By Victor Porcelli
On Nov. 9, the DUC held an event to showcase and inform students about white supremacy and certain hate groups of both the past and present. Professor Gracey, who specializes in American politics, hosted the event, leading a discussion afterwards on the topic.
The centerpiece of the event was a documentary called “Revealing Hate,” which went over hate groups such as the Ku Klux Klan and NeoNazis as well as largescale hate crimes such as the Greensboro massacre and the Oklahoma City bombing. Interestingly enough, the documentary showcased both sides of the conflict. Interviews with Tom Metzger, a leader of the white supremacist movement, as well as former skinheads and white supremacists were included.
The documentary not only gave insight into hate groups themselves, but the trends experts observed about when they rise and how. Although the film was made in 2009, it predicted the rise of Neo-Nazis, noticing that as a hate group, it had become more popular than the KKK and was gaining members. Often, the target of these hate groups are young people who feel alone, unwanted and uncertain about their identity. Tom Metzger himself mentioned that it is important to recruit teenagers before they go to college.
College represents a time in which people often become more exposed to diversity, tend to find where they fit in and become more educated; factors which often make one less likely to join a hate group. However, college can also serve as somewhat of a bubble, as especially at DeSales, students are not necessarily directly exposed to not only diversity but other things such as hate groups.
“The most important takeaway I got out was that most of the students in the room . . . did not realize the extent of the problem in the here and now,” said Gracey. Not everyone is exposed to hate groups in their everyday life, so it is hard to realize the significance of the problem if it is not evident in one’s own life. Yet, in the documentary, it mentioned that the worst thing is to think that hate groups are unimportant. It is vital that even if one has not come into contact with them, one realizes the extent to which they are a problem.
Unfortunately, the extent of the problem is quite severe, as hate groups continue to grow. As part of the discussion after the documentary, Gracey mentioned how more and more people are outwardly advocating hate. From the year 2000 to 2016 hate groups in the US grew from 450 to 920. Anti-muslim hate groups have become especially prevalent, as well as anti-LGBT and white nationalist groups.
What is scarier than those openly preaching hate, is those who are not but still harbor it inside. Tom Metzger mentioned how, as a leader of the white nationalist movement, he encouraged “skinheads” to grow out their hair, get jobs and gain positions of power; to wield their hate not in the open but in secret, silently.
All in all, it is clear that hate groups are a problem, but not everyone is exposed or knowledgeable about how they are affecting the U.S. currently. When living in a community that is not diverse, it makes it that much harder to know about issues such as these.
The purpose of events such as this screening, are to encourage students to become more aware of problems our society faces that they may not face individually. It is part of a program run by Jaime Gerhart, Director of Student Life here at DeSales. Gerhart also runs the Solidarity Committee, which deals with issues of diversity. Although the topic will vary, an event similar to this one occurs every two weeks, so look out for the next one and consider joining it.