White supremacy is on the rise. Not just in the U.S. but in nations across the globe.
This past weekend, Poland celebrated its 99th Independence Day with a number of ceremonies held in the capital. According to CNN, the celebrations were interrupted by a gathering of tens of thousands of nationalist protesters. The demonstrators reportedly carried banners that read abhorrent things like, “White Europe,” “Europe must be white” and “Pray for an Islamic Holocaust.” Other protesters sought to send a message to keep Poland Catholic and chanted, “Death to enemies of the homeland.”
CNN reported the National Radical Camp, a far-right movement in Poland often referred to as a neo-Nazi group, was the lead organization behind the march.
We have found ourselves wondering, with each new horrific demonstration, why these people do what they do. Support for these groups remains small. Those who align with their white-supremacist beliefs are viewed by society as nothing less than evil, heinous and foolish. Nevertheless there are people who continue to support white supremacy anyway.
No matter how hard we try, we can’t fathom how anyone could truly believe the things white supremacists and their supporters do. We can’t understand how anyone could fully believe they are more worthy of life than someone else simply due to uncontrollable circumstances like the color of their skin or the religion they follow. The only theory we could muster up that made even a little bit of sense to us is even they don’t really believe what they are doing is right.
Hear us out.
Adolf Hitler, Joseph Stalin and Benito Mussolini are, at this point, household names. Even if history isn’t your strong suit, you know they existed. These three men are perfect examples of the fact that when people act outrageously, they get remembered. For some people, this is the only goal they have. It doesn’t matter if their name goes down in infamy or in esteem, as long as they are remembered long after they are gone.
What we have begun to believe is this might be, at least in part, the driving force behind some of these white supremacists. Richard Spencer, for example, has a pretty good deal going with the National Policy Institute. As of 2017, the notorious alt-right figurehead has a net worth of $185 million. He was also ranked as the top paid activist of 2017. Although he is hated by most, he does maintain a gaggle of loyal followers who worship him. For better or worse, Spencer will be remembered long after he is gone.
According to the Associated Press and the Daily Mail, as of 2016, the top four white nationalist groups in the U.S. managed to rake in nearly $8 million in tax-deductible donations. These are the groups leading protests. These are the groups enticing others to join them. These are the groups spreading messages of hate. As they gain more loyal followers, they also gain more notoriety and money. Even if they might have reservations about the ideas they spread, they might value more the monetary reward and the certainty of a legacy.