The Ku Klux Klan, neo-Nazis and men carrying Confederate flags stood side by side at a rally dubbed “Unite the Right” on Saturday in what a monitoring group called the “largest hate-gathering of its kind in decades in the United States.” Who are white nationalists and what do they believe?
Who are white nationalists? What is white nationalism?
The term white nationalism originated as code for white supremacy. White supremacists believe white people are superior to other races and should dominate society, according to Oren Segal, director of the Anti-Defamation League Center on Extremism, CNN reported.
Merriam-Webster defines a white nationalist as “one of a group of militant whites who espouse white supremacy and advocate enforced racial segregation.”
Ask the average person on the street and a white supremacist is defined as “a racist.”
White nationalists can include Identarians, “race realists,” skinheads, neo-Nazis and members of the alt-right. Words like “alt-right” have gained traction since the 2016 election — along with a 20 percent increase in hate crimes, according to the Center for the Study of Hate & Extremism— to encompass a conservative group that endorses traditional right-leaning ideas plus white nationalism.
White nationalism is rooted in the concept of a white nation and a developed white national identity. A popular slogan is “diversity is a code word for white genocide."
What do white nationalists want?
"They want to take advantage of the current political climate, which they feel is unprecedentedly welcoming to their world view," Segal told CNN. "The outcome of the Charlottesville rally and other events this year will provide them a pretty clear idea of just how welcome their views actually are —and will undoubtedly help shape their plans for the coming months."
Some white supremacists advocate genocide and ethnic cleansing, Heidi Beirich, director of the Intelligence Project at the Southern Poverty Law Center, which tracks hate groups and extremists, told CNN.
"You would have to forcibly remove people," she said. "This is cattle-cart stuff. It also shows that their plans aren't very well thought out. They're at best aspirational."
"All civil rights for nonwhites would be removed," she continued. "All political power would be in the hands of white people, in particular white men because this movement is an extremely male and, many would say, toxically masculine movement. They also have pretty retrograde views about what women should be doing."
She added, "If anything, their vision of America's future looks a lot like the 1600s or perhaps earlier."
White supremacists believe they are entitled to a place in society and are afraid their position will be usurped by a person of color.
What does a white nationalist look like?
Dangerously, white nationalists look like you and me.
White supremacists are often associated with an image of KKK members in white hoods, but not all white supremacists identify with an organization like the Ku Klux Klan, a 150-year-old group that includes an estimated 130 groups claiming superiority over other races while attacking people of color, those of the Jewish faith, immigrants, LGBTQ community members and Catholics.
"This lack of affiliation makes them harder to track, and also means that any groups that do emerge tend to be extremely flexible and porous," Oren Segal, director of the Anti-Defamation League Center on Extremism, told CNN.
Segal described the so-called alt-right as Millennial men who prefer khakis and collared shirts.
"There is a sense that whites are under siege and being deliberately dispossessed by hostile elites who wish to usher in a new multicultural order," George Hawley, a political scientist at the University of Alabama, told CNN.
"They dislike the culturally-foreign immigrants who enter the United States and work for low wages, and they dislike the political and economic elites that invite them in. They are also hostile to the media and academia, which they contend push an anti-white message."
What is a white nationalist not?
This Twitter thread masted by an image of some of Saturday’s protesters (appearing to be white males with tiki torches) posted by @JuliusGoat paints a fairly clear picture after the tweeter ponders: “Imagine if these people ever faced actual oppression.”
Imagine if these people ever faced actual oppression. pic.twitter.com/dhPCbtfEjO— Julius Goat (@JuliusGoat) August 12, 2017
In a series of tweets, Twitter user Julius Goat writes:
“Nobody is trying to legislate away their right to marry.
Nobody is trying to make them buy insurance to pay for 'male health care.'”
“Their churches were never burned.
Their lawns never decorated with burning crosses
Their ancestors never hung from trees”
“There is no massive effort at the state and local level to disenfranchise them of the vote.”
“There is no history of centuries of bad science devoted to 'proving' their intellectual inferiority.”
“There is no travel ban on them because of their religion.”
“The law never
Enslaved their great-grandparents
Robbed their grandparents
Imprisoned their parents
Shot them when unarmed”