(Bryan Chan / Los Angeles Times)
University High School

Opinion: When do our personal interests and opinions go too far?

“When the . . . present world system collapses, it’ll be good people like you who will be shooting people in the streets to feed their families.”

This is the opinion of Aryan supremacist survivalists, a counterculture analyzed by the famous sociologist William W. Zellner in his book “Countercultures: A Sociological Analysis” (58-59).

There are many social groups within a society. Whether it is as big as mothers, teenagers or politicians, or small as bodybuilders or guitarists, social groups (also known as subcultures) vary greatly based on people’s hobbies, interests, socioeconomic status, etc. According to Harvard Business Review, we are all working and engaging across cultures daily because subcultures are everywhere anytime.

However, what happens if a subculture goes too far in its beliefs and practices? And how far?

As the author and Sociology professor James M. Henslin underlined in his textbook “Essentials of Sociology,” some of the group’s values and norms may differ from the larger, more dominant group, creating discrepancies within the society. Sociologists refer to these groups as countercultures.

After reading about the view of Aryan Supremacists who strictly practice white supremacy to this day, did you feel disturbed or strange in any way? Their acute ideologies (described in Britannica) like white nationalism, anti-immigration, anti-communism, homophobia or neo-fascism deviate them from the rest of the society, making them countercultures.

Furthermore, as Henslin states, motorcycle enthusiasts, who emphasize personal freedom and seek adrenaline by speeding, are members of a subculture. In contrast, some motorcycle clubs that the FBI refers to as “outlaw motorcycle gangs” like Hells Angels and Bandidos not only stress freedom and speed but also value dirtiness and contempt toward women, work and education.

With the mottos like “When we do right, nobody remembers. When we do wrong, nobody forgets,” or “We are the people our parents warned us about,” these groups are no longer subcultures enthusiastic of Harley-Davidsons; they are countercultures dangerous to the order of society.

According to the USA Today, the Texas State Gang Threat Assessment of 2018 ranked the Bandidos as a “Tier 2” gang — or the second-most dangerous classification — alongside the Aryan Brotherhood of Texas.

As their DPS Assessment provides, Texas state strives to maintain order amidst these counterculture’s threats through civil ways like partnerships between state, local and federal law enforcement agencies to closely coordinate, intervene and suppress gang-related crime and violence.

Thus, even though our nation encourages and fosters differences in interests, opinions and professions, it seems to draw the line for cultural or social diversity when its core values are threatened– when the business gets “dangerous.”

The National Park Service Agency describes core values as fundamental values shared by all members of the culture or organization, building a common identity.

Sociologist Robin Williams identifies U.S. society’s core values as

  • Equal opportunity
  • Achievement/success
  • Material comfort
  • Work
  • Efficiency
  • Progress
  • Science
  • Democracy
  • Freedom

Sound familiar?

Nowadays, as democracy and justice in law enforcement greatly cultivate, such groups that threaten our core values just fall under the close supervision of the federal states, which is how Texas is handling its motorcyclist countercultures.

However, decades earlier, the mainstream culture’s efforts to subjugate countercultures and maintain order within the society were displayed quite openly. For instance, Mormons, wanting to practice polygyny (men having several wives), were driven out of several states before settling in Utah with the condition of accepting monogamy, according to HISTORY. Newly rising Christians to openly persecute Jews is also an example of mainstream culture’s efforts of eliminating countercultures’ threats on their system.

In sum, our core values are kinds of rules valued for life but hardly spoken of. An assault on them by extreme social groups called countercultures is always met with resistance regardless of how civil or merciless the resistance is.