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Aryan Cowboys. White Supremacists and the Search for a New Frontier 1970-2000

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Aryan Cowboys. White Supremacists and the Search for a New Frontier 1970-2000
By Evelyn A. Schlatter. (University of Texas Press, Austin: 2006. Pg. 296. 13 b&W photos, 7 figures.) ISBN 10: 0-292-71471-8. ISBN 13: 978-0-292-71471-7.

Reviewed by Sheldon Ztvordokov - January 10, 2007

America, the land of the free and the brave, has a dark underside, known as the White Supremacist Movement, which has long cast a shadow across the land. In Aryan Cowboys: White Supremacists and the Search for a New Frontier 1970-2000, Evelyn A. Schlatter takes the reader on a guided tour of this semi-hidden aspect of American society. She provides a overview of the history of the white supremacists movement in the United States, and she examine how their philosophy and religious beliefs have developed over the years. In addition, she discusses why their racist and hate-mongerring ideology has proven so appealing to so many white Christians, and how these groups have spread their messages of hate throughout mainstream, white, communities.

Taking an academic approach to the study of the white supremacists movement, Schlatter examines a host of ideologically related groups, such as Aryan Nations, The Order, Posse Comitatus, Montana Freeman, Christian Identity Movement, Neo-Nazis, and the Ku Klux Klan. While the number of white supremacist groups is in constant flux, and while they do not follow a single philosophical model, Schlatter points out that they are united on several fronts including Christianity and the idea of Armageddon, anti-semitic and anti-minority rhetoric, fervent belief in self-reliance, anti-government feelings, and the idea that whites, as a race, are superior to everyone else. Throughout Aryan Cowboys, Schlatter chronicles the numerous conflicts that have arisen between the white supremacists groups and local, state, and federal agencies - including the Branch Davidian, Ruby Ridge, and Freeman standoffs.

Most important, Schlatter examines how the white supremacists mythos has coopted numerous western myths and stereotypes in the creation of their group identity. She also illustrates how these groups have elected to make the American West, their 'homeland' with many of these groups settling in the rural areas of Montana, Wyoming, Idaho, and Utah. While most of these groups are located in the West, they can in reality be found throughout the United States in such diverse locals as West Virginia, Texas, and Oregon. Schlatter also shows how, in almost all cases, the white supremacist groups have elected a cultural ideal that promotes an agrarian, self-sufficient lifestyle that see the 'man' as the head of the household and women relegated to traditional women's roles.

In a time when so much of the media, and the government's attention is focused on the potential threat posed by foreign terrorist, this book offers a timely reminder that there is also an internal threat that needs to be guarded against. Time and time again members of the White Supremacist Movement have reacted violently in the face of real or imagined threats to their way of life. They have also committed horrific crimes against minorities, Jews, and individual citizens who have opposed them. The dangers faced by home grown terrorist, such as Timothy McVeigh who carried out the Oklahoma City Bombing, are real, and should not be ignored. Throughout the pages of this fascinating book, Schlatter gives the readers a unique look at the world, and mind set, of the members of the White Supremacist movement. This book is chilling and unforgettable, and it provides an unprecedented glimpse at a unique aspect of American culture and history that is often overlooked. I highly recommend this book to both academic and general audiences.


Related Reviews:

Better For All the World, by Harry Bruinius.
The Secret History of Forced Sterilization and America's Quest for Racial Purity. A general history of eugenics in the United States.

Fatal Future?, by Richard M. Pearlstein.
Transnational Terrorism and the New Global Disorder.

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