Here
and
Now

opinions

White nationalism upsurge in U.S. echoes historical pattern, say scholars

19 Comments
By Katanga Johnson and Jim Urquhart

The first Black woman is on a major party presidential ticket, Americans of all races are showing their support for the Black Lives Matter movement and at the same time white nationalists are ramping up recruiting efforts and public activism.

That nationwide backing for America's stated goal of equal rights for all has been met by a rise in hate-related activities is part of a decades-long pattern in the United States, six scholars and historians say - any expansion of civil rights for a minority group leads to a rise in intolerance.

"Each wave of civil rights progress brings us a little closer to real equity, but there will always be backlash from those who feel threatened by that progress," said Cynthia Miller-Idriss, director of research with the Polarization and Extremism Research and Innovation Lab at American University in Washington. People who feel vulnerable to change become "eager to recruit and radicalize support to slow things down, even if by use of violence or radicalized propaganda," she said.

After the first Black president, Barack Obama, was elected in 2008, the number of hate groups "ballooned," Miller-Idriss said, just as Ku Klux Klan activity grew again after the 1954 Brown v. Board of Ed. decision desegregating schools, and during the 1960s civil rights movement. Backlashes happened after women got the right to vote, and as LGBTQ rights expanded, too.

One of the things that makes this moment so heated is there's been a bigger embrace by politicians, businesses and white people in general supporting racial justice movements than in the past, historians and civil rights experts said.

America rests on the "great social challenge of creating a successful harmonious, multiracial democracy," said Simon Clark, a senior fellow at the Center for American Progress (CAP). The backlash against that accelerated during the Black Lives Matter protests and "is both a political one and a violent, social one," he said.

Protests against excessive use of force by police and racism swept the United States, and the world, this summer after a Black man, George Floyd, died on May 25 while a white Minneapolis, Minnesota police officer kneeled on his neck.

The latest police shooting of a Black man, Jacob Blake, in Kenosha, Wisconsin on Aug 23 has sparked more protests that have sometimes become violent.

Two white nationalist groups, who want an independent state for whites, told Reuters their numbers are also increasing, which Reuters could not independently confirm. The National Socialist Movement Corporation and the ShieldWall Network said many of the new prospects reject the Black Lives Matter protesters mainly out of fear the demonstrations will impose on their freedoms, such as the right to bear arms.

"I've got guns. I've got a lot of bullets and an armor, too. And if people come down my street looking for trouble, I am going to fight it," Burt Colucci, self-described commander of the Corporation, said a prospective recruit told him in a recent phone call.

The New York-based Anti-Defamation League (ADL) has documented "extremist propaganda incidents" and events in 2020, compared to 2,704 in the same period of 2019. Almost 80% of this year's cases involve white nationalist ideology, the civil rights advocacy organization found. Anti-Semitic incidents and plots and attacks of terrorism among others made up the rest, the ADL said.

MARCH IN WASHINGTON

Patriot Front, a white nationalist group, marched in Washington in February, and flyers and leaflets advertising the group have been found on college campuses from Arizona to Vermont in recent months. White nationalist groups posted messages on Facebook this summer advocating bringing guns to Black Lives Matter protests, and staged demonstrations in Florida and Pennsylvania in July.

While the ethnic and racial diversity of the United States is growing, whites remain a majority, about 60% of all Americans, according to Pew Research Center analysis published a year ago.

One-third of eligible voters in the Nov 3 elections, in which Senator Kamala Harris of Jamaican and Indian parentage is running on Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden's ticket, will be non-white, according to Pew, up from one-quarter in 2000.

Most Americans say they embrace diversity, according to a Reuters/Ipsos opinion poll last year about race, society, and their political engagement. Sixty-three percent said the statement "I prefer to live in a community with people who come from diverse cultures" reflects their point of view.

Among registered Democrats, that affirmative answer jumped to 78%, while among Republicans it dropped to 45%.

In the election campaign, Biden has accused President Donald Trump of stoking divisions. The Trump campaign has said that the president "works hard to empower all Americans."

'HEAR THE RAGE'

"I've never seen the country so divided - not only divided, but charged, on all sides," said Billy Roper of the Arkansas-based white nationalist organization, ShieldWall Network.

America has been at similar crossroads before, though, the scholars and historians interviewed by Reuters say.

The Ku Klux Klan, founded at the end of the U.S. Civil War, is the oldest and most violent of white extremist organizations, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) civil rights advocacy group. The KKK, bent on reversing the federal government’s progressive policies during the period known as Reconstruction, used violence against Black people in Southern states, particularly to deny them the newly-won right to vote.

Women's voting rights, granted in 1920, coincided with a rise of the word "bitch" in newspapers around the country, Representative Pramila Jayapal said recently on the floor of the House of Representatives because, she contends, voting "was just a little too much power for too many men across the country."

During the early years of the civil rights movement, a number of monuments honoring the war heroes of the Confederacy, the slavery-supporting states that lost the Civil War, were erected in the South, according to a SPLC report.

At least 780 monuments remained in public places in the South and elsewhere in the United States as of February 2019, the report said, among other Confederate symbols that are deeply divisive. Of those monuments, 604 were dedicated before 1950, but 28 others were unveiled from 1950 to 1970 and 34 after 2000.

National legalization of gay marriage in 2015 contributed to a powerful resurgence in conservative politics and legal challenges to LGBTQ rights, advocates said.

Colucci says his group has seen an uptick in calls and emails after racial justice protests and growing corporate and public support for Black Lives Matter and other groups.

"Some of those e-mails, I mean, you could just hear the rage," he told Reuters.

© Thomson Reuters 2020.

©2020 GPlusMedia Inc.

19 Comments

Comments have been disabled You can no longer respond to this thread.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

QED white supremacists are anti-American.

11 ( +13 / -2 )

Most Americans, regardless of skin color, are sick and tired of antifa/blm scum burning cities, destroying businesses, and attacking random people minding their own business. These people are mentally sick (and have the full support of the Democrat party). But you failed to mention any of that.

-8 ( +6 / -14 )

As long as all this BLM nonsense continues, expect white nationalist groups to get more and more support.

-5 ( +6 / -11 )

As long as all this BLM nonsense continues, expect white nationalist groups to get more and more support.

And that will grow, what do liberals expect? It's all depressing and sad, all of it, the racial division, but seeing videos where whites are being attacked, kicked punched and beaten, assaulted on the streets and increasingly in restaurants is pushing a lot of racial resentment and hate and is a dangerous catalyst for pushing these people to take a radical stand.

-8 ( +5 / -13 )

And that will grow, what do liberals expect? It's all depressing and sad, all of it, the racial division, but seeing videos where whites are being attacked, kicked punched and beaten, assaulted on the streets and increasingly in restaurants is pushing a lot of racial resentment and hate and is a dangerous catalyst for pushing these people to take a radical stand.

The usual exaggerations. We have all seen countless black Americans abused needlessly, even killed by various police officers around the US. Bigoted and self absorbed whites (like you perhaps?) too often refused to see it. Some (like you perhaps?) still willingly and with malice refuse to see it. You find all kinds of excuses for police misconduct twisting facts like a Gumby doll but the very second a black American shows any kind of rage oh my, it is this great injustice on all whites. Whites have held blacks back for over 400 years. Yes they have. What do you expect black Americans to do? Apologize for being here and beg whites forgiveness for sullying their lilly white vision of America? No! Blacks want the same opportunities and the same education as whites and to not be singled out for abuse by police. It is emphatically not to much to expect of the US and the whites who resist deserve what they get. I do not have one ounce of sympathy for bigots, or for the lies coming from the far right.

5 ( +11 / -6 )

The usual exaggerations. We have all seen countless black Americans abused needlessly, even killed by various police officers around the US. Bigoted and self absorbed whites (like you perhaps?) too often refused to see it.

Who said I'm white??? Blacks are killed more by black on black violence overall and liberals making a ruse argument and indoctrinating people that blacks are just killed by whites and white police officer by the thousands everyday and that is not even remotely close to the truth.

Whites have held blacks back for over 400 years. Yes they have. What do you expect black Americans to do?

Not what thousands of them are doing now. The violence doesn't help their cause at all. it's now created a backlash and increased racial tensions on the white side and now whites are fighting back and now less people want to talk, now this is not excusing what the past was, the protests of Floyd's death was notable and necessary without a doubt, but the violent attacks on whites is in fact not only putting fear and resentment in them, but it is pushing them more to reach out to these Nationalists and now you have both sides increasingly embracing racial radicalism.

Apologize for being here and beg whites forgiveness for sullying their lilly white vision of America? No! Blacks want the same opportunities and the same education as whites and to not be singled out for abuse by police.

They want that, but they vote for the same people and the same policies for over 60 years that have not done anything for them or helped improve their communities and as long as they continue to support the same people and policies, things won't improve.

It is emphatically not to much to expect of the US and the whites who resist deserve what they get. I do not have one ounce of sympathy for bigots, or for the lies coming from the far right.

And yet, it's the Democrats racist policies that continue to hold blacks down, but many want to lash out at whites over policies THEY continue to support by a party that only cares about their votes.

-5 ( +5 / -10 )

Most Americans, regardless of skin color, are sick and tired of antifa/blm scum burning cities, destroying businesses, and attacking random people minding their own business. These people are mentally sick (and have the full support of the Democrat party). But you failed to mention any of that.

Yeah, and anyone who opposes this Marxist communist revolution is labelled a white nationalist (or fascist, nazi,...).

The most hateful and intolerant ones are the BLM and Antifa.

-4 ( +5 / -9 )

Racism is a normal, if unfortunate and unproductive, human trait.

I would point out that although Pres. Obama got a minority of the White vote, without that minority, he would not have been able to achieve the majority of the total vote that got him elected.

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

I would point out that although Pres. Obama got a minority of the White vote, without that minority, he would not have been able to achieve the majority of the total vote that got him elected.

Exactly and because of that, it is absurd to think whites are overwhelmingly racists, if that were true Obama would have never made it to the presidency twice that proves overall the nation is not racist, but given the violence we are seeing everyday and the demonization of the police and growing assaults on people is pushing resentment is all not helping race relations. Sad.

-7 ( +3 / -10 )

Racism is mostly media sponsored. Of course there are some racists. We must move forward with embracing a united America even if the cost is painful. It’s America’s destiny.

1 ( +4 / -3 )

Assimilation is necessary. Get an education, get a job, contribute to society in a meaningful way.

0 ( +4 / -4 )

Assimilation is necessary. Get an education, get a job, contribute to society in a meaningful way.

Sadly, white people are just unwilling to do this.

7 ( +10 / -3 )

Racism is a normal, if unfortunate and unproductive, human trait.

It isn't normal.

4 ( +7 / -3 )

@bass4funk, I think you are right. I heard one disturbing young woman explain that looting was shopping by the proletariat. However, the proletariat actually were wage earners and these looters seem to be parasites on the state contributing nothing.

-3 ( +3 / -6 )

Racism is a normal, if unfortunate and unproductive, human trait.

I wouldn't necessarily say that racism is normal, but it is a human trait for better or worse and has been with us since the beginning of man and all you have to do is look at it through the lens of history where one race felt superior over another or felt another race is inferior and even today we worship in separate churches, kids often separate themselves automatically often by race when interacting, we do by race, class etc. Yes, we are all taught to live as one, but in actuality that is not the usual case.

-4 ( +4 / -8 )

First and foremost this is an OPINION piece, I am a non-white minority and I can see the TRUE fascists are Antifa and BLM. The majority of the US is not racist, that is a fairy tale spun by the far left media which have given up on truths and facts for sensationalism. The democrats are effing stupid if they think they will get my vote, I love the US and refuse to allow the left to change this country. If they really want to live the BS they preach, I am sure Venezuela would take them in.

-5 ( +5 / -10 )

First and foremost this is an OPINION piece, I am a non-white minority and I can see the TRUE fascists are Antifa and BLM. The majority of the US is not racist, that is a fairy tale spun by the far left media which have given up on truths and facts for sensationalism. The democrats are effing stupid if they think they will get my vote, I love the US and refuse to allow the left to change this country. If they really want to live the BS they preach, I am sure Venezuela would take them in.

Well said. I couldn't agree more.

-3 ( +5 / -8 )

Whitey gets triggered and picks up his gun whenever he perceives the actions taken by minorities or women as an existential threat...

6 ( +10 / -4 )

Roger that.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Articles, Offers & Useful Resources

A mix of what's trending on our other sites