Neo-Nazis Threaten Students After High School Cancels Play Over Whitewashing Controversy

They were accused of “anti-white racism.” Someone called for them “to be ‘dealt’ with” and another told them they were “the real Nazis of this country.” Others received death threats, with one individuals identified as “the reason we are looking for trees” — a not so subtle allusion to lynching.

What could have possibly generated such venom and scorn?

Ithaca High School in New York had planned to put together a stage production of “The Hunchback of Notre Dame,” inspired by Victor Hugo’s novel and the 1996 Disney animated film. But controversy within the community emerged when a white student was cast in the role of Esmeralda, the Roma female lead. Because people of color make up more than one-third of the high school’s student population, it puzzled many that a white student was chosen over others who had auditioned.

After a group of student activists signed and delivered a persuasive letter to the school board, it was decided that the production would be canceled. This seemed that this would be the end of the matter, especially when even the father of the student originally cast to play Esmeralda said he supported the decision and stated that “the questions that they’re asking are good, important questions that any school should want to ask itself.”

Unable to leave well enough alone, though, news outlets such as Breitbart and The Daily Stormer – the latter a neo-Nazi website — latched onto the story in order to decry what they claimed was an attack on white people.

It didn’t take long for these pieces to see circulation around white nationalist communities, including the notorious digital cesspool 4chan. Some readers may recall that 4chan was, in large part, the organizing ground for Gamergate, a campaign aimed at harassing, slandering and terrorizing women in the video game industry.

Ithaca students then began to receive threatening messages through Facebook. Posts featuring pictures of the cast with swastikas on their faces began to appear. Parents found themselves the target of hateful social media messages and emails. One of the students who had auditioned for Esmeralda, Prachi Ruina, was told to “go back to India.” The school district itself has received over 50 angry emails and 100 voicemails.

As a precaution, the Ithaca Police Department has posted more officers at the high school as threats continue to pour in.

This whole situation offers a truly disturbing window into the U.S. white nationalist and neo-Nazi movement that continues to emerge from the shadows. While some still try to shroud themselves in the benign-sounding “alt-right” label, these neo-fascists delight in referring to progressives and assertive minorities as “snowflakes” who look for any excuse to be offended. But in reality, this is simply a classic case of projection, as anyone who’s completed a basic intro course to psychology would recognize.

Because women, people of color and queer individuals are no longer accepting their marginalization, white nationalists automatically see these acts as a transgression directly against them. It’s “anti-white racism” — or even “white genocide” — in their eyes.

In the Ithaca School District, the move to cancel the production of “Hunchback” was, encouragingly, generally accepted as a wise move. But neo-Nazis are constantly on the hunt for any evidence they can find that the world is against them — and their predictable, reactionary recourse is to be hateful and terrorizing, if not actually violent.

Cowing the people they hate into submission through campaigns of harassment and terror is their classic modus operandi. Fortunately, these people still exist on the margins of the American public — and as such, shouldn’t be allowed to achieve their aims.

Take Action!

If you agree that these cowardly attempts to intimidate and frighten the teenage cast and activists at Ithaca High School should be condemned — and the students themselves applauded for taking a stand — then please consider adding your name to this Care2 petition!

Concerned about an issue? Want to raise awareness about an injustice? Join your fellow Care2 users by learning how to make your own petition and make your voice heard today!

Photo Credit: Rob Laughter/Unsplash


Aries N
Aries N7 days ago

Thanks for sharing

Thomas L
Thomas L8 days ago

This whole Trump fiasco has emboldened all these white hate groups and it's going to get worse if we don't impeach him soon!

Danuta W
Danuta W9 days ago

thank you for posting

Ruth S
Ruth S10 days ago


Karen S
Karen S10 days ago

As our Dear Leader vomited --There are good people on "Both sides." We all must remember, Nazi's are good people too. All good people issue Death threats, say their looking for trees,(not that they could recognize a tree in a Forest) threaten violence if they can't have their way, etc---President Turnip and the rest of his brain dead vegetables certainly seem to think so. They are the reason Nazi's are becoming more and more embolden.

Angela J
Angela J11 days ago


Leo C
Leo Custer11 days ago

Thank you for sharing!

Winn A
Winn A11 days ago

These Neo-Nazis need to go away and back to their hole where they came from.

Danii P
Danii P11 days ago


Debbi W
Debbi W11 days ago

The Neo-Nazi, white supremacist elements are scary. I hope the school kids have the strength of character to stand up to their hateful attacks.

Petition Signed.

Teach your children to stand up to hate and racism. We need them to understand how important it is.