When confronting the open and virulent racism that has had an uptick since the first election of Barack Obama and has continued unabated, most of us find it easy to call it out when we think it is coming from only one sector of society. I've seen people blame it on older people "of a certain generation." Or on just the Republicans, especially their tea party wing. Others point fingers only at white Southerners (which is unfair since racism is geographically distributed). Ofttimes people naively comment that it will "die off soon" since young people are more open to living in a multicultural world. Sure, things have changed, and I've witnessed and participated in those efforts in my 66 years here, but stop the presses, we ain't hardly "post-racial."
Hold off the funeral ceremony for bigotry please.
Hate is alive and well and targets blacks, Jews, Muslims, LBGTs, immigrants, women and all people of color. The new cadres of organizers and perpetrators are not old and gray. They are youthful, white and educated. They attend tea party functions and conventions like the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC). They form bands and play concerts at political rallies and state fairs.
It is too easy for many of us to dismiss this as simply fringe wingnuttery. Polling data has shown an increase in racial prejudices, not a decline. Yes, I know we managed to elect a black president—twice—but dive into the cross-tabs of polls to see just who were the folks who made it possible. Also important to examine are those who hold onto racist views and quite a few (too many for my comfort) are young. Millennials are not immune to absorbing and espousing racist messages.
A solid majority of white Millennials, 56 percent, say that government has paid too much attention to the problems of blacks and other minorities. An even larger majority, 58 percent, say that “discrimination against whites has become as big a problem as discrimination against blacks and other minorities.”Colleges and universities are training our next generation of leaders, but contrary to the assertions of some, not all of those educated young people are liberals. The incidents of hate on campus take different forms, from ugly frat parties mocking Blacks, Asians and Native Americans to racist bullying.
Follow me below the fold to take a closer look, and to meet groups who are fighting back.
I wrote about this here, back in 2011, when my own campus at SUNY New Paltz in New York had "an incident" around the same time that one happened at Williams College in Massachusetts. Prior to that, in 2010, my campus had an ugly James O'Keefe-inspired affirmative action bake sale. Campus administrations for the most part have tried to cope by holding forums, and discussions, but hate speech is free speech so though certain groups may not be allowed legitimacy on campus, they cannot be denied access.
Thoughts about this made me more interested in following news about racist youth organizing. Through the Southern Poverty Law Center's tracking I first became aware of one of the new breed of hate organizers, Matthew Heimbach. Heimbach was the brains behind the formation of a White Student Union at Towson State.
Considered by many to be the face of a new generation of white nationalists, Matthew Heimbach founded a campus chapter of Youth for Western Civilization at Towson University in Maryland and later started the White Student Union there.When confronted about his activities at Towson, Heimbach and his followers denied being racists, and he has defended his efforts to patrol the campus as a crime patrol, but his recent activities have pulled the hood off. He was a speaker at the recent Stormfront 3rd Annual Practical Politics Seminar, elated to be in the illustrious company of Klansman David Duke.
He also has been a member of the neo-Confederate League of the South. Since graduating in the spring of 2013, he has entrenched himself further in the white nationalist movement and become a regular speaker on the radical-right lecture circuit.
In His Own Words:
“No longer will the homosexual, Muslim, and black supremacist groups be allowed to hijack our campus. … Youth for Western Civilization is preparing to take our campus back, all we need is the help of people like you to make it happen.” – Youth for Western Civilization blog, January 2012
Heimbach reports about his experience on his Traditionalist Youth blog, in one segment outlining his own come to the Nazi-Klan transformation.
Early in High School, I fell into the liberal crowd due to the social pressures. I had always been interested in Fascism, National Socialism, and the white pride movement from my love of history and having frequently watched the History Channel. Before they become the channel of Pawn Stars and American Pickers, they used to actually include historical programs. Although any white advocate was always demonized and belittled, I always was intrigued by what I saw. From videos of German soldiers marching into battle or the glow of a cross being illuminated, the message of white nationalism and Tradition struck a chord deep inside me.Heimbach has upped the ante with calls for violence against non-whites, and had planned to do a "Koran Barbeque" on Sept. 11 (the burnings were cancelled).
Growing up in a moderate conservative home I did not have any ideological indoctrination in white nationalism or the Church Militant until I began researching on the internet. When one begins to start flirting with Traditionalism and white nationalism, where do you look for answers?
I believe the biggest reason for the lack of involvement of my parents’ generation in the struggle for Tradition was primarily the lack of available information. Before the Internet, the elites were able to control the flow of information to a few selected media outlets. Jewish and Communist control of our school system meant that dissenting opinions were crushed early on in life and without available outlets for Traditional messages to get through. Then the previous generation was easily brought into the fold of the System’s agenda.
Aside from the “Koran Barbecue,” Heimbach and Parrott recently passed out flyers in the town of Perry, Michigan, advertising TYN. Perry is just 12 miles south of Owosso, where TYN has a P.O. Box. The flyers handed out by Heimbach and Parrott attack “conservatives” for being surprised when “feminism, globalism, open borders, radical Islam, and anti-White racism always end up winning.” The flyers also allege that the left “hates us because we represent a genuine threat to Cultural Marxists, to Organized Jewry, and to Global Capitalism.”From these roots are born domestic terrorists like Chevie Kehoe.
"Kehoe was an ''A'' student in a class for the gifted and talented."...his parentsKehoe was leader of the so-called Aryan Peoples Republic. He sits in prison for life, but the ideologies that spawned him are alive and well and targeting a new generation.
"were antigovernment white separatists, followers of the Christian Identity religion, which teaches that whites are the chosen people and that Jews are the descendants of Satan.
''My father was extremely racist, extremely anti-Semitic in the sense he would like to exterminate anything that's not white,'' Chevie Kehoe said. ''If they're not white, then they don't have the right to exist.''
There are, however, other sectors of the youth who are being drawn into white supremacy, and not just through the usual paths of right-wing traditionalist Christian groups obsessed with anti-abortion. Several years ago, while teaching my anthropology of religion course, which attracts many students who are curious about or interested in neo-paganism, I encountered a student who was very involved in Ásatrú. Few of my students embrace or practice the religion of their parents and grandparents. Most are not atheists, but are seeking some form of spirituality. They are drawn to all things new age. Young feminists are often involved in forms of Wicca. Unfamiliar with Ásatrú in the U.S. I did some research and found that it has, in some instances, become another vector for youth racism and white supremacy. There is a "White Power Folkists" faction. This was explored at The Political Pagan blog after the Sikh Temple massacre in Wisconsin in 2012. That massacre, perpetrated by Wade Michael Page, has slipped out of the public eye, but he was an active member of the white power music scene, discussed below.
The ADL (Anti-Defamation League) also tracks extremist events, and you might be surprised if you look at their calendar to find that a supremacist gathering is coming to a neighborhood near you.
I often write about race, racism and privilege. I refuse to deny that it is right in front of us, and have no illusions that it is going away anytime in the near future. That does not mean the future is hopeless, nor am I discouraged by the fact that I will not get to live in that future world. My goal is to keep on pushing us toward eliminating racism and other "isms" and supporting those individuals and groups who are doing the same work.
One of those groups is Imagine 2050:
Imagine 2050 includes activists, immigrants, artists and students who are invested in a future nation that embodies a multiracial democracy. By the year 2050, one out of five Americans will be foreign born. Latino and Asian communities will increase significantly. There will be no clear racial or ethnic majority.Through their blog I discovered The Center For New Community (CNC):
We will become a nation of minorities. Today’s perceptions of foreignness will challenge how Americans identify themselves over the coming decades. In light of these challenges, Imagine
2050 is committed to igniting candid conversations around race, immigration, environment, and American identity.
CNC partners with organizations in over twenty states to support, build, and advance a shared commitment to democratic community, where racism, bigotry, and nativism are exposed and countered.Through its strategic research, education, training, and organizing, CNC takes on the forces that would undermine democratic community, with a particular focus today on the nativist, anti-immigrant movement.
The CNC site led me to their project Turn It Down, illustrated on their map above, tracking certain music genres that have become vehicles for carrying white supremacy messages.
Turn It Down is youth, bands, parents, teachers, and friends in the record industry speaking out, standing up, and turning down the sounds of hate.You can download their resource kit and get a copy of Soundtracks to the White Revolution: White Supremacist Assaults on Youth Music Subcultures.
Thousands of young people and hundreds of bands, record labels, distributors, pressing facilities, and booking agents have joined to work against the spread of hatred.
One of the largest movements on campuses that has now spread to high schools, middle schools and grade schools is the national Day of Silence held in April. Started on the University of Virginia campus in 1996, it is successfully building coalitions between LBGT youths and allies of all colors and religions, and while it is fighting bullying it also combats racism.
These are the kinds of youth coalitions we need to support.
The progressive activism of young people does give me hope. But ... we cannot afford to ignore or deny the other side of the equation. There are still too many young people being taught to hate.
We ignore them at our own risk.