40 to Watch: Leaders of the Radical Right

What does the radical right look like after a year of reverses? The future may lie in the personalities still peopling the fringe
Billy Joe Roper II, 31 | RUSSELLVILLE, Ark.

 

Gregarious and hard-working, Billy Roper was for almost two years the most visible member of the neo-Nazi National Alliance*, giving interviews, building coalitions with other hate groups and, as deputy membership coordinator, interacting closely with the Alliance's far-flung units.

But after he was ejected from the group in late 2002, he formed another neo-Nazi group, White Revolution, and has since given the Alliance a run for its money.

Roper grew up in Arkansas, by his account as the son of a Klan member, and became a high school history teacher after college. Roper says that he was active in college Republican groups and "local Republican politics up to the state level," but dropped out when he "realized" that Jews were the primary evil in the world.

Roper joined the racist Council of Conservative Citizens in the late 1990s, at a time when he was already acting as a spokesman and organizer for the Alliance. (He became Arkansas unit leader in 1999.) In 2000, he spoke to the council's central Arkansas chapter about the Kennewick man, an ancient skeleton that has some Caucasoid features and has been taken by white supremacists to prove that whites were in prehistoric America far earlier than once believed.

That same year, he moved to the Alliance's West Virginia compound to take up work as deputy membership coordinator, a job he excelled in. Roper worked 14-hour days and was successful in drumming up publicity for the Alliance.

But he also worked to build bridges with other sectors of the revolutionary right, especially racist Skinheads, a move that was evident in the anti-Israel rallies he organized in Washington. This set him on a collision course with Alliance founder William Pierce, who had long derided members of other hate groups, and when Pierce died in July 2002, his successor Erich Gliebe fired Roper.

Roper returned to Arkansas late last year and set to work building up White Revolution, which has now attracted about 30 Alliance members and seems to be on the upswing while the Alliance flounders (see Against the Wall). On Jan. 25 of this year, Roper brought more than 65 people from around the country to rally in front of the Southern Poverty Law Center, an accomplishment of some note.

Although membership costs $10 a month, White Revolution acts as an umbrella group, allowing members to also be members of other groups (something that is not true of a large number of hate groups).

The group was recently beefed up with the addition of former Alliance attorney Victor Gerhard (see The Tattle-Tale), who brought along his new business, Condor Legion Ordnance. The firm sells racist paraphernalia in direct competition with the Alliance's Resistance Records.


Jean-Philippe Rushton, 50 | LONDON, ONTARIO, Canada

 

Jean-Philippe Rushton is a long-time university professor, the author of five books and 200 articles, a fellow of the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation, the American Association for the Advancement of Science and the American, British and Canadian psychological associations — and probably the most important race scientist at work today.

Since last year, he has also been the president of the infamous Pioneer Fund*, which has for decades funded dubious studies linking race to characteristics like criminality, sexuality and intelligence and promoting eugenics, the "science" of creating better humans through selective breeding.

Born in Bournemouth, England, Rushton received a Ph.D. in social psychology from the London School of Economics and Political Science and has taught psychology at the University of Western Ontario in Canada since 1977.

Although his training is unrelated to biology or genetics, Rushton has not hesitated to spread his opinions far and wide, especially through his major published work, Race, Evolution and Behavior. The book makes such claims as an inverse relationship between penis and brain size (blacks are supposedly more promiscuous and less intelligent than whites).

Rushton began his university career investigating the basis of altruism — why one person sometimes aids another even at personal risk — and concluded "birds of a feather flock together" and that "genes incline people to marry, befriend, associate with, and help others like themselves."

Although the University of Western Ontario has always been careful to defend Rushton's academic freedom, officials did reprimand him twice for carrying out research on human subjects in 1988 without required prior approval. In the first incident, Rushton surveyed first-year psychology students, asking questions about penis length, distance of ejaculation, and number of sex partners. In the second, he surveyed customers at a Toronto shopping mall, paying 50 whites, 50 blacks and 50 Asians $5 apiece to answer questions about their sexual habits.

Rushton crossed the political Rubicon in 1989, when he set up the Charles Darwin Research Institute in Port Huron, Mich. (apparently to avoid breaking Canadian laws on hate speech), and also presented his views on race publicly to an outraged meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. Association officials called a press conference the same day to attack what the association's president called Rushton's "highly suspect" research.

In recent years, Rushton has spoken on eugenics several times at conferences of the racist American Renaissance magazine, in which he has also published a number of articles. In 2002, after renting several academic mailing lists, Rushton mailed an abridged version of Race, Evolution and Behavior to 40,000 people — a mailing paid for by the Pioneer Fund.

Reacting to scientists' complaints, the book's original publisher, Transaction, disavowed the smaller booklet and said that this abridged version had been "purged" of any "evidentiary basis." Rushton was named the fourth president of the Pioneer Fund in 2002, after long-time president Harry Weyher died.

Today, Rushton presides over a 66-year-old fund that still has some $3 million to disburse.


Kenneth J. Schmidt, 43 | UPPER MONTCLAIR, N.J.

 

Ken Schmidt may be the principal American proponent of the so-called "Third Position" — an ideology, systematized by British neofascists in the 1980s, that rejects both communism and capitalism, strongly supports environmentalism and animal rights, sides with labor against capital, and proposes to separate the races into their own ethnically pure countries, where they will live close to the land and govern themselves at the most local level possible.

Schmidt has run a tiny hate group, the American Third Position (ATP), out of his New Jersey condominium since 2001, when an Arvada, Colo., associate left. (The group was then called the American Coalition of Third Positionists, but Schmidt shortened the name.)

Recently retired from an 18-year career as a senior probation officer for Passaic County, Schmidt distributes the British third position magazine, Final Conflict, and his own Nationalist Dawn, and runs a Web site. The ATP is a formal affiliate of the International Third Position (ITP), a Britain-based neofascist group with several European chapters that has run paramilitary training camps in France, Poland and Spain.

The ITP was founded in 1989 by a breakaway faction of the English party National Front and Italian fascists including Roberto Fiore (who fled to England and was convicted in absentia of terrorist association in connection with the 1980 bombing of a Bologna, Italy, train station that left some 80 people dead). The ITP has long been associated with clerical fascism, with many members also belonging to the schismatic Catholic sect, the Society of Pius X. This religious aspect caused many Europeans to leave ITP in the early 1990s.

For his part, Schmidt, despite the frankly revolutionary nature of his ideology, is an officer of the New York chapter of the Council of Conservative Citizens — a remarkable fact, given the council's longstanding efforts to portray itself as mainstream.

In February 2000, Schmidt told a council meeting in Washington, D.C., that members "must serve, to use a Marxist phrase, as a revolutionary vanguard for the white masses. ... Our aim must be to establish the preconditions for National Revolution on behalf of European-Americans. We must take our country back and if sometime in the distant future we have to bloody a few noses to do so, then so be it."

Schmidt, who until 2000 was also an officer of the Mississippi-based Nationalist Movement, travels abroad frequently for third position events — a talk to the neofascist England First last February being the latest example.

In recent years, Schmidt has also spoken at conferences of the Holocaust-denying Barnes Review, the now defunct American Friends of the British National Party, and the American Nationalist Union. Typical of third position ideologues, Schmidt frequently attacks both "Zionists" and major corporations.


Jeffrey S. Schoep, 29 | LITCHFIELD, Minn.

 

Jeffrey Schoep's National Socialist Movement, composed in large part of youths who look like they're barely out of middle school, is one of the fastest growing neo-Nazi groups in America — and the one that more than any other displays a fetishistic love of Nazi uniforms and paraphernalia.

Schoep claims he began reading Hitler in fourth grade, and knew immediately that the führer's ideas were "definitely right." Involved in neo-Nazi organizations from the age of 19, Schoep joined the National Socialist American Workers Freedom Movement of South St. Paul early on, rising to second in command by 1993.

In the years since then, he has traveled frequently to white supremacist events, including the 1994 Aryan Nations World Congress in Idaho, where he spoke alongside such movement heavyweights as former Klansman Louis Beam, neo-segregationist J.B. Stoner and neo-Nazi Neuman Britton.

In 1998, Allen Vincent, a man whose roots in the neo-Nazi scene stretched back decades, handed the Freedom Movement over to Schoep, declaring the 24-year-old the future leader of the white race and the man who would finally achieve "white revolution." At the same time, the group's unwieldy name was shortened to the National Socialist Movement (NSM).

The NSM under Schoep has held a rising number of rallies and its leader has continued to speak at events put on by other hate groups, including this year's diminished Aryan World Congress. In particular, Schoep has worked closely over the recent months with White Revolution, a new neo-Nazi group run by Billy Roper (see Revolting in Arkansas).

Despite the mockery that members' brown shirts, black armbands and tall leather boots draw from many others on the racist right, Schoep's group has grown to 43 urban chapters, totaling an estimated 100 or so members.


Malik Zulu Shabazz, 36 | WASHINGTON, D.C.

 

Born Paris Lewis, Malik Shabazz has been involved in increasingly radical Black Muslim politics since the early 1990s and now leads the violently anti-Semitic New Black Panther Party.

A graduate of Howard University and its law school, Shabazz early on went to work as a campaign aide and then spokesman for Marion Barry, the three-term Washington, D.C., mayor implicated in a cocaine sting in 1990. (At around the same time, in 1989, Shabazz was part of the Defiant Giants rap group, where he called himself Zulu King Paris and helped cut an album called "Rise, Black Man, Rise.")

Shabazz then signed up with the black supremacist Nation of Islam and played a key role organizing and promoting that group's 1995 Million Man March, telling one group of high school students that "America should be glad that every black man is not on a killing spree."

Another Nation official, Khalid Abdul Muhammad, who had been a key deputy of Nation leader Louis Farrakhan, moved away from the Nation during this period and began associating with the New Black Panther Party, which was formed from small groups in Milwaukee and Dallas that began operating around 1990.

By about 1997, Shabazz had followed his mentor Muhammad — who by now was famous for vicious tirades against whites, Jews, Catholics and homosexuals — into the New Panthers, rising to become the party's chief spokesman.

"We will never bow down to the white, Jewish, Zionist onslaught," Shabazz said around this time. Muhammad, Shabazz added with evident delight, was the man "who gives the white man nightmares ... who makes the Jews pee in their pants at night."

Remarkably, in 1998, Shabazz was named "Young Lawyer of the Year" by the National Bar Association, the leading black lawyers' association. The same year, he ran unsuccessfully for the Washington, D.C., city council. Also in 1998, Shabazz co-organized a Panther takeoff on the Nation's marches, leading a much smaller Million Youth March in Harlem, N.Y., that ended in clashes with police.

When Muhammad died unexpectedly in February 2001, Shabazz took over the New Panthers and moved its headquarters from New York to Washington. He began to build the group up by traveling around the country — to Cincinnati, Louisville, Ky., and Decatur, Ala., among other places — to protest police brutality.

And while not as incendiary as Muhammad had been, he made similarly strident remarks. In 2001, for instance, he told Fox News' "Hannity & Colmes" show that he was not anti-Semitic. He had many Hebrew friends, he said, but they "happen to be black." (He was referring to the belief of some black nationalists that they, not the Jews, are the real Hebrews of the Bible.)

The next year, Shabazz traveled to Georgia to show his support for Jamil Abdullah Al-Amin, the former H. Rap Brown, who was ultimately convicted of murdering a black sheriff's deputy in Georgia. In early 2003, Shabazz organized another activist group, Black Lawyers for Justice, and also came out with another rap album, featuring parts of his speeches and entitled "Amerikkka's Most Hated," that harshly attacked the Bush administration.

On Sept. 6, Shabazz's Panthers organized a Second Million Youth March — this time in Brooklyn, N.Y. Though the Panthers said they expected to draw 20,000, fewer than 1,000 marchers actually turned out.