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Aryan Cowboys

Aryan Cowboys: White Supremacists and the Search for a New Frontier, 1970–2000

Evelyn A. Schlatter
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    Aryan Cowboys
    Book Description:

    During the last third of the twentieth century, white supremacists moved, both literally and in the collective imagination, from midnight rides through Mississippi to broadband-wired cabins in Montana. But while rural Montana may be on the geographical fringe of the country, white supremacist groups were not pushed there, and they are far from "fringe elements" of society, as many Americans would like to believe. Evelyn Schlatter's startling analysis describes how many of the new white supremacist groups in the West have co-opted the region's mythology and environment based on longstanding beliefs about American character and Manifest Destiny to shape an organic, home-grown movement.

    Dissatisfied with the urbanized, culturally progressive coasts, disenfranchised by affirmative action and immigration, white supremacists have found new hope in the old ideal of the West as a land of opportunity waiting to be settled by self-reliant traditional families. Some even envision the region as a potential white homeland. Groups such as Aryan Nations, The Order, and Posse Comitatus use controversial issues such as affirmative action, anti-Semitism, immigration, and religion to create sympathy for their extremist views among mainstream whites-while offering a "solution" in the popular conception of the West as a place of freedom, opportunity, and escape from modern society.Aryan Cowboysexposes the exclusionist message of this "American" ideal, while documenting its dangerous appeal.

    eISBN: 978-0-292-79572-3
    Subjects: Anthropology

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Preface: Fishing in the Abyss
    (pp. ix-xii)
  4. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xiii-xvii)
  5. Map of the Western U.S.
    (pp. xviii-xviii)
  6. CHAPTER 1 Introduction: The Ties That Bind
    (pp. 1-37)

    April 19, 1995, dawned gray and cold in Albuquerque. I caught the first reports from Oklahoma City around 10:30 a.m. Mountain Standard Time. The news about the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building was confused. A gas line explosion. A possible bombing. A structural collapse. By noon, the news had confirmed that a bomb had exploded in front of the building, causing a massive collapse and untold deaths. The media voiced suppositions about Middle Eastern terrorists. I disagreed. By 10:00 p.m. that night, no Middle Eastern terrorist organization had claimed responsibility and, based on information I had been collecting for three...

  7. CHAPTER 2 Missions, Millennia, and Manifest Destiny
    (pp. 38-56)

    In 1996, Richard White asked what we should make of the current “weirdness in the West.” He referred to the Unabomber, the Freemen, militias in Arizona, Montana, and Washington, the bombing in Oklahoma City, the county independence movement, Aryan Nations, and the more extreme fringes of Wise Use.¹

    What, indeed, are we to make of all this extremist activity? White made a crucial point in his assertion that the federal government, a demon to all extreme right groups, is particularly hated and visible in the West. Western states are full of national forests, national parks, Indian reservations (held in trust...

  8. CHAPTER 3 Armageddon Ranch: Homesteading on the Aryan Frontier
    (pp. 57-83)

    In 1973, Steve McQueen and Ali McGraw starred inThe Getaway, “Tommy” premiered in London, Pink Floyd releasedDark Side of the Moon, and the Watergate “Plumbers” were convicted of burglary. The Vietnam War, though technically over, hadn’t ended. The battlefields of Southeast Asia remained lodged in the men and women who had been there and in the imaginations of those who hadn’t. This war robbed Americans of an inheritance through which national character had created and re-created itself: military victory. Transformed from victors to victims, from heroes to killers both on screen and off, Americans in the wake of...

  9. CHAPTER 4 From Farms to Arms: Populists, Plowshares, and Posses
    (pp. 84-123)

    To hear Governor Sinner tell it, American farming seems to rest on an intimate, almost spiritual relationship between farmers and soil; farming is a foundation of American character.¹ As I have argued, perceptions of the “West” rest on images of men—white and Protestant—riding the range, driving wagon trains, and building towns on the “frontier.” However, ideas about the “West” also rest on images of Thomas Jefferson’s yeoman farmer. Though not as adventurous or romantic as, say, The Virginian, farmers and agriculture nevertheless have spawned their own cultural mythology that still resonates in the beginning years of the twenty-first...

  10. CHAPTER 5 Patriots and Protests: Showdowns at the Not-So-OK Corral
    (pp. 124-158)

    InThe Patriot(2000), Mel Gibson stars as Benjamin Martin, a South Carolina gentleman farmer and member of the local legislature who served in the French-Indian War. The year is 1776, and Martin is the widowed father of seven, trying to steer clear of the looming conflict with the British. Martin declares his antiwar stance publicly; he’s been in combat and knows that the people who suffer the most are civilians. As a parent, especially, he wishes to stay uninvolved.

    This is Hollywood, though, so as an audience we know that Martin will have to participate in some way to...

  11. CHAPTER 6 Conclusion: From Sheets to Shirts: New Frontiers for Right-Wing Extremism
    (pp. 159-168)

    Michael Kimmel stated in 2004 that “[t]he white supremacist movement is animated by and populated by downwardly mobile lower-middle-class men (and their female counterparts).” He continued, “[M]en . . . grew up believing that this was ‘their’ country and that all they had to do was to follow the same rules their fathers and grandfathers did and they too could reap the rewards of their entitlement.” As Kimmel stated, many followed those rules, but the rewards seemed to go to others—nonwhites and immigrants.¹

    A global economy created its own problems: banks foreclosed on farms, and corporations began moving their...

  12. Notes
    (pp. 169-212)
  13. Bibliography
    (pp. 213-240)
  14. Index
    (pp. 241-250)