Prominent neo-Nazi Andrew Anglin ostensibly condemned the recent fatal stabbing of a black man in New York, claiming he fears it will compromise the public’s perception of white supremacists and increase discrimination against them.
His rhetoric draws heavily on the kinds of language often used by Muslims after an act of violence from extremist Islamic terrorists, as if to make a comparison between prejudice against Muslims and prejudice against white supremacists. But in reality, those comparisons just don’t make sense.
Anglin is the founder of the Daily Stormer, a website that the Southern Povery Law Center says is dedicated to spreading anti-Semitism, neo-Nazism, and white nationalism.
His writings include many offensive statements about African-Americans and how he believes they are “incompatible with whites” can’t help their “irrational outbursts of brutal violence are a part of their nature.”
So it may have initially caught some off-guard when Anglin condemned the recent murder of Timothy Caughman, a black man fatally stabbed by a white man on Monday. Police arrested James Harris Jackson for the killing, and said the 28-year-old suspect told them he traveled from Baltimore specifically to kill black men and that he had plans to kill more.
In a blog post on Wednesday, Anglin denounced the slaying but for reasons that have nothing to do with an innocent man losing his life for hateful reasons.
Instead, Anglin’s purported rationale for condemning the murder was a little more outlandish. He claimed to believe it was going to paint white supremacists in a bad light and lead to discrimination against them.
But if the words in Anglin’s post seem oddly familiar, it’s because he’s purposely co-opting words and phrases used to combat Islamophobia. He even goes so far as to call white supremacy a “religion of peace” ― a phrase often used to describe Islam:
“Though we should acknowledge the tragedy of what Jackson did, the most important thing for us to remember is that he does not represent White Supremacy. White Supremacy is a religion of peace, and the overwhelming majority of White Supremacists are peaceful members of society who do not agree with stabbing random black people with swords.
“The attack has nothing at all to do with the religion of White Supremacy, and white supremacists are under no obligation to apologize for this attack.
In fact, White Supremacists are now going to be subject to unfair scrutiny and prejudice in light of this attack. There is a threat now that people with swastika tattoos, Screwdriver t-shirts, shaved heads or other cultural symbols of White Supremacy will be unfairly discriminated against after this attack.”
Anglin also pontificated about whether white supremacists will be forced to cover up their swastika tattoos, or risk being victimized by “bigots who would wrongly associate them with this attack.” That statement, of course, has echoes of widespread reports of Muslim women afraid to wear the hijab because of physical and verbal attacks caused by anti-Islamic sentiment.
Those allusions were clear to Nazir Harb, a post-doctoral senior research fellow and Islamophobia expert at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C.
“[Anglin] knows what he’s doing,” Harb told HuffPost. “He’s trying to justify acts of white supremacy — acts that are unjustifiable — and ridicule valid and legitimate anti-Islamophobic arguments at the same time. It’s an attack on Muslims within a troubling defense of a white supremacist murderer.”
But Harb explained that the comparison just doesn’t stand up to close scrutiny.
“It is textbook false equivalence,” he said. “White supremacy is not a religion. It’s a hateful, racist ideology with dangerous political and demographic aims. It is a social ill that’s been condemned by the U.S. government as both an ideology and a growing number of hate groups across the country based on that ideology.”
As even more evidence Anglin is intentionally co-opting anti-Islamophobic phrases to promote his hateful worldview, he ends his post by proposing white supremacists and the people who inexplicably love them signal their support on Twitter with #IllRideWithYou.
He says it will be a way to connect neo-Nazis and other racists with people happy to accompany them to work to make sure they get there safe.
That hashtag was previously used by Australians fighting Islamophobia by reaching out to Muslims in their communities. And Anglin co-opting the hashtag wasn’t accidental ― he expressly linked to a Mic story about the hashtag in his post.
This story has been updated to include comments from Harb and more information about Anglin’s blog post and rhetoric.