Who are the white supremacists? There has been no formal survey, for obvious reasons, but there are several noticeable patterns. Geographically, they come from America’s heartland—small towns, rural cities, swelling suburban sprawl outside larger Sunbelt cities. These aren’t the prosperous towns, but the single-story working-class exurbs that stretch for what feels like forever in the corridor between Long Beach and San Diego (not the San Fernando Valley), or along the southern tier of Pennsylvania, or spread all through the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, across the vast high plains of eastern Washington and Oregon, through Idaho and Montana. There are plenty in the declining cities of the Rust Belt, in Dearborn and Flint, Buffalo and Milwaukee, in the bars that remain in the shadows of the hulking deserted factories that once were America’s manufacturing centers. And that doesn’t even touch the former states of the Confederacy, where flying the Confederate flag is a culturally approved symbol of “southern pride”—in the same way that wearing a swastika would be a symbol of German “heritage” (except it’s illegal in Germany to wear a swastika).
There’s a large rural component. Although “the spread of far-right groups over the last decade has not been limited to rural areas alone,” writes Osha Gray Davidson, “the social and economic unraveling of rural communities—especially in the midwest—has provided far-right groups with new audiences for their messages of hate. Some of these groups have enjoyed considerable success in their rural campaign.” For many farmers facing foreclosures, the Far Right promises to help them save their land have been appealing, offering farmers various schemes and legal maneuvers to help prevent foreclosures, blaming the farmers’ troubles on Jewish bankers and the one-world government. “As rural communities started to collapse,” Davidson writes, the Far Right “could be seen at farm auctions comforting families … confirming what rural people knew to be true: that their livelihoods, their families, their communities—their very lives—were falling apart.” In stark contrast to the government indifference encountered by rural Americans, a range of Far Right groups, most recently the militias, have seemingly provided support, community, and answers.
In that sense, the contemporary militias and other white supremacist groups are following in the footsteps of the Ku Klux Klan, the Posse Comitatus, and other Far Right patriot groups who recruited members in rural America throughout the 1980s. They tap into a long history of racial and ethnic paranoia in rural America, as well as an equally long tradition of collective local action and vigilante justice. There remains a widespread notion that “Jews, African-Americans, and other minority-group members ‘do not entirely belong,’” which may, in part, “be responsible for rural people’s easy acceptance of the far right’s agenda of hate,” writes Matthew Snipp. “The far right didn’t create bigotry in the Midwest; it didn’t need to,” Davidson concludes. “It merely had to tap into the existing undercurrent of prejudice once this had been inflamed by widespread economic failure and social discontent.”
And many have moved from their deindustrializing cities, foreclosed suburban tracts, and wasted farmlands to smaller rural areas because they seek the companionship of like-minded fellows, in relatively remote areas far from large numbers of nonwhites and Jews and where they can organize, train, and build protective fortresses. Many groups have established refuge in rural communities, where they can practice military tactics, stockpile food and weapons, hone their survivalist skills, and become self-sufficient in preparation for Armageddon, the final race war, or whatever cataclysm they envision. Think of it as the twenty-first-century version of postwar suburban “white flight”—but on steroids.
Someone going by the name of “HamdenRice” posted this on Daily Kos. He talks about his experiences as a black man, prior to the civil rights movement, and what Dr. King’s biggest achievement really was.
This will be a very short diary. It will not contain any links or any scholarly references. It is about a very narrow topic, from a very personal, subjective perspective.
The topic at hand is what Martin Luther King actually did, what it was that he actually accomplished.
The reason I’m posting this is because there were dueling diaries over the weekend about Dr. King’s legacy, and there is a diary up now (not on the rec list but on the recent list) entitled, “Martin Luther King, Jr.’s Dream Not Yet Realized.” I’m sure the diarist means well as did the others. But what most people who reference Dr. King seem not to know is how Dr. King actually changed the subjective experience of life in the United States for African Americans. And yeah, I said for African Americans, not for Americans, because his main impact was his effect on the lives of African Americans, not on Americans in general. His main impact was not to make white people nicer or fairer. That’s why some of us who are African Americans get a bit possessive about his legacy. Dr. Martin Luther King’s legacy, despite what our civil religion tells us, is not color blind.
Roger Hedgecock, former San Diego mayor and current right wing talk show host, equated teaching about race with “hatred of white people,” claimed “hatred of white people has now become an epidemic in this country”, that the California public school curriculum was “anti-white” while blaming President Obama for “racial tensions” that “are at an all-time high in my lifetime.” Hedgecock made these comments on Feb. 4, 2013, on San Diego station KFMB-AM, which features white talk show hosts for 100% of their programming, 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
Hedgecock started out by resurrecting a story from 2012 about a Portland school principal, Verenice Gutierrez, who was involved in programs to help educators understand white privilege in order to “change their teaching practices to boost their minority students’ performance.” Hedgecock called this “hatred of white people.”
“It will boost minorities performance to teach them, in essence, hatred of white people, which is basically what she said,” is how Hedgecock characterized it.
Hedgecock then presented what was supposed to be a scary list of the “hatred of white people” training for teachers involving Gutierrez, including an exercise “to examine a news article and discuss the white privilege it conveys… A week-long seminar called ‘coaching for educational equity’…that focuses on race and how it affects life… She also serves on an administrative committee that focuses on ‘systemic racism.’
“…This stuff is going on in every school, every public school,” Hedgecock warned.
After relating a news story about a deranged murderer who said his shooting spree was prompted by his racist attitudes toward white people, beliefs he developed while an anthropology major in college, Hedgecock said, “Where do people get these notions? They get them in taxpayer-supported schools. Hatred of white people has now become an epidemic in this country.
“It is now informing polical decisions that are made. When President Obama told the editorial staff at the San Francisco Chronicle during the 2008 campaign that the bitter clingers, people in Pennsylvania, and he was talking about white people, who cling to their guns and their bible, were the problem he was having.
“No one has more racially divided this country since John C. Calhoun, than Barack Obama…
“No one in this country believes that we are better off in race relations, that there is less racial tension in this country today, because of Barack Obama’s election. Racial tensions are at an all-time high in my lifetime and I lived through the 50s…
“I lived through Rosa Parks, I lived through Martin Luther King, Jr. The consensus was at that time among white people that those civil rights efforts were in the noblest tradition in the American republic…
“Do you have a feeling that all this stuff in the schools, teaching hatred of white privilege, is bringing us closer together? Is bringing us past racism?
Referring to a story about a review of the school system in Texas, Hedgecock concluded, “You should see the curriculum we have. It is as anti-American, anti-West and anti-white as you could imagine.”