Editor’s note: Story includes offensive language as part of quoted remarks.
The alleged Charleston killer acted in a context similar to that in which white supremacists continue to act in connection with Europe. For Barack Obama, racism is in the American DNA.
On Monday, Obama did not hold back during an interview on the “WTF” radio program. It’s not because we no longer use the word “nigger,” he declared, that racism has been eradicated from our society. The Charleston shooting which caused the death of nine African-Americans, killed by a young man inspired by the white supremacist movement, prompts a new heated debate in America. “Racism. We are not cured of it,” the Democrat added. For the first black president of the U.S., interracial relations have undeniably improved. The 1960s Civil Rights Movement enabled important progress. “But the legacy of slavery, Jim Crow (…) is still part of our DNA,” Obama said.
The Southern Poverty Law Center, an organization that observes extreme right wing movements, does not disagree with the White House. Using supporting evidence, the SPLC points to the persistence of racist movements. Dylann Roof, the alleged Charleston killer, spread terror within a social context that remains tense when it comes to race. According to the SPLC, South Carolina has 19 groups that preach hatred (race, gender, sexual orientation). The police have not associated any of them with the June 17 shooting, in which the only one involved is Roof, a young 21-year-old man whose radicalization appeared on a website (“The Last Rhodesian”) created under his name and which conveys the ideology of white supremacists. Among these groups, more than a dozen are overtly racist. Two branches claim to be part of the Ku Klux Klan. Among six “neo-Confederate” groups, two units want to promote the “Anglo-Celtic culture.” Two neo-Nazi movements are also listed by the SPLC. The Council of Conservative Citizens, a group supporting white nationalism, rejects all racial integration and any measure susceptible to “destroying or denigrating the European-American heritage.”
To prove that connections between these groups and the Republican Party are sometimes rather tenuous, three candidates for president, Ted Cruz, Rick Santorum and Rand Paul, have received donations from the president of the Council of Conservative Citizens, Earl Holt. Coincidence? All three candidates are anointed by the tea party, a movement that emerged in the aftermath of Obama’s election and supported mostly by white people of a certain age. Cruz hastened to declare that the donations to him would be returned. The RandPAC, a political committee supporting Rand Paul, has also stated that the money received would be donated to the victims of the Charleston massacre.
South Carolina, a state with an important racial past, is not the only state that is home to movements preaching hatred. The SPLC counted 784 such movements in 2014 in the United States. Their number increased shortly after Obama’s election and after the beginning of the economic crisis, reaching 1,007 in 2012. Race accounted for 60 percent of hate acts in the 1940s. Nowadays, this proportion has dropped to less than 50 percent. These statistics show, however, that the main terrorist threat in the U.S. is not from violent Muslim extremists, but from right-wing extremists.
Morris Dees and Richard Cohen, founder and president of the SPLC respectively, refute the tendency to see the Charleston tragedy as an isolated act committed by a mentally deranged person or someone who was self-radicalized alone. Such events are linked to a broader movement. Before assassinating nine black people, Roof denounced the fact that black people “were taking control” of the United States, a theme among white supremacists who have organized many marches across the country to condemn “white genocide.” According to Dees and Cohen, the American white supremacist movements strive to create international networks in France, the United Kingdom and elsewhere in Europe. More than 30 “international” gatherings of groups defending the white race have taken place since 2013. Roof reminds one of the case of Anders Behring Breivik, the Norwegian who assassinated nearly 70 people to save Europe from Islam. Mister Breivik, add the people in charge at SLPC, had ties to American white nationalists through Stormfront, a website created by a former Ku Klux Klan member. Their battle is against multiculturalism.
Paul Krugman, who won the Nobel Prize for economics, emphasizes that fact in his column in The New York Times. If some states (from the South) have not been willing to fully implement Obamacare, and if the U.S. does not have a highly developed welfare state, the reason is simple: race. Because it would be primarily people of color who would mainly benefit from it.