Friday, May 12, 2006

For The National Socialist Movement, It’s Springtime For Hitler

For a brief period, the neo-Nazis almost made themselves look respectable. From the mid 90’s up to 2002, the undisputed leader of America’s National Socialists was William Pierce, author of the infamous Turner Diaries and one of the very few white supremacists out there who seemed to possess a genuinely above-average intelligence. Under Pierce’s leadership, the National Alliance (NA) became a professional, disciplined organization with an annual operating budget of over a million dollars and a total membership of about 1,500. Eschewing brownshirts in favor of suits and ties, Pierce and his organization put a friendly face on Nazi ideology, and seemed to be on the verge of creating an organization capable of recruiting members from outside the white supremacist subculture. Then it all went to sh*t. Pierce died in 2002 without naming a successor. The National Alliance split into three factions: White Revolution, National Vanguard, and what was left of the old NA. None of these groups can currently claim more than 300 members, and show few signs of future vitality.

The group that has stepped up to take the mantel of largest neo-Nazi group in the U.S. is the National Socialist Movement (NSM). While William Pierce preferred to present a professional image in the hopes of spreading his message of Aryan destiny, the NSM looks back to the example of George Lincoln Rockwell, leader of the American Nazi Party in the 1950’s and 60’s. Like Rockwell’s group, the NSM enjoying using shock tactics to gain publicity (and hopefully recruits). Parading around in Nazi uniforms while chanting racist slurs is a sure -fire way to attract media attention, and the NSM plays this theatrical role to the hilt. The most dramatic example of their ability to attract media coverage was in October of 2005, when a planned NSM march in Toledo, Ohio turned into a full-scale riot, with local gangbangers burning and looting businesses and attacking police officers.

As might be expected, these in-your-face sort of tactics have attracted some rather unstable individuals to the group. Most notable among them is Bill White, who acts as the NSM’s media liaison. White has for years run the site, on which he posts all of the unsubstantiated gutter gossip about the white power scene he can find. (One amusing recent post sought to publicize an alleged study that proved that white men in fact have on average larger penises than black men. Draw your own conclusions.) Many of these rumors likely originate from White himself. Another mentally challenged NSM member of note of Hal Turner, a former NA member who now hosts an internet radio show. His broadcasts feature some of the most violent and bizarre opinions to be found in the white power subculture (and that is truly an accomplishment).

Many of the old NA people take a rather dim view of these boisterous upstarts. One article posted on the National Vanguard site refered to them as “Nazi Wannabes”. These more professional neo-Nazis likely understand that as long as the NSM remains the foremost purveyors of Hitler’s teachings in the U.S., National Socialism is likely to remain an ideology associated with Jerry Springer-style sideshows rather than a serious set of beliefs worthy of consideration.

Readers wanting a more detailed examination of the NSM might want to check out this article on the group recently published by the Southern Poverty Law Center’s Intelligence Project.


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