The concept of “white supremacy” is having a moment right now, and understandably so. White resentment, entitlement and bigotry never went away, but it is closer to the political mainstream now than it has been for decades.
The rhetoric of the likes of Donald Trump, Viktor Orbán, Steve Bannon and other figures in the ascendant populist right might not openly embrace “white power”, but there is no doubt that open white racists have been emboldened by them. Trump may have not wanted Richard Spencer (who coined the term “alt right”) to gleefully exclaim: “Hail Trump, hail our people, hail victory” just after the 2016 US election, but he was not particularly bothered by it either.
Surveys of young Americans have shown that 40% identifying as gang members are white, but police tend to undercount them at 10% to 14% and overcount black and Hispanic members, says Babe Howell, a criminal law professor at City University of New York who focuses on crime and race.
“Police see groups of young white people as individuals, each responsible for his or her own conduct, and hold young people of color in street gangs criminally liable for the conduct of their peers,” she says.
Christian Picciolini, a 44-year-old, award-winning activist from Chicago who now works to deradicalise racist extremists, says members of his former neo-Nazi gang pursued careers with police departments, joined the military, or ran for political office.
“A lot of these old skinheads and [Ku Klux] Klansmen have gone into the mainstream,” Picciolini told Fairfax Media.