White Supremacy and the Wisconsin Shooting Spree
by David Leonard and Richard King
While we learn more hourly about the recent shooting spree targeting Sikhs in Wisconsin, to properly understand it, one must understand white power today, which is no longer about cross burnings and white robes. This is especially important since the media appear ill-equipped, if not unable, to talk about white supremacists.
Rather than reflecting on the deathly consequences of white supremacy, rather than look at the burgeoning white nationalist movement, rather than look at the recruiting efforts from white supremacist organizations within the military, the narrative has already been in overdrive to individualize and contextualize, to describe this murderous rampage as a “senseless act.” Yet, as noted by Rinku Sen in Colorlines, these murders “are neither senseless nor random, and the vast majority of such incidents here involve white men. Racism holds a terrible logic, for a concept with no grounding whatsoever in science or morality, yet too many white people don’t see any pattern.” Equally powerful, Harsha Walia reminds readers to break down the walls between extreme and mainstream, between individual and societal, between civilian and military, to look at this violence not as yet another instance of a bad apple but yet another of the rotten tree(s):
The crimes of white supremacists are not exceptions and do not and cannot exist in isolation from more systemic forms of racism. People of colour face legislated racism from immigration laws to policies governing Indigenous reserves; are discriminated and excluded from equitable access to healthcare, housing, childcare, and education; are disproportionately victims of police killings and child apprehensions; fill the floors of sweatshops and factories; are over-represented in heads counts on poverty rates, incarceration rates, unemployment rates, and high school dropout rates. Colonialism has and continues to be shaped by the counters of white men’s civilizing missions.
To our minds, if this properly projects the arc of media coverage, until the next trauma or panic, we fear we will have lost real occasion to put into dialogue two key elements of Page’s biography: he was a white supremacist and he was a veteran.
According to reports from the Southern Poverty Law Center, Wade Michael Page has a long association with white power. In 2000, he allegedly made purchases from the National Alliance, a once prominent white supremacist groups. He also appears in pictures in front of a Nazi flag.
Several websites have shown pictures of Page’s left bicep revealing a “Celtic cross” with the number 14 on top of it. Both are common white power symbols: the former with connections to the Ku Klux Klan, while the latter references the “14 Words,” a key phrase coined by David Lane, a founding member of the Aryan inspired terrorist group the Order: “We must secure the existence of our people and a future for White Children.” It represents the core of contemporary white nationalist ideology, emphasizing the importance of the white race protecting its future, one they believe to be imperiled by multiculturalism, immigration, integration, homosexuality, and globalization. The focus on the family and the protection of progeny underscores the entanglements of race, gender, and sexuality in the white power subculture today.
Page was a member of multiple hate rock groups named End Apathy and Definitive Hate. Its album “Violent Victory” contains a picture of a white hand, tattoo with the letters “HFFH” (“Hammerskins Forever, Forever Hammerskins”) punching a black male in the face. According to its website, the Hammerskins is “a leaderless group of men and women who have adopted the White Power Skinhead lifestyle… the Hammerskin brotherhood is way of achieving goals which we have all set for ourselves… summed up with one phrase consisting of 14 words.”
While many took comfort in the election of Barack Obama, it, along with the intensification of globalization and worsening economics, has sparked a rise in skinhead, neo-Nazi, and other white supremacists groups in the United States and around the world. According to a report from the SPLC, which has tracked such groups for more than a quarter-century, while more than 1,000 hate groups were identified in 2011, up from roughly 600 in 2000, militia and patriot groups numbered 1,274, up more than 450 from the year before.
Continue reading @ Dr. David J. Leonard: White Supremacy and the Wisconsin Shooting Spree.