On March 20, Timothy Caughman was an aspiring doctor who had a love for music and worked with many well-known musicians. At 66 years old, Timothy was brutally murdered by a man with an intent to kill. This was a crime motivated by hate. The murderer admitted to wielding a knife and coming to New York for the purpose of killing black men. He was motivated by his strong belief of White Supremacy.
The subject matter of White Supremacy isn’t only a black and white issue. White Supremacist groups have made their imprint in history by committing crimes against individuals who are not of their race and religious background. A huge mark in history is the Holocaust and the massive massacre that wiped out 6 million Jews due to their beliefs and culture. “During the era of the Holocaust, German authorities also targeted other groups because of their perceived “racial inferiority”: Roma (Gypsies), the disabled, and some of the Slavic peoples (Poles, Russians, and others). Other groups were persecuted on political, ideological, and behavioral grounds, among them Communists, Socialists, Jehovah’s Witnesses, and homosexuals.”(ushmm.org)
The Holocaust is remembered each year on Holocaust Remembrance Day, which was on April 23rd this year. It is a day to reflect on how hatred of a people fueled heinous acts against humanity. To understand what has led to these crimes against humanity, it is important to look back into the history and ideology of White Supremacy.
White Supremacy has existed throughout history. The most catastrophic act of White Supremacy was initiated by Hitler and the Nazis. Hitler had a deep hatred for Jews. He believed and convinced much of the population of Germany that the Jews were the reason why they lost World War 1 and blamed the Jews for everything that went wrong in Germany. His bigotry was even more evident as he preached that the Jews were an inferior race and shouldn’t be considered “people” for that matter. These ideologies were enough to convince the Germans and people of Aryan race to banish or “wipe out” the Jews in order to be a stronger and a more pure race of a nation, thus the epitome of White Supremacy.
White Supremacist believe that as the number of other races begin to grow, that they will outnumber or dominant society. For decades, this ideology has been covert, but it has become overt in the last several years and has grown exponentially in our society since the presidential election. The origins of White Supremacy in the United States started in the 1820s. The Democratic party we know today used to have opposing views on gender and racial equality. It once was the supporting force in the slavery of African Americans and the catalyst for the Klu Klux Klan (KKK). This shift in views started in a presidential race that had record breaking participation. The former general Andrew Jackson won the presidential election. He and his administration weren’t very fond of other races and ethnicities other than the white race. They began to expel Native Americans who were living in the east and forced them to move west. This act was called the “Indian Removal Act” and it was the first step into total domination of North America and a new move of many to begin removing people who weren’t white.
Furthermore, a new doctrine called “Manifest Destiny” was an ideology put into place by James Polk that became vehicle for more separation and polarization, which gave white Americans the entitlement to dominate all of America. James Polk began expanding South and acquiring much of the bigger states through force and at the same time at war with Mexico. After much expansion, the issue or the root of White Supremacy was most observed during the debate over slavery and whether the Union would permit to allow slavery in these newly acquired places. Since the democrats of that time era were the huge supporting group of the newly elected president, they argued they should own slaves because their participation was much stronger and impactful than those who did not own slaves. This was just the beginning of their movement for white domination of the United States (Witcover, 2003).
Fast forward. In the last 10 years, there have been a number of attacks by White Supremacist on Muslims, Jews, Blacks, immigrants, LGBTQ, and other communities. The nature of these attacks continue to show signs of hatred for these groups. The objective of White Supremacist is to wipe out these groups due to their race, faith or life style. Today’s White Supremacist ideologies are no different than the ideologies of the White Supremacist leaders in the 1820s. Some of the crimes motivated by this ideology have led to frequent mass murders. In 2015, a 21-year old White Supremacist claimed to want to start a racial war. Dylann Storm was behind the Charleston shooting spree in a church which killed 9 people and wounded many more. Another crime was when a former KKK member opened fire in a Jewish institution killing three individuals and in 2012 another White Supremacist massacred people at a Sikh temple in Oak Creek, killing six people and injuring many more. These are just a few of the many crimes committed by the White Supremacist groups and individuals.
Although, there is huge push back against racism and hate, these groups have been able to carry out terrorist attacks on individuals with the intent to murder as many people as they can. Many people have concluded that the rise of White Supremacy and its obvious nature in 2017 is a result of presidential race. It gave them a sense of entitlement and nationalism in a very polarizing and corrupt way. According to the SPLC, Trump’s rhetoric reverberated across the nation. In the first 10 days after his election, the SPLC documented 867 bias-related incidents, including more than 300 that targeted immigrants or Muslims.
According to the Southern Poverty Law Center, there is a 197% increase in the total number of anti-Muslim hate groups from 2015, there are 130 active KKK groups in 2016, a total of 663 antigovernment ‘patriot’ groups, and 193 Black Separatist groups in the USA. Furthermore, the ideology that White Supremacists have is that minority groups will wipe them out as their numbers grow, which is why they feel the need to protect their identity. Depicted in the graph below are the rising numbers in hate groups, more specifically White Supremacists throughout the last 16 years.
Since the civil rights movement, it has been hard for White Supremacist groups to maintain their power and dominance in the United State, especially when most of society has marginalized them and do not share the same ideologies as them. However, they seem to be persistent in their dominance and growing in numbers. Their crimes are becoming frequent, obvious, and plain brutal.
Timothy Caughman is just an example of the crimes that have been committed. We should not allow hate to have a platform and have a louder voice than the voice of tolerance. No matter the race, religion or sexual orientation, it is critical we coexist and live peacefully with one another free of hate and fear. We must not just say it, but we must live it and spread it through cultural diversity education in schools, houses of worship, and workplaces.
Witcover, Jules (2003), “1..””, Party of the People: A History of the Democrats