Elisa Hategan talks about the dangers of white supremacy

Elisa Hategan is the author of Race Traitor, a chillingly detailed autobiography detailing her recruitment into and escape from a white supremacist organization. Her follow up memoir, Alice in Writerland, describes her experiences working with a corrupt publishing industry complicit in supporting white supremacy by insisting that it does not exist. Commenting on the racist attacks in Wisconsin, she writes

Newsflash: in light of the most recent act of domestic terrorism in Wisconsin, I have to say this: extremist white supremacists will kill, and kill again. Anybody who thinks they are, like Breivik in Norway, only “crazed lone gunmen” have no clue as to the weaponry and training white supremacist groups have accumulated. They are in the army. They are your neighbours. And ignoring these facts won’t make the inevitable go away.

 Considering the tenor of recent news reports on these events, her warning is well timed, and reminiscent of Amanda Robb’s argument that “wolves run in packs.

Comments

  1. Red says

    I have to REALLY QUESTION the sense of people who insist that ‘white supremacist groups don’t exist anymore’.

    WHERE did that notion come from? The lack of media coverage related to it (barring more recent events)? The laws in place that don’t allow you to discriminate based on race, religion, etc.? The fact that those people personally haven’t seen it happen?

    Those aren’t going to stop racist people. They aren’t going to actually CHANGE PEOPLE’S MINDS about race, etc. Attitude like that die HARD. Racists and bigots KNOW that their behavior is now viewed as socially unacceptable. So they are generally more ‘covert’ about it. They’re subtle. They learn to work the system to their advantage. That’s in part why systematic discrimination still exists. Not only have the racists gotten smarter in hiding their prejudice, they’ve gotten better at convincing people IT DOESN’T EXIST.

    To claim otherwise is naive.

  2. says

    Bravo! And the description of her book sounds like something out of Alias. *adds to wishlist*
    Red, I wonder, too – also, the people who think child abuse and rape are extremely rare, so rare that we can safely wonder what the victim did wrong. I don’t know what this could be, other than simple denial: it’s a heavy burden to realize suffering is everywhere, and you never know what the people you encounter every day are going through.

    But it’s a burden we all need to endure. If you can’t be bothered, you’re not fully human.

  3. Maria says

    Red,

    And really that’s one of the things Race Traitor explores; many of the people Lana (Elisa’s name in the book; for legal reasons she published it as semi-autobiographical/based on true events instead of as a straight biography) encounters have been involved in the white supremacy movement for years and years.

  4. TansyJ says

    The book sounds interesting to me. People really don’t realize how active and organized the groups can be, and a book from the inside would probably be eye opening, and fascinating and horrifying all at the same time.

    But I’m not totally surprised at how big the groups are. I have a friend who was in prison for some time, and ze said they were really active there, not just “recruitment” but “outreach.”

    Like, someone would make friends inside with you, or start emailing and visiting you and establish a friendship and then start handing out brochures.

    And to me, and I’m sure, a lot of other privileged people the thought of someone handing you a pamphlet or a book about “Hey, maybe racism is cool?” Sounds completely ridiculous and unrealistic, but it sounds like they prey on people who don’t have a lot of support.

  5. says

    Red,

    I share your feelings. The Southern Poverty Law Center keeps careful track of hate groups, and their finding show that the number of white supremacist groups (including Neo-Nazi, Neo-Confederate, etc.) groups in the USA has skyrocketed since 2008.

    [snark]This is, of course, completely unconnected to that year’s election of a black President who received more death threats in his first year in office that Bush did during his entire 8-year time in office.[/snark]

  6. Maria says

    TansyJ,

    That was a big part of what Elisa talked about. Basically Lana/Elisa had a pretty crappy home life, and fairly absent parents. Eventually, she needed a place to stay when she was kicked out of her home. They could tell she did (basically she kept showing up to events with free food).

  7. says

    TansyJ,

    It strikes me that targeting those who lack a support network would be a key recruiting tactic for groups like this, and finding people who are in the midst of some kind of trouble, such as unemployment, being stuck in a low-paying and/or dead-end job, and/or incarceration. Accept them and give them someone to blame for their troubles.

    Red,

    Along with the lack of media coverage that allows people to bury their heads in the sand (among other places) is, I think, the anti-Muslim attitude in America.

    Your comment that racist attitudes die hard immediately brought my father to mind. In his mind, all Blacks, Hispanics, and from-India Indians (among others; those are the ones that come quickest to mind) are considered to fit the stereotypes until they show otherwise. He’s made it very clear he DOES NOT want me to date a black man because he doesn’t want me to get together with a lazy, rude, ill-mannered piece of human trash who can’t speak proper English, wears his pants around his knees, etc. (because that’s how all black men are, doncha know). I told him several years ago that I was insulted he actually thought there was any chance I’d get involved with a man of any skin color who was like that. Credit me with some standards, please! I’ve given up on trying to get him to see sense. He won’t even humor my request that he not spew racist crap and refer to Obama as Osama around me. xp

  8. firebird says

    Racism can be surprising when you are (or pass as, I suppose) white. I have had it hit me in the face a few times, directed at others in my presence, expecting me to agree. It can be frightening, disorienting, and I have to admit I haven’t always known what to do. When I was involved with a Jewish synagogue for a while a well off gentleman wanted to give them some land to build a permanent synagogue (they were renting space) and they found out it was next to a white supremacist shooting range, of all things which the very nice gentleman was very sad to find out. I had never heard before that that we even had such a thing in our city. I also will never forget the change in perspective I had the time a segment about the KKK came on the local news while I was at my BF’s family’s house. He is black (I’m white) and we had been talking an ignoring the TV but everyone immediately went silent and swiveled to watch the TV in perfect silence until the segment was over and then soberly discussed it after (the segment was about a local KKK member using the bad economy to try to recruit his neighbors by suggesting to them that having such an organization to belong to could help them network). To me the KKK is something from the past that was evil and horrible but far enough away to have been from another country or another time, but some of his family members remember it and Jim Crow and to them it is something that still exists, something still to fear, and something to pay attention to lest it come back.

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