“The good old days” lament, of what good old days I’m unsure but I’ve heard this more times than I want to admit. In open kitchens around tables with regular folk, white supremacy is passed around as nonchalantly, like a salt-shaker. Under the watchful gaze of red hen ornaments and the inconic Jesus hanging from his sacred cross, the revival of America’s favorite past-time banished in the 1960’s realized its second coming under trendy tags like ‘alt-right,’ and ‘gamer-gate,’ alongside green frogs, subpar snowflake analogies, and heads of state. With the end of the Civil Rights and desegregation era, the blacklisting of the KKK, with the combo-breaker of a black man leading the free world, America thought itself safe from its cultural baggage, but with the Era of Trump it has only begun.
As silent as the red-hen’s in my great aunt’s kitchen, I’ve watched the narrative of 2017 unfold stranger than fiction before its avalanche of Executive Orders, but I can no longer just bear witness. Edward Said notes in Culture and Imperialism that, “Nations are narrations,” and that, “Cultures are humanely made structures of both authority and participation, benevolent in what they include, incorporate and validate, less benevolent in what they exclude and demote,” how does one peacefully achieve genocide? Richard Spencer doesn’t have the answer to his own oxymoronic nefarious neo-nazi suggestion, but he did get punched in the face (thank you fellow members of the white privilege sphere for making a statement). He’s one of the leading characters of the current white supremacy nationalist discourse in the United States, but he is far from the head-honcho, or the only active player on the scene. The battles of common culture against subculture is a tale as old as time—culture is a sense of shared identity, where various thoughts and assertions regarding political and ideology come into contact—the power to take hold of what society says it is and what it isn’t, is of grave importance.
…America thought itself safe from its cultural baggage, but with the Era of Trump it has only begun.
Culture impacts policy, and policy impacts the lives of innocent people. Ideally, we’d all get along and have all members of society shine like the individual prominent snowflakes they are. Imagine America – the great salad bowl – cucumbers still being cucumbers proudly alongside the tomatoes and croutons, but still a part of the greater delicious spring mix. That is the America I long for, one where the only wall is a cute white picket fence and the melting pot rhetoric is long behind us, like dial-up Internet. This is my Boston-tea party, as an Arab, White, Muslim, Feminist, Gamer American (should be my tagline). I’m here to dump the illusion that this cultural baggage of half of my DNA should be “tolerated” or dismissed as “dissenting views.” White supremacy is no joke, racism kills.
In August 2014, a controversy arose in a subculture near and dear to me, #Gamergate; for those divorced from gameculture let me break it down. The TLDR: Girl makes game about depression, boyfriend is disgruntled with breakup, goes to the Internet with fabricated sob story riddled with insecurity for support, those under the gamer stereotype (white, male, lonely, etc.) jump at the chance to form a mob and channel their anger for the diversity and scrutiny games are receiving like all media, because – hey it’s the 21 century – into death threats and rape threats and doxxing towards women making names for themselves in gaming, under the guise of ethics and journalist integrity. Why this matters: Breitbart (the garbage bin for Alt-right ideology) Senior Editor, and Token-gay poster child of the Alt-Right Milo Y.—our second character of note—gained much needed steam and visibility in the public sphere. Since then he’s writing a book, and speaking on college campuses across America, disseminating cultural forms outside of Internet echo chambers. He delights in his persona of “Troll”, which in real terms means he’s an asshole that enjoys harassing people for the sake of harassment. He’s trendy, defends the status quo illustrating the ever famous Condoleezza Rice syndrome in an unexpected sphere of existence, and calls gamers, “beta-male bollock scratchers and twelve-year olds.” For a subculture that prides itself on “escapism” and “gameplay,” and wants to keep politics out of games, it is three-fold ironic in which the man carrying their cause, (1) does not care for games or gamers, (2) writes about his identity, which is a political act in itself and for a political website (3) downplays the serious footprint the passion for making gaming great again left in the real world by dismissing the victims of gamergate.
White supremacy is no joke, racism kills.
Speaking of IRL, the next summer post-gamer gate, a man named Dylann Roof murdered nine people in cold blood based solely on the color of their skin. Roof was disillusioned by other white nationalists that were all talk, from his manifesto: “…We have no skinheads, no real KKK, no one doing anything but talking on the Internet. Well someone has to have the bravery to take it to the real world, and I guess that has to be me.” There’s no easy way to put this, Dylann blinded by his privilege, goaded by casual xenophobia and his faith in the blatant racism of our state, was radicalized over the Internet, much in the same way that ISIS recruits its terrorists. Homegrown white terrorists are on the rise, a copycat postdated 2/16/2017 was stopped in his tracks before he could enact similar sinister plots in the spirit of Roof.
As a statistician by trade, I can’t write this off as “simple correlation does not equal causation,” because the numbers and incidents of hate crimes against all groups have risen since Trump’s candidacy, and steadily skyrocketed after his inauguration. Hate doesn’t exist in a vacuum, a clean space with a few lone wolves waiting to feast on the flesh of their closely related brothers, it is cultivated over time-space; it slips out during movies about the antebellum South, in Halloween performances of black-face or the indigenous, with all the “that’s sooooooo gay,” and the misplaced frustration of economic decline with beliefs like “they’re stealing our jobs”—in the disappointed look your grandmother gives you when your black friends are over and the cringe and correction that spasms violently across your being when she says “n*gger,” when they’re gone. The old hate of America is just re-branding and rehashing itself, trying to stay relevant in a society hell-bent on progress, transcending the Band-Aid of the politically correct.
“Dylann Roof… was radicalized over the Internet, much in the same way that ISIS recruits its terrorists.”
The final and most insidious character of this movement is a seasoned veteran and holds a lofty position of power in the shadow of the leader of the free world: Stephen Bannon. The previous successor of the Breitbart legacy, the godfather of the Alt-right—the anomaly of the Trump presidency is only upstaged by this protégé of Nazi-propaganda and Board Member of Big Data. Fascism of the 40’s revolved around the press and faux populism, where prominent players wrote themselves into the unfolding history of their nations in trying times. Trump is a Pro at Twitter, catch the breakdown of his 140 word formulations here. And Steve Bannon is no different, he appealed to Trump through his personal platform and now sits on the national security council, which is next level shit. Saturday Night Live’s recent skit depicting Bannon as the Grim Reaper in the Oval Office is a clever take at the historic duo of the 45th.
At this point Breitbart, it’s personal, despite your leader taking his talents to the White House. You’re #19 on the top 25 lists for news shares on Facebook and your content radiates sexist, Islamophobic, racist views under the banner of neo-conservatism – which is just a fancy term for “fucking racist bullshit“. You are fake news #goals. You are an echo-chamber of what makes America a global embarrassment. Donald Trump used a printed-out article about himself from your website to debate with Bill O’Reilly on FOX News. Your pseudo-intellectualism shines in every comment, every headline, through every author—retired auto-industry CEO talks about Sharia Law as if he’s even remotely interested on the subject? Gays, women and children aren’t your props, you can’t bring them up to bolster your cause and subsequently down-vote their existence IRL because your selfish snowflake self has internalized that sharing inalienable rights is somehow oppressive. Hands off the homeland, Deabornistan, while you’re at it. You just might be the ground-zero of this tale.
I don’t know how white supremacy will end, but I hope “the good old days,” have yet to come. With knowledge comes power, the power to change and resist—in the streets and on the web, holding signs and wearing pink hats, in beautiful hellos, and people of all backgrounds holding hands walking towards a future with the cultural baggage of the past vanquished; love always trumping hate.