With the towers of the World Trade Center fatally damaged but still standing, a leader in one of the many splinter groups of the Far Right fringe of American politics posted a Web site message praising the "Islamic freedom fighters" and hoping the terrorist attacks were the first shots in a racial holy war that would topple the U.S. government.
"May the WAR be started," wrote August Kreis, webmaster of the neo-Nazi Sheriff's Posse Comitatus group, based in Ulysses, Pa. "DEATH to His (God's) enemies, may the World Trade Center BURN TO THE GROUND! ... We can blame no others than ourselves for our problems due to the fact that we allow ... Satan's children, called Jews today, to have dominion over our lives."
While many Americans are swept up in the patriotic fervor that has followed the Sept. 11 jetliner assaults on the Pentagon and the World Trade Center, the loose and fractious network of neo-Nazis, skinheads, Klansmen, Christian patriots, neo-Confederates and white separatists have had a far different reaction.
In newsgroup postings, Web site articles and Internet radio broadcasts,they have expressed everything from outright admiration for the Arab terrorists to more measured communiques. The latter condemn the terrorists but blame the attacks on an American foreign policy that unabashedly backs Israel, calling for an "America First" shift toward isolationism.
The most hardcore response comes from groups that see themselves at war with the U.S. government, which they have dubbed the Zionist Occupation Government, or ZOG. Despite their racial and religious beliefs, they express solidarity with anyone who attacks what they see as the common enemy.
War against ZOG - the U.S. government - is the ultimate target of America's racial revolutionaries and overrides all other considerations. ZOG is a tagline from "The Turner Diaries," a novel of racist revolution by neo-Nazi National Alliance leader William Pierce that has become a guidebook for many racists and anti-government zealots, including executed Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh.
In a bulletin board message documented by KlanWatch, the investigative arm of the civil rights watchdog group the Southern Poverty Law Center, National Alliance deputy Billy Roper wrote: "The enemy of our enemy is, for now at least, our friends. We may not want them marrying our daughter, just as they would not want us marrying theirs. We may not want them in our societies, just as they would not want us in theirs. But anyone who is willing to drive a plane into a building to kill Jews is alright by me. I wish our members had half as much testicular fortitude."
Not everyone in the Far Right supports the terrorists who attacked America. "That's unfortunate," former Alabama Klan leader Don Black said of Billy Roper's expression of admiration. Black now runs a string of white separatist Web sites called Stormfront out of his West Palm Beach, Fla., home. He and fellow former Klan leader David Duke, an unsuccessful candidate for governor and U.S. senator in Louisiana, condemn the attacks, but use them as a platform for sharp criticism of American support of Israel and a call for a more isolationalist foreign policy.
Duke, in an article entitled "Will Anyone Dare to Ask Why?" that is posted on both his and Black's Web sites, calls Israel's increasingly bloody fight with the Palestinians "a policy of ethnic cleansing," and invokes the history of Israel's own terrorist campaigns against the British and Arab residents of what was then called Palestine.
"Let me be very, very blunt," Duke writes of the Sept. 11 attacks on America. "The ultimate cause of this terrorism stems directly from our involvement in and support of the criminal behavior of Israel."
Black downplayed the number of "white nationalists" expressing support for the terrorists who attacked America and called for swift punishment of those responsible. But at the same time, he found common ground with Palestinian nationalists.
"We don't have too many people who are sympathetic to the terrorists, but there are people who are sympathetic to the Palestinian cause," he said. The Palestinians "have their own agenda, but we certainly do share their dislike of American foreign policy being controlled by Israel."
Militia groups and neo-Confederate organizations like the League of the South also condemn the attacks and call for swift revenge. But they, too, use this deadly incident as a platform to launch broadsides on their own pet topics, be it immigration policy that they see as too open and destructive of traditional American values or concern that war fever will cause the government to clamp down on civil liberties.
In an article documented by KlanWatch, League of the South president Michael Hill wrote: "In part, these events sprang from an 'open borders' policy that has for the past four decades encouraged massive Third World immigration and thus cultural destabilization. ... This is America's wake-up call to forsake its idolatry and to return to its true Christian and Constitutional foundations."
Hill's sentiments were amplified by a more mainstream public figure, conservative evangelist Jerry Falwell, one of the founders of the politically active Moral Majority. "I really believe that the pagans, and the abortionists, and the feminists, and the gays and the lesbians. ... I point the finger in their face and say 'You helped this happen,"' Falwell said during the week of the attacks.
Falwell and fellow religious conservative Pat Robertson, who expressed support for Falwell's position, were roundly criticized for these remarks and backed off them. But where mainstream religious leaders see a public relations nightmare, leaders of Far Right fringe organizations see an opportunity.
In a Web site post documented by KlanWatch, Matt Hale, leader of the neo-Nazi World Church of the Creator, wrote: "The time is at hand to preach ... why these attacks: the control of the United States government by International Jewry. ... We must NOT allow this opportunity to be squandered."