Minority of a Minority

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.

Minority of a Minority, 2013

Minority of a Minority / 2013
Installation view from The Ohio State Urban Arts Space in Columbus / Ohio / 2013
archival inkjet prints / HD projected video / photocopy paper and wood

The Traitor in Room 14, 2013 (detail from the installation) Days Inn Portland Airport, Oregon, formerly the Capri Motel, FBI capture of fugitive Gary Yarborough and escape of Bob Mathews when he jumped from the second story window and landed on the shrubbery below, November 24, 1984 2, 30 x 30 inches, archival inkjet prints

Traitor in Room 14 / 2013 (detail from the installation)
Days Inn Portland Airport, Oregon, formerly the Capri Motel, FBI capture of fugitive Gary Yarborough and escape of fugitive
Bob Mathews when he jumped from the second story window and landed on the shrubbery below, November 24, 1984
2 / 30 x 30 inches / archival inkjet prints

Traitor in Room 14 / 2013 (detail from the installation)
Days Inn Portland Airport, Oregon, formerly the Capri Motel, FBI capture of fugitive Gary Yarborough and escape of fugitive
Bob Mathews when he jumped from the second story window and landed on the shrubbery below, November 24, 1984
30 x 30 inches / archival inkjet print

Smugglers’ Cove Road, 2014 Whidbey Island, Washington near the site of former safehouse and death of fugitive Bob Mathews, in fire after a 35-hour standoff with government agents, December 8, 1984.

Smugglers’ Cove Road / 2014
Whidbey Island, Washington near the site of former safehouse and death of fugitive
Bob Mathews, in fire after a 35-hour standoff with government agents, December 8, 1984
30 x 30 inches / archival inkjet print

Phineas Acts, 2012 (installation view)US Bank, Spokane Valley, Washington, robbed twice by Phineas Priesthood and site of attempted bombing, ca. 1996 3 minute HD video loop projected onto a wall with a hole, dimensions variable

Phineas Acts / 2013 (installation view)
US Bank, Spokane Valley, Washington, robbed twice by the Phineas Priesthood and site of attempted bombing, ca. 1996
3 minute HD video loop projected onto a wall with a hole / dimensions variable

Phineas Acts, 2012 (detail from the installation)

Phineas Acts / 2013 (detail from the installation)
US Bank, Spokane Valley, Washington, robbed twice by the
Phineas Priesthood and site of attempted bombing, ca. 1996
3 minute HD projected video loop onto a wall with a hole / dimensions variable

Phineas Acts / 2013
US Bank, Spokane Valley, Washington, robbed twice by the Phineas Priesthood and site of attempted bombing, ca. 1996
3 minute HD video loop projected onto a wall with a hole / dimensions variable

“White Patriots,” 2013 (installation view) Two veterans reenact an image of two white separatists at a paramilitary compound ca. 1979 40 x 40 inches, archival inkjet print

“White Patriots” / 2013 (installation view)
Two veterans reenact an image of two white
separatists at a paramilitary compound ca. 1979
40 x 40 inches / archival inkjet print

“White Patriots” / 2013
Two veterans reenact an image of two white separatists at a paramilitary compound ca. 1979
40 x 40 inches / archival inkjet print

Minority of a Minority / 2013
flyers from the installation
8.5 x 11 inches photocopy paper on a 10.5 x 13 inches wood board

Shannon Benine