Monday, August 14, 2017
The Seeds of White Supremacy
Like many of you, my family and I have been watching our television screens about the events in Charlottesville, Virginia with a mixture of grief, anger and outrage. It simply boggles the imagination how anybody could espouse the kind of hatred and evil that the White Supremacists who are marching there, and marauding there, have within them. Most of the television news coverage of this event has boiled down to political analysis. This problem in our country does have political dimensions, but the roots of it, the seeds of White Supremacy, are much more nuanced. What has been missing from this national conversation so far, has been the recognition that this kind of evil (White Supremacy) exists all around us, and how we as a society and a country must address it and stamp it out whenever it emerges. To this end, I wanted to share in my blogpost today about one young man who got caught-up in the White Supremacy movement in one of the churches that I grew up in.
In the late 1970's my father was a pastor of a wonderful church in Boise, Idaho. The church was an incredible family of faith and body of Christ, and one of the most Holy Spirit-filled church experiences of my life. To this day, I still look fondly back on my years growing up in Boise and attending that church. Church Potlucks, Bible Studies, Family Camps and All Church Barbecues were the mainstays of that church.
Like most churches, the church had some of the most amazing and Godly people in its membership. Also, like most churches, it also had one or two of the attendees occasionally had some emotional challenges, and mental problems. One of the young men, who had emotional challenges, and mental problems, and who sometimes attended that church, was a teenager named David Charles Tate. "David only occasionally attended", my Dad told me once, and "often when he did, would sit at the back, by himself". He was a loner.
Around ten years later, (and it should be said, nobody knows the exact chain of events) David moved to Northern Idaho, near Hayden Lake, and got caught up in a very sinister group of people known as "The Order" [The picture above is of young men doing a Nazi salute in Hayden Lake, Idaho in 1989]. The Order was a group of "Christian Identity" followers who were led by a very nefarious man by the name of Richard Butler. The Order's so-called theological underpinnings stemmed from a very twisted, evil, and wrong-headed view that, "white Americans and Canadians are the real tribes of Israel", and that, "Jews are descended from an Asiatic tribe of people known as the Khazars". (from researcher Nicole Nichols, an expert on far right racist groups in America - 2003). David, it is assumed, found a personal-identity in a group of equally emotionally deviant and mentally challenged people. Soon, David found himself the subject of a national manhunt and on April 15, 1985, after he and a handful of members of his cult killed a fellow member of "The Order". David found himself in a stand-off with two Missouri State Troopers, who were conducting a random vehicle and license plate check. David killed one of the troopers and critically wounded the other. The state trooper, Jimmie Linnegar, only 31 at the time, was one of those killed by David. Tate was later convicted of assault and murder and sentenced to life without parole. One silver lining to this very sad story, is that, "Federal authorities used the Tate incident, and Tate's testimony, to arrest many other members of the White Supremacist cult in Hayden Lake."
News reports of the profile of the young man who is being charged with the crimes in Charlottesville, Virginia, James Fields, sound similar to the accounts I heard of David Tate. He was confused, misdirected, had mental health issues, deep-seeded misplaced hatred, and perhaps most of all, found a group of equally broken and misguided people, to affiliate who were members of a religious cult. A medical health professional recently told me that many of the patients that he sees, have personal associations with hate groups. This is not to say that all people who face mental health challenges are racist, but that psychological stability is one important component to understanding this form of evil.
I am sure that as the weeks and months emerge, more information will come out about this very sad incident in Charlottesville. Suffice it to say, though, on this Monday morning, after the weekend of violence in Virginia, that White Supremacy exists, it is very sinister, very dangerous and very evil. And right-minded people in an advanced society like ours must stand against it at all costs!
All For Now,