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February 24, 2005 8:08 AM   Subscribe

Feelin' hate in the neighborhood. A writer for SF Weekly meets up with the white supremacists...at Applebee's.
posted by Vidiot (53 comments total)

 
(via Wonkette.)
posted by Vidiot at 8:17 AM on February 24, 2005


I think I am going to get sick.
posted by caddis at 8:57 AM on February 24, 2005


This guy handled it much better than I would have. I'd have walked out after about, oh, five minutes.

He has a way with words, though. "Phi Delta White Power." Heh.
posted by SisterHavana at 8:59 AM on February 24, 2005


I like how the writer spends two paragraphs explaining why, for his and others' safety, he didn't mention the group, and then Wonkette decides it's oh-so-cute to mention it in the link.

God, even her guest writers are obnoxious twats.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 9:01 AM on February 24, 2005


well, it's not that hard to figure out just from reading the linked article, actually. (but yeah, I was surprised Choire mentioned it.)
posted by Vidiot at 9:02 AM on February 24, 2005


For what it's worth, if you Google for parts of the quote the author furnishes at the beginning of the article you can track down the group's name with ease.

Mentioning it like that in the same sentence while making note of the author's wishes and reasoning is still a mighty assholish thing to do, though.
posted by Kosh at 9:05 AM on February 24, 2005


Quite a few reporters have done this. I wasn't that impressed with the SFWeekly article. See also Blee and Ridgeway for non-humorous takes on the subject. That's actually my main objection to the Weekly story--having arrived at the awesome conclusion that "hate groups hate," it seems that the author decided to go for the "racists say the darndest things" angle.
posted by scratch at 9:10 AM on February 24, 2005


Yeah, the writing is just horrible. This guy is more concerned with earning style points than covering a disturbing topic.

those racists DO say the darndest things though....
posted by j.p. Hung at 9:20 AM on February 24, 2005


Scratch, I disagree. Laughing at these people is the BEST thing we can do. If we take them seriously, whisper, point, get afraid over their "growing influence" (snicker) then they HAVE power, of a sort. If you are feared, then you have power over the ones that fear you.

But if we point and laugh, then they become utterly powerless.

(and the interesting thing to note is this would also be an effective way for the haters to behave, except they're so wrapped up in their hate that this approach would never occur to them...)
posted by InnocentBystander at 9:45 AM on February 24, 2005


Yup. No mincing words here. In their store, the CD of LIGHTNING AND THE SUN by Savitri Devi is described as the "classic philosophical work about the historical inevitability of cultural decay and rebirth, written by one of Adolf Hitler's most devoted admirers." Order now.
posted by QuietDesperation at 9:47 AM on February 24, 2005


"We put fliers on cars at Ozzfest," the racist soccer mom says, wiping her baby's chin. "We also did that Metallica concert."

Ozzfest? Metallica? These guys are aware that Kirk Hammett is of Latino heritage, right? And that Ozzfest has featured several bands (POD, Soulfly, Biohazard (Evan is Jewish), Sevendust) who are visibly non-"Aryan". Hell one Ozzfest alumni's name, Meshugga is a freaking Yiddish word.

I hope they caugh an engineer boot in the ass, for shambolic cluelessness, if nothing else.
posted by jonmc at 9:47 AM on February 24, 2005


Actually, Kirk is of Filipino heritage, my bad. But the point remains.
posted by jonmc at 9:58 AM on February 24, 2005


These little girls (mentioned in the article) are sooooo cute!
posted by Devils Rancher at 10:03 AM on February 24, 2005


It's really horrible about the Asian problem there

All the smart guys keep going out with the damn Chinese undergrads! Argh!
posted by Mean Mr. Bucket at 10:04 AM on February 24, 2005


"There's nothing I hate more than traffic," I present as an excuse. "Except, of course, the Jews." Surprisingly (or not surprisingly), they agree.

Being jewish, I'm allowed to find that fucking hilarious.
posted by Tlogmer at 10:07 AM on February 24, 2005


Harmon Leon is one of the world's better trolls. He just does it in real life instead of on the internet.
posted by drezdn at 10:08 AM on February 24, 2005


Talk about half-assed undercover journalism.

I tilt my head back and reflect, "I started to dislike Canadians, then moved on from there." Under my breath, I mutter, "Fucking Canadians."

This is more about one person's brief attempt to hang out with a few racists and confirm his own stereotypes, rather than any serious attempt to investigate the inner workings of racist organisations.

I can't wait for his investigative report on how trailer trash *gasp* live in trailers and *guffaw* have trash.
posted by furtive at 10:16 AM on February 24, 2005


from link: ""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 spent a few minutes pulling down those posters and ripping those stickers off of telephone poles in my neighborhood in Boston last week. The name of the hate group is National Alliance; they seem to be based in West Virginia, at least the web site is, and they're the same as Resistance records, Prussian Blue's label.

I can't remember being that angry before. This little essay is really funny, but they sincerely should keep their damned posters to themselves.
posted by koeselitz at 10:19 AM on February 24, 2005


Furtive - what "inner workings" do you actually need to know? The recipe for making "secret societies" has been around since the ancient Greeks or longer.

Read any text about organizing an underground resistance to ANYTHING, and you know how these groups work too. It's not like they have revolutionary new techniques for flier-bombing neighborhoods or putting out "coded" messages for other initates to see.

Again, I say - the BEST thing we can do with the haters is make them into buffoons.
posted by InnocentBystander at 10:27 AM on February 24, 2005


I find the writer's continually calling the wife "dumpy blond" and "racist soccer mom" tiring, childish, and silly. I don't even qualify as "white," let alone "white supermacist," but I think the tone of the entire article is distasteful. It's not even funny. Racist or not, hateful jerks or not, these people are still people, and should be treated with the same respect you'd give anyone else.

Even if I don't like someone, even if our basic ideologies clash, I don't say rude things about him. It's just not right.
posted by uncleozzy at 10:30 AM on February 24, 2005


If you like the article,you might want to check out other works by Harmon Leon
posted by drezdn at 10:35 AM on February 24, 2005


I find the writer's continually calling the wife "dumpy blond" and "racist soccer mom" tiring, childish, and silly. I don't even qualify as "white," let alone "white supermacist," but I think the tone of the entire article is distasteful.

I kinda got that feeling, too, that he's not so much upset by their racism, but how uncool they are. But on the other hand, anything we can do make white supremacists look foolish is probably a good thing, too.
posted by jonmc at 10:36 AM on February 24, 2005


I think I am going to get sick.

Me too. Applebee's!? Bleachh!
posted by sonofsamiam at 10:39 AM on February 24, 2005


This guy is more concerned with earning style points than covering a disturbing topic.

Right.

This is more about one person's brief attempt to hang out with a few racists and confirm his own stereotypes, rather than any serious attempt to investigate the inner workings of racist organisations.

Right again.

Laughing at these people is the BEST thing we can do. If we take them seriously, whisper, point, get afraid over their "growing influence" (snicker) then they HAVE power, of a sort. If you are feared, then you have power over the ones that fear you. But if we point and laugh, then they become utterly powerless.

Er, wrong. This theory reminds me of Roz Chast's cartoon "SNUB: The new laundry detergent that TOTALLY IGNORES dirt in the hope that it will go away."
posted by scratch at 10:48 AM on February 24, 2005


I kinda got that feeling, too, that he's not so much upset by their racism, but how uncool they are. But on the other hand, anything we can do make white supremacists look foolish is probably a good thing, too.

Yeah, it seemed to me too that he was more repelled by their lack of style than their evil. I wonder how much the popularity of these racist groups would grow if they were made to seem more cool.
posted by unreason at 10:50 AM on February 24, 2005


This sort of hatred is more "normal" than one would hope. If anything, the article is at least a decent reminder of the utter banality of evil.
posted by PsychoKick at 10:51 AM on February 24, 2005


Not thrilled with some the writing choices, but I'm still really glad I read this. Thanks for the link.
posted by dougunderscorenelso at 10:51 AM on February 24, 2005


Yeah, it seemed to me too that he was more repelled by their lack of style than their evil. I wonder how much the popularity of these racist groups would grow if they were made to seem more cool.

Case in point: Skinheads. They definitely seemed superficially "cooler" than cross-burning old men pining for the Confederacy. They even grew out of a legitamite (and non-racist) youth subculture, so they may have drawn in the occasional misguided youth. Luckily, they tend to wear their hatred on their sleeves so people can usually see through them.
posted by jonmc at 11:01 AM on February 24, 2005


Don't try this at home? Damn straight. This is the stuff of nightmares and I would never do this in a million years.

When I was in high school my friends and I went to cultish religious meetings for fun, I've talked to right wing friends of my parents, but these people really frighten me. I wish he'd asked more about their policy on violence.
posted by gesamtkunstwerk at 11:08 AM on February 24, 2005


've read or heard urban legends that state that every white supremicist group is populated by 20% racist kooks and 80% investigatory journalists (who are great u-google-izers). Or even less. So it's basically a bunch of jounalists trying to out-talk one another when it comes to hating. Much like in this article. How does Mr. Leon know that the guys he met are not journalist from the New Yorker, who are writing an article about "who joins these underground movements?"

Jokes on you, racists!
posted by zpousman at 11:23 AM on February 24, 2005


Racism is stupid. I hate everyone the same, until you prove your worth otherwise. There are so many perfectly good reasons to hate people on an individual basis, using personality as the standard, rather than race-religion, that to lump people up into big groups and hate them all at once serves no purpose other than expediency.

And Applebees? Yuck-o-rama!!
posted by Balisong at 11:33 AM on February 24, 2005


uncleozzy -- "...these people are still people, and should be treated with the same respect you'd give anyone else."

I have another idea. Let's treat them with the same respect they would show anyone else.
posted by CrayDrygu at 11:54 AM on February 24, 2005


Let's treat them with the same respect they would show anyone else.

The Golden Rule is not "Do unto others as they would do unto you." (Although I suppose some might argue that it is a more practical rule.)
posted by uncleozzy at 12:17 PM on February 24, 2005


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."

Hee! So now I've been told that both "liberal" and "neocon" are code for "Jew"!
posted by PinkStainlessTail at 12:22 PM on February 24, 2005


...his racist mom, who recommends reading David Duke's book The Awakening because it changed her life...

Actually it's My Awakening. Used to sell a lot of that when I worked at a bookstore in Reading, PA.
posted by PinkStainlessTail at 12:25 PM on February 24, 2005


Scratch, I disagree. Laughing at these people is the BEST thing we can do. If we take them seriously, whisper, point, get afraid over their "growing influence" (snicker) then they HAVE power, of a sort. If you are feared, then you have power over the ones that fear you.
But if we point and laugh, then they become utterly powerless.


I want to agree with that, but I think history has taught as otherwise. People with absurd ideas are capable of astonishingly destructive acts, see Timothy McVie and the 9/11 terrorists for proof of this. They deserve our mocking and we shouldn't be afraid of them, but it is perhaps unwise to underestimate them.

By the way, it has been recommended here before, but if you want to see this sort of thing done better, you can do a lot worse than read Jon Ronson's Them.
posted by chill at 12:44 PM on February 24, 2005


I like Harmon Leon. He can be juvenile, and he's not the world's greatest writer, but he's smart, and creative, and ballsy as hell. As drezdn pointed out, he acts in the manner of the old-school usenet troller: he indicts his victim's worldview by doing something ridiculous, something absolutely absurd, and having his victim lap it up in the most matter-of-fact way.

misterpants has put together this huge list of Harmon Leon articles. Have fun!
posted by mr_roboto at 12:45 PM on February 24, 2005


Racist or not, hateful jerks or not, these people are still people, and should be treated with the same respect you'd give anyone else.

No they shouldn't. Respect is strictly earned around here, and I don't see neo-nazis as deserving of one single iota of mine. Vile people should be roundly and regularly ridiculed.
posted by Devils Rancher at 2:52 PM on February 24, 2005


This sort of hatred is more "normal" than one would hope. If anything, the article is at least a decent reminder of the utter banality of evil.

It's also probably important to mention how the concept of the "banality of evil" is so often misused. When Hannah Arendt coined the concept of the banality of evil, she was referring to the ordinariness of evil, not its unhipness. That's where Harmon Leon's SF hipster persona can be counterproductive.
posted by jonp72 at 5:11 PM on February 24, 2005 [1 favorite]


Furtive, a bit sensitive, non?
posted by pwedza at 5:36 PM on February 24, 2005


All this, and Robot Wisdom is back?! Kismet!
posted by NortonDC at 6:22 PM on February 24, 2005


If you go looking to stir up shit, you're going to find shit. It's a law of nature.
posted by Eideteker at 6:56 PM on February 24, 2005


When Hannah Arendt coined the concept of the banality of evil, she was referring to the ordinariness of evil, not its unhipness.

Kind of the same thing, isn't it? The essence of "hip" for better or worse, is transcending the mudane, right? And the seduction of evil is that sometimes it almost seems hip (in the original "knowing," "cool," "I get it," sense of the word).
posted by jonmc at 7:22 PM on February 24, 2005


Ira Glass wannabe. Not funny, not insightful, apparently not even truly curious. This article is, as other have pointed out, just an exercise in trying to make himself look cool. What a lame-o. The "...except the Jews" line did make me laugh (I'm tribe) but I don't believe he actually said it, just thought it would have been a cool thing to have said. Feh.
posted by squirrel at 8:03 PM on February 24, 2005


"This little essay is really funny, but they sincerely should keep their damned posters to themselves."

Free speech sucks.

I support the diversity that comes with extreme viewpoints. One day I plan to join the NAACP and the KKK. Not 'cause I agree with or like either group, but in an effort to make sure people that really piss me off get their say. I hope the National Alliance is still around for my (yet-to-be-born) grand-daughter to poke fun at.
posted by iwearredsocks at 8:25 PM on February 24, 2005


When Hannah Arendt coined the concept of the banality of evil, she was referring to the ordinariness of evil, not its unhipness.

Is there anything more banal than Applebee's?
I'm with squirrel - fun concept, annoying execution. The only bit I really liked were the periodic updates on the "racist baby."

I googled "white living space" and found the entertainingly scary website immediately. Tell me the chairman isn't straight from Central Casting.
posted by CunningLinguist at 8:34 PM on February 24, 2005


It's times like these I wish I could edit my mefi . . .I'm not sure why I cast the NAACP opposite the KKK in my comment. Of course they don't normally go together, but neither do they equally represent extremity of views, either (which is that for which I was aiming).

Are the Black Panthers still accepting members . . .?
posted by iwearredsocks at 8:48 PM on February 24, 2005


It's times like these I wish I could edit my mefi . . .I'm not sure why I cast the NAACP opposite the KKK in my comment.

Actually, there's a Dr. John song from the 70's where called "Patriotic Flag Waiver" where the good Doctor intones "I'm a member of the NAACP & the Ku Klux Klan." Perhaps you heard the song and the line stuck in your head.

A better way of accomplishing the same goal would be to make like David mamet and join both the NRA and the ACLU.
posted by jonmc at 3:22 AM on February 25, 2005


Now that I've read more of Harmon Leon's stuff, I have to tip my hat. Great gig he's got and many of his pieces are very clever. (I just wish he didn't think repetition=funny inside stories.)
posted by CunningLinguist at 5:44 AM on February 25, 2005


"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 normality isn't just dumbfounding; it's disturbing. Maybe the joke's on me. Maybe they're not as extreme as I imagined!"

Wow, you know, the other day a met some black people that seemed normal! Imagine that! Maybe I should try to understand them rather than just writing them off and fitting them into my preconceived notions. Or maybe I'll just go ahead and secretly poke fun at them and giggle to myself later. Haha!

I'm not trying to equate being in a white power group with being black, mind you, I'm just trying to point out that maybe he could've used this opportunity to learn about what drives these people to be involved in such things rather than leading them into looking foolish. It just seems a lot more progressive, though admittedly less amusing, but I guess it's what he does best. If you'd like to see someone with insightful writings on people involved in the Klu Klux Klan check out Jacob Holdt's article.
posted by nTeleKy at 1:10 PM on February 25, 2005


A better way of accomplishing the same goal would be to make like David mamet and join both the NRA and the ACLU.

These aren't opposing groups. I have contributed to both myself. I'm sure there are plenty of people with libertarian leanings who support both.
posted by me & my monkey at 4:16 PM on February 25, 2005


It's a relatively recent development that the ACLU has moved closer to the NRA's interpretation of the second amendment to the U.S. Constitution. For a long time, they were in opposition. Less so now.
posted by NortonDC at 4:28 PM on February 25, 2005


These aren't opposing groups. I have contributed to both myself. I'm sure there are plenty of people with libertarian leanings who support both.

I agree wholeheartedly. But doing so does baffle the ideologically blinkered, so it has it's perversely fun side.
posted by jonmc at 10:02 PM on February 25, 2005


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