The rise of mainstream fascism in America

The rise of mainstream fascism in America
Comment: White nationalists and neo-Nazis are on the rise in the United States and are becoming more brazen in their tactics, writes Dan Arel.
6 min read
07 Nov, 2017
A group of neo-Nazis face off police officers, armed with shields in Tennessee [Nurphoto]
White nationalism is on the rise in the United States, with numerous rallies attacking the Black Lives Matter movement, Jews, and of course, the American left or liberals - all termed 'communists'.

Chants of "Jews will not replace us," and "blood and soil," a popular saying throughout Nazi Germany, are common at white nationalist, neo-Nazi rallies. This rhetoric of "white lives" being under attack is growing, but it is also starting to incorporate another popular right-wing talking point; outright Islamophobia.

In the last weekend of October, white nationalist organisations gathered in various towns throughout Tennessee to hold "White Lives Matter" marches, something that is becoming a regular occurrence in the US. Yet, this time, there was a more vocal anti-immigration message to their protests.

Members of the neo-Nazi organisation, the National Front, chanted "closed borders, white nation, now we start the deportations."

Not a far departure for these groups, but it shows their movement is openly expanding its hate speech to reach more people.

The National Front was joined in Tennessee by other neo-Nazi organisations, including the National Socialist Movement and Vanguard America. The latter being the group affiliated to the killer of anti-fascist activist, Heather Heyer, in Charlottesville, North Carolina in August.

Other groups include the Traditionalist Worker Party, League of the South, and White Lives Matter, to name a few.

Since President Trump's inauguration in January, 33 people have died from racially related crimes and 69 more left severely injured

All of these groups align closely with what is being labeled as the "alt-right," which is nothing more than a veneer for neo-Nazism.

While much of the anti-immigration focus from these white nationalist groups have been focused on the US/Mexican border, the recent attack in New York has opened up a new wave of anti-Muslim rhetoric.

It took less than 24-hours for Trump to blame immigration reforms passed by the previous administration, for Sayfullo Habibullaevic Saipov driving a truck into cyclists in New York, killing eight people. He then used the incident to call for a further ban on Muslim immigration.

Saipov, a resident of New Jersey, who originally immigrated to the US from Uzbekistan, legally in 2010, was seemingly self-radicalised and inspired by the so-called Islamic State. He had no extensive criminal background, easily passed an Uber background check, and given what is known about him, would not have been stopped by even the most extensive of immigration checks.

These far-right groups - no strangers to anti-Muslim bigotry - are using the president's rhetoric and fear of groups like IS attacking the US, to build their movement further. They are so brazen in their bigotry, they don't even pretend to hide it.

Laura Loomer, a far-right freelance writer was banned by both Uber and Lyft after posting to social media that she was late to a press conference because she wasn't able to find a non-Muslim Uber driver for more than 30 minutes.

She then followed up by suggesting that someone create a "non-Islamic form" of Uber and Lyft, before sharing a photo of two women in hijabs crossing the road near the site of the New York attack.

Underneath, she wrote: "Muslims are out in full force at the scene of the NYC #ISIS attack today rubbing it in everyone's face. Aimlessly walking around in hijabs."

While the anti-Muslim rhetoric is increasing in the wake of the recent attack, it's not exactly new.

Earlier this year, a Sikh man from Kent, Washington was shot after the shooter yelled: "Go back to your own country!"

On 26 October, a few days prior to the New York attack, a Sikh high school student was violently attacked, again in Kent, Washington. The attack was caught on video, and while the school tried to downplay the hate crime aspect of the attack, the family feels their son was attacked because it was believed he was Muslim.

With their sights set on targeting Muslims or those mistaken for Muslims in the US, Muslim advocacy groups throughout the country will need to become more aware of white-nationalist and neo-Nazi groups moving into their neighbourhoods.

These groups choose rally locations that will terrorise communities, predominantly in black cities and towns, or those they deem sympathetic to the "liberal agenda". It won't be surprising to now see them expanding into more predominantly Muslim and immigrant neighbourhoods around the country.

While Muslim advocacy and anti-hate groups such as The Southern Poverty Law Center are no stranger to such rhetoric, it is true that some of these organisations have long flown under the mainstream radar. Many are now coming to light as their movement gains support, not only from far-right citizens but even from those inside the White House.

The average American is still shocked by the realisation that people are waving Nazi flags and marching with torches through city streets. The problem is bigger than they know, and at-risk communities need our protection.

Anti-fascists in the US have been one of the few groups exclusively dealing with the rise of white nationalism and fascist groups throughout the US.

Anyone who watched events unfolding in Charlottesville, Berkeley, California, or even more recently in Orlando, Florida is no longer surprised to see these white nationalist marches met with direct confrontation by Black Bloc activists.

Read more: Trump's condemnation of Charlottesville was too little too late

If the rise of these hate groups is going to be stopped, the country cannot rely solely on the often-outnumbered anti-fascist activists. Instead, whole communities will need to answer the call.

The average American is still shocked by the realisation that people are waving Nazi flags and marching with torches through city streets

When white nationalist protesters announced their plans to rally in Boston, Massachusetts, upwards of 40,000 counter-protesters took to the streets to say 'no'.

In the end, about 30 white nationalists had to be ushered out of a Boston park by police, completely surrounded by a community that wasn't going to stand for it.

It is not the job of the Muslim community to protect itself from these hate groups alone. It's everyone's responsibility. From the leftist anti-fascist groups to liberal religious organisations, right through to secular and atheist groups. Lives are directly at risk under the threat of neo-Nazi violence.

Antifa International
has been tracking neo-nazi violence in the US since President Trump's inauguration in January, and the current totals reflect 33 dead and 69 severely injured.

This is a crisis that must be taken seriously by every American who opposes white nationalism, Nazism, and fascism. Regardless of one's political leanings, religious beliefs, or the colour their skin, a united front must be present to tell these hate groups that their hate has no place in US society.

Dan Arel is a political activist, award-winning journalist and the author of The Secular Activist; and Parenting Without God

Follow him on Twitter: @danarel

Opinions expressed in this article remain those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of The New Arab, its editorial board or staff.