National Alliance Weakens
America's leading neo-Nazi group is struggling to hold its organization together and to patch up relations with other hate groups in the wake of the removal of a key official who had served as a bridge to the rest of the radical right.
Leading officials of the 1,500-member National Alliance have fanned out across the country to meet with members who might have grown disaffected. They have reached out to at least two other major neo-Nazi organizations in a bid to repair damage caused by extremely harsh comments made by Alliance leaders about other groups. And they appear to have tried to quell a heated exchange that broke out between the Alliance's new chairman and the man he fired in September.
The Alliance, a 28-year-old organization based near Mill Point, W. Va., had already been shaken to its core by the July death of its founder and leader, William Pierce. Within days, however, a secret "board of directors" selected a new chairman, Cleveland unit leader Erich Gliebe, and things appeared to stabilize.
But then, on Sept. 17, Gliebe fired the Alliance's popular deputy membership coordinator, Billy Roper, and booted him unceremoniously out of the group. That, coupled with revelations contained in an Intelligence Report article that was released on the same day, set off a firestorm of controversy and angry exchanges.
The Intelligence Report story, written before the firing, outlined the tension between Gliebe and Roper and suggested that Roper could soon be ejected. But more importantly, it detailed Pierce's last speech to his followers, given at a secret "leadership conference" last spring.
Both Pierce and Gliebe were quoted as they harshly attacked other hate groups, with Pierce calling their members "freaks and weaklings." Pierce specifically mocked the Aryan Nations and the World Church of the Creator (WCOTC), the two other major neo-Nazi groups in America.
The results were explosive. There was widespread talk of a boycott of Resistance Records, the white power music label owned by the Alliance that brings in much of its million-plus annual income.
Racist Skinheads, who make up much of and other groups, posted furious reactions in chat rooms on the Internet. A key member of Blood & Honour, a British neo-Nazi group, asked other members and supporters "not to have anything more to do with NA"
"The NA can't live without other groups and non-NA members," a member said. "No other group attacks other groups ... therefore we must attack them in return!"
The Outrage Spreads
The debate even raged in an electronic forum on the Web page for Resistance, which has been led for almost three years by Gliebe.
"Let me ask you something," one correspondent wrote. "Do you think Resistance would be here whatsoever if a bunch of skinhead youth weren't buying Resistance merchandise??? Exactly who the hell do you think the music, clothing, etc., is being marketed to here? ... Skinheads do not alienate themselves. You elitist cluster f**cks alienate us. For some reason you seem to think because either you dress better, hold a higher class status, or hold a college doctorate, that you are better than us."
A member of the Keystone State Skinheads pitched in. "WHO ... ARE YOU TO QUESTION ME????? WE'RE THE ONES ON THE FRONT LINE NOT YOU ASSHOLE, YOU SUIT AND TIE FUCKS COME IN AFTER THE DIRTY WORK IS DONE. SO FUCK YOU ASSHOLE, YOU ACT WORSE THAN A JEW!!!"
"I would like to know where Resistance would be without Skinheads buying all the music and zines," a third correspondent wrote. "How do you think we buy all these T-shirts and CDs? ... I guess you thought our thuggish selves were beating up old ladies in the park ... to get our quick fix of a Resistance CD."
Henceforth, the writer added, "I will ... be supporting more skinhead labels, put out by skinheads and not [people] laughing at how the dumb are buying their stuff."
The conflict between Roper and Gliebe also spilled out into the public arena, threatening a major split between supporters of each man. It was well known that Roper favored a policy of working with other organizations, including the very ones attacked by Gliebe and Pierce, while Gliebe remained loyal to Pierce's vision of the Alliance as an "elite" party that should stick to itself. There was also rancor between them over the leadership post, which Roper had hoped to land for himself.
When he finally fired Roper, Gliebe initially limited himself to a statement issued by David Pringle, the man he named to replace Roper.
Pringle said Roper was "abrasive," had made "some very unfortunate, very wrong decisions," was "blinded" by ambition and "couldn't park his ego long enough to let Erich Gliebe unite us."
Mano a Mano
But Roper's firing and the release of the Intelligence Report article, which was posted within hours to numerous neo-Nazi Web sites, caused an almost instantaneous uproar.
Byron Calvert, a former Alliance staffer and a friend of Roper's, spoke for many when he wrote that the Alliance "has every right to run itself however it likes ... [but] their ability to continue to CDs to the same Skinheads they refer to as 'freaks and weaklings' and 'drunken Sieg Heilers' is going to require some interesting damage control efforts."
Roper, meanwhile, said that at the urging of "hundreds of White Nationalists," he was starting his own group, White Revolution, which would act as an umbrella group under which other organizations could work together (see A Group is Born).
His "mission statement" was carefully crafted to avoid attacking the Alliance. But within days, Roper added language that implicitly mocked the Alliance, saying his group would be a "meritocracy" that would not be run by a "Secret Squirrel Society."
Now, Gliebe fired back. Through Pringle, he posted a seven-point "indictment" that detailed Roper's alleged misdeeds. In it, Gliebe accused Roper of "betrayed confidences, secret attacks on other National Alliance members, and personal empire building."
He insinuated that Roper might have leaked information to the Intelligence Report and claimed the Report's article contained "defamatory material" about Roper's enemies that was intended to create a schism.
Roper denied it all, and also took a few swings himself. He attacked an Alliance office staffer who has a non-white wife and mixed-race child. And he played up how Gliebe had installed "spyware" on Roper's Alliance computer, as Gliebe himself had admitted, in order to monitor Roper before the firing.
Then, on Sept. 24, Gliebe went further, now essentially denying everything contained in the Report's story — "a solution of two or three grains of truth dissolved in gallons of fraudulent misinformation, faulty 'intelligence' work, and outright lies."
As to the quotes, "no such comments were made by Dr. Pierce or by me." The entire affair, Gliebe insisted, was a failed "disinformation effort" by the Report.