" ... what haters find hot and what haters find not ... "
My Dinner at Applebee's With White Supremacists!
Harmon Leon is recruited by a group so hateful he refuses to use its name
By Peter Ferguson
SF Weekly, February 23, 2005
I decide to infiltrate a white supremacist hate group by posing as an eager new recruit, a new hater, if you will. I want to put a face on extreme hate, to find out the hobbies of haters, what haters find hot and what haters find not. I want to learn what someone in a hate group really loooooooves. Ice cream? Everyone loves ice cream. I love ice cream. Maybe hate groups love ice cream, too?
So Many Hate Groups, So Little Time
I go online, trolling for hate groups. Who knew there was so much organized hate around? Which one to choose? Why, there's the Aryan Nation, the World Church of the Creator, and the National Socialist Movement, not to mention the White Aryan Resistance, the White Power Liberation Front, and, of course, the kooky and lovable Ku Klux Klan.
After sending out many e-mails under the pseudonym of hater-to-be Hal Haterman, I find my hate group. And believe me, it's a good one! Its Web site rails on about "the Negroid filth churned out by MTV and the other Jewish promoters of anti-White music intended to demoralize, corrupt, and deracinate young Whites." My, someone's panties are certainly in a bundle.
It gets better. The founder of the organization wrote a whopper of a book that's an awesome detailed blueprint for race war and is credited with inspiring young Timothy McVeigh to bomb the Federal Building in Oklahoma City. Hurrah for hate!
Since this group is not known for displaying a great sense of humor, and in order to protect the innocent (namely me), I won't use the hate group's name. I really wouldn't enjoy it if the next time one of them saw me, it was through the scope of a rifle. (Cut me some slack; I mean, these guys do hate for a living and they seem particularly to hate Jews in the media. Gulp.) And then there's my carefully thought-out public-interest reason for not naming the group: Inevitably, sick people will read this story and want to join the cause. I don't want to make that easy.
After e-mailing the hate group about its next meeting, I'm truly paranoid. I'm not only a member of the No. 1 religion the group wants to wipe off the planet; once I push "send," I also get the uneasy feeling that I've immediately been put on an FBI watch list. Hurrah, my e-mail will now be monitored!
Day turns to night, then back to day again. Pages fall off my calendar (not really). The seasons change (still not really). A week later, eerily sitting in my inbox is an e-mail from my prospective hate group:
"We should have our next meeting coming up mid to late January I would like to meet with you in person before then."
The next hurdle: a little new-potential-hater questionnaire I'm asked to fill out. I start by answering with extreme sarcasm:
Ethnic background: "What do you think! Come on!"
Profession: "Children's birthday party entertainer"
What prompted you to want to become a racial activist or at least look into it?: "I really want to get more involved in activism in my community. I work well with others and have good organizational skills. I have a pickup truck if that's needed at any events."
Then I throw in for good measure: "Also, I hate the Jews! Lol"
And in closing I add, "Where shall we meet?"
The local leader of the hate group -- an organization that is a direct spinoff from the old American Nazi Party and that sees itself as carrying on Hitler's dream to purify the white race and prevent Jews and blacks from degrading "our" culture -- responds:
"How about Applebee's? I'll be coming with my wife, baby, and one other member. We can meet in the reception area. I'll be coming with two women and a baby?"
Bingo! I've got a date with hate! And who doesn't love Applebee's? It has quality dinners and a wide selection -- and all at budget prices!
A little preparation is in order.
My Hateful Disguise: Trucker hat, jean jacket, camouflage Army pants. Balancing everything out is a Mickey Mouse T-shirt. (Mickey Mouse wasn't Jewish, was he?)
Hateful Back Story: As a new recruit, Hal Haterman is a bit confused on whom exactly to hate. Hal's attitude about hating is very cheerful and enthusiastic.
Hateful Backup: A large friend planted by the entrance of Applebee's to watch my back and have his finger ready to punch 911, in case anything weird happens.
Applebee's Motto: Eatin' Good in the Neighborhood.
They Put the "Ha" in "Hate"
I'm nervously sick to my stomach at the prospect of the entire evening as I drive the 1 1/2 hours from San Francisco, purposely making sure I'm 40 minutes late for my white supremacist rendezvous. That way, they're going to absolutely hate me.
It's Friday night at Applebee's, and the place is packed with clean-cut couples, carefree college students, and families with happy little kids, as perky waiters and waitresses bounce with big smiles from one table to another, gleefully taking food orders. Being purposely late presents a problem: How will I find my white supremacists in this packed, medium-priced eatery? Will they be wearing matching hats? Will they have similar haircuts? Will they already be picking on minorities busing the tables?!!!
Approaching the perky Applebee's receptionist, I explain that I'm supposed to meet a guy named Kevin, his wife, a baby, and another member of their group.
"They promote our culture you know," I say with a wink.
"Right this way," she answers with a perky smile, not taking my meaning and leading me past dining, joyful families right to the table of three white supremacists -- and a baby. I'm actually taken aback. They look normal: a guy with short hair and a button-down shirt; his wife, who wears glasses and looks like a soccer mom; their baby; and a dumpy blond college girl. The white supremacists are already eating their appetizers; they have frowns on their faces.
"Glad to see that you made it," says unsmiling Kevin, a guy who works as a computer software technician. The normality isn't just dumbfounding; it's disturbing. Maybe the joke's on me. Maybe they're not as extreme as I imagined!
I find myself apologizing to the haters.
"There's nothing I hate more than traffic," I present as an excuse. "Except, of course, the Jews." Surprisingly (or not surprisingly), they agree.
There's initial nervousness all around; they try to feel me out, yet, at the same time, they also try to impress me with the merits of their hate group. I, meanwhile, ponder whether my fork will work as a weapon in a situation of self-defense.
"Can we get a menu?" the white supremacist soccer mom asks the bubbly waiter.
"I forgot, how did you find out about the [organization name withheld]?" inquires white supremacist Kevin.
"I work on weekends as a children's birthday party clown," I explain with enthusiasm. "The new guy who plays SpongeBob told me about you guys."
"I'm glad that he referred you to us," hater Kevin says, then asks how long I've been a "race activist."
I tilt my head back and reflect, "I started to dislike Canadians, then moved on from there." Under my breath, I mutter, "Fucking Canadians."
Three blank white supremacist stares.
"What made you want to get involved?" Kevin asks.
"It's either complain or do something. It's better to do something than complain," I say, throwing something from their Web site right back at them. They seem pleased.
After a bit of arbitrary small talk, without fanfare or a segue, white supremacist Kevin starts laying out hate literature on the Applebee's table, bearing such bold headlines as "White Identity" and "Our Jewish Keepers," under the publication title Free Speech. Families around us enjoy their dinners.
"This tells a little bit about our organization, our ideology," Kevin explains as the table's baby gurgles. "We also have our application on the back if you decide to sign up."
"Wicked!" I exclaim. I read:
I am a White person of good moral character, with no ineligibility. I want to build a secure and healthy future for my race by becoming a member.
"This is another of our publications," white supremacist Kevin says, doing so while avoiding eye contact; his voice fills with pride. "It deals with current issues. It deals with historical issues." He pulls out a magazine geared toward "A New Consciousness; A New Order; A New People." "It's kind of like Time magazine, except it's for us."
Yes, it's true. This would be just like Time magazine, if Time magazine ranted on endlessly about hating Jews. This version of Time is a little short on subtlety, though. I note some of the whimsical headlines:
"Jews Run Hollywood"
"Homosexuality as a Weapon"
"News From the Homeland"
"Jews a Different Race"
"Survival Manual for the White Race."
Just like Time, this magazine's entertainment section reviews Saturday Night Live skits that feature Jewish performers (need I tell you its take?). A review of Ann Coulter's book Slander reads, "Slander is fast, funny and factual. Although, unless you know the code, it can also be frustrating. The secret code is this: Almost every time you read the word 'liberal,' think 'Jew.' [Sounds like a crazy racist drinking game to me.] By not stating the real problem, Ann is aiding and abetting the enemy."
Just then our overcheerful Applebee's waiter comes over.
"OK, who had the salad?" he bellows with a big, Eatin' Good in the Neighborhood Applebee's smile.
"Can we get another menu?" the white supremacist soccer mom asks the perky waiter; racist Kevin tries to subtly cover up the hate literature with his forearm.
"You bet! And here's some napkins for you." The waiter bubbles off.
Asians, No. Caesar Salad, Yes!
As the menu is being sought, we, the men of the table, get down to the business of hate discussion while the racist womenfolk make cutesy baby talk to the gurgling infant.
"Crazy baby boy," coos his racist mom, who recommends reading David Duke's book The Awakening because it changed her life. "You're such a good boy."
Race hater Kevin asks where I live. I tell him I'm about to move up from the Bay Area.
"It's really horrible about the Asian problem there," the dumpy blond girl chimes in, speaking for the first time tonight, matter-of-factly, as if making small talk about the traffic or baseball scores.
[Long pause.] "Uh, yeah." [Pause.] "The Asian problem." [Pause.] "That's why I'm planning on moving up here."
A Hispanic couple at the next table shoots a surprised -- no, shocked -- look, thinking they must be hearing things at cheerful Applebee's. I'm taken aback again. As a first blatant racist comment of the evening, it's almost surreal. It's like someone you've just met loudly farting at a quiet, fancy dinner party, making no apologies, and then continuing to do so, completely unconcerned with the reaction from those around him. My point: This woman just loudly farted racism, without a hint of a suggestion of concern.
"It's probably a lot better up here," she spews with a vicious, hate-filled laugh. "At least you won't have to see a lot of Asians. But I'd recommend staying away from the university."
[Pause.] "OK." [Pause.] "So where would you suggest moving?"
"You're not safe anywhere," hater Kevin throws out.
"I have a friend who lives in Oakland," the soccer mom adds. "She used to be really, really anti-racist when she moved there. She's now so much more reasonable. Do you know what I mean? She's not one of us, but she's so much more levelheaded about the whole thing."
We grow silent. I fiddle with my water. The baby starts gurgling again. (I imagine his first words will be "Mama," and then, a few days later, "America for white people!")
"How's that salad?" I ask to break the silence.
"I haven't tried it yet," says the hate-filled soccer mom. "But I'm sure it's really good."
So, it seems, they hate Asians but love Caesar salads.
Do Hate Groups Rock?
I crane my neck, looking toward the door, hoping to spot the friend who is supposed to be watching my back. Where the hell is he?! He's not back-watching.
"This is our music magazine," racist Kevin interrupts, laying on the Applebee's table a publication that would look like any other indie/hipster music magazine, except that the music it's writing about glorifies Germany's Third Reich and denigrates blacks and Jews.
"We also have a record company," Kevin boasts, in a manner that seems to say, "Even though we're white supremacists, that doesn't mean we can't ROCK!" "We have over 750 CD titles."
"Oh yeah? What kind of music?" I ask; the group's Web site, after all, described exactly what ideal white utopian music involves: "In specific terms, this means a society in which young men and women gather to revel with polkas or waltzes, reels or jigs, or any other White dances, but never to undulate or jerk to Negroid jazz or rock rhythms."
"All kinds of music," racist Kevin boasts again. I almost expect him to strike a racist air-guitar pose.
"Yeah, well, your Web site said the kind of music you guys are into is polkas," I note, raining on his hate-filled music parade. "It said not to listen to rock 'n' roll and instead listen to polkas. Yeah, it said the music to listen to is polka.
"Do you listen to polkas?" I ask, directing the question at hate-filled Kevin.
He seems mildly embarrassed, professing with a shrug of the shoulders and a slight trace of what seems to be a blush, "Uh, sometimes we have the wrong people working on the Web sites."
"I swear it said the only music you guys should listen to is polkas," I repeat, rubbing his nose in the fact. "I think it was suggested by the founder of your organization."
"What kind of music do you like?" asks the dumpy blond girl, quickly changing the subject. Fortunately I did a little Web research in case the question of white supremacist music popped up.
"I loooooooove Skrewdriver," I exclaim with girlish glee, letting out a squeal, nodding my head as I spout the name of one of the most popular Aryan Nation skinhead bands. The white supremacists at my Applebee's table acknowledge the reference with a nod.
(For those not familiar with Skrewdriver, here's a brief sampling of the group's feel-good lyrics:
"They say all men are equal, there's no difference at all
Well who's it that lives in mud huts, yeah while others live in halls?
Yeah do we run 'round with spears?
Do we eat other men?
Are we a gang of bankers?
But the teacher says we're just the same as them.")
"Yeah, we have Skrewdriver in our music catalog," race hater Kevin confirms. "We're trying to branch out in other genres of music. There's a little bit of country, a little bit of heavy metal, a little bit of classical. All kinds of music."
All kinds of music indeed. In fact, Kevin's hate organization puts on an annual "pro-white" music festival. One of the headlining acts this past year was a pair of blond, 12-year-old twin girls clad in matching plaid skirts and sporting braided Heidi hair. Here's the twist: They perform folk versions of classic racist songs by bands such as Skrewdriver. Aaaaah, that's so fucking cute. And it gets cuter. These adorable minxes take their band name, Prussian Blue, from the Zyklon B residue that Holocaust revisionists claim was not found in the "so-called gas chambers" in concentration camps and should make people question the inaccuracies of the "Holocaust myth."
Now that, my friends, is absolutely adorable!
I ask the dumpy blond girl where she's originally from. Believe it or not, she hails from Orange County.
"The O.C.," I say, making a small attempt at humor by referring to the TV show.
She laughs for a moment. Then her laughter stops. "Do you know the main family on The O.C. is Jewish?!" the dumpy girl spits in disgust.
"You mean the actors, or the characters they play?" I ask.
"Probably both," she adds with revulsion. "I have no interest in watching that!"
[Pause.] "Yeah, me too."
"What do you do now?" I inquire to the dumpy racist girl.
Digging at her salad, she says, "I'm a graduate student."
"What do you study?"
"Child development," she says proudly. "I'm four units away from graduating."
Holy shit. Pray for us all.
"How is everything?" the bubbly Applebee's waiter asks, popping out of nowhere.
"Can we please get a menu?" the racist soccer mom asks once again, turning increasingly hateful toward the cheerful Applebee's waiter. It's a good thing he's white.
A White Living Space (Albinos Allowed)
I go to the bathroom, splash water on my face, and look deeply into the mirror. There's a message on my cell phone. It's from my large friend, the large friend who was planted by the door at Applebee's in order to watch my back. He's no longer planted by the door. He had to take off to meet a girl. He is sorry. I hate him.
I return to the table, presenting the white supremacists with a nervous smile; a smile of one who's no longer having his back watched.
"Have a chance to check out our Web site?" Kevin asks as I sit back down, ready for round two.
"Yeah, I was checking it out today," I reply uncomfortably. The Web site was veeeeeeery informative. It calls for what they term "A White Living Space" and complains about "the sickness of multiculturalism" that is destroying America and other good Aryan nations. There's a call for "a racially clean area of the Earth for the further development of our people. We must have White schools, White residential neighborhoods and recreation areas, White workplaces, White farms and countryside. We must have no non-Whites in our living space."
As a call to battle arms, it trumpets, "We will do whatever is necessary to achieve this White living space and to keep it White. [That's a hell of a lot of white.] We will not be deterred by the difficulty or temporary unpleasantness involved, because we realize that it is absolutely necessary for our racial survival."
With that in the back of my head, I sit at Applebee's with the local crusaders for the cause, who hungrily pick at a plate of spicy buffalo wings, deeming them delicious. (They are delicious!)
"We're getting a lot of hits," racist Kevin remarks. "Our link is up in the top 10,000 in the World Wide Web. I believe we got even more hits than USA Today, so that's a real positive thing."
"Now, about this white living space," I ask. "How do you suggest one tries to go about achieving this?"
"How are we going to achieve a white living space?" Kevin repeats without making eye contact. "In a small way you can start doing your part by doing business with white businesses and let them know why you are doing business with them."
The bubbly Applebee's waiter appears again from nowhere, presenting a menu and scaring the hell out of me. "How is everything?" he asks.
"Can I get some nachos please? They look delicious," I say, wanting to see if a hate group loves nachos, even though they are Mexican in origin. I also order the Oriental Chicken Rollup.
"So do you have any other friends who are into this?" racist Kevin asks when the bubbly waiter departs.
"Oh yeah. I sure do," I insist, explaining that I have a friend who would be a really great member, because not only does he have interest in being a white racialist, but he is also an albino, which makes him extra white.
How Hate Groups Recruit Fellow Haters
"So what goes on at a meeting?" I ask. "I just want to be a better racial activist. Do we organize protests? Do we have bake sales?"
"Every unit varies. There're some units who are more active. We go out to demonstrations and stuff like that. We have gone to demonstrations against Israel."
"Do you do anything with immigration?" I ask.
"You know we really should, especially in California. It really would attract a lot of new members.
"Our Las Vegas unit decided to put a huge billboard up in the middle of the street that said 'Stop Immigration.' They got it taken down," Kevin says, blaming the removal on some Jewish professor who complained.
"San Francisco would be the place for a billboard," I advise. "You got to go where the trouble areas are." (I'm scaring myself.)
"We're going to be doing some fliering," Kevin explains, picking at his food. "We're going to be doing some big fliering this weekend; race fliers. It says '[hate group's name deleted]' with this picture of this blond woman, and it says 'LOVE YOUR RACE.' I know the media is going to jump all over that."
"I'm sure they will," I reply, knowing at least one member of the media who will be writing about it.
Along with the "Love Your Race" catchphrase, the fliers will denounce Martin Luther King Jr. and include anti-Semitic quotes from Richard Nixon and Henry Ford. It will be the largest literature distribution that this unit has ever undertaken, encompassing more than 10,000 fliers.
The leafleting is done in what they call drive-bys; the fliers are launched out of car windows onto random residential driveways.
"We try to put out a positive message that people can go out and promote their own race," Kevin says.
"Yeah, why can't we?" I add, throwing fuel on the fire and pounding the Applebee's table with my fist. (I'm scaring myself.)
"Exactly," Kevin says, smiling. He thinks we think alike. He thinks I'm hate-filled enough to be allowed on the hate bandwagon. "If you're eager to help out, there's plenty of work."
"Yeah, I'm eager," I respond. (I'm scaring myself again.) "I like keeping busy. I can drop some off at the birthday parties when I'm entertaining. SpongeBob can help me."
Shocker! Gun shows, it seems, are a big recruiting arena. But lately the gun show crowd hasn't produced the type of quality hate group candidate it produced in days of old.
"We put fliers on cars at Ozzfest," the racist soccer mom says, wiping her baby's chin. "We also did that Metallica concert."
The group hands out recruitment DVDs at "European" cultural events as well. "It gives some background into the [group name withheld] and what's going on in the world," white supremacist Kevin explains, offering me a copy.
I make my most hate-filled face. "I know what's going on in the world; that's why I'm here!" I say with a cold, dead look in my eye (once again scaring myself).
"Exactly!" Kevin says, smiling again.
"You can talk," I add, repeating propaganda I found on the group's Web site, "or you can take action! I take action!"
Now, I'm really scaring myself.
It's a Family Affair
My Applebee's nachos finally arrive, and let me tell you, they are absolutely delicious.
"So, how many members do you got?" I ask white supremacist Kevin, feeling as if I'm rushing a college fraternity (Phi Delta White Power) and he needs to sell me on the idea of joining.
"Nationwide? Worldwide? I don't have the exact figure. But we are the largest racial-activist organization of its kind in the country," he says, explaining that Hal Haterman would pretty much have a racist friend in every major city. "It could be a couple thousand. We have a good-size unit here. Each meeting we have 30 to 40 people."
The local unit has been around since 1993, and white supremacist Kevin has been along for the hatemongering ride since the beginning, working his way up the ranks. They have a weekly broadcast on shortwave radio. ("It has to do with pretty much every topic that has to do with our race.") And there are plans to spread the message farther through a fun-lovin' public-access news program.
"Most of our other members are in their early 30s and late 20s," explains the racist soccer mom, bouncing her baby on her knee. "There's a lot of couples with kids. We're very family-orientated. In our unit there's about 14 kids, total. At the meetings, there will be little kids running around everywhere. Yeah, we're really family-orientated."
"Yeah, that sounds like a good atmosphere," I say, biting my lower lip.
"So we'll go and spend about a half an hour having the meeting and then a half an hour just playing with the kids."
The racist baby starts screaming.
"Nancy is the only one who isn't married," the soccer mom says, and the dumpy blond girl makes a sad face (perhaps secretly eyeing Hal Haterman as a potential future racist white supremacist husband?).
Besides meetings, the group also sponsors social events, camping trips, outings to "European" cultural fairs, and, of course, protests in front of the Canadian Consulate for the Canadian government's attempts to deport Ernst Zundel, leading Holocaust denier and the world's largest distributor of Nazi propaganda and memorabilia. ("That's why I hate Canadians!" I explain.)
"Are there any celebrity members of the group?" I inquire with hope.
"There are, but they don't want to make it public."
"Come ooooooooon. Who?" I plead. I throw out a few to see if they react. (Roger Ebert? Tara Reid?! Will Smith? The guy on the Quaker Oatmeal box?!!)
"There's quite a few people from mainstream bands. You'd be surprised; in really popular bands."
"Who? Justin Timberlake?"
"We have all kinds of members. Doctors, lawyers, professors," Kevin says, going on to list several other occupations, and to note that a hate group is a really good place for professional networking. "We had some members who were on the ballot for the Reform Party. Until the press found out and made a big deal about it."
"Stupid press," I add. "You should be careful of them." Then, "So where are your meetings at?"
"We usually have them at the public library or different restaurants. The last one we had to have at our house. It varies."
This month, believe it or not, it's going to be in the back room of a German restaurant. Claiming I'm an amateur video buff, I ask if I can film the meeting for their Web site.
"That wouldn't be a good idea. Like, if we're planning a certain event and the opposition sees it, they might plan a protest."
"Yes, you shouldn't let the opposition know what you're up to," I agree while heaping salsa onto a chip.
"We want to be as open as possible. But there's also people out there who hate us, and they want to do anything possible to destroy us," racist Kevin says, almost with a hint of sadness.
"How do you deal with that?"
"We try to stay private as possible."
"That's a good idea. You shouldn't tell your secrets to anyone outside the group you can't trust," I add. "They could spread the secrets.
"Hi baby! You've been a good baby."
Do Hate Groups Hate Other Hate Groups?
The perky Applebee's waiter with the big Applebee's smile explains the desserts.
"If I order something, will you split it with me?" the white supremacist wife says, nudging her husband. "We want to get one of those sweets with the brownies and the chocolate and the ice cream," she tells the smiling waiter.
I knew they would love ice cream!
I have an idea.
"Know what we should do? We should start a softball team!" I throw out with a big smile in order to generate enthusiasm for the idea, while grabbing a heaping of nachos. I explain we could take on other white supremacist groups in athletic competition. "I could even design the T-shirts."
Kevin ponders the notion, not catching how utterly ridiculous that actually would be, and only answers back with, "So you like softball, huh?"
"Do you guys do things, like have get-togethers with other groups like the Klan?" I ask. "You know, like throw picnics or bowling night?"
"We tried it in the past, but it just didn't work out," Kevin admits solemnly. "It wasn't our ideology; it was more personal conflicts. Some members had a little too much to drink and started arguing. We like to present the best representation of the white race that we can."
Kevin knows about the Klan. He did a two-year stint in Texas but wasn't happy about the experience.
"The grand wizard was on welfare," he recalls; his voice contains as much distaste as if he were commenting on Mexicans. "He was about 50 and lived with his mother. It was really depressing. We had to go with him to get his welfare check."
Still in the mode of a popular kid during fraternity rush week, I puff out my chest and state with an air of cockiness, "You know, I've been kind of looking around at a lot of other white racialist groups. I'm still deciding which one to join. The Church of the World Creator doesn't look that bad."
My Applebee's table collectively rolls its eyes. I stare off toward the kitchen and run my finger up the side of my fork, acting like I'm starting to get bored, to make them work harder at recruiting.
"Will I have to wear a stupid hood?!" I complain out of nowhere. "I just want to wear normal clothes. I don't want to wear a stupid hood."
"No. We're just normal, you know," the racist soccer mom explains. "A lot of those other people are just like caricatures."
"There's lot of hobbyists," the dumpy blond girl leans in and adds. "I think overall our organization has a higher level of intelligence. I don't want to sound snotty, but it's true. I think we attract the best of the best."
Kevin explains the protocol of the business of racial-hating. "At our meetings we make sure everyone wears shirt and tie. We make sure of that. We want to represent our race in the best possible manner," he says. "We try to eliminate the cheese factor."
Everyone laughs and repeats, "Cheese factor." (Ah, white supremacist humor.) The racist baby loudly gurgles.
"We just want to give people a good impression. We want to change people's impression of what a white racialist is. We're all not evil people," Kevin says. "We're all not sickos and weirdos."
I jump in to help make his point. "Yeah, just normal people. It's a cultural thing!"
The Coming Mexican Tsunami
"Is there a special topic or agenda for the next meeting?" I ask.
"We go through our monthly bulletin," Kevin explains. "Usually our meetings are two to three hours."
At the meetings, Kevin continues, they usually go over what's happening, generally, with the organization, cover old business, and host a speaker or speakers on relevant issues, such as a lawyer talking on freedom of speech. They're also planning a big "European" cultural festival for April. The baby starts screaming.
"We generally put the agenda together the weekend before. Then we open up the floor so we can have a group discussion," Kevin says. "Maybe we'll discuss the Iraqi war?"
"What's our group's take on the war?" I ask, expecting him to use the words "towelhead" and "camel jockey" somewhere together in a sentence. "I just want to make sure we're on the same page."
"You're allowed to have your own opinion," he replies.
"They're taking our money and getting our white soldiers killed," the racist soccer mom says scornfully, giving her racist baby his bottle.
"Like, how many of our white soldiers are over there and have died? Like, thousands," the dumpy girl chimes in.
The racist soccer mom insists her husband should try some of the chocolate brownie ice cream dessert. Her husband, though, is lost in a train of thought about the next meeting.
"Yeah, I don't think we'll be talking too much about the tsunami," he says with a sarcastic smirk.
"Oh yeah, what's your opinion on that?" I ask. After all, 170,000 human beings did die.
"Tsunami?" he repeats.
The dumpy blond girl immediately jumps in with her position: "It's natural population control."
"What's that?" I reply, hoping I'm not hearing correctly.
"It's natural population control," she says once again without hesitation as the hairs on the back of my neck stand on end.
White supremacist Kevin voices concern over her statement, noting, "Well, there were a lot of Europeans who died in there, too."
This knocks some sense into her dumpy racist head.
"Yeah, you're right. There were a lot of Swedish people who died."
"I just think it's kind of sad," adds the racist soccer mom while playing with her baby. "All those kids are going to be homeless, and we're going to have to pay for them all!"
We grow silent. Under his breath, Kevin says, almost as if solely for the benefit of himself, "Yeah, I wish one of those tsunamis would hit Mexico!"
Waiter, check please!
Do Hate Groups Pick Up the Tab?
When the bill comes, I make no offer to pay my part. In fact, I grunt, "You're going to get this, right?" If I had to spend an entire meal listening to pure racism -- not cultural pride, mind you, but pure racism -- I'm definitely not going to pay for my meal. Race hater Kevin, after a moment of hesitation, agrees to cover the bill.
As other Applebee's patrons sit laughing, enjoying their meals, I sit here wanting to get the hell home as Kevin asks one final question.
"What religion were you raised?"
I'm caught off guard. I forgot to look on their Web site to see which religion they attest to. I know they hate Catholics.
I throw out "Jewish!" just to see their expressions. Their faces turn whiter than a Klansman's sheet. "Just kidding," I say as the table breathes a sigh of relief and lets out a nervous laugh. "I was raised Christian."
That should go much better, I think. But I'm wrong again; they also hate Christians. I quickly make excuses and change the topic.
Since my large friend, rather than watching my back, has ditched me for a girl (I hate him), I do not want to leave with this group; the notion of ambush by other members hiding in the bushes flitters through my mind. As we head toward the door, I say, "I'm going to go back and use the bathroom, but it was really nice meeting you."
"We'll wait," says unsmiling Kevin, now making full eye contact. "Nancy's going to go to her truck and get you some stickers to hand out."
I try to spend as much time as possible in the men's room, hoping the white supremacists will go away. As I walk out to the parking lot, I pray there is not a waiting van that I'm going to be thrown into as part of the initiation. Instead, the dumpy girl hands me a stack of crude, homemade stickers from her truck. They read: "Earth's Most Endangered Species: THE WHITE RACE. Help preserve it."
"I put these on the back of chair lifts when I go snowboarding!" the dumpy blond racist states proudly. Nearby, a young Hispanic woman starts talking in Spanish on her cell phone.
"That really ruins the mood," remarks the dumpy girl, who hates Hispanics, but loves snowboarding, carving turns on powder as white as the society she wishes she lived in.
Before leaving, I ask Kevin, "What made you decide to join the organization?"
He pauses, turning a bit reflective, almost philosophical. Perhaps, I think, he is about to provide a true, meaningful insight into the complex psychology of white supremacy.
"I always hated minorities," he states bluntly. "I've always never really liked being around them. They always made me feel uncomfortable. So when I was 14, I decided to do something about it."
"We were old-school skinheads from way back," the racist soccer mom says perkily.
Now I see it. This is what happens to skinheads when they grow up, have kids, and move to the suburbs. They become fatherly, respectable, racist white supremacists, the kind you'd wave to at the company picnic.
"What were you expecting?' asks Kevin about my preconception of the evening.
I ponder for a moment. I was looking for depth, and this is all I got, and this is very simple: Hate groups hate. That's exactly what they do, in a cultlike way, expanding their ranks by preying on the lonely and isolated. There's no great intellectual explanation for it.
"This was different, a lot different than I was expecting," I say.
I'm given a handwritten address for the next meeting, which is going to be at a German restaurant. I can't make it. But I'll pass on the information to some friends of mine at the Anti-Defamation League.