The connections between mass media and mass murder are often tenuous -- commentators were reluctant, for example, to indict the "Dark Knight" movie trilogy for the horrific shootings at Aurora, Colo., three weeks ago.
But it's harder to dismiss the revelation that Wade Michael Page, the man shot to death by police after a shooting spree that killed six worshipers in a Sikh temple in Wisconsin on Sunday, belonged to a hardcore skinhead band called End Apathy.
Why? Because according to TJ Lindley, who was an active skinhead for 15 years before defecting and writing a book about his experiences, bands like End Apathy often have direct connections with the white supremacy movement.
"If you're in a white supremacy band, you are extremely active. You do not get involved in a band and doing stuff like that unless you are completely 100-percent dedicated to the movement," Lindley said.
Lindley explained that white supremacy groups use bands like End Apathy as a way to recruit impressionable youths.
"That's the main reason behind the skinhead music scene. You give a kid something to read, he might read it once. But if you give him a CD, he might listen to it a thousand times," Lindley told The Huffington Post. "If that song's about white supremacy, hating Jews, blacks, Sikhs, anybody ... that song gets stuck in his head. It resonates. It stays there. So that's a very powerful tool."
End Apathy wasn't a particularly successful band, so it's unlikely that Page's voice got stuck in many heads or recruited many followers. And none of the five songs posted on the band's MySpace page have lyrics that are explicitly (or at least audibly) racist or xenophobic. Instead, they discuss what the band sees as general failings in American society -- greed, corruption, the powerlessness of the individual.
Steven Blush, writer of "American Hardcore: A Tribal History," explained that the hardcore skinhead genre grew out of the hardcore rock movement, itself a product of punk rock. Blush explained that hardcore grew popular in the '80s, mostly in New York, among people who were turned off by the commercialization of mainstream music.
"Anyone who had hatred for that blow-dried '70s, '80s thing was part of this umbrella that was hardcore," Blush told The Huffington Post.
Blush said that, though most hardcore groups avoided politics, a small minority always harbored white supremacist leanings. That segment was given a voice in the mid-'90s, when Canadian hardcore skinhead group RaHoWa -- short for Racial Holy War -- released three records. The band's racist vitriol inspired budding white supremacists around the world to start hardcore skinhead bands. RaHoWa's frontman George Burdi founded a magazine and a record label, both called "Resistance," to spread the movement.
Burdi went to jail for assault in 1997 and was forced to sell Resistance. He renounced racism after his release from jail -- but by then, Resistance Records and Resistance Magazine had been acquired by Neo-Nazi Erich Gliebe, who runs them to this day.
That said, Blush emphasized that skinhead hardcore music has relatively few dedicated followers. "This is not a rock star movement. This is a very small thing," Blush said.
Lindley said southeast Wisconsin -- the site of the shooting -- has long been home to an active white supremacist movement.
"In the Milwaukee area, that stuff's been going on for years," Lindley said. "Wisconsin used to be a giant hotbed of that stuff. So it doesn't surprise me, sadly."
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