The Virtual Fuehrer
While mainstream media hype the threat posed by Internet pornography and grandstanding Washington politicos attempt to legislate the shutdown of cybersex, a much uglier form of obscenity is quietly oozing its way along the information highway.If you know where to look, the image takes shape before your eyes, pixel by pixel, dots of color congealing ever faster into a picture of hate that goes by many names.Skinheads. The Ku Klux Klan. Identity Christians. White Supremacists. Patriots. Militiamen. Neo-Nazis.It is the far-right edge of the World Wide Web, a place where Aryan cybernauts and hyperlinked Klansmen spew their racist views and troll for new recruits. "The net," instructs one neo-Nazi strategist, "offers enormous opportunity for the Aryan Resistance to disseminate our message to the unawares and ignorant." The reason these hatemongers are turning to cyberspace is simple and straightforward."It is the only relatively uncensored (so far) free-forum mass medium which we have available," explains white supremacist Milton J. Kleim in an on-line instruction manual. "The state cannot yet stop us from 'advertising' our ideas and organizations...but I can assure you, this will not always be the case. NOW is the time to grasp the WEAPON which is the net, and wield it skillfully and wisely while you may still do so freely." Kleim's advice is being well heeded.Type the words "Aryan," "skinhead" or "white power" into your favorite web search engine and stand back. Dozens of sites will appear, many featuring sophisticated designs, compelling graphics and text that drips bile and fear. It's not just a problem in the United States. Just as the Internet knows no boundaries, neither does the white supremacy movement. Which is why Montreal resident David Abitol for the past two years has maintained a site dedicated to tracking these groups."Our 'Net Hate' page was spurred by the growing use of the web," says Abitol. "There has been a tremendous growth in the number of hate pages we've been coming across. I would say that in the past year the number of hate pages available has certainly at least doubled.Positive and militant steps are required to check the spread of evil in the land. Our theater of operation is cyberspace...We represent the heart and soul of the White nation...There will be no one-world government so long as we are here, except it be a White one. -Manifesto of the Cyber Nazi GroupSubtlety is not a goal. At least not always. Any web page that opens with a depiction of Adolph Hitler clad in armor and riding astride a black stallion isn't exactly trying to sugarcoat its message. Follow the links from site to site and you will find American (as well as Canadian, European and Australian) racism at its rawest levels: Nazi poster galleries, Klan rallies with burning crosses, Holocaust denials and cartoons that transcend obscene. For the latter, no site offers more fertile ground than the "White Aryan Resistance Hate Page" operated by Tom Metzger, a Southern California television repairman. A former Klan leader, Metzger is one of America's most notorious neo-Nazis.It's on the W.A.R. page that you can find cartoons like one offering a solution to the problem of illegal immigration: It depicts a group of Hispanics staring in horror at a severed head impaled on a stake bearing a sign scrawled with the words "Go back!""The cartoons can be pretty raw," admits Metzger in a phone interview with the Detroit Metro Times. "We make no excuses for that. It's like any other advertising medium -- you have to get people's attention. If that means walking down the street nude, then that's what you do."And it's working. Metzger, whose site has been banned by America Online and other major providers, had no problem finding a smaller commercial server to put his message on the web."We just got a report yesterday," says Metzger. "We're getting between 80,000 and 100,000 hits a month."How many of those hits are from supporters or potential recruits, and how many are from opponents keeping tabs on W.A.R. isn't a number Metzger has at his fingertips."I'm sure the CIA, various police departments and Interpol are among those hits," chuckles Metzger. But there's more than enough genuine interest to thrill him."What we're primarily interested in doing is reaching new people with our message," says Metzger. "You can't do that with newspapers. They're too simplistic. Built with the net, interest is going through the roof. There's a geometric progression. I'm just thrilled."What is the driving force behind the "racist" White Christian Nationalist's fight for the preservation of the Aryan race? The news media would scream an immense and piercing shriek of "HATE" if they could catch the slightest whisper of such a question coming from ruddy Aryan lips. But those long-standing warriors in this Struggle know that the answer has a much greater depth and meaning than the anti-Christ Jews, mongrel hordes and liberal White race-mixers could even begin to fathom...that of LOVE. -Aryan NationsWhat's love got to do with it? Not much if you use the word in a universal way. Agape it's not. This is self-love taken to its most destructive extreme. Call it racial narcissism. And realize that it's twisted by fear."The depths of Love are rooted and very deep in a real White Nationalist's soul and spirit; no form of 'hate' could even begin to compare," advises a message on the Aryan Nations home page. "At least not a hate motivated by ungrounded reasoning. It is not hate that makes the average White man look upon a mixed racial couple with a scowl on his face and loathing in his heart. It is not hate that makes the White workingman curse over his beer about the latest boatload of mud-creatures dumped upon our shores to be given job preference over the White citizens who build this land. No, it is not hate. It's love."Cut through all the superheated rhetoric and comic-book bravado (the mind reels imagining the costume worn by someone who calls himself the Aryan Crusader) and what you mostly see is sniveling."The life of a race is in the wombs of its women. Yet under the existing media, religions and governments, the last White women are being induced to mate with non-Whites wholesale," the page proclaims. "If whites do not immediately establish an exclusive White nation, then the beauty of White Aryan woman will soon cease to exist on earth forever. We are taught to dread the extinction of spotted owls, so why is it a hate crime to love and preserve one's race?" Maybe what it all comes down to: these guys just aren't gettin' enough.So I ask you this one question: Who scares you more, the growing number of lobby and pressure groups that want to be your Thought Police and spy into your private life, or a small Detroit-based indie record label that publishes CDs and cassettes?...If you are like the growing numbers of Resistance supporters, you want to hear pro-White music, and do we ever have what you are looking for! -Resistance Records web siteThere's green to be made pushing whiteness, that much is certain. Nazi entrepreneurs who wouldn't dare peddle their wares out in the open are able to flourish in cyberspace. And, oh, what a lovely assortment of Deutschland doodads you can purchase there. Here's just a sampling of the products offered on-line through The New Order mail-order catalog: Hitler Youth pin, $4; Third Reich battle flag, $25; Stormtrooper Marches, $85 for a complete set of 12 cassettes; White Power T-shirt (100 percent white cotton!), $14.95; "The Unknown Stormtrooper"- a firsthand account of a stormtrooper's experiences. Enjoyable and inspiring, $10.Imagine the hours of fun you can have reading about the inspiring adventures of a Nazi stormtrooper while relaxing to the stirring sounds of Luftwaffe marches! If your musical tastes run more toward thrash metal, you won't be disappointed either, thanks to guys like George Eric Hawthorne, founder of Resistance Records in Detroit. Like the rest of his brethren, Hawthorne is peeved at the way racists are typically depicted."Look at how 'evil' pro-White individuals like myself are portrayed by the media," Hawthorne laments electronically. "You would think that being 'racist' was worse than being a 'rapist' nowadays."But a little bad press isn't going to deter Hawthorne. "I'm going to stay proud of my Race and Heritage no matter what kind of lies they want to spew about me," he vows. " I would rather die on my feet than live on my knees!" Before signing off his digital message with a rousing "For Blood, Soil, Honor, Faith & Folk" Hawthorne slips in a little advertisement."If you are like the growing numbers of Resistance supporters," he says, "you want to hear pro-White music, and do we ever have what you're looking for! Peruse our web page."For just $20, you can get a subscription to Resistance Magazine. And for $34.88 there's that new "Romper Stomper" video you've been dying to see. And at the bargain-basement price of $14.88, you can get the latest CD put out by the star of Hawthorne's label, RAHOWA, an acronym for Racial Holy War. Most of the rest of the world is still trying to figure out how to make money off the Internet, but not the racists.When a newbie posts a message sympathetic to us, CONTACT THEM IMMEDIATELY! Welcome them to the group, and offer them information about our activities. -Net TacticsMilton J. Kleim has laid out the attack plan for "cyber guerrillas " trying to further the racist cause."Remember," instructs Kleim, "our overall strategy must be to repeat powerful themes over and over and over. We cannot compete with the Jewsmedia, of course, as our propaganda dissemination is but a very small fraction of the pervasive leftist propaganda. However, our ideas possess an energy that truth alone contains."Among the other pieces of advice offered by Kleim: "Move out beyond our present domain and take up positions on "mainstream' groups."Tailor your messages for each group. Our ideology has myriad facets, and the well-informed activist can extract something to fit onto just about every group. "Watch for material that would be of use to us, such as news of enemy mailing lists. Relay such information to your comrades."Be aware that everything you post will be seen by the enemy. Do not ever post a message that advocates or supports an illegal act of activity. If you explicitly advocate illegality, such an expression will surely be used against you, possibly immediately, by the secret police."Remember: Sustained, hit-and-run style electronic guerrilla warfare is a major component of our struggle. Put your net access to good use, today and every day!"But that, as they say, was yesterday. Kleim has since lost faith in the viability of the movement. In a new essay he recently put on-line, the Sacramento, California, native scolded his fellow skinheads: "The movement is an entertainment industry, not a cause," he gripes. "The movement provides amusement to those who cannot find amusement and diversion elsewhere. Within the movement young and old alike can live out delusive fantasies of glory and triumph in the comfort of their own homes...The movement is an industry built upon the backs of working people with bright but unrealistic hopes."Those who monitor hate groups, however, aren't quite so quick to write off the threat posed by Kleim's former compadres."This is a perfect medium for them," contends Rabbi Abraham Cooper of the Simon Wiesenthal Center in Los Angeles. "Their cultural impact can be enormous. And the fringe groups have been much more adept at realizing the potential of this technology and putting it to use. The real value is the way in which it increases their ability to put their message out, and to recruit new members. Especially young people. It is a fantastic marketing tool."It's as if this is a new form of computer virus, one that can spread beyond the machine if it is let loose in the right cultural petri dish. In an age where society is becoming increasingly fragmented and depersonalized, on-line hate groups offer a form of community many may be seeking. Add to that the fact that, as Cooper says, the web has no "depth, so that one site can seem to have the equivalence of another," and you have a situation "that is a dream come true for the lunatic fringe.""We know that there's well over 100 of these Web sites, and they are increasing daily," says Cooper. And with bomb recipes being published along with violent racist rhetoric, failure to rein in hate speech will be disastrous predicts Cooper.How best to combat the issue is a matter of great debate. The Wiesenthal Center is calling upon access providers to exercise "good corporate citizenship" and banish hate groups. But that can only be so effective. As the Philadelphia-based group Alpha demonstrates, racists can simply take matters into their own hands. "We saw what was happening as far as attempts to censor goups like ours, so we established our own server (to provide Internet access)," says Mike Wilson, a 30-year-old who earns a living doing desktop publishing. Seeing the need for further steps, the Wiesenthal Center is calling upon the Clinton administration to make the issue a top priority.Others bristle at any attempt to curtail free speech rights, no matter how odious that speech may be."The best response to bad speech is more speech," contends Barry Steinhardt of the American Civil Liberties Union. "To sweep these groups' speech under the rug where it can't be exposed to counter-argument is the most dangerous thing you can do."Besides, says Steinhardt, effective censorship is virtually impossible, given the international, borderless qualities of the Internet. How great a threat do these groups pose? No one can say for sure. But Tom Metzger offers one piece of advice: "Underestimating the opposition is always a dangerous delusion."