91 The Changing Faces of White Supremacy
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91 The Changing Faces of White Supremacy LORETTA J. ROSS AND MARY ANN MAUNEY White supremacy holds that the interests of people of European descent are superior to those of people who believe, act, or look differently than"normal." It perpetuates the stratification of class, race, religion, sexual orientation, and gender. It embraces Nazism, fascism, and violence. Its open manifestations are extremist hate groups; its results are political and social systems based not on the democratic ideals of majority rule, tolerance, diversity, equality, and justice, but on "white is right." White supremacists are America's deepest nightmare because they attack not only individuals and groups, but the legitimacy of our democratic process itself. Because the percentage of whites who belong to white supremacist groups is small, many underestimate their influence. What is really significant is not the number of actual members , but the number who endorse their messages. Racists are now having a catalytic effect by tapping into the prejudices of the white majority. They are noticeably influencing public policy concerning central issues of racism, poverty, crime, reproductive rights, civil rights for gays and lesbians, the environment, immigration, and more. White supremacy is no longer a "faction" belonging to the fringe of mainstream America . While the old Klan and new Nazis are still abhorrent to the vast majority of the American people, their sentiments have been embraced by the public when presented in a more sanitized fashion and disguised as nationalism, patriotism, and family values. The gains of the civil rights movement of the 1960s in the United States have steadily eroded over the past decade, while incidents of racism as well as anti-Semitism, homophobia, and violence against women have risen sharply. Traditional Hate Groups Only about 25,000 Americans are hardcore activists for the traditional white supremacist movement, a tiny fraction of the white population. They are organized into approximately 300 different organizations. No two groups are exactly alike-they range from seemingly innocuous religious sects or tax protesters to openly militant, even violent, neo-Nazi skinheads and Ku Klux Klan Klaverns. What they share in common is a desire to create a society totally dominated by whites by excluding and denying the rights Copyright © 1996 by the Center for Democratic Renewal. Reprinted by permission of Center for Democratic Renewal . Copyrighted Material The Changing Faces of White Supremacy 553 of non-whites, Jews, gays and lesbians, and by subjugating women. The movement's links are global, from the pro-apartheid movement in South Africa and the neo-fascists in Germany to robed Klansmen in the deep South. The activists are the ones on the front lines, promoting the cause, marching, recruiting, and stockpiling weapons. The number of their sympathizers is ten-fold. Hundreds of thousands of others subscribe to racist publications, attend marches and rallies, and donate money. Recorded messages crisscross the country through telephone hatelines, spewing hate-motivated speeches and propaganda while they publicize upcoming meetings and rallies . Independent racist radio and television shows air weekly on traditional airways and short-wave radio. The information superhighway is filled with computer bulletin boards and web pages that spread lies, promote conspiracies, and exploit the fears of millions. Most white supremacists in America believe that the United States is a "Christian" nation . Because racists give themselves divine permission from God, they often fail to see that their actions are driven by hate; they claim to "just love God and the white race." If they are religious, they distort Biblical passages to justify their bigotry. A popular religion called Christian Identity provides a theological bond across organizational lines. Identity churches are ministered by charismatic leaders who promote racial intolerance and religious division. The tenets of Christian Identity assert that (1) white people are the original Lost Tribes of Israel, and therefore the"chosen" people, (2) Jews are descendants of Satan , and (3) African Americans and other people of color are beasts created by God before He created Adam. Christian Identity followers can attack and murder Jews and people of color without contradicting their religious convictions because they have been told that people of color and Jews have no souls. Many of the distinctions between various Klan and neo-Nazi groups have dissolved. Members flow in and out because of internal squabbles and leadership battles. Leadership summit meetings and the use of common periodicals are indicators of considerable ideological cohesion. For example, Klansmen, skinheads, and neo-Nazis march together; hatelines promote various publishing houses; any number of groups, particularly skinheads, distribute...