It’s been another sorry year in the world of hate, as knuckle-dragging white supremacists and their fellow travelers did their best to make our country a little worse with each new passing day. Here at Hatewatch, we’ve been hard at work trying to winnow away the garden-variety savagery that habitués of our blog know so well in favor of truly extraordinary examples of asinine activities from the benighted denizens of the radical right. It hasn’t been easy for members of the Hatewatch 2nd Annual Smackdown Awards Committee, who’ve had to wade heroically through the sewers and cesspools to produce our list. But now they’ve returned from that underworld, muddied but unbowed, to offer our readers, without further ado, Hatewatch’s year-end countdown of the very, very worst of 2008:
10. Most Creative Tattoo Award
We’ve seen more than our share of those who believe that large tattoos of swastikas and SS lightning bolts are attractive additions to their faces and other body parts, no matter what their mommies and daddies think. But the truth is that this year, there simply was no competition at all in this category once Ron Edwards, imperial wizard of the Kentucky-based Imperial Klans of America, showed up for a February deposition with attorneys of the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC). Edwards was there for a lawsuit the SPLC brought against him and his organization after two of his followers beat up a 16-year-old boy, and he wasn’t happy, as evidenced by a new tattoo on the side of his freshly shaven head that read, “Fuck S.P.L.C.” The other side of his head — this one tattooed with “Aryan Justice”— apparently reflected his hopes for the trial’s outcome, but the mostly white jury didn’t agree. In the end, it came back with a $2.5 million judgment for the boy who was beaten, and Edwards’ head was plumb out of space for further commentary on the state of the world.
9. Creepiest Cult Leader Award
After last year’s recognition of neo-Nazi boss Kevin Alfred Strom for his arrest on charges of possession of child pornography — not to mention his version of “Here We Come A-Wassailing,” detailing his interest in marrying a 10-year-old girl — it’s been hard to find real competition in the Icky Sexual Proclivities Department. But just when we were beginning to despair, along came Tony Alamo, the cult leader known for his blistering hatred of Catholics and homosexuals. Turns out that the 74-year-old Alamo allegedly had something in common with Strom, who emerged from prison last fall after serving time on the kiddie porn charges. In truly awful documents filed in court this fall, a 14-year-old girl accused Alamo of fondling her in the shower; another said she was about 9 when Alamo “married” her; and a third recounted having sex with him at age 11. According to a confidential source, Alamo, who goes on trial in February on 10 counts related to transporting underage girls across state lines for sex, kept candy and Barbie dolls in his bedroom.
8. Worst International Travel Plan Award
Jerome Corsi — the insult-spewing WorldNetDaily “reporter” who helped lead the Swift Boat defamation of John Kerry and also wrote a fawning tome glorifying anti-immigrant vigilantes — had a plan. His new target was Barack Obama, and Corsi, who’d just been exposed on this blog for his appearance on a white supremacist radio show, decided in October to go to Kenya to track down “deep dark ties” between the Democratic presidential nominee and various Muslim politicians there, including the prime minister. Corsi apparently forgot that most people in Kenya, where Obama’s father was a well-known economist, thought quite a bit of the man who would be America’s first black president — and he also neglected to get a work permit. So it wasn’t much of a surprise when authorities snatched up Corsi, who likes to call Muslims “Boy-Bumpers” and “RAGHEADS,” and put him on the next plane back to the United States. Never one to be deterred by the facts, Corsi had also just published a book falsely claiming that Obama is secretly a Muslim.
7. Most Septic Politician Award
So many appalling politicians, so little time — and only one winner per category! In the end, we settled on a local (we’re in Montgomery, Ala.), Alabama State Sen. Charles Bishop (R-Jasper). After all, Bishop chose to deliver the keynote speech in June to the “Leadership Conference” put on by the Council of Conservative Citizens, a charming group that has compared a black pop singer to a chimpanzee, called black people “a retrograde species of humanity,” and generally spread racist swill far and wide. Bishop took his turn at the microphone to warn of the dire consequences of a potential Obama victory in November. Not that Bishop was in any way propelled by his party; on the contrary, as long ago as 1998, Republican National Committee head Jim Nicholson asked GOP party members in the CCC to resign from that group because of its “racist views." One background fact helped clinch the award for Bishop: the national infamy he gained in 2007 when he was photographed socking another senator on the floor of the Alabama Senate.
6. Weirdest White Supremacist Photo Award
This was another hot category, but it was hard to argue with the entry of Victoria “Vickie” Cahill, who appeared in creepy photographs circulated last fall posing with the corpse of white supremacist David Lane. Cahill, an activist with the neo-Nazi Women for Aryan Unity group, apparently was soaking up the aura of Lane, who is a hero in the racist underworld both for his part in murdering Jewish talk show host Alan Berg and for his authorship of the infamous “14 Words”: “We must secure the existence of our people and a future for White children.” But the picture, and others like it, apparently set off a feud between Cahill and another female neo-Nazi activist, April Gaede, the Lane estate executor who accused Cahill of using the cadaver “to try to show off” at white nationalist events. Of course, Gaede ran into trouble of her own last fall when she bragged of her prowess at getting free merchandise through underhanded means, asking in an Internet posting: “Is it luck or am I a thief?” At press time, Gaede’s question, and her feud with Cahill, remained unresolved.
5. Least Sanitary Nativist Award
This one was very much a judgment call, what with the thousands of truly unpleasant immigrant-bashers who populate the land. But it was hard to resist the indefatigable "Buffalo" Rick Galeener, 58, the former professional singing cowboy who has pledged to defend America against corruption and all manner of other ills from south of the border — in part, apparently, by peeing in front of a Hispanic lady (and her 2-year-old son) who he’d earlier insulted as part of his endless demonstrations against Latino day laborers in Phoenix. In December, after months of fighting the charge, Galeener pleaded guilty to urinating in public (prosecutors had originally charged him with indecent exposure) and was fined $194, according to Phoenix New Times. The director of the day labor center Galeener loves to picket told New Times that it would have been different if Galeener had been Latino and arrested by Joe Arpaio, the local sheriff who is widely accused of racial profiling: “If any day laborer had done that in a white neighborhood, they’d probably be in Arpaio’s jail as a sexual predator.”
4. Cheekiest Self-Proclaimed ‘Historian’ Award
There are historians and then there are “historians” — and David Irving, the writer who has done more than any other to promote denial of the World War II Holocaust, is most certainly one of the latter. That came to the fore once more last year when journalist Max Blumenthal got Irving on videotape at a lecture in New York doing what he could to rehabilitate Adolf Hitler, a man many had thought quite beyond saving. “Adolf Hitler,” Irving told his audience, “was being kept out of the loop and was probably not at all anti-Semitic by the time the war began. … He repeatedly held out his hand to stop things happening to the Jews. … [E]vil men were keeping him out of the loop.” Irving went on to say that he was NOT a Holocaust denier and, in fact, that Jews were responsible for their own destruction: “The alpha and the omega of it was, yes, they were,” he said in answer to Blumenthal’s question. Earlier, in a 2000 London libel trial, a judge said, in effect, that the real alpha and omega of Irving’s claims was that the British writer was a “pro-Nazi” ideologue, not a historian.
3. Pushing the Envelope Award
Bill White, the neo-Nazi boss of the Virginia-based American National Socialist Workers Party, spent the last three years testing the limits of the Constitution’s First Amendment protections of free speech. He wrote that a particular Canadian lawyer “must be killed” and published the man’s home address and phone number. He wrote The Miami Herald to say that if someone killed a black columnist based on White’s publication of the man’s address, “I wouldn’t shed a tear.” He wrote that he’d like to kill 20 or so African Americans, then go on to murder the “ridiculous journalists” who staff this blog. And, White crowed, no one could stop him from posting these and other threats, even when accompanied by personal information like the home addresses and unlisted phone numbers of his enemies. “Short of killing me, there is nothing the U.S. government can do,” he wrote in July. But Bill White was wrong. Three months later, he was arrested by federal agents for threatening a former juror. He was denied bond based on his lengthy record of threat-making. Now, with the addition of seven other counts related to making various threats, White faces more than half a century in prison if convicted of all the charges.
2. Least Likely Multiculturalism Spokesperson Award
It was a nice article about a nice lady — Emilia Fanjul, the wife of sugar baron Jose “Pepe” Fanjul and the founder and chairperson of Glades Academy, a charter school in Florida explicitly designed to lift poor black and Latino kids out of poverty. But the story in Quest, a high-society New York magazine, ended with a note for those seeking more information to call Chloe Black. The shocker, first revealed on this blog, was that Chloe Black is a seasoned white supremacist — the former wife of Klan leader David Duke, the current wife of former Klan leader and Stormfront founder Don Black, and a recent attendee at numerous white supremacist functions. At first, Chloe Black refused to comment, but it wasn’t long before she told the Palm Beach Post, against all the evidence, that she was no white supremacist. Just a few months later, the Black family was at it again. This time, 19-year-old Derek Black, Don and Chloe’s son, had managed to get elected as a local Republican committeeman — but the GOP refused to seat him. When the Palm Beach Post caught up with him, Derek, who started up his own racist Stormfront page for kids at age 12, said that he was “not associated” with white supremacy. Like mother, like son.
1. White Supremacist Family Values Award
Adolf Hitler, Heinrich Himmler and the Aryan Nations don’t have the best reputation in civilized society. As a matter of fact, most people would associate the names with pure evil, if not actual sociopathic behavior. But that’s not the way a couple in Hunterdon County, N.J., sees it. In fact, they are shocked, simply shocked, that the names they gave their three children — Adolf Hitler Campbell, 3, JoyceLynn Aryan Nation Campbell, almost 2, and Honszlynn Hinler Jeannie Campbell, almost 1 — caused a ruckus when The [Easton, Penn.] Express-Times published a story about their attempts to get a birthday cake made with their eldest’s name spelled out in icing. The parents, Heath and Deborah Campbell, say they’re not racists (though they do believe in separation of the races) and they are sure their children’s names won’t cause them any problems. “Other kids get their cake,” whined Heath, 35, who lives in an apartment filled with swastikas and denies the Holocaust. “I get a hard time.”
And that wraps up this year’s offering from the fringes of the fringe. We’ll be back next year with a whole new series of Smackdown offerings — and as we’ve seen, there never seems to be a shortage of material. As we sign off for the year, we wish our readers happy holidays and a productive and tolerant new year.