Two recent events in Texas reinforce what the evidence shows: Texas has a market for hate. The most recent event is the outrageous comments by pro-gun rights advocate and former rocker Ted Nugent calling the President of the United States, Barak Obama, a “subhuman mongrel.” Nugent made the latest of an ongoing tirade of racist, hate-filled remarks during an interview in January with Guns.com. Front-running Republican gubernatorial candidate and current Attorney General Greg Abbott continues to stage campaign events with the support of Nugent—a controversial and polarizing figure who is a regular at conservative Republican fund-raising events. There have been none of the usual reports of alcohol or drug abuse, or plans for rehabilitation, that we normally see following this type of PR debacle, so we can only wait and see what Nugent’s next step will be.
The second international-attention gathering event involves Conrad Barrett, a 27-year-old resident from Katy, Texas. Barrett is apparently a mentally ill racist who hates black people. At least that is what the Federal Government wants us to believe. A Federal grand jury indicted Barrett in January for violating the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Hate Crimes Prevention Act. Federal district court judge Frances A. Stacy denied Barrett bail, saying: “I do not believe there are any conditions that will guarantee the safety of the community.”
Mr. Barrett has pleaded not guilty to the indictment. According to his lawyer, George Parnham, Barrett is bipolar and was off his medication at the time of the alleged incident. Mental illness will surely play a role in the defense of this case, especially given the aggravating circumstances of the allegations and the early defense posture. Assuming mental illness is a factor in this case, we hope Mr. Barrett seeks the treatment he needs, takes responsibility for his actions and eventually asks his victim’s forgiveness.
Barrett’s indictment stems from a “knockout punch” he is alleged to have inflicted on a 79-year-old African American last November 24. It was a vicious assault, knocking out three of the victim’s teeth and requiring surgery to repair the elderly man’s jaw. Barrett reportedly recorded a video of the attack on his cell-phone and played it to a stranger he met at a local restaurant, who turned out to be a law enforcement officer.
The “knockout game” has become an increasing problem across the country. The roots of the game can be traced back as long ago as 1992. One or more people, generally young men, select targets to see who can knockout the unsuspecting victim with a single punch. In most instances, the attackers target individuals of another race or sexual preference. Indifference to humanity, as well as racial hatred, motivates these attacks.
We don’t know why some people love to hate. But they do. A 2011 Hate Crime Statistics report found that the nation’s law enforcement agencies reported there were 6,222 hate crime incidents involving 2,254 offenses. Of these attacks, the report said 46.9 percent were racially motivated, 20.8 percent were the result of sexual orientation bias, 19.8 percent motivated by religious bias, 11.6 percent stemmed from ethnicity/national origin bias, and 0.9 percent were motivated by disability bias.
Texas has more than its share of people who hate, sometimes acting it out in criminal acts like Barrett. In fact, Texas resident James Byrd was a victim of one of the most infamous and vicious racial attacks in the history of the country.
According to the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), Texas is second only to California with the number of “hate groups”—groups that spread political extremism, anti-government conspiracy theories, and racial hatred. Texas leads the nation with the most people who have openly expressed enmity toward America with their open desire to secede from the Union; to return to the days when it was an independent nation or when it joined the ranks of the pro-slavery states that waged a losing “civil war” against the Union.
The SPLC reported last year that the number of hate and extremism groups in this country reached an all-time high in 2012: 1,360 “Patriot” extremism groups and more than 1,000 hard-core hate groups. Much of the rise in political extremism and racial hatred in this country can be traced directly to the 2008 election of the nation’s first African-American president, Barak Obama. The SPLC has compiled a comprehensive list of data that supports this tragic social indictment:
• 49% of Republicans believe that the former predominantly African-American community organizing group ACORN, which became defunct in 2010, somehow stole the 2012 election for President Obama from their candidate Mitt Romney, according to a Public Policy Poll. • 25% of the Republicans in the same Public Policy Poll favored secession. • A January 2013 poll from Fairleigh University’s Public Mind project revealed that 36% of all Americans maintain the ardent, albeit debunked, belief that President Obama is not an American citizen, notwithstanding the release of his “long-form” birth certificate in 2011. • Right-wing (predominantly white) groups like the Tea Party have accused President Obama of staging a “Communist coup.” • The Family Research Council, the voice of the fundamentalist evangelicals in this country, especially on anti-gay issues, has accused President Obama of “dismantling” the country with a socialist agenda. • Daniel Miller, the president of the secessionist Texas National Movement, said the group’s membership increased 400% after President Obama’s 2012 reelection. • Richmond, Virginia’s WTR-TV reported that membership in the state’s Ku Klux Klan and other right wing groups have doubled since President Obama’s 2008 election. • A 2012 Associated Press poll revealed that 51% of Americans had explicit anti-black attitudes and 56% had implicit anti-black attitudes, both significant increases in such attitudes since 2008 when President Obama was elected. A 2011 AP poll reveal similar results in anti-Latino attitudes. • Peter LaBarbera, of Americans for Truth About Homosexuality, stated that the 2012 election of an openly gay U.S. Senator in Wisconsin demonstrates that America is “falling apart.” • There have been more than 100 domestic right-wing plots, conspiracies, and racist rampages in this country since the Oklahoma City bombing, according to SPLC. • The extremist Patriot Movement saw the number of its groups grow from 149 to 512 during President Obama’s first year in office and by 2012 the number had skyrocketed to1,274—a staggering growth rate of 755% over a three-year period.
Right-wing politicians, libertarian political leaders, and public extremism advocates have fanned the flames of a growing anti-government sentiment in this country. Former Fox News talk show host Glenn Beck recently apologized for his role in “tearing the country apart.” Some political leaders and extremism advocates, like former Arizona sheriff Richard Mack, Matt Barber of the anti-gay Liberty Council, and Fox News Radio host Todd Starnes, have staked out political and social positions that have effectively legitimized such violent-prone groups like the “sovereign citizens movement.”
The SPLC estimates that more than 300,000 Americans are now involved in this movement—a movement whose ideology has deep roots in the old order “white supremacy groups.” Sovereign citizens do not believe they have to pay taxes or obey a laundry list of other federal laws; nor do they believe they have to adhere to state regulations which require, among other things, driver’s licenses and vehicle registrations. They also believe they have a right to file incomprehensible and indecipherable legal pleadings in courts to not only relieve them of personal debt but also pursue millions of dollars from “secret government accounts.”
The sovereigns are particularly dangerous to law enforcement. For example, a father-son team of sovereigns gunned down two West Memphis, Arkansas police officers in May 2010 during a routine traffic stop. And in 2012 a sovereign teenager in Hurst, Texas tried to kill a police officer during a similar routine traffic stop. Rich Roberts, a spokesman for the International Union of Police Associations, told the Christian Science Monitor in 2011 that “sovereign citizens” are “deliberately targeting police.” That same year the FBI released a bulletin to all the nation’s law enforcement officials titled “Sovereign Citizens: A Growing Threat to Law Enforcement” calling sovereigns “domestic terrorist[s]” who had killed six law enforcement officers since 2000.
“Domestic terrorist” plots by sovereigns against law enforcement and public officials span from Alaska to Georgia. One of the nation’s most organized sovereign citizens group, the Alabama-based Republic of the United States of America, has already assembled a “government-in-waiting” with its own “Congress” that has “voting representatives in 49 states.” Sovereigns, Patriots, Ku Kluxers, white supremacists, and militiamen increase their numbers with conspiracies about President Obama having established “concentration camps” to lock up “freedom loving” Americans; that the Obama administration has 100,000 body bags in Atlanta for those who oppose his “Communist coup;” that the Muslim Brotherhood has hundreds of its members in political and government positions who are secretly working to impose Islamic Shariah law and “recruit” schoolchildren into homosexuality in this country—all of which will be protected by the “black U.N. helicopters” hovering in the night waiting for orders to attack those who oppose the conspiracies.
Let us be clear: we believe every person in this country has an inalienable constitutional right to hate and harbor any extreme belief they desire. But they do not have a right under this nation’s constitution written by our Founding Fathers to kill, hurt or maim out of hatred and extremism; nor do they have a right to overthrow our government; or to even advocate treasonous positions designed to calculate an overthrow of the government.
We are a society of laws, not men. The interests of the community supersede that of the individual. We don’t care how many guns you own, or even what kind, but when you point them at our president or when you kill our civil servants, your Second Amendment rights will not keep you out of our prisons. Timothy McVeigh was no hero, no patriot, and if you believe he was, then you are part of the problem that is tearing this country apart.
America will not rid its tortuous soul from hate, not in this or the next generation. It pains us that Texas, which is one of the more racially diverse states in the Union, maintains an open air market for hatred—the kind that motivates and compels someone to attack a helpless 79-year-old black man just for the fun of it.
As far as Nugent is concerned, there are no publically available sources citing his compromised mental condition as mitigation for his racist comment, so we will have to surmise that it is true, that he does in fact have Cat Scratch Fever…”you know you got it when you’re going insane.”