Last year, about this time when I was in art therapy, one of my fellow patients commented that she hoped Obama would win because it would improve race relations. She was one of those old-school liberals who was still stuck in the 1970s. She always got on my nerves. For example, she was of Chinese descent so she was absolutely thrilled when Beijing hosted the summer Olympic Games. Now, why should a country, which is not even a democracy and is one of the worst human rights violators in the world (according to Amnesty International), even be considered for this? I thought it was a travesty. Then, there was that controversy over whether or not the female Chinese gymnasts were even old enough to compete. When various judges expressed suspicion, she insinuated that those claims were somehow political. Excuse me, but anybody could see that the Chinese were flat-out lying. Those girls were NOT 16 years old (the minimum age requirement); rather, they were more like 11 or 12 – 14 at the most. It was obvious. So then, with all seriousness, she says, “Yes, but Chinese girls mature later in life and I don’t think the western officials are taking this into account.” What the fuck?!!
Anyway, back to Obama. I didn’t see then what she meant about his nomination improving race relations. Did she really think that his becoming President would cause white people to say to themselves, Gee, I guess I’m starting to like black people more? Would black people say to themselves, Gee, I guess white people are coming around? Furthermore, what’s wrong with race relations in this country? I don’t recall hearing about any race-related riots in the streets. It’s not like this is the early 90s and O.J. Simpson just got away with murder. It’s not like there’s turmoil in the ghetto because the police who beat up Rodney King just got let off the hook. I agree that the early 90s was something of a nadir in black and white relations. But it was 2008 when we had this conversation and she didn’t seem to realize that the issues had changed.
As it turns out, we were both wrong.
While much of America is rejoicing the election of a very different kind of politician (myself included), the flip side is that there has been a surge in hate group and Neo-Nazi support. In fact, the day after Obama’s election, the Aryan Nation reported so much traffic to their website, their server crashed. According to the Southern Poverty Law Center, the numbers of individuals linked to openly racist organizations has increased by 54% since 2000. This dovetails with the findings of the Department of Homeland Security, who are just as concerned about internal terrorism as they are about external. Today there are approximately 926 hate/white supremacist/neo-Nazi groups across the United States. California and Texas have the most – 84 and 66 respectively. North Dakota, Wyoming, and New Mexico only have one or two each.
I decided to check out some of these hate sites. The American Nazi Party website is pretty minimalist and short on information. In fact, it’s downright boring. You can order a copy of MEIN KAMPF and some other standard literature, but there isn’t much to actually read on the site, strangely enough. So I bopped on over to the Aryan Nation website, which looks like it might have been designed by the Hell’s Angels. The color scheme is atrocious -- there’s way too much black and not enough red or white. That was a turn-off right away. There’s a section called NEEDFUL THINGS where they ask for donations (used furniture, old computers, calculators, etc.), as well as a FORUM and ACTIVIST TIPS. Stuff like that. It’s a practical website, but short on political content.
By far the most thorough and articulate hate website belongs to the National Socialist Movement, which seems to be somewhat “assimilationist” and, from what I can tell by their photo gallery, is more youth-oriented. They have a blog which is updated frequently, although nobody ever comments (kind of like here!). There is also a FAQ section, a 25 Point Party Thesis, and an extensive, alphabetized article list (“Jokes,” “The Jewish Child Porn Industry,” “Eugenics,” “The Failure of Multiculturism” etc.). I searched and searched and searched and could not find their economic stance, in spite of the fact that they have the word “Socialist” in their name. They’re very vocal and opinionated about everything else (The War in Iraq, Donald Rumsfeld, lactose intolerance, Katrina …), but for some reason won’t say anything about economic policy. This was annoying. On Youtube you can see clips of them marching on Washington saying they’re not about violence, they only want to advance the White Race peacefully and democratically, etc. They definitely know how to market themselves and, in my opinion, are the most dangerous because of their sophistication. Clearly, they are the user-friendly version of hate.
I wish I was savvy enough to hack into their sites and take them down, but alas, my technical skills are pretty limited. I have been tempted to become a member so I could lurk in their forums, but I’m paranoid they can see my IP address. So instead, I’ve been reading a lot of information on the Internet. All the news sources say the same thing – hate groups are on the rise in America because there’s the perfect storm of: 1) poor economy; 2) much debate over immigration and illegal aliens (especially as they relate to homeland security); and 3) the election of an intellectual black man in the White House. I would also put my two cents in and add my theory that the world is going through so much stark, dramatic change both nationally and globally that lower income, uneducated white people feel they are being left out and left behind. They are frightened and mad. Not surprisingly, the Secret Service have had to work extra hard to keep the President safe because there are more death threats than usual for an American leader.
So all of this is pretty disturbing. Call me naïve, but I didn’t think white people like this still existed in such abundance. They are probably exaggerating their popularity (as are the civil rights groups who monitor them), but the sheer number of documented groups across the country is shocking. I can see why the Department of Homeland Security is so concerned. After all, the first real terrorist attack on our soil was committed by the American militant Timothy McVeigh (although, to the best of anyone’s knowledge, he did not have racist beliefs). But in a way I’m glad this stuff is out in the open. People like this should be identifiable. I think that censoring them or jailing them would just force them to go underground where they would morph into terrorist groups. Frankly, I’m surprised they haven’t already. That would be the new frontier.