White Nationalist Group Targets Colleges to Gain Members
Fliers and business cards were found on campus last month promoting an organization classified as a white supremacist hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center. This is a campaign strategy for the organization Identity Evropa.
Dubbed as ‘Project Siege,’ the ultimate goal for the campaign is to draw media attention by posting provocative posters, graffiti and other images to spread their influence. According to the Anti-Defamation League, 131 college campuses across 37 states have been targeted by the hate group in the past year.
Media strategist, Ryan Holiday describes this strategy in his book ‘Trust Me, I’m Lying: Confessions of a Media Manipulator’.
“The most powerful predictor of what spreads online is anger,” writes Holiday, noting that the extremes in society have a higher impact than stories that hold neutral tones. “The angrier an article makes the reader, the better.” In other words, the more ‘triggered’ people are to something, the more likely it is to spread across media platforms.
While this is a fairly modern approach, the message that Identity Evropa puts out is similar to what the Klu Klux Klan stood for in the 1920s. The ideologies expressed pertain to white nationalism, rejecting the notion of an inclusive society, and condemns diversity, seeing it as a flaw rather than a strength of the nation.
“My hope would have been that people, even the most racist of racists, would understand that these attitudes are not approved of in this country,” said Dr. Gary Klein, an American History professor at WCC.
Identity Evropa, self-proclaimed as a fraternity, was founded by Nathan Damigo, who served in the United States Marines and was discharged with less than honorable conditions. The discharge came after he was arrested, having robbed a taxi driver at gunpoint in California, under the belief that the driver was Iraqi.
The organization believes that white culture is under attack, and since the election of President Donald Trump, similar hate groups have been emboldened to speak out.
“What has changed is that discrimination has become cool again,” said Klein.
Discrimination against other races, religions and sects predates the nation’s founding, but in the 1960s a change was brought on by the baby boomers within the Civil Rights Movement, which sought to end segregation as well as racism.
“In the old days, if somebody was a racist, they would preface their remarks with ‘I’m not a racist’,” said Klein. “Now, these groups no longer say this. They just express their beliefs straight out.”
While WCC has seen graffiti like this in the past, what makes this incident more troubling is the organizational efforts behind it. In the 17 years that Klein has worked at WCC, he has never seen anything like it.
“We never had an organized effort to promote racial discrimination and nativism on this campus,” said Klein “We just never had it, and now we have it.”
“Never again will our voice not be heard in these institutions,” said Damigo in a video posted to announce kicking off Project Siege. Damigo told viewers that this movement is not going away. In August, Damigo announced his resignation from leadership to focus on “proper priorities in my personal life.” Eli Mosley is now the CEO of Identity Evropa.
The posters have been taken down and only fliers that have a stamp of approval from Student Involvement may be posted throughout campus.
County police are providing additional security against future activities, but neighboring institutions have had similar incidents recently. If any suspicious activity takes place individuals are advised to notify campus security at (914) 606-6911.