Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Keeping Company with the Radical Right

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Keeping Company with the Radical Right

Article excerpt

How stupid do they think we are? If we are to believe Pat Buchanan, he didn't have a clue until Thursday that his campaign co-chairman Larry Pratt, commandant of Gun Owners of America, had any connections to the most racist, anti-Semitic and heavily armed organizations of the American far right.

But in fact every single piece of information about Pratt that made headlines last week is old news, having previously been uncovered by watchdog groups and published in countless journalistic outlets, from Ro lling Stone to Playboy to this column in the year since Oklahoma City.

No less credible is Pratt's insistence that he "not knowingly" associated with kingpins of neo-Nazi movements. If Pratt, as he says, despises racists with "every fiber" in his body - and has nothing to do with the rabid separatist-supremacist militias - why is he as ubiquitous at their conclaves as burning crosses once were at the Ku Klux Klan?

Pratt spoke not just at the couple of meetings with Aryan Nations folks that you've seen on the evening news, but at countless others featuring skinheads, Klansmen and Timothy McVeigh gun-culture heroes like Mark ("from Michigan") Koernke and Bo Gritz (who is fond of totting up the number of Jews in the Clinton administration).

Kenneth Stern of the American Jewish Committee chronicles some of the most egregious Pratt sightings in his recently published book, "A Force Upon the Plain"; he shows how Pratt is a key link between the racist religious right and the racist militia right.

But the story doesn't end there. Foolish as it would be for Americans to accept Buchanan's or Pratt's denials at face value, it would be an even bigger mistake to look at this incident as a freak, isolated occurrence: far-right gun nut turns up (predictably) in campaign of far-right candidate. Pratt's associations with the right go well beyond those that have recently resurfaced - and his associations with the Republican Party are hardly limited to Buchanan.

As Pratt is frequently in the company of Pete Peters - the Christian Identity leader who preaches that Jews are the devil's children and that racial minorities are subhuman - so he also keeps company with GOP "revolutionaries. …

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