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A Thin Line
Desperate for new recruits, national hate group turns to love
By R. V. Scheide
Still reeling from the death of its founder two years ago, National Alliance, the largest white supremacist group in the United States, turned to a new tactic this Valentine's Day. In an effort to boost a reported decline in membership, the West Virginia-based neo-Nazi organization began distributing thousands of fliers encouraging whites to "Love Your Race" in neighborhoods across the country.
The fliers began turning up in Sebastopol, Petaluma and Rohnert Park in late March, according to Sonoma County Commission on Human Rights chairman Ernesto Olivares. "Our job is to report incidents like this so that we know that it's here," Olivares said, adding that while the leafleting was protected free speech, the commission "alerted local law enforcement, just in case."
"We got a couple of reports from people who complained about the leafleting," said Petaluma Police Department's Lt. Dan Fish. "It's protected by freedom of speech and nothing has happened since."
Fish recalls several similar incidents of leafleting during the 15 years he's served on the force. Petaluma is hardly a neo-Nazi hotbed. In fact, it's one of several Sonoma County cities that have signed on to the Human Rights Commission's "Hate-Free Community" program. Nevertheless, National Alliance spokesman Shaun Walker claims that members of the hate group who live in Petaluma were responsible for the leafleting.
"We have members in Petaluma who just started downloading the flier from the website," Walker says. They then printed the fliers and handed them out. He estimated 115,000 fliers had been distributed in Sonoma County, the largest distribution nationwide. "The response has been phenomenal."
But other than taking Walker's word for it, judging the actual response is difficult.
"There have been at least a half-dozen leafleting incidents in California," said Rose Gabaeff, assistant director of the Anti-Defamation League's (ADL) San Francisco office. "How effective it is, we do not know, but we are concerned about their activities."
Walker would not say specifically how many people responded, but the fliers offered a "white person of good moral character, with no disqualifying characteristics" several ways to reply, including an e-mail address, a link to the National Alliance's website and a phone number with a Sacramento area code.
Those who call the number are welcomed by a recorded voice message from National Alliance founder William Pierce, author of the infamous Turner Diaries, a fictional work about the coming white revolution that provided inspiration to, among others, executed Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh. But Pierce died in July of 2002.
According to the ADL, Pierce's death has led to infighting among National Alliance leaders that threatens to topple the group, which is estimated to have more than 1,500 members nationwide. Several board members have resigned and other former members are openly critical of current National Alliance chairman Erich Gliebe. In its 2004 update on the group, the ADL reported, "the National Alliance has clearly been damaged and its future remains tenuous."
The aggressive leafleting campaign began last year on the anniversary of Pierce's death, the ADL says, as an effort to shore up flagging membership. Walker, who serves as the National Alliance's chief operations officer, says that it's the group's policy not to discuss official membership numbers, but insisted support remains strong.
"We've got more members in California than anyplace else," he says. Now 35, Walker grew up in Hayward and experienced "dirty looks and a feeling of unwantedness" as nonwhites moved into his neighborhood and became a majority at his high school. "Why did that happen?" he asks rhetorically, responding, "This is what is going to happen until white people start thinking on a racial level."
That's why for the past 21 years Walker has been working with the National Alliance "for the long-term interest of white America." Superficially, as he discusses issues such as better pay, working conditions and health benefits, Walker sounds not unlike a typical liberal politician. But when it comes to the National Alliance, ugliness is never too far below the surface.
In Florida the neo-Nazi group has even put up billboards featuring such slogans as "Who Rule$ Amerika?" alongside major roadways. Go to the website listed on the billboard, scroll down and the answer to that question is revealed in a seven-page PDF file: the Jews, via alleged dominance of the mainstream media.
"Once we have absorbed and understood the fact of Jewish media control, it our inescapable responsibility to do whatever is necessary [italics theirs] to break that control," the National Alliance report concludes.
No doubt "whatever is necessary" includes a second Holocaust--that is, if National Alliance members could agree that the first Holocaust actually occurred. The group's website contains numerous links to holocaust revisionist literature, and the distribution of such tracts remains one of its major sources of income.
"We're a pro-white organization, not a Holocaust revisionist organization," Walker insists. When Asians, Latinos or Jews build say, a new community center, it's celebrated, he says. "If you try to find anything that's pro-white, you get demonized."
"Love Your Race," the National Alliance extols whites. But as the song goes, there's a thin line between love and hate. In the case of the National Alliance, that line is virtually nonexistent.
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From the April 21-27, 2004 issue of the North Bay Bohemian.