Categories: Featured News

How Hate Fell Through The Cracks and Turned Into Tragedy in Wisconsin

Ok, now we can officially say what we knew the moment we heard about the shooting at the Sikh Temple in Oak Creek.  Wade Michael Page, the man who shot 9 people, killing six of them was a right wing extremist, with ties to various white supremacist and neo Nazi groups.

The Los Angeles Times reports:

Federal investigators had “looked at” Sikh temple gunman Wade Michael Page more than once because of his associations with right-wing extremists and the possibility that he was providing funding to a domestic terrorist group, but law enforcement officials at the time determined there was not enough evidence of a crime to open an investigation, a senior U.S. law enforcement official said.

The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the media, would not say Monday which law enforcement agency had considered investigating Page, or when.

There were any warning signs that a day like this would come.  The Department of Homeland Security warned us that right wing extremism is on the rise in 2009.

The right wing blogosphere’s  reaction was predictably fast and more predictably dismissive and furious. One example is Michelle Malkin’s Confirmed: The Obama DHS hit job on conservatives is real

There’s no hackneyed left-wing stereotype of conservatives left behind in this DHS intelligence and analysis assessment. I asked both DHS spokespeople to tell me who, specifically, the report was accusing of “rightwing extremist chatter” and which “antigovernment” groups are being monitored as “extremists.” They say they’ll get back to me.

Then of course, there was John Boehner’s reaction in this statement issued at the time:

To characterize men and women returning home after defending our country as potential terrorists is offensive and unacceptable.  The Department of Homeland Security owes our veterans an apology.

Furthermore, the Secretary of Homeland Security owes the American people an explanation for why she has abandoned using the term ‘terrorist’ to describe those, such as al Qaeda, who are plotting overseas to kill innocent Americans, while her own Department is using the same term to describe American citizens who disagree with the direction Washington Democrats are taking our nation.  Everyone agrees that the Department should be focused on protecting America, but using such broad-based generalizations about the American people is simply outrageous.

Concerns about racism and right wing extremism in the military were brought to the forefront by the SPLC in the mid 2000’s, as reported by Christian Science Monitor:

The problem was a source of particular concern for the SPLC in the mid-2000s, when the civil rights group warned the US military about a spate of extremist activity among US forces in 2006. At that time, the Pentagon “steadfastly denied that a problem existed and insisted that its ‘zero tolerance’ policy was sufficient. to keep organized racists out of its ranks,” according to the SPLC.

Obviously, the zero tolerance policy was not sufficient enough to keep Page out of the Military. He served in the army from April 1992 until October 1998. He left the service with a general discharge, as reported by ABC:

Page was described by authorities today as an Army veteran who left the service with a general discharge following a “pattern of misconduct,” including being AWOL and drunk while on duty. The terms of his discharge would not allow him to reenlist.

Civil Rights groups, like the Anti-Defamation League  knew about him.

The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC)  was aware of Page’s ties to right wing extremism for years.

Wade Michael Page was a member of two racist skinhead bands — End Apathy and Definite Hate, a band whose album “Violent Victory” featured a gruesome drawing of a disembodied white arm punching a black man in the face. In the drawing, the fist is tattooed with the letters “HFFH,” the acronym for the phrase “Hammerskins Forever, Forever Hammerskins.”

For those of us who are unfamiliar, Hammerskins is another white supremacist group focused on promoting white power music, and worshipping historic warriors for the cause of white supremacy.  For more info on them, you can read the wikapedia entry here.

Responsible for Equality And Liberty R.E.A.L.’s investigation shows Page’s connection to various unsavory characters on the Neo-Nazi and white supremacist fringes, including stormfront.

The Label 56 white supremacist musical website maintained an account on the Stormfront “hate group” web site, and Label 56 promoted their interview with Wade Michael Page on the Stormfront web page there (see captured screen shot of this).

End Apathy was one of the few things that people on stormfront seem to like.  I’ll spare you the specifics, though if you want to see for yourself, you can look here.

Also, the stormfront member, End Apathy, was based out of Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Here is the screen shot of a post by End Apathy on stormfront

Coincidence?  I think not.

Page bought his semi-automatic handguns, legally.  So I’m not going to go into a discussion on how gun control could have prevented this tragedy.  The reality is gun control could not have prevented this tragedy.

The issue here is hate and what it leads to.  Hate kills.  It is graphically and tragically that simple. While the Pentagon was claiming their zero tolerance policy on racism was enough to keep racists out of the Army’s ranks Wade Michael Page was among their ranks.

Malkin and Boehner’s rhetorical temper tantrums may have been in the name of scoring political points to the right wing base, but the tragedy in Oak Creek confirms that the DHS report was not merely “propaganda” nor was it about wide sweeping generalizations directed at the military or all conservatives.  It warned of people like Wade Michael Page.

Since 9/11, a lot of money and lot of effort from people like Pamela Gellar and Frank Gaffney has gone into promoting that to be Muslim is to be pro-Al Quaeda.  For people like Page, messages like that are akin to waving a red flag in front of a bull.  They don’t bother to learn anything beyond the superficial hate triggers fed to them by people like Gellar, Gaffney and lets not forget Michele Bachmann and Steve King. All they needed was to see people in turbans who “don’t look like one of us” and that’s enough for them.

If someone is wearing a turban and has a beard, that’s enough for people like Page. When politicians give their nods and winks legitimizing hate, people like Wade Michael Page take it upon themselves to “do something” about it, in the name of keeping America white and Christian or the “Real America” that Sarah Palin talked about during the 2008 campaign.

As noted by the blog Religion Dispatchers

It is fair to call Page a Christian terrorist since the evidence indicates that he thought he was defending the purity of white Christian society against the evils of multiculturalism that allow non-white non-Christians an equal role in America society. Like the Oklahoma City bomber, Timothy McVeigh, and the Norwegian militant, Anders Breivik, Page thought he was killing to save white Christian society.

Three months ago, a Sikh Group, World Sikh Organization, based in Canada was warned of attacks by right wing extremists. As reported by

The WSO is concerned that if misleading news reports continue, there will be an increase in physical attacks on Sikhs, like the one in Edmonton in March by Calgary-based white-supremacist group Blood and Honour. The neo-Nazi group also has active members in Vancouver.”

It’s time to recognize that Wade Michael Page is the sort of domestic terrorist the DHS warned us about.  While he was in the military, Page was involved in psy ops.  After he left, Page probably used some of those skills in his “music” and videos.  Without question, he was more than casually involved in right wing extremism, with ties to a variety of racist and neo-nazi groups.  He sang the praises of racial and cultural superiority, and was thought to be involved in raising funds for domestic terrorism.  The civil rights groups who monitor right wing extremists had him on their radar.

Then on Sunday, the hatred he was carrying around for years turned deadly.

Hate kills.  If we really want to do something to show our support and our sorrow for Page’s victims, we’ll have the discussion about what we can do about it.

image from Brooklyn vegan

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