Belew (History/Univ. of Chicago) pieces together evidence from primary and secondary sources to argue that the racist, anti-government, heavily armed white power movement is not what it seems.
As the author shows, many government agencies, law enforcers, and individual citizens have fallen for the myth that the lethal domestic terrorism carried out in the name of white supremacists is the doing of angry lone wolves. On the contrary, she writes, the movement is well-organized and thus more dangerous than previously understood. Belew places these types of individuals under the umbrella of sometimes-violent white power, a group that includes neo-Nazis, radical tax resisters, self-proclaimed Klansmen, members of local militias, separatists who oppose racial integration, and believers in white theologies such as Christian Identity. Although violent white supremacists have never been absent in American history, the author pegs the contemporary movement as growing from the discontent of U.S. involvement in the Vietnam War, a war that not so incidentally trained young men filled with racial hatred how to kill efficiently, not only with rifles, but also with powerful explosives. Before the war, white supremacists believed they were supporting governmental authority via vigilante justice, meant to marginalize undesirables. But the current white power movement members would prefer to overthrow governments, even at the cost of lives taken. A key concept in understanding the overall movement, writes Belew, is the concept of “leaderless resistance,” as exemplified by Timothy McVeigh’s insistence that he acted almost entirely alone in the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing despite evidence that he considered himself a soldier in a coordinated cell-style underground. The near invisibility of the movement leaders has led directly to the proliferation of the public’s belief in the phenomenon of lone wolves, which helps protect the movement from a coordinated takedown.
Belew's impressive research effectively supports her hypothesis. A good launching point for even further intensive study.