By Dennis Hartley
(Originally posted on Digby’s Hullabaloo on June 10, 2023)
In a post examining reaction from the Right when news broke this week that ex-president Trump was being indicted by federal prosecutors for alleged mishandling of classified documents, Digby included this disturbing tidbit:
Take this seriously. “Perimeter probe”: Higgins thinks indictment precedes bigger attack. “rPOTUS”: “real POTUS,” Trump. “Hold”: “stand back & stand by.” “Buckle up”: prepare for war. “1/50 k”: military scale maps. “Know your bridges”: militia speak for prepare to seize bridges. pic.twitter.com/8wMLQ0AvHA
— THE UNDERTOW, by Jeff Sharlet (@JeffSharlet) June 9, 2023
What makes that even more chilling for me was that this all came down mere days after I saw Charlie Sadoff’s (incredibly) timely documentary. Sadoff’s study (which he co-wrote with Sebastian Junger and Kenneth Harbaugh) begins with an unsettling statistic: out of the approximately 1,000 people who have been officially charged for storming the U.S. Capitol building on January 6, 2021, 15% worked as police or military personnel. These are, of course, the folks who take an oath to support the Constitution of the United States.
The film not only delves into how military vets become radicalized but builds a timeline of modern right-wing extremism from the Ku Klux Klan’s public resurgence in the 1920s to current groups like the Proud Boys. The most revelatory “hidden history” aspect for me concerns the mid-70s to mid-80s-a period that saw a surge of Vietnam vets into various anti-government and racist groups, as well as the advent of “Liberty Net”, which holds the dubious distinction of being the first social network engineered by and for members of the neo-Nazi/white power movements.
Sadoff covers so much ground that this engrossing history begs a Ken Burns extended dance mix (occasional narration by Burns stalwart Peter Coyote adds to that flavor). That said, this is enough nightmare fuel for most viewers. You have been warned.