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May 21, 2015 3

Texas County Considers Adopting Militia Group

A south­east Texas county has drawn atten­tion recently after it became known that county offi­cials were con­sid­er­ing adopt­ing a local anti-government mili­tia group as an offi­cial “county mili­tia.” Orange County Judge Brint Carl­ton endorsed the idea, call­ing it a “good thing.”

David W. Smith

David W. Smith

County com­mis­sion­ers decided at the last minute to post­pone the vote after a com­mis­sioner voiced reser­va­tions, say­ing he needed more information.

The mili­tia move­ment is an anti-government cause whose adher­ents believe that the U.S. gov­ern­ment is col­lab­o­rat­ing with a shad­owy “New World Order” con­spir­acy to strip Amer­i­cans of their free­doms, start­ing with their right to bear arms, in order to even­tu­ally enslave Amer­i­cans to the New World Order. The mili­tia move­ment has a long his­tory of vio­lence and crim­i­nal acts; the Anti-Defamation League has tracked at least eight vio­lent acts, con­spir­a­cies or major crimes linked to the mili­tia move­ment just since 2011.

How­ever, David W. Smith, the “com­man­der” of the Golden Tri­an­gle Mili­tia, a small south­east­ern Texas mili­tia group formed in 2014, has lob­bied county offi­cials to adopt his mili­tia group, even­tu­ally get­ting some support.

Though Smith has claimed to reporters that his Golden Tri­an­gle Mili­tia is not anti-government but rather a “civil defense force which works with law enforce­ment,” to his own group he has showed a more con­spir­a­to­r­ial side, argu­ing that “we must never let ourselves…be com­pla­cent to the schemes of the world elit­ists” and demand­ing that Amer­i­cans “rid our­selves of tyran­ni­cal government.”

Smith, a for­mer phle­botomist who now sells “mono­lithic domes,” has expressed sup­port for views that are far from the main­stream. Through his Face­book pro­file, he is linked to a wide vari­ety of extrem­ist groups and fig­ures, from anti-government con­spir­acy the­o­rist Alex Jones (who pop­u­lar­ized the recent notion that the fed­eral gov­ern­ment was plan­ning to invade Texas) to var­i­ous Three Per­center groups (anti-government extrem­ists who view them­selves fight­ing against the fed­eral gov­ern­ment as Amer­i­can colonists fought against the British). Smith ran for U.S. sen­ate in 2014 on a plat­form of oppos­ing “this uncon­sti­tu­tional de facto government.”

Iron­i­cally, Texas law has no pro­vi­sion to allow its coun­ties to cre­ate county mili­tias. Smith has argued that Texas law allows Orange County to “rec­og­nize” his unit as the “Orange County Ready Reserve Mili­tia.” How­ever, the Texas Reserve Mili­tia is only a statu­tory man­power pool that exists to con­form to an obso­lete fed­eral mili­tia law dat­ing back orig­i­nally to 1792. The­o­ret­i­cally, the gov­er­nor of Texas can call por­tions of the reserve mili­tia into ser­vice in times of emer­gency by hav­ing county emer­gency boards insti­tute a draft. Such boards have no power to call up the reserve mili­tia on their own, how­ever, much less “adopt” para­mil­i­tary groups. The self-styled “mili­tias” of today have no legal rela­tion­ship to the his­tor­i­cal and statu­tory militia.

Despite this, Smith has claimed that coun­ties have the author­ity to orga­nize the Texas Reserve Mili­tia. He has also asserted that the mili­tia could come into ser­vice “by gen­eral con­sen­sus of the pop­u­la­tion should the state fail in the exe­cu­tion of its con­sti­tu­tional duties.” Smith has even claimed that county com­mis­sion­ers could be jailed if they refused to autho­rize a militia—a seri­ous mis­read­ing of Texas law.

Smith will have to wait to see if Orange County offi­cials sched­ule another vote or aban­don his plan altogether.

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May 4, 2015 2

Garland Shooting Overshadows Anti-Muslim Event Featuring Geert Wilders

Geert Wilders

Geert Wilders

Police shot and killed two sus­pects who opened fire at a Gar­land, Texas, cen­ter host­ing a “Muham­mad Art Exhibit and Car­toon Con­test.” The Amer­i­can Free­dom Defense Ini­tia­tive (AFDI), an anti-Muslim orga­ni­za­tion headed by Pamela Geller, orga­nized the event, which fea­tured anti-Muslim Dutch Par­lia­men­tar­ian Geert Wilders as the main speaker.  Geller also heads Stop Islamiza­tion of Amer­ica, which oper­ates under the aus­pices of AFDI and seeks to rouse pub­lic fears about a vast Islamic con­spir­acy to destroy Amer­i­can values.

The shoot­ing over­shad­owed the Muham­mad car­toon con­test which AFDI billed as an event “in defense of free speech.”  AFDI asked peo­ple to sub­mit car­toons of Muham­mad and promised $10,000 to the win­ner of the con­test.  The con­test was also AFDI’s response to the ter­ror attack in Paris in which 12 peo­ple who worked for the satir­i­cal mag­a­zine Char­lie Hebdo were killed by Mus­lim ter­ror­ists angry over the depic­tion of Muham­mad in the pub­li­ca­tion.  It is also evi­dent that the con­test would incite the Mus­lim com­mu­nity and oth­ers opposed to anti-Muslim big­otry. AFDI chose to hold it at the same venue where the Mus­lim com­mu­nity recently held a “Stand With the Prophet Against Ter­ror & Hate” event.

In his speech at the car­toon con­test, Wilders asserted that “We will never allow Islam to rob us of our free­dom of speech.” He said that the con­test was held “in defi­ance of Islam” and that “depict­ing Muham­mad is an act of lib­er­a­tion.”  Wilders declared, “Let us de-Islamize our soci­eties! No more Islam, no more mosques, no more Islamic schools. It is time for our own cul­ture and heritage.”

It is no sur­prise that Gellers invited Wilders to be the keynote speaker at the car­toon con­test. Both have pro­moted an anti-Muslim agenda for years and have worked together pre­vi­ously. Like Geller, Wilders has made it his mis­sion to “warn peo­ple of the Islamiza­tion of our West­ern societies.”

The car­toon con­test was one of four events at which Wilders spoke over the past week in the United States. On April 29, two mem­bers of Con­gress, Steven King (R-IA) and Louie Gohmert (R-TX), invited Wilders to speak at two sep­a­rate events in DC. At one of the events, a meet­ing of the Con­ser­v­a­tive Oppor­tu­nity Soci­ety, founded by for­mer House Speaker Newt Gin­grich, Wilders com­pared Islam to Nazism and declared that the West should end all immi­gra­tion from Islamic coun­tries. The next day, Wilders spoke at a press con­fer­ence in front of the Capi­tol in Wash­ing­ton, along with Rep­re­sen­ta­tives King and Gohmert. Wilders once again spoke out against Islamic immi­gra­tion and argued that Islam has tried to sub­ju­gate the coun­tries where there is a Mus­lim majority.

Wilders brought up sim­i­lar themes in his speech at the car­toon con­test, which he deliv­ered before the shoot­ing. No mat­ter how offen­sive an event or pro­gram may be, there is no place in our com­mu­nity or our coun­try for the vio­lence that took place out­side the event. 

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September 22, 2014 3

Ferguson = Gaza: The Continued Invocation Of A False Comparison

gaza-ferguson-college-of-staten-island

Vigil for Gaza at the Col­lege of Staten Island

While Gaza and Fer­gu­son no longer dom­i­nate the head­lines, these unre­lated events con­tinue to be con­nected by a num­ber of groups and indi­vid­u­als in an attempt to bring atten­tion to their activism.

In addi­tion to pre­vi­ously reported exam­ples, more recent anti-Israel events con­tinue to link the con­flict in Gaza to the Fer­gu­son, Mis­souri shoot­ing and its after­math, couch­ing hos­til­ity towards Israel in social jus­tice terms in an attempt to appeal to a broader base of support.

Recent exam­ples of anti-Israel events that draw par­al­lels between Fer­gu­son and Gaza include:

  • Exis­tence is Resis­tance and the Cam­paign to Bring Mumia Home are adver­tis­ing an event sched­uled for Octo­ber 11 at the Mal­colm X and Betty Shabazz Cen­ter in north­ern Man­hat­tan to address “the global sys­tems that oppress us, from Fer­gu­son to Gaza.” The event will fea­ture speak­ers such as Remi Kanazi, an orga­niz­ing com­mit­tee mem­ber of the US Cam­paign for the Aca­d­e­mic and Cul­tural Boy­cott of Israel (USACBI).
  • A panel dis­cus­sion titled “From Fer­gu­son to Pales­tine: Con­nect­ing Strug­gles” is sched­uled to take place at the Uni­ver­sity of Texas-Austin on Sep­tem­ber 24 accord­ing to the event’s Face­book page. The event, spon­sored by the Pales­tine Sol­i­dar­ity Com­mit­tee, will fea­ture at least two UT-Austin professors.
  • The City Uni­ver­sity of New York (CUNY) Stu­dents for Jus­tice in Pales­tine (SJP) chap­ter is host­ing a panel dis­cus­sion at the CUNY Grad­u­ate Cen­ter titled “CUNY Stands for Jus­tice: From Fer­gu­son to Pales­tine” on Sep­tem­ber 22 fea­tur­ing “an evening of poetry, speak­ers, and dis­cus­sion around repres­sion and resis­tance from Fer­gu­son, Mis­souri to Gaza, Pales­tine,” accord­ing to event flyers.

    gaza-ferguson-brooklyn-college

    SJP “die-in” at Brook­lyn College

  • The Col­lege of Staten Island SJP chap­ter hosted a vigil for Gaza on Sep­tem­ber 17 at which the group adver­tised on Face­book that it would “read the names of the lives lost, give speeches, and stand in sol­i­dar­ity from Fer­gu­son to Pales­tine…” The group also stated that it shares the anger of those in Fer­gu­son because “Pales­tini­ans know what it means to be shot while unarmed because of your ethnicity.”
  • Accord­ing to a post on an anti-Israel Face­book page, mem­bers of the Direct Action Front for Pales­tine attended protests in Fer­gu­son and spoke to peo­ple there about Gaza. On Sep­tem­ber 8, it held a meet­ing in Brook­lyn, New York to share what they “learned in Ferguson…to become more effec­tive in our resistance…”
  • Mem­bers of the Inter­na­tional Jew­ish Anti-Zionist Net­work (IJAN) protested out­side ADL’s San Fran­cisco office on Sep­tem­ber 3 with a ban­ner that read “From Oak­land to Fer­gu­son to Pales­tine, The US and Israel, A Deadly com­bi­na­tion” and “Stop police brutality…Stop the ADL.” IJAN is a coali­tion formed in 2008 that seeks to facil­i­tate global anti-Israel activ­ity on the part of anti-Zionist Jews.
  • On Face­book, Brook­lyn Col­lege SJP adver­tised a Sep­tem­ber 2 “die-in” on the Brook­lyn Col­lege cam­pus to “raise aware­ness about israel’s [sic] lat­est mas­sacre” and to remem­ber “all the vic­tims of white supremacy and insti­tu­tion­al­ized racism in the U.S., the lat­est being #Mike­Brown and #EricGarner.”

Events link­ing Fer­gu­son and Gaza have also been orga­nized by some uni­ver­sity depart­ments. At UCLA, the Law School’s Crit­i­cal Race Stud­ies Depart­ment spon­sored a Sep­tem­ber 18 event called “From Gaza to Fer­gu­son,” which accord­ing to pub­lic­ity mate­ri­als, explored “the rela­tion­ship between race, the rise of mil­i­ta­rized polic­ing and the response to dis­sent in the United States and con­sider its impli­ca­tions in a global con­text.” The panel included Hedy Epstein, a Holo­caust sur­vivor who has com­pared the Israeli treat­ment of Pales­tini­ans to the Nazi treat­ment of Jews.

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