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George Burdi, formerly a major figure in the White Power movement publicly denounces racism.
March 16, 2002 7:21 PM   Subscribe

George Burdi, formerly a major figure in the White Power movement publicly denounces racism. Burdi was a member of the skinhead band Rahowa(RAcial HOly WAr) and considered by many to be the next major ambassador of hate to the mainstream. Some time in jail, among other things seems to have turned him around. This interview offers some interesting insights on what makes young people vulnerable to recruitment by hate groups and perhaps, what we can do to prevent them from taking hold.
posted by jonmc (13 comments total)

 
thanks, jon. that was a great link.
posted by moz at 8:24 PM on March 16, 2002


"When you're young, you think you understand everything, and you want to share what you're thinking and get feedback."

That is one of the most profound things I've read lately. Again, great link.
posted by Yelling At Nothing at 9:20 PM on March 16, 2002


Riviting read, thanks.
posted by phatboy at 9:22 PM on March 16, 2002


There's a more in-depth one in the latest print issue of Punk Planet, unfortuantely it hasn't been put online. This one is almost as good.
posted by jonmc at 9:31 PM on March 16, 2002


New MeFI tagline - "When you're young, you think you understand everything, and you want to share what you're thinking and get feedback."

Great link, jonmc, especially in light of this. I actually feel pain on behalf of those who want so badly ...
posted by Wulfgar! at 9:31 PM on March 16, 2002


If we make it a MeFi tagline, the quite should be changed to "When you're wrong..."
posted by Yelling At Nothing at 11:23 PM on March 16, 2002


i read the burdi interview in Punk Planet (in my opinion, one of the best magazines currently in print) and found it very interesting. i live in toronto and am familiar with burdi from local media and a song by bob wiseman.

what i found interesting about this link was how his year in jail led to his reform. minutes before i read this article, i'd followed a link to the nazi film reviews and read their review of American History X in which they claim that Norton's character's reform during jailtime was completely unbelievable.

:)
posted by dobbs at 11:35 PM on March 16, 2002


yeah, but getting raped in the shower by your neo-nazi friends will tend to make you re-evaluate your relationships...
posted by bwg at 2:59 AM on March 17, 2002


Sorry to be a spoilsport but I don't buy these "Hey I was young" excuses. I respect the young, as soon as they're old enough, about 14 or 15. This guy was old enough. These supposed changes of heart just legitimate young neo-nazis and give them ready-made "I'll grow out of it" apologies. Yech!
posted by MiguelCardoso at 7:51 AM on March 17, 2002


I'll see Miguel's "spoilsport" and raise it. I'm troubled by this statement from the introduction:
Today, Burdi, 31, plays in a band with two black members and is engaged to an east Indian woman.

Why is this offered up as evidence of Burdi's conversion? White racists (especially in the South and Southeast, where I'm originally from) often engage in sexual relationships with women of other races. Oh, but they're engaged, so I guess that means he's evolved.

Additionally, many white racists work right alongside people of other ethnicities, sometimes in very close quarters. That he "plays in a band with two black members" says absolutely nothing about his alleged conversion.

I'm troubled by people's tendency to demonstrate how former racists have changed by pointing to one or two relationships with people of colour. The non-white people in these scenarios are little more than props; symbols put forth so that people will award Burdi brownie points for his new-found liberalism. It's one grand "Some of my best friends are..." statement, and it carries just about as much weight.
posted by likorish at 8:48 AM on March 17, 2002


I honestly don't know whether his conversion is sincere or not, I hope it is, but only Burdi knows for sure. In the Punk Planet interview he mentions recieving threats from his former comrades, so I don't know what he'd have to gain by faking it. The "brownie point" stuff seems to have been offered up more by the interviewer than by Burdi himself.
The main thing I found interesting about the interview was Burdi's unique vantage point on how these groups seduce vulnerable people into their ranks. FWIW, youth doesen't seem to be the primary thrust of what drew Burdi in, rather a horribly misguided search for belonging. There are societal forces at play that make these groups seductive, much the same way street gangs are to other demographics and these bear examining.None of this excuses his actions during his skinhead years, but perhaps if he remains vocally anti-racist he can atone for them. Even in those days he seemed well-spoken and charismatic, traits that should be welcomed if he has sincerely converted to the bright side of the force.
I fully understand Miguel and likorish's skepticism, and to a degree share it, but I do believe human beings have the capacity for positive change.
posted by jonmc at 10:55 AM on March 17, 2002


Interesting that this shows up here. His new project "Novacosm" is very well done. I think that his turn is besides the point. If anything, I think it may cause some serious problems for him if and when his new band finally gets some public gigs.

There has been a huge influx of press for him recently, unfortunately all dealing with his turn. Which unfortunalty is not what his current project is all about. Ifilm currently has a nice documentry that Burdi had made himself, and he was recently featured on the Vh1 Inside Hate Rock episode among other press as well. I wonder how long it will take for the rest of his band to finally get tired of the "leaving the white pride" scene talk?

Besides all the hoopla, I try to keep in mind that George Burrdi has a remarkable voice and a fine musical talent that I am just a happy that he has decided to share with the rest of the world.
posted by punkrockrat at 7:28 PM on March 17, 2002


saw vanya on 42nd street this weekend and was kinda just struck by the similarity in sentiment of these two quotes:

BURDI: Racism is wrong becauseā€¦ I should probably say hatred is wrong, anger is wrong. Hatred and anger are wrong because they consume what is good in you. They smother your ability to appreciate love and peace.

HELENA. You are cultured and intelligent, Ivan, and you surely understand that the world is not destroyed by villains and conflagrations, but by hate and malice and all this spiteful tattling. It is your duty to make peace, and not to growl at everything.
posted by kliuless at 7:14 AM on March 18, 2002


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