The United States is a society built on myriad cultures, identities, and languages. A purposeful concept that has been part of the country’s modern history for over a century. And despite what a white person tells you about “white culture,” the truth is that the U.S. can not be a monolithic civilization. That’s by design despite what Christian white nationalists would have you believe.

In other words, what’s true for people on the West Coast isn’t always true for people in the South, the Midwest, or the East Coast – not based on race, religion, or heritage. Consequently, there can be no singular “culture”. Surely not a “white-only” one.

Differences in needs and wants vary considerably and are not always divided by vast distances but by state and county lines. This is largely why hate groups and extremists can never establish cohesion among the various movements. Some extremist groups like the Proud Boys portray an image of diversity. But they are only willing to accept non-white people as long as they’re promoting white supremacist ideology.

As has been made clear time and again, hate group alliances with Black people and Latinos are contingent on achieving what is often referred to as “Western Chauvinism”. An idea that idolizes and promotes the colonialist ideology of oppressing (and slaughtering) non-white people. With groups like the Proud Boys and Active Club among many more, it doesn’t take long to expose the motivating factors behind their coded language (dog-whistles).

Behind closed doors, the truth comes out rather quickly.

“If you haven’t yet realized that most of the xenophobia in the U.S. is rooted in antisemitism, here you go. These punk ass clowns are everywhere.” – Me on Twitter over the weekend.

There is no question that the political right has embraced far-right extremism. The current wave of hate in politics began after Barack Obama was elected president. What started as the Tea Party (formed out of anti-Black disdain for Obama and Republican establishment politics) has morphed into the embrace of White Christian nationalist ideology – the path former president Donald Trump exploited to eke out a victory in the 2016 presidential election.

The hateful ideology of the extremist right heavily influenced Trump’s campaign and his ensuing presidency. By employing the language of David Duke’s KKK and the dog-whistle attacks on non-white communities popularized by presidents Richard Nixon and Ronald Reagan, Trump was able to take things a step further. He directly attacked minority communities based on the knowledge that hate had long been normalized by past administrations.

Trump’s campaign and presidency exploited racial tensions in the country and amplified those beliefs on the world stage. Even now, with the upcoming election, Trump remains a real and present danger to non-white people. Consistently more dangerous are those in corporate media who downplay his influence on extremists and hate groups. We’ve seen the impact of his words over and over as countless lives have been lost because of what he says and does.

The job of a journalist is more critical than ever. Attacks on reporters and news channels continue to increase while trust in media plummets. This is unquestionably dangerous for society. However, the media, particularly corporate-driven news, should not be above criticism especially when talking about the explosion of hate and extremism in the U.S., what is driving such high recruitment numbers, and discussing domestic terrorists’ motivations.

Too many journalists are driven by ego focusing more on being the first over the integrity of their source material so they can lock down those TV spots and portray themselves as experts. This leads not only to pundits getting it wrong but also to them promoting false narratives. Far too much of what is seen on the news is speculative. The most recent mass shooting at the Mad Butcher grocery store in Arkansas is proof of that.

In 2022, we saw national security experts suggest the number “47” tattooed on a mass shooter’s face Illinois terrorist’s face “could be” gang-related as they threw Chicago into the conversation despite the shooting occurring in Highland Park, about 20-30 minutes outside of the city. We’ve also heard them claim the shooter’s motivations were not based on hate but nihilism – a catch-all term that they could not later be criticized for using.

“I warned y’all not to feed into the misinfo about the terrorist in Highland Park. Y’all are confusing each other while arguing about whether he was left-wing or right-wing. Some journos who are more worried about being first than right are feeding it too. Don’t buy any of it.” – Me on Twitter in 2022

A deeper investigation showed that the Highland Park lynch mob of one attended Trump rallies and his social media was harrowing, bigoted, and deeply antisemitic. He had insignias that resembled the logo of a far-right Finnish group called Suomen Sisu – an ultra-nationalist movement that’s been accused of xenophobia and anti-Semitism in the past (read their English introduction here).

While the symbol is more broadly used and could potentially be associated with various movements, the content of the terrorist’s social media and his music narrow its use down to all but two things: far-right ideology and/or numerology. Other evidence regarding the shooter should not be overlooked either. In April, he attempted to enter the Chabad synagogue during Passover and was immediately removed by the congregation’s security director.

He also entered the synagogue at a different time during Passover and sat in the sanctuary for 45 minutes.

“I don’t know who needs to hear this but there are no lone-wolf terrorists in the U.S. They’re all part of the most expansive decentralized networks this country has ever seen. It may look like they act alone, but they’re radicalized & motivated by hate groups all over the nation.” – Me on Twitter over the weekend.

Many of the same so-called “experts” tried to convince the public of nonsensical theories that suggested the mass shooter at the Top Grocery store in Buffalo was motivated by bad dentistry work performed by a Jewish dentist. It was an idea proposed with little basis by prominent journalists on social media and shared by their colleagues. All of this was done despite the entirety of his manifesto, the fact that he killed 10 Black people, and had the n-word scrawled on his rifle. 

What is certain is that the radicalization of young white men beginning with seemingly innocuous memes that lead to more extremist content is growing. As hateful ideas and the accompanying language that inevitably lead to anti-Black, anti-Latino, antisemitic, and outright white male-dominated bigotry become normalized, so do thoughts of committing acts of terror in hopes of starting a civil ethnic war.

As we wait to hear if a mass shooter’s true motivations are revealed by law enforcement, it serves no purpose to speculate using dismissive tones and hypothetical tales that only serve to deceive the public. We also can’t ignore what the evidence suggests. Extremism and hate are growing and understanding motivations is high-value knowledge that provides information to better address the issue.

Exposing how young white men are becoming radicalized is crucial.

Simply writing extremists off as nihilistic lone wolves is lazy and misinformed. As is blaming mental health immediately after acts of white terror occur.

It may sometimes be difficult to determine which groups are responsible for radicalizing individuals who commit acts of terror. But in the U.S., over 1,000 hate groups promote these ideologies online shutting down any talk of lone wolves. Meanwhile, after cable news promotes ill-informed ideas and opinions, there are rarely retractions or corrections about motivations.

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.

Arturo Dominguez

Arturo is an anti-racist political nerd. He is an upcoming author, journalist, advocate for social justice, and a married father of three. He is a top writer on Medium and a regular contributor to several news media outlets. He writes educational and informative material about systemic racism, white supremacy, and racial injustice.

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