Nazi White Supremacists Are Infiltrating Campuses Across the US
While going through an incredibly stressful week of Trump-enflamed assassination attempts against key Democrats, the attempted murder of a black congregation and subsequent murder of two black shoppers at Kroger in Louisville, Kentucky, and the massacre of members of the Tree of Life Congregation in Pittsburgh, I received a distressed phone call from a student who is currently attending the State University of New York (SUNY) New Paltz, where I have been teaching for over a decade. The campus was recently plastered with posters from a white supremacist group who call themselves “Identity Evropa.”
Identity Evropa is at the forefront of the racist "alt-right's" effort to recruit white, college-aged men and transform them into the fashionable new face of white nationalism. Rather than denigrating people of color, the campus-based organization focuses on raising white racial consciousness, building community based on shared racial identity and intellectualizing white supremacist ideology.
The group posted a tweet proudly displaying their campus handiwork.
State University of New York - New Paltz— IDENTITY EVROPA (@IdentityEvropa) October 23, 2018
(New Paltz, NY) pic.twitter.com/OoMemG9uya
The news did not surprise me, since this has been happening frequently on campuses across the nation. Racism, anti-Semitism, Islamophobia, and xenophobia are not simply the purview of older people. Don’t kid yourself into thinking the way some folks do when they say, “Oh well, when the oldsters who hold biased ideas die off, this country will be rid of racism.” Nor is white supremacy confined to the South. It has no regional boundaries. Other people tend to think (imho wrongly) that eliminating ugly “isms” is simply a matter of education and ending economic inequality—attributing racism to people they think of as ignorant, unlettered, and lower-class.
According to the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), “The number of students projected to attend American colleges and universities in fall 2018 is 19.9 million.” About 8 million of them are male; approximately two-thirds of that 8 million are white.
Thinking of young college students simply as “liberal” or “progressive” is not factual.
College freshmen are more politically polarized today than they have been in the last 51 years, new survey results show. Just over two in five of the 137,456 first-year college students across the United States who responded last fall to the UCLA Higher Education Research Institute’s (HERI) annual freshman survey identified as non-partisan. On the other hand, 35.5 percent of students aligned themselves with liberal or far-left ideology, while 22.2 percent considered themselves conservative or far right. Millennial voting behavior in the 2016 election is consistentwith this data, as 55 percent of the demographic cast its vote for Hillary Clinton, while 37 percent supported President Donald Trump. The findings also revealed a sharper ideological divide between male and female respondents than in previous surveys.
It is these young, mostly white male students, who see themselves as conservative, and who voted for Trump or other right-wing Republicans, who are the target of groups like Identity Evropa.
Here’s the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) description of the group:
Founded in 2016 by Iraq war veteran Nathan Damigo, Identity Evropa has always operated with an eye toward branding. The organization has a simplistic and replicable logo — a teal triangle with three lines that join in the middle — and builds name recognition by distributing flyers around college campuses printed with images of classical European statues and phrases like “Our Future Belongs to Us” and “Keep Your Diversity We Want Identity.” It’s self-aware and eminently meme-able aesthetics are meant to lure in young people who are then encouraged to engage in real-world activism on college campuses — the “epicenter of Cultural Marxism in America,” according to Damigo. The organization’s overarching goal — implemented through their #ProjectSiege campus flyering operation, banner drops broadcast over social media, demonstrations and “open dialogue” campaigns — is “taking up space” with their ideas and imagery in the hopes of eventually, through the sheer force of repetition, mainstreaming their ideology.
Identity Evropa members, including Damigo, helped to plan the deadly 2017 Unite the Right Rally in Charlottesville, but have since attempted to publicly distance themselves from events that could both tarnish their image and land them in legal trouble. As a result, they’ve made multiple leadership changes, doubled down on their identitarian label, and become pickier when it comes to the group’s membership and public appearances.