Neo-Nazis Target College Campuses in Recruitment Drive

by Eleanor J. Bader, Truthout | Report –

The messages are not subtle: “Make America White Again”; “Imagine a Muslim-Free America”; “Are You Sick of Anti-White Propaganda in College? You Are Not Alone. Take Your Country Back.”

They’re signed by a handful of neo-Nazi groups — Identity Evropa [sometimes spelled Europa], The Right Stuff and Vanguard America — and they aim to inspire students to oppose multiculturalism and efforts to promote diversity. Their specific targets are feminists, anti-racist assemblies including Black Lives Matter, LGBTQ activists and organizations, and those in support of immigrant rights. Bigotry against Muslims and Jews provides the foundational pillar for their rage and resentment.

“Our movement is almost 90 percent young White men who know they are screwed if things don’t start improving,” a July 2017 article on altright.com states. “We are de facto not a White advocacy group as much as we are a Young White Men’s Advocacy group…. Minorities have explicit advocacy groups. Jews have just about everything. Young White Men do not have any money or political power…. or even deep-pocketed supporters. But then, they never have. Young White Men have always had to make up for this disadvantage through their enthusiasm, energy and ambition. They have always had to rise up and take what was theirs.”

At the core of this delusion is the fact that US demographics are changing and the US and Europe will soon join the rest of the world in being majority non-white. Three years ago, in fact, 50.2 percent of American children under the age of five were African American, Asian, Latinx or mixed race; by 2060, projections suggest that 56 percent of the US population will be of color, a stark contrast to 1965, when the population was 85 percent Caucasian.

Recruiting on College Campuses

Perhaps surprisingly, many white college students have proven receptive to arguments about the beleaguered white male. Neo-Nazi darling Richard Spencer, the 39-year-old Duke University graduate school dropout credited with coining the term “alt-right,” explains his rationale for targeting males in this age group: “People in college are at this point in their lives where they are actually open to alternative perspectives…. You need to get them while they’re young. I think rewiring the neurons of someone over age 50 is effectively impossible.”

Part of the right’s appeal is situational, says Ryan Lenz, senior writer at the Southern Poverty Law Center’s Intelligence Project, since many young white men have a hard time seeing themselves as privileged. “Many were born in a time of recession and are taking out college loans that they might not be able to pay back,” he told Truthout. “They give a welcome ear to anyone speaking about white pride and white superiority.”

In addition, because neo-Nazis position themselves as underdogs, they prey on student sympathies because many young adults automatically side with those on society’s lowest rungs. “They purport to be a fresh political voice looking for a moment in the public square,” Lenz said. It’s a claim that at first blush can appear reasonable. Only later, he says, will the “alt-right” recruiters’ actual goal become apparent — to, in his words, “undo a system of pedagogy that accepts tolerance as truth.”

Indianapolis therapist Carol Hornbeck notes that many white adolescents and young adults are susceptible to this recruitment strategy because it is an invitation to avoid confronting their own status or position. “Unless young men have feminist or progressive family members, they can be oblivious to their privilege,” she said. “For those who attend a liberal arts college, this can mean they are completely unprepared to have their identities challenged.”

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Reprinted with permission from Truthout