Rock 'n' Racism

The Washington Post/January 19, 2000
By David Segal

Hillsboro, W.Va. -- In a mountaintop compound at the end of a mile-long dirt road, workers hammer together a cavernous warehouse of concrete and steel. By next month, the building will be packed to its arched roof with compact discs and cassettes.

This is the future shipping center of Resistance Records, the world's largest neo-Nazi music label.

The operation is the brainchild of William Pierce, 66, founder of the National Alliance and author of "The Turner Diaries," a novel about terrorism that apparently helped inspire the Oklahoma City bombing. Pierce's tastes run toward the classical -- Beethoven is his favorite -- but he has ventured into the rock business for the most pragmatic of reasons: to recruit young minds to his cause.

"I don't care for the music myself," Pierce said. "But if it helps move people in the right direction, I'm for it."

These are tough days for racist revolutionaries. A booming economy, low unemployment and years of peace have made it difficult to replenish the graying ranks of white supremacists. Chapters of the Ku Klux Klan are closing, and membership for white-power groups has been flat or declining for the past decade, according to the Anti-Defamation League. With an eye toward reviving their fortunes, white supremacists are turning to modern media, such as the Internet and rock music.

"It sounds a bit far-fetched to adults, but rock could be hugely important in terms of enlarging the reach of the American neo-Nazi movement," said Mark Potok of the Southern Poverty Law Center, a group that has studied the National Alliance. "The country's premier neo-Nazi organization is exploiting what could be one of its most effective fund-raising and recruiting tools."

In Hillsboro, a hamlet in the foothills of the Allegheny Mountains, 250 miles from Washington, Pierce has quietly turned himself into racist rock's leading impresario, selling, he says, roughly $1 million in merchandise a year.

Since summer, CDs by bands such as Angry Aryans and Nordic Thunder have been packed and mailed sent to thousands of fans across the world from this serene setting, a fenced-off, 400-acre spread that doubles as headquarters for one of the country's most notorious white supremacist organizations. Hard-core 'hatecore'

Hatecore, as the music is known, is gruff, loud and guitar-driven. The vocalists howl like drill sergeants, and the lyrics -- heavily influenced by the Third Reich -- are vehemently anti-government and racist. "A lot of the ideals that the Germans had during World War II, the country they were trying to create, we think would be ideal," said Drew, the lead singer of the Atlantic City-based Blue Eyed Devils, who declined to provide his last name. "White people don't have a homeland in this world." The recordings are amateurish in technical quality and musicianship, but dozens of hatecore acts have built small, ardent followings. Buzz about the music -- a minuscule fraction of overall rock sales -- is generated through the Internet and a network of fans, performers and promoters.

Skinhead concerts generate such raucous crowds that promoters are often reluctant to book them, fearing litigation. The fans are typically male and in their 20s, many of them professionals with decent jobs. They share an unshakable conviction that the white race is headed toward extinction and saving it requires a rigorous segregation from nonwhites.

"I want everything to be done peacefully," said Bekki Taylor, 26, a Michigan hatecore fan. "But that's a far-off hope. If it came to war to save my people's blood, I would shed mine."

During the day, Taylor holds a steady job as a tax consultant and keeps her political views to herself. Out of the office, she fumes that the forces of "political correctness" -- a favorite bugaboo of this crowd -- have turned her Norwegian ancestry into a source of shame. She's irate that high school teachers portray her Viking forefathers as savages, and she's certain America's "melting pot" approach is a catastrophe.

Resistance and the National Alliance are run with nine employees, several of whom live in houses on the compound. Pierce's office is in back, where he works 10-hour days. Two copies of "Mein Kampf" are on the shelves and a copy of the Jerusalem Post lies at his feet.

The second floor houses the National Alliance's mail-order operation, two large rooms of racist books, videos and music. The standard antisemitic tracts are for sale, including "Protocols of the Learned Elders of Zion" and "Jewish Ritual Murder." There are some surprises, such as a biography of record magnate David Geffen. "It's a revealing portrait of a degenerate homosexual Jew boy," Pierce explains.

Having purchased a Swedish competitor a few months ago, Resistance carries 250 titles and stockpiles nearly 80,000 CDs. Resistance merely takes and processes orders here, through the mail and via a slickly designed Web site.

Pierce won't say much about the label's finances, aside from claiming it's breaking even after a period of heavy investment. About 50 orders a day arrive, he said, with each order averaging about $70 worth of merchandise. That would make Resistance a modestly successful small label, one of dozens in the United States.

'Rationale for alienation'

From the compound's recording studio, Pierce produces a weekly radio show, which he pays to have broadcast on a handful of stations across the country. Several National Alliance Web sites are managed on the premises, as are a variety of newsletters and magazines.

Orders for music and books are processed and packed by a pair of skinheads who live nearby. Cardboard boxes of Resistance music spill all over the largest room, with haphazard stacks of CDs by bands such as Beserkr, Skrewdriver and dozens of others. The label has outgrown the premises, which is why Pierce started the 1,800-square-foot warehouse under construction across the dirt driveway.

Winning over the poor and middle-class young men who are his target audience has never been tougher, Pierce grumbles, and not just because of prosperity. Kids today don't read.

"They just watch television and listen to music," Pierce said. "And a lot of these kids are (ticked) off. My aim is to give them a rationale for their alienation, to give them a target for their anger."

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