Neo-Nazi and other white supremacist organizations in the United States are looking for a new improved pool of racists to draw from.
The leaders of neo-Nazi and other white nationalist groups in the United States face a major problem, one having to do with their claims of white or Aryan racial superiority. What to do if the groups involved appeal primarily to white men — and some women — who, by most standards, fail to exhibit any trace of “superiority,” racial or otherwise? If many recruits turn out to be convicted felons recently released from prison, like the Aryan Warriors, or ex-members of motorcycle gangs, like the Nazi Low-Riders in Southern California, the claims to superiority seem virtually self-refuting.
Not long before his death in 2002, Dr. William Pierce, head of the National Alliance and author of two influential novels, “The Turner Diaries” and “Hunter,” which really represented a call to arms for white racial revolutionaries, recognized the problem. He lamented the poor quality of the “material” drawn to the movement.
Likewise, Harold Covington, the former leader of the National Socialist White People’s Party in North Carolina, and like Pierce a novelist, had this to say about the movement as it appeared during the 1990s:
“Right now this movement is plagued with little self-appointed SS groups who spend huge bucks in assembling SS paraphernalia and putting it on for secret photographic sessions that almost smack of queers coming of the out of the closet — indeed, in some cases, that is what it is. The fact is that this movement has a distinct tendency to attract faggots because of the leather-macho image that the System Jew media imparts to the SS uniform..… And this is in Carolina, admittedly the best and most selective unit in the Party! The other units are even worse … drug addicts, tattooed women, total bums and losers, policed informers, the dregs of urban life.”
Threat of Diversity
Developments over the last decade or two suggest the problem of neo-Nazi recruitment may not be insoluble. We should pay attention to America’s colleges and universities. Most of these institutions have been under considerable pressure from the federal government agencies and private philanthropists to “diversify” their student bodies, faculties, as well as what is taught in their classrooms.
In practice, diversity has meant that increasing numbers of African American, Asian and Hispanic students have appeared on campuses whose student bodies were overwhelmingly white until relatively recently. Likewise, faculties that largely consisted of white men now include increasingly substantial numbers of women and members of various racial and religious minorities.
Aside from the STEM subjects (science, technology, engineering, mathematics), courses in the humanities and social sciences now have a particular outlook on the world. This altered outlook, compared to what was taught in an earlier era, stresses the enormous failings and deficiencies of modern civilizations dominated largely by heterosexual white men. The new curriculum has both a manifest and latent function. Manifestly, it calls attention to neglected or previously ignored histories, such as the victimization of Native Americans at the hands of European settlers and the American military. The cruel subordination of women over the centuries is a common theme. The incontestable evils of slavery are stressed.
New fields of study with their own attendant departments have been created to reflect the schools’ increasing diversity. All this may be well and good. It may very well improve the quality of higher education for most students by including the study of groups and populations previously ignored or regarded with contempt by the older approaches.
Then there is the matter of latent function.
Race Thinking Before Racism
Certainly, a substantial percentage of white male students approve and appreciate these changes or, at least, are indifferent to them. But there are others who do not, particularly those students who resent the depiction of white males as responsible for many of their country’s numerous failings and sins. For such students, the principal effect of the new diversity is to make them race-conscious.
Never having thought of themselves as particularly anything before entering academic life, they quickly become self-consciously white men. They begin to think of their world as divided by race, gender and ethnicity. Worse yet, they become aware they’re being held responsible categorically for America’s failings.
For those now race-conscious white men, it doesn’t take all that much for them to become white supremacists. It may be a particular incident or series of incidents on campus for this transformation to occur. Or it may also be the result of online contacts with other race-conscious students who raise their awareness that they are many others who share similar experiences and harbor similar resentments.
We should not forget that on many campuses around the country there exist white male bastions. Residential fraternities — the Greek system — offer young men sanctuary from the newly diversified campus. White fraternity “brothers” can insulate one another from the multi-racial and multi-cultural world around them. They may even strike back at the sources of their resentment, by putting on “black faces” and by painting swastikas on various public building.
Leaders of white supremacist groups have become aware of this condition and have sought to take advantage of it. In recent years, hate groups, of which there are over 1,000 in the US, have launched recruitment drives on campuses, particularly state universities, to win over the largely middle and upper-middle class white university students. Flyers, leaflets, pamphlets are strewn around the campus. Various websites and chat rooms offer solace and support to these students. By so doing, neo-Nazi and other white supremacist organizations in the United States have found a new improved pool of racists on which to draw.
Professor Leonard Weinberg is a Senior Fellow at CARR and Emeritus Professor of Political Science, University of Nevada. See his profile here.
© Leonard Weinberg Views expressed on this website are individual contributors and do not necessarily reflect that of the Centre for Analysis of the Radical Right (CARR). We are pleased to share previously unpublished materials with the community under creative commons license 4.0 (Attribution-NoDerivatives).
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