In the ranks of white supremacists, Dec. 8 is a day of celebration.
But being who they are, racist skinheads and other neo-Nazis generally treat what they call Martyr’s Day — an event meant to honor those who have died for the cause of white nationalism — as just another excuse for a beer-swilling, gut-belching, slam-dancing bacchanalia. This year, however, the festivities planned for this Saturday might just be a little different.
Billy Roper, head of the white supremacist group White Revolution (WR) and recently failed (49 votes) write-in candidate for governor of Arkansas, would like to introduce a more genteel, summer-camp-like tradition: A family-friendly potluck dinner featuring guests reciting homages to their favorite dead racist.
“Each attendee should research their favorite White Nationalist martyr, and be prepared to speak briefly to the assembled group on their chosen martyr so that we might educate one another about those who have paid the ultimate sacrifice for our people and their future,” Roper’s invitation reads.
It is not known if the odes to dead racists will be followed by the singing of “Kumbaya.” But despite occasionally naïve treatment by the Arkansas media — one local TV station actually ran a “news” story in which Roper was presented with a straight face as simply a mainstream critic of the Southern Poverty Law Center — Roper is no family-values conservative. Immediately after two airplanes flew into the World Trade Center on Sept. 11, 2001, killing some 3,000 Americans, Roper, then an official of the neo-Nazi National Alliance, wrote the following to his 1,400 fellow members: “The enemy of our enemy is, for now at least, our friends. We may not want them marrying our daughters, just as they would not want us marrying theirs. We may not want them in our societies, just as they would not want us in theirs. But anyone who is willing to drive a plane into a building to kill jews [sic] is alright [sic] by me. I wish our members had half as much testicular fortitude.”
The WR online “event reminder” featured a sweet high-school-graduation-style photo of one such “martyr,” Kathy Ainsworth, perhaps the most qualified claimant to the title of white lady terrorist. Ainsworth was a pregnant Mississippi housewife and Klanswoman who was killed in a 1968 shootout with police as she and a companion were surprised while trying to bomb the home of Jewish businessman and local Anti-Defamation League leader Meyer Davidson in Meridian. Such is the nature of white supremacist martyrdom: honoring someone cut down by police while attempting to carry out an assassination.
Officially, Martyr’s Day marks the death of Robert Jay Mathews, the founder of the infamous — though long defunct — neo-Nazi terrorist organization The Order, also known as the Silent Brotherhood, or Bruders Schweigen. Mathews, fearful of the demise of the white race and hoping to create a “white American bastion” in the Pacific Northwest, led his group on a series of increasingly daring armored-car robberies. Order members were also convicted of machine-gunning to death Denver radio talk-show host Alan Berg on June 18, 1984. In the end, on Dec. 8, 1984, Mathews died in a fiery shootout with FBI agents in Washington state.