The remnants of the sticky residue left from the removal of the Patriot Front stickers remain on the on-campus busts of social activist figures like Abraham Lincoln, Martin Luther King Jr. and Benito Juarez. Students are hoping to move forward with the denouncement of hate group activity on campus and with Homeland Security recently issuing a “Strategic Framework for Countering Terrorism and Targeted Violence” on Sept. 20, the university might be able to do just that.
The United States’ Department of Homeland Security issued a report which outlines how the government plans to tackle nationwide attacks, some of which include a growing issue of mass shootings committed in the name of white nationalism.
“It’s not a new movement,” said Pete Simi, a sociology professor and research expert on white supremacy and extremist groups. “The Department of Homeland Security’s recognition is important, but pretty long overdue.”
Kevin McAleenan, the secretary of Homeland Security, offered an opening statement to the report, where he discussed the department’s goal to detect, prevent, protect against and reduce the threats terrorist groups pose.
“We face a growing threat from domestic terrorism and other threats originating at home, including the mass attacks that have too frequently struck our houses of worship, our schools, our workplaces, our festivals, and our shopping spaces,” McAleenan wrote.
According to the Anti-Defamation League, 2018 was an active year for right-wing extremist killings. The organization reported that from the Pittsburgh synagogue shooting to the Parkland High School shooting, “every single” killing was linked to this extremist wing. While not all the mass shootings have been sourced to white supremacists, the concerning idea around the discussion lingers.
“(White supremacists) have been focusing on the immigration issue for a long time,” Simi said. “That’s something they’ve been mobilizing, so that continues to be something that definitely galvanized them and they use a recruitment tool.
Dean of Students Jerry Price released in his weekly email announcements his concern at the idea that “groups with such a racist and anti-Semitic message would try to have a presence on our campus.”
“It pollutes our campus in a sort of miasmic sense,” said Preston Coolidge, ambassador of Chapman Republicans and a junior computer science major. “The people in those organizations have no business being on any college campus, anywhere, at any point.”
Promise Johnson, the vice president of Black Student Union and a sophomore broadcast journalism and documentary major, told The Panther that she thinks Chapman’s administration doesn’t do as good of a job as they should in implementing policies around these messages.
“(Chapman’s campus) should be a place where we can all have our opinions, but with that, you need to be respectful and you need to be mindful of others,” she said.
Chapman isn’t the only stop that white supremacist groups have hit in Orange County. Simi elaborated that its presence in Orange neighborhoods is not a new issue.
Simi added that President Obama’s election in 2008 served as a catalyst for these groups’ activity, only for President Trump’s 2016 election to stir another uptake in the movement.
“When Donald Trump first announced his campaign, he signaled right away that he was going to speak the language of white supremacy in a way that no other political figure in recent history has done,” Simi said. “He spoke to them in a way that we haven’t seen in recent decades. And we saw a public face of the movement that had been more hidden prior to 2016.”
Mass shootings have spurred the debate over the legality of firearms. While Coolidge believes in the right to bear arms, he also believes in strict licensing for them.
“There absolutely needs to be a way to ensure that if you have been part of an organization that said we need to kill some specific group of citizens or that they should not be here, then it would not be a bad idea to have a more rigorous licensing process for any firearm,” he said.