Tag Archives: racist movements

On the Rise: Relationships Between Mainstream Researchers and Advocates and White Supremacist Organizations

While the majority of the blogs from last month pertained to explicit activities of white supremacist groups, this blog addresses a more indirect but no less damaging impact of these organizations. Specifically, I suggest that the links between mainstream conservatives and white supremacy organizations are both insidious and possibly on the rise. This can take shape in several forms including funding, research, and advocacy of themes explicitly linked to core white supremacy doctrines and mobilization. This research is used to frame arguments in major national debates within American politics on issues like immigration, welfare reform, and criminal prosecution. In the sections which follow I provide a few examples of blatant connections between racist organizations and movements to the conservative mainstream of American politics. Continue reading

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Heterodoxy, Insulation, and the Production of Racist Violence

By David Cunningham

Whenever I speak about research I’ve conducted over the past decade on the civil rights-era Ku Klux Klan, the one question I can be sure I’ll hear relates to the danger posed by the KKK today. For a long time, the question would throw me, as—despite their similar monikers and common predilections toward foreboding racist rhetoric and ubiquitous adoption of white hoods, burning crosses, and other familiar symbols—I’ve long viewed the contemporary klan as a phenomenon distinct from its 1960s forebears.

There exists a straightforward response, of course, and I’ve typically relied on the data that Heidi Beirich and Evelyn Schlatter describe in their earlier essay in this dialogue, associated with the Southern Poverty Law Center’s important work compiling the locations and characteristics of a wide range of contemporary domestic hate groups. Continue reading

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Violence and Local Memory: Effects on the Middle

By Amy Kate Bailey

Framing black men as violent and predatory has been a constant in American race relations.  During the lynching era, this characterization was typically rooted in assertions of genetic difference between the races, and these stereotypes were used to justify many lynchings.  Tropes such as the “black brute” or “dark fiend” were repeatedly invoked in public discourse, particularly the Southern media.  The cry to “protect our women” propelled many to join the white supremacist organizations of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.  To be perfectly clear, lynching was a relatively rare event, with most Southern counties experiencing no lynchings, or only a single lynching, across the entire half century many scholars acknowledge as the “lynching era.”  The practice of lynching itself was abhorred by many white Americans, while they simultaneously joined supremacist groups and evinced faith in the threat that black people (men, in particular) posed to the white community.  Lynching culture was widely diffused within American society—both North and South.  Lynching events occurred within local communities.  This duality of the extremist behavior of a few married with cultural and institutional practices that brutalize specific black bodies, and the black community at large, continues to mark American society. Continue reading

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Framing Invisibility: Why We Continue to Ignore the White Supremacist Movement

By Pete Simi

We all use a “schemata of interpretation” (Goffman 1974) to understand our world. How we “frame” experience renders some aspects of our world more visible and meaningful than others. In this essay, I want to explore the idea raised in several of last month’s essays that social scientists, media, and policy makers frame the world in ways that render the U.S. White Supremacist Movement (WSM) relatively invisible. The WSM’s invisibility flows from inattention (i.e., too many ignore the phenomenon despite knowing it exists) and inaccurate distortions when we do acknowledge it. Continue reading

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Organizations for Racial Justice

By Jenny Irons

I recently moved back to the South after a 17-year absence. Someone asked me why I would return to this place, to come back after being away for so long. The mess, I said. It’s motivating. I meant the mess of extreme inequality—of race, of gender, of sexuality, of class, of nationality.  It’s hard to be purely academic about such matters when you’re not ensconced in an ivory tower atop a lovely rolling hill in the Northeast. Yes, racism exists everywhere; as last month’s posts tell us, it thrives in “free spaces” and sneakily deploys itself all over the country. But the racial inequality in the South is particularly stark and visible, and it has very deep roots. Continue reading

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Right-Wing Extremism, Racist Movements, and Fights for Racial Justice

While many Americans might feel as if the 1960s KKK-style of white supremacy is a thing of the past, the Southern Poverty Law Center reports that more than 1000 extremist hate groups still exist today, including neo-Nazis, Klansmen, white nationalist, racist skinhead, and border vigilante groups. But how is racist activism sustained during a time when expressions of overt racism have become much less common? Are these simply marginalized factions of disgruntled bigots, or something more?  And, what does the future hold for racist and other far-right movements?  Race also mobilizes activism on the other end of the political spectrum, as racial minorities and white allies attempt to build on the legacy of the civil rights movement. But in light of the relatively weak and short-lived protests following the acquittal of George Zimmerman for his role in killing Trayvon Martin, many analysts have raised questions about the vitality of the movement for racial justice in the U.S. Why have contemporary national movements around racial justice been so difficult to sustain? Where does the majority of racial justice activism occur today, and in what forms? And, are there any changes on the horizon?  We have lined up a fantastic group of scholars and activists to reflect on these issues and will feature their essays throughout October and November. As always, we are grateful for the participation of our distinguished contributors:

damali ayo, Author and Speaker (essay)
Heidi Beirich and Evelyn Schlatter, Southern Poverty Law Center (essay)
Kathleen Blee, University of Pittsburgh (essay)
John Brueggemann, Skidmore College (essay)
Betty A Dobratz, Iowa State University and Lisa K. Waldner, University
of St. Thomas (essay)
Kim Ebert, North Carolina State University (essay)
Abby L. Ferber, University of Colorado, Colorado Springs (essay)
Robert Futrell, University of Nevada, Las Vegas (essay)
Peter B. Owens, University of California, Irvine (essay)
Todd J. Schroer, University of Southern Indiana (essay)

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The State of Hate

By Heidi Beirich and Evelyn Schlatter

The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) has developed an international reputation for its tracking of extremism since the 1980s and its innovative lawsuits. Initially founded as a civil rights law firm, the SPLC has been at the forefront of groundbreaking lawsuits that have advanced social justice, furthered reform, and helped end or damage major extremist organizations including several powerful Klan groups.

Each year, the Southern Poverty Law Center produces a list of groups that fall into a variety of “hate” categories. Continue reading

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