Minority of a Minority, 2012—ongoing
The ongoing multimedia documentary project “Minority of a Minority,” investigates the impact of the symbols and logic of the Vietnam War on racist violence. Drawing on the scholarship of historian Kathleen Belew, this work began in the Pacific Northwest in 2012, and will culminate into a broader project studying the racist right movement, national in scope, concluding with the bombing of the Oklahoma City Federal Building. This work references imagery and text from historical archives, exploring sites of violence in U.S. history from 1975-1995. This analysis in combination with still and moving images created at the locations of these events, examines why state violence cannot be limited to the time and place of war.
On April 19, 1995, Timothy McVeigh blew up the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City, killing 168 people and wounding hundreds more. Commentators immediately speculated about McVeigh’s involvement with the burgeoning militia movement and the fact that he carried out the bombing on the anniversary of the disastrous end to the Waco siege. The FBI acknowledged that McVeigh reenacted a bombing portrayed in the Turner Diaries, a fictional racist propaganda novel first published in 1978 that quickly became an underground bestseller and is still seen as the white separatists’ bible. The author Andrew Macdonald, a former university professor, wrote of a violent revolution that would overthrow the U.S. government and establishes a white Aryan nationalist regime. He wrote: “It is really only a minority of a minority which led our race out of the jungle and along the first few steps toward true civilization.” His dystopian future activated the movement and served as the blueprint for the Oklahoma City bombing, the culmination of decades of racist right organizing.
Early reports about the bombing failed to consider how the event represented the nationwide unification of Klan, Nazi and other white separatist groups into a cohesive racist right movement. They were unsuccessful in identifying the connections between the bombing and the movement’s highest levels of leadership and the way that both the movement and the bombing sought to re-stage the Vietnam War. McVeigh’s action revealed a militant racist right unified around the story of the Vietnam War, even beyond the membership of its veterans.
All images © 2012-2018 Shannon Benine