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This Week’s 5: Because White Supremacists Love Attention...

March 22, 2019

Author's Note: This Week's 5 is a weekly collection of stories designed to provide insight into how racism works and serve as an easily accessible resource for people trying to have nuanced discussions about these issues. For more explanation on how This Week's 5 works and descriptions of each of the categories, click here.

 

 

Overt

If there’s any upside to the rise of white supremacist terrorism, it’s the revelation that many of these terrorists are really bad at their jobs. Consider the case of Virginia white supremacist recruiter and hopefully soon-to-be former school resource officer Daniel Morley. Morley recently got outed as an active recruiter for the white supremacist terror group Identity Evropa and is now on leave. What made matters worse is that he worked as an SRO at a school with majority Black and Brown students. He even claimed in an official SRO video that his goal was to give students a safe environment like he had growing up. Meanwhile, he was online recruiting others to do harm to the same communities he served and bragging about infiltrating Black and Brown spaces. Is it a wonder that so many students and parents are advocating for more counselors and less or even no SROs at all? How many more of these stories do we need to see? To borrow from white supremacists’ favorite president, perhaps we should have a complete and total shutdown of SROs until we figure out what the hell is going on. Read more from the Root.

 

 

Institutional

White supremacists love Donald Trump. Terrorist after terrorist (most recently in New Zealand) has directly referenced him as inspiration. Meanwhile, he has gone out of his way not to demonize them in the same way he does every other group of people with melanin. Following the New Zealand attacks, he was asked if white supremacists are a problem and he not only said no, but claimed it was just a few sick people. His policies certainly reinforce this. One of the first things the Trump Administration did was drastically cut funding for investigating and combating white supremacist terrorism, despite the spike in white supremacist incidents immediately following Trump’s election. Furthermore, he has used all the institutional tools at his disposal to terrorize communities of color, Latinx people and Muslims in particular, including giving ICE carte blanche to go after immigrants the same way one goes after zombies in a video game and refusing to even mention Muslims following explicitly Islamophobia terrorism like the New Zealand attacks. Short of arriving at a press conference in a white hood and screaming “nigger” into the microphone, he couldn’t do much more to endorse white supremacy. Read more from Vice.

 

 

Critical Race Theory

White supremacy thrives on the thinnest veil of plausible deniability. It hides behind supposedly legitimate activities and organizations and then uses their infrastructure to funnel talking points to large audiences. This is perhaps most glaring in the gun rights community. At the top of the food chain, the NRA, on behalf of weapons manufacturers, produces ads openly calling for civil war with images of supposedly scary Brown people and never misses an opportunity to defend the most heinous and obvious police murders of Black people, even if the victims are staunch gun advocates like Philando Castile. Then there’s the mobilization on the local level. North America has seen a rise in white militia groups since the election of President Barack Obama in 2008. One of those groups is the Three Percenters. While they claim to be libertarian and not racist in their rhetoric, their activities include armed demonstrations at mosques and spreading blatant Islamophobia online. Combine that with constant weapons and tactical training and violent rhetoric in general, and you have what would obviously seem like a domestic terrorist group. Yet, they aren’t classified as such. Thankfully, a Muslim organization in Canada is putting pressure on the government to change that. Read more from Vice.

 

 

History

Discussions on the history of denying women their agency, for good reasons, often focus on how we’ve ignored positive contributions. However, there are also cases, such as the construction of the southern belle myth, where that denial of agency was weaponized to allow white women slaveholders to be just as brutal as their male counterparts while enjoying a societal perception of innocence. Let the popular narrative tell it and white women were just bystanders while their husbands raped, beat, and exploited enslaved people. In actuality, there were plenty of white women who were principal owners of enslaved people and were plenty brutal in their own right. In her new book, “They Were Her Property: White Women Slave Owners in the American South,” author Stephanie Jones-Rogers details these stories using both anecdotes and legal records. One case she references involves a white woman who forced her slaves to have sex to breed more slaves and then continued doing the same with the children. Jones-Rogers utilizes legal records to corroborate stories because, for decades, people have dismissed these anecdotes, infantilizing the former slaves’ and claiming their traumatic tales couldn’t possibly be true. Read more from the Undefeated.

 

 

The Fragility Breaker

Earlier in this column, I referenced white supremacy’s love of plausible deniability and how that manifests in the gun advocacy community. Media, and particularly conservative media, is right there with them. Whether it’s Fox News pundits like Tucker Carlson calling immigrants “dirty” or ESPN analysts like Will Cain, who once worked in conservative media, gaslighting sports fans about police brutality and racial profiling, none of this would be allowed if there weren’t consumers embracing it. Sure, there are larger audiences both nationally and internationally that find this canoodling with white supremacy reprehensible and dangerous. Nonetheless, as long as you have white supremacists and their sympathizers as executives and they can point to like-minded consumers, then they can claim it’s just a business decision. Would the same be accepted if the perpetrators in question were Brown? Of course not. Does the fact that this rise of white supremacist terrorism mirrors the rise of groups like the Taliban matter? Once again, apparently not. As Chris Rock once said, it’s alright as long as it’s all white. Safety, ethics, and corporate bottom lines be damned. Read more from the Sydney Morning Herald.

 

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