The Southern Poverty Law Center counted 926 active hate groups in the U.S. in 2008—that’s a 54% rise since 2000. And those are only groups, lone wolves—no one knows how many. Statistics from the Federal Bureau of Investigation report the incidence of hate crimes showed an eight percent increase between 2005 and 2006. Over 50 percent of these crimes were race-related, with the remaining incidents triggered by sexual orientation, religion and gender differences.
FBI counterterrorism expert John Perren said of “lone wolf” domestic terrorists, “It could be anyone. It could be the guy next door … on the Internet just building himself up with hate … to a boiling point and finally using what he’s learned.” Atlanta Journal-Constitution, June 14, 2009
Who are these people who hate? What do they want? What do they believe? It’s hard to lump them all together, as they have different ideologies and display different characteristics, and they all have different objectives. The white supremacists want whites on top of the food chain, want a white Nordic world; the militias are paranoid about the New World Order, or the ZOG, or the federal government coming to put them in FEMA camps or some such takeover; the KKK wants Jews and African American banished from our shores forever, or dead; The Christianists want dominion over–and forced conversions of– the entire planet, and they want gays killed or at least imprisoned. Some of these groups have imagined grievances; some just hate everyone who is not them. But they all have one characteristic in common: Intolerance.
Intolerance is generally defined as the state of being unwilling or unable to endure the beliefs, perspectives, or practices of others. It also involves a lack of recognition for the fundamental rights and choices of others.
PSYCHOPATHOLOGY OF HATE
Are they really mentally disturbed, mentally impaired, downright crazy? Some are, but most are not. As far as hate crimes go, one would think individuals who commit these acts to be mentally unstable, however a study carried out by the University of California showed differently. Out of 550 hate crime criminals profiled, researchers found aggression and antisocial behavior to be prevalent, but no personality disorders. Perpetrators were described as typically “normal” with a high tendency towards destructiveness and violence.
Mary H. Guindon, PhD, Alan G. Green, PhD, and Fred J. Hanna, PhD from Johns Hopkins University say that there should be a new designation in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders for people who hate irrationally.
“It is our intention to explore the possibility of an intolerant personality disorder as a previously unrecognized and unacknowledged type of psychopathology that causes harm to people from many cultures and has been destructive in terms of gender, race, ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation, and disability. Antisocial, borderline, paranoid, and narcissistic personality disorders are examples of personality styles that are or can be harmful to others. The question is as follows: If intolerance of others in certain forms is indeed destructive and a source of pain and anxiety to its victims, should it not also be categorized as a mental disorder?”
They are part of a growing movement in the mental health community. They do not want to medicalize intolerance or to make it a disease. But they and others believe it is important to name extreme intolerance as pathology. They want to document and research the problem in order to develop treatments that can be part of the solution to profound social injustice concerns. Labeling intolerance as a personality disorder has the potential benefit to rehabilitate these people and lead to increased tolerance, which helps us all.
Whether feelings of hatred are rational or irrational, the logic system behind these feelings is distorted. Sigmund Freud classified all forms of behavioral expression as defense mechanisms used to protect one’s self-image. As such, hatred expressed inwardly or outwardly becomes a self-protective measure that works to maintain one’s sense of identity. Intolerance can also be viewed as a defense against change, acting as a form of self-protection. It is a sick defense mechanism. Suspicion and distrust are perceived as necessary protection against a threat of harm.
The Johns Hopkins team lists these
Symptoms Of Intolerant Personality Disorder:
(a) holds a rigid set of beliefs that assert the intrinsic superiority due to race, religion, culture,or gender of the person’s own group ;
(b) lacks empathy for one or more particular populations, such as Latinos, African Americans, gays, lesbians, or women;
(c) exhibits interpersonal behavior that ranges from covert or overt antagonism and hostility to exploitation toward one or more specific or targeted populations;
(d) seeks to overtly or covertly block, deny, impede, or cancel the social, organizational, psychological, or financial advancement of someone of a group believed to be inferior;
(e) uses power or other means to inhibit or prevent free expression of contrary or intolerable ideas;
(f) has a sense of entitlement based on membership in a privileged group and believes that others should recognize his or her superiority without commensurate achievements or valid credentials;
(g) manifests a pervasive pattern of disregard for the human rights of members of particular populations; and
(h) shows lack of remorse as indicated by being callous or indifferent to having hurt, restricted, mistreated, or maligned members of selective populations.
A study carried out by the University of California on persons who committed hate crimes also revealed that the majority of the participants had a family history of violence and abuse. With this type of background, individuals are more prone to internalize feelings of self-hatred as a part of their overall self identity. As far as defense mechanisms go, one type in particular—projection—is attributed to the experience of hatred directed towards another.
Projection is a defense mechanism in which a person unconsciously directs feelings felt about oneself onto another person. This is a coping mechanism put in place to protect a person from harmful thoughts and feelings felt toward the self. The antagonistic feelings by someone towards the target of his hatred are, in effect, the same feelings he has with himself.
Understanding hate groups is essential for successful intervention strategies, which depend on an understanding of the hate process. According to FBI profilers, their observations show that hate groups go through seven stages in the hate process. Unless stopped, haters pass through these seven successive stages without skipping a stage. In the first four stages, haters vocalize their beliefs. In the last three stages, haters act on their beliefs. A transition period exists between vocalization and acting out. In this transition period, violence separates hard-core haters from rhetorical haters.
FBI Law Enforcement Bulletin/March 1, 2003
Stage 1: The Haters Gather
Irrational haters seldom hate alone. They feel compelled, almost driven, to entreat others to hate as they do. Peer validation bolsters a sense of self-worth and, at the same time, prevents introspection, which reveals personal insecurities. Further, individuals otherwise ineffective become empowered when they join groups, which also provide anonymity and diminished accountability.
Stage 2: The Hate Group Defines Itself
Hate groups form identities through symbols, rituals, and mythologies, which enhance the members’ status and, at the same time, degrade the object of their hate. For example, skinhead groups may adopt the swastika, the iron cross, the Confederate flag, and other supremacist symbols. Group-specific symbols or clothing often differentiate hate groups. Group rituals, such as hand signals and secret greetings, further fortify members. Hate groups, especially skinhead groups, usually incorporate some form of self-sacrifice, which allows haters to willingly jeopardize their well-being for the greater good of the cause. Giving one’s life to a cause provides the ultimate sense of value and worth to life. Skinheads often see themselves as soldiers in a race war.
Stage 3: The Hate Group Disparages the Target
Hate is the glue that binds haters to one another and to a common cause. By verbally debasing the object of their hate, haters enhance their self-image, as well as their group status. In skinhead groups, racist song lyrics and hate literature provide an environment wherein hate flourishes. In fact, researchers have found that the life span of aggressive impulses increases with ideation. In other words, the more often a person thinks about aggression, the greater the chance for aggressive behavior to occur. Thus, after constant verbal denigration, haters progress to the next more acrimonious stage.
Stage 4: The Hate Group Taunts the Target
Hate, by its nature, changes incrementally. Time cools the fire of hate, thus forcing the hater to look inward. To avoid introspection, haters use ever-increasing degrees of rhetoric and violence to maintain high levels of agitation. Taunts and offensive gestures serve this purpose. In this stage, skinheads typically shout racial slurs from moving cars or from afar. Nazi salutes and other hand signals often accompany racial epithets. Racist graffiti also begins to appear in areas where skinheads loiter. Most skinhead groups claim turf proximate to the neighborhoods in which they live. One study indicated that a majority of hate crimes occur when the hate target migrates through the hate group’s turf.
Stage 5: The Hate Group Attacks the Target Without Weapons
This stage is critical because it differentiates vocally abusive haters from physically abusive ones. In this stage, hate groups become more aggressive, prowling their turf seeking vulnerable targets. Violence coalesces hate groups and further isolates them from mainstream society. Skinheads, almost without exception, attack in groups and target single victims. Research has shown that bias crimes are twice as likely to cause injury and four times as likely to result in hospitalization as compared to nonbias crimes.
In addition to physical violence, the element of thrill seeking is introduced in Stage 5. Experts found that 60 percent of hate offenders were “thrill seekers.” They seek an adrenaline high. Each successive anger- provoking thought or action builds on residual adrenaline and triggers a more violent response than the one that originally initiated the sequence. Anger builds on anger. The adrenaline high combined with hate becomes a deadly combination. Hard-core skinheads keep themselves at a level where the slightest provocation triggers aggression.
Stage 6: The Hate Group Attacks the Target with Weapons
Several studies confirm that a large number of bias attacks involve weapons. Some attackers use firearms to commit hate crimes, but skinheads prefer weapons, such as broken bottles, baseball bats, blunt objects, screwdrivers, and belt buckles. These types of weapons require the attacker to be close to the victim, which further demonstrates the depth of personal anger. Attackers can discharge firearms at a distance, thus precluding personal contact. Close-in onslaughts require the assailants to see their victims eye-to-eye and to become bloodied during the assault. Hands- on violence allows skinheads to express their hate in a way a gun cannot. Personal contact empowers and fulfills a deep-seated need to have dominance over others.
Stage 7: The Hate Group Destroys the Target
The ultimate goal of haters is to destroy the object of their hate. Mastery over life and death imbues the hater with godlike power and omnipotence, which, in turn, facilitate further acts of violence. With this power comes a great sense of self-worth and value, the very qualities haters lack. However, in reality, hate physically and psychologically destroys both the hater and the hated.
Symbols, Rituals, and Mythology
Fully understanding hate groups involves identifying and defining their unique symbols rituals, and mythologies. Symbols give greater meaning to irrational hate. Haters use symbols for self- identification and to form common bonds with other group members. Additionally, they often swear allegiance to these symbols.
Symbols, however, are not enough to unify a group; therefore, more organized hate groups incorporate rituals, which serve two functions. First, they relieve individual group members from deep thought and self-examination. Second, rituals reinforce beliefs and fortify group unity.
The hate group’s experiences, beliefs, and use of symbols and rituals combine to create group mythologies. Mythologies unify disparate thoughts and act as filters through which group members interpret reality. Group mythologies can have profound effects on its members. A group with a powerful mythology results in one resistant to ideological challenges, and, therefore, it is more dangerous.
Hate groups have always been interested in getting brighter people into its ranks. They are looking for is its future leaders, its tacticians and strategists who can create a second revolution—as opposed to those who can just beat up a few people. The internet really helps them meet this goal. Their primary target is often teenagers. In their view, impressionable youth represents the only hope for the future of the “white race.”
Leaving aside the intergenerational, within-family recruitment, the young are being actively recruited in large numbers and through specific tactics. Many adolescents today find themselves alienated from their families. Occasionally this is because the family is brutal or alcoholic, but more often the alienation arises in a home where the parents possessed no other values than the pursuit of money; where the parents are psychologically absent. The fascist youth group in particular offers these alienated kids a substitute family, an environment of mutual concern, and a substitute set of values. For many young people, a fascist group may provide their first real exposure to commitment, to courage, to unity of thought and action, to the motivation of non-materialistic values. Like any good gang.
Hate groups concentrate their recruiting efforts primarily in high schools and, to some extent, in colleges and universities. They even offer scholarships. And the Internet seems tailor-made for reaching disaffected young people: teenagers spend far more time on it than their parents do, and many teens consider the virtual world of the web their “home away from home.”
Hatemongers now target young people directly, through hate “music” and special web sites. Young people may be susceptible to online racist propaganda because they don’t have the experience or facts at hand to refute the lies and myths being fed to them.
Although the Internet is a relatively new way to reach young people, the techniques hatemongers use to attract them are still very traditional. Here are some of the strategies hate groups use to attract young people on the Internet:
The rise of white power rock ‘n’ roll has been very important to the racist movement. It’s extremely violent in its rhetoric and lyrics. The songs call for murdering black people or creating a racial holy war or a whites-only revolution, and they’re increasingly being sold to teenagers and people in their early 20s. It’s a great strategy–music is a compelling way to influence young people. When kids surf the Net for music, they may chance on sites that sell hate music, or even offer it free for downloading. Such Web sites often also provide links to hate-promoting brochures, pamphlets, newsgroups, chat rooms or Web sites.
Every year in North America, more than 70,000 white power CDs are sold. Resistance Records (the largest North American distributor of hate music) gross more than $3 million in 2007. Resistance Records has a stable of a dozen high-quality Skinhead bands like a cute girl-band that takes up the mantle from the defunct groups Prussian Blue. Their products can be ordered directly over the Internet. Resistance Records, as well as such established organizations as Aryan Nations and the Christian Identity Posse Comitatus, hold Aryan concerts, Aryan Youth festivals, or annual Aryan Youth Congresses.
Another white power music broker, Byron Calvert, distributed 30,000 CDs in 2007. The campaign is dubbed “Project Schoolyard Volume II” and targets teenagers with a 25-song sampler that features tracks such as “White Power” and “Some Niggers Never Die.” “Remember,” he wrote, “we don’t just entertain racist kids, we create them.” The CDs are on sale for 30 cents each, but Calvert is including several free with each order from Tightrope, his Arkansas-based website that offers hate music and other racist merchandise. He said he also uses multiple MySpace accounts that are not overtly racist to reach white students at schools where racially charged incidents have occurred.
Skinhead Girl Warrior (Les Vilains)
Militia : May 17 Patrol & training music video
“Let’s see out the Fuhrer’s dream/To break the back of the eternal jew/Rid the world of the evil we’ve seen/Make it safe for me and you.”
— From “Under the Hammer” by Brutal Attack
“When the battle is over and the victory is won/And the White man’s lands are owned by true white people/the traitors will all be gone.”
— From “White Warriors” by Skrewdriver
And there are a few thousand more music videos! If you thought such unabashedly bigoted music was available only from underground sources, you’d be as surprised as I was. At Apple’s iTunes website you can buy albums and songs from white supremacist groups. But iTunes it’s not the only mainstream music distributor selling racist and offensive tracks. Amazon.com also sells music from many of the same white supremacist bands.
Another strategy used to attract young people is white-power versions of popular computer games. Teens may go online looking for the latest cool game, and may find the “hate version” instead.
For example, Resistance Records has produced Ethnic Cleansing —a computer game whose object is to kill “subhumans” such as Blacks and Latinos, and their “masters,” the Jews, who are portrayed as the personification of evil. Players can choose between dressing as KKK members or skinheads. Even very popular mainstream games, such as Resident Evil5 have definite racist overtones.
Many sites have chat rooms and I’ve noticed members often ask about books that promote their ideology. Stormfront and the Nationalist Coalition, to name just two, offer books for teens.
Activities for kids
Some hate sites offer special sections for kids containing games and activities. For example, on the “Creativity for Kids” section of the neo-Nazi World Church of the Creator Web site, children can try their hands at crossword puzzles with racist content. The purpose of the children’s section is “to help the young members of the white race understand our fight.” Of course, most hate groups home-school their kids, and the bigger sites, like Stormfront.com provide learning materials.
Re: Join the SCOOTS Reading Club…..Promoting Childhood Literacy!
I just wanted everyone to know that the program is a free program for children 2-18. The sponsorship portion is for those that don’t have children, but still want to contribute to early literacy, the love of reading, and family togetherness.
I highly encourage participation from all our children ages 2-18 years of age. It is free and when you meet the goals you have the ability to choose your prizes carefully selected with our Folkish children in mind!
What better satisfaction than to help a child to form a love for reading, or for those avid readers, what better way to get rewarded for a job well done! If you teach a child to read, he or she can truly do anything!
I look forward to hearing from everyone for this program!
For Faith, Folk, and Family
(Stormfront chat room)
Some hate sites use cartoon-like or animated characters, similar to (or identical to) those used in children’s media to attract young audiences. They don’t even have to invent new ones, as Disney and many other old cartoons provide many racist characters.
OTHER COMMON STRATEGIES
White power and white supremacy sites typically deny that they are racist organizations. Instead, they focus on the need to protect white people from assimilation and/or direct threats from non-white groups. They call this perspective “racialist” as opposed to racist.
The 14/88 Society is a good example of this dynamic. The site’s name combines two hate slogans popular in the white supremacy movement:
- 14 refers to the 14-word slogan: “We must secure the existence of our race and a future for white children”
- 88 represents HH (H being the eighth number in the alphabet), which stands for Heil Hitler
Overtly racist sites, like 14/88, are the easiest to identify because they conform to the mainstream image of the neo-Nazi skinhead hate group. However many hate sites attempt to conceal a racist agenda behind a more moderate message.
Pseudo-Science and Intellectualism
Many hate-mongers use pseudo-scientific intellectualized language and incorporate the work of university-based academics to make their views seem more credible. Canadian professor Phillip Rushton’s work on the different intellectual and physical abilities of different “races” is a case in point. In addition, the late Dr. William Pierce operated a publishing company that released a steady stream of neo-Nazi literature. Pierce’s fictionalized account of racialist revolution in The Turner Diaries is said to have inspired the Oklahoma City bombing in 1995.
Holocaust denial is a frequently used strategy. Haters who “revise” history argue that the Holocaust either did not occur, or was less significant than the historical record indicates. And they are insidious. Let’s say your child is given a school assignment to write about Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Most likely, he or she will go to the internet and search for Martin Luther King. What they could easily find is pretty scary—and despicable. On one site I found this Discovery Channel movie trailer claiming that whites are the indigenous Ice Age North Americans.
ANTI GOVERNMENT SENTIMENTS AND RECRUITMENT
At a deeper level, recruitment into the neo-fascist movements is based on the on-going crisis of capitalism, especially in North America.
Worsening economic conditions, political instability, a perceived sense of injustice, or a struggle of groups for self-identity or power are among the conditions that may precipitate planned or spontaneous outbursts of violence by groups against individuals, other groups, or the state.
Research on genocide, group violence, and hate crimes have shown that such factors as economic problems, political conflict, or rapid and substantial social change interact with group characteristics such as the need to scapegoat or devalue other groups, the inclination to hinge a better future on identifying enemies who stand in the way, and a pattern of aggression.
Corporate downsizing, declining real wages, changing technology, increasing gap between the wealthy and everyone else, and the steady decline in manufacturing jobs replaced by lower paying, less secure jobs in the service sector, have all combined to leave the average American worker feeling vulnerable and betrayed. For rural Americans, economic uncertainty is compounded by threats to traditional rural industries like logging, mining, ranching, and farming. These are the conditions in which hate groups thrive.
NEXT—HATE IN AMERICA, Part 4: What Can Be Done