Saturday, May 12, 2007

When evil words turn to evil deeds

The heated rhetoric coming from the "anti-illegal-immigration" camp over the last two years has had numerous effects on political discourse. While managing to turn the debate over meaningful immigration reform toxic, leaving many politicians unwilling to do the hard work of crafting much needed legislation, it has had the unwanted added effect of empowering some who advocate truly hateful and dangerous agendas to act out their violent and extremist ideas.

Reports from the Anti Defamation League and the Southern Poverty law Center have documented the growing intrusion of hate groups like the KKK and neo-Nazis into the "anti-illegal-immigration movement".

But perhaps even more dangerous has been the a growing proliferation of violent "homegrown" organizations and possible "lone wolf" fanatics willing to take their twisted agendas to the extreme.

In the past weeks there has been growing evidence that there is a catastrophe just waiting to happen, as domestic terrorist plots were uncovered to attack immigrants on a scale much larger than had yet been seen.

In late April, government agents infiltrated a "militia" in Alabama with plans to use machine guns and grenades against local Mexican immigrants. The group was armed and ready to proceed and were already scouting locations for their attack, when agents closed in, leading to the arrest of five members.

In Washington DC a local minuteman was found with a stash of semi automatic weapons and explosives in his home after being arrested after a scuffle at the May 1st immigration rally in that city.

Both these incidents point to the growing violent radicalization of the most extreme elements within the "anti-illegal-immigration" movement.

Fueled by the daily tirades of O'Reilly, Dobbs, Buchanan, or Limbaugh, and the caustic political rhetoric of Tom Tancredo and scores of other "border enforcement" politicians, radical fringe elements, who would normally be relegated to the periphery, are further emboldened and urged to action in their belief that they represent the "mainstream" of American thought.

Political discourse and debate need never be passionless, but the level of vitriol accepted as constructive debate has increasingly grown to a level that now seems to border on the dangerous. With talk of "invading hordes" of "disease ridden aliens" pouring over the border daily, the line between responsible political debate, and eliminationist rhetoric has become blurred ... especially for those predisposed to violent racists acts.

In the case of Tyler Joseph Froatz, the man arrested in Washington DC, he was not only a member of the local Herndon Minutemen, but also the conservative Internet based discussion forum Free Republic where he was regular poster and attended rallies and other events sponsored by the group. This acceptance of Froatz's anti-immigrant views by the Free Republic crowd could only lend credence to his belief that he was in the mainstream of conservative thought.

Even when he was clearly part of a violent radical fringe as demonstrated by his actions.

A self-proclaimed Herndon Minuteman whom police arrested in a tussle at an immigration rally Tuesday now faces weapons charges after federal authorities found a cache of guns and explosives at his Northwest Washington home.

Law enforcement officials searched the apartment of 24-year-old Tyler Joseph Froatz after U.S. Park Police found several weapons on him Tuesday outside the demonstration at Meridian Hill Park, including an M-1 rifle and a map of an embassy in his Jeep.

The Examiner"Anti-immigration activist arrested at demonstration faces weapons charges", May 4

Police say that on Tuesday, Froatz, was counter protesting at an immigration rally in Meridian Hill Park when he became embroiled in a fight with immigration rally organizer. According to police, Froatz bent the organizer's left arm and scratched her hand, before leaving the area to don dark camouflage clothing. Police arrived and arrested Froatz and found a host of weapons on him including a hammer, taser, and a loaded flare gun. In addition, Detective Robert Freeman of the U.S. Park Police testified that Froatz was carrying two knives including a "12 inch dagger-style knife."

A search of Froatz's nearby Jeep recovered a loaded M-1 rifle and ammunition. A map of a local embassy and a detailed, hand-drawn sketch of the park with lines pointing towards the center of the protest was found in the front seat of the Jeep, Freeman said.

But those items were overshadowed by what investigators discovered in Froatz's apartment in the 5300 block of 8 th St. NW. Freeman described a home bristling with a variety of bladed weapons, 13 guns and more than 2,000 rounds of ammunition. Froatz did not have a permit for the guns which include a fully-loaded 12-gauge shotgun and a .45-caliber pistol.

Police also discovered an explosive resembling a Molotov cocktail. The cocktail was found in a Welch's grape juice bottle wrapped in a t-shirt and appeared to be a mix of gasoline with a jelly-like substance which if it exploded would stick to a person "like napalm," Freeman explained.

The Examiner, "Judge refuses bail to armed protester",May 4

click to watch video

Kristinn Taylor, credited in press accounts as a "friend of Floatz" or "member of a local anti-immigration organization", is in fact the co-leader of the DC chapter of the hard right Free Republic and knows Froatz well, although he now claims he was unaware of Froatz's violent leanings.

Kristinn Taylor, a friend of Froatz who attended the hearing, expressed shock that the "nonthreatening," and chatty 24-year-old could hurt anyone.

"Like a lot of people who feel strongly about the immigration issue, he was out protesting," Taylor said, who added Froatz was not working for Free Republic during his protest.

"He didn't say anything about killing illegals or nothing like that."


Froatz was refused bail by D.C. Superior Court Judge, John Hess, who expressed concern that he posed a threat to the area. Considering the severity of the charges, it seems likely that Froatz will go to prison if convicted. His next court appearance is May 17.

While Froatz can be viewed as a mentally disturbed "lone wolf," drawn to violence with the tacit support of the media and politicians all too willing to play into his psychosis with talk of "illegal-aliens invasions," and "disease ridden aliens" mooching off the American people, taking their jobs, and lowering standards for all …. The same cannot be said for the "Alabama Free Militia." Although inspired to action by the same kind of rhetoric that inflamed Floatz, the group of five domestic terrorists have much more in common with Timothy McVie, and his brand of organized terrorism, than the "lone lunatic" model applied to Floatz.

Five members of a self-styled militia were denied bail Tuesday after a federal agent testified they planned a machine gun attack on Mexicans, but a judge approved bail for a sixth man.


Adam Nesmith, an agent with the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, testified that the five - Raymond Kirk Dillard, 46; Adam Lynn Cunningham, 41; Bonnell Hughes, 57; Randall Garrett Cole, 22; and James Ray McElroy, 20 - planned a machine-gun attack on Mexicans in Remlap, a town just north of Birmingham, and went there on a reconnaissance mission April 20. The agent provided no further details.

During the raids last week, agents recovered 130 homemade hand grenades, a grenade launcher, about 70 hand grenades rigged to be fired from a rifle, a machine gun, a short-barrel shotgun and 2,500 rounds of ammunition, authorities said.

Local and federal officials returned to the area Tuesday because authorities got information that explosives could be hidden in a cave, said Stanna Guice, spokeswoman for the DeKalb County Sheriff's Department. Officers on foot and horseback converged in a field and worked outward to search for a cache.

Arizona Republic, " 5 accused in Alabama militia case planned attack on Mexicans", May 1, 2007

The heavily armed Alabama Free Militia planned to attack a group of Hispanics in Blount County and had orders to open fire immediately if they saw the feds coming, an ATF agent said Tuesday.

Adam Nesmith of the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives testified during a federal court hearing that the men had a plan to attack a group of Mexicans in the Remlap area with machine guns.

Nesmith said two of the men and a confidential informant went on a reconnaissance mission to Remlap on April 20, six days before federal, state and local law enforcement officers carried out last Thursday's raids in four Alabama counties, confiscating truckloads of explosives, 130 grenades and 2,500 rounds of ammunition.

Nesmith said Raymond Dillard, described as the militia major, and James Ray McElroy, a private, were the two who traveled to Remlap.

Nesmith said Dillard, who had the highest rank, told the informant there were standing orders that if the militia saw the feds coming they were to open fire immediately because "they are the enemy."


The ATF and the Alabama State Fire Marshal's Office initiated an investigation into the group about seven weeks ago. They used the confidential informant to infiltrate the militia and document grenade-making with video and audio recordings. The informant had met Dillard at a DeKalb County flea market in the fall.

Birmigham News, "Agent says militia targeted Hispanics", May 2, 2007

Clearly both these instances demonstrate that both luck and excellent police work helped to thwart what would have been catastrophes of a grand scale.

Yet we hear little in the media of this growing trend. It is always after a Columbine, Virginia Tech or Oklahoma City that we analyze and look for causes and possible prevention for such disasters.

But this time, one of the factors leading to this increase in violence is evident and could easily be addressed… the growing vitriol and hyperbolic rhetoric coming from the anti-illegal-immigration camp. One need only go to the forums and chat boards of such groups as the Minuteman or Save Our State to see the proliferation of "invasion" rhetoric where undocumented immigrants are compared to animals and vermin to see the handwriting on the wall. It is only a matter of time until something horrendous happens.

And only then will we finally have our "national dialogue" about this issue.

Then we will look at the effect this kind of socially acceptable hate speech, spewed out daily by media talking-heads, right-wing radio and politicians, has had in bringing on the kind of catastrophe that can no longer be swept under the carpet by a complacent and enabling media.

But at the cost of how many innocents lives?


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Speak for yourself Q.