Lou Dobbs and CNN lavished the Minuteman border patrols with uncritical coverage, author David Neiwert shows. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens, File.)
One of my favorite authors about the American right has a new book out last week about the "Minuteman" border patrol nonsense of a few years ago. And I should begin with full disclosure: David Neiwert is a friend of mine. And the volume is from Nation Books, the imprint of this magazine. But trust me on this one. And Hell Followed With Her: Crossing the Dark Side of the American Border is one of the best books you can read on one of the most crucial subjects you can study: how the toxic mindset of white supremacist, anti-government insurrectionist lunacy migrates again and again into the mainstream of American political discussion. And if that's not enough to draw you, here's a bonus: David wraps his lesson in a true crime story Joe Conason blurbs as “reminiscent of The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo.” I couldn't tell you if that's precisely so; I've never read Girl With the Dragon Tattoo. I can't tell you much about the crime story either: It's just that gripping and suspenseful, and I don't want to spoil it for you. I can, however, tell you about the debt we all to Neiwert for his work explaining the unacknowledged debt the "mainstream" right owes to the thuggish eliminationists that the mainstream would like us to think they would never have anything to do with.
He's been on the case for decades, every since he was a newspaper reporter getting inside the militia and "Patriot" movements of the 1990s (surely at great personal danger to himself). His masterpiece on the subject was a 2003 blog series, "Rush, Newspeak, and Fascism," on how Rush Limbaugh and others serve as "transmission belts" lending "an aura of mainstream legitimacy to ideas, agendas and organizations that are widely perceived otherwise as radical." Ideas, for instance, like the one that Bill Clinton was such a dangerous threat to the republic that "no hyperbole is too overblown in the campaign to depose him"—born of New World Order conspiricists, and matured in the bosom of the United States Congress.
In the case of the Minutemen, that right-wing sensation that swept the nation in 2005, he traces a lineage back to Robert DePugh and his original "Minutemen," born in 1961, who stockpiled weapons for the imminent Communist-United Nations invasion of the United States. It leads through David Duke and his revived Knights of the Ku Klux Klan in the 1970s; then the early 1980s efforts to "create a white homeland in the inland Northwest," efforts which "ended in a blaze of gunfire, tear gas and smoke when FBI agents cornered [Robert] Matthews at a hideout on Whidbey Island, Washington." It continues through the "leaderless resistance" of the 1990s Christian Patriot movement—Timothy McVeigh's movement—and an offshoot of that moment which advocated border-patrolling militias.