Today, I am concluding my two-part series on America’s next boogeyman. Read Part one here
The members of the Nativists are as varied in their use of violence as they are in nature. I will give a quick run down of a number of players, and then detail a few that lead me to my conclusions that our new boogeyman will come from within.
- Colonial witches
- John Brown
- turn of the century Unions (see Haymarket Riot)
- Socialists (1920s)
- KKK (1865, 1915, 1960s)
- fringe Civil Rights groups (Weather Underground Organization, Black Panthers)
- Aryan Nation
- Army of God
- The Symbionese Liberation Army
- Timothy McVeigh
- Theodore Kaczynski
- Eric Rudolph
While these groups may not be designated actual terrorist organizations by the Department of Homeland Security, they are, none-the-less, boogeymen in any sense of the definition.
So, what do these divergent groups have in common? What similarities could the KKK and the Black Panthers, or the staunchly conservative Army of God and decidedly liberal Weathermen share? Not their ideologies. Neither in their actions. Some groups bomb buildings, others publish newsletters. What they all share in common is the government which fostered their existence.
Three Case Studies
In 1684, the original Constitution of Massachusetts was revoked by the King and the government was replaced by William Andros’ Dominion of New England. Andros quickly offended the colonists by radically changing the core tenants of their society–from church, to town meetings, to land-title and ownership. While these things may seem trivial today, for the men of Massachusetts, these changes were enough to unravel the colony. When Andros was replaced in 1689, Massachusetts was left with a power vacuum. In that vacuum, opposing views came to a head and what came next became known as the Salem Witch-hunts. Men and women were falsely accused of witchcraft by their neighbors. No one was safe; if you owned a prosperous farm, your neighbor just might accuse you in order to gain your land.
In 1867, the first installment of the Ragged Dick series by Horatio Alger was published. In Alger’s series, young men find success by battling adversity, eventually leaving poverty behind and attaining the American Dream. Impoverished peoples around Europe read these tales resulting in a massive influx of immigrants during the later half of the nineteenth century. Instead of finding an environment conducive to the American Dream, immigrants found a Congress married to the wealthy captains of industry–the very men, like Andrew Carnegie, lauded by Horatio Alger. With the government blinded to the plight of the immigrant worker, unions and socialist groups quickly formed to better the lives of the working class on their own. They fought for what they saw as the true ideal of the American system. By the late turn of the century, these two groups became intertwined in the eyes of the general public as being subversive to America.
In 1993, an Army veteran, bronze star winner, and security guard, told a student reporter outside the Branch Davidian siege in Waco, Texas, that “the government is continually growing bigger and more powerful and the people need to prepare to defend themselves against government control.” Two years later, the same bronze star winner parked a Ryder truck in front of the Alfred P. Murrah
Federal Building in Oklahoma City. When all was said and done, one-hundred-sixty-eight people, including nineteen children, were killed and another four-hundred-fifty people were left injured. McVeigh was later killed by lethal injection, but not before reminding us all that he “blew up the Murrah Building and isn’t it kind of scary that one man could wreak this kind of hell?”
What Kind of Hell?
As the TeaParty and the Occupy Wall Street groups show, a growing distrust in our nation’s leadership is festering on both sides of the middle. Am I willing stand here and say that either of these organizations will become the next Klan, Army of God, or John Brown? No. However, what these two modern-day groups shows is that there is a growing sentiment in our society that parallels the Nativists. We are left looking for witches, trying to solve our problems on our own, and fearing a central government that appears to wield too much power. Politicians on both sides of the aisle are seen as distant autocrats perpetuating a government that is continually playing sides against each other. It is only a matter of time before the fuse reaches a critical point, and we will be left trying to answer again how one man, or one group, could wreak this kind of hell.