At the end of last year, we counted down the most popular Zero Hedge posts of 2014. The fact that the term “civil unrest” appeared in the titles of both the number-one and number-two most popular articles of the year speaks volumes and suggests that what readers found most fascinating, and troubling, was the increasing preponderance of social disobedience and of covert, proxy or outright wars: phenomena that accompany a world sliding deeper into distress.
The riots that left Baltimore in ashes in late April and the massacre that occurred last week at the historic Emanuel AME church in Charleston serve as vivid reminders of the extent to which American society now teeters perpetually on the edge of social upheaval. Increasingly, those who feel ‘the system’ has somehow failed them are turning to violence as a means of addressing their grievances, which betrays a complete lack of faith in the government’s ability to help create the conditions under which groups and individuals with divergent interests can coexist without sinking into a Hobbesian state of nature.
What does the future hold for an American society gripped by social unrest and presided over by a legislature that refuses to legislate, and a President who, over the course of eight years has metamorphosed from the champion of solidarity and change to the poster child for fractious party politics and political gridlock? We can’t say, but in the wake of the tragic events that unfolded in South Carolina last week, one group has a prediction. Here’s Reuters:
Leaders of America’s core white supremacist groups have a laundry list of perceived grievances. They say the media ignore black on white crime; that desegregation has led to poorer schools for white students; that white people in the United States have lost power to black people.
And while they don’t condone last week’s shootings of nine black worshipers at a Charleston church, many of the leaders say they understand the motivation behind the attack – and predict more violence to come.
Interviews with half-a-dozen prominent white nationalists reveal a movement that they say has been re-energized by such things as the election of America’s first black president and, more recently, what movement leaders describe as “a siege” against white police officers.
"A lot of the whites in the U.S. are starting to wake up," Robert Jones, grand dragon of the Loyal White Knights of the Ku Klux Klan in North Carolina, said in an interview. White people, he said, are getting "fed up" with the lack of attention paid to crimes against white people by blacks.
Dylann Roof, the man accused of last week’s attack at Emmanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, is not known to have joined any of the established hate groups, but a manifesto attributed to him describes how he was radicalized online, learning about “brutal black on white murders” while surfing the website of the white nationalist Council of Conservative Citizens.
Bradley Griffin, a Council board member, called the Charleston attack “horrifying,” And attempted to distance the organization from the killings. “No one in our group has ever said, 'Go pick up a gun and shoot random people.' I don't know where this guy got that idea from,” he said in an interview.
But he also said he’s sympathetic to Roof’s anger. “If anyone touches a hair on a black person, it's international news, whereas the most horrific crimes imaginable are inflicted on whites all the time, and I think the media kind of wants to downplay that,” he said. The Council’s website, which has since been taken down, described the group “as the only serious nationwide activist group that sticks up for white rights.”
Leaders of the white power movement warn that last week’s shootings could presage a rise in violence by disaffected whites who see their world changing in ways they can’t accept.
“I expect that you're going to see an uptick in those types of attacks,” said Brian Culpepper, a Tennessee chapter leader of the National Socialist Movement, the largest Neo-Nazi organization in the United States, referring to the shooting in Charleston.
“Open borders is a huge problem,” he said in an interview, causing white people to be displaced by “third worlders,” and generating “resentment among the whites and among the nationalists."
And the groups don't necessarily include all of those sympathetic to their principles. Roan Garcia-Quintana said he resigned from the Council of Conservative Citizens because “they were all interested in just complaining," he said. And he stopped attending meetings of the League of the South, a group that wants “a free and independent Southern republic” to protect its “Anglo-Celtic core population,” because they were "like a history class."
Many African-Americans in the state say that such groups exacerbate racial tensions and help fuel the kind of violence Charleston saw last week.
"It didn't surprise me," said Mary Quarles, a black woman who grew up in Abbeville, South Carolina. “We're in the South and the South is the South.”
Ultimately, it appears America has become a country wherein everyone feels marginalized and/or aggrieved in one way or another. In the absence of a dramatic societal reboot, we fear social instability is likely here to stay.