Anissa Jackson of Homer, La., carries Confederate battle flags as she runs past the Civil Rights Memorial outside the Southern Poverty Law Center in Montgomery, Ala., on Friday, Oct. 22, 2004 (AP Photo/Dave Martin)
#WhiteGenocide: these were the words Indiana University students found written on fliers and in chalk around their campus last March. This white power message references the theory among supremacists that the increasing non-white population in the United States is a threat to eliminate “white culture.”
One student, Aidan Crane, explained in the Indiana Daily Student that he took it upon himself to tear down every flier he saw. He also encouraged his fellow Hoosiers to follow suit.
“Dangerous movements grow from small seeds,” Crane wrote. “We have a responsibility to stop racism and white nationalism whenever they rear their ugly heads.”
According to the Southern Poverty Law Center, the number of existing hate groups in the US has grown by 67 percent since the year 2000 and has increased by 813 percent since President Obama was elected into office, from 149 in 2008 to 1,360 groups in 2012.
The dramatic rise in hate groups over the past five years is also reflected in the copious amount of hate speech that’s been increasingly visible on college campuses.
Last fall, Towson University senior Michael Heimbach founded a “white student union” that conducted nighttime patrols in order to protect students from what he called the school’s “black crime wave.” After a series of racist symbols were found on campus (a Nazi flag and “whites only” sign above a water fountain), Oberlin College cancelled classes in March to hold a “Day of Solidarity.”
Most recently, an incoming freshman at Georgia State University named Patrick Sharp created another white student union, citing Heimbach as his inspiration.
While white student unions are generally met with resistance from other students on campus, college administrators defend their right to exist. Doug Covey, Georgia State’s vice president for student affairs, told The Huffington Post in August that he had already received a number of complaints, but “all students at the university enjoy the right to engage in free speech.”