Malcolm Nance presents a compelling case in his new book, They Want to Kill Americans: The Militias, Terrorists, and Deranged Ideology of the Trump Insurgency. And it couldn’t be more timely, with the January 6th hearings currently ongoing. Nance is a former US Navy Senior Chief Petty Officer and regular media pundit.
This is Nance’s ninth book, and his others focus more on foreign terrorist activity. This time he turns the lens to domestic terror threats to the US. And learning that we have no laws—not even one—that address domestic terrorism is a shock to my system.
As the book begins, Nance focuses on the aspects of the Trump insurgency, especially their goals and methods. He calls this TITUS (Trump Insurgency in the United States.) And then he moves along to the history and current-day practices of militia-type organizations. He explains how they recruit and train new members, as well as how they communicate using social media and the Internet. Every paragraph is more chilling than the last.
Nance also spends an entire section of his book detailing the Q-Anon movement, from its beginning to the permutations along the way. He shows how it became enmeshed with the 2020 Presidential re-election campaign. And then he discusses how it changed America’s response and our collective experience with COVID-19.
His final section summarizes the combination of these points and, not surprisingly, assesses America as we know it to be in “mortal danger.” There’s very little hope in this book, but Nance explains why keeping our eyes open is vital to survival.
This is a one-sided book. Nance never tries to illustrate the “good guys on both sides” concept. He hits hard and repeatedly at the radicalization happening throughout our nation. But if your perspective already leans this way, you will find multiple cogent defenses of the need for action and the danger of complacency.
Nance provides me with the language and insight into the TITUS mindset. I’ll never see news reports, legislative actions, or even pop culture quite the same way. The new series from Amazon Prime called The Terminal List is an example. We spent several nights watching during the time I read Nance’s book. In the book, he discusses the Lone Wolf as a domestic terrorist. This person plans and executes a dramatic terror event on their own. And in one sense, the hero/antihero of The Terminal List is just that.
The character also illustrates another concept from Nance and domestic terrorism or insurgency. That’s the idea of a sovereign citizen, a single person or family who refuses to acknowledge the authority of the military or government. Interestingly, these folks are sometimes veterans or even actively serving. In The Terminal List, the main character becomes a vigilante, out to make people pay for ways he was wronged. And while we want to cheer for the strong man left standing, stories like this reinforce dangerous concepts.
I admit it. Following the many points Nance makes fills me with more dread than hope for our country’s future. But if you prefer to live with eyes wide open, then this is a must-read book about the making of current-day political history.
Many thanks to NetGalley, St. Martin’s Press, and the author for a digital advanced reader’s copy in exchange for this honest review. They Want to Kill Americans debuts on July 12, 2022.