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'Lone wolf' attacks aren't random, they're strategy

Many news articles have referred to the man accused of murdering 11 worshipers at Pittsburgh's Tree of Life Synagogue Saturday as a "lone wolf," operating completely on his own, but this is a false impression (“Trump rhetoric had big role in synagogue attack,” Oct. 29).

In her recent book "Bring the War Home," University of Chicago historian Kathleen Belew explains that what seem like random, sporadic attacks on blacks, Jews, immigrants and others are not that at all. Instead, they are a conscious expression of a strategy the white power/Nazi movement has used since the end of the Vietnam War in 1975.

To protect their leaders and their primary organizations, people who commit violence are encouraged to do that on their own initiative. No top-down orders for attacks are ever issued, allowing bigots who lead these hate groups to claim they have no connection to violence.

Shockingly, several federal investigations and landmark trials in the 1980s laid out these conspiracies in vivid detail, only to have southern all-white juries refuse to convict movement leaders, encouraging them to continue to grow.

Ms. Belew argues that the investigation of the 1995 bombing of the Murrah federal office building in Oklahoma City that killed 168 people and wounded 500 more turned up several leads that suggested a wider conspiracy, but federal agencies, stung by the earlier acquittals, and the criticism of violent confrontations at Ruby Ridge, Idaho, in 1992 and at the Waco, Tex., Branch Davidian compound, did not pursue them.

So as we await the next incident, imagine the federal and public reaction if a Middle Eastern immigrant or a black separatist group had perpetrated a bombing or mass shooting, compared to the reaction we've seen from a rising tide of right wing terrorism.

Larry Carson, Columbia

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