SUN-KISSED ORANGE COUNTY HAS LINKS TO RADICAL RIGHT
BLAZE Bernstein was raised in Orange County, a part of California that has sun-kissed beaches and Disney World. With a population that is 40 per cent Hispanic and 20 per cent Asian, it is also diverse and has a sizable Jewish community of around 100,000.
It is also conservative: although its Republican influence seems to be declining, Orange County is the kind of place where Ronald Reagan is remembered as a statesman on a par with Lincoln or Washington.
This helps portray Orange County as a prime example of the American Dream – wealthy, diverse, and full of diversions – but it also has strong associations with the radical right.
This includes the John Birch Society, a group of extreme right wingers who banded together in the 1960s to combat the supposedly pernicious influence of the Civil Rights Movement. Although its influence has waned, the society remains a prime example of the American connection between the extreme right and conspiracy theories, in particular antisemitic ones.
A “hate map” on the Southern Poverty Law Center’s website shows a dense cluster of neo-Nazi groups in Orange County and its environs.
None of this is proof that Mr Woodward murdered Bernstein. But it is reasonable to assert that Donald Trump’s election has emboldened the radical right and that we have not seen the last of such violence, whether against religion or sexual orientation. GORDON HABER