40 to Watch: Leaders of the Radical Right
Born in Portland, Ore., and equipped with a master's degree in history from Indiana University, Mark Weber first appeared on the radical right in 1978, when he became news editor of National Vanguard, a neo-Nazi publication of the National Alliance, the most important hate group in America.
But while he remained connected to the Alliance for years, Weber was by 1979 already writing articles for The Spotlight, an anti-Semitic tabloid started by Willis Carto, and other Carto publications. (Carto is the main architect of American Holocaust denial. In 1978, Carto founded the Liberty Lobby, publisher of Spotlight, and, in 1979, the Institute for Historical Review, or IHR. IHR has long published the Journal of Historical Review, a Holocaust denial journal.)
In these articles, Weber referred to the Holocaust's Jewish "mythmakers," attacked the credibility of Anne Frank's diary, claimed that the Allies used torture to extract false stories about extermination camps, and suggested that the testimony of victims of the Holocaust was unreliable at best.
"The Holocaust hoax is a religion," he wrote in 1989, according to the Anti-Defamation League. "[T]he rise of religions such as this generally coincides with the decline and fall of nations which tolerate them." The same year, he said he didn't believe it possible for blacks to assimilate into American society.
In the mid-1980s, Weber remained a part of the Alliance and was listed as the treasurer of its Cosmotheist Church, which was an attempt by the basically atheistic group to win tax-exempt status. This is surprising because Carto and Alliance leader William Pierce had been bitter enemies since 1970, when they split as they worked to reconfigure the old Youth for Wallace group as the National Youth Alliance (which Pierce would turn into the National Alliance four years later).
Nevertheless, it was in this same period, the mid-1980s, when Weber began taking a leading role at Carto's IHR. In 1984, Weber began leading the group's annual conferences. These gatherings typically were highlighted by a "mystery guest, " who in 1987 was Maj. Gen. Otto Ernst Remer, the unrepentant Nazi who helped crush a 1944 bomb plot against Hitler. In 1985, Weber joined the IHR's editorial advisory committee, and in 1992 he took over IHR's Journal of Historical Review, a post he still holds today.
In 1993, with Weber's support, the IHR board ousted Carto as its leader, accusing him of interfering in editorial decisions. The next May, Carto and his wife tried to retake IHR by occupying its California offices, a situation that led to fistfights and Carto's arrest. At around the same time, another dispute between IHR and Carto broke out, with IHR leaders accusing Carto of diverting some $10 million that was allegedly left to IHR's parent company.
During the decade of litigation that followed, Carto's Spotlight characterized Weber as a "rat," "cockroach" and "devil," but in the end Weber's side basically won. The Spotlight was shut down, although it was rapidly replaced with the lookalike American Free Press. Carto also created The Barnes Review, a new Holocaust denial journal that competed directly with IHR.
Today, Carto's operation seems healthier than the IHR, which is limited to Weber and a few cronies. But that may change, in part thanks to Weber's energetic personality.
Not many on the American radical right started out on the American radical left, but that is precisely what Bill White did. As recently as 1998, the man who is today the Matt Drudge of the extreme right — an ebullient Internet gossip who is sometimes right, sometimes wrong, but always self-important — was an anarchist who promoted drugs, homosexuality, bombs and violent anti-racism.
Today, he runs the overthrow.com Web site and its "Libertarian Socialist News" service, which is the second most popular racist site on the Internet after Stormfront (and is violently opposed to homosexuals and Jews, among others).
White got interested in politics early, becoming a "utopian anarchist" in junior high school, reading Freud and Marx at age 13, and putting out his first issue of the Utopian Anarchist Party (its symbol was a black fist on a red background) newsletter the next year. Among other things, he railed against juvenile psychiatry, writing later that he had been subjected to a series of psychiatric tests as a youth in which he routinely scored high for paranoia and aggressiveness.
Bill White has an extensive juvenile record, including, by his own account, some 22 arrests between ages 15 and 19 for "assault, weapons, explosives, property destruction, graffiti and use of false identification." He also says he served several months after attacking police officers when he was 19.
By 1995, White had begun building sites on the Internet and become a Web developer. He ran openly as an anarchist for the local Montgomery County school board in 1998 and 2000 but lost both times. Midway through his first campaign, he put up Overthrow, the Web site that he still runs today.
Then, however, it featured links to the Green Panthers, an Ohio pro-marijuana group agitating for a "stoner homeland"; Anti-Racist Action, a group that likes to physically confront neo-Nazis; the Revolutionary Workers Party, a Trotskyist organization; and the so-called Lesbian Avengers. The site also included recipes for a broad array of synthetic drugs and bombs.
In 1999 and 2000, White says, he became an official of white nationalist Pat Buchanan's Reform Party presidential campaign and that of a local candidate for the right-wing Constitution Party. His Web site began to reflect the wild swing in White's politics.
For six months starting in late 2001, he was a correspondent for Pravda, the old Soviet publication that by then had taken on a strong right-wing flavor. He began to rail endlessly about "the Jews" and also to write extensively about the internal politics of many American neo-Nazi groups, eventually establishing himself as the chief gossip-monger of the movement.
White is energetic, extremely prolific, and not afraid to go with a totally unproven story — a trait that has gotten him in trouble many times. Recently, for instance, as he endlessly spread rumors of a split within the neo-Nazi National Alliance*, he made a fool of himself by publishing a letter that seemed to praise him lavishly. In fact, the first letters of each paragraph spelled out this sentence: "BILL WHITE'S A FAG."
White thinks a great deal of himself, recently boasting that he and just two friends had done "immeasurably more" for the movement in the prior nine months than any other person or group. When one of those two friends, Marc Moran, was outed as an Alliance member after being appointed to a New Jersey town council, White showed another side of himself — the punk kid who used to get in so much trouble.
Seconds after posting a note asking his readers to call in to Moran's "kike loving" colleagues to "tell them what you think," White did so himself, anonymously leaving messages filled with anti-Semitic and racist slurs. Despite White's much-vaunted intelligence, he called on his own cell phone, and his number was duly recorded by Caller ID.
Jim Wickstrom is the kind of neo-Nazi white supremacist who appears in bad novels and movies — a red-faced, spit-firing, soaked-in-sweat speaker who looks as if he's about to have a coronary every time he gets to attacking "the Jews."
Wickstrom talks about the pleasures of seeing his enemies' "heads on the fence posts" and longs for the day when "Aryans" will "fill our shoes with the blood of our enemies and walk in them." He wants to "go hunting," to "kill" the Jews, to "exterminate" race-mixers and a whole host of other enemies.
And it is precisely these dubious qualities that make Wickstrom a continuing draw on the American radical right, especially among violent Skinheads and Armageddon-minded neo-Nazis.
The man often known as "Wick" first came to the movement in the early 1970s, when he joined the Mission of Jesus the Christ Church in Humansville, Mo., which promoted the Christian Identity theology espoused by the late William Potter Gale. (Gale's theology described Jews as biologically Satanic and whites as the real chosen people of the Bible.)
In 1980, he ran unsuccessfully for the U.S. Senate on the ticket of the far-right Constitution Party. By the following year, he was calling himself "national director of counter-insurgency" for the violently anti-Semitic Posse Comitatus that was founded mainly by Gale.
Wickstrom ran for governor of Wisconsin in 1982, but failed miserably. In 1983, he was arrested after forming an illegal township, christened "Tigerton Dells," which was a collection of about 30 trailers and a bar. He was sentenced to 18 months for impersonating a town clerk and judge, but fled to Oklahoma while the case was on appeal and was only arrested and sent to prison seven months later. In the end, he served just 13 months, moving to Pennsylvania upon release.
By 1987, Wickstrom, a practicing Identity preacher, began attending annual congresses of the neo-Nazi Aryan Nations*, and it was at that group's Idaho compound, authorities alleged, that he schemed to pass $100,000 in counterfeit bills to finance extremist paramilitary groups.
That 1988 case ended in a mistrial, but Wickstrom was convicted in a second trial in 1990 and sentenced to serve 38 months in a federal prison. While in prison, he turned over his Pennsylvania operation to Mark Thomas, a neo-Nazi now in prison for his role in a conspiracy to rob 22 banks.
In 1995, after leaving prison, he moved to Munising, Mich., setting up an Identity ministry and collaborating with neo-Nazi August Kreis of Pennsylvania in running the anti-Semitic possecomitatus.com Web site. The same year, Wickstrom started a business, Information Consulting Corp., to sell survival gear, outdoor apparel and videotapes about militias.
In the late 1990s, Wickstrom preached regularly to an Identity congregation in Dayton Township, allegedly including Scott A. Woodring, who was killed by police in July 2003 after murdering a police officer who came to serve a warrant for alleged solicitation of a teenage girl.
Later, he moved his ministry to an old furniture store in Hampton Township, where a recent visitor was James Nichols, brother of the Oklahoma City conspirator. This June, Wickstrom told friends he was moving to Tennessee, where he would be living and holding services on the property of John Roberts, former head of the Militia of East Tennessee.
Steve Wiegand entered the thriving world of Internet hate in 1996, when he started the White Pride Network with a site called whitepride.com. His devotion to racist Skinheads and their white power music was evident in the pseudonym he used when registering the site — Ian Stuart, after the late founder of the seminal British "hatecore" band Skrewdriver, one of the first to use explicitly racist lyrics.
By 1998, Wiegand had changed the name of his site to micetrap.net, and it had become a major seller of racist music and paraphernalia. His mission, he said, was to "build the largest and best selection of quality pro-White items at the most affordable prices possible."
In an interview with the online Fade to Black Comedy Magazine, Wiegand traced his racist roots to "growing up two miles from one of the worst ghettos in the state" and said that the world's troubles were due mainly to Jews. Blacks, he added, are merely "the Jews' puppets." Wiegand says on his site that he was involved in the Skinhead scene for many years, but now realizes that it has turned into "a trendy fad full of hypocritical drug-users, race traitors and 'gangstas.'"
Wiegand has had his share of conflicts with Skinhead bands, according to the Spokesman-Review newspaper, over bootlegged music and videos. But he has attributed the many negative Web postings about him to efforts to hurt his music label and help his competition. Wiegand joined the neo-Nazi National Alliance* briefly in 1999, but pulled out the following year and quit carrying music from the Alliance's Resistance Records* catalog.
In October 2001, he took over the white supremacist 14 Words Press* from imprisoned terrorist David Lane and Lane's wife, Katja, who described Wiegand to a newspaper reporter as "a personal friend and supporter for many years." But Wiegand quickly resold the business, telling Swedish scholar Mattias Gardell that "heat from local press, police and residents" had made him reconsider.
Today, Micetrap remains one of the leading purveyors of hate music, competing with Resistance and Panzerfaust Records.
When Ronnie Wilson was elected commander in chief of the Sons of Confederate Veterans (SCV) in August 2002, his politics were largely unknown both inside and outside the 32,000-member heritage group.
Within months, however, it was clear that Wilson was an extremist. Working closely with white supremacist ally (and failed SCV leadership candidate) Kirk Lyons, Wilson has appointed racists and anti-Semites to key posts, purged some 300 SCV members and leaders who opposed racism, and worked to turn the SCV into an actively neo-Confederate organization.
But it turns out there is more to Wilson's history than the last year has revealed. He is the author of five essays about the evils of communism (one praising the legacy of disgraced Sen. Joseph McCarthy) published in the tabloid of the racist Council of Conservative Citizens* (CCC). He spoke at a 1997 CCC meeting that also featured long-time white nationalist Sam Francis (see 'The Stupid Party').
He hosted a late 1990s right-wing talk show, "Hour of Courage," on WWCR, a shortwave station. In the same period, he led the South Carolina Heritage Coalition, a group whose vice chairman was Jerry Creech, state director for the CCC (an outfit that has more recently called blacks "a retrograde species of humanity").
At the same time, Wilson runs a business called Atlantic Bullion and Coin Inc. But that's not all. Until he pulled down its Web site last year, he also operated from his Easley home a firm he called International Commerce Corp., "specializing in books & videos for the family & home schoolers."
One book his company sold, Barbarians Inside the Gates by 1960s Defense Department official Donn de Grand Pré, is a viciously anti-Semitic tome that approvingly quotes The Protocols of the Elders of Zion, the infamous Czarist forgery that purports to reveal a Jewish plot to take over the world.
The squib advertising the book on Wilson's Web site included these words: "The author reveals concealed codes and goals that might be extracted from the Protocols of Zion. Once again our publisher asks 'can you handle the truth??' ... I thought long and hard about handling this book. [But] I will not back away from the truth in this book. You MUST READ THIS BOOK for yourself."
With a political lineage like that, it's no surprise that Wilson grew close to Lyons, a long-time racist attorney, in the late 1990s. Today, Wilson is on the board of Lyons' non-profit law firm, the Southern Legal Resource Center, while his daughter, Alison Shaum, works there.
Among many similar actions inside the SCV, Wilson recently named Allen Sullivant, who created the racist orderofwhitetrash.com Web site, the group's "chief of heritage defense." Now, although he was temporarily stymied in votes taken at the SCV's national conference in late July (see Unfinished Business), Wilson is working hard to solidify the extremist takeover of the SCV.