NRA History Part 2: Operation Wetback & the NRA

Image Courtesy of Portside.org

Harlon Carter — the future head of the NRA — could not wait to get a gun back into his hands. The only force that rivaled Harlon’s love of guns was his hatred of people of color. After serving 2 years in prison for hunting and gunning down a 15-year-old boy named Ramon, he joined the local Border Patrol in Laredo, Texas.

Not only would Carter become an active member of the patrol, but he would evolve into one of the organization’s most violent and feared leaders.

In NRA History Pt. 1: The President of the NRA & the Murder of 15 Year Old Ramon Casiano, there is a more detailed description of the white power takeover of the local Laredo Border Patrol, but It is important to note here, that the town’s population at the time of the takeover was 90% Mexican and 10% white. The Patrol was mostly comprised of privileged Mexican citizens, and there were few white agents in positions of authority. Under the guidance of Clifford Perkins, a network of white supremacists and former Texas Rangers staged a coup of the Laredo Border Patrol, ousted the Mexican-American leadership, and replaced it with their own white nationalist authorities.

Horace Carter, Harlon Carter’s father, was one of ushers and beneficiaries of this takeover.

Having witnessed the successful takeover of the Laredo Border Patrol, Carter was prepared and positioned to revolutionize the US Border Patrol in a similar fashion. And that’s just what he did — with remarkable speed.

Carter joined the local Laredo area Border Patrol and rapidly scaled their ranks shortly after being released from prison for the murder of Ramon Casiano. Fueled by an open and undeniable hatred of men, women and children from Mexico, Carter propelled himself into the position of Chief by the time he hit his mid-thirties.

By 1953, Carter saw an opportunity to take control of federal immigration policy and he lunged for it.

As head of the United States Border Patrol in the southwest, Carter developed a plan to use the US military to capture and deport people from Mexico. This plan was called Operation Cloudburst. It would go on to be the predecessor of Operation Wetback. And it made it to the desk of the President of the United States, who took it under consideration.

Unfortunately for Cater, the Posse Comitatus Act prevented the government from using the military for domestic law enforcement and he lost his bid to head the Immigration and Naturalization Service and his chance to lead a military round-up of Mexican immigrants to a former military general named Joseph Swing. This would not deter Carter in the slightest.

Carter and Swing would become fast friends, and Carter would have as much influence over federal policy as he would have if he himself were the head of INS. By 1954, the two men would redesign and rebrand Operation Cloudburst into one of the most vicious attacks on people of color in American history: Operation Wetback.

According to a report by Kelly Lytle Hernandez, Associate Professor at UCLA:

“In May of 1954, the U.S. attorney general, Swing and Carter issued a press statement announcing Operation Wetback. Soon, they promised, an unprecedented, paramilitary surge of Border Patrol officers would sweep across the southwestern United States to find, detain, and deport unauthorized Mexican immigrants. As Carter explained to the Los Angeles Times, ‘an army of Border Patrol officers complete with jeeps, trucks, and seven aircraft’ would soon unleash an ‘all-out war to hurl… Mexican wetbacks back into Mexico.’

Panic whipped through Mexican immigrant communities in southwestern states. Deportations and forced removals had been on the rise for a decade, spiking from 10,613 expulsions in 1942 to 905,236 in 1953. Carter and Swing promised more. So many more that the Border Patrol was already converting public parks into ‘concentration camps’ for detaining at least 1,000 people at a time.

The officials’ rhetoric forecast a callous, dehumanizing, and warlike campaign, priming immigrants, employers and the American public in general for a spectacular show of force.”

Having successfully transformed his personal hatred for people of color into a fully militarized attack on millions of Mexican people, Harlon Carter set his sights on an even larger prize. He was not satisfied with controlling just a small portion of the federal government’s policy. He wanted to weaponize the entire White House.

In order to do that, Carter would need to combine his knowledge of organizational takeovers with his newly established connections with white nationalists and political authorities in the federal government. He would also need to identify and host body for his network of parasites. And he found the perfect organization to take over and fill with murder-thirsty racists: the NRA.

The next article in this series will describe Harlon Carter’s takeover of the NRA and the incident that would go on to be described in National Rifle Association history as the “Cincinnati Revolt.”

To learn more about Dr. GS Potter and the Strategic Institute for Intersectional Policy (SIIP), visit: http://strategycampsite.org/v2/