William Daniel Johnson, a Los Angeles corporate lawyer, is an uninspiring but determined white separatist. As early as 1985, Johnson proposed a constitutional amendment that would revoke the American citizenship of every nonwhite inhabitant of the United States. A quarter century later, in 2010, he was still actively supporting white nationalist causes, serving as chairman of the racist American Third Position political party (renamed American Freedom Party in 2013), established the prior year. The party wants to run racist candidates nationwide..
In His Own Words
"No person shall be a citizen of the United States unless he is a non-Hispanic white of the European race. … Only citizens shall have the right and privilege to reside permanently in the United States."
— Excerpt from the "Pace Amendment" to the Constitution proposed by Johnson in 1985
"The Third Position insists that it is both healthy and divinely ordained that people should have a genuine love and preference for their own kind."
— From a Dec. 31, 2009 video, "An Introduction to the American Third Position"
"One commercial for an upcoming rerun of a Harry Potter movie had Harry Potter kissing a Chinese girl. And of all of the little snippets that they could take out of the movies, why would the networks focus on Harry Potter kissing a Chinese girl? And if you look at all of the reality shows, there was miscegenation in every frame. This is what we're dealing with, this is what we're grappling with."
— From a speech to the American Third Position National Conference on June 19, 2010
William Daniel Johnson was born in Pinal County, Ariz., in 1954. He studied Japanese at Brigham Young University and went on to earn his law degree from Columbia University in 1981. As a young lawyer, he worked for law firms in Japan and South Korea. After a few years, he returned to the United States to live in California, though he would continue to work for Japanese clients throughout his career.
In 1985, under the pseudonym James O. Pace, Johnson wrote the book Amendment to the Constitution: Averting the Decline and Fall of America. In it, he advocates the repeal of the 14th and 15th amendments and the deportation of almost all nonwhite citizens to other countries. Johnson further claimed that racial mixing and diversity caused social and cultural degeneration in the United States. He wrote: "We lose our effectiveness as leaders when no one relies on us or can trust us because of our nonwhite and fractionalized nature. … [R]acial diversity has given us strife and conflict and is enormously counterproductive."
Johnson's solution to this problem was to deport all nonwhites as soon as possible. Anybody with any "ascertainable trace of Negro blood" or more than one-eighth "Mongolian, Asian, Asia Minor, Middle Eastern, Semitic, Near Eastern, American Indian, Malay or other non-European or non-white blood" would be deported under the Pace Amendment.
To smooth the process, Johnson proposed that financial incentives be offered to nonwhites who cooperate with the government in the deportation process. Nonwhites who are too old to leave would be allowed to stay, as they were past childbearing age and did not present an obstacle to long-term racial homogeneity. Johnson imagined that black Americans could be employed to help the transition. He wrote, "Because of their physical abilities, the blacks would be the ideal enforcers." Johnson believed it critical that the amendment be enacted; if not, he said, nonwhites would strip rights from white Americans, potentially leading to a deadly "race war." For Johnson, the deportation of nonwhites is an act of self-defense, a preemptive strike in defense of real Americans.
Johnson attempted to garner support for his amendment among members of Congress and the public at large, mailing copies of his book to state and federal legislators. At the end of Amendment to the Constitution, he encouraged citizens to donate to the League of Pace Amendment Advocates, a group Johnson started in the early 1980s to advocate for the adoption of his amendment. In 1986, Johnson promoted the Pace Amendment at the World Congress of the Aryan Nations, a neo-Nazi group whose congresses were for years the premiere annual gatherings for racist U.S. extremists of all stripes. The Aryan Nations' now deceased leader, Richard Butler, wrote a hearty endorsement of Johnson's book that was featured on its dustcover.
In April 1989, Johnson ran in a Casper, Wyo., special election for the congressional seat of Dick Cheney, who had been nominated as secretary of defense. Johnson was explicit about his white nationalism during the campaign, telling The Associated Press, "Whites don't have a future here in this country, and that is … one of many issues that I am addressing." During his run, Johnson's campaign manager was a 19-year-old Klansman named John Abarr, who later told a reporter that the Klan is "basically a civil rights organization that stands up for the rights of white people." Johnson lost the election, receiving less than 1% of the vote.
After his defeat, Johnson returned to Glendale, Calif. In August 1989, a bomb went off in the building housing the League of Pace Amendment Advocates' offices. Soon after, Johnson left the League, frustrated with its lack of progress. Jesse Johnson — who had been a "grand dragon," or state leader, of a Ku Klux Klan group in Texas — took his place.
Discouraged by his political failures, Johnson retreated from the white nationalist scene, although in 1992 he was scheduled to give the invocation at a Los Angeles conference of black and white nationalists and Holocaust deniers. Later that year, he also printed 3,000 copies of a paperback titled Establishing African Homelands for Black Americans. He was otherwise publicly inactive for more than a decade.
On May 13, 2006, Johnson returned to politics, filing to run in the Democratic primary for Arizona's 8th congressional district. On his campaign website's "issues page," Johnson described his commitment to deporting illegal immigrants in large numbers and his desire to both fine and jail employers who hired illegal immigrants. To bolster his campaign, Johnson brought in Russ Dove, an anti-immigration extremist with a felony conviction for attempted grand theft. Dove was also known for publicly burning a Mexican flag in April 2006 in Tucson. Johnson paid Dove more than $15,000 for "gathering signatures" and "consulting." But it was all to no avail. Johnson spent more than $133,000 of his own money but won only 2.9% of the vote.
Johnson returned to California, where in September 2007 he hosted a $2,000-a-plate fundraiser at his ranch for the presidential campaign of U.S. Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas).
In June 2008, Johnson ran in a primary for Los Angeles County Superior Court judge. He avoided publicity, declining to respond to a questionnaire or provide information about himself to the Los Angeles County Bar Association. But the Metropolitan News-Enterprise, a Los Angeles newspaper that covers law and the courts in detail, wrote a long article about Johnson's background, including his role in promoting the Pace Amendment. Ron Paul then retracted an earlier endorsement of Johnson, who went on to lose the election with 26% of the vote.
In October 2009, Johnson met with members of Freedom 14, a racist skinhead group. Freedom 14 members had previously established the racist Golden State Party, but it fell apart in the wake of revelations about its leader's criminal past. They decided to create a new political party: the American Third Position (A3P). renamed America Freedom Party (AFP) in 2013. Johnson signed on as the group's chairman and leading spokesperson. Also leading the group was anti-Semite Kevin MacDonald, a California professor who believes that Jews destabilize the societies in which they live and are genetically programmed to attempt to out-compete non-Jews for resources.
The mission statement of A3P read: "The American Third Position exists to represent the political interests of White Americans." Given Johnson's role, it's no surprise that the party advocates a zero-immigration policy and wants to "provide incentives for recent, legal immigrants to return to their respective lands." Though it does not promote the mass exodus Johnson originally hoped for, their policies are a push in the same direction.
In an interview with the Southern Poverty Law Center in January 2010, Johnson said that he intended to qualify “high-level people” — meaning prominent white nationalists — for campaigns on the A3P ticket in a large number of states. He elaborated in a radio interview on Feb. 20, 2010: "The initial basis of our own upstart organization is the racial nationalist movement. It has been in disarray for the last 20 years."
Johnson has used coded language to recruit extremists into A3P. In one A3P video, for instance, Johnson says: "We of the Third Position look to the future and embrace principles that will secure the existence of our people and a future for our children." In another, he makes this appeal: "We need you to help us to secure the existence of our people and the future for our children." These phrases are almost identical to the infamous "14 Words" coined by white supremacist terrorist David Lane, who died in prison after helping murder a Jewish talk show host in his Denver driveway in 1984: "We must secure the existence of our people and a future for White children." The "14 Words" are derived from a passage in Hitler's Mein Kampf and are a popular slogan for neo-Nazis and other racist extremists. Given these outreach efforts, it is not surprising that in March 2010, Johnson and his A3P co-founder, Kevin MacDonald, attended an event sponsored by the Institute for Historical Review, a Holocaust denial group.
In June 2010, A3P's outreach efforts began to pay off. The New Jersey-based League of American Patriots was absorbed into A3P and became the Metro New York area chapter of the party. The Butler, N.J.-based League of American Patriots was founded in March 2008 and headed by a New Jersey attorney, Alexander Carmichael. The league is best known for passing out racist fliers and requiring its members to be heterosexuals of “complete European Christian ancestry.” The merger of the two groups advanced the A3P’s goal of developing active chapters throughout the United States.
Johnson traveled to Washington, D.C., on January 5, 2012, to visit a Capitol Hill reception for newly sworn in senators. The anti-immigrant lobbyist approached a number of legislators, asking how they planned to help save the white race in the United States.
Most mouthed quick pleasantries before fleeing, but Senator Dan Coates of Indiana replied that all his kids “are having lots of children of their own.” Senator Al Franken (who, as a Jew, is not actually considered white by groups like AFP) directly engaged Johnson by noting that whites, unlike African-Americans and Latinos, don’t need their own congressional caucus. “Well, what about when the whites become a small minority?” Johnson demanded.
In February of 2015, Merlin Miller, a well-documented anti-Semite and white supremacist, as well as former AFP presidential candidate, left Johnson’s party to form his own nationalist political party, the American Eagle Party. In an interview with the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), Johnson denied any hard feelings, instead characterizing Miller’s departure as an amicable, ideological split. “There are within our party those who want to be explicitly pro-white and pro-nationalist,” Johnson told the SPLC. “Merlin Miller is implicit and I am explicit. “
Johnson has also been active in promoting a new youth wing of AFP called the National Youth Front. The organization, designed for 18- to 35-year-olds, is modeled after European nationalist youth groups and includes reciprocal membership in AFP. The formation of such a wing illustrates an increasing awareness of an aging membership in AFP that has been mirrored across the radical right. As Johnson told the SPLC, “Our [AFP’s] goal is to save the white race. Whatever approach works, we’ll jump on that.”