Embittered and resentful about an African-American assuming the office of the presidency, neo-Nazis and other white supremacists around the United States plan to observe Inauguration Day with largely symbolic activities. Others plan to exploit Obama's presidency as an opportunity to increase recruitment and delegitimize him as qualified to serve as President.
Day of the Flag
On Inauguration Day, several white supremacists around the United States plan to walk though their towns carrying American flags turned upside down, a traditional signal of "dire distress." Calling the event the "Day of the Flag," extremists intend to "take [their] message of Race and Nation out to the streets."
In early January, a Tennessee-based member of the Ku Klux Klan spearheaded discussion about the event on Stormfront, the most popular white supremacist Internet forum. Others posting to Stormfront responded with their hopes to use the Day of the Flag to attract media attention and an increased following. "SmokyMtnSS," a Tennessee-based white supremacist, posted the following to Stormfront, reflecting his optimism about manipulating the Obama inauguration as a way to recruit white people to the movement:
A negro being sworn in as President has our White Folk scared and they have no idea where to turn. That is where we come in. On that day, I want to see thousands of us, across the nation, with our upside down flags to show our people that they can turn to White Nationalism.
White supremacists have staged similar events, one in Tennessee in December 2008 to protest immigration and another in Michigan in November 2008, in reaction to Obama's victory.
Ku Klux Klan Members Encouraged to Wear Armbands
Shortly after the election, a member of the United Realms of America Knights of the Ku Klux Klan (URAKKKK) began encouraging fellow Klansmen to take action on Inauguration Day to voice their anger about having a black President. On the URAKKKK's Yahoo! discussion group, "klan.kleagle" issued a call "to all national Knights in all realms throughout the entire world," encouraging Klan members to wear black armbands, fly the "yankee flag" upside down, and fly Confederate flags on January 20 and 21. He went on to argue that "if white America does not wake up, we may never have another white president again."
Although extremists are staging largely symbolic demonstrations to express their anger, several white supremacists are attempting to take advantage of Obama's election victory as an opportunity to recruit. They are optimistic that an African-American in office will be the catalyst that will incite rage among white people around the country and prompt them to join white supremacist groups. To that end, several groups are publicly promoting themselves as the white person's solution to a country run by an African American with promises to galvanize white people to "save Western Civilization" and "take back [the] nation."
August Kreis, who leads a small faction of Aryan Nations, a neo-Nazi group, and who openly supports violence against minorities, is exploiting Obama's win as a way to attract a larger following. On the Aryan Nations Web site, Kreis questions, "White Man, Had enough yet? Tired of seeing your race put down? What's left for your children? Time to get involved?"
A Tennessee-based member of the Ku Klux Klan, in a post to Stormfront, wrote, "If there was ever a better opportunity than this to rally our white people to white nationalism, I can not [sic] think of it." The white supremacist League of American Patriots, a New Jersey-based group, posted an article to its Web site entitled "The Obomination is here: Join us now to help save Western Civilization."
Jeremy Eastwood, an Illinois Ku Klux Klan leader, issued a direct order to followers in an Internet post. He instructed others to "get out there and Recruit Recruit Recruit. We must take bake [sic] our nation that is being taking away."
The National Socialist Movement, the largest neo-Nazi group in the country, posted an article to its Web site, claiming that Obama's win will be the "spark that arouses the "white movement."
White supremacists have adopted a tactic (used by some right-wing conservatives, as well) that promotes the delegitimization of Obama as a qualified candidate for President. Extremists claim that he is not an American citizen due to his alleged failure to produce a birth certificate and was therefore unable to even seek office. Additionally, white supremacists claim that because they did not vote for Obama, he is not their chosen leader. A common rallying cry that has emerged from this effort is "Obama is not my President." Promotion of this theme figures largely in the extremist discussion about Obama, and Web sites have been created to focus on the issue.
In January 2009, North Carolina-based members of the neo-Nazi National Socialist Movement placed fliers in newspaper boxes in front of homes which declared that the country is "missing a legitimate President."
The League of American Patriots has discussed its efforts as "the only American organization that publicly questioned Obama's candidacy based on his Third World lineage" with a literature distribution campaign in New Jersey and Pennsylvania. On its Web site, the group urges followers to "always remember that Our People did not elect Barack Hussein Obama to be President."
In an article posted to his Web site, white supremacist and anti-Semitic attorney Edgar Steele attempted to use his legal background to validate the claims that Obama is not an American citizen. He wrote:
Incidentally, I have looked into all the evidence and reviewed the hoo-ha over Obama's birth certificate and the Constitutional meaning of the phrase requiring that a President be a "natural-born citizen" of the US and concluded that Obama truly does not qualify to be President. That is my seasoned and professional legal opinion, too, not just that of some de jure Constitutional sea lawyer.