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Est. April 5, 2002
March 29, 2018 - Issue 735

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The Media Has to Do a Better Job
Calling Out Racial Hatred

By Dr. Elwood Watson, PhD
"What is important is for the mainstream media to come
to develop an  understanding of what racial and religious
prejudice actually is and come to the realization that
they have to aggressively call out racism, anti-Semitism,
xenophobia and other forms of attitudes and dispositions
for what they are - pure and unadulterated hatred"

Earlier this month, the Huffington Post  ran an exclusive, detailed expose on Dayanna Volitich, the 25 year old middle school social studies teacher and White Supremacist advocate who up until recently (she has been removed from her position pending a full investigation) taught at Crystal River Middle School caused more than a few tongues to start wagging. To those of us who read the story, we became aware of the fact that the previously largely unknown Volitich harbored vehemently racist, sexist, anti-Semitic and xenophobic viewpoints on social media and her White Nationalist podcast “Unapologetic” under the pseudonym “Tiana Dalichov.”

Like many bigots, her targets were the usual targets of White racist racial hatred – Blacks and Jews. Other non-Whites and non Christians did not escape her paranoid, deluded wrath. In fact, Volitich saw Muslims so deplorable and such a supposed menace to society that she advocated for their total eradication of their existence from society. Hmmm? For those of us who are students an scholars of history, such perverse rhetoric sounds eerily similar to that of more than a few mentally unstable and sadistic dictators who were responsible for centuries of incomprehensible atrocities.

To add insult to injury, when her activities were exposed, rather than come clean about the fact that she had been busted, she reverted to the outlandishly, intellectually dishonest claim that her were merely nothing more than a form of “political satire and did not represent her professional career. Oh, by the way, did I mention that she has lavished immense praise on former KKK Grand Wizard David Duke?! Sounds like a bonified White Supremacist to me!

Okay! We have head this line before. When racists anti-Semites, homophobes xenophobes and other assorted social misfits get caught poring gasoline on racially inflammatory fire, more often than not, their first response is to deny their culpability. Once they realize that such a disingenuous response is insufficient, they resort to the standard line “if anyone was offended, I deeply apologize. Such actions are no a reflection of who I am” or some other pitiful, pathetic non apology, apology. Anyone with any semblance of moral decency knows better than to believe such insincere dishonesty.

What is even more disturbing is the fact that Volitich is just the latest of growing number of educators teaching young children who has ties to right wing ideology and groups. Since 2016, more than a dozen educators have been exposed for their White nationalist viewpoints. From elementary school teachers to high school principals, to private school teachers to guidance counselors, these racist men and women have attempted to infiltrate their ideology into action. Such a fact in and of itself is alarming, though admittedly not surprising.

The fact that Volitich is only 25 years old, an adult to be sure, but a very young millennial (those born between 1980-1998) largely dispels the myth that younger people are more racially and socially progressive and inclusive than previous generations. Indeed, when millions of Americans watched in varied sates of emotion as hundreds of White men dressed in khaki pants, polo shirts, clean cut hairstyles and other forms of conservative attire marched across the University of Virginia campus shouting “blood and soil” “you will not replace us.” Jews will not replace us.” The vast majority of these men were in their 20 and early 30s. In fact, recent studies have indicated that while millennials harbor more progressive stances on issues like drug use and gay marriage, they are likely to hold views on race that are just as conservative as their older Generation X'ers and Baby Boomer counterparts.

Ugly incidents roiled college campuses over the past few years ranging from ivy league institutions, to prestigious small liberal arts colleges. To land grant institutions and regional state universities. To community colleges and junior colleges. Some campuses became so volatile that several administrators, including a few presidents, either decided or were forced to step down from their positions. Given the fact that many young people are influenced by their parents, neighbors, relatives, many who likely harbor disdain for others who are different from themselves, such retrograde attitudes from these young adults should not come as a surprise.

What is important is for the mainstream media to come to develop an understanding of what racial and religious prejudice actually is and come to the realization that they have to aggressively call out racism, anti-Semitism, xenophobia and other forms of attitudes and dispositions for what they are - pure and unadulterated hatred!

To many journalists (especially those who hail from more upscale backgrounds) and others who see themselves as socially progressive are too often unable or unwilling to acknowledge the fact that people who physically look like them or share similar social, educational and economic identities do not differ in their value systems. Thus, they are more inclined to see racial prejudice as a product of poor White people or older White people, primarily over 65.

Ms. Volitich, many of the young guys who marched in Charlottesville last summer, the majority of spokespersons for the alt-right and others of their persuasion are, in many cases, the product of economic security, solid educations, in some cases prep schools. They live in Manhattan, Southampton, Scarsdale, Beverly Hills, Scottsdale and similar locations. They are not poor, but rather comfortably middle, upper middle class and in some cases, affluent White people.

Moreover. the widely held mainstream media assumption that only poor and lower income White people can harbor racist attitudes is one that has to rapidly be dispelled.

People directing hatred to others who are different from them is noting new. It is a phenomenon as old as the earth itself. Nonetheless, those of us who are committed to the cause of racial, religious social and other forms of justice must work tirelessly to defeat such hatred as well as ensure that all human beings are afforded the dignity and respect they deserve. Guest Commentator, Dr. Elwood Watson, PhD is Professor of History, African American Studies and Gender Studies at East Tennessee State University. He is the co-author of Violence Against Black Bodies: An Intersectional Analysis of How Black Lives Continue to Matter (New Critical Viewpoints on Society Series). Contact Dr.Watson.
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