Daily, social networks like Facebook litter the digital landscape with attacks by fear mongers and those who live in fear on dire warnings about Muslims, terrorist extremists and anyone who might hold a different opinion than them.
Makes us wonder how many of those attacked in Mesa, Arizona, Wednesday morning were afraid of such groups when a 41-year-old American who lives and thrives on hate opened fire with a gun, injuring six and killing one.
Ryan Giroux is in jail awaiting charges on the crimes. His body, neck and face are covered with tattoos. One tat displays “88,” a code for “Heil Hitler. Above his eyebrows the permanent ink on his face says “SKIN HEAD.”
“He’s a violent guy,” says an Arizona detective in a report to the Southern Poverty Law Center.
Giroux proudly belongs to the Hammerskin Nation, which the Anti-Defamation League called “the most violent and best organized neo-Nazi skinhead group in the United States.” It began as an American hate group that now operates in more than a dozen countries. In 2012, masterminded the mass shooting at a Wisconsin Sikh temple.
The group illustrates the surprising resilience of the American hate group. Other aging hate groups have lost membership as prospective recruits opted for anonymous online forums, according to the SPLC. But the Hammerskins have retained a strong online presence, their Web site clogged with tens of thousands of posts.
The roots of the Hammerskin Nation go back decades. The 1979 Pink Floyd album “The Wall” provided the group its name and symbol, reported the Anti-Defamation League. “The swastika is replaced by Pink’s symbol: two crossed hammers, which he boasts will ‘batter down’ the doors behind which frightened minorities hide from fascist supporters. … The Hammerskin Nation has made real the gruesome fantasy … racist music and racially motivated violence under a banner bearing two red, white and black crossed hammers.”
Those who track the widespread hate that exists throughout America today says it thrives online where vile threats and fear appear from anonymous Americans who promote violence and murder.
Sadly, you seem some of the same language in online posts on Social networks like Facebook. Those who spread the hate target minorities, Muslims and terrorist extreme groups based overseas. They ignore the hate, bigotry and discrimination that exists here at home.
They ignore the religious extremists who thrive in America: The fundamentalists who advocate murder of family planning doctors, who quote God while killing people. White Supremacy groups claimed to be religious. Timothy McVeigh, the American-born terrorist who bombed the federal building in Oklahoma City and killed adults and children, claimed he was on a “mission from God.”
Hate and extremism exist throughout societies.
That’s how Ryan Giroux and the Hammerskin Nation exist, thrive and grow here in America. These American-born terrorists live right here among us. They pose a greater threat to what little remains of the once-heralded “American way of life.”
Sadly, they thrive because those who buy into the hate live in fear, ignorance and blind obedience to self-destructive political and philosophical agendas that exit not only in Arizona, but here in Floyd County, the Old Dominion of Virginia, and throughout the nation.
Want to find the real threats to “the American dream?” Listen to conversations at a nearby table at breakfast, read the latest postings in Facebook and look in the mirror.