ALTHOUGH THE collapse of historically racist groups like the Klu Klux Klan is cause for modest celebration, African Americans are right to suspect, for reasons beyond the racist rantings of Mark

Furhman, that white racism is not entirely dead; rather, it operates in a new guise.

Last year I attended a conference at the Hilton Hotel in Atlanta to witness first-hand what white racist groups are evolving toward. The atmosphere was one of an academic conference; its organizer was Jared Taylor, a gaunt Southerner and author of "Paved With Good Intentions: The Failure of Race Relations in Contemporary America," which expounds upon the follies of multiculturalism. In a newsletter called American Renaissance that he edits under the name Samuel Taylor, Jared Taylor's agenda is more explicitly set forth. One can find within its pages items -- some by Taylor, some unsigned -- such as: "An acceptance of racial differences might be good for blacks \. \. \. . {Historically} the assumption of inferiority made it easier to accept meager circumstances;" "More and more whites are rediscovering what their ancestors took for granted: a natural preference for and loyalty to their own race;" and "American slaves had some surprisingly positive things to say about slavery."

These themes were elaborated at the Atlanta conference. As I made my way to the first session, notebook in hand, I was surprised to see David Duke in the elevator. He looked tan and sporty and was accompanied by a burly man who appeared to be his bodyguard. I asked Duke if he planned to attend the conference. No, he said, the organizers asked him not to show up because it might undermine their credibility. But Duke said he planned to have associates at the meetings, and I spotted him several times in the hotel, sharing experiences with Taylor.

Taylor's introductory lecture emphasized the horrors of whites living among blacks and immigrants. "As our population changes, our health standards will change, and it makes one wonder which will become the first American city in which we cannot drink the water." Suburbs are "shrinking enclaves where Anglo-American civility prevails." Other groups may be well-behaved but it "is our right, our duty, not to let our country become full of people who are utterly unlike ourselves."

Taylor reserved his greatest contempt, however, for whites who refuse to embrace their whiteness and fight back. Blacks and immigrants despise whites, according to Taylor, and well they should. "We are despicable. Unless we defend our racial interests and put them first, we will disappear."

In a subsequent conversation, Taylor said that while he did not approve of slavery, many slaveholders thought the alternative was "Negro pandemonium." Their fear, Taylor said, may have been borne out. About integration: "The black separatists are right." About whites who are uncivilized and disposed to crime: "They may be boobs, but they're our boobs." About violence, Taylor said whites cannot afford to reject the possibility in self-defense: "When it happens, the divisions will be along racial lines."

One of the star speakers at the conference was philosopher Michael Levin, who has gained notoriety at City College of New York for his racial views. A bespectacled academic with a nasal voice, Levin proceeded to explain why blacks are less intelligent and less motivated than whites. Black inferiority, he argued, is "overwhelmingly likely to be genetic. It is not the result of racism. Are white children taught to metabolize glucose differently than black children?" {Laughter.}

Since, in his view, blacks are naturally more criminally oriented, Levin suggested the desirability of race-conscious policies. Perhaps blacks could be treated as adults by the criminal system at an earlier age "given that blacks mature more quickly than whites." He suggested expedited trials for African-American defendants "since they have a shorter time horizon." He said the police should be permitted to stop young black males driving expensive cars, since there was probable cause to believe they were felons.

Another popular speaker was Samuel Francis, a Southern conservative who writes for the Washington Times. A lively controversialist, Francis began with some largely valid complaints about how the Southern heritage is demonized in mainstream culture. He went on, however, to attack the liberal principles of humanism and universalism for facilitating "the war against the white race." At one point he described country music megastar Garth Brooks as "repulsive" because "he has that stupid universalist song, in which we all intermarry." His fellow whites, he insisted, must "reassert our identity and our solidarity, and we must do so in explicitly racial terms through the articulation of a racial consciousness as whites \. \. \. . The civilization that we as whites created in Europe and America could not have developed apart from the genetic endowments of the creating people, nor is there any reason to believe that the civilization can be successfully transmitted to a different people."

Francis was followed by Lawrence Auster, author of "The Path to National Suicide," a tract denouncing immigration. Auster began conventionally enough, with attacks on affirmative action, but then he proceeded to a horrific portrait of immigrants epitomized by animal sacrifice cults, Dominican drug dealers, and Muslim extremists and terrorists. Auster argued that "white America can survive demographically and culturally only if it recognizes itself as a threatened ethnoculture \. \. \. . It is the current race-blind ideology that is insane."

For me, the only nonwhite there, the conference provided a revealing spectacle. Here were 200 amateur "biologists" conversing with great assurance about intelligence quotient, validity coefficients, and the findings of controversial educational psychologist Arthur Jensen and the late Richard Herrnstein, co-author of "The Bell Curve." Here were people who were by all appearances urbane and educated, yet they did not flinch from terms like "chink" and "nigger." Indeed more than once I heard someone say that it was highly significant that he was not socially permitted to call blacks "nigger" when blacks themselves used the term with each other. One man knowingly observed that the physical nature of blacks and the intellectual nature of whites is perfectly captured in the white tendency to refer to "our minds" while blacks refer to "our heads." Several participants invoked affirmative action as proof of the basic uncompetitiveness of blacks in American society.

I tried to argue with some of the participants, pointing out to one activist evidence showing how productive Cubans, West Indians and many Asian groups were; his lack of interest confirmed my suspicion that he feared increased influx from these groups because they were productive -- immigrant competition threatened him, just as immigrant dependency appalled him.

With another man I raised questions about the claim that the historical record of blacks proved natural inferiority. He replied, "If blacks can run a civilization on their own, how come they have messed up every single time? Look at Haiti \. \. \. . South Africa is going down the tubes next." Finally there were the ones who did not openly praise the Skinheads but implied that at least they had convictions and were doing something: Better to light a cross than to curse the darkness!

What struck me as most novel in this new spirit of white bigotry was that it had much in common with black nationalism, to which it is even, in some aspects, a response. The stylistic similarities were apparent at a recent demonstration in Myrtle Beach, S.C., to promote use of the Confederate flag. Whites carried banners and wore T-shirts with the messages, "You Wear Your X and I'll Wear Mine," "It's a White Thing" and "The Original Boyz in the Hood."

Just as blacks such as Stokely Carmichael and Malcolm X argued in the l960s that they could fight white power only with black power, so today whites like Jared Taylor seem persuaded that they cannot fight black power with universalism; what is needed is a revived spirit of white racial consciousness. As one Atlanta activist put it, echoing Malcolm X: "We have the right to preserve our culture, by any means necessary."

Other parallels abound. Claims of white biological superiority are mirrored by the claims of some Afrocentrists about the magical and even supernatural properties of melanin. Scientists consider melanin to be a mere coloring agent in the skin, but for Afrocentrists such as Frances Cress Welsing, a former professor of social work at Howard University, melanin puts blacks "in touch with the God force." Welsing contends that white "genetic defectives" have been driven into a psychotic and terroristic rage "primarily from their own colorlessness." Just as white racists such as Taylor counsel militancy among whites, so Welsing argues that blacks must adopt a warrior mentality.

Melanin theories are frequently taught in colleges and inner-city public schools as part of an Afrocentric curriculum. Even widely respected Afrocentrist Molefi Asante contends that melanin is partly responsible for blacks having a humane "palm tree mentality" while whites exhibit a bloodthirsty "caveman mentality."

And, of course, paranoia about immigrants and Jews, long the mainstay of white extremists, has found its way into the thinking of black extremists. Rap singer Ice Cube, for example, warns Korean storekeepers in his best-selling album "Death Certificate" that "your little chop-suey ass will be a target;" black activists in Brooklyn, led by attorney Sonny Carson, distributed pamphlets urging blacks not to buy from "people who don't look like us." Two black professors, Leonard Jeffries of City College of New York and Tony Martin of Wellesley College, are well known for tirades against Jewish influence in American culture and commerce; both are professed admirers of "The Secret Relationship Between Blacks and Jews," a study widely distributed by the Nation of Islam that purports to expose Jews as the historical enemies of blacks.

For their part, Taylor and his comrades express full agreement with many of the views expressed by black nationalists and groups such as the Nation of Islam. Both Taylor and David Duke have endorsed proposals for separate public schools for black boys, and Taylor is positively enthusiastic about a Nation of Islam proposal that the United States be partitioned into separate white and black nations. A virtually identical proposal appears in white racist Wilmot Robertson's l992 book "The Ethnostate."

If these seem like chance resemblances, white racists and black nationalists have collaborated directly to try to implement aspects of their shared vision. In the l920s, Marcus Garvey held a secret meeting with the Ku Klux Klan to seek financing for his "back to Africa" movement. In the early l960s, Malcolm X, acting on behalf of the Nation of Islam, approached the Klan to seek support for his separatist agenda. Recently white racists such as Skinhead Tom Metzger and black nationalists such as former Milwaukee alderman Michael McGee have appeared on the same platform to call for the overthrow of the U.S. government; members of both groups have attended meetings devoted to holocaust denial sponsored by a group called the Institute for Historical Review. African American writer Ishmael Reed wryly suggests that white and black separatists "ought to get together, to unite so as to save on overhead costs."

Thus America is faced with a new challenge: not the resurgence of the old-style Ku Klux Klan, but rather white racists and black nationalists united in opposition to what both groups perceive as their cardinal enemy: a universalist ideology that regards "race" as a trivial aspect of identity and that seeks to transcend it with policies that are not based on color or ancestry. Only if well-meaning Americans of all backgrounds unite behind such a race-neutral banner, will they be able to successfully oppose the new white racism and its black counterpart. Dinesh D'Souza, a scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, is author of "The End of Racism," just published by the Free Press, from which this is adapted.