Perhaps we need an internment camp for white folks. Not all white folks. I know a lot of white people. Some of my best friends are white, and they are overwhelmingly peace-loving people.
But we know who they are. White males between the ages of 18 and 45 who subscribe to an ideology of white nationalism. These people have similar physical markers and attire. They generally like to shave their heads and they wear black or camouflage military garb, and many wear white hoods for ceremonial worship. They subscribe to an ideology with historical roots we can trace back to Southern slavery, and later, Nazi political thinking from World War II.
The South has a long history of anti-government activities. It was white nationalists from South Carolina, afterall, who started the Civil War in an attempt to overthrow the government. Folks like Wade Michael Page, JT Ready and Jared Loughner all have an overwhelming sense of entitlement. Even liberal white males, folks like James Holmes, can be dangerous when they feel this sense of entitlement slip through their fingers.
We do not need to go very far to justify such a policy. After the attacks on the World Trade Center on September 11th, Michelle Malkin wrote a much celebrated defense for interning individuals who come from demographic groups we know have a potential for danger. Michelle Malkin’s book, In Defense of Internment, argued that given the stakes, racial profiling was an important tool that liberals were denying our security forces in the name of civil rights. Those pesky civil rights.
It is not an entirely impractical proposition, and these white nationalists have infiltrated our government. Arizona had to recall their Senate President, Russell Pearce, who had a cozy relationship with white nationalists. He even called JT Ready a “true patriot”.
Joe Arpaio, the so-called “toughest sheriff in America”, has built his reputation on catering to white nationalism, by instituting a system of racial profiling that has been a feeder program to the private prison industry.
Maybe the private prisons will take a look at the dollars and cents, and conclude it’s worth a shot, for the good of the country and their pockets. Latinos make up fully 30% of the Arizona population and the state government has managed to racially profile in a way that has been very specific and accommodating to the majority of the population. Perhaps the same can be done for white nationalists.
Civil rights activists are always saying, “what does an illegal immigrant look like?” to imply that this has something to do with race. And folks may say, “what does a white nationalist look like?” to imply that many white folks who are not white nationalists may get caught in the dragnet to root out these terrorists.
But the white folks I know are patriots. They would be proud to be pulled over by police officers questioning their status based on what they look like. What do they have to hide if they aren’t breaking the law?
As I said, the overwhelming majority of white folks are peace-loving people. Many are very religious, and its true that white nationalists make up a small fraction of the total white population. But white nationalists are able to move about freely in their communities because of what they look like, and even though the vast majority of whites are not violent, its obvious that the signs of white extremism are being ignored by these communities and allowing them to operate under the radar until it is too late as a result.
How many more good Americans have to die before we take these white nationalists seriously?
Of course, before I am accused of being serious, I am not. But given the arguments coming from conservatives over the last two decades over Islamic terrorists and immigrants, its curious that the same argument isn’t being applied to white nationalists. I wonder why.
Stephen A. Nuño, Ph.D., NBC Latino contributor and an Assistant Professor in the Department of Politics and International Affairs at Northern Arizona University. He is currently writing a book on Republican outreach into the Latino Community.