Racist extremism remains a crisis in the United States
MARC H. MORIAL | 10/8/2017, 9:50 p.m.
National Urban League
“Now, therefore, be it resolved that Congress rejects White nationalism, White supremacy, and neo-Nazism as hateful expressions of intolerance that are contradictory to the values that define the people of the United States, urges the President and his administration to speak out against hate groups that espouse racism, extremism, xenophobia, anti-Semitism, and White supremacy; and use all resources available to the President and the President’s Cabinet to address the growing prevalence of those hate groups in the United States.” – Congressional Joint Resolution signed 9/14/17
Last weekend’s escalation of NFL protests against police brutality seems to have sparked another wave of racist incidents across the United States. A fire chief in suburban Pittsburgh was fired after publicly using a racial slur against Steelers coach Mike Tomlinson. A bar in Missouri created a doormat of jerseys spelling out “Lynch Kaepernick.”
The words of the Charlottesville “Unite the Right” organizer Jason Kessler, interviewed for the most recent episode of NPR’s This American Life, may go a long way toward explaining why White supremacism and racial hostility are on the rise.
“We are being replaced culturally and ethnically,” Kessler said, referring to White men. “It’s a genocide by replacement … Our first immigration policy, you know, said that in order to be a citizen you had to be a White person of good character, right? So it was explicitly a White country. Like, there are traditional demographics. And when you don’t respect those, you destroy a people.”
Kessler, 33, does not consider himself a White supremacist. “White supremacy, blah, blah, blah. That’s a BS liberal term that you have been indoctrinated with. That ‘White supremacy, White supremacy!’ This is our country!”
The current Congress, the most diverse in history, is 81 percent male and 81 percent White. White men hold about 70 percent of all seats on corporate boards. More than 70 percent of Fortune 500 senior executives are White men. The Black unemployment rate is consistently about twice that of Whites, and studies show resumes with traditionally “White-sounding” names garner about 50 percent more job interviews over “Black-sounding” names.
In every measurable way, White men are vastly overrepresented beyond their percentage of the U.S. population in positions of power. But men like Jason Kessler look at this overrepresentation and see … White genocide.
Last week, FBI Director Christopher Wray told Congress the agency has about 1,000 open investigations into potential domestic terrorists, including extremist White supremacists and White nationalists. Within the past nine years, right-wing extremists in the United States plotted or carried out nearly twice as many terrorist attacks as Islamist extremists. Police managed to foil twice as many of the Islamist cases as the right-wing incidents. Yet the current administration has decided to cut federal funding for groups fighting right-wing violence to shift more resources to fighting Islamist terrorism.
Police told The New York Times, “Militias, neo-Nazis and sovereign citizens” are the biggest threat we face in regard to extremism, and the threat is so high exactly because “it is an emerging threat that we don’t have as good of a grip on, even with our intelligence unit, as we do with the Al Shabab/Al Qaeda issue.”
Earlier this month, President Trump signed a resolution, unanimously passed by the House and Senate, condemning “the violence and domestic terrorist attack that took place” in Charlottesville as well as White supremacists, neo-Nazis, and other hate groups.
The resolution urges the president and his administration to “speak out against hate groups that espouse racism, extremism, xenophobia, anti-Semitism and White supremacy,” and calls on the Justice Department and other federal agencies to “use all resources available” to address the growing prevalence of those groups.
It’s unclear how the resolution will affect funding for anti-racism efforts, but we expect Congress to remain committed the principles it espouses and to hold the administration accountable for using “all resources available” to combat racial hate.
Marc H. Morial, former mayor of New Orleans, is president and CEO of the National Urban League. He can be reached through http://nul.iamempowered.com.