The (sexual) Inferiority Complex of White Supremacists: Charlottesville and the Call for ‘White Sharia’

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“In a racist society it is not enough to be non-racist. We must be anti-racist” is a quote from the lifelong and famous anti-racist activist scholar Angela Davis[1]. While many Americans think that President Donald Trump’s initial response to the August 12, 2017 white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, was inadequate, an adequate response can only be formulated if we understand the forms and strategies of racism that we are facing.

It was widely reported that a mass of people who came together under the slogan ‘Unite the Right’ rally included white supremacists from the KKK to Neo-Nazis to the so called ‘Alt-Right’. Reactions to the violence included condemnations of bigotry, racism, and antisemitism, what received little attention were protesters’ chants of ‘White Sharia Now!’ The chant provoked some sarcastic reactions like calling the protesters ‘White ISIS’. But most observers were simply confused. Where is the call for “White Sharia”coming from? What does it even mean?

According to a white supremacist blog, with links to websites of the Stop Islamization of the World (SIOW) and which calls Black Lives Matter “a pro-black group whose members have murdered white people and police officers,” the call for ‘White Sharia’ was invented in early 2016. Its goal is to destroy prevailing “Cultural Marxism” and “Socialist female hypergamy.” According to the site’s authors, white men feel abused by their white women in diverse ways, including white women seeking non-white men, leading white men to seek women of color to marry, which could ultimately lead to the destruction of the white race. To counteract this development, white men need to re-establish control over their women; they need to establish a patriarchal rule — which is how they characterize Sharia. Hence the invention of the term ‘White Sharia.’

The Daily Stormer, founded in 2013 and now one of the major online portals promoting white supremacy and National Socialism, promotes ‘White Sharia’ as a key idea to save the white race. A Daily Stormer contributor is visible in a Vice documentary on the Charlottesville rally. The online portal is openly fascist and calls for violence against those who establish mixed marriages. It was one of the portals that endorsed then-GOP candidate Donald Trump for his proposal of a Muslim-ban during the election campaign. It openly proclaimed, “Heil Donald Trump – The Ultimate Savior”. On its website, it states:

Contrary to popular misconceptions, WHITE SHARIA has nothing at all to do with Islamic Sharia AKA Sandnigger Sharia, except that it is a flavor of Sharia so contains the word “sharia” in its name. […] Basically, your only choice in this matter is whether you will choose WHITE SHARIA or Islamic Sharia. Because the Jews are obsessed with destroying the white race, they have weakened us internally to the point of collapse while emboldening and propping up the Islamic hordes. The Islamic hordes have become the strong horse that will come in and take everything from us (including our women and all of our money and products) as our race collapses. As such, the only solution is WHITE SHARIA.

The editor of The Daily Stormer, Andrew Anglin, asked why Muslims were “ever allowed in in the first place? What an insane, stupid concept.”

Condemning Muslims on one side and calling for implementation a ‘White Sharia’ on the other side indeed seems paradoxical. How can it be understood?

Equating Muslimness with Blackness simplifies the world into two mutually exclusive spheres: good vs. evil, whiteness vs. Islam. And Islam is connected to many more out-groups: Blacks (Sandn****) and Jews (who are also portrayed as being obsessed with the destruction of the white race). The intersectionality of racism positions Muslims as useful bargaining counter in the chess game of Jewish world conspirers. The imagined super powerful Jews are using the “strong horse” – referring to a hypersexual Muslim body – that is taking away white women, white money and white products. All three are at play: Anti-Muslim, anti-Black, and anti-Jewish racism.

This new discourse of the White Sharia is not shared throughout the white supremacist and racist political camp. As self-styled American nationalist “Sacco Vandal” writes in ‘In Defense of White Sharia’ (on the white supremacist website countercurrents.com), the idea is being challenged by various protagonists of the so-called ‘Alt-Right’. Nevertheless, the White Sharia meme seems to be getting traction.

As Vandal explains, referring to racist German historian Oswald Spengler (who predicted the decline of the West), the white race has lost the natural barbarism of its ancestors: “Vikings, Crusaders, and Conquistadores.” In particular, it has lost its essential patriarchy. And according to him, “The Muslim world is the only civilization left on Earth today where an extreme and rigidly codified patriarchy still exists.” He does not call for converting to Islam, however, or “adopting sharia in an unaltered form,”  but rather to “adopt a sharia-like form of extreme patriarchy” in order to preserve the white race. He even seems to enjoy the irony of white nationalists’ using the term “sharia.” He argues that “joking about White Sharia is more powerful than pleas for returning to long-dead traditions.”

Recalling historical tropes of the Oriental patriarch sitting among beautiful women in a harem, the call for White Sharia is arguably a projection of the sexual desires these white supremacists, who feel betrayed by white women and threatened by Muslim men [2].

[1] Quoted in: Kendi, Ibram X. Stamped from the beginning: The definitive history of racist ideas in America. Nation Books, 2016.

[2] The white supremacist’s imagination of Muslim patriarchy is based on those imaginations that Edward Said and others after him like Rana Kabbani or Meyda Yegenoglu have analysed in the Orientalist’s imagination of the Muslim East: Women are portrayed as the goods of the male empire, living rewards available to men. The female was reduced to a sexually promiscuous exotic Oriental female, and regarded as being seductive, submissive and often an embodiment of immorality and transgressive sexuality. See: Rana Kabbani (1994), Imperial Fictions: Europe’s Myths of Orient, London: Pandora.