Former Hate Music Promoter George Burdi Discusses His Experiences with Racism and the White Power Music Industry
In 1993, Canadian George Burdi started Resistance Records in Detroit, Mich., and quickly turned it into the largest distributor of racist music in North America, a firm that did as much as any other to spread the music that has also become known as "hatecore."
Along the way, Burdi, a member of the U.S.-based, neo-Nazi Church of the Creator (COTC), edited Resistance magazine, sang for the band Rahowa (short for "racial holy war," the slogan of COTC), and became one of the world's most visible racists.
Burdi was imprisoned in 1997 in connection with the beating of a female anti-racist activist following a fiery Burdi speech in Ottawa. Burdi says he did not personally kick the woman during the assault. After Burdi's release from prison, he cut all ties with the white power movement.
Today, Burdi, 31, plays in a band with two black members and is engaged to an East Indian woman. The Intelligence Report spoke to Burdi about his past, his own experiences with racism, and the white power music industry he helped to create.
INTELLIGENCE REPORT: What was your life like growing up?
GEORGE BURDI: I was born in 1970, and I grew up in a small, middle-class suburb of Toronto. I had a good relationship with my parents and was an altar boy at the parish.
In high school, I was the vice president of the student council and organized the dances. I was a popular kid, a straight-A student. I was on the football team, and I started a bodybuilding club. Everything was great.
IR: What were racial attitudes like in your family?
BURDI: My parents were Christians and accepting of everybody. I don't ever recall a discussion of race. My brother and I had black friends, and my parents fed them and treated them as if they were their own kids.
I was in the Chocolate Cake Club, a multicultural group of black kids and white kids. One of my best friends was Filipino. Until the end of high school, I had no racist leanings at all.
IR: So how did you get into racism?
BURDI: I was 18 years old. My girlfriend's father was into the movement, and I wanted his approval because I thought I was in love with his daughter.
He was really focused on World War II. He thought the Allies were unfair to Germany and that the Holocaust was wartime propaganda. At first, he wasn't talking to me about race or national socialism at all. He used to quote Napoleon, who said history is bunk; it is merely a version of a story written by the victors.
But racial literature isn't too far from Holocaust revisionist history, and eventually I came across it.
IR: How did that happen?
BURDI: I found a book in his house, White Power, by [assassinated American Nazi Party founder] George Lincoln Rockwell, and it shocked the hell out of me. I read it in a day.
I didn't start hating people right away; I was more looking for meaning in life. And here was this heroic challenge, in which my blood was calling me to rise up and save my people from destruction. That kind of epic theme really appealed to me.
When I was younger, I had liked playing Dungeons and Dragons and reading fantasy books like Lord of the Rings.
When you're young, you think you understand everything, and you want to share what you're thinking and get feedback. But I would bring up race and people would threaten me and call me a Nazi. They said that I wasn't allowed to think this, or that only bad people think this. I wanted an explanation.
People would say 6 million died in the Holocaust. I'd say, 30 million died under Stalin, but it's okay to be a communist. I had an argument for everything, but no one would listen to me or discuss it. It just galvanized my will.
It's funny, at the same moment that I was starting to read White Power, one of my black friends loaned me a tape of [black nationalist Louis] Farrakhan speaking.
I thought it was great! Here's this guy doing the same thing as Rockwell. He's looking after his people and promoting separation of the races, because higher culture [supposedly] is produced through homogenous nations.
IR: What did your family think of your new racial interest?
BURDI: My parents were passionate about saying it was wrong, but they never had any reasons. I wanted reasons. Our relationship really suffered. They saw I was on a slippery slope to jail or maybe death.
Once I got involved in Church of the Creator [the predecessor organization to WCOTC], I'd see them every few weeks, tell them how they didn't know anything and then leave. We tried to keep politics out of our relationship as much as possible.
IR: When did you connect with the Church of the Creator?
BURDI: During my first year at university, somebody who had worked for [long-time Canadian resident and Holocaust denier Ernst] Zündel gave me The White Man's Bible [by COTC founder Ben Klassen].
I couldn't believe that that type of stuff even existed. I was turned off by it. The White Man's Bible makes Rockwell's White Power look like an Aesop fable.
But I couldn't stop thinking about it. It said Jews and every other race look after their own interests first and foremost, and that it should be your responsibility as a young white person to promote your race first and foremost.
Klassen was arguing that white people are the creators of civilization; that's why it's called the Church of the Creator.
IR: What was your involvement in COTC?
BURDI: I traveled to the States a few times to meet people, and to Montreal and Ottawa. I answered a lot of letters. I worked for two months on Klassen's church compound in North Carolina.
Klassen was a reclusive guy who lived in a separate house up on the hill. He would come down every morning, put his hand on your shoulder, say a couple of inspiring things to the three of us who were there, and then leave. I produced the newspaper Racial Loyalty, wrote letters, stuffed envelopes, that kind of thing.
People have this impression that there is a large, well-organized, brooding underground. In reality all these P.O. boxes are just P.O. boxes.
It's a glass tiger.
There are a few people in each town who get together once in a while, drink some beers, use racial epithets and then go home feeling good about themselves. Maybe they subscribe to a couple of publications.
There are a very small number of them, and it's not well organized.
IR: Tell me about your band Rahowa.
BURDI: I started Rahowa with some local skinheads in 1989, and we split up in 1997. We released two discs; the most famous was the second, Cult of the Holy War, released in 1995.
Gigs were very rare. If a [white power] band plays four or five times a year that's a lot. We probably played 15 to 20 gigs in eight years.
Only two of us were with the band the whole time; everyone else came and went.
IR: What were concerts like?
BURDI: They almost never made money. But the concerts were crazy. Friends would beat each other up and then laugh about it afterwards, with their eyes swollen shut and their noses broken and picking their teeth up off the ground.
A large percentage of skinheads, especially in North America, are really hard-core alcoholics. It's too much to expect them to put fliers on cars, but they'll jump at the chance to buy beer.
There's a real irony in the fact that Hitler would have exterminated most of these guys as social deviants.