In a special one-hour Democracy Now! broadcast, we examine two key influences on Wisconsin Sikh temple shooter, Wade Michael Page: The neo-Nazi music scene and pervasive white supremacism in U.S. military ranks.
Pete Simi, associate professor of criminology at the University of Nebraska at Omaha, spent time with Page while researching the hate music scene in Southern California from 2001 to 2003. Simi discusses the influence the white power music scene had on Page.
"At the time that I had met him, he felt like his involvement in the [white power] music scene really gave him a lot of purpose in terms of how he could contribute to the larger white-supremacist movement," Simi says. "And in fact, that is what the [white power] music scene does."
What he told me was that when he met members of the first band that he was in, 'Youngland' ... he said that, 'Once I met them, it changed my life. I instantly had a bunch of new bros,'" Simi says. "And in fact, that is what the music scene does for a lot of folks is it provides a way for them to be involved in the larger movement, whether it's as musicians, or as people who really enjoy the music and like going to the shows -- and can tap in to the movement through their involvement in the music scene."
In an interview with Simi, Page was also open about his neo-Nazi views when he served in the U.S. military from 1992 to 1998.
"He did indicate part of how he started identifying with neo-Nazi beliefs during his time in the military was that he had met individuals who were active military personnel that were already involved in white supremacist groups," Simi says. "And through them, was exposed to white supremacist propaganda or literature. And this was kind of part of his early indoctrination process during his time in the military."
Military regulations state, "Participation in extremist organizations and activities by Army employees (both appropriated and non-appropriated fund personnel) is inconsistent with Army values and the responsibilities of employment in the federal government." Investigative journalist Matt Kennard discusses how the military often ignores these regulations to maintain troop levels.
"During the War on Terror, even the thin regulations that did exist were completely jettisoned," Kennard says. "I spent two or three years talking to veterans, extremist veterans, much like Page, and far right leaders, who basically said that there was an open-door policy during the War on Terror. You could enter with swastikas tattooed on you, with S.S. boats, with, basically -- basically the military couldn't slow down because the had two occupations to populate and not enough soldiers.
Kennard adds, "Every time this issue has been raised, the U.S. military has targeted the person raising it. Soldiers who have said, 'Look, my unit's riven with white supremacists or gang members' the military has demoted them or kicked them out the military. I've come across several cases of that.'"
And while many were shocked by the massacre at the Sikh temple, Daryl Johnson, a former senior analyst at the Department of Homeland Security, warned years ago that such an attack was imminent. However, his 2009 report about the increasing dangers of violent right-wing extremism in the United States was met with ridicule and censorship.
"And then in lieu of the political backlash, the Department not only decided to stop all of our work, but they also disbanded the unit, reassigned us to other areas within the office, and then made life increasingly difficult for us," Johnson says. He has a new book coming out, titled, "Right Wing Resurgence: How a Domestic Terrorist Threat is Being Ignored."
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