As racial violence again begins to escalate, America must come to terms with the racial hate that exists across the country.
- At Black Lives Matter Plaza in Washington D.C., you heard chants of “Proud Boys Plaza!” and “We took it back, America!”
- At a known Proud Boys hangout, Harry’s Bar in D.C., where hundreds of Proud Boys gathered, four people were stabbed.
- Two historically Black Churches had their Black Lives Matter banners ripped down and burned in the street by groups of Proud Boys.
- Proud Boys roamed through D.C. neighborhoods chanting, “Move out. No more looting. No more burning down our cities. This is our country!”
Thanks to Trump there’s been a lot of focus on the Proud Boys — granting them the limelight Gavin McInnes could only dream of. But they are just one of over 1,000 other groups/terrorist cells just like them. The Proud Boys are not solely responsible for the violence occurring in several cities across the nation. Many groups coordinate these events in conjunction with one another on social media and via secure messaging apps. They stage so-called “rallies” to recruit members and stoke physical violence using aggressive behavior.
The commonalities shared by the vast majority of differing hate groups are centered on the idea that white people and white culture are being replaced. When the Proud Boys say they stand to protect “Western Chauvinism,” that’s what it means. Accelerationist groups like the Proud Boys use violence and fear to promote their neo-fascist ideals under the guise of faux-patriotism.
Another common trait among many of the groups is their open advocation of violence, terrorism, and murder. These particular groups believe “mass violence is necessary to bring about the collapse of our pluralistic society.” White nationalist hate groups are no more than well-dressed, well-spoken neo-Nazis made in the suit-and-tie image of David Duke’s modernized Ku Klux Klan — allowing them to more easily move throughout society.
What may sound like the ideals of terrorist cells on foreign soil are the words commonly heard throughout the ranks of nearly every hate group and so-called militia right here in the great ol’ U.S. of A. It’s easy to see why so many in civil society today argue for labeling and regarding these groups as terrorist organizations. And with so many of these groups so well-funded through anonymous donation networks, it’s hard to argue otherwise.
Some of the wealthiest Americans put their money behind hate groups through Donor Advised Funds (DAFs). The DeVos family, Rebekah and Robert Mercer, Las Vegas casino magnate Sheldon Adelson, Sears heiress Nina Rosenwald, and Trump’s attorney Jay Sekulow (among others) use organizations like the National Christian Foundation — America’s largest Christian charity — as a “vehicle for individuals to anonymously send money” to various hate groups.
This is why we can’t blame Donald Trump for the increased hate in America. It’s a preexisting condition. A tumor, of sorts, that America was born with. There is no question Donald Trump helped fuel the rise in hateful behavior but it was building long before that. By the time Trump took office, hate had gained so much momentum that the division sown by anti-justice and anti-equality profiteers was unstoppable. Trump was simply an accelerant and he’s made a lot of money doing it. Racist hate in America is far from dead largely because it’s still too profitable.
Hate is big business.
Same Old Fear Tactics, Same Old Cops
Black Lives Matter D.C. condemned the police response and demanded they be held accountable for “enabling white supremacist violence” in the city. A statement not without merit after police officers in many cities have shown favoritism towards the Proud Boys. One of those incidents occurred during the July 4, 2020 protests in Washington D.C., when police escorted the group to Harry’s Bar after violent clashes outside the White House.
In a statement, April Goggans, a core organizer with Black Lives Matter D.C. said, “Yesterday, D.C. was invaded by white supremacists who were aided and protected by the Metropolitan Police Department (MPD).” Black Lives Matter D.C. Co-organizer, Nee Nee Taylor also touched on the subject saying, “They (were given) the right to roam D.C. streets and tear down Black Lives Matter signs. That’s a hate crime.”
“This is unacceptable, and BLM is demanding that police be held accountable and the city council hold Muriel Bowser accountable for allowing the Proud Boys to come back to our city and do the exact same thing they did November the 14,” Taylor continued. “We never expect police to protect Black people or anyone critical of police; and the people of D.C. need to be clear MPD physically protected white supremacists, as they threatened lives, damaged historic churches, and destroyed and burned property. MPD allowed Proud Boys to physically attack D.C. residents who stood against white supremacy.”
It’s not hard to see the efforts of the D.C. police here. Based on the nearly non-stop video evidence of events, police spent more time protecting the Proud Boys than they did trying to prevent violence. The relationship between the police and the Proud Boys is evident but it’s not new. It speaks to the kinds of protections hate groups have enjoyed throughout American history. From the Klan to neo-Nazi groups to the Proud Boys, cops being members of hate groups are part of the fabric of American society.
Police are no more immune than anyone else to succumbing to the hateful propaganda spread online. With the rise in awareness of police brutality and racial injustice, bigoted rhetoric has become the norm in many law enforcement circles. Some of the nastiest language originates at training organizations, police unions, and counter-movement groups that claim to defend police officers and as they profit from the culture wars they create.
The bigotry in this arena is self-evident.
Despite all of this, society remains largely indifferent to the workings of what has been festering and growing online and is now spilling onto our streets. The coded language, the hateful rhetoric, and the shouting-down of liberal democracy should alarm everyone — yet it doesn’t. American complacency has led us to where we are today on many fronts. But when it comes to hate in the streets, White America can’t seem to be bothered enough to speak out en masse because either they’re a part of it or they’re unaffected by it.
Enough Shoulder Shrugging
Religious leaders at the National Cathedral released a statement regarding the damage done to the churches by the Proud Boys in Washington D.C.:
“We reject the version of Christianity that seeks to provide a mantle of spiritual authority to the poison of White nationalism. The blatant racism of this lost cause is alarming. The senior pastor of Asbury United Methodist Church was right to call the burning of her church’s banner a new version of cross burnings. White hoods have given way to black-and-gold militarism. Such hatred grieves the very heart of God, and we cannot turn a blind eye to such displays of white supremacy. We believe that Black Lives Matter because Black lives matter to God. The Proud Boys and their hatred are not welcome here.”
In the face of hate, there is arguably nothing worse than the complacent and collective shoulder-shrugging from White America. For all the grief given to communities of color, White folks are in dire need of some house-cleaning of their own. As a Cuban, if I can call out my own people for bigotry and hate; if I can all out the Afro-Cuban version of Clayton Bigsby for being one of the leaders of the Proud Boys, why the hell can’t White America do the same?
Like wannabe Clayton Bigsby, who undoubtedly went about his hateful self in the Cuban community with no one calling him out, members of these hate groups have been in White communities generation after generation and they’ve been letting it slide. There is a very good chance we would be having a much different conversation had White people started calling out hate decades ago. But, they didn’t. Now, hatemongers are everywhere. Like flies on shit.
We are still in the early stages of what will come of the culture wars that have been brewing online. No, there won’t be a civil war. There doesn’t have to be one. We’ve all witnessed what has been happening for the last decade. Mass shootings, lynchings, the terrorization of Black and Brown communities by oppressive policing as well as terrorists. It’s all still happening and it’s all driven by much of the same ideology: racial hatred.
Hate groups are only just getting started. With the election loss of their dear leader, it’s only a matter of time before another tragedy strikes. Trump isn’t going away. Without the constraints of the White House, he is now free to conduct his corrupt business as usual. He sees how much money there is in promoting hate and undermining democracy for the sake of protecting whiteness and all that it encompasses. He’s content to keep pushing the envelope.
Social media will continue to be the catalyst for the far-right movement that embraces hate groups and domestic terrorism. Recent reports indicate Facebook leadership shot down a proposal by the company’s integrity team to throttle the spread of false and misleading information leading up to the 2020 election. Instead, Facebook rewards the spread of hate because it drives traffic and traffic sells ads. As stated previously, hate is big business.
Trump will remain the darling of the growing far-right movement. While slightly less relevant as others jump at the chance to fill the void, people like Mark Zuckerberg, the Mercers, and other wealthy elitists are all too content giving people like him space. They enjoy the ability to move a little more secretly while they divide a nation and keep themselves in control.
Hate groups have their agendas. They revolve around using hate to protect their status in society. Unwilling to give up any privilege afforded to them by the genocidal White people that came before them. They still believe that civil war is inevitable and that they are to be the ones that start it. We can laugh at them and mock them for running and hiding on their own social platforms. Or we can acknowledge that having their own social media platforms speaks to just how much of a problem America has with racism, bigotry, and hate.
If you thought this would end once Trump left office or that it would end without bloodshed and violence, I have news for you: it won’t and it didn’t.
The bloodshed and violence have already begun and when Trump leaves office, the hate that has existed for hundreds of years will still be here. The question is and always has been: are you finally ready to dismantle white supremacy?
*If you are in proximity to anyone that harbors any hateful views, call it out*
The Antagonist Magazine is a project made up of journalists, activists, and writers focused on amplifying the stories of marginalized communities. The goal is to educate the public by sharing narratives focused on independent voices. Born of an online community in 2019, our platform operates independently; free of corporate influence. Please consider supporting the work of dozens of writers from various communities.