Academic journal article Homeland Security Affairs

Right-Wing Group Characteristics and Ideology

Academic journal article Homeland Security Affairs

Right-Wing Group Characteristics and Ideology

Article excerpt


Following the September 11, 2001 World Trade Center attack, our national attention was focused on Osama bin Laden, al Qaeda, and other radical Islamic extremists. On April 19, 1995 the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building was bombed by a native-born white male United States citizen who harbored right-wing extremist beliefs. While our collective consciousness prioritizes radical Islamists as the preeminent threat, should individuals and groups that encompass the radical right be viewed as having a reduced capacity to perform acts of terrorism? What future trends will be adopted by the radical right? How could these trends lead to an escalation of the threat posed by right-wing extremists? What can be done to reduce the threat of terrorism perpetrated by right-wing adherents? Before offering an answer to these questions, we should establish a knowledge baseline to understand the history, key figures, and beliefs of right-wing extremist groups in the United States.

The specific ideology of right-wing extremism is frequently difficult to define because adherents have multiple and frequently simultaneous memberships in the array of right-wing groups. Many people involved in right-wing groups have come from other right-wing organizations and will likely move on to other groups as their beliefs change. 1

Christian Identity movement

To understand Christian Identity is to understand a core feature of right-wing extremism. While some right-wing groups and individuals do not embrace the ideas of the Christian Identity movement, 2 it has become a prominent religious belief for many right-wing extremists.


According to David Brannan in "Left- and Right-wing Political Terrorism," a chapter in The Politics of Terrorism, Christian Identity is comprised of two separate theological ideas. The first and most prevalent form of Christian Identity is referred to as "seed-line" theology. In "seed-line" theology, Jews are depicted as the actual offspring of the Devil (Lucifer) and Eve. All non-whites, according to 'seed-line' theology, are considered to be the "beasts in the field," a reference to the biblical passage contained in Genesis 1:24. Right-wing extremists who embrace "seed-line" Christian Identity theology possess core beliefs to justify death, enslavement, or expulsion of all non-whites from the country. 3

The British-Israel version of Christian Identity is the second theological belief embraced by right-wing extremists. According to Brannan, British-Israel followers believe Aryans, rather than the Jews, are God's chosen people. True Israel is actually comprised of the Anglo-Saxon, British, Scandinavian, and Germanic peoples, not Semitic or Ashkenazi Jews. 4 Pete Peters, the pastor of the LaPorte Church of Christ in Colorado preaches British-Israel Christian Identity theology. Part of Peters' message is that Jews are not God's chosen people and true Israelites are the Celtic, Anglo Saxon, Scandinavian, Germanic, and kindred people. Peters claims these true Israelites "can be identified Biblically, historically, and archeologically." 5 Bertrand Comparet, an earlier figure associated with the formative years of Christian Identity, in his essay Christian Identity: What is It? provides an account of Adam's people. Comparet notes the name Adam, in Hebrew, refers to being able to "show blood in the face; to be fair; rosy cheeked; to be ruddy; and to be able to blush or flush." 6 This description fits the true Israelites of British-Israel theology.

Both "seed-line" and British-Israel Christian Identity adherents refer to information contained in The Thirteenth Tribe by Arthur Koestler to support their views of modern day Jews. Koestler claims the majority of Jews surviving the holocaust were of eastern European descent, primarily the Khazar Empire. 7 The Khazar Empire was a Jewish state comprised mostly of Turks, prominent between the seventh and tenth centuries. …

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