White supremacy has been at the bottom of organized racism since the birth of the Ku Klux Klan in the Reconstruction era. While it is still a common denominator, radical groups like The Order and the Arizona Patriots are now espousing themes that are different from - and to some more alarming than - the KKK's goals of yesteryear.
Today's white-supremacist leaders have given up their nostalgia for the ``Jim Crow'' era of the past, replacing it with a ``cockamamie'' vision of the future, says Bill Stanton of Klanwatch. ``Today they want to create a new order. They envision an all-white republic in North America in which minorities will be run out of the country or, if they won't leave, be exterminated.''
The Aryan Nations, for example, dreams of establishing an all-white homeland, to be called the ``Northwest Mountain Republic,'' in Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Montana, and Wyoming.
Many right-wing racist organizations no longer seek to portray themselves as law-abiding, Constitution-protecting, patriotic fraternities. Instead, the federal government has become the avowed enemy of such groups, whose members believe United States leaders have betrayed and invalidated the Constitution.
Militant organizations like The Order have stockpiled weapons, provided military-type training for their members, and planned attacks against government institutions.
Hoods and robes are out, and the ``Rambo'' image is in, says one klan watcher.
Blacks have been and still are targets of violence and harassment, particularly by extremist groups in the South.
But, increasingly, Jews are also coming under attack, partly as a result of a growing neo-Nazi influence in the movement.
A common theme among hate groups today is that an ``international Jewish conspiracy'' is responsible for most of America's current troubles, including the trade deficit, the slump in the industrial Midwest, and the farm crisis. The economically depressed farm belt, in particular, has been fertile ground for anti-Semitic organizations to sow messages of hate in hopes of winning converts to their cause, says Dan Levitas of Prariefire Rural Action Inc., in Des Moines.
A poll that was conducted in Iowa and Nebraska by Louis Harris Associates showed that 27 percent of the respondents laid the responsibility for the farm crisis on the shoulders of international Jewish bankers.
Far-right groups in farm country have sought to win a mass following by infiltrating the farm-protest movement, he says.
Some people are attracted to these groups, observers say, by the fact that they identify themselves with fundamentalist Christianity.