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The Mass Media

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February 26, 2024
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February 26, 2024

Masks on, masks off

Saichand Chowdary
A group of people cross the street near Copley Square. Photo by Saichand Chowdary / Mass Media Staff.

Neo-Nazism is alive and well in America. Countless hate groups exist across the country, and Massachusetts is not an exception. Over the past few years, there has been a noticeable uptick in hate-related incidents, ranging from offensive graffiti to violent crime. In the liberal bubble of Boston, these events feel particularly out of place, leading to confusion rather than action. Confusion blocks one’s ability to comprehend the true threat of White nationalists. Replacing feelings of shock and bewilderment with preparation and swift action is of the essence.

In the summer of 2022, 100 people marched through downtown Boston, following the Freedom Trail, according to CNN. (1) They appeared suddenly, waving Patriot Front flags, a known White nationalist organization. No warning and no notice was given to city officials. No arrests were made, and the group seemed to disappear as soon as they arrived. This past June, a drag story hour in Taunton Public Library was disrupted by members of the National Social Club, also called NSC-131, classified by the Anti-Defamation League as a neo-Nazi group. (2) According to Boston.com, this group of masked men verbally assaulted Monica Moore, the drag queen reading to the children. (3) National Social Club members called them a pedophile and a groomer. Many families left with their children, who cried as NSC-131 continued to frightfully disrupt the story reading. These neo-Nazis eventually left, and no arrests were made despite police presence. In September, NSC-131 again appeared at a hotel in Marlborough that was hosting Haitian refugees. In the evening, they gathered in front of the doors and chanted, “Refugees, go home!” according to WBUR. (4) Incidents like these highlight the planned nature of White nationalist attacks on our safety.

In order to understand the horrific, sudden nature of these events we have to know what these groups want. White nationalists are mostly neo-Nazis, and their varied organizations all have similar ideologies. Common beliefs often center around antisemitism, racism and homophobia. Organizations such as NSC-131 and the National Socialist Movement have a history of targeting minorities through violence, intimidation and harassment, according to the ADL. (5) Most groups are decentralized and communicate through the internet, with many new members joining as a result of the alt-right pipeline. White nationalism and similar ideologies advocate for a fascist ethno-state, a nation in which only white people could be citizens, and the oppression of already marginalized communities.

It feels like every time Massachusetts is faced with these public displays of hate, citizens claim to be surprised. “This is a blue state! I can’t believe White nationalists are here!” But that’s the point: They walk among us and we are not aware of them. When White nationalists appear and protest, they wear masks to hide their true identities because they are citizens of our cities and towns. They move through the world wishing and wanting to harm minorities and threaten our livelihoods. This disruption and violence is planned in the shadows, and strategically brought into the light. Our government is limited in their response to these attacks on marginalized communities, and if arrests are made, the charges rarely stick. This is partly because Massachusetts has trouble grappling with the truth: Our state is not as nearly progressive and safe as we think.

Extremism exists here, the same way it exists in “traditionally” conservative states. It is naive to think that liberalism shields us from hate. It does the opposite: It makes people oblivious and unprepared to respond to these random acts of extremism. There is no protection for marginalized groups without preparation. In order to resist White nationalism, there must first be recognition of the danger it yields. Ignorance cannot, and will not, protect us. There is a possibility that a day will come where the masks will come off the members of these hate groups. Do you think our society is ready for that? Are you?



1. https://www.cnn.com/2022/07/02/us/boston-patriot-front-white-nationalist-group-march/index.html

2. https://www.adl.org/resources/backgrounder/nationalist-social-club-nsc-131

3. https://www.boston.com/news/local-news/2023/01/18/taunton-drag-queen-story-hour-neo-nazi-protest/

4. https://www.wbur.org/news/2023/09/08/immigrants-family-shelter-system-neo-nazi-hate-group

5. https://www.adl.org/resources/hate-symbol/national-socialist-movement