Sikh Slayings: White Anxiety Gone Extreme

America's browning drives a backlash that found its most virulent strain in Wade Michael Page.

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According to the Anti-Defamation League, which also monitors America’s white supremacy groups, the names of these racists bands reveal what’s on their minds and in their hearts, names like Grinded Nig, Jew Slaughter and Aggravated Assault. “In keeping with its attempts to reach out to young people, one label, named Resistance Records, even markets a white supremacist video game, ‘Ethnic Cleansing,’ ” the ADL reports on its website. “The game is a first-person-shooter in which the player takes on the role of a white warrior in a future ‘Race War,’ who must kill all nonwhites to ensure ‘the survival of your kind.’ “

Although these virulent, malicious white supremacists, who wear their hate on their tattoo sleeves and everywhere else, are more or less a limited group of bigots, they may merely be the underbelly of a larger phenomenon.

When the Tea Party and other conservatives cry, “We want our country back,” it doesn’t take much imagination to translate what that means as the nation’s demographics and culture continue their colorful shift.

Mainstream conservatives have been spewing coded, dog-whistle racist messages since Ronald Reagan’s “Welfare Queen” speech in 1976 and the Willie Horton ad employed in the George H.W. Bush 1988 campaign against Michael Dukakis. More recently, the billionaire Koch brothers and their right-wing organization, Americans for Prosperity, were accused of buying a North Carolina school board in an effort to resegregate the Wake County school system.

So I wasn’t exactly shocked when conservatives attacked Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano when she issued a report in April 2009 warning that right-wing extremists threaten American security. The nine-page report, titled “Rightwing Extremism: Current Economic and Political Climate Fueling Resurgence in Radicalization and Recruitment,” documented the smoldering hate among the nation’s extreme right-wing groups, warning that some individuals might commit violent acts. “If such violence were to occur,” the report said, “it likely would be isolated, small-scale, and directed at specific immigration-related targets.”