The new face of white supremacy

By Patty Jackson

Special to The Daily Commercial

While many Americans have studied or lived through the racist history of our nation, including the rise of the Ku Klux Clan after the Civil War to today, experts cite a number of indicators that suggest that white nationalism and white supremacy is on the rise, fueled by violence, not only in America but around the world.

Furthermore, the Southern Poverty Law Center reports a dramatic increase in the number of white nationalist groups in the U.S. from 100 chapters in 2017 to 148 in 2018. Similarly, the Anti-Defamation League reports a 182 percent increase in incidents and the distribution of white supremacist propaganda. In addition, they noted an increase in the number of rallies and demonstrations by white supremacist groups from 76 in 2017 to 91 in 2018. These statistics should prompt us to ask “Why the resurgence of this movement, who is leading it and why now?”

When we look back to the 2015 attack on the black church in Charleston, South Carolina, the 2017 fatal car attack in Charlottesville, culminating the “Unite the Right,” rally held there that weekend, the 2018 shooting at a synagogue in Pittsburgh and the recent shootings in El Paso, Texasand Dayton, Ohio what is equally disturbing as these events themselves is the new face of this movement, the youthoriented alt-right. These modern-day supremacists are akin to the racist skinheads in the 1980s and early 1990s in their ideology and platform. What is even more alarming is the fact that these new era white supremacists have shed the white sheets and hoods worn by the Ku Klux Klan in favor of the all-American outfit — khakis and polo shirts.

The history of the alt right dates back to 2008 but was fueled by the 2015 campaign and 2016 election of Donald Trump. Candidate Trump energized their movement and they interpreted his election as a positive result of their support and influence. Professor George Hawley, author of “The Alt-Right: What Everyone Needs to Know,” writes that “Trump’s presidential campaign energized the alt-right and helped the movement reach a new audience, and that “had Trump never entered the GOP presidential primaries, the alt-right would not have shown much interest in the 2016 presidential election.”

The media coverage also provided them with more exposure to their movement. Emboldened by their perceived success, the alt- right moved into college campuses recruiting new members through popular on-line troll sites used to coordinate trolling campaigns. Their users target and praise mass killers such as those in New Zealand and El Paso. The combination of these factors, Trump’s rise, growing media coverage of the alt-right and these troll sites helped to spread the ideology of this movement online.

The “browning” of America or as President Trump states “the invasion by nonwhites,” further fuels the movement by instilling a growing fear that the white race is in danger of extinction. While not new this phenomenon is central in the history of the racist movement in America. In his book “Understanding Ethnic Violence, MIT political scientist Roger Petersen argues that ethnic killing is often caused by a particular kind of collective resentment: the feeling of injustice on the part of a privileged portion of society when it sees power slipping into the hands of a group that hadn’t previously held it. The Census Bureau tells us that in about 30 years, whites will no longer be the majority. Further, studies show that minorities are now a majority in the nation’s public schools.

The late Nelson Mandela was quoted as saying, “People must learn to hate and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love. For love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite.” We, then, need to teach and demonstrate tolerance and respect towards every individual.


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