I heard two different numbers the other day and started wondering if there’s a scientific method to determine exactly how many white supremacists there are in America. The first number was provided by a presumably white Internet associate (I wouldn’t go as far as calling him a friend) who I communicate with regularly on a purported legal blog which seems to attract quite a few white supremacists. He insists that the only people that qualify as white supremacists are card-carrying members of the Klan and nobody else. The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) estimated in 2016 that there were 3,000 active members at that time. Therefore his number was 3,000.
A real-life black friend recalled hearing a speech given by the Rev. James M. Lawson who estimated the number at 50 million. For those who don’t know, Lawson played a pivotal role in organizing the Freedom Riders working with students primarily from Fisk University and Tennessee State including Diane Nash and Congressman John Lewis. Lawson was a serious activist during the civil rights era and has some credibility on the subject.
There’s quite a difference between 3,000 and 50 million so I wanted to consider ways to narrow the gap, assuming the true answer is somewhere in the middle. I considered that there are other organizations besides the Klan that would qualify as white supremacists. I went back to the SPLC and looked at their designated hate groups, this doesn’t make them white supremacists as these groups include al sorts of haters and all the groups are not mostly white.
I felt safe in including the American Freedom Party which “exists to represent the political interests of white Americans.” They also want to return America to, “White Rule.” I added the American Renaissance and the Aryan Brotherhood. The Brotherhood seems to be hard to enter and leave with their motto, “Blood in, blood out!” They’re mostly a prison gang but run gambling and prostitution rings. The “Brotherhood of Klans” (different than the Imperial Klans of America, Knights of the Ku Klux Klan, and Church of the National Knights of the Ku Klux Klan) has gone international and claims to have about 250 Canadian members who I’m not including in my total. Looking at the various Klan organizations alone, I was starting to suspect my associate may have misled me with that 3,000 number. It could also have been an honest mistake.
Working backward alphabetically there was; White Revolution, White Lives Matter, Vinlanders Social Club, VDARE, United Constitutional Patriots… By the time I got to the League of the South (they want to politically dominate black people and other minorities. I was ready to accept that the number of white supremacists affiliated with groups in the United States exceeded 500,000 as estimated by one source. Then I read something that was truly disturbing which was that most white supremacists don’t affiliate with organizations. It’s probably because of the dues.
Most white supremacists do not belong to organized hate groups, but rather participate in the white supremacist movement as unaffiliated individuals. Thus the size of the white supremacist movement is considerably greater than just the members of hate groups. Among white supremacist groups, gangs are becoming increasingly important. -ADL
That made sense to me, the average white supremacist isn’t marching down the streets anymore in his/her robe and hood. It’s your co-worker, your pharmacist, the bagger at your local grocery store… your minister. White supremacists look just like your white neighbor, and maybe your neighbor is one?
Instead of working from the bottom number and adding up. I wanted to look at the 50 million number and see if I needed to reduce it. I said to myself, white supremacists would likely do white supremacists things; like vote in their self-interest. In the past Presidential election. A white supremacist would likely have viewed it would be in their self-interest to vote for Donald Trump as opposed to Hillary Clinton. How many people voted for Trump? Just under 63 million people.
Now I am not suggesting that everyone that voted for Trump is a white supremacist. A lot of wealthy people who wanted to get a lot richer with his tax cut might have voted for Trump. Desperate coal miners and their families thinking Trump would put them back to work. Blacks for Trump? No that was just a couple guys with signs at his rallies. The point is that no good information could be gleaned by looking at Trump voters.
I went back to my hypothesis that white supremacists do white supremacist things. I looked at states where people voted to legalize voter suppression. Who wanted to ban Muslims? How many people were Birthers? Who thought “both sides” were to blame in Charlottesville?
I never got close to establishing an exact number of white supremacists in America. I’m positive that 3,000 was a terribly low estimate. I wish I could have proved the 50 million number was wrong beyond all doubt, but I couldn’t. Assuming Trump hasn’t gotten himself Impeached and is still the Republican Nominee, he may get 63 million votes again and all of them won’t be white supremacists. It will be true they don’t mind mingling with them, however.
Previously published on medium
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I live in the DEEP South, I have not ever run into a member of the KKK and or any other white hate group. Its hard to find these white haters.
I think i agree with Paul below. I’ve lived all over this country and do not see the racists people you are projecting. Even if there were 250,000 white supremacists in the US (which I truly doubt) that would represent one tenth of one percent (0.1%) of whites in this country. As usual, our politicians have us focused on the 0.1% and ignoring the 99.9% good people. Don’t fall for the political manipulation being pushed onto you.
The idea that 50 million whites are racist (which was the bar you eventually came to is absurd. I can honestly say that I know maybe 200 white people pretty well. Maybe another 100 or 200 that I know well enough to at least have an opinion about their views on race. Maybe 1 or 2 are a little racist, and none would support the kkk. Assuming I know a sampling of the population of whites, my guess would put the racist estimate at 0 if they have to carry a kkk or other racist group’s card, up to 1… Read more »
Agree completely. I was composing my own comment and before posting, saw your comment and the other. My exact thoughts, but have other thoughts I will comment later. A very sad example in this article of ignorance and people influenced by politics.