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Thu Aug 8, 2019, 05:20 PM

El Paso massacre upends white nationalists' normalization strategy

Source: Reuters

RACE IN AMERICA

El Paso massacre upends white nationalists’ normalization strategy

Photography by Jim Urquhart
Story by Jim Urquhart and Nick Brown

PUBLISHED AUG. 8, 2019RUSSELLVILLE, ARK.

Two years ago, America’s white nationalist movement stunned the country. Neo-Nazi demonstrations in Charlottesville, Virginia, had turned deadly when a far-right protester drove a car through a crowd, killing one and injuring dozens. Some movement leaders regrouped. Instead of stoking outrage, they set out to build support with another tack: Looking normal.

The larger goal was what many white nationalists call “Phase 2” — gaining mainstream acceptance for far-right ideas widely rejected as repugnant and getting white nationalists into positions of influence. The normalization effort included softened rhetoric and social gatherings that, for many groups, would increasingly replace confrontational rallies.

“The strategy is internally focused now — having families get together,” said alt-right blogger Brad Griffin, a self-avowed white nationalist from Montgomery, Alabama. He fondly recalled a river-tubing trip he organized in 2018 for friends who had attended a local white nationalist conference. The goal of such low-key gatherings, he said, is to spread far-right ideology away from the public spectacle of a public protest. “It’s a lot more fun to do that than to go out and tangle with Antifa” — members of America’s far-left “anti-fascist” movement — “and get hit with piss balloons in the street.”

Griffin spoke in an interview before last weekend’s massacre in El Paso, Texas — an event that has scrambled the calculus for the movement’s aspiring normalizers.

On Saturday, authorities say, 21-year-old Patrick Crusius shot and killed 22 people and wounded two dozen more shortly after a manifesto appeared online explaining his motivation and decrying a “Hispanic invasion” of the United States.

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The shootings, and Trump’s repudiation, leave the normalizers in a difficult, perhaps impossible spot. Their gambit was always a stretch.

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Read more: https://graphics.reuters.com/USA-WHITE%20NATIONALST/0100B0DQ0VQ/index.html


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