The Metamorphosis of the Hate Movement Barbara Perry

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Thompson, Chelsea

Sociology 4

The Metamorphosis of the Hate Movement

Barbara Perry

The article discusses some of the history and the changes that the hate movement in the United States has undergone. The article states that while some hate groups have become defunct many others have actually grown in numbers through the years. The hate groups have had the form and change in order to stay modern. The article explores the renewal of hate groups in the U.S., how far their messages reach, and the way the groups use modern communication in order to recruit new members.

While there are various hate groups in the U.S. such as the traditional Ku Klux Klan and the well-known violent skinheads most of them share the goal of cleaning up the “cultural pollution” that has tarnished the United States. Most of these hate groups are white supremacist and target those of different races. However, women, homosexuals, atheists, and other minority groups are targeted.

There were five major hate groups in the 1990s: Identity Church adherents, neo-Nazis, skinheads, the KKK, and Posse Comitatus. In modern day the lines between those groups are getting blurred and many people can carry multiple memberships. The Identity Church houses some of the most violent and active groups of the 90s such as the Aryan Nations, the Order, Rev. Pete Peter’s church of Christ, and others. These groups claim that white Christians are God’s chosen people and others, such as Jews, are Satan’s children. Skinheads and Neo-Nazis are less organized but more violent compared to the other hate groups. The KKK has been more fragmented sine their heyday in the 1950s. In recent times they have changed tactics and are becoming more main stream in order to recruit new members.

The membership of these groups are hard to tell exactly. It is estimated that there are about 25,000 active members in these groups according to the 1997 study. That number may have increased to today’s time. However, it is estimated that there are about 150,000 “armchair racists” in America in the 1997 study... These people receive information and attend rallies but may not be involved in any other activities. While most people associate the KKK with being the most well-known hate group Neo-Nazis/Skinheads and the Identity church outnumber the KKK in membership.

In the article an observer of the hate movement in Canada says that hate groups “expand societal tolerance for hatred, discrimination, and prejudice.... one of the dangers of hate groups is that they normalize extreme hatred and violence by justifying it as protection for the ‘white race’ against ‘cultural invasion.’” The United States has a long history of violence and discrimination against minorities. That history has normalized hatred and mistreatment of those minority groups.

While hate groups are trying to infiltrate mainstream culture they have had to change the way they are perceived. Paraphernalia and symbols associated with the Ku Klux Klan and Neo-Nazis have been rejected from those groups. The groups have elected to have a more professional look. They are using the media more often now to showcase their new images. With their new images hate groups have turned to the use of the Internet as a tool for recruitment and for unification. They use the internet as a cheap fast way to get their message across to a very wide audience. The groups are free to say whatever they please on their unregulated websites. Those websites are known as “Cyberhate.” In 1998 there were about 163 cyberhate sites. These websites have been used as a tool to target young adults to recruit them.

Hate group have also begun to target the militia movement for recruitment. Louis Bean who is a long time Klansmen and adamant racist is the leader of pushing other supremacist to join the militia and antigovernment movements. Racists in the movement have rejected the 13th and 15th Amendments saying that the Constitution only guarantees rights to the white “founding” race of the U.S. The Aryan Nation and the Militia of Montana created a code of conduct that reflected their own ideologies.

With increasing social movements many extremists have attempted to tame down their images and get into political offices. David Duke, former KKK Grand Wizard of Louisiana, became famous for his telling Kluxers to “get out of the cow pasture and into hotel meeting rooms.” His style became known as “button-down terror.” He didn’t have the aggression of traditional racists. He adopted the persona of a “boyishly good looking white activist.”

The contemporary hate movement has repackaged its image to be more accepted to mainstream culture. According to the article in order to challenge these groups politicians must condemn over embracing the extremist groups. The public and the media must also go against these movements with antiviolent projects. Groups like the Southern Poverty Law Center and the Anti-Defamation League provide information to the public about these violent hate groups. One of the most important programs of these groups may be the SPLC Teaching Tolerance project which helps teachers to encourage an education that “encourages students to recognize, understand, and value difference.”
Discussion Questions

  1. With today’s increasing racial and social movements do you think hate groups with make a resurgence?

  2. Do you consider White Supremacy groups to be on the same level as terrorist groups such as ISIS, Boko Haram, and the Taliban? Why or why not?

  3. HeHas racism become more mainstream?

  4. Do you think there is any way to eradicate hate groups in the United States?

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