Maybe the Florida school shooter was a white supremacist. Maybe not. The threat to us is still real.

Maybe the Florida school shooter was a white supremacist. Maybe not. The threat to us is still real.
Neo-Nazis march in Charlottesville, Virginia Photo: Twitter

One of the details to emerge about Nikolas Cruz, the alleged shooter in the Florida high school massacre, is that he may have connections to a white supremacist group. According to Jordan Jereb, a spokesman for the Republic of Florida Militia, Cruz was connected to the group, which promotes the creation of a “white ethnostate” in Florida.

Authorities haven’t confirmed that Cruz is associated with the group, and Jereb has since walked back his claims, saying “Are you really going to blame me for the lying jew media?” But the episode is a reminder of the violence that travels with white supremacy; another white supremacist was involved in a school shooting last December. And it’s also serves as a reminder that the white supremacist movement includes the LGBT community among its targets of hatred.

You don’t have to look far to find examples. In 2005, Jereb was part of a protest at Florida State University in which a rag-tag band of white supremacists burned a Soviet flag in the belief that it represented the left. The organizers’ rhetoric leaves little doubt about just who they hate.

“A crowd of about 30 spoiled brats, communists, and trannies chanted for a while, shouted some unimaginative slogans, and gave a few speeches about the tyranny of ‘cisgender heteronormative privilege’ while 13 or us starred [sic] them down in bemusement,” one organizer wrote afterwards.

The white supremacy movement has a deep and abiding hatred for gays, lesbians and transgender people. Last December, white supremacists hung banners on the campus of Southern Methodist University defaming gays as pedophiles.

A white supremacist in the UK was convicted this month of planning a machete attack on a gay bar. A White Lives Matter rally in Tennessee last October included a neo-Nazi group that wants to form a new country in which “no Jew or homosexual may be a member of the nation.”

There’s no question that the white supremacist movement has felt bolder because of Trump’s presidency. Any why not? After all, after a murderous white supremacist rally in Charlotte, Trump said that there were “some very fine people on both sides.”

Whether or not Nikolas Cruz was a white supremacist follower misses the larger point. The white supremacy movement is not just a threat to the nation. It is very specifically a threat to us.

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