Portraits of six aging leaders of the white supremacist movement, most of them in their 70s or 80s, who are pillars of the old guard.
For decades, the organized white supremacist movement in the United States has been led by a core group of extremists, men who are at odds with one another almost as often as they are with the system they oppose.
Although some of these old-line leaders have died and others have been imprisoned or left the movement, a number of surviving strategists have remained in key leadership positions. Now, many of these men are ill or simply weakening with age. Here are portraits of six men, most of them in their 70s or 80s, who are pillars of the old guard.
Neuman Britton, 73
A little over a year ago, Neuman Britton was named as the heir to neo-Nazi Richard Butler, the leader and founder of the Aryan Nations, also known as the Church of Jesus Christ Christian. Although many had assumed that former Klansman Louis Beam — almost 20 years younger than Britton and a legendary radical right theorist — would assume control after Butler's death, Beam reportedly has been ill.
Britton, as national chaplain for Butler's church, also has shown loyalty to Butler when others haven't. Britton was once a member of George Lincoln Rockwell's American Nazi Party and many other extremist groups.
In the 1960s, he was close to Wesley Swift, Butler's mentor and a key ideologue of Christian Identity — the theology also espoused by Butler that sees whites as the real chosen people, Jews as Satanic and blacks as soulless "mud people."
Britton is tied to the remnants of the violently anti-Semitic Posse Comitatus and once was married to the widow of Gordon Kahl, a Posse activist who killed two U.S. marshals in North Dakota in 1983.
Richard Butler, 81
Hayden Lake, Idaho
When Richard Girnt Butler referred to a July Aryan Nations march as "the last event of White Pride in the Northwest," he almost seemed to be consciously preparing for his own death. Under siege from a Southern Poverty Law Center suit filed in January, Butler's neo-Nazi group has been shrinking in size and influence, with many former members drifting into other groups.
In a propaganda videotape made within the last year, Butler was inarticulate and, at times, forgetful — hardly the rabble-rousing leader who once brought hundreds of Skinheads and other white supremacists to his compound for annual "Aryan" events.
In many ways, Butler personifies the "dinosaurs" of the movement, men who have traveled through an array of extremist organizations but are in the twilight of their days.
Since serving in World War II, he has been a Klansman, a Posse Comitatus activist, a Nazi and a Christian Identity minister, and he has worked with most of the extremist leaders of his time. Acquitted in 1988 of federal sedition charges, Butler also has mentored a long line of men who have committed violent crimes in the name of white supremacy.
Willis Carto, 73
Embroiled in lawsuits and the internecine rivalries that have characterized much of his political life, Willis Carto seems to be losing his grip on what was once a far-flung empire of extremist institutions.
Carto, whose Washington, D.C.-based Liberty Lobby has probably done more than any other group to keep alive organized American anti-Semitism, has lost control of the Institute for Historical Review, a Holocaust denial outfit that originally was a spinoff of Liberty Lobby.
More recently, after buying a controlling interest in white power music firm Resistance Records (see Money, Music and the Doctor), he lost that organization to the neo-Nazi National Alliance run by William Pierce.
The Liberty Lobby's tabloid The Spotlight, which Carto still controls, has been engaged in a series of attacks on fellow radicals whom Carto sees as enemies and, very likely as a result, has lost a quarter of its circulation base.
Carto, who has made millions as a result of his activities, keeps homes in Washington, D.C., and Southern California and travels frequently by private plane. Because of his lifestyle, he has been widely attacked within the movement as a man intent on material gain.
Richard Kelly Hoskins, 70
Although Richard Kelly Hoskins has authored scores of articles in extremist publications and remains the editor of The Hoskins Report, he is known in the movement today mainly for his seminal book The Vigilantes of Christendom. The book advocates Phineas Priest actions — independent acts of terrorism by men who feel they've been called directly by God.
It has been used as a model by a large number of terrorists including a gang that bombed and robbed in the city of Spokane, Wash. An earlier book, Our Nordic Race, was published in 1958 and also was once influential among extremists.
Hoskins was for many years a key Christian Identity figure, playing a major role in the first nationwide Identity gathering, held in 1991 in North Carolina. Today, he is reportedly in ill health.
Hoskins' newsletter is a bizarre mix of investment advice and heated calls for the outlawing of racial "interbreeding" and homosexuality. Hoskins came into the limelight in August, after the authorities discovered his 1985 book War Cycles, Peace Cycles in a getaway vehicle driven by Buford Furrow after Furrow's alleged shooting of Jewish children in Los Angeles.
Robert Millar, 73
Robert Millar, known as "Grandpa" to his followers, has for 26 years been the leader of an armed Christian Identity compound known as Elohim City ("City of God"). Six miles up a dirt road, this community in eastern Oklahoma has long been a key crossroads for those on the radical right.
Among those linked to Elohim City are:
- Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh, who called there before his 1995 attack;
- Key members of the Aryan Republican Army, a group that robbed up to 22 Midwestern banks in a bid to fund a revolution;
- Chevie and Cheyne Kehoe, two white supremacist brothers convicted in connection with a series of crimes meant to help finance the building of an all-white nation;
- James Ellison, the leader of a heavily armed Identity compound in Arkansas in the 1980s and a man who now is married to one of Millar's granddaughters;
- Gordon Kahl, a Posse Comitatus activist who hid out there after killing two U.S. marshals in the 1980s; and
- Richard Wayne Snell, a white supremacist whose pastor was Millar and who was buried at Elohim City after being executed in 1995 for the murder of a police officer.
Today, the future of the compound is unclear, although there has been speculation that Ellison could one day take over.
William Pierce, 66
Hillsboro, W. Va.
With his influence continuing to grow, William Pierce is both the youngest and the most active of the key leaders of the old guard. In addition to building bridges to other fascist groups, Pierce and his followers in the neo-Nazi National Alliance are cultivating contacts in European-American ethnic groups, supposedly "mainstream" racist groups like the Council of Conservative Citizens and, increasingly, among youths.
In recent months, he gained control of Resistance Records, a key distributor of racist rock 'n' roll music (see Money, Music and the Doctor). Pierce's political odyssey, which began more than 30 years ago when he quit his job as an assistant physics professor in Oregon, has taken him through a series of groups that include the John Birch Society and the American Nazi Party.
Following George Wallace's 1968 presidential campaign, Pierce took the Wallace youth group in which he had been an official and transformed it into the National Alliance. In the next two decades, he wrote prolifically — including the racist novel The Turner Diaries. That book, his weekly radio broadcasts and his Web site have helped keep Pierce at the movement's forefront.