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What is a hate group?
For the most part, the question answers itself. However, they do come in all different shapes and sizes, with a variety of flavors, philosophies, theories and fairytales.
To determine specifically how a person ends up in a far fringe hate group would require far more space than what we have available here. Various sources point to three specific elements: the general cultural environment an individual was exposed to while growing up, more impacting and specific perhaps, the opinions and actions of a parent or caregiver, and psychological issues, such as paranoia and irrational fear, which could be brought about for a myriad of reasons.
While these possibilities certainly don’t excuse the behavior, they may offer some insight, and perhaps a pathway, to changing hearts and minds.
Hatred and violence between people of differing cultures has likely existed since the dawn of humanity, but the United States, particularly during the last presidential administration has witnessed an explosion of violence and polarization not seen since the 1960s.
The topic has been explored in literature, television and film. One particular film produced in 1951, entitled “Storm Warning,” examines the experiences of two sisters in a small Southern town when one comes to visit and accidentally stumbles on an attack by the Ku Klux Klan against an ethnic foreigner who is suspected of committing a crime. The elder sister (played by Ginger Rogers), sees the face of one of the Klansmen when he removes his hood. Hiding in a darkened alleyway, she goes unnoticed. When she arrives at the home of her sister (Doris Day) a few hours later, she is shocked to find out that her sister’s husband is the murdering Klansmen (portrayed by Steve Cochran).
Although a specific state is never mentioned during the film, the town the elder sister visits to see her younger sibling is called Rock Point, a name which bears an uncanny similarity to North Carolina’s Rocky Point and Rocky Mount.
While it may sound shocking, it is a historic fact that during the 1950s and 1960s, North Carolina’s Klan membership numbered around 10,000, which was larger than all of the other Southern states combined.
Since that time, the state has evolved in a much more positive direction, and Charlotte, as well as many other urban areas throughout the state, are respectable centers for progressive thought and activities.
Still, hate groups continue to exist in the state. And though small, even the Klan continues to maintain a presence.
That raises a specific question: Who are the people that are the members of these groups, and who do they hate?
Predominantly, the hate groups are Caucasian and of European descent, although there is some variation. In North Carolina there are known to be more than 20 documented hate groups, as designated by the Southern Poverty Law Center.
Individuals and groups they choose to single out for their wrath and disdain vary widely based on religious beliefs, race and ethnicity, political ideology, sexual orientation, gender identification and more.
Here’s a look at some of the most pernicious culture based and religious organizations, as well as other independent and national groups that have, or attempted to have an impact on the state of North Carolina with negative energy, teachings and sometimes, actions. Some are locally based, while others are national.
Headquartered in the tiny town of Snow Camp in Alamance County, ACTBAC, which stands for Alamance County Taking Back Alamance County, has been on and off the Southern Poverty Law Center’s list of hate groups. They claim to be based on the principles of preserving Southern heritage and Southern Pride. Like many of the newer organizations and groups on this list, ACTBAC appears to have ridden the whirlwind of Donald Trump’s presidency, frequently calling out liberal and progressive politicians and hurling insults at North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper. Since Trump’s loss at a re-election bid, the group has either disbanded, lost motivation or gone underground.
Asatru Folk Assembly
While the Asatru Folk Assembly is based in Linden, N.C., in what was once a Methodist church, they maintain a small and quirky presence throughout the United States with roots that can be traced back to pagan beliefs in this country and further back to Nordic culture in Europe. Although they are known to contribute to community programs with efforts like monthly food banking and they defiantly deny accusations of racism and decry the label of hate group, their teachings, in the United States, insist that members must be of Caucasian and European descent. They espouse such values as marriage for opposite sex couples only and steadfastly refuse to recognize the legitimacy of transgender individuals. It is interesting to note that Asatru assemblies in Europe have distanced themselves from their American counterparts largely over a schism related to LGBTQ rights. It comes as no surprise that the American offshoot of Asatru are the ones who take issue with the LGBTQ community.
In North Carolina there are many chapters of the Hebrew Israelites. In Raleigh there is Masharah Yasharahlla: Government of Israel; in Concord and Raleigh there is Israel United in Christ; in Charlotte, Greensboro, Greenville, Winston-Salem, Durham and Fayetteville there are six different chapters of the Israelite School of Universal Practical Knowledge.
Comprised predominantly of individuals of African descent who believe themselves to be original descendents of ancient Israelites, they adhere to certain aspects of both Christianity and Judaism, although they have created their own interpretation of religious texts similar to the Bible.
According to the Anti-Defamation League and the Southern Poverty Law Center, some but not all, are outspoken anti-Semites and racists. In an ironic statement made by former Ku Klux Klan grand Wizard Tom Metzger to the Southern Poverty Law Center, he referred to the Hebrew Israelites as, “the black counterparts of us.”
Heirs to the Confederacy
While they are listed as headquartered in Asheboro, N.C., the neo-Confederate group Heirs to the Confederacy largely flies under the radar. According to various Internet and news reports they frequently appear on the scene to protect Confederate monuments or to protest the removal of Confederate monuments. There is evidence of an ongoing association with the Proud Boys (more on them later), and press reports confirm members of the organization have been arrested. Currently, they have virtually no Internet presence. Regardless, their history from the past two years has been duly noted, and they are considered to be a growing right-wing entity, worthy of monitoring.
This group maintains a forceful Internet presence and loves to excite their followers with some good old-fashioned bigotry, usually aimed at non-Caucasians and people from regions of the country other than the South. From their own website:
“For what it’s worth, Asheville is actually a beautiful place, nestled in the midst of some of the highest mountains in the Appalachians, with old-styled homes and the beautiful Biltmore estate nearby. Urban sprawl has also been kept to a minimum thanks to the low population, preserving much of the woods surrounding the city. However, the same cannot be said for the inhabitants of this city – smelly hippie transplants of ill repute. How many carpetbaggers are in Asheville? I do not know. However, I do know that what isn’t a mentally disturbed carpetbagger or displaced Latino is most likely some reprobate.”
The Ku Klux Klan
(Loyal White Knights of the Ku Klux Klan, Pelham; United Klan Nation, Thurmond)
As mentioned earlier in this story, the Klan once held strong sway over the state of North Carolina. Today, that is simply not the case. Their numbers are extremely small and their presence is felt most often in small rural communities, and even then, only in a limited capacity.
They are well known throughout 19th and 20th century history for the murders of African-Americans and other minorities, including individuals in the LGBTQ community.
While they do continue to exist and are recognized as a hate group, their influence is barely detectable in 21st century North Carolina, and nonexistent in Charlotte.
Nation of Islam
(Five chapters in North Carolina: Charlotte, Greensboro, Durham, Winston-Salem, Wilmington)
The Nation of Islam (NOI) was conceived in Detroit in 1934, by Elijah Muhammad, who had previously worked with Wallace Muhammad (beginning in 1931) when the organization was known as the Allah Temple of Islam. Under the direction of Elijah Muhammad, the name change was instituted and the new leader then proclaimed himself to be the messenger of God.
According to reports from those around him and comments by Muhammad himself, NOI began in response to treatment of Black people in the United States during and following the depression. Muhammad saw Islam as a rallying tool for Black Americans looking for their own cultural identity and a religious faith that did not carry with it the European trappings found in Christianity. Muhammad’s ideology also asserted the notion of a completely separate state for Black Muslims living in America. Needless to say, that never quite took off.
When Nation of Islam member Malcolm X visited Muslim countries in the Middle East, he was exposed to a completely different interpretation of Islam. He came back with a distinctly alternate attitude and felt the teachings of Islam were a religion that should be available to everyone in the United States, not just Black Americans. This did not sit well with other members of NOI.
On February 21, 1965, Malcolm X was assassinated. Three members of NOI were eventually convicted and given indeterminate life sentences for his murder.
Regardless, speculation has continued to this day that Louis Farrakhan may have been responsible for his murder. That theory was only enhanced when Malcolm’s daughter Quiballah Shabbaz plotted to kill Farrakhan in 1995.
Farrakhan, who has been the leader of the organization since 1977 (Muhammad passed away in 1975), has steadfastly denied the accusation to this day. Now 87 years old, he continues to control NOI and has spent the past 44 years spewing out a plethora of anti-Semitic, homophobic and racist comments.
In Charlotte and North Carolina the Nation of Islam maintains a strong presence, however, the aforementioned issues have not been at the forefront of the organization’s efforts here. While visits by Farrakhan have often stirred controversy, NOI has received positive recognition for efforts in at-large community building and social assistance programs.
The Patriot Front is a white supremacist, neo-fascist and American nationalist organization founded by Thomas Ryan Russo. While sharing the helm of another similar organization known as Vanguard America, he and his followers participated in the notoriously anti-Semitic Unite the Right March in Charlottesville Virginia. After receiving an extensive amount of negative press attention, he seized the name Patriot Front from his former collaborator and took the followers with him to the new organization.
Members of the Patriot Front were involved in the Jan. 6 storming of the United States Capitol in Washington. In North Carolina, the organization is known to have distributed flyers in the town of New Bern in an attempt to rally new recruits. Reaction from town leaders was swift and likely prevented the organization from gaining a foothold in the state.
A visit to their website shows they have taken no actions and made no additional posts since Feb. 2021.
They describe themselves as a pro-Western, chauvinistic fraternity for men. While that sounds vaguely tolerable, the opposite is true: They are misogynistic and anti-woman, anti-immigrant and xenophobic, islamaphobic and homophobic. Following the Jan. 6 riots on the Capitol in Washington , members of the North Carolina chapter of the Proud Boys were arrested and charged for taking part in the far-right uprising. Since that time, the internet provider that hosted their website has since dropped them and shut down their website.
The United Nuwaubians
Clearly one of the most unusual of all the organizations that has been labeled as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center, the Nuwaubian Nation is an American religious group of sorts, founded by Dwight Z. York in the 1960s. Initially his organization followed the teachings of Islam, but later incorporated elements of Christianity and Judaism into the mix. By the late 1980s he abandoned that in favor of ancient Egyptian teachings and a dose of UFOlogy.
York later moved his group from New York, to Eatonton, G.A., where his followers built an ancient-Egyptian-themed compound and changed their name to the United Nuwaubian Nation of Moors.
In the years that followed the organization changed names multiple times and its leader was arrested and convicted of child molestation, resulting in multiple life sentences in federal prison. The compound was eventually sold and demolished, but, it would appear a handful of followers continued to hold on, eventually opening a bookstore in Charlotte called United Nuwaubians Worldwide. It closed during the COVID-19 pandemic.
After pleading guilty and being sentenced in 2003, York began to serve a 135-year sentence. A year later he wrote this letter from prison to one of his followers:
“The Caucasian has not been chosen to lead the world. They lack true emotions in their creation. We never intended them to be peaceful. They were bred to be killers, with low reproduction levels and a short life span. What you call Negroid was to live 1,000 years each and the other humans 120 years. But the warrior seed of Caucasians is only 60 years old. They were only created to fight other invading races, to protect the god-race Negroids. But they went insane, lost control when they were left unattended. They were never to taste blood. They did, and their true nature came out. … Because their reproduction levels were cut short, their sexual organs were made the smallest so that the female of their race will want to breed with Negroids to breed themselves out of existence after 6,000 years. It took 600 years to breed them, part man and part beast.”
Now purportedly 75, and imprisoned in Colorado, his release date is July 7, 2120.
Note: Of the various organizations reported on here, four of them simply stopped being involved with the world around them when it became apparent there was no way for Trump to recapture his former role in the Oval Office. It raises the question, did they simply give up and walk away, or are they somewhere hiding on the dark web, the deep state or off the grid in Florida, contemplating their next moves?
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