Dylan Rooff burning the U.S. flag.

How Are Racists Responding to the Church Shooting and Confederate Flag Controversy?

No matter how the particular far right and neo-fascist movement sees itself, mass killings in the name of their racial agenda is always going to be bad news. Aryan Nations was a meeting spot for neo-Nazis, Klansmen, Christian Identity Adherents, and racist militia movements, and was completely undone after a passing family was attacked in front of their compound. White Aryan Resistance was financially undercut after associated skinheads murdered Ethiopian student Mulugeta Seraw in Portland, Oregon. Charges are often brought against associated organizations, and even if they are not formally indicted they certainly are put under the federal looking glass. This is the current state of the Council of Conservative Citizens who is having the FBI going through their materials with a fine toothcomb.

Beyond the hope that other ‘lone wolves’ will be inspired by the violence in a sort of “propaganda of the deed” dynamic, it undercuts their messaging in serious ways. While insurrectionary and vanguardist racial groups certainly exist, even they tend to want to argue philosophical ideas around their racial perspectives and engage in movement building. The modern racialist movement has been heavily influenced by internet-fed pseudo intellectualism, is returning to fascist roots in philosophical movements like the Conservative Revolution and French New Right, and are trying to create a semi-coherent set of ideas that can feed their endgame. In general, the uniting point here is the advocacy of a white ethnostate, though the specifics are particular to the political faction at the microphone.

When instances of violence come up it is difficult to present themselves and thoughtful and peaceful ‘activists.’ The Council of Conservative Citizens is a specifically good example of this in that they existed as a fully aboveground white nationalist organization that maintained ties to the mainstream GOP. It is now clear from his writing that Dylann Roof was inspired to action by the reports of racial differences and ‘black on white crime’ as reported on the CofCC’s website. There you will find pseudoscience about race and intelligence, trumped up reports on racial crime, and other types of ultra conservative and nationalist rants. What you will not find, however, are calls for Racial Holy War. That being said, their publication and their rhetoric, even as mild as it is for their movement, still resulted in violence. This is the kind of association that will rattle their movement to the core, and will likely completely demolish the Council.

The action itself has ramped up a debate that has come in and out of fashion: the remove of the Confederate Battle Flag from public spaces in the south. For many of these groups that are associated with neo-Confederacy as a part of their racial mythology, this could be a bridge to far. Unfortunately for them, any credibility that they had in the popular media market has been stunted by their association with nine dead parishioners in a famed black church in South Carolina.

So how are white nationalists reacting to this situation?

This has been incredibly variable, especially in the CofCC. Many of the people who are deeper in the leadership of the CofCC have rebuked any media contact, but several of their members who are associated with a number of racialist organizations have decided to step up in its defense. Jared Taylor, best known for the white nationalist and scientific-racist organization American Renaissance, has gone on media interviews defending the CofCC. While he continues the line that they are not responsible for the crime, which they have openly condemned, the information cited is still real and legitimate.

“He did not get inspiration from the Council’s website, he got information. And the reason the information was so disturbing to him is because the facts, the reality, of the overwhelmingly “black on white” nature of interracial crime is something that is almost never reported. It’s, in fact, deliberately concealed.”

He continued to return to the racial demographics of crime from several different, unrelated questions. This has been the pattern for Taylor’s interaction with the media; especially debates he tries to get in any forum that will have him. Taylor does go on to say that he and the Council absolutely condemns the shooting.

James Edwards, who sits on the board of both the CofCC and the white nationalist American Freedom Party, hosts his regular radio show The Political Cesspool where he ranted and raved in the usual confusing manor. Though he certainly denounced the shooting, he also praised what he said was the clarity and “intelligence” of his manifesto (which was riddled with racial slurs and writing errors). He doubted the “official story” that has come out and indulged in conspiracy theories about how he could be a government plant, the shooting could have been a result of the medication the shooter was taking, and that the manifesto was created after the fact. He used this as an opportunity to support Roof’s assertions about things like “black on white rape,” which has been a favorite racist talking point since the days of slavery. When going on Richard Spencer’s Radix Podcast to discuss this, he went on about how this was going to be used to strip the South of its “heritage.” In response, Spencer actually spent a great deal of time trying to remind us that we need to begin targeting those with mental illness for the removal from polite society.

In an attempt to act as an unofficial “spokesperson” for the Council, Edwards released a statement to the press that read:

“I unequivocally condemn Dylann Roof’s murderous actions, but in no way was there a legitimate “link” between the alleged shooter and the Council of Conservative Citizens. To say that there is a “link” because he once visited the website reeks of Soviet-era smear tactics. The C of CC cannot reasonably be held accountable for the psychotic reaction this deranged individual had in response to reading truthful statements regarding interracial crime.

According to the Department of Justice, every year there are approximately 500,000 violent, interracial crimes (completed or attempted / threatened). Of these, nearly 83 percent are committed by blacks against whites.

Every year, there are some 20,000 rapes or sexual assaults (including threats) of white women by blacks, but crimes of this sort by white men against black women are so unusual, they scarcely appear in crime statistics.

My prayers go out to the families of the victims in Charleston. After the healing begins to occur it is my sincere hope that mature Americans can finally begin to have an honest conversation about race, rather than being subjected to a one-sided lecture.”

In Richard Spencer’s article on the shooting at Radix Journal he began by noting, without any sense of irony, that this is a tragedy that is going to be used by others as a political tool. He takes it back to the brewing controversy over the Confederate flag where he works hard to ignore the obvious associations between a history of institutional violence against African Americans and the symbol of the Antebellum South.

“As I write, it appears that the shooting has become the tipping point in this decades-long controversy. Roof’s crime, of course, had nothing at all to do with the Confederacy, or how best to honor those who died in a lost cause. That so many have justified removing the flag on the basis of the shooting demonstrates the power of symbolism and narrative over history and fact.

Moreover, it is necessary for us to talk about the meaning of this event, and its political after-effects, for the reason that it was not a “senseless act of violence,” much like John Hinckley Jr. apparently shot Ronald Reagan in order to impress Jodie Foster.”

While he does continue to tow the line of apologism for the act itself, he moves into a kind of meta-commentary where he begins to question whether or not political violence in this way should really be that condemnable.

“Whether political violence is considered to be legitimate and necessary—or illegitimate “terrorism”—is determined by its success and symbolic impact. We forget that the vaunted “Founding Fathers” could have, so easily, been remembered as dangerous eccentrics, who rebelled against their rightful (and quite liberal) monarch out of personal ambition or avarice. In turn, the Confederacy could have been remembered as a just, Jeffersonian order, if it had achieved military victory.”

Counter-Currents Publishing, which has made a name for itself in trying to create a philosophically backed fascist movement modeled on European right-wing intellectuals, joined right in with the usual vile rhetoric that they revel in. Not only were several articles on the subject published, while also being distracted by the recent marriage equality ruling, they also published Roof’s manifesto in an unabridged and annotated version. This will likely not be the last time that this brief blog post driven by homicidal racial rage is republished as the work of some sort of “visionary.” Writing at Counter-Currents website, Brian Tobin laments that these acts of extreme violence are simply the result of an integrated society that is deteriorating because of its multiracial character.

“ How much longer will the majority of whites in America — the ones who can not afford to live in any area other than the “culturally enriched” — be pushed around by policy makers who use them as lab rats in their “cultural” experiment for “public” good? How long will they sit and watch their neighborhoods turn into Third World, crime-ridden slums, right before their eyes, and say nothing? How long will it take for the “backpack of white privilege” to weigh so heavily that it begins to send its wearers into great rage, anger, and frustration?

And isn’t history supposed to be our greatest teacher? Yet no one wants to admit that Dylan Roof is now part of our collective history and memory. The only way to avoid another Dylan Roof episode from airing on network TV is if we finally start learning from (y)our mistakes.

I honestly believe that Dylan Roof’s actions should be heeded as a warning. A warning to the current establishment; a warning to those who wish to maintain the status quo.

What warning is that, you ask? Either embrace the truth and put an end to your relentless critique and attack on White Americans, their history, and their culture, or feel the backlash of those with backpacks becoming to heavy to carry without complaint. To either grant white Americans the same privileges that are afforded to minorities of all stripes, or accept the consequences of which history has written, and the television narrated.”

Though many of the smaller blogs and message boards have erupted in outrage over being associated with such a person and that the flag would be the after target, those associated with the neo-Confederate movement have been somewhat muted. The League of the South, which was created by nationalists coming out of the preservationist Sons of Confederate Veterans, has been having website issues, so they don’t really have the ability to make much of a public episode over it. The Traditionalist Youth Network, which was best known for their campus White Student Union projects, has deep ties to Southern Nationalism and the symbols there in. Matt Parrot, one of the least sensational of the crowd, noted that it would be impossible for people to differentiate between their work and that of the shooter.

“We’ve consistently renounced and rejected violence and hatred at every opportunity, but it honestly doesn’t matter. The American government, media, and academia refuse to distinguish between ourselves and Dylann Roof. For them, the fact that he had ideas similar to our own confirms that our ideas are evil and must be stamped out at all costs. America will willfully disregard the fact that terrorist violence knows no ideology. There are environmental terrorists, socialist terrorists, anarchist terrorists, religious terrorists, anti-religious terrorists, and an impressive list of anti-racist and anti-white terrorists in recent memory.

Dylann Roof falsely believed the lie that the ideology underlying White Advocacy necessarily entails violence. This is a lie which permeates our society, the belief that to be pro-white must necessarily entail being vehemently–even murderously–anti-minority. It doesn’t, but the ADL, the SPLC, the mainstream media, and the federal government have invested millions and millions in crystallizing this falsehood in the collective American mind; that the only way to promote White interests is with violence. A small minority of White Nationalists, many of them outright cranks and many of them surely government assets operating honeypots, also repeat this lie.

It is a lie, and it needs to be put to rest before more lives are lost.”

Matthew Heimbach, the more vocal Southern identitarian of the group, has been notably absent from this discourse, which may give evidence of person problems taking predominance.

It has been pretty well understood that the battle over the Confederate flag is one that has already been won in the minds of most Americans. For white nationalists, this would be a poor way to maintain their goals and a bad place to dig in their heels. But with those who have grave ties to Southern heritage, it is the only historical continuity that gives their sense of racial separatism any American legitimacy.

League of the South members with a microprotest.
League of the South members with a microprotest.

The Loyal White Knights of the Ku Klux Klan, one of the many disaffiliated organizations trying to build themselves in the image of the 1920s Klan, has announced that they will be marching on the South Carolina statehouse in July. After stating that the flag is the wrong target and is a part of “white people’s culture” they set the date for July 18th where they will be calling for other white nationalists to join them in support. This is a unique stand, and one that is fitting for the kind of irrational, emotion-laden organizing the Klan is known for, and it will be difficult to image they get more than a couple dozen people out. And very few without their bed sheets.

Occidental Dissent, which does argue militant white revolution from a Southern Nationalist perspective, lists eight different rallies that have taken place. The Virginia/Maryland chapter of the League of the South did have a “rally” in support of the flag, though it looks like there were only a small handful of people. There are also micro actions in Alabama, Tennessee, Georgia, North Carolina, and South Carolina, but with usually only a carload of Southern supporters, it is hard to think how they would look against the crowds ripping the flag off its pole.

For the rest of the crowd, they will certainly be flying the flag when tied to the South, but there will likely be a more quiet response. For the “alt right” and Dark Enlightenment crowd, American symbols are something to wholesale reject. For places like the CofCC, they know very clearly that they have much more to lose by jumping into the fight. What you can expect is massive Anti-Fascists actions at any even associated with this as the numbers are swelling against them. What could be a nice turn, and something we are seeing painted over monuments to Confederate generals, is that the Black Lives Matter branding and organizing will link up here and provide a lasting analysis of white supremacy in America. While these white nationalists are on the vanguard of restoring white privilege to its glory days, it is institutional racism that affects most People of Color’s lives on a daily basis. If the two issues can be united then this can be a powerful step in a movement to undo a history of white domination.

2 thoughts on “How Are Racists Responding to the Church Shooting and Confederate Flag Controversy?”

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