The tragedy at Village Shalom once again exposes a virus of hatred infecting the US. Those murdered by Frazier Glenn Miller/Cross are only its latest victims. We cannot allow their deaths to be in vain.
As most people now know, the murders at Village Shalom were not the product of a random case of insanity but the logical and entirely predictable outcome of a life dedicated to the warped ideology of one of history's greatest mass murderers. That ideology didn't die with its author in the bomb blasted ruins of Berlin in April of 1945. Despite the devastation and death wrought by WWII, it re-emerged as early as 1946 in the US in my native state of Georgia in the form of an organization called The Columbians.
While this early manifestation was snuffed out, it simply meant that the ideology was driven underground, where it was gradually absorbed into the larger, violent white supremacist movement typified by traditional groups like the Ku Klux Klan. The Klan, it should be remembered, remained an active, if unadmitted, part of the of the political establishment in many southern states until at least the 1960s.
The outstanding example of this surreptitious growth was the founding of the National States Rights Party in 1958, which adopted the thunderbolt emblem of The Columbians, who had in turn appropriated its use from the original NSDAP.
Nazism next emerged openly in Arlington, VA in 1959 under the aegis of George Lincoln Rockwell:
In March 1959, Rockwell founded the World Union of Free Enterprise National Socialists (WUFENS), a name selected to denote opposition to state ownership of property. In December, the name was changed to the American Nazi Party, and the headquarters relocated to 928 North Randolph Street in Arlington, Virginia.Following Rockwell's death, others came forward to promote his cause and to vie for leadership. Competition for leadership led to what at the time appeared to be fragmentation but actually represented a metastaticising of the creed.
In November of 1979, the decades long ideological convergence between Klan and Nazi groups groups bore deadly fruit with the Greensboro Massacre. Despite the resulting deaths of five anti-Klan protestors in a hail of gunfire from the heavily armed Klansmen and Nazis that was caught on tape by news crews, the accused perpetrators were twice acquitted by all white juries in subsequent criminal trials. The fact that those killed were either members or associates of the Communist Workers Party may have played a role in the verdicts.
In any event, the verdicts were seen as a victory by the Klan/Nazis and spurred the ongoing resurgence of white supremacist hate groups both in the south and nation wide. This was to have serious consequences. In 1980 Frazier Glenn Miller/Cross founded the White Patriot Party. In 1983 another White Supremacist named Robert Jay Mathews formed an explicitly terrorist organization known popularly as The Order and formally as the Bruder Schweigen. Among the criminal activities of this group were the murder of Radio Talk Show host Alan Berg and funneling proceeds from an armored car robbery to white supremacist and Nazi organizations.
In the 1980's, with the advent of Reaganism, importation of Punk and Skinhead youth culture from Great Britain provided a new avenue of ideological indoctrination of the young via the subset of Nazi Skinhead culture.
I was personally well situated to observe this phenomenon, not only through my work researching(PDF) and counter-organizing against Nazi and white supremacist hate groups but also by the weirdly fortuitous coincidence that the first openly Nazi Skinhead group in my city was organized in an apartment in the same building where I lived at the time.
I soon discovered that the impact of Nazi Skinhead organizing spread far beyond the city limits. Indeed, its impact was even more profound in suburban an rural areas among youth who would have nothing to do with old school racist groups such as the Klan. Nazi Skinhead propaganda and organizing reached from the high schools to middle schools to even such supposedly "safe" teen hang outs as the food courts at local malls. Unsurprisingly, this led to an upsurge of violence targeting young people who were seen as opposing Nazi Skin agitation as well as those targeted for racist and ethnological motives. So effective was its appeal that some Klan leaders began to openly court and exploit the Nazi Skins. It was evident that we were dealing with a growing network of groups and individuals propagating a virulent, genocidal ideology to the most impressionable and easy manipulated element of the white population: the coming generation.
The greatest difficulty then as now was the public denialism as to political and ideological character of the threat we face. The greater part of the agitation and organizing flew under the public radar. The only time that the reality of this ideology broke into the public consciousness was when it erupted into a violent or deadly incident. Consequently, the response nearly always was one of uninformed confusion. Is it really a hate crime? Isn't it really just the isolated act of a deranged or evil individual or small group? Isn't it sufficient to treat them as singular crimes rather than the manifestation of larger threat to democratic values?
We have seen this same confusion with every new outburst of violence. It has affected even those on the Left who ought to have known better. It has led some, such as the late Gore Vidal, to give credence to people such as Timothy McVeigh when he claimed his murderous terrorism was a protest against Government tyranny when, in fact, he drew his inspiration from The Turner Diaries, a Nazi fantasy penned by William Luther Pierce, a follower of George Lincoln Rockwell. We saw it again in the case of Eric Rudolph, whose claim that his homicidal bombing spree was motivated by religious opposition to abortion and homosexuality was swallowed whole by many, despite the fact that his initial attack targeted a multi-racial gathering at the 1996 Summer Olympics having no connection whatever to the issues he claimed as motivation. Similarly, when he was linked to Christian Identity Pastor Daniel Gayman (who I once encounter while working under cover), he claimed it amounted only to a brief association with Gayman's daughter. No one familiar with the tenets of Christian Identity could give credence to this claim.
The confusion continues in this latest horror perpetrated by Miller/Cross, with people hesitating to name it as a hate crime even as he was hauled off by the police shouting "Heil Hitler".
In order to understand both the viciousness of these attacks, as well as the cynical dissembling by some of the perpetrators, it's necessary to comprehend key elements of the ideology that motivates them.
To begin with, they do not see themselves as we see them. They conceive of themselves as heroic figures in service to a glorious cause. Their view is heavily influenced by the concept of the "political soldier" engaged in a war for survival. They are likewise influenced by an apocalyptic vision that justifies the use of any and all means against a supposedly monstrous enemy. In their perspective, society is headed for an inevitable collapse and conflagration from which their cause will emerge victorious. It is an article of faith with them that some catalyzing event can and will bring this on. It follows from this that they believe that anything that roils the conflicts within existing social and political order and increases the strain on that order serves their ends.
Operating from such a worldview provides a simple, binary moral calculus: anything that serves their cause is not merely acceptable but laudable. Anything that inhibits that cause is to be annihilated. The latter category includes all liberal and humanistic values, including democracy itself. The former embraces every kind of depravity, so long as it conceivably contributes to the destruction of the latter. The existing society must be utterly destroyed to make way for the new order which, paradoxically, exemplifies the worst characteristics of the past.
In this warped context, deceit and treachery are ennobled, murder becomes heroic and murderers, if made to pay for their crimes, are transfigured into glorious martyrs. The political soldier will say and do whatever he perceives will best serve his cause. He will either openly proclaim or deny his true motives depending entirely on which course seems most likely to advance his cause. If misrepresentation will draw larger numbers of people into violence and conflict he will misrepresent. If open advocacy will inspire others to follow his example, he will do that.
This last brings us back to the current case of Miller/Cross. His actions are completely in keeping with the degenerate romanticism of his chosen ideology. At age 73, he decided to make his play for his version of heroic martyrdom. He has destroyed three lives and devastated two families. He will do no more harm by himself. The same cannot be said for the ideology he espoused.
It is that ideology rather than the individual adherents that is the enemy to be combated. It is an ideology that has proven capable of adapting in order to propagate and perpetuate itself across generations. The teenagers who fell prey to it in the 80's and 90's are just entering their middle years and while they may no longer wear boots and braces, they are still with us and will be for years to come.
For the sake of the future we must face up to the danger they pose.