Wednesday, June 19, 2013
The Associated Press
MILWAUKEE — When they aren't ranting in Internet forums, many of the nation's white supremacists seek a louder outlet for their extreme views: thunderous, thrashing heavy metal or punk music with lyrics that call for a race war.
This undated photo provided by the FBI shows Wade Michael Page, a suspect in the Sunday Sikh temple shootings in Oak Creek, Wis.
Indian Surinder Kaur, center, the wife of Seeta Singh who was killed in the shooting attack at a Sikh temple in Wisconsin, is comforted by her son Armeet and daughter Sarabjit, right, at the family home in New Delhi, India, Tuesday, Aug. 7, 2012. Singh was killed alongside his brother Ranjeet Singh who he had recently joined in the United States during the attack on Sunday. (AP Photo/Kevin Frayer)
Wade Michael Page, the gunman who killed six people at a Sikh temple in Wisconsin before being killed by police, was deeply involved in the "hate rock" scene – a shadowy world of hundreds of performers in the U.S. and Europe, most of them playing metal or hardcore punk. Some also play country, folk and other genres.
Largely unknown to most Americans, this musical subculture is an integral part of neo-Nazi circles, offering a way for like-minded followers to connect with each other and socialize, recruit new members and raise money for their cause.
"It really was a good political weapon for the agenda," said Jason Stevens, who once fronted a white-power band called Intimidation One in Portland, Ore.
Page once played guitar and bass with Intimidation One, as well as in bands called Definite Hate and End Apathy.
Stevens, who turned his back on white supremacy in 2004 and now owns a small business, said he was shocked to hear that a friend he remembered as "mellow and quiet" had committed such a heinous crime.
The two last talked on the phone in 2010, and Stevens said Page was "his usual laid-back self." At the time, Stevens said, he had a job at a Colorado metalworking shop.
Stevens said money raised by his band's tours and record sales was often funneled to legal defense funds for white supremacists charged with federal crimes, including Randy Weaver, whose 1992 standoff with federal agents in Ruby Ridge, Idaho, left a U.S. marshal and two Weaver family members dead.
The music "brings in more revenue than virtually anything else," said Brian Levin, a criminal justice professor at California State University at San Bernardino, who has consulted for the FBI and other federal agencies on white supremacists.
The National Alliance, a prominent white-power organization, sometimes cleared $1 million a year in profit from music, books and magazines, video games and other supremacy products, Levin said.
One of the most influential white-supremacist record labels, Resistance Records, often sold hate-rock albums for $14.88 — "14" represented the 14 words in a popular skinhead mantra, and "8'' pointed to "H'' as the eighth letter of the alphabet.
"Doubling it up stood for 'Heil Hitler,'" said Todd Blodgett, a former Reagan White House aide who once had an ownership stake in Resistance Records but later informed on white supremacist groups for the FBI.
Senior leaders of the groups see hate rock as the most effective way to recruit young followers, said Blodgett, who said he never held racist views but got wrapped up in far-right organizations without knowing the full implications of their beliefs.
The band now viewed as the pioneer of hate rock was called Skrewdriver, hailing from Britain's skinhead scene in the late 1970s and pioneering a genre called "Oi," which sounds similar to punk bands of the period such as the Sex Pistols.
The genre quickly spread to the U.S. and mushroomed in the early 1980s. In more recent years, the Internet enabled much wider distribution of the music, with many of its record labels run by a single person with a post-office box.
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Pete Simi holds his book "American Swastika" while posing for a photo in his office in Omaha, Neb., Tuesday, Aug. 7, 2012. Simi, a professor at the School of Criminology and Criminal Justice at the University of Nebraska-Omaha, has done extensive field research into domestic hate groups, white supremacists and neo-Nazis. He knew Wade Michael Page, the Wisconsin Sikh temple gunman, from field research he did in southern California in 2001-2003 but had since lost touch with him. (AP Photo/Nati Harnik)