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Aryan Cowboys

White Supremacists and the Search for a New Frontier, 1970-2000

By Evelyn A. Schlatter

Publication Year: 2006

During the last third of the twentieth century, white supremacists moved, both literally and in the collective imagination, from midnight rides through Mississippi to broadband-wired cabins in Montana. But while rural Montana may be on the geographical fringe of the country, white supremacist groups were not pushed there, and they are far from “fringe elements” of society, as many Americans would like to believe. Evelyn Schlatter’s startling analysis describes how many of the new white supremacist groups in the West have co-opted the region’s mythology and environment based on longstanding beliefs about American character and Manifest Destiny to shape an organic, home-grown movement. Dissatisfied with the urbanized, culturally progressive coasts, disenfranchised by affirmative action and immigration, white supremacists have found new hope in the old ideal of the West as a land of opportunity waiting to be settled by self-reliant traditional families. Some even envision the region as a potential white homeland. Groups such as Aryan Nations, The Order, and Posse Comitatus use controversial issues such as affirmative action, anti-Semitism, immigration, and religion to create sympathy for their extremist views among mainstream whites—while offering a “solution” in the popular conception of the West as a place of freedom, opportunity, and escape from modern society. Aryan Cowboys exposes the exclusionist message of this “American” ideal, while documenting its dangerous appeal.

Published by: University of Texas Press

Title Page, Copyright Page

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Contents

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pp. vii-viii

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Preface: Fishing in the Abyss

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pp. ix-xi

My expedition into the extremist right-wing corners of the white American mind began in November 1992, when Amendment 2 passed in my home state of Colorado. I had just moved to New Mexico to pursue a Ph.D. in history at the University of New Mexico...

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Acknowledgments

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pp. xiii-xv

A project like this involves a lot of help, whether direct or indirect. I would first like to thank the original members of my dissertation committee at the University of New Mexico, who were very supportive of the work I was doing and offered many suggestions...

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1. Introduction: The Ties That Bind

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pp. 1-37

April 19, 1995, dawned gray and cold in Albuquerque. I caught the first reports from Oklahoma City around 10:30 a.m. Mountain Standard Time. The news about the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building was confused. A gas line explosion. A possible bombing...

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2. Missions, Millennia, and Manifest Destiny

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pp. 38-56

In 1996, Richard White asked what we should make of the current “weirdness in the West.” He referred to the Unabomber, the Freemen, militias in Arizona, Montana, and Washington, the bombing in Oklahoma City, the county independence movement, Aryan Nations...

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3. Armageddon Ranch: Homesteading on the Aryan Frontier

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pp. 57-83

In 1973, Steve McQueen and Ali McGraw starred in The Getaway, “Tommy” premiered in London, Pink Floyd released Dark Side of the Moon, and the Watergate “Plumbers” were convicted of burglary. The Vietnam War, though technically over, hadn’t ended...

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4. From Farms to Arms: Populists, Plowshares, and Posses

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pp. 84-123

To hear Governor Sinner tell it, American farming seems to rest on an intimate, almost spiritual relationship between farmers and soil; farming is a foundation of American character.1 As I have argued, perceptions of the “West” rest on images...

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5. Patriots and Protests: Showdowns at the Not-So-OK Corral

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pp. 124-158

In The Patriot (2000), Mel Gibson stars as Benjamin Martin, a South Carolina gentleman farmer and member of the local legislature who served in the French-Indian War. The year is 1776, and Martin is the widowed father of seven, trying to steer clear of the looming conflict...

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6. Conclusion: From Sheets to Shirts: New Frontiers for Right-Wing Extremism

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pp. 159-168

Michael Kimmel stated in 2004 that “[t]he white supremacist movement is animated by and populated by downwardly mobile lower-middle-class men (and their female counterparts).” He continued, “[M]en . . . grew up believing that this was...

Notes

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pp. 169-211

Bibliography

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pp. 213-239

Index

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pp. 241-250


E-ISBN-13: 9780292795723
E-ISBN-10: 0292795726
Print-ISBN-13: 9780292714212
Print-ISBN-10: 0292714211

Page Count: 268
Illustrations: 13 b&w photos, 7 figures
Publication Year: 2006

Research Areas

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Subject Headings

  • West (U.S.) -- Politics and government -- 20th century.
  • Political messianism -- West (U.S.).
  • National characteristics, American.
  • West (U.S.) -- Race relations -- History -- 20th century.
  • Frontier thesis.
  • Frontier and pioneer life -- West (U.S.).
  • White supremacy movements -- West (U.S.) -- History -- 20th century.
  • Right-wing extremists -- West (U.S.) -- History -- 20th century.
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