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Hate Groups' Newest Target
Posters on Stormfront complain that Obama represents the end of "white rule" and the beginning of "multiculturalism." They fear that he will promote affirmative action, support illegal immigration and help render whites, who make up two-thirds of the U.S. population, "the new minority."
"I get nonstop e-mails and private message from new people who are mad as hell about the possibility of Obama being elected," said Black, a white power activist since the 1970s. "White people, for a long time, have thought of our government as being for us, and Obama is the best possible evidence that we've lost that. This is scaring a lot of people who maybe never considered themselves racists, and it's bringing them over to our side."
Almost all white power leaders said they are benefiting from the rise in recruits. David Duke, a former Louisiana state representative and a longtime advocate of racial segregation, said hits to his Web site have doubled and that more organizations now request him as a guest speaker. Dan Hill, who runs an extremist group in northern Michigan, says his cohorts are more willing to "take serious action" and plan rallies to protest politicians and immigration. Roper says White Revolution receives about 10 new applicants each week, more than double the norm.
The past few months reflect a recent trend of hate group growth, watch organizations said. Fueled primarily by anti-immigration sentiment, white supremacy groups have increased by nearly half since 2000, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center, which monitors hate groups. The KKK has diversified regionally and now has about 150 chapters spread through 34 states.
"Our side does better when the public is being pressured, when gas prices are high, when housing is bad, when a black man might be president," said Ron Doggett, who runs a white power group called EURO in Richmond. "People start looking for solutions and changes, and we offer radical changes to what's going on."
The new interest has led to a debate among white supremacists about how to harness it. So far, groups have executed a few small efforts to disrupt Obama's campaign. A bar in Georgia sells T-shirts depicting Obama's campaign slogan under the image of a monkey. A New York group distributed bumper stickers that read: "Wake up white people." Hill, who trains in militia and survival techniques with his group in northern Michigan, drove to an Obama rally and tried to "fire people up, maybe get a riot started or something."
The groups also despise Republican Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) for his moderate views on immigration and his willingness to stick with the Iraq war. Better for Obama to win, leaders said, because his presidency could fuel a recruitment drive big enough to launch events that the white power movement has spent decades anticipating.
"One person put it this way: Obama for president paves the way for David Duke as president," said Duke, who ran for president in 1988, received less than 1 percent of the vote and has since spent much of his time in Europe. "This is finally going to make whites begin to realize it's a necessity to stick up for their own heritage, and that's going to make them turn to people like me. We're the next logical step."
There is also another possibility, of course, one that makes white power leaders despise Obama even more.
"What you try not to think about is that maybe if Obama wins, it will create a very demoralizing effect," Doggett said. "Maybe people see him in office, and it's like: 'That's it. It's just too late. Look at what's happened now. We've endured all these defeats, and we've still got a multicultural society.' And then there's just no future for our viewpoint."