Holding Terrorists Accountable? Depends on the Color and the Cause...

Holding Terrorists Accountable? It Depends on the Color and the Cause...

November 04, 2001

By Tim Wise"

Members of his terrorist organization and network have killed Americans, on
American soil. Those inspired by his message have engaged in a mass
atrocity: blowing innocent people out of their offices as the building where
they worked crumbled to the ground.

He himself has called for total war against the enemy in an effort to
"cleanse" the United States. He has said that although innocent people will
die in such an effort, "it is necessary, and because it is necessary, it is
good." Seven years ago he warned of potential pending attacks when he wrote:
"New Yorkers who work in tall office buildings--anything close to the size
of the World Trade Center--might consider wearing hardhats to work..."

Osama bin Laden? Not even close. And unlike bin Laden, who is now a marked
man despite little concrete evidence linking him to the attacks of September
11th, this individual has not been targeted for elimination by the United
States government. No one is speaking of "bringing him to justice," or
holding him accountable for the actions attributable to his associates and

And unlike bin Laden, whose whereabouts are unknown, the address of the
person about whom I speak is well known. He is not in hiding, and doesn't
move around. He's so easy to find that 60 Minutes' Mike Wallace simply
sauntered up to his home a couple of years ago and had a chat with him. His
phone number is (304) 653-4600.

His name is William Pierce, and he lives in Mill Point, West Virginia, with
a P.O. Box at the post office in nearby Hillsboro. He is a longtime neo-Nazi
who calls Hitler the "greatest man of our era" and advocates the liquidation
of all non-whites in the U.S.

His novel, The Turner Diaries (written under a pseudonym) apparently served
as the inspiration for Timothy McVeigh's attack on the Murrah Building in
Oklahoma City, much the way we are told Osama bin Laden's words have
inspired Islamic terrorism, even if he is not directly involved in the
planning process.

In Pierce's book, white "patriots" blow up a federal building using the same
materials as those used by McVeigh, packed in a truck like the one McVeigh
used, at the same time of day as the one exploded by McVeigh. They then
launch a race war, slaughtering non-whites, race-"mixers," gays, lesbians
and Jews, before dropping nuclear weapons on Israel.

McVeigh was, according to former soldiers who served with him in the Persian
Gulf, obsessed with the book, and inspired by its author. In the days before
the bombing he sent clippings of the book to his sister, explaining that
"something big" was going to happen, and when arrested had copies of Turner
passages in his car.

Over the years, other followers of Pierce and members of his group, the
National Alliance, have engaged in armed robberies, shootouts with law
enforcement, and murders in at least a half dozen states. They have plotted
to commit mass murder in multiple bombings, foiled only by premature
detonation of the devices in question.

The Order--a neo-Nazi gang that committed a series of robberies and killed
Denver radio talk show host Alan Berg in 1984--was led by Alliance members,
including Robert Matthews who left Pierce $50,000 in life insurance benefits
after his death during a shootout with the FBI.

Pierce's weekly radio broadcasts regularly call for the elimination of
anyone who isn't white, and his group encourages members to raid military
bases in search of weapons and ammunition. Yet no one is calling for him to
be brought in "dead or alive" as President Bush recently did regarding bin

While President Bush and media pundits warn of bin-Laden's associates
"living among us," the National Alliance has at least 16 active cells
nationwide, engaged in activity in at least 26 states, a membership hovering
around 1,000, and thousands more listening to their shortwave radio
broadcasts and reading the materials on their website.

On those broadcasts and the website, readers and listeners can see and hear
Pierce call for "a racially clean area of the earth for the development of
our people," with "no non-whites in our living space." They can hear him
speak of the mass slaughter that he terms the "final cleansing," and the
need to eliminate all Jews and race "traitors." For these latter groups he
says, "we must hunt them down and get rid of them."

On August 15th of this year, Pierce broadcast the following message: "We
really have become too civilized and have forgotten one of Mother Nature's
most basic rules: Two different types of animal cannot permanently occupy
exactly the same ecological niche. One eventually must drive the other into

"We must have exclusive possession of those portions of this planet which
constitute suitable habitat for us...in order to obtain and maintain that
exclusive possession, we must be prepared to kill, to annihilate, any and
all competitors."

But despite the open support for mass murder, and despite the actual
violence carried out by Alliance members and Pierce acolytes over the past
two decades, few people are aware of this neo-Nazi terror network, nor does
the President seem concerned about it.

One gets the impression that in the eyes of American officialdom, some
terrorists pose a threat to the country and others don't. Some terrorist
actions result in calls for racial or ethnic profiling of those "fitting the
description" and others don't.

After all, when have white guys ever been profiled just because some white
guys like McVeigh, or Pierce, or others of their ilk committed atrocities,
advocated murder, and engaged in criminal activity? The answer is never, of

Profiling and war are things we offer to those who look different from us,
speak differently than us, and are easy to identify without inconveniencing
the dominant majority. Arabs, Muslims, and people of color generally, make
easy targets. Not so white guys. Not so William Pierce.

And homegrown white terrorists can't be as effectively used to justify huge
military buildups, or new powers for the CIA, as a perceived foreign threat
can. For an Administration desperately in need of an enemy to justify its
desire for massive new military expenditures, only the dark, dangerous image
of the outsider will do.

As for Pierce, like bin Laden, he has proclaimed his innocence. Regarding
the Oklahoma City bombing, he insists he had nothing to do with it. But also
like bin Laden, he has not only failed to condemn the action others have
sought to pin on him, but indeed he has all but praised it outright. About
McVeigh, Pierce says:

"He did what he did for an impersonal reason, for an ideal...he has acted as
a man of principle should act...He wanted to send the government a message
that its behavior would not be tolerated. And part of that message would be
the killing of the government's secret police agents--FBI and ATF--who
worked in the building."

"The fact that his bomb would kill not only secret police agents but also
civilians, including the 19 children in the day-care center, was regrettable
but unavoidable: collateral damage...however regrettable the killing of
innocent civilians in that bombing, Timothy McVeigh is no monster. He is a
soldier, and what he did was based on principle."

When Muslim fundamentalists say things like this about terrorism carried out
by their associates, we term it "giving aid and comfort" to the enemy, or
"supporting terrorism." With Pierce, the same rhetoric is ignored, no matter
what his loyal readers and listeners might do.

And while the media was quick to broadcast footage of select Palestinians
celebrating in the wake of the World Trade Center attacks, they said nothing
about the spirited discussions on National Alliance message boards, where
members of the group were expressing elation at the day's events.

Within minutes of the World Trade Center's collapse, Alliance members were
logging on to the group's chat room boards to say things like: "the World
Trade Centers (and) the Pentagon have had their noses removed from Jewish
rectums and smothered in the heap of shit they created! I'm sure like me you
are all jumping out of your skin with excitement right now!"

Or this, from a member in New York at the time of the attacks:

"...there is extreme chaos everywhere. Many people are helpless and in a
state of panic. I am happy to have a reservoir of deep knowledge about this
from all I have learned from the alliance...I AM STRONG, PREPARED AND IN

Shortly after the attack, Billy Roper, the Deputy Membership Coordinator for
the Alliance wrote: "the enemy of our enemy is, for now at least, our
friends...we may not want them marrying our daughters...but anyone who is
willing to drive a plane into a building to kill Jews is alright by me. I
wish our members had half as much testicular fortitude."

Beyond merely pointing out that there are indeed white folks every bit as
fanatical and dangerous as the members of al-Qaeda, and that indeed some of
those were pleased with the most recent terrorist attacks on America,
another point should be made.

If, as is likely, the renewed emphasis on "Arab terrorism" or "Muslim
extremism" results in heightened suspicion and profiling of those who are
Arab, Muslim, or appear to be, the result may be that America will let down
its guard to these other kinds of dangers. The Tim McVeighs and followers of
Bill Pierce will fly below the radar of the nation's new security apparatus.
No one will be looking for them.

This is not to say that such groups should literally be bombed, their
members arrested, and those who look like them profiled. Just as such
actions are ineffective and overbroad and authoritarian when applied to
presumed Arab terrorists, so too would they be when applied to white

But the inconsistency is worth noting, as is the danger that could logically
flow from that inconsistency. If a member of the National Alliance, or some
other group seeking to foment a race war wanted to commit a major terrorist
attack, now would be the time to do it, as they would likely evade suspicion
and detection, so busy are folks looking for danger with dark skin, long
beards and a turban.

It is in this sense that any kind of racial, ethnic, national or religious
profiling is an utter waste of time, and potentially capable of increasing
the risks to innocent people, not to mention ethically unjust.

Terrorism has many faces, more than a few of which are white, just like
those of most of the folks calling for war against Afghanistan. And yet
never have they called for war against West Virginia. Nor did they call for
war against Idaho when that state played host to the Aryan Nation's
compound: a place that had nurtured and inspired Buford Furrow, the
individual who shot up a Jewish Community Center in Los Angeles and killed a
Filipino postman two years ago.

So when you hear the President speak of "bringing the terrorists to justice
or bringing justice to the terrorists," just remember that although all
terrorists are equal in the eyes of the law, some are more equal than

Tim Wise is an antiracist activist, writer and lecturer. He can be reached
at tjwise@mindspring.com "