Have White Supremacists Morphed into a Fifth Column?

by | Sep 27, 2021 | Opinions

Rioters carrying white supremacist symbols were inside the Capitol on Jan. 6. AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta

Have White Supremacists Morphed into a Fifth Column?

by | Sep 27, 2021 | Opinions

Rioters carrying white supremacist symbols were inside the Capitol on Jan. 6. AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta
The fear of a "fifth column" within the United States after Pearl Harbor led to the internment of Japanese Americans, another dark racist stain on our modern history. This same fear was again used by the House Un-American Activities Committee in the McCarthy era, when fear of Communism was the order of the day.

Definitions first. “A fifth column is any group of people who undermine a larger group from within, usually in favor of an enemy group or nation. The activities of a fifth column can be overt or clandestine. Forces gathered in secret can mobilize openly to assist an external attack. This term is also extended to organized actions by military personnel. Clandestine fifth column activities can involve acts of sabotage, disinformation or espionage executed within defense lines by secret sympathizers with an external force.”

If this rings true for anyone, it is certainly understandable. Let’s look at the history of the term.

According to Wikipedia, “The exact origins of the term are not clear. Its first identified appearance was in a secret telegram sent to Berlin by the German chargé d’affaires in Alicante, Hans Hermann Völckers, dated September 30, 1936. He referred to an unidentified “supposed statement by Franco” which “is being circulated.” In the statement, Franco allegedly claimed that there were four Nationalist columns approaching Madrid and a fifth column waiting to attack from the inside.

The fear of a “fifth column” within the United States after Pearl Harbor led to the internment of Japanese Americans, another dark racist stain on our modern history. This same fear was again used by the House Un-American Activities Committee in the McCarthy era, when fear of Communism was the order of the day. In the decades of hindsight since the era of the Blacklist, it could be argued that the real enemies at that time were the people exploiting that fear and intentionally undermining the Constitution.

The names we remember the most from that time were Joe McCarthy—for whom this “McCarthy Era” was named, the infamous Roy Cohn—later a mentor for one Donald Trump, and of course Richard Nixon—who later claimed that illegal activities by the President were not illegal because the President did them.

Patriotism is a strange emotion in that it can be a powerful unifying force. But perverted by the creation of phantom enemies it can be destructive. During the McCarthy Era, Communist Russia was an enemy. But the ideas of Communism that Russia operated on were not the ideals of Communism that the targets of the McCarthy hearings were espousing. These folks were by and large loyal, hard-core Americans. Russia has always been, except for brief periods, a totalitarian state. From the time of the Tzars through the times of Lenin, Stalin, on up to the present day. Vladimir Putin is a totalitarian ruler in the sense that he is in full control of all aspects of the state including the press, the Duma (legislature) and the judiciary. Nothing much has really changed there except the labels. And that includes operations to undermine governments around the world that he considers rivals or enemies.

As we saw from the active measures operations run out of Saint Petersburg during the 2016 election cycle, disinformation campaigns backed by the Kremlin were able to create street protests here through the exploitation of fake groups on social media like Facebook and Twitter. These groups exploited patriotism for their emotional glue.

Donald Trump exploited this same emotion, but with the twist of focusing on the “patriotism” of white supremacists—something he and his cohorts are still doing today. The frequent use of the phrase “America First” is a huge clue. That phrase has been the motto of the Ku Klux Klan for nearly a century. Back in the 1920s it was actually minted on coins that members carried. Today we also see it making an appearance in the halls of Congress with the attempt to create something called the America First Caucus, composed of extremist members of the Republican Party trying to appeal a white supremacist voting bloc. Trump went out of his way to cater to and coddle this base, using America First as a catch phrase and calling the Neo-Nazis at Charlottesville “very fine people.”

It is that group that actually concerns us most in this article. The recent publication of a survey done by the National Opinion Research Center at the University of Chicago gave us the troubling statistic of an estimated 21 million people in this country willing to resort to violence to restore Donald Trump to the White House.

We see the Southern Republican-led state houses attempting to return the country to the days of Jim Crow by passing voting legislation that clearly targets non-whites. A state of high anxiety exists among these same legislators over the concept of Critical Race Theory—so much so that they are passing laws to forbid it being taught it schools, even though it has not been. What is being taught is history and the history of a region of the country that thought the ownership of other humans made good economic sense. Yeah, they’ve got a problem with teaching that history too.

The key element of the mindset of white supremacists, KKK fanboys, Neo-Nazis and all the other factions of the “alt-right” is exclusion. If you want to be in their “clubs” you’ve gotta be white and hate (actually mortally fear) those that are not like you. The idea is that they have some sort of superiority in their whiteness—nothing could be further from the truth.

But meanwhile these guys have armed themselves and suffer from the delusion that they will be somehow “saving” American in some future “race war.” The truth is that their mindset of exclusion has actually placed them outside the rest of the actual group known as the United States. By taking the stance of enemies of an elected government, they are now an enemy force—a fifth column. And they have given up the right to the term American.

The definition of treason is, “the crime of betraying one’s country, especially by attempting to kill the sovereign or overthrow the government.”

These folks and those who started them in motion committed treason on January 6th. They cannot, any of them, be allowed to do it again.

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