Thursday, June 12, 2008

Forays into the unknown's stewpot

The other evening, my mother and I were discussing the ways we pass the time. In between work, lakeside walks, and her photography class, my mom has gotten really into researching things on the internet. If she were more savvy I could imagine her as a Wikipedia queen writing articles here and there. She told me there was a debate about the difference between a transvestite and a transsexual and she had to look it up to be sure. I told her next time something like that comes up she can just call me.

I told her I had been reading the messageboards at because I was curious as to the lifestyle choices of White Nationalists. Specifically I was wondering about their diet, what their attitudes on ethnic foods were. Do WN's eat falafel or sushi? The answer was what I figured it to be, it varies, but more on that later.

This weird odyssey began because I was looking to see if RAHOWA was still active in Columbia, Missouri. I first became aware of RAHOWA, the skinhead extension of the World Church of the Creator, when I was in high school. My best friend at the time was a year older and had just graduated. She was going through a skinbyrd phase and wanted to check out the scene in the town where she was going away to school in the fall. She frequented some traditional skinhead (aka skinheads polarized around class identity not racial identity) messageboards trying to see if there was a scene in Columbia. She got in touch with a few guys who said they'd show her around town and give her a place to crash if need be when she came to visit. I was coming along with her and we decided that we should plan on sleeping in her car unless they seemed totally cool after meeting them.

Bringing her correspondence off the messageboard, she got the email address of one of them, Tim, and started writing him. She showed me his emails and they struck me as a little off. He kept making veiled lewd comments and references to our looks. He wanted pics and I wanted nothing to do with this. Besides, I was never into skinheads, and she'd already gotten me in a mess with them before when she had me help set up a show for The Authority, a touring skinhead band from California who had ended up tagging a local venue and had basically temporarily ruined a portion of our scene (cops were involved, we were basically blacklisted, it was hell) but since this wasn't our turf we had nothing to lose. But I was curious as to what his email addresses weas about, The host site was unfamiliar to me so I typed in the address...umm...holy shit.

And that's how I was introduced to RaHoWa aka Racial Holy War, the skinhead battle-cry of the World Church of the Creator. This was about a year before one of the Church of the Creator members went on a shooting spree in the midwest so they were still fairly unknown. The site at has since been taken down and now has links directing one to Russian Brides, Black Dating, and the Sisterhood of the WCOTC, how diverse. The World Church of the Creator has since been repackaged as the Creativity Movement. Essential it packages it's rhetoric as a religion with this as it's primary blurb:
The Creativity Movement: Mobilizing Nature's Finest since 1973
Dedicated to the Survival, Expansion and Advancement of the
White Race

Based on the Laws of Nature, on the Experience of History, on Logic and Common Sense
A Four-Dimensional Religion: A Sound Mind in a Sound Body in a Sound Society in a Sound Environment
Our Goal: Building a Whiter and Brighter World

Obviously a Jew and a half-Jew were not going to be spending our time in Missouri with these dudes. Holy hell. Thinking back on it, we were young and very very stupid. If I hadn't typed in that email address I wonder what would have happened? There was no way they would have known we were Jewish, but even still, that's a situation far too scary for me.

A little while later, after I graduated from high school, I ended up moving to Columbia myself. I befriended a few of the local punk rocks and there were a couple of SHARPS amongst them who always were doing battle with the RaHoWa skins. We'd drink boxed wine and cheap beer and listen to Super Black Market Clash and talk shit on the front porch of the skin's house all day long. I told them my story and they told me I was lucky to have found out beforehand who I was dealing with. Tim, the one we'd been in contact with, was apparently the big deal Neo-Nazi skin in town with a rep for lady-beating and all around scum-baggery. He was big and scary and I was told I'd know him if I saw him.

And then I saw him. I spent a month working at Texaco, this was a college town in the purest sense. When school was out for summer the population was cut in half, businesses shut down, and work outside of the service industry was nonexistent for kids my age. One day the most gigantic dude came in. Boots, braces, bomber, totally ripped and well over 6 feet tall. Hell, if I were that gigantic and mighty I'd probably be proud of my genetic stock too. He turned to go to the beer cooler and on the side of his shaved head I saw a tattoo of crossed hammers. Hammerskin. Very major. Very scary.

To read more about these frightening motherfuckers check out this article on Hammerskins about the regional warring skinhead crews.

Compared to the Creativity Movement and the Hammerskins, the WN identity at is decidedly low-key. It's basically just a bunch of white folks stoked to be white who are disgusted with race mixing and obsessed with racial purity. It's far less violent in it's preaching but that's probably because it's a public messageboard and it's contents are accessible to everyone. Many of you have pointed out that it's also on the government's watch list, so it's pretty obviously not a place where people will be preaching outright violence or expressing their support of hate crimes. But the general banality of Stormfront is also what is so intriguing about it. It's a window in to the daily lives of White Nationalists all over the world. There are forums about everything from diet and exercise to homemaking to film reviews. Many of the users have a strong survivalist bent and there is a lot of talk about food rationing and gun care. Stormfront is a window into the anxieties and fears of white working class America and the ways in which those fears can be manifested as hate. I've already included links in past entries to threads I found humorous or strangely enlightening as to their mindset.

As a cultural studies major in college I focused a lot of subcultural theory and I noticed that hate culture is extremely neglected in that field. A lot of the existing theory assumes that subcultures are necessarily progressive in their defiance of current hegemony but this is obviously not true. For every radical subculture there is a reactionary one that views itself equally at odds with the status quo. I first became aware of hate culture when I was in high school. I bought the collected first three issues of Answer Me! at the distro table at a punk rock show. That was my first exposure to Jim Goad who would take me on a voyage through The Redneck Manifesto and introduce me to Boyd Rice and get me better acquainted with David Duke as well as Al Sharpton. From there I found other Feral House publications and learned a lot about fringe groups. When you think about it, the militant Right to Life movement is just as much of a subculture as riot grrrls. They have their own websites, community meetings, picnics, fundraisers, educational forums, music, and cultural references. Same with the White Nationalists. Many of their choices from food to entertainment are calculated with their feelings about racial identity and their paranoia about the Zionist Occupied Government (ZOG).

After so many years of living in New York I've become distanced from these groups. They are not an active reality here, in this mecca of diversity and lip-serviced liberalism. Why the hell would a WN want to live here? Immigrants are essential to running this city and to WNs they are the biggest threat to their racial purity and cultural dream. But they are here, many of the posters are from upstate or the surrounding suburbs. Still, living in New York, it's out of sight out of mind most of the time with the WN movement. It's easy to forget what being an American means to a lot of people outside of the city, and those people change the meaning of what it is to be an American for all of us.

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