Saturday, February 16, 2013

The Road to Elohim Part IV

Welcome to the fourth installment in my examination of Elohim City, a Christian Identity compound located near the border of Oklahoma and Arkansas that has been linked to a whole host of strange and terrible events, most notably the Oklahoma City bombing. In the first part I briefly examine the background of Elohim as well as placing it in the broader context of the Christian Identity movement ans several notorious paramilitary movements and organizations that sprang from it (i. e., the Covenant, the Sword, and the Arm of the Lord; the Silent Brotherhood; and some groups within the Posse Comitatus movement). In the second installment I briefly considered the reunification of Germany, a topic that shall be touched upon again in this installment, before moving along to renowned white supremacist lawyer Kirk Lyons in one of his most notorious clients, Andreas Strassmeir. Strassmeir, a German national from a highly politically connected family, was the chief of security at Elohim City in the early 1990s leading up to the Oklahoma City bombing. In the third installment we considered the effect Strassmeir had on Elohim and the role members of the community played in the Oklahoma City bombing (which was quite significant, with a BATF informant who resided at Elohim even fingering Strassmeir and notorious Klansman and fellow Elohim resident Dennis Mahon as the masterminds) and other illegal activities happening around that time.

Andreas Strassmeir

Now that many of the details surrounding Elohim City and its ties to the criminal underworld and the Oklahoma City bombing have been considered we move along to more pertinent questions such as what was the purpose of the bombing and who was behind it? From the get-go many conspiracy researchers suspected that the government, or some branch within it, had played a role in the Oklahoma City bombing. As was seen in part two and especially part three of this series Elohim City was heavily infiltrated with informants, reaching all the way up to the founder himself, Robert Millar. Indeed, virtually every significant resident of Elohim had some type of tie to either US or foreign intelligence services, making some type of government role in the Oklahoma City bombing all but certain.

Robert Millar

This state of affairs prompted the conspiratorial right to decry the Oklahoma City bombing as a ploy by the federal government to discredit grassroots right wing groups such as those of the Patriot and Militia movements. Many went even further and saw the terror bombing as an attempt to discredit conservatism and constitutionalism in general and push the nation further down the path of socialism. Naturally this view was the only conspiratorial interpretation of the Oklahoma City bombing that the media paid  any attention, though in their defense it was a view presented by a highly placed source in the midst of a press conference called for that sole purpose.
"The 'guilt by association' prize goes to retired Brigadier General Benton Partin of the USAF, who laid responsibility for the Oklahoma City bombing on 'Leftists' conducting a 'psycho-political operation going on at the present time against the 'Christian Right' bogeyman. The payoff, Partin insisted darkly, was a propaganda victory for 'a world commonwealth of independent states' plotting to 'criminalize the patriotic support of Constitutional Rights.'

"The press ridiculed anyone contradicting the FBI's versions of events, belittled those who argued that the bombing might be a conspiracy -- with the sole exception of Brig. Gen. Partin, who called a one-hour press conference at the National Press Club in Washington, D. C. on June 15. The conference was attended by over 100 reporters representing every major broadcast, newspaper and wire service, independent news firm and the foreign media."
(Virtual Government, Alex Constantine, pg. 255)

Naturally Partin insisted that the bombing was the work of a communist conspiracy, specifically "the Third Socialist International." This was a view taken up by many of the more extreme members of the conspiratorial right, such as the notorious Bill Cooper who joined Partin in claiming that the Oklahoma City bombing was "the hidden agenda of the Communist/Socialist International."

Bill Cooper
If the purpose of the Oklahoma City bombing was to discredit the right and to move the country further to the left, then clearly it failed on a colossal scale. The country did not move to the left in the wake of Oklahoma, quite the opposite in fact. Or more accurately it continued the rightward shift that began in the 1970s and had recently gained a fresh boost 1994. Let us know briefly consider the political climate in the United States during the Clinton years.

Clinton easily defeated Bush I in the 1992 elections. It was the first of two elections in which Ross Perot ran as a third-party candidate, a move that was blamed for splitting the conservative vote in both 1992 and 1996. Bush I was likely a dead man walking even without Perot's campaign, however. Bush I had never been popular with grassroots conservatives (i.e. Christian fundamentalists) and by the end of his first term he had even begun to alienate many of his establishment backers. Then there was of course the ongoing Iran-Contra scandal which did not seem poised to go away while Bush resided in the White House (Clinton himself had likely been involved in Iran-Contra via some black ops/drug trafficking that occurred in the town of Mena, Arkansas, but few in the media vigorously pursued this angle).

The hardline leftism (either real, or largely imagined) that conservatives accused Clinton of throughout his presidency was largely restricted to his first term. Backlash was almost immediate, with Americans deeply skeptical of his universal healthcare proposal and legitimately outraged over his handling of the Waco siege. Further fuel was added to the fire with the 1994 assault weapon ban amongst the grassroots right.

Voter should their dissatisfaction in the 1994 midterm elections, ushering in the so-called "Republican Revolution." The Republican Party was able to pick up 54 seats in the House and eight in the Senate, giving him the first majority they had in the House in over 40 years and control of Congress as a whole. The Republican Party also picked up a significant number of governorships and state legislative seats, claiming 12 gubernatorial seats and taking control of 20 state legislators from Democrats. These gains gave the Republican Party a majority of governorships (a state of affairs that hadn't happened since 1972) and state legislators (for the first time in 50 years) across the nation.

While it's rarely been touched upon, there are indications that Ruby Ridge (which occurred under Bush I) and Waco were instrumental in rallying grassroots support for the Republican Revolution.
"... Ruby Ridge and Waco produced both celebrated media coverage and congressional investigations. The processing of these two cases through the criminal and civil-justice systems provided many opportunities to revisit them in the early 1990s. The cases could have been framed into larger systematic concerns about law enforcement corruption, aggressive police practices, or government cover-up, especially since both cases followed the Rodney King case and its aftermath, and a collation of strong claims-makers, including the ACLU and the NRA, was calling for the investigation of such abuses. Yet the focus of the Ruby Ridge and Waco investigations was not on these broader policy issues, but rather on determining the facts and assigning blame for what happened in these two cases. Although the scope of the investigations did not include a brother systematic review, it is significant that both the FBI and BATF were heavily criticized for their handling of the cases. These cases also open political opportunities. The early congressional investigations were important opportunities to discredit and attack President Clinton's leading law-enforcement official. Janet Reno was, of course, not attorney general when the Ruby Ridge event occurred in 1992, but she was the one who ordered the raid on Waco. Republicans attempted to emphasize her role at Waco in an effort to have her removed from office. As with the Whitewater and Vincent Foster suicide investigations, attacking Reno provided another opportunity to highlight problems with Clinton's presidency."
(Searching For A Demon, Steven M. Chermak, pgs. 61-62)

In addition to the 1994 Republican Revolution the years following Ruby Ridge and Waco also witnessed the rise of the militia movement.
"This development of a statewide militia group occurred when the public was not paying attention. It is difficult to know how representative this growth was because reliable data on the movement's size do not exist. Such information is difficult to collect because of the secrecy of closed-cell militias and the range of structures and strategies employed by militia groups. The interview data, however, support the conclusion that there was a substantial growth in militia membership after the Waco incident, but the development of the statewide presence in such a short time was not common. The majority of people interviewed claimed long-term involvement in the movement and were active prior to the Oklahoma City bombing. One member said he had communicated with units in over forty states simply to gather information and share ideals when his group first started organizing in 1993. Other interviewees consistently discussed the growth of that occurred between Waco and Oklahoma City."
(ibid, pg. 58)

The militia movement was in turn a boon for the Christian Identity movement and other white supremacist paramilitary outfits.
"A complex and multifaceted phenomenon, the militia movement also included an important component of white supremacists and neo-Nazis. At least 25 percent of an estimated 225 far right paramilitary formations in the United States had explicit ties to white hate groups. While these elements were often entrenched in leadership roles, it would be a distortion to characterize the militias in toto as consciously racialist or anti-Semitic."
(The Beast Reawakens, Martin A. Lee, pg. 345)
Still, many early leaders of the militia movement such as Louis Beam (as was noted in part two) and Bo Gritz had firm ties to the Christian Identity movement. John Trochmann, the founder of the Militia of Montana (one of the pioneering modern militias), was a friend of Christian Identity follower Randy Weaver (he of Rudy Ridge fame) and a sometimes visitor to the Aryan Nations compound in northern Idaho, where he delivered a speech to the Aryan Nations Congress in 1990.
"MOM leader John Trochmann was a familiar figure at the Aryan Nations encampment in northern Idaho. With his long, scraggly beard, he carried on like a biblical prophet when addressing the Aryan Nations Congress in Hayden Lake in 1990. Trochmann seized the occasion to argue that they should drop the swastika and the hood in favor of Jesus Christ in the Bible. This was what he did when he set out to create the Militia of Montana. By downplaying overt neo-Nazi themes and disguising his racialist beliefs, Trochmann hoped to influence a broad audience of disgruntled Americans, who would doubtless have recoiled if they were blitzed with Hitlerian raves."
(ibid, pg. 346)
John Trochmann
Clearly there was a strong right-wing backlash to Rudy Ridge and Waco amongst both mainstream conservatives and the grassroots fringe. All of this was in stark contrast to the aftermath of the Oklahoma City bombing. Consider for instance the 1996 US elections, the first in the wake of the bombing. While the hugely popular Bill Clinton was reelected to the White House Republicans continued to control the Congress, dropping a mere two seats in the House while gaining two in the Senate. Despite acknowledged ties between Timothy McVeigh and Terry Nichols and the fringe right and the media-driven militia hysteria being at its peak the American public was largely unconcerned with the nation's rightward drift. This was even after congressional Republicans had gone so far as to reopen investigations into Ruby Ridge and Waco in the wake of the Oklahoma City bombing while sabotaging an inquiry into right-wing paramilitary activities.
"After the Oklahoma City bombing, House Speaker Newt Gingrich stymied a much-needed congressional probe into right-wing paramilitary activity in the United States. Instead the Republican-controlled Congress held extensive hearings on government misconduct at Waco, Texas, and Ruby Ridge, Idaho."
(ibid, pg. 390)

While the militia movement when into decline after 1996 the rightward drift that ultimately led to the election of George W. Bush as president in 2000 was seemingly unstoppable. As a result Bill Clinton's  politics became noticeably more conservative both following the 1994 elections and after securing his second term, featuring such acts as the escalation of the War on Drugs, "welfare reform," deep tax cuts, and even a little military adventurism in Eastern Europe (but more on that later). During his 1996 State of the Union address Clinton famously boasted that "the era of big government is over."

Thus, a major act of right-wing terrorism did not discredit the right as so many conspiracy theories claimed that it would but in fact have little to no effect on the ongoing rightward drift of the United States. In fact, Oklahoma City and the Christian Identity movement may even have aided in the national drift further right. As improbable as this may sound to some this was essentially what happened in Germany, via a wave of neo-Nazi violence, in the wake of reunification as well.
"Although the government succeeded in locking up much of the hard-core neo-Nazi leadership, these long-overdue steps deflected attention from other disconcerning developments. There were stark indications that powerful German officials had not yet rid themselves of their propensity to nationalist excess. Invoking the neo-Nazi specter as a reason why such measures were necessary, Helmut Kohl and his coalition partners authorized government spies to engage in extensive eavesdropping of private residences throughout Germany. This decision caused German justice minister Sabine Leutheusser-Schnarrenberger to resign in protest. With tears in her eyes, she declared that her country had taken a 'decisive step away for the concept of a liberal nation under the rule of law.'

"For several years, significant changes had been unfolding in Germany that were potentially far more dangerous than the ongoing thuggery by teenage skinheads. The conservative Wende, or shift in political culture, that began when Kohl became chancellor in the early 1980s accelerated after the Berlin Wall fell. Suddenly a broad spectrum of thinkers and public officials were proclaiming that Germany must find the courage to become a nation again. Stressing the need for discipline, authority, and 'internal renewal,' the born-again nationalist painted a harrowing picture of a country on the verge of multicultural chaos. They also disparaged the comparatively liberal consensus of former West Germany, which, in their view, was not truly German because of the stultifying influence of the Americans.

"The nationalist revival in Germany was accompanied by widespread yearnings for the imperial glories of yesteryear...

"Those at the forefront of the post-Cold War German nationalist resurgence did not rely on old Nazi symbols and slogans. Instead, they drew heavily from the ideological arsenal of the Conservative Revolution that preceded the Nazi takeover. Held aloft by New Right intelligentsia as an authentic expression of German conservatism, the cultural pessimists of the Weimer era were becoming chic again. By invoking the Conservative Revolution, right-wing extremists were able to pursue their dream of ultranationalistic regeneration without having to defend Hitler's excesses. The fact that a growing number of academics, politicians, military officers, and other opinion makers embraced such a project attests to the durability and influence of Germany's conservative ideological tradition."
(The Beast Reawakens, Martin A. Lee, pgs. 378-380)
Helmut Kohl
Indeed, the similarities between the political climate in Germany and the United States in the 1990s  are eerie, to say the least. What's more, the present day Greece presents us with yet another instance in which right-wing terrorism at the street level is being used to push mainstream politics further to the right. Human Rights Watch reports:
"A country that prides itself on its hospitality, Greece has become over the past decade a decidedly inhospitable country for many foreigners. While tourists are welcome, migrants and asylum seekers face a hostile environment, where they may be subject to detention in inhuman and degrading conditions, risk destitution, and xenophobic violence...

"...Victims of serious attacks included migrants and asylum seekers of nine different nationalities and two pregnant women. Patterns emerge from the victim testimonies: most of the attacks take place at night, on or near town squares; attackers, who include women, work in groups, and are often dressed in dark clothing with their faces obscured by cloth or helmets; bare-fisted attacks are not uncommon, but attackers also often wield clubs or beer bottles as weapons; most attacks are accompanied by insults and exhortations to leave Greece, and in some cases the attackers also rob the victims...

"Parties across the ideological spectrum regularly and explicitly link irregular immigration to the city’s ills. Undocumented migration and crime in Athens were high on the agenda in the lead-up to the May and June 2012 national elections. Nationalist, far right-wing parties such as Golden Dawn have in recent years gained strength and popularity largely because of their exploitation of anti-immigrant sentiment. Having gained a seat on the Athens city council in 2010, Golden Dawn secured enough votes in the June 2012 national elections to enter Parliament for the first time in its history. It will have 18 seats."
Greece's Golden Dawn taking to the streets
All the while Greece is descending into hard-line xenophobia on the streets of its major cities it's supposedly center-right government is busy imposing brutal austerity measures largely on behalf of Merkel's Germany as the economy continues to stagnate and wither away. In these three examples, Clinton's America, Kohl's Germany, and present-day Greece, we can see how extremist right street gangs and paramilitary outfits such as the neo-Nazi and Christian Identity movements can enable mainstream political parties to move to the right while still appearing to be moderate. In the United States in particular the Christian Identity movement were key shock troops beginning in the 1980s rightward shift.

But more on that shall be said later. For now, let us turn our attention to who was behind the Oklahoma City bombing as well as Elohim City. I believe that the best framework for providing an explanation to these questions is former Students for a Democratic Society president Carl Oglesby's Yankee/Cowboy War hypothesis. In this theory Oglesby loosely divided the American ruling class into two distinct factions: the European-centric Yankees and the Frontier-obsessed Cowboys.
"The Yankee mind, of global scope, is at home in the great world, used to regarding it as a whole thing integrated in the far-flung activities of Western exploration, conquest, and commerce. The Yankee believes that the basis of a good world order is the health of America's alliances across the North Atlantic, the relations with the Western Democracies from which our tradition mainly flows. He believes the United States continues the culture of Europe and relates to the Atlantic as to a laker whose other shore must be secured as a matter of domestic priority. Europe is the key world theater, and it is self-evident to the Yankee mind that the fate of the United States is inevitably linked up with Europe's in a career of white cultural destiny transcending national boundaries: that a community of the unified world civilization exists, that there is such a thing as 'the West,' 'One World.'

"The Cowboy mind has no room for the assumption that American and European culture are continuous. The Cowboy is moved instead by the discontinuity of the New World from the Old and substitutes for the Yankees Atlantic-oriented culture a new system of culture... oriented to an expanding wilderness Frontier and based on an advanced Pacific strategy...

"The distinction between the East Coast monopolist and the Western tycoon entrepreneur is the main class-economic distinction set out by the Yankee/Cowboy perspective. It arises because one naturally looks for a class-economic basis for the apparent conflict at the summit of American power. That is because one must assume that parties without a class-economic base could not endure struggle at that height. It is then only necessary to recall that antiwar feeling struck the Eastern Establishment next after it struck the students, teachers, and the clergy --struck the large bank -connected firms tied to the trans-Atlantic business grid. During the same period, industrial segments around the construction industry, the military-industrial complex, agribusiness, the Southern Boom of the sixities and seventies, and independent Texas/Southwest oil interests  -- i.e., the forces Quigley calls 'new wealth' -- never suffered a moment of war wariness. They supported the Texan Johnson and the Southern Californian Nixon as far as they would go towards a final military solution."
(The Yankee and the Cowboy War, Carl Oglesby, pgs. 8-9)

While I don't entirely agree with Oglesby's theory (especially the economical basis of it; the conflict was very much an ideological one) as a whole I think the general gist of it is essentially accurate: That a conflict developed amidst the American ruling class in the 1960s that pitted the so-called Eastern Establishment, America's old moneyed families, against Oglesby's "Cowboy" faction and it continues to unfold to this present day. The Yankee faction is chiefly concerned with international trade and finance. They are Carroll Quigley's Round Table group, Council on Foreign Relations and Trilateral Commission fellows, and other longtime bugaboos of the conspiratorial right.

The Cowboy faction is a little harder to define. While Oglesby and other researchers have frequently linked them to the oil industry there is also a strong Yankee presence there as well (i.e. Rockefeller, Bush, etc). For the most part the defense and arms industry seems to be the lifeblood of the Cowboy faction in much the same way banking and finance is for the Yankees. Thus, the Cowboy faction is somewhat interchangeable with the military-industrial complex, though there is a Yankee presence  (the Bush clan once again) here as well. Of course, there are also Cowboy bankers and even old moneyed Eastern banking dynasties (such as the Mellon clan) who frequently side with the Cowboys. Still, the Yankees have never had the dependency on the military-industrial complex that the Cowboy faction has and even seem to have seen it as a hindrance in their ultimate objective of a global free trade zone. This isn't to say that the Yankee faction doesn't have their own imperial objectives --They most certainly do. But ever since the end of World War II the Yankees have preferred to operate via various branches of the US intelligence services (most notably the CIA and NSA, both long time Yankee strongholds) and the occasional low intensity conflict. Large-scale military buildups such as Vietnam and the second Iraq War create to much global instability, which ultimately hinders trade.

Thus, the root of the conflict seems to be war and instability. The Yankees were poised to make money in either peace or war while the economic prosperity of the Cowboys largely depended on a world riddled by instability and conflict, an objective that ultimately clashes with long-standing Yankee goals.

Now that I've sketched a rough outline to the Yankee/Cowboy conflict we can begin to examine how it pertains to the Oklahoma City bombing and Elohim City. Let us start with the onset of the conflict and work our way up to the Bush I and Clinton regimes. In Oglesby's hypothesis the conflict began with the assassination of JFK (in 1963), which he viewed as a Cowboy coup de tete after nearly a century of Yankee domination. Cowboys would remain in the driver's seat for roughly a decade, beginning with the presidency of Texan Lyndon Johnson and going on through Nixon's regime. It was at this point that the Yankees stage their coup de tete, what is commonly referred to as the Watergate scandal. Nixon was replaced by Gerald Ford, very much Yankee man, but the Cowboy faction still maintained something presence in his administration. It was not until the presidency Jimmy Carter, another Eastern Establishment man even though he was from the South, that the Cowboy faction was largely expunged.

As the political fortunes of the Cowboys waned in the 1970s they began laying the foundation for a comeback. One of their major initiatives was a large-scale funding drive for various think tanks and other nonprofit organizations. The Yankee faction had long managed to guide public consensus via groups such as the Council on Foreign Relations and the Trilateral Commission but all that began to change in the 1970s.
"... In response to the feared left-wing offensive against the nation's institutions, many on the right began to organize a counteroffense of their own. Future Supreme Court justice Lewis Powell expressed it in a 1971 confidential memorandum to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce: 'Survival of what we call the free enterprise system lies in organization, in careful long-range planning and implementation, in consistency of action over an indefinite period of years, in the scale of financing available only through joint effort, and in the political power available only through united action and national organizations.'

"... A visible public step was when right-wing billionaire Joseph Coors launched the Heritage Foundation in 1973 to defend Nixon's already embattled presidency. Coors and the Heritage Foundation failed to save Nixon, but they would play a significant role in electing Reagan six years later...

"All these projects contributed to a controlled rightward shift of public discourse: above all, by redirecting private funding from the great central and institutionalized foundations (Ford, Rockefeller, Carnegie) to ideologically driven conservative competitors (Coors, Allen-Bradley, Olin, Smith Richardson)... the shift in funding meant that the once dominant and Atlanticist Council on Foreign Relations would be increasingly challenged, and in the end superseded, by the unilateralist, neocon American Enterprise Institute."
(The Road to 9/11, Peter Dale Scott, pgs. 29-30)

The Cowboy faction would also develop massive grassroots support via the suddenly politically active Christian fundamentalist and evangelical followings energized by the Charismatic movement and ample corporate dollars. I addressed this topic in more depth in my examination of notorious televangelist Pat Robertson, which can be found here.

By 1980 it seemed as though the Cowboys were poised for major comeback, and indeed Ronald Reagan (the ultimate cowboy president) was elected to the presidency with a healthy margin. But he was also saddled with George H.W. Bush, scion of an eastern money family, as a vice president. Bush I was very much a creature of the Eastern Establishment and became the dominant figure in the Reagan administration by the end of the Gipper's first term (most likely after the failed assassination attempt of John Hinckley Jr. on Reagan). The New Combat notes:
"GEORGE H. W. BUSH was a pure-bred Yankee Internationalist, which explains why, both as Reagan's Vice President and as President, he cooperated with Gorbachev and Yeltsin, why he launched the Gulf War (to restore the designated order), and why at its conclusion he refrained from dismantling the Iraqi army and deposing Saddam Hussein (to maintain the designated order)."
While the Cowboy faction was initially well represented in the Reagan administration they once again found themselves the junior partners and were progressively eased out as the Gipper's reign winded down. By the time Bush I became the official president in 1988 the Yankees were once again firmly in control.

With the dissolution of the Soviet Union the Yankee faction at long last found itself in position to realize its longtime goal of a a global free trade zone, an agenda that had long been hindered by the Cold War. In the years following the collapse of the Soviet Union the Yankee faction would aggressively push forward with this agenda, first via Bush I and later with Bill Clinton. Despite hailing from the South Clinton was in the mold of Democratic southern governors such as Jimmy Carter that the Eastern Establishment had began to favor since the 1970s because of their natural appeal in typically Cowboy dominated regions of the United States. Clinton was himself a Rhodes Scholar and cited semi-official Yankee historian Carroll Quigley as a significant personal influence, a fact the conspiratorial right has long harped upon. Clinton's Eastern Establishment ties were further demonstrated by his marriage to Hillary Rodham Clinton, who broke her political cherry with Nelson Rockefeller's 1968 presidential campaign and who began dating Clinton while they were both attending Yale.

Bush I and Clinton would achieve two major victories for the Yankee faction: NAFTA and the World Trade Organization. Bush I was largely responsible for the negotiations of both, especially the former, while Clinton signed both agreements. While this was a time for celebration and optimism amongst the Yankee faction the Cowboys we terrified. The end of the Cold War raised the strong possibility that America's elephantine military budget would finally be slashed. Still, thanks to the steps they had taken in the 1960s and 1970s, their grassroots support was as strong as ever and they began yet another counteroffensive.

And it is at this point that Elohim City and the Christian Identity movement that spawned it become especially relevant to our story. In the next, and hopefully final, installment we shall examine the roots of the Christian Identity movement and its rise to prominence in the 1970s and 1980s. And from there, after another detour into recent German history, I shall finally be able to offer up a hypothesis as to who was behind the Oklahoma City bombing. Stay tuned.

1 comment:

  1. according to larry Nichols, Hillary would occasionally visit "a wiccan church" in California during the Clinton presidency.