Connoisseur of Hate

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Professor Randy Blazak of the Portland State University Sociology Department is an expert on hate groups nationally and in the Pacific Northwest and especially youth in hate groups and hate groups in prison. He is the author of a soon-to-be released book entitled Hate Offenders. Metroscape® asked him to expand on some of the issues raised in Dr. Serbulo’s article. Dr. Blazak’s responses have been edited for brevity and clarity.

This article focuses on hate groups of the right. Are there groups of the left?

The FBI in defining terrorist groups lumps together groups like those associated with Timothy McVeigh [the Oklahoma City Bomber of 1995] and the Earth Liberation Front. The left wing groups tend to hate institutions like governments and corporations, while the right hates individuals who aren’t like them. There is some overlap between these groups, for instance on the war in Iraq, but the right believes it it’s a war to defend Israel and a global cabal of Jews. Right wing hate groups sometimes support Palestinian terror groups because they are united by anti-Semitism. And both are compelled by their sense of moral duty.

Has the worldwide web empowered these people?

Sure. Now there is a constant Klan rally on the web, whereas people used to be reticent about physically attending a rally. There is support for the formation of a Northwest Aryan Homeland that is discussed online. There is a constitution for it, a flag, a name… it’s sometimes called Cascadia.

What is the future of hate in the region?

When the economy is down, hate group activity goes up. Some people begin looking for people to blame for their losses in the American Dream. Hate group activity is largely driven by white working class males. They are looking for scapegoats [such as]… immigrants, a black president. When George Bush makes mistakes, it’s because he’s stupid, not because he’s white. When Obama does something these people don’t like, it [will] be because he’s black.

If the economy improves it’ll be harder for these groups to get an audience. Then the possibility of violence goes up; they feel the mainstream doesn’t get it—Timothy McVeigh is a good example of how that works.

A big trend is toward what is known as “leaderless resistance.” The web allows larger, amorphous groups with no structure to flourish. They’re harder to defeat because you can’t target the leadership. McVeigh and Terry Nichols were a group of two. The American National Socialist Workers Party is a local group made up of one person. Another trend is the growth of prison gangs. The European Kindred is one in the Oregon prison system. Oregon already has the highest incarceration rate per capita in the country. With the passage of Measure 57, the numbers in hate groups will grow and they’ll return to society with these racist views.