If you read the "About Susan Messer" portion of my website, you know this worried little person in the center of the photo is me, and you also know about my long career as a worrier. I bring this up again here because this week I received my quarterly dose of severe worry inducement.
For years I have been donating money to the Southern Poverty Law Center, whose noble mission is to fight hate, teach tolerance, and seek justice. In return for my donations, one thing I get is their quarterly magazine called Intelligence Report. Four times a year, this 60-0r-so-page publication arrives in my mail box filled with a nerve-jangling dose of reality, taking me into corners of the world I would prefer didn't exist. Alas, as I am reminded on a quarterly basis, they do exist.
The cover of this issue has a terrifying photo of a man wearing a camouflage mask and charging toward me with some big rifle. The headline reads "Return of the Militias." Inside are stories about "skinheads, " "nativists," "white supremacists," and so on. I put quote marks around these words because I recognize that they are labels in the same way as the other words I've been discussing on this website. And after I finish writing this post, I will check Dr. Phil Herbst's dictionary to see if he has listings for any of these terms.
In the meantime, groups mentioned in this issue of the magazine have names like United Aryan Soldiers, Aryan Circle, Atlantic City Skins, Nazi Low Riders, Soldiers of Aryan Culture, and on and on. The photos in this magazine are always difficult to look at--although many of them are mug shots, which I suppose is a good thing, since it means that when these people commit violent crimes, they are being prosecuted.
Fortunately, the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) is on the case and not afraid to speak publicly about their work and their findings. Worrier that I am, it's hard to imagine where their kind of courage comes from, and that's why I support their work.