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Letters to the Editor: We've always had white nationalists, but social media amplifies the threat

Oct 17, 2020
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Alfred Murrah Federal Building, Oklahoma City
The Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City was bombed in a 1995 plot led by white nationalist Timothy McVeigh. (Associated Press)

To the editor: What Sophie Bjork-James describes about white nationalists targeting democracy is unfortunately nothing new.

When I served as a regional director for the Anti-Defamation League, part of my portfolio included tracking skinheads, Christian identity adherents and other white supremacist groups. Although they were relatively small in number, they could be lethal.

My colleagues were threatened and Timothy McVeigh and a couple of his like-minded friends murdered 168 people at the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City in 1995.

The common thread of these groups was their desire to foment “racial holy war.” Their main target was not people of color, whom they believed to be either too ignorant or inept to cause trouble. Instead they focused on the Jews, whom they believed were the ones in true control of minorities and therefore the actual enemy.

The enormous and frightening difference between then and now is social media. Facebook and Twitter have slowly come to address the threats that their platforms pose, but much more control is needed. These people may seem to be on the fringe, but make no mistake: They are dangerous, and they are proliferating.

Barbara H. Bergen, Los Angeles

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To the editor: Bjork-James claims that the plot to kidnap Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer was a far-right extremist plot. At least one of the six people arrested was an anarchist who did not like President Trump.

Furthermore, the claim that many in the media have made over the last several months is that the president said that there were “fine people” on both sides of the 2017 protests in Charlotesville, Va. What is often left out is that just before that comment, Trump called neo-Nazis “very bad people.”

Most of the rioting and property destruction over the last several months have been caused by groups on the left. The groups that are undermining democracy and squelching free speech at universities and in corporations are also on the left.

Barbara Kimelman, Tarzana

This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.

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