Christie, breeder of racially pure children for the Aryan Nation, recommends use of the Celtic cross.
“It’s the easiest way to let other Aryans know what you believe without attracting attention from the ignorant Jews and liberals,” she says.
On the Internet’s Aryan Dating Page, where young American neo-nazis can find mates with whom to breed for the coming race war, there is similar support for the cross, held to allude to the most pure of the 10 lost tribes of Israel.
Dave Barley, spokesman for the Christian Identity movement, also has an affinity for Celtic and, in particular, Scottish culture. From his America’s Promise Ministries at Sandpoint in Idaho, he has distributed 50,000 copies of the Declaration of Arbroath, the 14th century manifesto for Scottish independence.
Pastor Barley believes the text represents the perfect rallying call for a modern-day white America blighted by an interfering government, Jews, and racial impurity. He is not alone. Across the southern states, more and more groups are using Scottish history as justification for their extreme dogma and for their assertion of the right to bear arms.
“This obsession with Scotland among the klan and hardcore militia groups has been rising,” says Mark Potok, editor of the intelligence project at the Southern Poverty Law Center in Alabama, which monitors the militia movement. “These supremacist groups need to create a history for themselves that paints them as bearers of true belief oppressed by a remote government. They see the historical Scottish struggle as like theirs.”
Though some historians dispute Scotland’s links with the Ku Klux Klan, it is believed the movement started in the 1860s as a club for Confederate cavalry officers of Scots descent, before evolving into a secret society to inspire terror among freed slaves.
Many klan rituals are said to be based on those of the secretive Society of the Horseman’s Word, once active in north-east Scotland. The stereotypical burning of the cross is a corruption of the traditional clan call to arms.
However, militia groups are more recent converts. “It all gained momentum with Braveheart. That film is on the shelf of every white supremacist in America,” says Mr Potok. “The Christian Identity and klan groups have always believed the Celts are the most racially pure, but the neo-nazis, by definition not Christian, really got into Scotland after Braveheart. Now it’s often a focal point for discussions.”
When Mel Gibson’s historically dubious epic film was released, the militia monitoring group at Radio for Peace International in Costa Rica heard so many references on short wave broadcasts it had to arrange for a screening to find what the film was about.
The group had been used to an occasional reference to Scotland, but, after Braveheart, its history became a talking point. Hatewatch, an Internet monitoring group, reports a similar shift.
Mr Potok says: “There’s definitely an obsession. Maybe you guys should be careful – these are not the kind of people you want hijacking your history.”
Though Pastor Barley has never been to Scotland, he has an intimate, if somewhat skewed, knowledge of its history and culture. “We are very interested in Scotland, very interested,” he says. “We believe the Declaration of Arbroath categorically proves the Celtic people are the most pure of the lost tribes of Israel. Also, the Stone of Destiny [where Scottish kings were crowned] may be the very pillow where Jacob lay to see the ladder to heaven.”
From his Idaho church, the pastor uses the Internet to distribute pamphlets asserting Jews are the children of Satan and blacks are “no better than the beasts in the fields”. But there are other, more extreme individuals.
The most famous passage of the declaration, addressed to the Pope by Scottish noblemen when at Edward II’s behest he excommunicated Robert the Bruce, refers to their desire to be free of tyranny: “For, so long as a hundred remain alive, we will never in any degree be subject to the dominion of the English. Since not for glory, riches or honours do we fight, but for freedom alone, which no man loses but with his life.”
For militias who believe their government is corrupt and oppressive, the declaration has resonance. On the Internet it is mentioned with casual frequency in pamphlets with titles like Guns, God And The Fight For Freedom. Ron Cole, a former leader of the North American Liberation Association, currently in jail for firearms offences, is a fan.
But, alongside the interest in history among the terrorist hardcore, there are also references to modern Scotland. Cole, entirely falsely, has claimed to have links to the Scottish National Party. On the Internet there is praise for the UK’s tiny extremist Scottish Phalange group.
“There are plenty of militia and klan groups out there who claim to have close links to Scotland. Probably that’s not true; but it’s a little worrying that they take inspiration from Scotland, and seem to be getting more obsessed by it,” says Mr Potok.