Oklahoma City

and Bring the War Home

PS140O: Projecting Power

Prof Wasow



  • Movie poll: https://bit.ly/pp24wk10
  • Attendance: https://bit.ly/pp24x10

Housekeeping: Pan-Asian Movements

How States Make Race (and Ethnicity)


What connects recent films? Act of Killing, Europa Europa, Oklahoma City?

Let’s hear from: Olivia, Linea, Abril, Carlos

Some Themes

  • Dehumanization and mass killing
    • Ideas about people as “vermin”
    • Eugenics, genocide, politicide
    • Antisemitism, racism, anti-Chinese/Vietnamese bigotry
  • “Herrenvolk democracy,” and ethnonationalism
  • Systematic and semi-official terror

White Power in US

Intro to White Power Movement

  • How does white power differ from other forms of American white supremacy and racism?
  • Militias and paramilitary organizations?
  • Goal of establishing a white ethnostate?
  • Goal of overthrowing the U.S. government
    • Countermobilization to Civil Rights Movement, women’s and gay liberation movements, growing immigration from Asia and Latin America
  • A social movement

Vietnam War’s Influence

  • Many veterans felt abandoned by government
  • Veterans learned variety of guerrilla warfare tactics
  • Anti-communism and anti-Asian racism served as a bridge between older racial ideologies and the newly emerging militant white power ideology

Formation of the Movement

  • Movement bigger than any one organization
    • KKK, neo-Nazi groups, skinheads
    • other paramilitary organizations
  • Brought together by ideas of racial purity, militancy, antisemitism, government as threat, apocalyptic beliefs
  • Also, key events like Ruby Ridge help to mobilize and unify

Role of Social Change in the 1970s

  • Civil rights movement, women’s liberation, and the anti-war movement, served as a backdrop to the white power movement’s emergence
  • All perceived as potential threats to status of white men
  • Technological changes also allow new forms of propaganda and communication strategies to recruit and mobilize adherents

Key Strategies for Growth

  • Networking and Communication
    • Movement used early computer networks, newsletters, and underground publications to spread propaganda, share tactical information, and coordinate activities across the country
  • Cultural and Social Activities
    • Movement fostered a sense of community and belonging through social events, music festivals, and publications that catered to the interests and lifestyles of its members

Significant Events and Actions

  • Paramilitary Training and Actions
    • Built paramilitary training camps and the escalation of violent actions, including armed robberies, bombings, and plans for overthrowing the government
  • Legal and Extralegal Challenges Law enforcement encounters and legal battles further radicalization and the adoption of a more militarized stance

Theoretical Insights

  • Social Movement Theory Application
    • Was White Power a movement?
    • Managed to coalesce diverse groups with a shared ideology and navigated the challenges of organizing clandestinely
  • Psychological Impact of Warfare
    • Combat experiences in Vietnam influenced the psychological makeup of the movement’s members, emphasizing betrayal, survivalism, and the glorification of violence

“It is forbidden to kill; therefore all murderers are punished unless they kill in large numbers and to the sound of trumpets.” ― Voltaire

Discussion: Oklahoma City spotlights Ruby Ridge where Belew begins with Galveston Bay. Why?

Let’s hear from: Zayar, Samantha, Jordan, Chris

Case Studies of Violence

  • Specific Incidents
    • 1984 murder of Alan Berg
    • Shootouts with law enforcement, bank heists, other acts of terrorism
    • movement is engaging in direct confrontations with perceived enemies and society at large

Organizational Evolution

  • Shifts in Strategy and Ideology
    • Movement adapted its strategies in response to law enforcement pressure
    • Shifted towards leaderless resistance and the concept of “lone wolf” actions to avoid detection
  • Internal Conflicts and Ideological Purity
    • Movement struggled over conflicts such as strategy, ideology, and leadership, and ideological purity

Discussion: What were some of the ways media played a role in growth of White Power movement?

Let’s hear from: Dunyia, Julia, Aissata, Michael


Oklahoma City

Video Essay: Layla Riazati, Ian De Vaynes, Rasheeda Young, Emma Wood

Systematic Terror

Schematic Overview of SDT

Aggregated Individual Discrimination

  • Simple, daily, and sometimes quite inconspicuous individual acts of discrimination by one individual against another

  • Example: decision of an employer not to hire or promote a person from a given minority group

  • Cumulative effect of individual acts of discrimination are aggregated over days, weeks, years, decades, and centuries

Aggregated Institutional Discrimination

  • Rules, procedures, and actions of social institutions

  • Institutions may be public or private, including courts, lending institutions, hospitals, retail outlets, and schools

  • Sometimes conscious, deliberate, and overt, and sometimes it is unconscious, unintended, and covert

One Institutional Dynamic: Systematic Terror

  • Use of violence or threats of violence disproportionately directed against subordinates

  • Systematic terror functions to maintain expropriative relationships between dominants (ie, members of dominant groups) and subordinates (ie, members of subordinate groups)

  • Enforces the continued deference of subordinates toward dominants

Three Types of Systematic Terror

  • Official terror is the public and legally sanctioned violence and threat of violence perpetrated by the state

  • Semiofficial terror is the violence or intimidation directed against subordinates, carried out by officials of the state (eg, internal security forces, police, secret police, paramilitary organizations) but not publicly, overtly, officially, or legally sanctioned by the state

  • Unofficial terror is that violence or threat of violence perpetrated by private individuals from dominant groups against members of subordinate groups

How would you characterize terror in Bring the War Home and Oklahoma City?

Let’s hear from: Cielo, Daniel, Abigail, Romeo

Institutions & Behavior: Adida & Robinson (2023)

Experimental Evidence

  • The researchers conducted a lab experiment where they asked students to identify whether someone was an African immigrant or an African American.

Experimental Evidence

  • Researchers showed respondents a photo, a name, or a video of the person to identify.

  • In the photo condition, respondents correctly identified African immigrants from the Horn of Africa as African immigrants 75% of the time, compared to only 51% of the time for photos of other African immigrants.

    • This effect disappears in the video and name conditions.

Quantitative Data

  • Survey data from a convenience sample of Somalis (n = 520) with ethnic Somalis and Bantu people.

    • Researchers noted that some respondents are people enumerators knew (recruited through social networks) while others were not.
  • Asked respondents about the protective nature of African American ethnicity, desire to assimilate (via questions like: “Do you have a coethnic spouse?”), and other factors.


  • Topline result: Bantu, who are more likely to be mistaken as Black Americans, are more resistant to assimilation than ethnic Somalis, who are less likely to be mistaken as Black Americans

  • Ethnic Somalis were less likely to have a coethnic spouse, less likely to want to name their children coethnic names, and less likely to describe the African American identity as protective.

Resistance by Generation

Resistance by Over Time

Discussion: Can you think of other examples like what Adida & Robinson report?

Let’s hear from: Jovana, Rasheeda, Sara, Serenidy


Europa Europa

Video Essay: Daniel Cabrera, Luca zislin, Tamara Segura, Olivia Ramos


Was Solomon Perel Unique?

Discussion: What’s noteworthy about the two Germans to whom Solomon reveals his Jewish identity?

Let’s hear from: Sabrina, Allen, Michael, Tristan

Zone of Interest & Perpetrators vs Victims

Contrast with Act of Killing

“For me, this is not a film about the past,” Mr. Glazer told The Guardian. “It’s trying to be about now, and about us and our similarity to the perpetrators, not our similarity to the victims.”