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Michael, George 1961- (George J. Michael)

Michael, George 1961- (George J. Michael)

PERSONAL:

Born January 30, 1961.

ADDRESSES:

Office—University of Virginia's College at Wise, 1 College Ave., Wise, VA 24293. E-mail—[email protected]

CAREER:

University of Virginia, College at Wise, assistant professor of political science and administration of justice.

WRITINGS:

Confronting Right Wing Extremism and Terrorism in the USA, Routledge (New York, NY), 2003.

The Enemy of My Enemy: The Alarming Convergence of Militant Islam and the Extreme Right, University Press of Kansas (Lawrence, KS), 2006.

Willis Carto and the American Far Right, University Press of Florida (Gainesville, FL), 2008.

SIDELIGHTS:

University of Virginia political scientist George Michael specializes in the study of extreme right-wing ideology and how it works its will in the modern world. All his works, including Confronting Right Wing Extremism and Terrorism in the USA and The Enemy of My Enemy: The Alarming Convergence of Militant Islam and the Extreme Right, deal with the question of home-grown terrorism among Americans who object to modern pluralistic society and express their objections forcefully, sometimes at the cost of their fellow citizens' lives. In Willis Carto and the American Far Right, Michael interviews and then tells the story of the American political theorist who is held to be most responsible for the emergence of modern ultraconservative ideology, including Holocaust denial, positions on immigration, multiculturalism, and globalization, and attitudes toward the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. "The result," wrote a contributor to the UVA Today Web site, "is a captivating portrait of this dedicated, frightening and controversial man."

The issue of homefront terrorism made the news in 1995, when Timothy McVeigh exploded a homemade bomb in front of the Murray Federal Building in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. The bomb brought down the building and was responsible for the death of 168 individuals. Confronting Right Wing Extremism and Terrorism in the USA tells the story of governmental responses to situations like these. Before about 1975, group violence in the United States was directed primarily against African Americans and Jews and was localized in the South. After 1975, right-wing violence broadened in both its area and its scope. This was due in part, Michael theorizes, because, "beginning in the 1980s, federal agencies and NGOs increasingly shared intelligence, a significant shift leading to successful prosecutions of violent groups," stated Steven Weisenburger in the Journal of Southern History. Michael finds in the book that the government, operating by itself, has often been unable to protect citizens from threats by their fellow citizens because of restrictions imposed by civil liberty laws. In situations where it has tried to take a proactive stance, as was the case in Ruby Ridge, Idaho, in 1992, and Waco, Texas, in 1993, the government has proven to be ineffectual. The combination of public and private groups, Michael shows, has been a more effective strategy. "Private watchdogs were especially effective in using civil suits to bankrupt some extremist groups," the Journal of South History contributor explained. "They were also fairly successful in petitioning courts to restrict hate groups' rights of assembly and speech."

In The Enemy of My Enemy, Michael explores the convergence of interests between Islamic radicals and the ultraconservatives. "In reality, this peculiar convergence of interests isn't new," stated Daveed Gartenstein-Ross in the Weekly Standard. "There have been four distinct phases of cooperation between militant Islam and the extreme right, stretching back to Germany's Third Reich and World War II. During this time, much of the Muslim world sympathized with the Axis alliance, and Muslim Brotherhood members even prayed for the defeat of the Allies during their meetings." Some Nazis who fled Europe after World War II went on to help prepare national armies for a continuing struggle against Israel. During the 1960s, some prominent members of neo-Nazi groups served with the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine. However, Michael suggests that any potential cooperation between ultraconservatives and the Islamic radicals would require near blindness to their ideological positions. "Whereas Islamic militants seek a return of sharia and the caliphate, those in the extreme Right strive for a racially pure society. Reconciling these two desired end-states would be nearly impossible," wrote Michael Freeman in Perspectives on Political Science. "Nevertheless … both groups are vehemently anti-Semitic and oppose U.S. policies abroad, especially those they perceive to be manipulated by Zionists." "In the final analysis," concluded Eric Larson in the Political Science Quarterly, "although The Enemy of My Enemy offers good reasons for continued monitoring of efforts to forge an alliance, it does not provide particularly compelling evidence of the recent ‘alarming convergence of militant Islam and the extreme right’ that one might expect from its subtitle."

BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:

PERIODICALS

Journal of Southern History, February 1, 2005, Steven Weisenburger, review of Confronting Right Wing Extremism and Terrorism in the USA, p. 216.

Perspectives on Political Science, fall, 2006, Michael Freeman, review of The Enemy of My Enemy: The Alarming Convergence of Militant Islam and the Extreme Right, p. 233.

Political Science Quarterly, spring, 2007, Eric Larson, review of The Enemy of My Enemy, p. 159.

Weekly Standard, August 1, 2006, Daveed Gartenstein-Ross, "Strange Allies; George Michael's The Enemy of My Enemy Details the Unlikely Alliance between Militant Islam and the Extreme Right."

ONLINE

University of Virginia's College at Wise Web site,http://www.wise.virginia.edu/ (August 23, 2008), author profile.

University Press of Kansas Web site,http://www.kansaspress.ku.edu/ (August 23, 2008), author profile.

UVA Today,http://www.virginia.edu/ (August 23, 2008), "Off the Shelf: George Michael."

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