Factors that Contribute Specifically to White Supremacy Movements

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· As might be expected, white supremacist groups are more likely to flourish in communities that are most sympathetic to racist beliefs (Sheffield, 1992; Anti-Defamation League, 1995)

· From an historical and sociological point of view, racism is more than the prejudicial beliefs of individuals. For example, we face persistent racial inequality in terms of income and wealth (Darity Jr. and Meyers Jr., 1998; Oliver and Shapiro, 1997). It is only within the past three decades that years of legal segregation and state-sanctioned inequality have begun to be dismantled.

· American society has experienced tremendous social change, sparked by the civil rights movement, women's movement and gay and lesbian movement. These have been perceived by many white men as personal attacks.

· What it means to be a white man is no longer secure and white male privilege no longer proceeds unquestioned. Many white, American men feel under siege and vulnerable, facing a "crisis of masculinity" (Gibson 1994; Kimmel 1996). This has strengthened white supremacist movements and other men's movements, like the Promise Keepers (Diamond 1998).

· Many white men believe, erroneously, that the playing field has been leveled, and that discrimination is no longer a reality in America today. Programs aimed at increasing opportunities for women and minorities are seen as providing them with unfair advantage. Programs like affirmative action have been labeled reverse discrimination, despite evidence to the contrary (Reskin, 1998). Growing numbers of white males feel that they are now an oppressed minority (Gallagher 1995; Wellman, 1997).

· The overall shift to the right in American politics, the increasing influence of the religious right and the rise of fundamentalism and the resurgence in biological explanations for racial inequality, provide a congenial climate for the beliefs of white supremacist groups (Diamond 1995, 1998; Dyer 1997; Omi 1991; Potok 1999; Stock 1996). So too does the defeat of the U.S. in Vietnam; the loss of the Soviet Union as the evil nemesis; the perceived decline of the U.S. and the creation of a "new world order"; fears that white people are becoming a minority in the U.S.; and fear of Y2K calamity and the millenium (Diamond 1995, 1998; Lamy 1996).

References

The Anti-Defamation League of B'nai B'rith. 1995. The Skinhead International: A Worldwide Survey of Neo-Nazi Skinheads. New York.

Diamond, Sara. 1998. Not by Politics Alone: The Enduring Influence of the Christian Right. New York: Guilford Press.

Diamond, Sara. 1995. Roads To Dominion: Right-Wing Movement and Political Power in the United States. New York: The Guilford Press.

Dyer, Joel. 1997. Harvest of Rage: Why Oklahoma City Is Only The Beginning. Boulder: Westview Press.

Gallagher, Charles. 1995. "White Reconstruction in the University." Socialist Review 24, no. 1 & 2:165-87.

Gibson, James William. 1994. Warrior Dreams: Violence and Manhood in Post-Vietnam America. New York: Hill and Wang.

Graham, Hugh Davis. 1989. "Violence, Social Theory, and the Historians: The Debate over Consensus and Culture in America." Pp. 329-51 in Violence in America: Protest, Rebellion, Reform, vol 2, edited by T. R. Gurr. Newbury Park, CA: Sage Publications.

Gurr, Ted Robert. 1979. "Alternatives to Violence in a Democratic Society." Pp. 491-506 in Violence in America: Historical & Comparative Perspectives, rev. ed., edited by H.D. Graham and T.R. Gurr. Beverly Hills, CA: Sage Publications.

Kimmel, Michael. 1996. Manhood in America: A Cultural History. New York: The Free Press.

Lamy, Philip. 1996. Millennium Rage: Survivalists, White Supremacists, and the Doomsday Prophecy. New York: Plenum Press.

Levin, Jack and Jack McDevitt. 1993. Hate Crimes: The Rising Tide of Bigotry and Bloodshed. New York: Plenum Press.

Libman-Rubenstein, Richard E. 1979. "Group Violence in America: Its Structure and Limitations," Pp. 437-54 in Violence in America: The History of Crime, vol 1, edited by T.R. Gurr. Newbury Park, CA: Sage Publications.

Lieberson, Stanley and Arnold R. Silverman. 1965. "The Precipitants and Underlying Conditions of Race Riots." American Sociological Review 30: 887-98.

Oliver, Melvin L. and Thomas M. Shapiro. 1997. Black Wealth, White Wealth: A New Perspective on Racial Inequality. New Jersey: Routledge.

Omi, Michael and Howard and Winant. 1986. Racial Formation in the United States: From the 1960s to the 1980s. New York: Routledge.

Potok, Mark. 1999. Southern Poverty Law Center researcher. Interview, 7-19.

Reskin, Barbara. 1998. The Realities of Affirmative Action. Washington, DC: American Sociological Association.

Sheffield, Carole. 1992. "Hate Violence." In Race, Class and Gender in the U.S.: An Integrated Study, edited by Paula Rothenberg. New York: St. Martin's.

Staub, Ervin and Lori H. Rosenthal. 1994. "Mob Violence: Cultural-Societal Sources, Instigators, Group Processes, and Participants." Pp. 281-313 in Reason to Hope: A Psychological Perspective on Violence & Youth, edited by L.D. Eron, J.H. Gentry, and P. Schlegel. Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.

Stock, Catherine McNichol. 1996. Rural Radicals: Righteous Rage in the American Grain. Ithaca, New York: Cornell University Press.

Wellman, David. 1997. "Minstrel Shows, Affirmative Action Talk, and Angry White Men: Marking Racial Otherness in the 1990s," in Displacing Whiteness: Essays in Social and Cultural Criticism, ed. by Ruth Frankenberg. Durham: Duke University Press.

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