Following the Charlottesville, Virginia violence over the past weekend, the term ‘Neo-Nazi’ has surfaced across the US and media reports reveal the growing number of Neo-Nazi groups in the states. The term Neo-Nazi is a reference to those who follow an ideology of the Nazi party (of Adolf Hitler). In the current context, it is connected to ‘White Supremacy,’ – the racist ideology that white people claim superiority over, and dominate other races. This Neo-Nazi ideology is seeing a reemergence in the US, but is not a new. It goes back to the days of the Civil War, when the country was deeply divided on racial and ethical lines. So much so that the confederate states withdrew from the Union, and only rejoined the union after a bloody and damaging Civil War. (States’ Rights is also often mentioned as a root cause of Secession)
Following the American Civil War, the US opened up to a new level of acceptance and equality embracing immigrants and championing civil rights. White supremacy and Neo-Nazi ideologies continued, but the majority was underground, rather than as part of mainstream consciousness. Racist attacks in the US did continue, but were always held up as examples of what the country did not stand for. Recently, the growth of Neo-Nazi groups and White supremacists has sparked deep concerns about potential shifting values, and leadership in the country. According to news reports there were over 917 Neo-Nazi groups active in the US as of 2016.
Earlier this month, the removal of General Robert E Lee’s statue from Charlottesville, sparked a right-wing protest march. General Lee was the prominent leader of the Confederate army during the Civil War. White supremacist (Neo-Nazi) groups from all over the country were drawn to the event. Anti-racism groups also gathered, to protest against the march, and violence broke out between the two groups. In the midst of the furor, a car ploughed into a group of anti-racist protestors, killing a woman, Heather Heyer, as well as injuring several others.
President Trump and his anti-immigrant policies, which were partially responsible for his election to the White House, have been blamed for this new Neo-Nazi attitude. His statement that anti-racist protestors did not have a permit and that the White Supremacists were only there to peacefully protest ignited a huge outrage in the media and in many parts of the country. Neo-Nazi groups have vowed to hold many more rallies at university campuses and other places in the country in the weeks to come. The leader of the KKK, a known racist group, even thanked President Trump for his remarks.
Racial discrimination, White Supremacy, the KKK, and Neo-Nazi ideals are not what the United States stands for.
Sadly, the growth of Neo-Nazi groups is furthering a deep concern in the US, where many already see a divided and conflicted nation. This trend is a disturbing one, and one that could spark more violence in the days ahead.