Okay, so the white power movement (klan, neo-nazi and other groups) started in 1983/84 to use a series of code word-accessed computer message boards called Liberty Net. This was before the internet proper
(2a? 1b? the sequel continues) We know these message boards were important because white power groups went to a lot of trouble to distribute millions of stolen dollars to groups all around the country to buy Apple "minicomputers"
(1c) And then another activist would travel around, teaching all these groups how to use the computers and their message boards. These weren't all tech-saavy groups--some had no tech except the minicomputer and homemade munitions (but like no clocks or electricity)
(1d) Now, what did they post on Liberty Net, the computer boards? Assassination lists and ideological tracts, yes. But they ALSO posted personal ads and other social materials. They were using social network activism (via the early internet) decades before Facebook
(1e) the irony of posting this as a thread on Twitter is not lost on me

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More from @kathleen_belew

17 Sep
Mini-thread just real quick as a PSA for the news of the day: If you would like to read about the looooong history of conservatives trying to use classrooms to distort American history in ways that deliberately uphold white supremacy, check out the following: (1)… A fantastic read and great starting place is Mothers of Massive Resistance by Elizabeth McRae, which shows about a century of white segregationists trying to misrepresent slavery and Reconstruction to hold up the Jim Crow South (2) ...
...and then distorting Jim Crow to avoid integrating in the Civil rights era (3)
Read 9 tweets
27 Aug
Definitions, a thread.
1) Militia: a group that uses paramilitary weapons, training, and activism in articulation of local sovereignty and in opposition to the federal government. Not neutral. Sometimes, but not always, affiliated with overtly racist activism.
2) Vigilante: an actor that articulates popular sovereignty through violence (the violence is political and works in support of systemic or status quo power, at local, state, or national level).
3) Revolutionary: an actor that uses radical or violent mechanisms AGAINST systemic power and/or to overthrow the state.
Read 25 tweets
15 Jul
More from the @rdevro Blue Leaks piece: The leaked documents charting law enforcement’s treatment of antifa versus groups like the boogaloo bois reflect a dangerous American impulse to draw equivalencies, Belew argued. (1)
“Many reasonable people carry around with them as part of the way that we learn about how politics works this idea that there are two sides of everything,” she said. (2)
“This is a deeply ingrained belief in our culture, and there’s a historical set of reasons why we think about politics that way, but this is actually not a case where there are two sides of things that are the same.”
Read 6 tweets
16 Jan
Thread: (1) The FBI arrest of three white power activists on their way to Virginia—people with explosives expertise, a machine gun they built themselves, and dedication to creating race war—reveals that the old and violent white power movement is still alive and well.
(2) But it also offers encouraging new developments:…
(3) The action members of white power group The Base planned comes from a long playbook of white power activism. Beginning in the early 1980s, people in this movement have attempted to incite race war, often placing civilians in harm’s way.
Read 18 tweets
19 Dec 19
@letsgomathias writes that the language has been quietly changed in the National Defense Authorization act, making it easier for white nationalists and white power activists to join the armed forces…
@letsgomathias (2) this is an emergency. This is a movement that has declared war on the nation and has been trying to overthrow or subvert our government since 1983
@letsgomathias (3) the effort to keep such activists out of the armed services (even though membership in these groups clearly conflicts with the oath of induction) has flagged several times over these decades, often resulting in civilian casualties.
Read 4 tweets
24 Oct 19
Okay, #twitterstorians hivemind: What are the best articles, book chapters, and historical monographs you teach about the 1990s?
I'll go first and stan for @MelaniMcA's chapter on the 1990s in Epic Encounters as transcending that book and framing a study of the decade
@MelaniMcA I think Elaine Tyler May Fortress America goes on this list, too
Read 5 tweets

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