Join 3,382 readers in helping fund MetaFilter (Hide)


Obama win spurs white racial backlash
November 17, 2008 11:09 AM   Subscribe

Obama's win is a racial milestone in world history, but beneath the surface a white backlash is festering in the US, spurring hate crimes around the country and an uptick in recruitment among white supremacists, according to the The Southern Poverty Law Center.
posted by stbalbach (98 comments total) 10 users marked this as a favorite

 
One scary thought that comes to mind: further curtailment of civil liberties. This could just be today's demon, one to scare liberals instead of conservatives. Worth being aware of.
posted by Malor at 11:14 AM on November 17, 2008 [1 favorite]


This is the point where Bush and Rove have to get off the tiger they've been riding.
posted by athenian at 11:14 AM on November 17, 2008 [3 favorites]


How are these idiots not classified as domestic terrorists? Morons like these have cost this country far more (in lives and progress) than any Islamic group.
posted by einer at 11:14 AM on November 17, 2008 [2 favorites]


"I hate Illinois nazis."

*vroooooom*
posted by pyrex at 11:15 AM on November 17, 2008 [15 favorites]


How are these idiots not classified as domestic terrorists?

FYI: In my basic terrorism training for DHS, these idiots were classified as domestic terrorists.
posted by Pollomacho at 11:19 AM on November 17, 2008 [7 favorites]


Pizza boxes full of shit?
posted by solipsophistocracy at 11:19 AM on November 17, 2008


Maybe we could get Sherman to do another little march.
posted by plexi at 11:21 AM on November 17, 2008 [2 favorites]


How are these idiots not classified as domestic terrorists?

Indeed. The Ku Klux Klan, for example, are a self-described terrorist organization.
posted by Sys Rq at 11:23 AM on November 17, 2008


How are these idiots not classified as domestic terrorists?

FYI: In my basic terrorism training for DHS, these idiots were classified as domestic terrorists.


Coincidence - or something more sinister?
posted by Kirth Gerson at 11:24 AM on November 17, 2008 [1 favorite]


How are these idiots not classified as domestic terrorists?

FYI: In my basic terrorism training for DHS, these idiots were classified as domestic terrorists.


So I should add, I think your question is wrong. The question should be: If these guys are considered terrorists, why are we not sending troops to interdict these groups in Arkansas the same way we do in Waziristan?
posted by Pollomacho at 11:26 AM on November 17, 2008 [7 favorites]


I liked the Stormfront Post better.
posted by gman at 11:27 AM on November 17, 2008


Waterboarding sheeted terrorists: Still not Torture?
posted by yeloson at 11:29 AM on November 17, 2008


Maybe we could get Sherman to do another little march.

Hey, how 'bout we not do that this time? Don't start acting like a fucking idiot in a thread about fucking idiots.
posted by Roman Graves at 11:30 AM on November 17, 2008 [18 favorites]


So when are we black bagging them off to gitmo for some fun on the waterboard ride? I guess my point is that these terrorists seem more dangerous than the ones we trained, armed and funded.
posted by einer at 11:30 AM on November 17, 2008


Ok, what is "race-tinged graffiti" (first link)?
Is the stenciling ok but then the fading is racist? Or is it normal tagging but then half a racial slur on the end?
I don't understand.
posted by rmless at 11:31 AM on November 17, 2008


why are we not sending troops to interdict these groups in Arkansas the same way we do in Waziristan?

Where do you think a lot of our recruitment comes from, anyway?
posted by allen.spaulding at 11:32 AM on November 17, 2008 [2 favorites]


The League of the South, a secessionist group, says Web hits jumped from 50,000 a month to 300,000 since Nov. 4, and its phones are ringing off the hook.

So maybe Palin's secessionist ties are actually a good thing (for her, the South and the America that'll never elect her).

...a model that Spain, for one, is moving toward, in which "there's a great deal of autonomy for constituent regions" – a foil to what is seen as unchecked, dangerous federal power in Washington.

You say unchecked, dangerous power, I say strong unitary executive.

To a lot of people, the idea of secession doesn't seem so crazy anymore..

Yes, please go.
posted by DU at 11:36 AM on November 17, 2008 [1 favorite]


So I should add, I think your question is wrong. The question should be: If these guys are considered terrorists, why are we not sending troops to interdict these groups in Arkansas the same way we do in Waziristan?

Are you serious? On the off-chance that you are, the reason is that domestic terrorist groups are seen as criminal organizations and thus must commit crimes before being handled by law enforcement, not the fuckin' military. What do you want to do, occupy areas where there are lots of "domestic terrorists"?
posted by Electrius at 11:37 AM on November 17, 2008


How are these idiots not classified as domestic terrorists?

The point, I believe, is that they're not labeled as such by the media... the only labeling that really matters today.

They're "not" terrorists the same way that abortion-clinic bombers are "not" terrorists.
posted by rokusan at 11:37 AM on November 17, 2008 [5 favorites]


I've heard similarly alarmist reports on the news, and I completely don't buy it. A couple temporally correlated but systemically unrelated events does not a movement make. Assholes are always going to be assholes; that doesn't mean that we'll soon be facing a wildly resurgent KKK.
posted by ChasFile at 11:39 AM on November 17, 2008 [3 favorites]


Are you serious? On the off-chance that you are, the reason is that domestic terrorist groups are seen as criminal organizations and thus must commit crimes before being handled by law enforcement, not the fuckin' military.

So we're willing to overreact with military force in foreign nations, but not our own?

This seems more than a little hypocritical. If the Bush Doctrine is right, it's right, and the government/military should intervene to prevent future attacks on Americans, crime or not.

Or that is just plain wrong, in any nation.

You can't pick and choose your Georgias.
posted by rokusan at 11:39 AM on November 17, 2008 [5 favorites]


Assholes are always going to be assholes.

Amen, brother Chas! I expect you at the next meeting!
posted by rokusan at 11:40 AM on November 17, 2008


How are these idiots not classified as domestic terrorists?

I don't know specifically what makes the terrorist/non-terrorist metaphorical trigger fire, but in all the cases I've heard they are getting charged with hate crimes.
posted by ChasFile at 11:41 AM on November 17, 2008


“The League of the South is reporting a surge in new members within hours of the results from yesterday’s elections,” proclaimed an E-mail that the neo-Confederate group sent to supporters the day after the election. “League president, Dr. Michael Hill, stated that it is from an awakening of many Southerners that the constitutional Republic is now dead and has been replaced with a national socialist empire.”

Wait, what? I thought they were into National Socialism. Make up your mind, cousin-fuckers.

Sorry, a lame joke about ignorant misuse of terminology which means the opposite of what the speaker intended it to is about all I can muster for these genetic throwbacks. I used to waste energy getting pissed off about them until I realized that in their totality they maybe number 50-60,000, and each group of a few hundred barnyard rapists hates every other group of a few hundred human feces golems more than they collectively hate the mud races, thus they never accomplish anything due to infighting. It's like the Judean People's Front vs. the People's Front of Judea, except with ignorant rednecks.
posted by DecemberBoy at 11:41 AM on November 17, 2008 [12 favorites]


Amen,

I'll bring the pie!
posted by ChasFile at 11:42 AM on November 17, 2008


What do you want to do, occupy areas where there are lots of "domestic terrorists"?

*cough*
posted by YoBananaBoy at 11:42 AM on November 17, 2008


The source in all three links, the Southern Poverty Law Center, is not a credible watchdog group. They literally use fear to steal millions of dollars from the public. (See Jim Tharpe discuss his Pulitzer nominated investigation of the organization. Also The Church of Morris Dees: How the Southern Poverty Law Center profits from intolerance from Harper's Magazine)

I'll wait for confirmation from a credible law enforcement agency that there has been an uptick in hate crimes.
posted by dgaicun at 11:45 AM on November 17, 2008 [5 favorites]


We came, we saw, we Jerry-Cammed.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 11:46 AM on November 17, 2008


All I have to say is: DUH! This is America, after all. Do you think that racial attacks didn't rise in South Africa, when Mandela took over? This will all boil into a really destructive race war, or we will continue to strengthen our union, and make hate and violence and greed very small things in the country.
posted by Flex1970 at 11:46 AM on November 17, 2008


The source in all three links, the Southern Poverty Law Center...

Lie.
posted by DU at 11:48 AM on November 17, 2008 [2 favorites]


why are we not sending troops to interdict these groups in Arkansas the same way we do in Waziristan?

Second link surveys incidents in Maine, New York, California, Maine, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Pennsylvania as well as North Carolina, Texas, and Idaho.

The South has no monopoly on racism; it's just crappier at propaganda.
posted by morganw at 11:51 AM on November 17, 2008 [2 favorites]


I hope there is no connection to the rise in gun sales.
posted by Bitter soylent at 11:56 AM on November 17, 2008


I wouldn't say backlash. In my mind, the people acting like assholes now are the same people that would have acted like assholes anyway. It's just that now they have one more excuse to be assholes, and the media has a white hot spotlight on anything remotely related to racism right now.
posted by caution live frogs at 11:56 AM on November 17, 2008 [1 favorite]


Also The Church of Morris Dees: How the Southern Poverty Law Center profits from intolerance from Harper's Magazine

Via a link to Americanpatrol.com? No thanks.
posted by Sys Rq at 11:57 AM on November 17, 2008


Lie.

Ok, I rechecked, and the third link doesn't deal with hate crime uptick, only a surge of white nationalist interest. That may or may not be true. Keep in mind all the racists they quote have an obvious interest in making such claims.

And PS: Help maintain a healthy, respectful discussion by focusing comments on the issues, topics, and facts at hand—not at other members of the site.
posted by dgaicun at 12:01 PM on November 17, 2008


DU: Being attacked by a right-wing attacks a group or organization does not make the organization a candidate for nonprofit sainthood. (See: ACORN, which does indeed have issues, but whose issues are small potatoes compared to, oh, Wall Street's.) Harper's is hardly a right-wing rag regardless. I remember reading that story. So what if a right-wing site prints it in probable violation of copyrights held by the author and/or the magazine?
posted by raysmj at 12:01 PM on November 17, 2008


Here you go, from Harper's, Nov. 2000.
posted by raysmj at 12:04 PM on November 17, 2008 [1 favorite]


Via a link to Americanpatrol.com? No thanks.

Here is the HighBeam abstract. Feel free to pay to read the article. It's from Harper's Magazine, not "americanpatrol.com"
posted by dgaicun at 12:05 PM on November 17, 2008


Don Black, who runs the leading white supremacist hate site Stormfront.org, boasted in an online post Wednesday afternoon that his website was seeing six times its usual traffic. (...) Hate groups are notorious for inflating their numbers.

Maybe they don't inflate it intentionally. There is a good chance they just mean that 6 more people have visited their site. Or maybe these are the same thing ...

Stupid jokes aside, I think that these people should be taken seriously by the federal authorities, and by the local authorities (if they are not tainted), because what may be a small problem in a national scale, can cause a lot of tragedies in the local scale.
posted by TheyCallItPeace at 12:06 PM on November 17, 2008


If you want real insight into just how lame and ineffectual these losers really are, HBO did a documentary that I think is just called "Skinheads" (which is an inaccurate title, as most skins are not racist at all or even committed to any ideology other than beer, ska and scooters, but that's a whole other topic) that re-runs occasionally on Discovery or the History Channel. It's about a Neo-Nazi "leader" named Bill Riccio and his "movement", which consists of a handful of bald, confused teenage runaways who live with him in a dilapidated shack in the middle of bumfuck nowhere Alabama. There's a really creepy undercurrent of pederasty throughout the whole thing (and on a related note, Kevin Strom, former leader of William Pierce's National Alliance, was busted for kiddie porn a few years ago). In one hilarious scene, Riccio and his boy-toys are listening, for some reason, to Irish Republican folk music. Riccio says "this is my song for my funeral", stands up, puts on a nearby Wehrmacht helmet, and throws up a Hitlergruß. The boy-toys look totally confused, and eventually one stands up and bewilderedly imitates Riccio.

Riccio went to prison for weapons charges or something like that soon after, and the boy-toys, now older and somewhat wiser, are said to have repudiated Nazism and are extremely embarrassed about the whole thing. That's basically what all these little groups are like in America. They consist of a tiny handful of people, usually with one or more charismatic leaders, and the rest are just confused and stupid kids who often later move on to some other ideology or just to normal lives. They're not like the European groups who actually run for or even hold political office. They're a joke. They might decide to firebomb an unoccupied black church at night or something, and are thus dangerous at least on a local level, but they're never going to have even the tiniest bit of real power. And as far as the South seceding, let 'em try. See how long the states that take the most Federal resources and give back the least last without the nurturing latte of the lib'rul teat.
posted by DecemberBoy at 12:07 PM on November 17, 2008 [3 favorites]


Being attacked by a right-wing attacks a group or organization does not make the organization a candidate for nonprofit sainthood.

The lie I highlighted was merely the first one I found in the comment. Specifically, the claim that all the information in these 3 links comes from SPLC. That claim is false, which is apparent in even the most cursory reading of just the first link.
posted by DU at 12:08 PM on November 17, 2008


and left two pizza boxes filled with human feces outside the front door

On closer inspection the pizza boxes were discovered not to contain human feces, but merely delicious Pizza Hut pizza.
posted by anazgnos at 12:11 PM on November 17, 2008 [8 favorites]


The South has no monopoly on racism; it's just crappier at propaganda.

Agreed! In my post above I could have just as easily compared Montana or Indiana to Waziristan.
posted by Pollomacho at 12:18 PM on November 17, 2008


DecemberBoy, as backwards and less than brilliant as these people are, it is (in my mind) a bad idea to pay them no mind. Timothy McVeigh was linked to these organizations. Also, in as much as "real power" is concerned, it really does matter if they can scare enough people into behaving differently. I agree that they're dumb, but that's no reason not to be wary.

I'd love it if they seceded though. Their pot sucks.
posted by einer at 12:18 PM on November 17, 2008


One way to fight hate groups is to bankrupt them.
posted by SteveInMaine at 12:21 PM on November 17, 2008


Specifically, the claim that all the information in these 3 links comes from SPLC

The claim that there is a surge in hate-crimes is from the SPLC, but there is no trend data cited, only a list of collected disparate incidents. The SPLC is an alarmist organization that uses fear of largely non-existent threats (such as neo-nazi and Klan power) to steal obscene amounts of money from a well-meaning public.

Issues such as racial violence are important, but a grain of salt is warranted from the links provided. If there are alarming trends we must wait for credible journalism using credible law enforcement statistics. Self-interested Internet racists and self-interested watchdog groups are biased sources, with a shared interest in exaggerating racial unrest.
posted by dgaicun at 12:24 PM on November 17, 2008


I livec in the south. Louisiana, which has quite a history of naked racism. (Johnny Rebel hailed from there.) Evey so often, driving around, I would see a confederate flag.

I yhave seen twice as many of these flags driving around rural Minnesota. There is an entire subculture of Minnesotans who are unabashedly redneck, including being proudly racist. Don't know why they choose to demonstrate it usibg a symbol of the south's attempted succession, but they seem confused about a lot of things. They also tend to wear hunting caps to weddings.
posted by Astro Zombie at 12:30 PM on November 17, 2008 [2 favorites]


Yeah, what's already been said; SPLC is a little GreenPeace-ee in there efforts and the only other place I'm seeing this is a single Op Ed on the newswires. It would seem more like they're trying to drum up readership with sensationlist "OOOH! Gonnabe some violence!" stuff then documenting a sudden and dramatic uptick.
posted by cavalier at 12:31 PM on November 17, 2008


The Times Online (London) asks "What's your biggest hope for Obama?" and gets flooded with wishes for death, mostly from the US.
posted by octothorpe at 12:39 PM on November 17, 2008 [1 favorite]


...human feces golems...

Now that is pure poetry, right there.
posted by Guy_Inamonkeysuit at 12:41 PM on November 17, 2008 [1 favorite]


Kinda related, but mostly just interesting:

An overlay of cotton production in 1860 with the 2008 presidential results.
posted by william_boot at 12:42 PM on November 17, 2008 [10 favorites]


If there are alarming trends we must wait for credible journalism using credible law enforcement statistics.

Or just look at the alarming trends already documented in the previous months with videos full of angry and hateful folks at rallies who I doubt are all just mysteriously mollified now that Obama has won. I mean I like the hope mantra too, but damn.

If the suggestion is oh don't worry about all this stuff, then I disagree. Perhaps you have that luxury, I don't. As they say, I don't need you to tell me that fat meat is greasy. Common sense tells me first off that some people are going to have a real hard time accepting this, and secondly that it doesn't take much to get caught up in it. Sitting around and waiting for a rock solid chart of unstoppable data showing a concrete pattern of increased incidents that cannot be explained any other way - well wait on that if you want, but it's no secret that you can attack any statistics, collections of information or other reports and allege whatever you want. "Oh sure there are more incidents reported now, but perhaps there were more previously that just weren't reported or reported on. People probably just drove right by."

If the suggestion is to be vigilant but not panicked, then I agree. But the bottom line is that yeah, there are some incidents happening, and being on guard a little more than normal and avoiding stupid situations is warranted, in my view. On the list of groups or organizations unfairly getting money from the public, the SPLC, if that were true, would still be far far down on the priority scale.
posted by cashman at 12:43 PM on November 17, 2008 [3 favorites]


From the CS Monitor link: "Anytime you start seeing [extremist propaganda] floating around, you have to be concerned," adds Lt. Gary Thornberry of the Oklahoma Highway Patrol, a member of the FBI's Joint Terrorism Task Force. "As far as it being an alarmist situation, I don't see that yet. From a law enforcement point of view, you have to be careful, because it's not illegal to have an ideology."

Bolded for emphasis.

It seems that the majority of the activities now are extremist propaganda, and not a lot more. Burning crosses and derogatory graffiti? Hate crimes. Planning an assault on a church or school? Probably getting to domestic terrorism.

Hating people for their race or creed is tolerated as long as you don't act on that hate. Larger groups of people hating and talking together? A bubbly pot of hatred, which might breed violence. And from the articles, it seems they're being well-monitored.

And for the Confederate Flag, there are various reasons to be proud of the Confederate Flag. But rural Minnesota? Weird adoption of rebel imagery, I guess.
posted by filthy light thief at 12:58 PM on November 17, 2008 [1 favorite]


The night Obama won the election, I paid a visit to Stormfront to see what kind of freakout they would be having there. Oddly enough, there was a message that access to message boards was now limited to those who signed up for membership.

Did they not want a bunch of people like me laughing at their reaction/site? I dunno, but the fact that access is now open again is interesting. I wonder how much of the spike in membership was due to curiosity and nothing more.
posted by stinkycheese at 12:58 PM on November 17, 2008


One way to fight hate groups is to bankrupt them.

I grew up with one of the guys involved in that beating. Being young and into punk, skinheads were often on the periphery of our social circle. Like DecemberBoy said most of them just liked ska and scooters, but there were a few white power kids floating around the neighborhood. You just did your best not to be in the same place at the same time, because they were always trouble.

He wasn't one of them, but in hindsight was maybe more tolerant of their behavior than the rest of us. Anyway at some point a few years back he started keeping company with them, and then he just snapped. He stormed into a friend's house and choked him against a wall, popped up at a local show one night and knocked the shit out of a fifteen year old girl (he stands about 6'6"), etc. By the time the incident at the county fair rolled around, we stopped hoping there was a solution for whatever was wrong with him.

Racism is a convenient package for rage, and if there was an absence of it they would find something else to latch onto and be angry about. Most importantly, while it is obviously something to be aware of and for the government to monitor, radical racism is not going to cause open riots or tear apart our country. Beating up kids at the county fair is about as far as these guys ever get. Like cashman said, vigilance not panic.
posted by Roman Graves at 1:05 PM on November 17, 2008 [1 favorite]


filthy light thief writes "And for the Confederate Flag, there are various reasons to be proud of the Confederate Flag."

There are more compelling reasons to let it go.
posted by krinklyfig at 1:05 PM on November 17, 2008 [3 favorites]


Don Black, who runs the leading white supremacist hate site...

That's a funny name for a guy who puts on a white hood every weekend.
posted by rokusan at 1:11 PM on November 17, 2008 [1 favorite]


I have an old dear friend who is a member of Stormfront. He was actually banned for two weeks. It allows a different perspective on the racism issue as we agree to disagree. He has been suprisingly quiet and accepting about this although he has uses a very crude name. I would worry more about those who might be quietly waiting for all the national and international veneration to decline.
posted by carolusal at 1:20 PM on November 17, 2008


Anyone who doesn't expect there to be backlash is fooling themselves. The last gasp of ignorant fucks will be loud. They're confused right now.

Unfortunately my husband and I have started to witness a lot more racism since the election. We moved from Houston to a rural area of Texas for the peace and quiet and generally we love it. Since the election, we've discussed moving. We both have Obama stickers on our cars (and are white.) My husband was accosted by four guys in a pickup truck with a Nobama sticker who started yelling about how my husband wants a "nigger-president." Last week he asked one of his coworkers why he wasn't wearing his usual camoflage shirt and the man burst out, "Because your nigger president won't let me because it's against the Muslim religion." I've started to see "Not My President" bumper stickers. And I had a guy in a truck nearly run me off the road last week for no apparent reason and I'm starting to wonder if it was "Obama-rage."

(Oh god, don't let the media pick up on that one. Seriously, pretend I never said it.)
posted by threeturtles at 1:22 PM on November 17, 2008 [5 favorites]


Maybe we could get Sherman to do another little march.

War crimes are not an appropriate response to terrorism. If you'd been paying attention to any of what's gone on during this administration, you'd know that.
posted by oaf at 1:33 PM on November 17, 2008 [3 favorites]


I have an old dear friend who is a member of Stormfront . . . we agree to disagree

what
posted by Optimus Chyme at 1:41 PM on November 17, 2008 [1 favorite]


My wife's from near the West Virginia border, and it always amazed me the number of "stars and bars" on display over there. I mean, you do realize there's such a thing as West Virginia because your forefathers refused to fly the Confederate Flag, right?

Then there was the viciously vindictive Virginia lawsuit a few decades later which completely crippled the WV economy... they still haven't recovered. So, the Confederate South wasn't only your implacable enemy during the War Between the States, but ruined your state and made you and yours the butt of a sad joke, and you fly the damn battleflag out of respect for your heritage?

Whiskey tango foxtrot, this is bravo sierra...
posted by Slap*Happy at 1:42 PM on November 17, 2008 [11 favorites]


Maybe they don't inflate it intentionally. There is a good chance they just mean that 6 more people have visited their site. Or maybe these are the same thing ...

You want to know why stormfront's seen a six-fold increase in traffic recently?

Here's why: It's the MetaFilter Effect.

Seriously though, I don't believe any of this because it's exactly what hate groups and the hard-right want everyone to believe in order to begin the process of obstructing and undermining Obama's effectiveness as a leader. And from what I can tell, a lot of these so-called indicators of an up-tick in recruitment, or interest, or whatever you call it, for hate groups is being reported by the organizations themselves (and being passed along by SPLC). Not exactly reliable sources.

And it doesn't necessarily take a significant uptick in the population of bigots to create the appearance of increasing hate-group activity. All it takes to create that impression is for the existing haters to make their presence more conspicuous by being even bigger assholes than usual. So instead of beating their wives or children after they get home from the bar at 2 A.M., they stop on their way home and beat the crap out of some random black dudes or kick in a few windows at the local African Episcopal church. Now, if it could be demonstrated that there hasn't also recently been a corresponding drop in lower-middle income white domestic abuse, I might be convinced there's really something to see here.

But otherwise, I'm voting no on letting the identity politics Trojan horse through the gates this time.
posted by saulgoodman at 1:56 PM on November 17, 2008 [2 favorites]


Last week he asked one of his coworkers why he wasn't wearing his usual camoflage shirt and the man burst out, "Because your nigger president won't let me because it's against the Muslim religion."

Oh, the irony. These are the same guys who, on November 3, would have called you a traitor for having an anti-Bush bumper sticker on your car. Maybe you should ask if it isn't treason to speak out against the president in time of war? Nothing like making them eat a little of their own rhetoric.
posted by rtha at 2:01 PM on November 17, 2008


Yes. You will see a sharp and dangerous uptick of extremism and hate groups. Do not be so casual. I'd say prepare yourselves.

But it will have more to do with the fact that a whole lot of white folks are gonna be out of a job in the next four years. And since most people are none too bright they will of course blame the people easiest to hate. People that look different from them. People poorer than them. It is as sickeningly predictable as it is ironic.
posted by tkchrist at 2:13 PM on November 17, 2008 [3 favorites]


Maybe you should ask if it isn't treason to speak out against the president in time of war? Nothing like making them eat a little of their own rhetoric.

Ah yes, incite an ignorant man with your intelletual superiority. Surely that's going to end well.
posted by cavalier at 2:17 PM on November 17, 2008 [3 favorites]


rokusan : The point, I believe, is that they're not labeled as such by the media... the only labeling that really matters today.

I think you're right, and I furthermore think that this would be a good first step towards combating hate groups. I really think that upon seeing white hoods or other white power symbolism, people's first reaction should be to point and call them terrorists. The same as with any group who seek to impose their will through fear.

I would love to hear on the news "The white power terrorist group the KKK..." whenever they were referenced.

Marginalize them the same way they would the people they hate. If for no other reason, that big group of people who don't pay attention to the news every day might suddenly start noticing vile groups like this if they realized that a known terror cell was operating in their town.
posted by quin at 2:46 PM on November 17, 2008 [1 favorite]


Don't know why they choose to demonstrate it usibg a symbol of the south's attempted succession, but they seem confused about a lot of things.

Pretty much true of right-wing nutjobs the world over.
posted by Mental Wimp at 2:47 PM on November 17, 2008


Racial bias crimes happen every day.

They're being reported a lot more now so news outlets can tie it to the Obama election.

We are also in the November book (a TV sweeps period).
posted by Zambrano at 3:23 PM on November 17, 2008


Maybe you should ask if it isn't treason to speak out against the president in time of war? Nothing like making them eat a little of their own rhetoric.

Are you fucking kidding me?

That ass couldn't even pronounce the word "rhetoric" much less use it in a sentence.

The MetaFilter Snark-style works very well with its main demographic group -- college-educated computer-literate nerds.

It doesn't travel very well in less cerebral precincts.
posted by jason's_planet at 3:25 PM on November 17, 2008 [1 favorite]


I remember after the Civil Unions were passed up in the IRV (Independent Republic of Vermont), crimes against gay/lesbian citizens went up dramatically. And of course, only in Vermont would you have your BARN vandalized because you're queer.

There was also a flurry of strange signs urging you to "TAKE BACK VERMONT" which always left me with the question "FROM WHERE? WHERE AM I TAKING IT BACK TO?" I think the reason their campaign never got much farther than signs nailed to trees is that their directions were too vague.

(This is anecdotal evidence that progress tends to motivate people who were already bats into actually ACTING on said bat-osity instead of merely writing letters to the editor and generally foaming at the mouth.)
posted by grapefruitmoon at 3:26 PM on November 17, 2008


I do not mean to compare the GOP to the hate groups but there is this similarity: both groups have long spouted an agenda, a perspective, that has over the years greatly been diminished, pushed aside, made irrelevant. If Obama accomplishes some of what he has shown great promise to get done, then those haters will be further seen as fools to be laughed at.
posted by Postroad at 3:29 PM on November 17, 2008


Ah yes, incite an ignorant man with your intelletual superiority. Surely that's going to end well.

Sorry. Guess I should have remembered that the /sarcasm tag is not yet reality.
posted by rtha at 3:34 PM on November 17, 2008


"To a lot of people, the idea of secession doesn't seem so crazy anymore," says Tuggle

Funny, one would think the results of The Slaveowners Rebellion would have settled that question at least.

In any case, this is no surprise at all. Finding out that they are not actually the majority was bound to energize the white supremicists for a while; they're scared, and that fear's going to manifest itself in hate. The best way to marginalize them is not some idiotic "Sherman's March", but policing, education, and a short recession leading to a successful first term for Obama.
posted by happyroach at 3:36 PM on November 17, 2008


Some Storm Front dickwad e-mailed me a couple of years ago ranting about my Chinese wife.

As usual, it became good fodder for mockery.

But I refused to link back to Storm Front on principle.
posted by bwg at 3:55 PM on November 17, 2008 [2 favorites]


As an expat Southerner, I have been worrying about this a great deal. I want there to be some kind of federal initiative in depressed, rural communities, to reach out to the kind of people who are suffering in this recession, who don't know many or any minority persons, and are vulnerable to hate rhetoric. Not actual, current skinheads, of course, but people who are likely to be related to them. What would it be like? I have no idea. I'm not good at that kind of thing, unifying hopeful ideas and that. Obama's campaign staff just showed us that it was. I also wish for some kind of grass-roots movement to sport blue bumperstickers that say simply OUR PRESIDENT.

(And in rural areas, there should be prominent ads, on TV and elsewhere, noting simply that the President of the United States is protected by the Secret Service, and that there is a reward for information leading to the arrest and prosecution of individuals that threaten the President of the United States.)

I may not have good ideas, but I am having a lot of them, because as you can see, it really gets under my skin to think that there may be large parts of the country that simply refuse to recognize our leader.
posted by Countess Elena at 4:21 PM on November 17, 2008 [1 favorite]


200 reported incidents, including a mess of teenagers spraying slurs on a wall, out of 300 million plus Americans and we're shitting in our pants?

My big hope for Obama's presidency is some kind of resurgence of rationality, not any kind of magical purging of marginal klan schmucks. High hopes indeed.
posted by Divine_Wino at 4:42 PM on November 17, 2008 [3 favorites]


Much ado about nothing, hopefully.

As a Hoosier, I am pretty worried about these types of things, though.
posted by paisley henosis at 4:52 PM on November 17, 2008


200 reported incidents, including a mess of teenagers spraying slurs on a wall, out of 300 million plus Americans and we're shitting in our pants?

Well, Bush failed to oblige us by declaring martial law, cancelling the election, or even coming up with ONE lousy October surprise. So we have to have something to be paranoid about.
posted by happyroach at 5:03 PM on November 17, 2008 [2 favorites]


And for the Confederate Flag, there are various reasons to be proud of the Confederate Flag.

The Confederate flag1 has always represented slavery and racism. South Carolina's justification for secession is largely a defense of slavery. The Confederate constitution (line-by-line comparison with the US Constitution) explicitly endorses slavery and doesn't weaken the central government in favor of states' rights.

The first incarnation of the KKK was almost immediately after the end of the war, founded by former Confederates, and lasted almost a decade. Mississippi added the Confederate flag to its state flag during the Jim Crow era. Birth of a Nation (1915), which sparked the Klan's second incarnation, features Klansmen consecrating a Confederate flag by dipping it in a dead woman's blood. This incarnation lasted until the early 1940s.

The Confederate battle flag was explicitly adopted as a symbol of resistance to the civil rights movement. The States' Rights Democratic Party (the "Dixiecrats") was founded in 1948 in protest of the Democratic Party adopting an anti-segregationist plank in the platform, and they adopted the Confederate flag as a symbol of defiance. Georgia added the Confederate battle flag to its state flag in 1956, to protest Brown v. Board of Education2. South Carolina started flying the flag over its state house in 1962. University of Mississippi students stood around a Confederate flag and protested James Merediths' attempt to register in September 1962. Alabama Governor George "Segregation Forever" Wallace started flying the Confederate battle flag over the state capitol in (something he April 1963 in response to US Attorney General Robert Kennedy visiting Montgomery to urge Alabama to integrate the University of Alabama. Montgomery, Alabama was festooned with Confederate flags flown by people protesting the March 1965 Selma-to-Montgomery march.

Millsaps College History professor Robert S. McElvaine summed it up pretty well:
The Confederate flag has never been a symbol of states' rights. The state powers it has represented during and since the Civil War--slavery, segregation, lynching, racism--are all states' wrongs. Many whites, particularly young whites in the South, say that they should not be blamed for what their ancestors did. Fair enough. But if they want to be emancipated from that legacy, they must reject it. The first symbolic step for the younger generation in separating itself from the wrongs of its forebears is not to apologize for slavery, but to stop venerating a heritage that was centered on slavery and a flag that came into existence in defense of slavery.
1 What almost everyone calls "the Confederate flag" was the battle flag, not one of the national flags of the Confederacy.
2 Ironically, Georgia changed its flag to a design that, like the North Carolina flag, resembles the Stars and Bars, the first Confederate national flag.


An overlay of cotton production in 1860 with the 2008 presidential results.

"The past isn't dead. It isn't even past." -- William Faulkner
posted by kirkaracha at 5:51 PM on November 17, 2008 [22 favorites]


Don Black, who runs the leading white supremacist hate site...

That's a funny name for a guy who puts on a white hood every weekend.


I'm not as black as Barry White. I'm white as Frank Black is.
posted by jonp72 at 6:37 PM on November 17, 2008


“As usual, it became good fodder for mockery.”

I admire your restraint. Seriously.
I talk that talk. I’m still trying to walk it. Been pretty good for a bit tho’.

“"The white power terrorist group the KKK..." whenever they were referenced.”

I agree. Although I’d rather see just ‘terrorist group.’ Tho’ I’d rather not see them in the news much at all.

“I think that these people should be taken seriously by the federal authorities, and by the local authorities”

They are.
But let’s not give them more media attention then they warrant.
Identity politics is a facet of a terrorist groups strategy.
Getting media attention serves that.

It’s why they still go on about Hitler and the South, etc. etc. - who, oh yeah, f’ing lost.
Well, why back a loser? Because if you demonize them, they gain power that way too.
They get attention by association. Not just freaking the norms, but actually (whether they say it or it shows or not) enjoying the *negative* attention.
Like any petulant child.

Best just to write them off in public, but keep an eye out for trouble.
As with any terrorist group.

For you paranoid folks, yes, this is a continuation of the focus on this “we don’t negotiate” pseudo-tactical approach/ security theater schtick that has been pushed for so damned long.

Furthermore - the conflation of types of terrorism and criminal action - same deal.

Much as I agree the KKK is a terrorist organization many groups (Aryan Nations, for example) are only marginally terrorist.
They are mostly criminal organizations. Not a threat of the same type that a terrorst organization is.
Yes, they use intimidation, coercion, and fear, but their goals tend to be for money and power (typically as a tool to get even more money).
They’re typically hedonists of one type or another or simple megalomaniacs. As mentioned above - the pedophiles, the cultists.
But there’s not a whole lot one can do about them in terms of engagement (as terrorists I mean - plenty you can do under, say, the RICO laws).

There are the crazy types, but again, they have like no impulse self-control. So you can’t really “watch out” for them. And not much you can do to stop them before the fact.
Some guy goes nuts in a bell tower or plants bombs randomly, no real way to see that coming.

So it’s mostly the crusaders that are a concern (poorly named, but Hacker did his work in the unsophisticated 70s).

There are some people who are wannabe crusaders, they’re fanatics.
They’re the folks that strive to create a political legitimacy to their actions and generate sympathy.

One way to do that is to conflate their actions with some wider social event or movement so they seem relevent instead of the criminal violence they are.
Like Obama’s election.
So looks to me like these guys are wannabes. As in, they wannabe important or relevent.

They’re not. Just a vanishing minority ideology consigned to oblivion. Like the

Real terrorists don’t kill out of anger or impulse, they do it (albiet cold-bloodedly) in order to achieve an objective.
Almost admirable in terms of control really.
I’ll stress - almost.

With any terrorist group - especially in situ - you have to establish communication.

The only time (IMHO) a tactical response is necessary is when people are being killed (and not only just one guy or at one point - but systematically - that is, loss of life is ongoing and certain), or the terrorists initiate an attack that will result in the death of your unit or other innocents.

(S’what infuriates me about the Waco screwup with all the dead children. No consistient lines of communication were opened.
I’d accept it as just a failure if negotiation hadn’t worked so well in the past (e.g. the U.S. embassy takeover in ‘79).)

So what’s needed is a realistic appraisal of the situation and adequite resources to address that situation.
That exists.
What doesn’t exist is control over this psychodrama in the press. And that can be dicey (in terms of civil liberties, et.al.).

What doesn’t help is blowing this up into more of a threat than it is. And what certainly doesn’t help is applying more psychological heat to the situation than is necessary.
Yeah, Hitler bad. Ok. Great.
But really. Now? It’s Hitler, meh.
He’s long dead. Only thing, really, keeping his ridiculous ideology visible, as a makeshift symbol, is the attention.

Same deal with these needy petulant dolts and their long outmoded paradigms on ethnicity.

Best thing to do is ease the tension.
Accepting their - or the medias or some group with an agendas - perception of reality, ignoring the institutional supports and prolonging the negative emotional attention (which they feed off of) will goose your own uneasiness, create futher confusion and push situations that could otherwise be solved with a conversation past the point of no return and fuel futher crisis’s and force tactical actions which typically result in death, destruction and all the other things so many people who “believe in peace” go on about how they’d like to avoid.

But folks will do what they like.

It’s not like anyone’s going to listen to someone who’s been there, done that, bought the t-shirt, ate the hamburger, and owns the original cast recording and director’s cut DVD.
We all have “opinions” now that are just as valid as anyone else’s, especially if we’re right or really against bad people.

You just can’t tell people to relax anymore.

(Hell, I tell my students that all the time. Relax before you hit anything. Don’t anticipate attack. Relax. You have to move from repose and calm to be effective. If your muscles are tense you can’t move as quickly. I don’t know what it is, but people lately don’t want to hear it.)
posted by Smedleyman at 6:43 PM on November 17, 2008 [3 favorites]


(sorry - Just a vanishing minority ideology consigned to oblivion. Like the Bogomils or the Paulicians)
posted by Smedleyman at 6:55 PM on November 17, 2008


beneath the surface a white backlash is festering in the US

We got the government, the army and the police. Go ahead, make my day.
posted by Ironmouth at 7:07 PM on November 17, 2008


I'm still amazed that a not insubstantial part of the population thinks that the advancement of human rights is the onset of socialism in America.
posted by agregoli at 7:54 PM on November 17, 2008


I am white and live in a predominantly black southern city. One of the interesting side effects of being in a minority is the easy assumption that by sharing a skin color, you share a perspective:

Today one of my co-workers (a white guy) pointed out to me that the only reason that all those Northern liberals voted for "that asshole" was because they didn't really know any black people. If the liberals had known any black people, they would see just how "those people" live and would never have voted for Obama.

The speaker is college educated and affluent. He's very smart, and not really from the south at all. As this part of the country is especially racially polarized, the idea that his President is black makes him feel outnumbered and helpless.

Many will say that this is just how we (liberals) felt for the past 6-7 years, and they will be right. They will also overlook the fact that we believed we had other options, however little they succeeded.

Cornered people, even (perhaps specifically) those cornered by delusions, are capable of really dangerous things. I know this sounds anecdotal and unnecessarily frightening, but reason (and some of its more common derivatives) is often taken for granted here on the blue. There will be some blow back, and we've got to do our best to respond with an even-handed, logical antagonism. No more bullshit pandering.

Important Note: This man was a corporate HR Rep. I made him eat his words for fun. In response he noted he had no actual problem with Obama, but thought Congress was the real problem. Whenever Obama is not the problem, the problem is Congress.

Congress! The racist's triple-reverse straw man since the mid term elections of ought six.
posted by Arquimedez Pozo at 8:33 PM on November 17, 2008 [2 favorites]


I'm still amazed that a not insubstantial part of the population thinks that the advancement of human rights is the onset of socialism in America.

I'm still amazed that "socialist" is considered a slur in 2008. I'm less amazed that socialism is poorly understood and is currently defined as advocating a slight increase in the top tax bracket of our already progressive tax system.
posted by krinklyfig at 8:44 PM on November 17, 2008 [3 favorites]


Websites that promote hate: Rants and rave SF style

Proclaim your love for the confederate flag, the white race, superiority... - get a DNA test and then we'll talk.
posted by pianomover at 10:48 PM on November 17, 2008


... they would see just how "those people" live ...

I dislike folks that always say "those people" to refer to anyone who is different from them in any way: in colour, creed, sexual orientation, what have you.

Second in general assholiness (and no, that term doesn't refer to the Pope) is "you people".

It's impossible to paint everyone with the same brush.
posted by bwg at 11:03 PM on November 17, 2008


Let's try and do some rough mathematics, here.

Population: 303,824,640 (July 2008 est.)
Adult pop: 15-64 years old: 67.1% (male 101,825,901/female 102,161,823) ... 203,866,333

White folks: white 79.96% ... 163,011,520
All other ethnic groups ... 40,854,813

How many real, dangerous, active (sober enough to any real damage) white supremacists can there be, really? 50,000? Less?

Fuck 'em. They have their soapbox under the first amendment, but they should be studiously ignored by everyone but law enforcement, who should hound them like recently paroled rapists.
posted by chuckdarwin at 4:19 AM on November 18, 2008


> If these guys are considered terrorists, why are we not sending troops to interdict these groups in Arkansas the same way we do in Waziristan?

The Posse Comitatus Act?
posted by WCityMike at 10:10 AM on November 18, 2008


Purely anecdotal, but I've seen a significant uptick in the use of "the N word" as the insult of choice as I play World of Warcraft. That had not been standard behavior for the first few years of playing. But much like when people use terms derogatory to the lgbt community, I just report them for hate speech and move on with my day, hoping beyond all hope that they are given a time-out.
posted by greekphilosophy at 10:58 AM on November 18, 2008


There was also a flurry of strange signs urging you to "TAKE BACK VERMONT" which always left me with the question "FROM WHERE? WHERE AM I TAKING IT BACK TO?" I think the reason their campaign never got much farther than signs nailed to trees is that their directions were too vague.

Never mind, you probably don't have the original receipt so you'd only get store credit anyway.
posted by EndsOfInvention at 12:33 PM on November 18, 2008 [1 favorite]


Pollomacho: The question should be: If these guys are considered terrorists, why are we not sending troops to interdict these groups in Arkansas the same way we do in Waziristan?

Electrius: Are you serious? On the off-chance that you are, the reason is that domestic terrorist groups are seen as criminal organizations and thus must commit crimes before being handled by law enforcement, not the fuckin' military.

Are you serious? On the off-chance that you are, the reason is that these guys are white, not brown. But, I bet you already knew that..
posted by Chuckles at 12:36 AM on November 19, 2008


the reason is that these guys are white, not brown. But, I bet you already knew that..

Some of the government's preemptive actions have turned out really badly. Ruby Ridge; Waco; like that. (Note the paleness of most of the targets there.) I think it has more to do with the perceived threat from the group in question, and how that group's expressed beliefs align with those of the controllers of the law enforcement machine at the time. If an administration that thinks government sucks, it's probably less likely to go after a group that wants to tear down the government than one that wants to tear down Wall Street.

I'm serious.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 3:22 AM on November 19, 2008


Some of the government's preemptive actions have turned out really badly. Ruby Ridge; Waco; like that.

And Iraq, Afghanistan, Somalia, etc. Yet.. Well, we all know.
posted by Chuckles at 3:56 PM on November 19, 2008


And here I thought we were talking about domestic terrorists.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 5:54 PM on November 19, 2008


White extremists lash out over election of first black president: The Ku Klux Klan is emerging from decades of disorganization and obscurity, and the turnaround is acutely evident -- more than 200 hate-related incidents have been reported since the Nov. 4 election
posted by homunculus at 11:32 AM on November 23, 2008


« Older "Beautiful Sunrises" is a pretty good litmus test ...  |  Join Devin Friedman at Landstu... Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments