A gentler white nationalist in PA—and beyond
Maybe you’ve heard: A horde of white nationalists are coming to town to celebrate Leif Erikson Day tomorrow. They’ll be greeted by lots of protesters while they attempt to gather around at Kelly Drive, celebrating the Nordic explorer who is said to have come to North America in 1003 AD.
Members of the white nationalist group Keystone United (formerly the Keystone State Skinheads), and others, have been coming to Philly for the last seven years to celebrate the day, and with them, a reason for local anti-racist activists to organize and protest.
When I spoke with KU member AJ Olsen last week, he contended the neo-Nazi skinheads of the past who used ethnic intimidation and violent hate crimes as a tactic are not welcome in his group.
Instead, KU is focused on loving one another and taking pride in their European heritage the same way African-American, Asian or other organized ethnic groups would.
American society has diminished white peoples’ accomplishments in society and made it harder for whites to get ahead due to both teaching false histories in school and social government programs, he said, and something needs to change.
“We’re very much about improving the situation for white Americans in our community and throughout the country,” Olsen, 25, said. “It’s about making things better. We’re not about stepping one anyone else’s toes, any one else’s culture or race. It’s not about hatred or supremacy or anything like that. It’s just a simple love for our kind.”
There’s probably a lot of debate as to whether or not white nationalist groups really are dedicated to keeping their words and actions to themselves these days. But whatever the case, Olsen’s sentiments have been echoed by similar organizations all over the United States in recent years. And the group’s name-change isn’t an anomaly, either. Such changes in tone and name have become commonplace.
White nationalists, Olsen said, are actually more diverse than we may realize—politically speaking. Members of KU do not necessarily fit under the banner of Hitler’s National Socialist ideals (a political philosophy which is actually pretty popular in certain corners of the Internet). There are actually a host of political parties white nationalists may find themselves a part of, partially because they’ve accepted the dream of National Socialism in the United States is not possible.
Republican Ron Paul, it was well-known during the 2008 and 2012 elections, attracted the attention and admiration of some neo-Nazi groups. This was in part for his belief that the government should stay out of peoples’ lives and because of his opposition to social programs in the U.S. government, and legislation like the Civil Rights Act and hate crime legislation. Political commentator Pat Buchanan and Constitution Party leader Virgil Goode attract white nationalist attention on occasion, too, for the same reasons.
And those figureheads have become accepted by the mainstream of the United States, in part due to their ability to accentuate the positive aspects of removing the government from social attitudes and maintaining that things like the free market will make racism obsolete.
Others aren’t as kind. Making a home online at Stormfront.org and open message boards, anonymous neo-Nazis and white nationalists can be seen daily using the same tactics as many fringe elements of society—often sharing an article or video promoting multi-culturalism and storming the comment board with hate. Earlier this year, for instance, an online Cheerios commercial featuring an interracial couple received a harsh YouTube comment board backlash after neo-Nazi and general racist boards got wind of the ad. YouTube had to shut down the comments.
Having written a previous article about tomorrow’s protest, I, too, have now been called anti-white. Part of my being against white people (even though I am one) is that I labeled Philadelphia Residents Against Racism and the One People’s Project as anti-racist groups. In actuality, say critics, “anti-racist” is actually code for “anti-white.” To get into it a bit further, there are people on the Internet you can read who claim higher-ups in society want an anti-white normalcy amongst middle and working class people, so we will all breed with one another and create a permanent lower class determined by both race and intelligence.
Huh? Yeah: Many anonymous racists on the Internet still subscribe to the theories which say white people are more biologically advanced than anyone else and use fake science to prove it. One self-described white nationalist I read while researching this issue described his political affiliation as “biologist,” which is sort of like a mix of Libertarianism and Social Darwinism, along with the implication that people of European heritage are more biologically advanced than other races. I’m intentionally not linking to any of it here. If you want to read it, it’s not hard to find.
Olsen explicitly denies all of this. He tells me that no, the white race is not better than any other; rather, races are “different—it’s not better or worse or smarter or anything like that, it’s just different and that needs to be taken into consideration,” he noted.
“Honestly, I’ve met a lot of people who are not of European descent who I have a lot of respect for,” Olsen then added. “As far as that goes, it’s on an individual basis. The main premise of what we deal with is that we’ve been cast aside by our own and we feel that the European population has done so much more than any other culture for this country to make it as great as it is, and I think people tend to have forgotten that.”
Keystone United’s name-change in 2008 may have been a harbinger to another. The American Third Position Party, a neo-fascist political group based on the global fascist idea of a third position that is “beyond left and right,” recently underwent its own evolution.
Citing Americans’ ignorance of the global third position phenomenon (which helped spawn Golden Dawn, Greece’s neo-Nazi party), the United States’ Third Position Party renamed themselves the American Freedom Party earlier this year.
Words like “freedom” and “united” are part of the attempt to legitimize Hitlerian ideals, say critics. And many aren’t taking any chances to hear them out.
“We definitely do not want them to feel comfortable,” says Daryle Lamont Jenkins, leader of the One People’s Project, which is leading the counter-protest against Keystone United and other white nationalist groups on Saturday. “If we don’t start getting a hold of it, we’re going to see things get worse and worse, like they always do.”
Follow Randy on Twitter: @RandyLoBasso