Column: There’s a whole new generation of white supremacists
I scrolled through the mugshots of each of the 31 members of the white supremacist group who were arrested in Idaho last weekend after authorities found them packed in the back of a U-Haul truck with riot gear on.
The police confiscated a smoke grenade, shinguards and shields. The men wore arm patches with the group’s name on them — “Patriot Front” — and their faces were covered by white balaclavas, basically a metrosexual version of a KKK hood.
One member wore a shirt that read “Reclaim America.” Reclaim from whom wasn’t explicit, but the leader of the Patriot Front was involved in the 2017 Charlottesville, Va., white nationalist march, which featured the slogan “Jews will not replace us,” so we can make assumptions.
LZ Granderson writes about culture, politics, sports and navigating life in America.
Not a single old man among them. It’s yet another reminder that the prejudice that was supposed to just die off with the old generation continues to find new life with the young.
“The time of the Republic has passed in America as the system grows too weak to perform its duty,” part of the group’s manifesto reads. “The damage done to this nation and its people will not be fixed if every issue requires the approval and blessing from the dysfunctional American democratic system. Democracy has failed in this once great nation.”
That’s all a long way of saying “make America great again,” apropos given the hearings on television about the Jan. 6 terrorist attack.
Based on the evidence and documents, the group was planning to riot at the North Idaho Pride event, in addition to several other areas around downtown Coeur d’Alene. We are all very fortunate that a stranger called the police after seeing the group piling into the truck in a hotel parking lot. No telling what would have happened if they had been able to follow through on their plans. More than 50 people were injured, and one person died, in the Charlottesville rally after a white supremacist deliberately drove his car into a crowd of counter-protesters.
That driver was just 20 years old — which means he was taught to hate after the first “Top Gun” movie. That’s how recent we’re talking.
Contrarians always like to take examples such as the mass shooting in Buffalo, N.Y., and make it about one event or one person. Whenever attempts are made to place the racist attack in context, Black people are reminded that slavery ended a long time ago — as if legislated racism hadn’t immediately been put in its place.
You know, for all of the hubbub surrounding book banning, critical race theory and this supposed concern about teaching children to hate, culturally we have done a poor job addressing the white supremacists who are grooming young white people.
The person accused of driving nearly four hours specifically to kill Black people in Buffalo is just 18 years old. He wasn’t around during slavery, the Civil War or the civil rights movement, and yet we all instinctively assume we know the type: The accusations are in sync with the actions of many 18-year-old white males from each of those eras.
Before critical race theory and “Drag Queen Story Hour” were a thing, white supremacy was being taught in this country. Back when men wore the pants, the wife stayed at home and prayer was still in school, white supremacy was being taught in this country. Ruby Ridge from 1992 begat Timothy McVeigh and the Oklahoma City bombing in 1995, which begat Timothy Wilson, who texted an associate “How did McVeigh do it” before picking a hospital in the Kansas City, Mo., area to blow up in 2020. Thankfully the FBI was able to intercept Wilson — who also considered blowing up several mosques, a synagogue and an elementary school mostly populated with Black children. He was only 36 years old, born long after all of this was supposed to be over.
But culturally we treat the examples of this hate as one-offs. Politicians consider them obstacles to reelection or an incident to talk about for fundraising. What we don’t do is go after it the way Republicans went after transgender children who hope to play sports with their friends.
In Texas, parents can be investigated for providing their transgender children with support, and yet the Lone Star State has been slow to address the continual teaching of white supremacy. At least seven of the 31 who traveled to Idaho are from Texas.
If Republicans consider critical race theory to be an issue worthy of legislation, and they think parents of transgender children should be investigated, why aren’t those same Republicans gung-ho to investigate parents of avowed white supremacists or interrupt the organizations that teach white supremacy?
As far as I can tell, none of the 31 folks arrested in Idaho are old enough to have been around for the first Juneteenth back in 1865. So they were taught white supremacy … but by whom?
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