Aryan Nations -- sociological context
Aryan Nations is an extremist community in the U.S. that uses Christian religious ideology and neo-Nazi types of thinking in an attempt to influence the masses. The group is based on the Church of Jesus Christ Christian, which is itself a branch of the Christian Identity Movement. The group has been reported to engage in a series of illegal activities including acts of terrorism meant to either harm or to intimidate individuals belonging to communities believed to be inferior from the Aryan Nations' point-of-view. The Aryan Nations organization has come to exist as a result of a series of extremists coming together and realizing the influence they could have as a result of engaging in intimidating acts with the purpose to persecute particular groups.
Even with the fact that they are a well-known white supremacist group, there is much controversy with regard to the Aryan Nations. This is because they are typically reluctant to provide outsiders with the opportunity to observe them or to research information on them. Even with this, according to Richard Schaefer, "sociologists do not necessarily need to collect new data in order to conduct research and test hypotheses. The term secondary analysis refers to a variety of research techniques that make use of previously collected and publicly accessible information and data" (Schaefer, 2012, p. 39) As a consequence, the present essay is going to concentrate on taking information from past sources and attempt to provide readers with a succinct explanation of the Aryan Nations community.
Aryan Nations -- a terrorist group?
The Aryan Nations is responsible for being extremely violent in an attempt to achieve their white supremacist goals. Even with this, the fact that the group is divided into several branches makes it difficult for someone to actually gain a complex understanding of the degree to which its founders played a role in many of these violent acts. The community represented a point of interest for a great deal of individuals, and the fact that some of these people expressed conflicting views (supported by solid arguments) on the Aryan Nations brings further controversy to the matter, as it is difficult to determine whether the group is a terrorist organization or if it really involves people obsessed with Nazi ideologies, but who are actually limited in their endeavor.
Many individuals join groups similar to the Aryan Nations simply because they are supportive with regard to the idea of violence and thus see this community as an environment where they can cultivate their interests (Merton). Even with this, there are a series of reasons why people enrolled in the organization, with backgrounds and beliefs playing an important role in shaping the thinking of individuals wanting to join it. "A better knowledge of the demographic characteristics of the group and a clearer understanding of why people join the group will provide information that may be useful in predicting not only who will join such a group, but also -- of those people who do join -- predicting who is most likely to commit a deviant act." (Borgeson & Valeri, 2009, p. 4)
According to Borgeson and Valeri (2009, p. 5), approximately 75% of the persons who join these group claimed that they came from working class families. In contrast, only 25% said that they came from middle or upper class families. Taking this into account, it would be safe to say that there is a correlation between underprivileged individuals and their tendency to distrust the authorities. The fact that these people came from lower income environments also made it probable for them to receive a poorer education and to thus have lesser chances to upgrade their social status.
Aryan Nations members who served in the military were specific about the reasons why they chose to join the organization. These people came to develop distrust with regard to the government while on duty -- they felt let down by the fact that society promoted a "Jewish conspiracy" by allowing numerous Jewish individuals to have high positions in the country (Powers).
There is much controversy with regard to why the Aryan Nations express dislike toward Jewish individuals, with the most probable reason being associated with their tendency to see high ranking Jewish...
"Consistent with theories of hate, moral exclusion, and prejudice, Aryan Nation members not only view themselves as inherently different from Jews, but also superior to them." (Borgeson & Valeri, 2009, p. 85)
Members of the Aryan Nations are determined to do a series of actions that would defeat what they perceive as being a Zionist government. By coming together in smaller communities, the organization's followers believe that they have more chances to rise against their 'oppressors'. Staying together is apparently a particularly important concept for the community, with meetings in particular being considered a 'special time' during Aryan Nations members can appreciate the presence of individuals with the same mindset and who are thus likely to cooperate in cases when they are provided with the opportunity to do so. During meetings Aryan Nations members are encouraged to favor non-Jewish white American individuals and to consider that only by staying together will they be able to keep the race alive (Simi & Futrell, 2010, p. 111)
Society's acceptance of extremist groups
In spite of the fact that the Aryan Nations is widely known for its discriminatory ideas and for the fact that it promotes violence against particular groups, the authorities seem to have a limited influence over the community. It seems that the world has started to show acceptance with regard to less tolerant views, as it is presumably relatively normal for individuals to express their discriminatory ideas in the open without having to suffer penalties as a consequence. "If we read, see, and hear only what we know and agree with, we may be much less prepared to meet people from different backgrounds or converse with those who express new viewpoints." (Schaefer, 2012, p. 140) This explains why members of the Aryan Nations tend to maintain their convictions as a consequence of staying together.
The masses seem to have trouble getting involved in actions against extremist groups precisely because this might be interpreted as a form of discrimination by itself. With the Aryan Nations being a somewhat religious organization, its members often lobby with regard to how the authorities need to acknowledge their religious ideas and provide them with support as they attempt to integrate the social order.
The fact that there is a form of color-blind racism in the U.S. In the present further contributes to groups such as the Aryan Nations being provided with lesser attention. Individuals responsible for putting across racist ideas characteristic to this trend are generally inclined to refrain from openly expressing their beliefs. "Thus, many White people can convince themselves that they are not racist -- nor do they know anyone who is -- and yet remain prejudiced against "welfare mothers" and "immigrants." (Schaefer, 2012, p. 233) It is actually these kind of people that unknowingly provide support for extremist organizations: they consider that the fact that supremacist communities only target particular groups is not as negative as it might seem.
Discrimination can be widely seen in the U.S. society in the present, with some people actually benefiting as a result of belonging to a particular community likely to be discriminated. Furthermore, discrimination also makes it possible for the majority to get privileged treatment at the expense of others. Working class individuals are thus likely to join groups such as the Aryan Nations as a consequence of considering that the authorities ignore their needs in order to provide for others (Oliveiro & Lauderdale). These respective 'others' are individuals from groups that the Aryan Nations do not identify with and thus believe that it would be perfectly normal for them to go through great efforts to put an end to such practices, even if this means that they have to go against the government in the process.
The Aryan Nations have reached their current status through recruiting individuals who felt that the authorities did not support them and who considered that the only solution for them was to rebel against established powers in spite of the suffering they cause while doing this.
Borgeson, K. & Valeri, R. (2009). "Terrorism in America." Jones & Bartlett Learning.
Merton, R.K. "Insiders and Outsiders: A Chapter in the Sociology of Knowledge." American Journal of Sociology, Volume 78, Issue 1, Varieties of Political Expression in Sociology (Jul., 1972), 9-47
Oliveiro, A. & Lauderdale, P. "Terrorism as Deviance or Social Control Suggestions for Future Research." International Journal of Comparative Sociology 2005; 46; 153.
Powers, K. "When Hate Inhabits Space: The Aryan Nation's use of Free Space in Idaho and the State's Refusal to be defined by the White Power Movement." Kathleen Powers History 400 University of Puget Sound Professor Doug Sackman May, 13, 2011.
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