They Want to Kill Americans
Jason Johnson: This is a work a podcast from Slate. And I’m your host, Jason Johnson. This week, the January six hearings expand from focusing on corruption and complicity of government officials to the on the ground extremists and groups like the Oath Keepers and the Proud Boys. And the threat these organizations pose to democracy hasn’t stopped.
Speaker 2: We’re talking about your neighbors, your friends, your family, the guy who is delivering the mail, other people who don’t believe America should be anything other than a white dominated male supremacist state.
Jason Johnson: The ongoing danger of white extremists coming up on a word with me, Jason Johnson. Stay with us. Welcome to a word, a podcast about race and politics and everything else. I’m your host, Jason Johnson. Congressional hearings about the January six insurrection are uncovering new and frightening details about how backers of former President Donald Trump stormed the Capitol with his explicit support. And while early hearings centered on how Trump and members of his staff encourage the violence this week, they’re also revealing more details about the extremist groups that spent months organizing the attack.
Jason Johnson: Our next guest has spent years tracking the rise of these groups and how they gained a foothold in the Republican Party. Malcolm Nance is a counterterrorism expert and a former intelligence officer. He’s also a bestselling author whose latest book is They Want to Kill Americans The Militias, Terrorists and Deranged Ideology of the Trump Insurgency. Malcolm Nance.
Jason Johnson: Welcome back to a word.
Speaker 2: Well, glad to be here. What’s the word?
Jason Johnson: So, Malcolm, you joined us last year to talk about the extremist groups to try to overturn the 2020 election. Remind us now, who are these groups and who are the people who have sort of carried out this plot?
Speaker 2: You know, what’s going to be fascinating to most of your listeners is two things. One, that I warned about this on November six, 2020, on Bill Maher’s show on Real Time with Bill Maher. And, you know, Bill was out there, I love Bill, but he was out there. Kumbaya. We’ve got to get along with we have to understand where they’re coming from. And I go, You want me to rain on your parade? I’ll give you doom and gloom. The United States is going into a state of insurgency, and insurgency is a series of insurrections by a party that no longer wants to deal in the political process, but has a political front. One side is the political arm that decides to take the debate to the street and supports the military or terrorist arm that is destabilizing the government. And I said that two days after the election.
Speaker 2: So, you know, when you put that into perspective, when I wrote this book, I finished this book last July and I had said, for example, Q and on would become the dominant ideology of the Republican Party within one year, correct? At one year. Q And on is no longer banned at Republican Party rallies you can wear. Q And on shirts and where we go one where we go all. And you can talk about people grooming and murdering children, liberals being worthy of being eliminated outright.
Speaker 2: So when you say, who are we talking about? Well, I make that clear in the first paragraphs. We’re talking about your neighbors, your friends, your family, the guy who is delivering the mail, other people who don’t believe America should be anything other than a white dominated male supremacist state. And, you know, they brag about having all the guns. They mean it when they say that they’ve got all the guns. So it’s one of those things where, you know, you can’t say, oh, it’s just the proud boys. Oh, it’s just the Oath Keepers. I have some news for you. The overwhelming majority of these armed people that show up at rallies are not part of any of those groups.
Jason Johnson: We’re going to take a short break. When we come back, more with counterterrorism analyst Malcolm Nance about the January six insurgency and his book, They Want to Kill Americans. This is a word which Jason Johnson. Stay tuned. This is Jason Johnson, host of a word Slate’s podcast about race and politics and everything else. I want to take a moment to welcome our new listeners. If you’ve discovered a word and liked what you hear, please subscribe, rate and review wherever you listen to podcast and let us know what you think by writing us at a word at Slate.com. Thank you.
Jason Johnson: You’re listening to A World with Jason Johnson. Today we’re talking with intelligence analyst Malcolm Nance about the threat of white supremacist extremism in the United States. Malcolm, one of the things you talk about in your new book is they want to kill Americans. You talk about the people who are after us. And I’m glad that you mentioned, hey, a lot of the people involved in this insurrection, they’re not official, right? They don’t have a badge. They don’t have a decoder ring. They’re not hanging out in the honeycomb hideout.
Jason Johnson: There’s some new data that’s come out this week that all the news has been covering about the insurrectionists. We see that these are not poor, these are not working class people. But the other thing that was really fascinating is the strongest data point that connects these folks is that they’re from counties that Joe Biden won in the 2020 election and counties where there has been a decrease in the non-Hispanic white population of 10% or more over the last decade. What can we do about the fact that we have an insurrection being driven by people who are economically comfortable?
Speaker 2: That’s a good data point that you make. And in my book I have done an analysis like this and there were a few studies that showed that the median income of the people who were involved in the insurrection, who were exploiting a lot of these, these were the people who had businesses, who had upper middle class homes but could afford a boat or a second house. Middle to upper middle class white men who saw their political power being diminished by the very democracy that black and Hispanics and women were involving themselves in.
Speaker 2: This has nothing to do with, you know, socioeconomic angst, right? Worrying about whether you’re going to lose your job to a black person. This is about the very fact that there are black people and that they are participating in the American experiment on a bet. Anything that gives them an equal basis upsets them now. And Donald Trump came in as their tribal leader. They didn’t care that he’s a pathological liar. That’s just the good old boy who comes out and lies and hits for the common good.
Speaker 2: So it’s that old Lyndon Johnson saying of if you can convince the poorest white man that he’s better than the best black man, he’ll not only vote for you, he’ll empty his pockets. And that’s what you have going with that demographic. These are people that make their money off of selling things to blacks, Hispanics and women, but they want to dominate them politically. And now it is we’ve going back.
Speaker 2: You talked about the 1920s, the third rising of the Ku Klux Klan. Right. It had two other iterations before it, but it went very broadly popular in the twenties. And in some places, if you weren’t a Klan member, you couldn’t get elected. So this is all a core part of what I call Titus, right to us, the Trump insurgency in the United States. This is a collective of the white supremacist mind who hate anyone who is not a white supremacist.
Speaker 2: And if you read any of my previous books, which are about ISIS and Al Qaida and other global extremist terrorist organizations, you’ll see that their mindset of the terrorist ideology here is the same that is now unleashed the worst sentiments in American history that we thought we had beat down for the last 80 years.
Jason Johnson: When we talk about these extremists. We know that demographic. I mean, you know, black folk, political analysts who actually wanted to pay attention, what was going on like you were writing we’ve been talking about this for almost two years now. Talk a little bit about how these groups have become popular, how these mindsets have become popular with people who are not white.
Speaker 2: You know, I think it was Cornel West, Dr. Cornel West, who actually came up with the phrase only Tom syndrome. And that’s where in some organizations, if you’re the only black and you’re fed it as the only black, and you view yourself as closely aligned to the management because of your your position of being the only person of color or the only woman or the only Latino. And that gets you some you know, that gets you some benefit by contradicting the 42 million African-Americans. Right. And so you become the only Tom in the organization. There is a Ph.D. thesis here for somebody at a historically black college to figure out why people join terrorist groups that would rather see them dead.
Jason Johnson: You’ve talked a little bit about Titus Trump insurgency in the United States. I want to talk a little bit about the January 6th hearings. Do you think they have any value? You know, some critics would say, well, what the heck? The January six hearings exposing stuff that we all saw. The DOJ isn’t doing anything. And then you have other people who are like, no, no, no. This is informing people of how bad the situation is. What sort of your overall take from the January six hearing so far.
Speaker 2: As the tempo of the news keeps this in there and this is what the Republicans understand, it’s to make a counterbalance so that, you know, both sides sound like they’re doing it and it’s just business as politics. But the Republicans are ruthless. They will end American democracy this November if they take power. You said this yourself. You were the first analyst to say this. They will impeach Biden every month. Stick or not, that’s what they will do. That’s part of the insurgency, the political component of the insurgency.
Speaker 2: But I suspect also at the same time, you’re going to find the armed component of that insurgency is going to start kicking in to where it’s acceptable to use political violence. It’s acceptable to run people down with your cars or murder them in sniper operations or drop bombs on them with drones. We’re in for a very rough haul. I want people to read this book because this is your life. I’m saying that as a professional intelligence analyst and you need to pay attention.
Jason Johnson: To what you’re saying. And this is a criticism that I have. I put my name on this and put my foot on this. I said this on the air. I’ve said this on this podcast. I said it in writing, say it in radio. I do not feel that the current administration with President Joe Biden is meeting this moment. When I hear people say we’re looking for bipartisan solutions, when I see the sort of feckless behavior of Merrick Garland not holding people accountable, I look at this administration and I see people who seem entirely incapable of handling the danger that we’re facing right now. Give me a counterargument. Tell me what the heck it is that Joe Biden and Merrick Garland and everybody else in this administration is doing to counter this? Because, frankly, I’m not seeing it right now. And it leaves me worried.
Speaker 2: It should leave you worried because what they’re doing is they are sticking to process the traditions. This is not that time. You know, if I get 60 seconds in front of the president, I would beg him. I would get on my knees if I had to in the Oval Office and say, I am begging you as a person whose family fought non-stop for 150 years defending America as African-American soldiers and sailors, please get up on the platform and say, I’ve had enough. I will use every tool of the presidency to defend democracy. If Joe Biden gave that speech, he would shoot to the pantheon of the top of the greatest presidents in American history.
Jason Johnson: We’re going to take a short break. And we come back more with terrorism analyst Malcolm Nance about domestic and foreign threats to democracy. This is word with Jason Johnson. Stay tuned. You’re listening to a World War Jason Johnson. Today we’re talking with commentator Malcolm Nance, author of the new book They Want to Kill Americans The Militias, Terrorists and Deranged Ideology of the Trump Insurgency. So I have to ask you this. You went and served in Ukraine to fight against the Russian invasion. How did you get out? I didn’t know the people were able to go and volunteer in a war zone and then leave. So what part can you share about what your process was to leave Ukraine and come back?
Speaker 2: Well, I’m technically only out for two weeks. And so, you know, you’re contracted with the Ukrainian army. There is a law due to the state of emergency that no person, man or woman who is assigned to the armed forces can leave Ukraine during the period of the state of emergency, which is indefinite. The way that they allow people to take leave, the international people to take leave is they terminate your contract, which is a form that says contract termination form. That is what allows you to cross international borders. So when I went through the medical border crossing the other day into Poland, they wanted to see two things my passport and that piece of paper that says contract termination, because they don’t see that they’ll send you right back or they’ll think you’re going absent without leave or running and they will have you arrested.
Jason Johnson: What is it like on the ground? The vast majority of our audience, even if they’re veterans, they have not been in an act of war. They have not been in an act of war that was in Europe. I mean, people may have served somewhere in the Middle East. They may have served in Iraq and Afghanistan. What is it like there now? Is it urban combat? Are you out in the woods? What can you share with us about your combat experiences in one of the biggest hot wars occurring on the globe right now?
Speaker 2: Well, a war is really a contained environment. There is a place called the war zone. There are nations at war. And in fact, the first activity that I was involved in where there was, you know, combat around me was actually recorded on television for NBC News. I was operating from a safe house on a safe base during that one morning of media junket. Cruise missiles fell in the neighborhood of our safe house and killed six of our neighbors. So, you know, the war can come at any moment.
Speaker 2: That being said, I was in Kiev in the immediate aftermath of where they had broken the siege, you know, the two axes of attack. They were coming to attack the city of Kiev. And that was merely sitting in a city where artillery and ballistic missiles were bombarding. I serve now in the east, which is on the front line. It’s not an urban warfare environment to use sweep into a village. And it’s all maneuver warfare now. Right now it’s static. Our line is static because 80% of Russian forces are facing the Ukrainian army in several Donetsk. We are in an area that defeated the Russians, pushed the Russians right back to the Russian border. And our job is to hold the line. If Russia decides to throw a punch in our face, we could quickly be involved in maneuver warfare, where we will be on foot patrolling to make contact with the Russians and engage them in close combat.
Jason Johnson: What kind of people are you meeting there? Obviously you’ve got the Ukrainians themselves who are fighting, but like are you meeting Australians? Are you meeting people from Kenya? Are you meeting people from Canada? What kinds of international people have you met and what are some of the reasons they’ve given for why they want to get involved?
Speaker 2: Well, I’m in the only authorized international force in Ukraine. The International Legion is the foreign combat force made up of people from 56 nations in Ukraine. So I’ve got Australians to the left, to the right of me, New Zealanders, big French contingent, huge British contingent loads, I would say a good 60% American. So we really, really have a lot of people from around us. But there’s a point that you’re making here that I would like to make in the new book that I have out with the very brash title, They Want to Kill Americans.
Speaker 2: In the audio version, I recorded an epilogue in Ukraine, and that epilogue is me going over all of my body armor and helmet and equipment and load bearing vest that I’m putting on for war in Ukraine that I have to wear. And I joke to the point that these were necessary for the defense of democracy in Ukraine, for an American to come there and to assist. But. Everything I put on was put on by people that came to overthrow the American democracy and January 6th.
Jason Johnson: I’ll close with this because I always think this is important. You sort of mentioned it before, but I would like to leave people, if not with an optimistic end of the interview, at least something to work on. So after somebody reads this book and sees exactly how dire our circumstances are and sees how feckless our government is, as you’re referring to it, what does the average person do after reading your book to fight against this ongoing insurgency?
Speaker 2: The only weapon we have in our arsenal and this offends me when I read these extremists, black progressives, especially the black progressives, we’re like, voting’s not enough. Broke voting is all you’ve got. And if you could get up and talk the way I’m doing right now because I’m mad right now because you asked me questions that made me mad that make me fear that every moment of my great great grandfather and his brothers running away from slavery to join the Union Army was worthless and that we would go back to the day before they ran away from slavery. I’m offended. My dad did not fight in World War Two. My grandfather served in France in World War One.
Speaker 2: Moving bodies and bombs. All of this offends me deeply. I’m from Philadelphia. I am an originalist. But by God, these people want to. They want to revere the document when, in fact, they’re taking a paper shredder to it and, you know, putting we the people on their t shirts. And when they really mean we, the white people. Exactly as the founders wrote it. Right. We the landowning white, you know, Gentry, that’s what they want. And that is not what America is.
Jason Johnson: Malcolm Nance is a long time terrorism analyst and the author of the new book, They Want to Kill Americans, the Militias, Terrorists and Deranged Ideology of the Trump Insurgency. Malcolm Nance, thank you so much. Glad you’re back. Please stay safe.
Speaker 2: My pleasure.
Jason Johnson: And that’s the word for this week. The show’s e-mail is a word at Slate.com. This episode was produced by Kristie Taiwo-Makanjuola. Alicia montgomery is the vice president of Audio at Slate. Our theme music was produced by Don Will. I’m Jason Johnson. Tune in next week for Word.