After revelations about a stripper's attendance at the National Alliance's annual Leadership Conference, financial struggles and internal dissent, the nation's leading neo-Nazi group is on the edge of a breakdown.
They came from around the country, the most serious revolutionaries in the seriously revolutionary National Alliance, America's most important neo-Nazi organization. Their hair cropped short, most of them wearing sleek sunglasses with the darkest tints available, they filed into a large hall in the group's West Virginia compound, wearing their Sunday best and ready to save the Aryan race.
Here, gathering for their semi-annual "leadership conference" were the chief ideologues for the group that promises a "temporary unpleasantness" — mass murder followed by fascist dictatorship — when it comes to power. There were the brawny he-men who would one day, they hoped, be leading their followers over the ramparts to slaughter their enemies, the Jews.
The security detail was there, two-way radios crackling and guns tucked just out of sight. So too was the group's führer, a macho man who once boxed as the "Aryan Barbarian," along with a bevy of his lieutenants.
And then, an Alliance official says, there was Ice.
Ice, as those who recognized her knew, was not a typical representative of Aryan womanhood — at least not as pictured in Alliance literature that idealizes white women as conservatively dressed paragons of virtue, demure mothers devoted to mopping the brows of their warrior men. Ice is a stripper more normally found at Lady Godiva's, a men's club down the road in Barboursville, W.V.
"Who invited this low-life element and how many members/leaders knew of this situation and said nothing?" asked Jim Reid, who wasn't at the event coinciding with Hitler's April 20 birthday but spoke to many who were.
In the same angry E-mail, circulated to scores of Alliance unit leaders and others, the southwest regional coordinator posed another question: "Who among us just a few short years ago could have imagined coming to a Leadership Conference of the National Alliance and rubbing shoulders with white trash nude table dancers and their handlers!"
As it turns out, Ice wasn't quite as unknown as these comments from Reid, who finally quit the Alliance this summer, suggested.
Clad in a skimpy Confederate battle flag bikini and sitting astride a huge motorcycle, Ice graces the cover of the Alliance's "Girls of the Resistance" 2004 calendar. And just in case there are any doubts, she's also pictured — in the same bikini, atop the same bike — in photographs on Lady Godiva's Web site.
A quick comparison of calendar and Web site shows that she is not alone. A number of the other calendar subjects — women held up as the very pinnacle of Aryan womanhood — are also Lady Godiva's strippers.
Sole of the Resistance
The revelations about Ice and the Resistance calendar — "without a doubt," Reid charged, "the most ill-conceived, incredibly stupid, low-brow idea to ever originate from the National Office" — are only the latest to batter the ailing neo-Nazi organization.
The Alliance, which has long positioned itself as an "elite" group far classier than others on the extreme right, has been struggling since the death of its founder and long-time leader, William Pierce, in July 2002. At that time, it had more than 1,400 members, an income approaching $1 million a year, and 17 full-time paid national staff members.
But since then, membership has fallen to under 800 — and some suggest that it is now considerably below that level — at the same time that it has been losing money at a rapid clip. Pierce's successor, Erich Gliebe, is disliked by many leaders of the radical right and even by many of his own members.
One of the key problems, perhaps the most important one, has been money. Fewer members mean lower dues collections, and the Alliance's Resistance Records operation — a top distributor of white power music — also has been suffering.
It was with this in mind that Chris Evans, then the Alliance's Webmaster, came up with a hot new idea two years ago: Boots with soles carved into swastika shapes. Wearers would leave swastika imprints whenever they walked through snow or mud.
After considerable delays and production hassles, the boots finally came out last year. They were wholesaled to Resistance by a Texas company called Aryan Wear — Alliance principals had been afraid to risk a major up-front investment in their development — and were to be sold for $130. But almost immediately, quarrels between the Alliance and Aryan Wear — whose registered agent is Anthony David Eynon of Fort Worth — broke out.
According to an angry E-mail from Alliance Chief Operating Officer Shaun Walker that was circulated widely among Alliance leaders and others, Aryan Wear claimed that it owned the boots and planned to retail them, despite what Walker described as an agreement that the Alliance would retail them exclusively for the first year.
Walker went on to detail a whole series of what he considered Evans' rip-offs, calling him a "selfish, greedy liar" and a "piece of filth" who had worked to benefit Eynon, a friend, rather than the Alliance. In the end, Evans quit the Alliance, apparently taking up with his friend in Texas.
Today, Aryan Wear offers the boots for sale for $114.14 — 12% under the Resistance price.
Bad Blood Boiling
Jim Reid and Chris Evans aren't the only senior people to leave the National Alliance after bitter encounters with its new leaders. Bob DeMarais, a former college business professor who was on the Alliance board when Pierce died, quit the group in June 2003 after splitting with Gliebe over financial matters.
But DeMarais has declined to leave his house, which sits on land he owns within the Alliance's 423-acre compound. The result has been a lawsuit and countersuit as Alliance leaders try to force DeMarais to grant the Alliance water rights and a right of way.
The venom between erstwhile comrades in the DeMarais affair practically drips from the court record. In one filing, DeMarais claims to have been "the victim of harassment, intimidation, threats, shootings, bullying, theft and loss of personal property" at the hands of Alliance members. While he does not detail his allegations, DeMarais is certainly not alone in his disdain for the group he once helped lead.
In July, Will Williams, another long-time Alliance stalwart who has left the group, E-mailed friends that Brett Andrews, a key activist in the Alliance's Phoenix unit, had also quit. "This is tangible proof of the decline of the National Alliance," Williams wrote in remarks posted to the Vanguard News Network Forum.
But perhaps the worst dispute to scar the Alliance in recent months stems from the Dec. 13, 2002, murder of Alliance member Mark Edwin Gaudin, 30, in Texas. Gaudin, slated to become Dallas unit coordinator, was killed in an apparent $10 robbery while driving a taxi. The single parent left behind a 5-year-old son.
Soon after Gaudin's death, the National Alliance began raising money for the purpose of helping Gaudin's mother, who is not well off, take care of the boy. In the fall of 2003, a long-running ad, under the title of the "Fallen Comrades Fund," went up on the Resistance Records Web site calling for donations for Ian Gaudin.
This summer, Gaudin's mother, Kathleen Cannon, wrote to the Vanguard News Network Forum to complain angrily that Resistance had sent her no money and was "steal[ing] from a fallen NA member's orphaned son." She also said she was talking to federal prosecutors to force Gliebe to send her any donations.
Movement reaction was swift, widespread and angry.
"I wish that Dr. Pierce had not died," Jerry Abbott, a former editor at the Alliance who quit not long after the founder's death, said of the Gaudin controversy. "But I wouldn't want him to see what his organization has become.
"It would break his heart."
The View From Valhalla
If there is one bright spot in the generally dismal Alliance picture, it is in the leafleting that group members have carried out this year. Between January and July, Alliance members around the country distributed at least 140,000 flyers.
Increasingly, this kind of pamphleteering is the principal outreach activity of the Alliance. And, unlike in the past, members are creating more and more flyers that specifically target local situations.
In May, for instance, Alliance members passed out "Call to Prayer" and "Media Manipulation" flyers that played on a controversy over calls to prayer loudly broadcast by a mosque in Hamtramck, Mich. Another Alliance unit scattered anti-immigration flyers in Las Vegas. Still another passed out "Protect Euro Heritage" flyers at a Scottish festival in New Hampshire.
In Omaha, Neb., pamphlets were distributed in response to the murder of a white female soccer player, allegedly by a black man. In Lacey, Wash., the Alliance's "Don't have sex with blacks" flyer was distributed after a black man was charged with attempted murder for allegedly infecting dozens of women with HIV.
In Columbus, Ga., "Who Rules America?" pamphlets (answer: "the Jews") were given out at a screening of the controversial movie, "The Passion of the Christ."
These kinds of actions — "literature drops," as they're known in Alliance parlance — almost invariably garner reports in the local media. And although those reports are universally unfriendly to the Alliance, they do produce a light smattering of people who want to join up after hearing about the organization.
In the end, that's mainly what the technique is all about: Publicizing the Alliance in order to find new members whose monthly dues may help forestall a financial collapse.
That may not be enough to keep the Alliance afloat. Although there are persistent rumors inside the group that it is about to receive hundreds of thousands of dollars in one or two major bequests, that apparently has not happened. And while that waiting game plays out, anti-Alliance sniping from disaffected former members, leaders and members of other radical right groups seems only to grow.
Earlier this year, when the National Alliance published its latest issue of Resistance magazine — a periodical that promotes white power music and caters to younger members of the radical right — it created a minor, but familiar, stir.
"Does anyone else find the new cover of Resistance slightly worrying?" one neo-Nazi wrote about the cover shot of two young girls in very short skirts. "I think that those little girls dressed like that and exposed on the cover of that magazine is wrong!!! ... I don't think this sort of thing is true to our NS [National Socialist] ideals! Resistance has started putting out 'girly' calendars etc. etc. and now this.
"William Pierce must be looking down from Valhalla with fury."
Laurie Wood contributed to this story.