There’s a sort of online consensus that 2016 was a particularly awful year, one which saw the death of seemingly every generation-defining celebrity above 50, and an election in the United States and referendum in Great Britain very few predicted correctly. While 2017 hasn’t been any more forgiving to most people, there’s a segment of the population who’s loved everything that’s happened recently: white supremacists.
After a long, hard eight years in which an African-American held the highest position in their land, American white supremacists have launched the most unanticipated and fiercest comeback since… this month’s Superbowl.
Consider the four month run they’ve put together. They successfully aided in making an entire country skeptical of the first female presidential nominee in its history by pointing to her emails, all while abetting the election of the most racist and under-qualified candidate in recent memory. This candidate — who’s now president — boasts an immediate circle of advisors that includes Steve Bannon, the creator of one of the bastions of online white supremacy in Breitbart, and Jeff Sessions, a man who was accused of being too racist to be a judge by none other than Coretta Scott Kin in 1986. Do you know how hard it is to be considered too racist for the U.S. South in the ’80s?
They didn’t stop there though. Like all comebacks, they’ve only gotten better with momentum. In January, the all-star roster of white supremacists that advise the U.S. president managed to anger nearly every category of people they hate, inciting large scale demonstrations and protests by everyday Americans for the rights of women, and shortly thereafter, for the rights of Muslims and other religious minorities. At one of these protests, Richard Spencer, a Nazi supporter and another all-pro white supremacist, was punched on live TV, prompting a debate on the internet about whether Nazi supporters should be punched or not, which is insane, but that’s kind of where we are right now. Debating whether advocates of ethnic cleansing should receive any sort of sympathy or compassion only attests to how great a stretch white supremacists have had.
But the climax of the white supremacist winning streak — it’s heat check moment — happened at Superbowl LI, which pitted a Trump supporting owner, coach, star quarterback and a team supported by a number of white supremacists (including the previously mentioned Richard Spencer) against the heart of Southern African American culture and history in the city of Atlanta. Atlanta is home to the second highest black population of any American city and has had an African-American mayor for 34 of the past 42 years. It’s the literal and figurative birthplace of Martin Luther King, the congressional seat for the most prominent living civil rights era activist in John Lewis, and is the originator of many of the most recent pop culture trends and hip hop superstars (see: Migos and the Golden Globe winning TV series, Atlanta). Atlanta is the antithesis of white supremacy, which only makes the win by the white supremacist-approved Patriots — in arguably the greatest comeback in NFL history… during Black History Month no less — that much sweeter for them.
But we should have saw this coming. Rationality and conventional wisdom were thrown to the wayside when 2016 began. In the span of nine months, Cleveland finally won a championship of some sort, the Chicago Cubs broke their 100 plus year championship curse, we found out Jay-Z cheated on Beyoncé, and Leo actually won an Oscar. None of these things would have happened during any other year. In fact, white supremacists having an amazing four month stretch doesn’t even crack the top three craziest events of the past year. It’s somewhere in the early teens, just ahead of the worldwide outrage over the death of a gorilla. So kudos to them. But hopefully they start losing again soon.