In an effort to more clearly define the events surrounding the aborted speech of Tom Tancredo and the near-violent reaction to the YWC's gathering on the UNC campus, I decided to take a deeper look at the psychology and symbolism used by white supremacist organizations like the Youth for Western Civilization. All of the images portrayed in this piece were taken from their blog, The Hammer. Which is itself a term used by some of the more radical white supremacist groups.
Here's their shield and axe logo:
Symbolism is a key component of radical movements; the visual sends a message that there is "power" that can be attained through membership. This idea of "achievable power" is important because it infers the possibility of escape from the perceived weakness associated with obedience. Plainly put, it's a shortcut to self-esteem, lacking all the necessary reality-based personal reflection that provides a strong foundation for healthy self-esteem.
This is not an uncommon approach to motivation; military units the world over utilize symbolism to imbue confidence and esprit de corps amongst their ranks. I myself have proudly displayed such symbols in the past. But there was also the knowledge of much pain and sacrifice involved in the achievement of said status, as well as the understanding that my behavior, and the behavior of others in my unit, directly impacted whether that symbol represented good or bad. The swastika didn't become a hated symbol because of its shape or perverted meaning; it achieved that status through the behavior of those who wore it on their uniforms.
More symbolism from The Hammer:
This image is a depiction of Carolingian Charles Martel (grandfather of Charlemagne) repelling the invasion of Spanish Muslims in (I believe) the Battle of Tours. Also known as "The Hammer", Martel is a hero to those who want to perpetuate the idea that the Crusades have never really ended, and we are still engaged in a never-ending war between White Anglo-European Christians and All Others.
Here's a look at the fabric of this construct:
Dualism is the idea that the world is divided into
the forces of good and evil with no middle ground. For white supremacists these take the form
of race with whites playing the role of good and all other races as evil. While various
organizations have differing views on the reasons for the positioning of racial “others” as evil,
their world view defines all non-white races as equally deviant . The concept of apocalypticism
is based on the idea that there is an approaching confrontation that will change the nature of the
world, during which important hidden truths will be revealed. The apocalyptic vision of most
white supremacists involves some form of conflict between the races.
Do racist beliefs crave the structure and message generated by this construct to validate said beliefs, or does the construct itself breed the racism? The correct answer is "C", both of the above:
Social movements are in a constant process of identity formation. Movements often arise
out of the collective identities of their participants, but social movements may also create an
identity for members. For established organizations the process of identity construction is a
reciprocal one. Members may join a movement because they identify with it, and as members
they become active in constructing the movement’s collective identity (Polletta & Jasper 2001
On the surface, the Youth for Western Civilization tries to portray itself as a political movement with an idea towards "balancing" between Left and Right:
We want a campus movement that will accomplish three things:
1. Inspire Western youth to organize on the basis of identity, with pride in their heritage and their history, and counter radical multiculturalism on campus.
2. Counter and ultimately defeat leftism on campus by pushing the activist agenda, changing college policies in a conservative or right wing direction, and restoring a curriculum that focuses on Western history, not political correctness.
3. Create a social movement on campus where a right wing subculture -- similar to the left wing subculture that currently exists -- will provide a healthy alternative to a poisonous and bigoted left wing campus climate.
But their symbolism betrays the true nature of the movement: to use fear, pride and implied violence to drive a wedge between the races, in an effort to preserve the status of the White race as the ruler of all others:
As bent and misguided as their ideology seems, the overreaction by counter-demonstrators at UNC is merely grist for the mill, fuel for the fire. It represents, to them and others who might find some truths in their message, that they really are "at war" with a tangible enemy. You can't fight hate with anger, folks. You have to expose the underlying weaknesses that breed the hate, because those weaknesses cannot bear the scrutiny.