"a fish, a barrel, and a smoking gun"
for 16 August 1999. Updated every WEEKDAY.
I Got a Friend in Jesus



Weirdos are weird. A dull

tautology, perhaps, but it has

an interesting corollary: When

weird people only do weird

things, the worst likely outcome

for them is

institutionalization. When they

start to kill — especially

when they commit murder for any

reason other than those film-

noir-approved motives of money

or romantic rivalry — well,

that's another matter

altogether. And when the weirdo

in question looks quite a bit

like Heinrich Himmler, tries to

jump-start the Holocaust with a

sneak attack on preschoolers,

and then — in a plot twist

even Raymond Chandler would have

rejected as too implausible

— catches the first cab to

Vegas, the media and the cops

conclude these are the acts of

an insane person.


It is not that these "crazy"

kinds of crimes are unmotivated;

it's that most people can't

quite understand their

motivation. The most hip of

murderers tap into the Zeitgeist

(environmentalism, day trading,

hatred of teenagers) with Faith

Popcorn–like savvy. The

Unabomber took Greenpeace's

exhortations too literally, the

Columbine Kids paid too much

mind to the Quake liner notes,

Mark O. Barton swallowed the

gospel of Ari Kiev with a trifle

too much gusto. All of them

embraced their passions with a

Mountain Dew–like,

take-it-to-the-edge zest, one

Americans are trained to applaud

when it leads to wealth and fame

and to condemn loudly when it

leads to crime and infamy. The

underachievers on the sidelines

split the difference.


Buford O'Neal Furrow, despite

having a name that future racist

killers will be hard-pressed to

top, is only the most recent

newsmaker whose beliefs have

limited audience appeal. Earlier

this summer, we had Benjamin

Matthew and James Tyler

Williams, the Sacramento

brothers accused of murdering a

gay couple and launching a

synagog-burning spree. They

are adherents of a beyond-edgy

religion, Christian Identity,

afire with an enthusiasm tough

to parlay into a Time/Newsweek

cover about which we could all

feel a frisson of recognition.


Sadly, the Williams brothers are

not destined to provide much

grist for a mill that will tell

us important but hard-to-face

things about all of us. While

many of us curse smokestacks,

enjoy a bloody round of Doom,

and lose money in the stock

market, few of us staunchly

maintain that Jews are the

direct lineal descendants of

sexual relations between Eve and




Richard Kelly Hoskins, whose

manifesto on the Phineas

Priesthood Furrow appears to

have read, demonstrates a merry

cluelessness about nationality,

religion, and vocabulary,

writing: "As the kamikaze is to

the Japanese, as the Shiite is

to Islam, as the Zionist is to

the Jew, so the Phineas Priest

is to Christiandom [sic]." But

for all his mixed terms,

Hoskins' writing bares an

essential idea about his

movement: Christians are not

proselytizers, convert makers,

speakers in tongues who seek to

unite all people under the

cross. Christians are a tribe

apart whose priority is to

protect good genes, not spread

the Good News.


Thus we shouldn't confuse

Christian Identity with another

racist religion linked to

murder, the World Church of the

Creator, the creed of choice for

Chicago drive-by shooter

Benjamin Nathaniel Smith. The

World Church's creed is a

neo-Nietzschean white

supremacism that condemns all

Christers as sheeplike dupes. A

slow LA Times reporter,

foolishly assuming one cultic

racist killer is as good as

another, called World Church of

the Creator majordomo Matthew

Hale, the American most famous

for not passing the bar since

JFK Jr., about the Williamses.

Hale dismissed them

contemptuously as "Christian

Identity adherents."



Like many things American —

American cheese, for example

— Christian Identity is a

British import warped by

powerful evolutionary pressure

into something grotesquely

unrecognizable. It's a mutated

descendant of a more genteel

ideology called British

Israelism, a loose doctrine

whose core belief is that the

British are the descendants of

the Biblical Israelites. The

British strain survived in

attenuated form in the Worldwide

Church of God, the former

publishers of that delightful

giveaway journal, The Plain

Truth, that once solved tangled

theological conundrums and made

long bus rides glide by so much

more pleasantly.


Christian Identity adherents can

be lumped in with the "radical

religious right," but they ought

not be confused with the more

standard issue "religious

right," those "Christian

fundamentalists" battered so by

secular television and bumper

stickers. Those fundamentalists

are pantywaists compared to the

rough-'n'-ready Identity types.

The dueling Christian

fundamentalisms are riven by a

major doctrinal tiff over the

rapture, which Identity

adherents see as a sissy way out

of avoiding the horrific

tribulations that will bedevil

us before Jesus returns in

glory. Identity types know they

need to be suited up to kick ass

and take names through decades

of hell on earth before grabbing

the prize of heavenly glory.


Synagog burning is right in

character with the doctrine,

though, which has a special spin

on anti-Semitism: Christian

Identity members not only hate

Jews passionately, they insist

that the objects of their hate

aren't even real Jews. Christian

anti-Semitism always has a weird

tension arising from Christians'

professed belief in the Jews'

holy book and the God who

singled them out as his Chosen

People. What's to hate? Well,

hate will find a way, as Pablo

Cruise once wanted to sing.

Christian Identity plays that

tension like Charles Atlas, and

its buff, brawny bigotry kicks

sand in the faces of

anti-Semites who merely believe

that a Zionist conspiracy runs

the world for its own

sinister benefit.


The notion that today's Jews

aren't direct descendants of

Biblical Israelites has a long

and not entirely disreputable

pedigree. Famous communist,

anti-communist, and paranormal

obsessive Arthur Koestler wrote

a book, The Thirteenth Tribe, about

the notion that the Ashkenazi Jews

of Europe are all descendants of

the Khazar Tribes who converted

in the seventh century. Various

writings that influenced

Identity thinking label the

modern Jew as but a mongrel mix

of all those ancient peoples

it's easy to hate, since none of

us have ever meet any of them:

Edomites, Hittites, Amorites,

Canaanites. Hey, we all

know about those

shiftless Canaanites....


Christian Identity is

surprisingly unpopular, given

its zippy cosmology, featuring

Luciferian UFOs and Godly X-Wing

fighters in cosmic dogfights.

The mythos rarely appears in popular

culture, though we can detect a

shoutout in Marvel Comics'

please-don't-sue version of

KKK-type racial hate groups, the

Sons of the Serpent. Marvel's

righteous scribes add insult to

injury: Not only do the bigots

get punched out by the Avengers,

they are identified with their

arch foes, the Jews, the true

Sons of the Serpent in Identity




What's the big deal? Don't all

believers seem nuts to

nonbelievers? Maybe, but you

don't need to be Madalyn Murray

O'Hair — or whoever killed

her and took all her money —

to see a level of delusion in

Identity that goes beyond mere

faith in the existence of

gaseous entities of infinite

heft and a touching if picayune

obsession with human behavior.

Identity involves eccentric

notions about evolution (all

non-Caucasians are "pre-Adamic"

races, failed, nonhuman beings

God played around with before

Adam, the first White Man —

so interbreeding

notwithstanding, whites are a

different species), history

(Cain, after marrying a

pre-Adamic and killing his

brother, became the Babylonian

King Sargon), and linguistics

(the prophet Jeremiah couldn't

be of the same lineage as modern

Jews since you never run into

Jews named Jerry — this sort

of madness could not arise in a

post-Seinfeld world).


All sorts of doctrinal heresies

can find a quiet home in the

United States as long as they

keep to themselves and don't

attract the BATF's attention.

Identity adherents' main splash

in politics was their role in

founding Posse Comitatus, the

militialike group subsuming the

theory that the Articles of

Confederation were divinely

ordained and still in effect,

making the county the only level

of legitimate government in the

United States. They also embrace

the establishment of Biblical

law over secular society. So

does formerly famous rocker

Perry Farrell, who's now leading

a movement to reinstate the

Biblical concept of Jubilee

years for the forgiveness of

debt. Farrell, however, can't be

reliably linked to any crime

more heinous than drug

possession and Porno for Pyros

records. Christian


criminals are a little more

alarming. The Identity-linked

early-'80s gang, the Order,

robbed banks and shot talk-show

host Alan Berg, making it

responsible for the grim Eric

Bogosian vehicle Talk Radio,

though that's not the worst of

its sins.


Crimes and beliefs are different

things, and though professional

racist hunters like the Southern

Poverty Law Center make media

hay out of such freakazoids far

beyond their merits, the most

important thing about murderers

is that they are murderers, not

their colorful, racial science

fictions. Even though they make

colorful copy, white supremacist

religious fanatics are still

less of a threat to human life

in the commonwealth than are

backyard pools. They just make a

bigger splash.

courtesy of Eugen von Bohm Bawerk

[Purchase the Suck Book here]