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Ask the White Guy: What to Do When Your Neighbor Displays Hate Symbols

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Luke Visconti’s Ask the White Guy column is a top draw on DiversityInc.com. Visconti, the founder and CEO of DiversityInc, is a nationally recognized leader in diversity management. In his popular column, readers who ask Visconti tough questions about race/culture, religion, gender, sexual orientation, disability and age can expect smart, direct and disarmingly frank answers.

Ask the White Guy Luke ViscontiQuestion:

I have question about stormfront logos. Do they incorporate what looks like a Celtic lion coat of arms in any of their affiliated groups? I’m only curious because I have recently discovered a close neighbor who is displaying a Confederate flag as well as what I’m sure is a Celtic lion coat of arms. Any information on this would be highly appreciated.

Answer:

No doubt that the Celtic Cross (not the lion), the Confederate Battle Flag and other symbols such as the cross with bent arms (up) are used by white supremacists, skinheads, nativists and neo-Nazis. On the other hand, for some people, those symbols have meaning that is NOT racist or nativist and they’re displayed by people not in those groups and who are not sympathetic to those groups/movements. Finally, some people simply use those symbols ignorantly.

I will add that people who have neo-Nazi, nativist and/or white-supremacist opinions are not necessarily violent and may bear no ill-intent to someone who is not “white.”

However, be careful: Those symbols are often used by people who are either very violent or are associated with people who are.


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Five years ago I was the subject of a feature story in the National Vanguard magazine, the magazine of the National Alliance (a white separatist/neo-Nazi group). Although I didn’t agree with the article, it was only vaguely threatening (“When the future smiles on White folks again, we should remember Visconti and his crimes”). It was written by a man using a pseudonym (I found out his real name). However, the article did not mention where I live.

Regardless, I was pretty alarmed. I was not concerned for myself; I am a veteran and earned an expert pistol ribbon with the government, am a master rated rifle target shooter and am pretty handy with a shotgun. But I was deeply concerned for my family, as I travel on business.

I asked my friend Mark Potok at the Southern Poverty Law Center for advice and he told me to leave them alone–not to lash out in my own publication. He said that most people who display symbols and/or follow movements like this will usually leave you alone if unprovoked.

By the way, the person who most likely precipitated the National Vanguard story did not display any symbols on his house or car, although, at the time, he was very active posting his opinions on the Internet. I did not and do not consider him a threat to my life.

My advice is to not provoke your neighbor–don’t engage him/her in conversation about the symbols–and keep a close eye out for other changes. Watch for visitors; your neighbor may not be violent, but he may be associated with people who just might be. I’d also do an Internet search for your neighbor to see what comes up.

While you’re at it, look at www.splcenter.org and inform yourself. Much of this symbolism isn’t random and isn’t benign. Nativist, neo-Nazi and racist groups are on the rise–and keep in mind that it was only 85 years ago when the KKK had 6 million American members, a movement that was aided by public pro-Klan commentary from the virulent bigot President Woodrow Wilson.

Also, be careful who you rely on for help. Depending on where you live, law enforcement may be more sympathetic to your neighbor’s opinions than yours.

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4 Comments

  • Anonymous

    I am 65 yrs old and have heard all my life “don’t get involved”. This has emboldened the bad guys and scared the good ones. We all must get involved. It will take many voices of Americans to counter the effect of the corporate money which is spread around liberally to all elected officials. A corporation’s singular goal is PROFIT. Does anyone still believe that the citizens best interest is served by the overwhelming corporate influence on our lawmakers?

  • Anonymous

    Its a shame that our troops are fighting Terrorist in other countrys for our own safety ;yet individuals who never cared to serve for Our Freedom want to impose fear and try to terrorize our own Native Americans and Veterans who have every right to live in the USA .These people are Cowards and dont deserve to live here aswell..

  • Jonscott Williams

    As an African American HR professional (from the free and soverign state of Brooklyn!) who has lived and worked in the south for the past decade, I have seen Confederate sysmbols and incons in numerous places. I have worked with people who are Civil War enactors (guess which side) and have even been approached by employees about why, in light of the MLK Holiday, Confederate Memorial Day isn’t observed by a particular company (answer: it’s an observance of particular states vs. a federal observance).

    I’ve often wondered if those that display the bumper sticker with the Confederate battle flag accomanied by phrases like “Heritage not Hate” are willing to embrace ALL aspects of the heritage that flag represents, including the brutality of slavery. It would seem that political correctness has shaped the lexicon of those how profess to dislike it the most.

  • Anonymous

    Why is it that everybody think the confedercy was about slavery only. There was other issues greater than slavery that was the true root cause of the split/war. Read some history than restate your position on the flying of confederate flag. It’s part of the south heritage like it or not.

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