Luke Visconti, CEO: What to Do When Your Neighbor Displays Hate Symbols

In this edition of "Ask the White Guy," DiversityInc CEO Luke Visconti addresses a reader's concerns about how to approach symbols historically rooted in hatred.

Luke Visconti is the founder and CEO of DiversityInc. Although the title of his column is meant to be humorous, the issues he addresses and the answers he gives to questions are serious—and based on his 16 years of experience publishing DiversityInc. Click here to send your own question to Luke.


Q: 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.

A: The Celtic Cross (not the lion), the Confederate Battle Flag, the "Don't Tread on Me" 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.

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 might be. I'd also do an Internet search for your neighbor to see what comes up.

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

Regarding current events, Missouri has 23 hate organizations; you can see that the Ku Klux Klan is among them. You'll find information on the Southern Poverty Law Center website; inform yourself. This symbolism isn't random and isn't benign. Nativist, neo-Nazi and racist groups have been on the rise—and are a part of American history. 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.

If you're in Missouri and are waiting for the grand jury's decision, understand that law enforcement may not be on your side if you report a hate crime. If you missed it, during the Ferguson protests there was a widely distributed video of a policeman who raised an assault rifle on the crowd and said "Go fuck yourself" when asked his name. There was another police officer in the local area who quipped, "Where is a Muslim with a backpack when you need one?" Both thugs have since been fired, but I'm quite sure they're not the only ones in the local police forces surrounding St. Louis, given the law-enforcement statistics that show Black people are targeted, despite white people having contraband in their car at a higher percentage.

I don't know what other reason there could be for Ferguson's police chief to still have his job other than institutionalized racism. I fervently hope Governor Nixon resigns to find a job he is qualified for. I don't know if he's a racist, but he's incompetent—a great example of the rampant white affirmative action that hurts our country so badly. This kind of incompetence nurtures hate and hate groups. There's a reason why Missouri beats Alabama for the number of hate groups in the state.

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At the 2018 DiversityInc Top 50 event, more than 400 people were in attendance during the day to hear best practices on effectively managing diversity and inclusion.

Moderator: Luke Visconti, CEO, DiversityInc

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