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Commentary: Fighting hate

A national white identity group is putting its stickers in OKC’s high-traffic areas.

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Hate groups gather Aug. 12, 2017, in Charlottesville, Virginia. - BIGSTOCK.COM
  • Bigstock.com
  • Hate groups gather Aug. 12, 2017, in Charlottesville, Virginia.

In November 2018, former Oklahoma Gazette reporter Ben Luschen found one while hiking near Cushing and took a photo on his cellphone. Then, shortly before Christmas, the sticker for the white identitarian/hate group Identity Evropa began appearing in prominent locations throughout the Oklahoma City metro area, showing up in Midtown, Nichols Hills, downtown Edmond and Campus Corner in Norman. More showed up in Kingfisher, Enid and Tulsa’s Brookside district.

If you paid attention to coverage of Unite the Right, the hate rally held Aug. 11-12, 2017, in Charlottesville, Virginia, that resulted in the death of a counter-protester Heather Heyer, chances are you saw the Identity Evropa logo, a Germanic symbol known as the “dragon’s eye,” on the white polo shirt worn by University of Nevada Reno student Peter Cvjetanovic as he marched with a tiki torch and chanted “You will not replace us” and “Blood and soil.” The latter phrase was coined by German proto-Nazis in the late-19th century to express a racially unified group (“blood”) tied to a specific area (“soil”).

The logo stickers along with one featuring a midcentury white family opening presents and captioned with the phrase “Merry Christmas from Identity Evropa” have gone up all over the country in the past two months. The group posts photos on Twitter every time one goes up. It is a concerted effort to get their messages of hate and division into high-traffic areas around the U.S. On Dec. 5, the group unfurled a massive banner from an overpass at Georgia Tech in Atlanta, Georgia. The banner said, “America First” and “End Immigration,” and all of this comes at a time when the president of our nation, a man who uses the first phrase at rallies, has engineered a federal government shutdown in an effort to fund a border wall.

After this week, Google must think I’m some kind of monster, but even without search engine-enabled research, my memory is long on this issue. Shortly after college and five months after I joined Oklahoma Gazette as a staff writer, a terrorist with direct links to the Christian Identity movement attacked our city. He was known to frequently quote William Pierce’s 1978 white supremacist novel The Turner Diaries, a book depicting the violent overthrow of the federal government and the genocide of non-whites.

Less than a year later, I traveled to Elohim City, a white separatist compound near Sallisaw and a place that terrorist allegedly visited before the attack. Nearly a quarter-century later, I still have nightmares about Robert Millar and his followers, who have spent decades living apart from society in genetic seclusion, preparing for a race war.

I would say that this kind of rhetoric has no place in our country, but plenty of people are proving me wrong right now by spewing hate from high places and trying to legitimize speech that is completely antithetical to my ideals and the ideals of most Oklahoma Gazette readers. But more importantly, any attempt to recruit new members for hate groups in the city where 168 people died at the hands of a white separatist is an insult to their memory and an attack on a still-grieving population.

Ask members of Identity Evropa if they are members of a hate group and naturally they will deny it, but if your website includes links to an article co-written by Unite the Right organizer Richard Spencer that uses data from 1994’s The Bell Curve, a widely discredited study claiming that IQ levels are linked to race, your group is racist. If your group distributes posters with dog-whistle phrases like “Protect your heritage,” “Only we can be us” and the particularly odious in #MAGA times “Let’s become great again,” your group is racist. If your followers argue that Aristotle said democracy could not survive in a racially diverse society but their source is Why We Fight by French white nationalist and Marine Le Pen acolyte Guillaume Faye, do I really need to say it?

On Dec. 12, President Donald Trump resumed efforts to deport Vietnamese immigrants who were granted asylum after the fall of Saigon and the end of the Vietnam War. Under his argument, anyone from Vietnam or Cambodia who entered the country before 1995, when the U.S. and Vietnam resumed diplomatic relations, can be deported.

There is no good reason to do this other than to placate the kind of people who post Identity Evropa stickers on utility poles, and again, this is a direct insult to the people of Oklahoma City, especially the churches that sponsored thousands of refugees as they arrived from Fort Chaffee, Arkansas. They came here, they built lives and raised families and they made our city better and richer for their presence. Our thriving Asian District is a testament to what can be accomplished through generosity, hard work and ingenuity.

I understand that Identity Evropa stickers can be removed fairly easily. If you see one, feel free to do so. Unfortunately, removing hate is an ongoing process.

NAZARENE HARRIS
  • Nazarene Harris

George Lang is editor-in-chief of Oklahoma Gazette and began his career at Gazette in 1994. He is married to Laura Lang, which greatly improves his likeability. | Photo Nazarene Harris

Opinions expressed on the commentary page, in letters to the editor and elsewhere in this newspaper are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of ownership or management.

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