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America's Secret Jihad: The Hidden…

America's Secret Jihad: The Hidden History of Religious Terrorism in…

by Stuart Wexler

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The author explores American religious extremism, tracing much violence in the latter 20th century and since to a group known as Christian Identity that made inroads into racist groups such as the KKK, and added an anti-Semitic component to much racist thought. He documents everything with data collected from FBI FOIA requests and interviews with key players, and demonstrates just the right amount of skepticism to keep him from being branded a "conspiracy theorist" in the pejorative sense. He does not assume the existence of conspiratorial attempts to kill individuals such as MLK Jr means that James Earl Ray did not kill him, and did not act alone; he merely traces the roots of Ray's thought, and the presence of Ray as a scout, to the Christian Identity group. Other issues abound. The author commits the majority of the book to the mid-decades of the 20th century, particularly the 1950s and 1960s, during the Civil Rights era, and moves with the speed of a whirlwind through the remaining decades since then; he establishes the set up, then simply relates events back to the people and groups he has already introduced us to. This is both a strength and a weakness, as it does give us a solid background of familiar names, but it also shortchanges the latter period, and leaves a lot out as a result.

The main weakness of the book is that the author continually addresses all of this as being somehow a perversion of Christianity, and seems to dismiss the history of Christian violence, and particularly violence against the Jews. His statement that prior to this period Jews had at least been regarded as human is questionable, especially to anyone familiar with the literature of earlier times, such as Shakespeare and Marlowe, where characters refer to Jews as "dogs" and "demons", neither of which are considered human by anyone. He also shortchanges the actual violence in the Bible itself, and rather than seeing this as an interpretation of things present throughout the history of Biblical exegesis, prefers to see it as something new that has been tacked on.. While the two-seed concept of Christianity may be a new reading of Genesis, the violence advocated by these individuals is not that unique, and is not that difficult to support from the Bible; it is simply a focus on different Biblical verses than those of the more liberal, tolerant versions.

Overall, a worthwhile read, and it will give a person a lot to think about. ( )
  Devil_llama | Oct 22, 2016 |
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"The conventional narrative concerning religious terrorism inside the United States says that the first salvo occurred in 1993, with the first attack on the World Trade Center in New York City. This narrative has motivated more than a decade of wars, and re-prioritized America's domestic security and law enforcement agenda. But the conventional narrative is wrong. A different group of jihadists exists within US borders. This group has a long but hidden history, is outside the purview of public officials and has an agenda as apocalyptic as anything Al Qaeda has to offer. Radical sects of Christianity have inspired some of the most grotesque acts of violence in American history: the 1963 Birmingham Church bombing that killed four young girls; the "Mississippi Burning" murders of three civil rights workers in 1964; the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr. in 1968, the Atlanta Child Murders in the late 1970s; and the Oklahoma City Bombing in 1995. America's Secret Jihad uses these crimes to tell a story that has not been told before. Expanding upon the author's ground-breaking work on the Martin Luther King, Jr. murder, and through the use of extensive documentation, never-before-released interviews, and a re-interpretation of major events, America's Secret Jihad paints"--Argues that theologians of the Christian Identity movement have motivated much domestic white supremacist terrorism since the 1950s and not, as scholars have written, only since 1983.--… (more)

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