I haven’t blogged for awhile, but since white nationalism, neo-Nazis and political violence are trending topics these days, I figured I’d share some thoughts. After all, I was a teenage skinhead.
I’m a first generation American who grew up in a diverse city, in a deeply racist state. In the 1980’s, Miami was the murder capital of the country and the port of entry for 70% of the nation’s cocaine and marijuana. You’re probably familiar with Scarface and Miami Vice, but few know the Sunshine State has a dark and violent culture lurking in its shadows.
Historically, Florida has been a safe space for America’s oldest terrorist group, the KKK. Some of the most violent acts of terrorism throughout the 20th Century happened in Florida.
The strength of the KKK waxes and wanes over time; by late 1980’s/early 1990’s it was beginning to wane. However, new varieties of right wing extremist groups were growing steadily. Neo-Nazi, racist skinheads, white supremacist hate groups and anti-government militias almost doubled in size.
Neo-Nazi and racist skinheads were responsible for some of the most vicious and violent hate crimes throughout the country, especially in the ‘Sunshine State’. Stormfront, the most popular white supremacist and neo-Nazi forum on the web, is based in West Palm Beach.
The Birth of Skinheads
Before Miami Beach became a playground for models and celebrities, it was a magical wasteland of dilapidated art deco hotels, senior citizen homes, Cuban coffee shops and a thriving punk rock scene. Hardcore punk rock was an eclectic musical subculture of disaffected youth that originated in England and quickly spread across the US.
Skinheads were part of this music-oriented subculture, but they weren’t the violent, racist ‘boneheads’ most people know today. Skinhead subculture originated in the 1960’s when Jamaican immigrants brought ska music to England and created a unique subculture with British punk rockers.
One more time for your Facebook friends who comment without reading: The original skinheads were working class Jamaicans and Brits who created a subculture centered on music and fashion.
The Birth of Racist Skinheads
Years later, the far right (National Front) would infiltrate punk rock, appropriate the skinhead aesthetic and create that violent racist skinhead you’ve seen in movies like American History X, Romper Stomper or Green Room. What started as a small group of ethnonationalist, anti-immigration skinheads in the UK eventually became a global community of white supremacist and neo-Nazi skinhead gangs.
This new breed of racist skinhead attacked ethnic minorities, immigrants and made an aggressive effort (which was almost successful) to destroy punk rock. The violence they brought to punk rock escalated into near-constant fighting at concerts and in the streets. Musical acts were banned, clubs were shut down and areas where punk rock flourished soon became ghost towns. This happened in the UK and throughout the US.
The Birth of SHARP Skinheads
After one too many brawls and friends getting stabbed, there was an obvious need to do something, lest our beloved community be destroyed. Some of us decided to sit down and have heart-to-heart conversations with these right wing extremists and domestic terrorists who advocate ethnic cleansing. You know, to hear both sides. I mean, who are we to judge, right?
We didn’t just punch Nazis; we stomped them out and chased them out of town.
I did this type of anti-racist activism in Florida, Ohio, California and New York. I had friends doing the same in other states. Most of you likely know nothing about this, but punk rock resistance to white supremacy and neo-fascism wasn’t just happening all over the country – it was global. And it wasn’t new, Bob Marley and the Clash sang about it in the 1970’s.
If you want to read more about the history of SHARP skinheads and anti-racist, anti-fascist activism in punk rock, check out my page: Punky Reggae Party.
A two-year study by the Intelligence Report shows that registered Stormfront users have been disproportionately responsible for some of the most lethal hate crimes and mass killings since the site was put up in 1995. In the past five years alone, Stormfront members have murdered close to 100 people.
As it turns out, it’s not just hateful rhetoric, empty threats, mean tweets or bad words.
At some point, my friends and I realized that we didn’t want to get stabbed, murdered or even be associated with it, so some of us traded in our Doc Martens for Vans and grew out our hair. The next few years, I toured the US and Europe in hardcore punk bands before moving to the Lower East Side in the 90’s.
I was a bartender and bouncer in the Lower East Side while I developed a health/fitness career. I became a certified personal trainer around the time Oklahoma City was attacked by domestic terrorists. I became a licensed massage therapist when a Christian terrorist (Christian Identity) bombed the Olympic Park in Atlanta during the 1996 Summer Olympics.
Throughout the last two decades my main pursuit has been career, but ‘all work and no play’ is not healthy, right? So for balance, I kept tabs on the growth of skinhead gangs, the development of neo-fascist gangs and a few traditional white nationalists.
Over the years I’ve lurked in the biggest neo-Nazi forums and followed the most influential white supremacists in various neo-fascist subcultures on the radical right. I read books, journals (magazines) from ‘academic’ racists, eugenicists and followed a few ‘think tanks’.
So naturally, as the Alt Right quickly grew from a small white nationalist organization into a larger network (special thanks to Milo & Bannon), I started paying attention.
Meet the New Racists, Same as the Old Racists
Although I haven’t blogged for a few years, I stayed active in social media and told you about the new, rebranded white supremacist and resurgent far right extremist movement, the Alt Right.
The Alt Right started out as a small white nationalist organization and grew into a larger network (both online and in real life) of extremist and reactionary groups, communities and characters. There is some minor and mostly meaningless variations in ideology, politics, etc but much of this coalesces under white supremacy and misogyny.
Simply put, this is:
- an alternative right wing media (propaganda) system
- an attempt at creating a far right militant political party
- a commercial enterprise: industry headed by charlatans capitalizing on white grievance
- a subculture of dirtbags, bigots, opportunists, liars and bullshit artists the likes of which you would’ve never seen had it not been for Trump.
Over the last few years I wasted time, not too much, but just enough following some key leaders, influencers, their friends and fellow travelers in this newly developed, cult-like community.
For the past ~6 years, I closely followed Mike Cernovich, Milo and Gavin McInnes. These guys were instrumental in helping the Alt Right grow the past few years.
McInnes – Gavin is a former punk rocker and founder of hipster racism. McInnes was co-founder of Vice Media until he made a hard right turn and started writing for white nationalist fanzines.
Milo – Milo is a professional opportunist who glamorized pedophilia and mocked victims of sexual abuse for (at least) three years publicly. His fans shoot people at his events. His events have nothing to do with ‘free speech’.
Cernovich – I started following Cernovich because he has a fanbase of health/fitness/paleo diet professionals. I read almost everything he’s written and forced myself to sit through way too many of his interviews, videos, periscopes and podcasts. I tracked his online growth for a few years and followed his “journalism” throughout major events.
This was tedious, to say the least. I’ve never seen anyone so dishonest and so devoutly racist in my life – this dude is dedicated. His twitter feed has been one long ‘roid rage of hate news, fake news and subterfuge.
Why I Spent Time in this Echo Chamber of Hate
It should be obvious, but most people ignored it.
Also, these people lie about almost everything.
Also, very few people cover this topic and just so you know, corporate media helped the nazi skinhead movement grow. Other than getting trolled, they’re doing the same thing today with far right ideologues.
There’s a reason you never heard of Cernovich until a few months ago. I’m going to show you how he got to where he is today, and how untruthful he is on culture, national security and political violence.
I’m making an infographic now on the rise of the (offline) radical right. And have a few things to tell you about this community, rebranding, radicalization, their propaganda model, the push to get their extreme ideas into the mainstream (and those who are enabling it).
In the meantime, here is a resource page with some links to get you up to speed on the Alt Right and the community of bros associated with them and the dudes funding the far right.
Thanks for reading. Please share this article and follow me on twitter.