[I argued the same point in my post of July 2, 2019. It’s worth arguing it again after another white supremacist gunned down people because he was afraid people darker-skinned than he is are in the process of overrunning his fantasy world.]
For 99.9 percent of my sentient life I’ve been a 1st Amendment absolutist. It pains me to say this but the events of the last few years — oh, hell, I should say the last few decades — have caused me recently to start sanding the sharp corners off my rigid adherence to that precept.
I’ve come to the conclusion of late that membership in a white supremacist organization should be considered an illegal act. We’ve seen too many mass shootings — especially since Li’l Duce was elected president — inspired by or forewarned in white nationalist or outright racist social media outlets. It has become clear that these organizations are breeding grounds for violent and too often homicidal acts committed by people who buy into their sociopathic stances.
We’ve already accepted the idea that belonging to an organization whose aim is illegal activity can, in and of itself, be grounds for criminal charges. On a national level, we call it the RICO Act. Enacted in 1970 after President Richard Nixon signed the joint Senate-House bill into law, the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act calls for criminal charges to be brought against any individual who belongs to or is associated with an interstate group whose purpose is to violate the law. Funny things is, the very name of the Rico statute itself is an example of racism, inasmuch as it was drawn up to target members of the Italian crime syndicate, ergo the appellation, Rico. Keep in mind the name of the main character in the 1931 Italian mobster movie, Little Caesar, was Rico or, more formally, Caesar Enrico Bandello, as played by Edward G. Robinson. The name Rico, like Guido or Vito, became, in our culture, code for law-breaking Italian. It was a microscopically more refined way of saying wop.
Nevertheless, the RICO Act over the years has been utilized to prosecute a wide variety of reprobates including the Hell’s Angels, the Latin Kings, several corrupt municipal police departments, Michael Milken, and the Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA), in addition to the Gambino and Lucchese New York City crime families and the Chicago Outfit.
Federal prosecutors in all those cases determined that simple membership in said groups constituted an intent to commit crime.
The central message of white supremacist organizations is that certain groups of human beings are inferior to people of the pseudo-scientifically-denominated “Caucasian race.” In other words, their raison d’être is hate. And hate begets violence. Ergo, the actions of the likes of Patrick Crusius in El Paso this past weekend and Dylann Roof in Charleston, South Carolina in 2015. Both men — and hundreds of thousands of others — cut their murderous teeth on either white supremacist websites or social media or both.
Both — and many others like them — either hinted at or directly proclaimed that they would visit harm upon members of non-white groups.
Think of it this way: If I write on this blog that I want to rob a bank, I’ve broken no laws. No doubt the authorities’ll flag that post and subsequently put a tail on me or at least monitor my blog for further indications of upcoming mayhem. But if one or more other people post comments that robbing a bank is a swell idea and even offer suggestions on how to do it, the feds and the local authorities likely would have probable cause to run us up on conspiracy charges. See, nobody’s robbed the bank yet, but at least a couple of dopes are noodling the heist and that’s good enough for prosecutors to start filing charges.
Same with the white supremacist element within our society. I suppose it’s no crime for someone to say “I hate black people” or “White people are better” in whatever rhetorical ways those sentiments can be conveyed. But when two such supremacists begin circle-jerking it’s not at all unreasonable to conclude that others’ll join in on the discussion and, at some point, a disturbed individual (okay, more disturbed individual) will come aboard and be emboldened to march into a church or a Walmart and start mowing down people whose skin is the merest shade darker than his.
Ken Lay and his Enron cohorts didn’t take jobs with that company simply to become notorious criminals. But the culture and operating procedures adopted by it eventually called for them to defraud and rob members of the public. Lay et al easily could have washed their hands of the felonious stink of Enron. They could have quit. They had options. They were, at one point in time, well-respected operators in the legitimate business community. What other big-time energy company in America wouldn’t have welcomed Ken Lay with open arms? But, no, they chose to stick with an organization whose success was predicated on a continuing pattern of such unsavory acts as foisting worthless stock upon the company’s pensioners in lieu of honest remuneration. Thus, the RICO Act lawsuit filed against the Enron capos. Enron itself ceased to exist. Everybody was out of a job, including those who had no idea crimes were being committed.
Similarly, not every poster on a white supremacist website wants to go out and shoot black, brown, or Muslim people dead. But once a member of the group or poster to its website does so, they all must share in the blame. They have all encouraged that person to commit his crime against humanity.
Am I calling for hate to be illegal? No. I am calling for gatherings of haters to be broken up under the law. Just like John Gotti’s Italian-American social club was smashed using existing federal statutes.