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Who are the white supremacists?

There has been no formal survey, for obvious reasons, but there
are several noticeable patterns. Geographically, they come from Americas heartlandsmall
towns, rural cities, swelling suburban sprawl outside larger Sunbelt cities. These arent the
prosperous towns, but the single-story working-class exurbs that stretch for what feels like
forever in the corridor between Long Beach and San Diego (not the San Fernando Valley), or
along the southern tier of Pennsylvania, or spread all through the Upper Peninsula of Michigan,
across the vast high plains of eastern Washington and Oregon, through Idaho and Montana.
There are plenty in the declining cities of the Rust Belt, in Dearborn and Flint, Buffalo and
Milwaukee, in the bars that remain in the shadows of the hulking deserted factories that once
were Americas manufacturing centers. And that doesnt even touch the former states of the
Confederacy, where flying the Confederate flag is a culturally approved symbol of southern
pridein the same way that wearing a swastika would be a symbol of German heritage
(except its illegal in Germany to wear a swastika).
Theres a large rural component. Although the spread of far-right groups over the last decade
has not been limited to rural areas alone, writes Osha Gray Davidson, the social and economic
unraveling of rural communitiesespecially in the midwesthas provided far-right groups with
new audiences for their messages of hate. Some of these groups have enjoyed considerable
success in their rural campaign. For many farmers facing foreclosures, the Far Right promises
to help them save their land have been appealing, offering farmers various schemes and legal
maneuvers to help prevent foreclosures, blaming the farmers troubles on Jewish bankers and the
one-world government. As rural communities started to collapse, Davidson writes, the Far
Right could be seen at farm auctions comforting families . . . confirming what rural people

knew to be true: that their livelihoods, their families, their communitiestheir very liveswere
falling apart. In stark contrast to the government indifference encountered by rural Americans, a
range of Far Right groups, most recently the militias, have seemingly provided support,
community, and answers.
In that sense, the contemporary militias and other white supremacist groups are following in the
footsteps of the Ku Klux Klan, the Posse Comitatus, and other Far Right patriot groups who
recruited members in rural America throughout the 1980s. They tap into a long history of racial
and ethnic paranoia in rural America, as well as an equally long tradition of collective local
action and vigilante justice. There remains a widespread notion that Jews, African-Americans,
and other minority-group members do not entirely belong, which may, in part, be responsible
for rural peoples easy acceptance of the far rights agenda of hate, writes Matthew Snipp. The
far right didnt create bigotry in the Midwest; it didnt need to, Davidson concludes. It merely
had to tap into the existing undercurrent of prejudice once this had been inflamed by widespread
economic failure and social discontent.
And many have moved from their deindustrializing cities, foreclosed suburban tracts, and wasted
farmlands to smaller rural areas because they seek the companionship of like-minded fellows, in
relatively remote areas far from large numbers of nonwhites and Jews and where they can
organize, train, and build protective fortresses. Many groups have established refuge in rural
communities, where they can practice military tactics, stockpile food and weapons, hone their
survivalist skills, and become self-sufficient in preparation for Armageddon, the final race war,
or whatever cataclysm they envision. Think of it as the twenty-first-century version of postwar
suburban white flightbut on steroids.

Theyre certainly Christian, but not just any Christiantheyre evangelical Protestant,
Pentacostalist, and members of radical sects that preach racial purity as the Word of Jesus.
(Catholicism is certainly stocked with conservatives on social issues, but white supremacists tap
into such a long and ignoble tradition of anti-Catholicism that they tend to have their own rightwing organizations, mostly fighting against womens rights and gay rights.) Some belong to
churches like the Christian Identity Church, which gained a foothold on the Far Right in the early
1980s. Christian Identitys focus on racism and anti-Semitism provides the theological
underpinnings to the shift from a more traditional agrarian protest to paramilitarism. It is from
the Christian Identity movement that the Far Right gets its theological claims that Adam is the
ancestor of the Caucasian race, whereas non-whites are pre-Adamic mud people, without
souls, and Jews are the children of Satan. According to this doctrine, Jesus was not Jewish and
not from the Middle East; actually, he was northern European, his Second Coming is close at
hand, and followers can hasten the apocalypse. It is the birthright of Anglo-Saxons to establish
Gods kingdom on earth; Americas and Britains birthright is to be the wealthiest, most
powerful nations on earth . . . able, by divine right, to dominate and colonize the world.