White Supremacy: America’s Past and Present
In the Spring of 1861, Confederate President Jefferson Davis ordered the bombing of Fort Sumter, Charleston, ultimately beginning the longest and bloodiest war in American History. The 4-year war which lasted till April 1865, was a war of ideology and world order rather than one over land or wealth. The Northern Union States under the leadership of Abraham Lincoln wanted to abolish slavery in America, a decision not accepted by every American and state, especially those in the south. So, when in November 1860, Republican Abraham Lincoln won the elections, the southern states quickly mobilized, declaring succession from the rest of the US and merging together to form the Confederate States of America.
In the light of the famous Cornerstone Address, March 1861, by Confederate Vice President Alexander Stephens, the Southern Government was founded upon slavery, that black man is not equal to his white counterpart and in this submission lies his normal and natural condition. Fighting an enemy much more industrialized and twice its size, the Confederacy eventually lost the war and was vanquished from history and along with it, should have been its dogma but remnants remained of its former-self and exist today much stronger than ever.
In Modern-Day America, the Republican Party is literally the opposite of its former self. Demographics shifted during the past century and the group which once stood for equality is now the one fighting against it. Cultural Conservatives dominate the ranks of the party with White Nationalists forming its core and voter base. US Presidential Election 2016 also laid bare the truth in front of the world. Not only did Donald Trump achieved success in the south, the mid-northern and mid-eastern regions overwhelmingly voted in his favor with the states of West Virginia and Wyoming capturing record 68% of the total votes from the above-mentioned regions respectively. This upward trajectory showed how rapidly this destructive mindset is taking over other parts of the US and over the last 4 years, Trump’s support or silence to these events have only made it worse.
During 2019, incidents of white supremacist material being spread in the US rose by 120% compared to the previous year with universities being the primary target, according to the Anti-Defamation League (ADL). It was revealed further that one group alone was behind two-thirds of these incidents: Patriot Front from Texas. Along with the propaganda surge, gun violence is also on the rise as well. The deadly El Paso shooting of August 2019, in which the assailant after posting racist and xenophobic manifesto online, killed 22 people, being the latest.
Reports and realities on the ground have even forced top-ranking military and intelligence officials to acknowledge the danger being posed by this movement. In February 2020, FBI Director Christopher Wray said that racist extremists are now being considered a ‘national threat priority’. Also in February, Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), a civil rights organization based in Alabama that has been monitoring, issuing reports about, and training law enforcement officials on far-right extremist activity in the United States for decades, testified before US House Armed Service Committee that white supremacists present a distinct and living danger to this country and their affiliation and infiltration among the ranks of US Armed Forces advances an already alarming situation. But not all seems lost.
Recent protests revolving around George Floyd’s death are a living truth that change can happen and people are still alive. The entire unfortunate event which was filmed in an 8-minute video, triggered demonstrations that were hailed by many as the biggest and most powerful in America’s history and further called on reforms to take place to directly stem out the problem which has been plaguing the American society for far too long.
The State of Mississippi, whose flag was the last to feature Confederate Battle Emblem was ordered to be renewed, Confederate leaders and generals’ statues in former Confederate States were toppled down and police departments have come under intense scrutiny for their actions – a culture which denies African Americans due process and equal protection rights. Minneapolis City Council is even pushing to replace the police department with a new system for public safety.
Nevertheless, the real thing to keep in mind is that although such developments and accidents become a catalyst to remodel and transform, unless the mindset which allows such situations to happen, change, the idea of a free and fair America will be difficult to come by.