Fifty years ago, four young followers of a megalomaniac white supremacist, who fantasized about starting an apocalyptic race war, invaded a home in Beverly Hills and slaughtered everyone inside.
Their leader, Charles Manson, was a thief and a pimp who spent most of his early years in prison, where he refused to associate with black inmates. “Charlie believed the black man’s sole purpose on earth was to serve the white man,” prosecutors were told.
Freed in 1967, Manson emerged as a charismatic conman playing a sex-drugs-and-rock-’n’-roll tune to shepherd a band of misfits to a remote, ramshackle western-movie location about thirty miles outside Los Angeles.
At Spahn Ranch, he would sit atop a boulder, his disciples gathered below, and preach the gospel of Charlie, which included a doomsday scenario of blacks rising up against whites, the races killing each other off, leaving only the Manson family.
He called it Helter Skelter, taking his cues, he said, from Beatles’ lyrics and the Book of Revelation.
On August 8, 1969, Manson declared: “Now is the time for Helter Skelter.”
He sent four of his followers into the night, to a house they had scouted. “Totally destroy everyone… as gruesome as you can,” he instructed.
They drove to 10050 Cielo Drive in Benedict Canyon. In the driveway, they killed a teenager who was visiting the caretaker on the property.
The homicidal zealots then broke into the house and butchered actress Sharon Tate, 26, eight months pregnant; her close friend Jay Sebring, 35, a celebrity hairstylist; Wojciech Frykowski, 32, an aspiring screenwriter, and his girlfriend, Abigail Folger, 25, an heir to the Folger coffee fortune.
Tate was stabbed 16 times, Folger 28 times. Sebring was shot once and stabbed seven times; Frykowski beaten, shot twice and stabbed 51 times.
A large American flag was draped over the back of the couch where Sharon Tate died.
The word PIG was written in her blood on the front door.
The scene was meant to provoke fear and rage, especially if, as Manson intended, the carnage was blamed on blacks.
“The victims who Charles Manson ordered murdered really didn’t make too much difference to him, as long as they were white and members of the establishment,” prosecutor Vincent Bugliosi said in his closing argument at the murder trial in Los Angeles in 1971.
Last Saturday, a young man with an assault rifle, who reportedly subscribes to the white-supremacist wet dream of an apocalyptic race war and the white nationalist rhetoric of the president of the United States, went on a killing spree at a crowded Walmart in El Paso, Texas.
The shooter drove 650 miles from his home near Dallas to within shouting distance of the Mexican border and targeted a store packed with Hispanics. Before he opened fire with an AK-47-type weapon of war, he branded himself with an online post stained with some of the same racist, anti-immigrant trash that spews from the president.
Apparently, he intended to spark a race war—or, rather, to accelerate a race war that he already believed to be in progress. ‘Do your part and spread this, brothers!’ he wrote … “Keep up the good fight,” Andrew Marantz reported Monday in The New Yorker.
I found this passage after a Google search for: Trump ‘race war.’
There were 205 million hits. The first page – that’s as far as I ventured – also included links to:
- A July 18 Daily Beast piece by Rick Wilson, author of Everything Trump Touches Dies, under the headline: Trump Readies His Mob for the Race War.
- A July 30 Washington Post column by Kathleen Parker that began: The idea of a race war has long animated white supremacists, who seem to think such a conflict would result in a white victory, whatever that would mean … Trump, for his part, she continued, has essentially declared a “race war,” for lack of a better term, on minority leaders and their constituents.
- A story in The Guardian after the El Paso rampage that included this quote from Cynthia Miller-Idriss, a professor at American University and senior fellow at the Centre for Analysis of the Radical Right: “At the extreme end of white supremacy you have this group of people who believe that the only way to create change is to create a violent societal collapse, that will lead to apocalyptic end times, and a race war, and then eventually to restoration and rebirth.”
Let’s get something straight: The war part of the creed is not what these crusaders have in mind. Genocide is more like it. They’re the ones who have been stockpiling weapons and don’t count on anyone shooting back.
Remember what Trump said earlier this year: “I have the support of the police, the support of the military, the support of the Bikers for Trump.”
And remember what Michael Cohen said about his old boss in testimony to Congress: “He doesn’t give you orders, he speaks in a code.”
From New Zealand to Quebec and across the United States to deep in the heart of Texas, murderous bigots have cracked the code.