The host of “The Rachel Maddow Show” on MSNBC explained how white supremacist terrorists can still lose in court — even if Attorney General Bill Barr refuses to prosecute members of President Donald Trump’s base.
Maddow reported on the movement since the 1980s to go after organization in civil courts. She noted huge judgments against the Ku Klux Klan in Alabama, skinheads in Oregon and the Aryan Nation in Idaho.
“In the wake of the El Paso attack this weekend and other recent incidents of white nationalist and white supremacist violence and amid worries about the Trump administration’s attitude toward extremism of this exact kind, should this sort of thing be seen as a viable tactic?” Maddow wondered. “I mean, practically can it work?”
“Is this the kind of movement that could actually be hurt by being bankrupted, by being organizationally disrupted?” she asked. “Could these kinds of legal strategies be a strong alternative, particularly if the federal government is going to be an unreliable partner for the victims of these crimes?”
For analysis, Maddow interviewed Eli Saslow, the author of the 2018 book Rising Out of Hatred: The Awakening of a Former White Nationalist.
“We have seen in the past, people go after the organizational hubs, the leaders of various groups, trying to bankrupt them, trying to sort of organizationally decapitate them to slow down the movement. Do you feel like with the modern iteration of this movement that might be an effective strategy?” Maddow asked.
“I think it definitely can be effective and it has a place,” Saslow replied. “Unfortunately, I don’t think it’s a way to defeat white supremacy in the United States overall. That’s unfortunately a really tall order, because it’s so endemic in what this country is.”
“But I think these judgments that have been won in some of these cases you’ve highlighted tonight, they’re empowering for people who historically and currently have been disenfranchised by the white supremacy movement or killed by the white supremacy movement or wounded or injured,” he continued.
“And, you know, that matters. To acknowledge that matters,” he explained. “And our country as a whole has not often been good at acknowledging that pain and suffering that has come on the other end of white supremacy.”
“So I think as a tactic it’s really useful and it’s emboldening for anti-racists to see that you can win and you can get big judgments against these people, Saslow concluded.