Neo-Nazi Preston Wiginton Joins Forces With Young Americans for Freedom at Michigan State University

Student Hate Group Roils Michigan State

Preston Wiginton.
Neo-Nazi Preston Wiginton is just one of the Young Americans for Freedom supporters who favor black cowboy hats.

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Preston Wiginton is one busy neo-Nazi.

In October 2005, he won the "Strongest Skinhead" contest at Hammerfest, a racist skinhead festival in Draketown, Ga., where he announced that he was organizing secret paramilitary training in preparation for the coming race war. In the following days, Wiginton posted more than 300 messages to the white nationalist online forum Stormfront, writing in one that "beating down a mud," or non-white, is a "righteous act of collective preservation."

Since then, Wiginton has continued to appear at white supremacist events across the United States — and abroad, too. Just this Nov. 4, Wiginton spoke to a crowd of 5,000 Russian ultranationalists at a Moscow rally against non-white immigration that included calls for Serbian-style ethnic cleansing. Waving his black cowboy hat, the Victoria, Texas, resident said, "I'm taking my hat off as a sign of respect for your strong identity in ethnicity, nation and race." The audience responded with Nazi salutes and chants of "White power!" in English.

But Wiginton, ever the activist, has not neglected smaller venues. A mere 10 days before the Moscow rally, Wiginton served as master of ceremonies at an appearance in East Lansing, Mich., by British Holocaust denier Nick Griffin, the national chairman of the white supremacist British National Party.

This time, Wiginton's venue was not a skinhead keg party, backwoods cross burning or neo-Nazi rally on foreign soil. It was a lecture hall on the campus of Michigan State University.

Wiginton, 43, is not a Michigan State University student. He's not an alumnus or a faculty member, either. But he is chummy with MSU junior Kyle Bristow, the 21-year-old chairman of the Michigan State University chapter of Young Americans for Freedom, or MSU-YAF — the only university student organization in the country listed as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC).

Acting in collusion with elder white supremacists like Wiginton, and with the financial and logistical support of a major conservative foundation, Bristow and a handful of cronies have roiled their campus and the surrounding community by hosting speakers like Griffin, issuing vicious homophobic and racist insults, and staging publicity stunts masked as political demonstrations that seem inspired in equal parts by the movie "Animal House" and the Hitler Youth.

Kyle Bristow.
Kyle Bristow displays his sense of humor on a mocked-up Web page.

"He's become a divisive force," former MSU-YAF member Kari Lynn Jaksa, an MSU junior who describes herself as a Republican with strong libertarian leanings, says of Bristow. "Frankly, he's embarrassing."

A YAF a Minute
In November 2006, MSU-YAF organized a "Straight Power" demonstration in downtown Lansing to protest a proposed local civil rights ordinance protecting gays, lesbians, and bisexuals from discrimination on the basis of their sexual orientation. YAF members carried signs that read "End Faggotry" and "Go Back in the Closet."

Also last year, Bristow and Wiginton co-administered two racist online groups — "True American Patriot" and "Jobs a White Man Won't Do" — within the Facebook social network. (The pair also share a fondness for black cowboy hats. Bristow wore his while anti-racist protesters outside the MSU building where Griffin spoke on Oct. 26 beat a piñata effigy of Griffin with sticks.)

MSU-YAF has since cosponsored a "Catch an Illegal Immigrant Day" contest, held a "Koran Desecration" competition, jokingly threatened to distribute smallpox-infested blankets to Native American students, and posted "Gays Spread AIDS" fliers across campus.

Last spring, when the MSU leftist group Students for Economic Justice hosted a lecture by a Colombian labor organizer detailing allegations of union busting and murder by the owners of Coca-Cola bottling plants in South America, Bristow and his minions jeered, waved American flags and conspicuously guzzled from large bottles of Coke while the speaker tearfully described witnessing his best friend being gunned down by paramilitary thugs.

"YAF's ridiculous tactics are making all conservatives at MSU look bad," Jaksa, an international relations major, told the Intelligence Report. "It's gotten to the point where I hate to even say I'm a conservative anymore in class discussions or private conversations, because people automatically assume that I'm with Kyle Bristow. It's important to me that people know there are sane conservatives on this campus. We're not all racists and fascists."

Jaksa said that when she joined MSU-YAF her freshman year, "It was basically just the action wing of the College Republicans." Now, according to Jaksa and other sources, the College Republicans at MSU have asked Bristow to stop attending their meetings.