- The Washington Times - Tuesday, March 15, 2005

Egad. Could we actually owe Matthew Hale, the prominent white supremacist windbag, an apology? No way.

I admit the thought crossed my mind for a nanosecond upon hearing a disgruntled and deranged Chicago man with no apparent ties to Hale was the likely killer of a federal judge’s husband and mother.

Until convincing evidence linked Bart Allan Ross to the killings, my suspicions locked like a laser beam onto Hale and the other haters in his carnival of bigotry formerly named World Church of the Creator, based in East Peoria, Ill.

Hale is cooling his heels in prison, awaiting sentencing after his conviction last year for plotting to have federal Judge Joan Humphrey Lefkow murdered. Judge Lefkow’s husband, Michael Lefkow, 64, and mother Donna Humphrey, 89, were found murdered in the judge’s home on Feb. 28. The tragedy echoed the 1999 shooting spree of Benjamin Smith, a former Hale follower who killed himself before he was arrested.

So did Ross, 57, a self-employed electrician and Polish immigrant, who shot himself in the head when a police officer stopped him for a minor traffic violation. His notes and DNA tie him to the murder, and he had no apparent ties or sympathies with white supremacists, police said. What a relief to Hale, who earlier said with his usual overstatement “only an idiot” would think he had anything to do with the Lefkow killings.

Of course, being called an “idiot” by Hale is like being called ugly by a monkfish. Even locked away in his dungeon with limited outside contacts, Hale’s history should have made him a “person of interest,” as federal investigators put it so delicately. Only an idiot would have ruled him out.

No, instead of receiving apologies from the civilized world, Hale should apologize to us. He should apologize to all Americans for adding fuel to the fires of domestic terrorism. He should apologize to white people for being a discredit to his race.

He should apologize to the racial and religious minorities he has exploited in building an organization of people who have so little to live up to that they feel they must put others down.

He should apologize to organized religion for desecrating the word “church.”

At best, we owe Hale a particle of gratitude for reminding us how easy it is to presume the guilt of some people even when there’s no hard evidence. That’s something to which a lot of nonwhite men could respond, “Welcome to my world.”

Still, some characters manage to draw nothing from this whole tragic episode but compassion for Hale and the white supremacist community. “Say you’re sorry,” blares a headline on an Arkansas-based white supremacists’ Web site, calling on federal authorities and the media to apologize as if Hale had done nothing to warrant suspicions.

“I think this event was used to demonize the White Nationalist movement,” another concerned blogger told a Chicago Tribune reporter in a phone interview, as if the White Nationalist movement was any more defensible than the Ebola virus.

In fact, as much as such racial extremists say they organize around love for their group, it is hatred for others that really puts the spice in their stew. When Malcolm X realized that, he turned away from Black Nationalism to Orthodox Islam, a religion of all races. Matt Hale shows no similar signs of growth. He would rather swim in the sewage of a movement that wallows in its own perceived racial victimization.

Unfortunately, such movements have a history of violence which the rest of us quite justifiably remember. The September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks swept aside our national concerns about the neo-Nazis, militant militias and the New-wave-Ku Klux Klan. Osama bin Laden’s followers reminded Americans of how we have more in common than our surface differences reveal.

Still, we don’t know from where the next Timothy McVeigh or Eric Rudolph will come. We need to watch people like William Krar, a reputed Texas militia member arrested, authorities said, with 25 machine guns, a quarter-million rounds of ammo, 60 pipe bombs and enough sodium cyanide to kill hundreds.

It is still unclear what he planned to do with his weapons of mass destruction. But it should not take a horror like the Lefkow murders to remind us most of our nation’s terrorist threats have not come from overseas.

Clarence Page is a nationally syndicated columnist.

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