A new school year dawned at the University of South Dakota Monday, and with that sunrise came a brief glimpse of a shadowy underbelly of humanity.
Posters from a group calling itself the American Identity Movement (AIM) — not to be confused with another AIM from another era — were discovered tacked to several campus bulletin boards Monday morning. These flyers declared, among other things, that ethnic “diversity destroys nations,” according to reports from the Vermillion Plain Talk and USD’s Volante student newspaper.
This new AIM — classified as a white supremacist organization and hate group by entities such as the Anti-Defamation League and the Southern Poverty Law Center — is dedicated to “defending our nation against mass immigration and the scourge of globalism,” its website declares. To that end, its flyers were an attempt to find new recruits among the student population.
“(America) was initially a white, Anglo-Saxon, Protestant … state, despite the fact that there’s been quite a bit of immigration into the country,” Patrick Casey, the group’s president, said in a phone interview with the Plain Talk.
While Casey acknowledged that the U.S. is a nation of immigrants, he said the kind of immigration we’re seeing now “is really unprecedented in terms of not just the amount, but also the assortment. … I would argue that the melting pot has lost its selling powers.”
Based in Washington, D.C., AIM was founded as Identity Evropa in 2016 and adopted its new name last spring, according to the Plain Talk, but the group’s message is an old one. The volume and popular relevance of that message have risen and fallen with the times; these days, it appears to be on a disturbing upswing.
Most of the USD students who were targeted by AIM’s material Monday likely missed out. According to media accounts, the flyers — which had been posted in Muenster University Center, the Al Neuharth Media Center and Patterson Hall — were immediately reported to school officials and removed. A USD spokesperson said the flyers were taken down not for content, but because they violated the protocols for the posting of such material.
Whatever the reason, such actions don’t make groups like AIM go away, and they won’t make their message — and that mindset — disappear, either from the Vermillion campus or from America.
White nationalism, neo-Nazism and this ilk enjoy a more conspicuous presence in our country right now. There’s an emboldened attitude in these mentalities, a feeling that their views — which feed on fear and hatred, on distrust and differences — are more at home now in the nation’s mainstream and have more allies in many more and powerful places.
However, the fact that AIM’s flyers were immediately reported to USD authorities might suggest these views are still not so “mainstream,” at least yet.
Casey told the Plain Talk that his group wants to “open up the conversation” at colleges about race and immigration in America. “There’s really an oppressive and stifling atmosphere on college campuses … that really inhibits discussion of what I would argue are the most important issues that America is facing at this point: immigration, identity, race and so forth,” he said. “Obviously, these issues are discussed on college campuses, but only from the approved ideological perspectives — generally from kind of a critical theory, progressive, anti-white, anti-Western and often anti-male vantage point.”
With that, he played a victim card, bemoaning that his and similar viewpoints are being suppressed.
Perhaps, then, that’s the last thing we should permit …
For the sake of argument, perhaps we should let these people speak out and reveal themselves for what they truly are. Instead of letting them decry the “anti-white,” “anti-Western” and “anti-male” forces aligned against them, let them instead lay out their own perspectives and their own “anti” sentiments. Let them spell out who they’re with and who they’re against. Let them tell us who makes up the “assortment” that they find so objectionable.
Let them explain to us what THEY want America to look like.
But be forewarned: This can be a sometimes-ugly exercise in freedom, patience and tolerance.
However, maybe it’s better to let them speak — and let them remove all doubt — than to silence them and inadvertently shroud their intentions in deceptive, alluring cloaks …
… or, perhaps we’ve already learned the lessons this ancient hate has long taught us and are ready to react the way those who reported the flyers at USD responded Monday.
Of course, there are always new generations coming along with fresh minds to prey upon, as some are no doubt hungry to see.
This brand of predatory hate really is nothing new — only the times and the predators change. However, understanding it can let us see the thing for what it is; each of us can then judge what’s at its core and weigh it against what’s in our own hearts.
And THAT is what must conquer hate. Every single time.
Follow @kelly_hertz on Twitter.