June 6, 2017


Is there a neo-Nazi storm brewing in Trump country? : Can national socialism, repackaged as 'white identity' politics, earn votes in rural counties that voted for Trump? (Lois Beckett, 6/06/17, The Guardian)

Measured in numbers, white nationalists and neo-Nazis remain the fringe of the fringe. Last year's BronyCon, the annual conference of grown men who take an ironic fascination in the cartoon My Little Pony, attracted 7,600 people. Anthrocon, a convention of "furries" who like to do fun things while wearing fuzzy, full-body animal costumes, attracted more than 7,000. The Kentucky neo-Nazi summit in April attracted about 150 people, about 75 of them members of the Traditionalist Worker party. Heimbach claims that his party has 600 dues-paying members nationwide. They do not call themselves Nazis. Heimbach said the term Nazi is a slur, and that he draws inspiration from many fascist and national socialist regimes, not just Germany's.

Heimbach said being labeled a Nazi would undermine his attempt to educate the American people about "what national socialism truly is", claiming it invokes "every lie and every over-the-top media creation of the last 72 years [since 1945]".

Ryan Lenz, an analyst at the Southern Poverty Law Center, which tracks American hate groups, sees no justification for his argument. It is fair to label Heimbach a Nazi because he is an avowed national socialist, Holocaust denier and antisemite.

"In this context, Nazi is not a slur. It's not an attack. It's an accurate description," he said.

Neo-Nazi activism in America has been undermined for decades by what both extremist leaders and hate group monitors describe as incredibly childish infighting. Neo-Nazis have squabbled over their religious differences (some are Christian; others are pagans, some worshipping the Norse god Odin; one or two, a Neo-Nazi leader claimed, are even Buddhist), over their uniform and symbol choices, over which neo-Nazi stole which other neo-Nazi's girlfriend.

"Most of these people are malignant contrarians who have a lot of loyalty and trust issues," said Lenz.

But Trump's rise to power has encouraged the extremists to try to bridge their divides. Neo-Nazis and Ku Klux Klan leaders were jubilant over an openly xenophobic, politically incorrect presidential candidate who promised to stop illegal immigration and enact a Muslim ban - and they have pursued news coverage, attracting headlines and staging dramatic photos.

Posted by at June 6, 2017 12:26 PM