By Alex Distefano
By Scott Snowden
By Anna Merlan
By Steve Almond
By Jena Ardell
By Jon Campbell
By Alan Scherstuhl
By Tessa Stuart
The machine-gun attack on the Jewish community center in Southern California by Buford Furrow of the Idaho-based Aryan Nations, which took place in the original homeland of the far right's Christian Identity movement, had all the earmarks of a well-planned assault by the racist right against the "Jewish elite."
Like Benjamin Smith of the World Church of the Creator, who went on a Midwest killing spree over the July 4th weekend, Furrow may have been acting in the tradition of the Phineas Priesthood, a cult of "lone avengers" within Christian Identity named for an Old Testament figure who slew a mixed-faith couple. Christian Identity preaches that Jews are the spawn of Satan and that "nonwhites" (referred to as "mud people") are subhuman.
Furrow's attack on the Jewish center and killing of Filipino American Joseph Ileto came a week after an Internet posting by Tom Metzger of the Southern Californiabased White Aryan Resistance (WAR), stating that he was releasing "all associates from any constraints, real or imagined" to accomplish the white supremacist revolution. (Other than the generalized ties among the racialist right, however, Furrow was not known to have direct links to Metzger.)
Although Furrow apparently acted alone, he is no racist loner. He was an Aryan Nations security guard and was married in a ceremony presided over by the group's founder and leader, Richard Butler to Debra Mathews, widow of Bob Mathews, head of the revered terror gang of the early '80s, The Order. (The couple separated recently.)
The Order raised money for the racist right by robbing armored cars, and murdered Jewish talk show host Alan Berg in Denver in 1984. In December of that year, Mathews died in a blaze at his Whidbey Island hideout off the coast of Washington, which caught fire following a furious gunfight with FBI agents. Shortly afterward, other gang members were sentenced to lengthy prison terms.
Some of the $4.5 million the gang had stolen was recovered, but about $1 million is unaccounted for. In one statement, a member described money being distributed among racist right groups, and an unexplained aspect of Furrow's spree is where the funding for his arsenal, van, and trip came from, as well as the loose cash he was waving around, including $800 he plunked down for his post-rampage taxi ride to Las Vegas and $2000 he was carrying when he turned himself in.
Vince Reed, a former FBI informant who infiltrated Aryan Nations, told Bill Morlin of the Spokane Spokesman-Review that Furrow "was a respected person" in the group's compound. "His views were very strong, anti-Jew," Reed added, "and he always expressed that."
Since the Oklahoma City bombing, for which neo-Nazi Timothy McVeigh was convicted, the racist right has focused on attacks against Jews. Of course, as the killing of Ileto a postal worker Furrow happened upon following the attack at the Jewish center shows, any black or brown "target of opportunity" (Furrow's words) will do. Furrow allegedly emptied nine of 10 shots from a Glock 9mm pistol into Ileto.
Previous L.A. "targets of opportunity" reportedly discarded by Furrow because he thought security was too tight, included the Simon Wiesenthal Museum of Tolerance and the University of Judaism. Police said he had also considered shooting up a gay bar in San Francisco on his trip down.
Butler had previously lived in the Mojave Desert community of Palmdale, and established his Church of Jesus Christ Christian in Southern California before moving to Idaho in 1973. His church was an offshoot of loosely tied Anglo-Israelite cults, which were among the first Christian Identity groups, and the Anglo-Saxon Christian Congregation established in the '40s in Hollywood by Wesley Swift, an organizer for the anti-Semitic rabble-rouser Gerald L.K. Smith.
According to some reports, Butler, who is 80 and said to be in failing health, is considering another Southern Californian, Neuman Britton of Escondido, to succeed him. Britton is married to Joan Kahl, widow of Gordon Kahl, the North Dakota Posse Comitatus member who died in a shoot-out with federal agents in Arkansas in 1983. Britton, however, is 73, and other reports favor the former Texas Klan leader and Aryan Nations ambassador-at-large Louis Beam.
The San Fernando Valley, where the Granada Hills Jewish center is located, is an active area for the West Virginiabased National Alliance, described by the Anti-Defamation League following last week's shootings as the "single most dangerous organized hate group in the United States." Last summer, when two synagogues in the Valley were desecrated, the National Alliance's Web site address was scrawled on the walls along with the words: "Stop Murdering the White Race." William Pierce, head of the National Alliance, is the author of The Turner Diaries, a novel found in Timothy McVeigh's car when he was stopped, which depicts an apocalyptic racist massacre in Southern California.
The Broken Contract
You'd think the tabloid Star's revelations that Newt was dating a choirgirl throughout "Sexgate" might finally shut up the moralizing right wing. In fact, it may dampen family values as a campaign issue for the pious Republicans. But along with the National Enquirer's "exposé" last week about two supposed affairs involving Hillary, the scandal sex machine seems to be going full-tilt boogie again. (All of this overwhelmed Liddy Dole's striking third-place finish in the Iowa straw poll, seen as a major development in positioning her for the VP nod which political pros had figured as likely all along.)
The Star's Gingrich bombshell came in the form of a story by Richard Gooding (who broke the Gennifer Flowers story) with a photo of the jowly, potbellied Gingrich strolling hand-in-hand with Callista Bisek, a 33-year-old House Agriculture Committee staffer who sings in the National Shrine Choir. The news surfaced as Gingrich and his second wife, Marianne, were negotiating the details of a divorce after their marriage reached an impasse following last fall's elections.
The affair, according to Gooding, has been going on for quite some time. The couple supposedly would meet at the Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, where Gingrich would read the Bible as he listened to Callista sing. Or he would squire her out into the Virginia countryside for a meal at the L'Auberge Chez François restaurant.
It all spurred a new spate of rumors about just why Gingrich quit the Speakership so suddenly in late '98. At the time, his resignation was depicted as the step of a principled leader who had failed his party and who was stepping aside to let fresh blood in. The fresh blood unfortunately turned out to be Bob Livingston, who abruptly quit in disgrace on the day the House voted to impeach Clinton when his own long-term affair was about to be exposed by Larry Flynt. Callista has been named in court papers in Newt's divorce case, and Matt Drudge reports there are secret tape recordings of their phone conversations. On Monday, there were reports that Marianne Gingrich's lawyer, John Mayoue, might question Bisek on videotape about the relationship and whether she and Gingrich had had physical relations in his congressional office while he was Speaker.
The Enquirer's piece touted Hillary's "two big affairs while married to Bill" the first supposedly with Vince Foster. Then, the Enquirer reported, "Hillary turned to [an unnamed] longtime friend and began another on-again, off-again affair. As the relationship heated up, they even had a secret rendezvous at a California hotel. The friendship continues to this day. . . . The physical part is infrequent, but the emotional connection is intense and ongoing."
And the beat goes on.
Rotten at the Corps
After racists ripped up a mattress, stole their boots, and scribbled epithets on their lockers, a group of African American kids from Washington, D.C., who belong to an organization called Young Marines, were badly shaken. The youths, ages eight to 18, had gone to Camp Lejeune in North Carolina last month for an outing intended to familiarize them with military life. Instead, their family photos were torn up, their money and uniforms were stolen, and someone urinated on their gear. Leonard McFerson, who commands the unit, said he was appalled that such racism had taken place at a military base. "I will never go back," McFerson told The Washington Post.
"I try to get [the kids] out of the city and show them something different, and if that's what they're going to see, I might as well let them run around the street and be gang members." Additional reporting: Kristen Nelson