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At some point in the late 1960s, you could be forgiven for thinking that the FBI was in charge of the KKK.

It infiltrated, manipulated and ran the group into the ground. The name of the operation: COINTELPRO-White Hate.

With violent white hate again on the rise, we should take some inspiration — even if the methods can’t be replicated — from the FBI’s past grappling with racist extremists.

Rich Lowry mug

Rich Lowry

If there were any doubt that the country has a white nationalist problem, the shocking attack on an El Paso, Texas, Walmart should remove it.

These self-radicalizing freaks, a subset of the broader mass-shooting phenomenon, take inspiration from prior acts of vicious mayhem and cheer high body counts on internet message boards. They are domestic subversives and terrorists, and deserve to be treated as such.

There is no doubt that if we had suffered a string of massacres on our soil carried out by Islamic radicals, we’d do everything in our power to diminish and hopefully eradicate the danger — indeed, we have.

The national response to racist extremists should show the same alacrity and resolve, while acknowledging that they represent a different, more-difficult-to-counter threat than the old Klan.

In 1964, President Lyndon Johnson told FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover to go after the Klan as he had the Communists. Running until 1971 and involving 26 field offices, COINTELPRO-White Hate targeted groups and people deemed violent threats, not their ideology per se.

The effort was comprehensive and no-holds-barred.

In his history of the FBI, Tim Weiner writes, “The FBI dangled small fortunes before potential KKK informers, offered outright bribes to Klansmen who could serve as double agents inside state and local police forces, planted bugs and wiretaps in Klaverns, carried out black-bag jobs to steal membership lists and (on at least one occasion) dynamite caches.”

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In an article in the journal Social Science History, David Cunningham recounts how the FBI degraded, and came to effectively control, Klan groups.

The FBI acquired hundreds of Klan informants. According to one FBI official, “There would be a Klan meeting with 10 people there, and six of them would be reporting back the next day.” One informant even became the speechwriter for the leader of the United Klans of America, Robert Shelton.

The FBI worked to preempt violent acts, and gained an enormous influence over Klan groups. The New Orleans office was so successful at degrading the Louisiana chapter of the UKA that the office’s concern became propping the group up, lest its disintegration loosen the FBI’s control.

The Charlotte office managed to decimate the violent North Carolina UKA and shift its membership to an alternative group under FBI influence.

Overall, Klan membership shrank from an estimated 14,000 members in 1964 to 4,300 in 1971. Per Shelton himself, “the FBI’s counterintelligence program hit us in membership and weakened us for about 10 years.”

Of course, the contemporary FBI obviously isn’t going to take over the “alt-right,” nor should we want it to. The abuses of the COINTELPRO programs — the FBI also targeted civil-rights groups and the New Left, among others — became notorious when they were exposed in the 1970s.

There are also practical obstacles to the FBI duplicating its anti-Klan work. The Klan was an organization, whereas today’s white supremacists are free-floating haters posting anonymously on the internet.

Yet the FBI needs to be intensely focused on this threat. The bureau should take an intelligence-based approach. It should monitor sewer message boards like 8chan, the forum for white-supremacist propaganda.

Posters who cross from First Amendment-protected speech to incitement should be prosecuted. The FBI should interview anyone expressing sympathy with terrorism — just as it does with suspected Islamic extremists — and surveil such persons as appropriate and permitted under the law.

El Paso was an outrage, and surely not the last. We need to react accordingly.

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Syndicated columnist Rich Lowry can be reached at comments.lowry@nationalreview.com.

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(27) comments

oldhomey

Finally. A Lowry column I can essentially agree with and endorse.

martian2

well here is johnny come lately Lowry to finally write about the white nationalists and how they should be stopped. Sure took him long enough. I guess it took a certain number of innocent lives lost before Lowry was convinced of these fanatics who terrorize our country. Many forget the garlic festival shooter who also advocated violence and hate toward others. That fits right in with the hate filled groups on the far right. You would of thought Sandy Hook(yes it really happened) massacre would of been enough for our politicians to act on sane gun laws. But one party is bought and paid for by the NRA and are a bunch of cowards when its time to stand up for the American people.I doubt anything of substance will come of these shootings, just more talk and bluster by the GOP. For sure the republicans in our state legislature will do virtually nothing. Such cowards!

DMoney

How can you honestly claim that shootings are still the blame of the far right after you were humiliated with the truth on another board? Crank and I provided proof that these sick people come from every background. But here you are, still stuck on the idea that it's a far right problem. You aren't slow, so, it's just intentional disregard for facts.

PhysicsIsFun

Nice try. Of course not all mass shootings come from the far right. It is however very concerning that there have been an alarming number of these disaffected white (mostly young) males that are obviously anti-immigrant and/or anti-minority killing large numbers of people. Do I really have to list them? These are examples of violent white supremacy. You have to be incredibly blind, indifferent, or ignorant to deny that. You have not humiliated anyone with your listing of those horrible incidents which are not part of this trend. Again you are playing with words to obscure the truth. All you and Crank have proven is that you are twisted in your outlook and eager to defend Trump and your point of view at all costs.

DMoney

Have you/did you read Martian's original comments and opinions on who's to blame for these? He literally said it was completely right wing, never left-wing. Go read his post. The OH shooter was a liberal. I gave about 6 examples or recent left-leaning shooters. Then he comes back HERE and tries the same thing--which is opposite of what you and Oldhomey have stated in which it is an illness and comes from all backgrounds.

DMoney

Yes, there are white supremacists who have committed these atrocities. There are blacks, asians, jews, muslims, gays, liberals. About the only demographic I can't think of who have committed mass murder are women. I don't care who you are, or what your motivation is: If you pick up a gun, loaded with bullets, and go and kill innocent people--you are mentally deranged. That is now and will forever be your calling card and identity--not your political views. Those are reserved for sane, reasonable people.

martian2

right D, and a president stoking the fires of intolerance and white nationalism is totally innocent. You sure bend over backwards to defend your master. Why are you hung up on what I posted on a different page. What about what Lowry wrote here, cracking down on white nationalism sobs, don't you agree the FBI should go after them. Or are you passively trying to ignore the column too afraid to talk about your hate groups.

martian2

and I replied to your comments there D. read them again. Yes I still believe these type of shootings are virtually all from the far right. You provided people that weren't liberals, there was no proof of that. You see D, the left does not advocate violence or hostilities. The left talks about inclusion, acceptance, peaceful means, and respect of all humanity. Meanwhile the far right talks of white nationalism, hatred toward those who are different. White nationals talk of intolerance, violence, and disrespecting those that disagree or are different. A big difference between the two. If you can't see that you are as blind as can be. Yes sick people come from every background, but it is one political party stoking the fires of hatred and intolerance. And as a result often those sickos come out of the wood work and do their evil.

martian2

humiliated you say? How can you claim the shootings are not from the far right after you were humiliated on so many boards. The people you provided to proof a point were not liberals, liberals don't believe in violence and killings and hate. Same with what your buddy crank provided, there was no proof, no manifestos, no social media fanaticism. And talk about intentional disregard for facts, you are the king of that. What about white nationalist there D, you never say a disparaging word about them. Do you support them or defend them and their ideology? Time to come clean.

martian2

nothing again but crickets from D. Is he a closet white nationalist bigot? Only he can answer that. Given his track record here one could easily draw that conclusion. He sure likes to coddle white supremacists while defending the president at every turn. Nothing but crickets.

martian2

well D was given ample time to respond. Not a word from the know it all. So it is reasonable to assume he is a white supremacists, full of hatred and racism. He will not condemn those types of organizations, so he either supports them and/or belongs to them. His silence speaks louder than words. His silence reveals the type of person he really is. His silence reveals his cowardice and the hate welling up inside him. He and Hoaxer probably belong to the same chapter of the KKK. Glad he got a friend, just to bad its him. Feel sorry for the children.

DMoney

Martian2: "The left talks about inclusion, acceptance, peaceful means, and respect of all humanity. "

DMoney

Martian2, two days later: "So it is reasonable to assume he is a white supremacists, full of hatred and racism. He will not condemn those types of organizations, so he either supports them and/or belongs to them. His silence speaks louder than words. His silence reveals the type of person he really is. His silence reveals his cowardice and the hate welling up inside him. He and Hoaxer probably belong to the same chapter of the KKK. "

DMoney

Enough said, mic drop. Behold, neutral readers, the insane hypocrisy of the far left. They are accepting and understanding, but we are racist KKK members for disagreeing with them.

PhysicsIsFun

I kind of agree with martian ClimateDope is a racist, and I'm starting to wonder about you Dmoney. If you're not one you should work on cleaning up your thought process.

DMoney

Wonder all you want. I couldn't care less what your opinion is, or what you label me. Just remember, if you are wrong, you are officially ignorant and prejudice.

PhysicsIsFun

Dmoney I don't much care about what you think either, but if people started to think I was a racist based on things I said or wrote I would give it some thought. That is, unless I was OK with the label. It is just a suggestion.

martian2

yes D, still silence from you on whether the FBI should go after white supremacists. that is the real question that you refuse to answer. Its not about me, its about you. The left is also about revealing the truth, and highlighting those things that prevent peace and justice. So either you support white supremacy or you don't. the truth shall set you free as they say. Why the stonewalling?

martian2

I see D is still not answering the question, he is hoping this post will just disappear. Nothing but crickets fro D. Pick up the mic and show some courage D. Your true colors are showing, and they aren't pretty.

DMoney

The FBI should go after any/all hate groups. Any type of group that uses violence towards others or otherwise disrupts the rights of others. Obviously.

new2Lax

What did Obama do that would prevent the 32 mass shootings during his Presidency. I guess whatever it was they couldn't have been to successful, they are still happening.

oldhomey

Gosh, new2, it was not all that long ago, but perhaps you are getting senile in your early old age. Let me refresh your memory. President Obama spoke out forcefully and passionately for stronger gun control, to get rid of assault-style weapons, to install universal background checks, to restrict the free flow of guns through gun shows and a number of other things. It was met with silence and obstruction from the GOP, led by Moscow Mitch McConnell. He did the best he could, but the NRA and other gun lobbies held too strong a sway in Congress to get anything passed. So your guess, for once, is pretty accurate. Obama's efforts were unsuccessful, and these terrible attacks are not only continuing to happen, they seem to be happening with greater frequency. Does that answer your question?

PhysicsIsFun

This comparing the number of mass shootings under Obama as compared to Trump is just one more lie (among thousands of lies) perpetrated by Trump and the dishonest Republican Party. Wisconsin State Rep. Ron Tusler tried to make a similar point and was called out as a "pants on fire" liar by Politifact Wisconsin.



https://www.politifact.com/wisconsin/statements/2019/aug/06/ron-tusler/pants-fire-state-rep-claims-mass-shootings-are-dow/

oldhomey

new2? Did I adequately answer your question? Do you have anything else you want to know? I am always glad to be of service to you.

capedcrusader

I doubt dave will answer you.

capedcrusader

He tried to work with a republican Congress that decided to do nothing. That's what. And Republicans are still wanting to do nothing. That's what.

martian2

gosh fox nut newt, I guess Obama couldn't find his super hero costume and fly where those mass shootings were happening. Its all his fault. He could of stopped those bullets with his super powers and kept everyone safe from those shootings. Guess we should depend on wonder woman instead...anyone know what happened to Sarah Palin?

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