Saturday, August 4, 2007

Skinheads USA: Soldiers of the Race War

I came across this great site that allows you to view hundreds of documentaries (and tv shows and movies) for free (apparently it's legal too).

I watched Skinheads USA: Soldiers of the Race War tonight.

It was both scary and fascinating. While the individuals in this documentary represent a tiny subculture in the US and they have minimal legitimate influence, their brutal militancy is frightening nonetheless.

I found it interesting that the tactics of Bill Riccio, leader of the Aryan Defense Fund, replicate those of Islamic Jihadists, African warlords, and to a less extreme degree, Becky Fischer of Jesus Camp. They take alienated youth who come from poor backgrounds, with authoritarian and/or absent parents, who have nothing better to live for, and they give them hope in some cause higher than themselves. These are the kind of people who will die and commit murder for their cause.

I realize groups like this represent a small minority in the United States, and their extremism is frightening. Yet I still find that those who are in the mainstream who share their views, but not their militant tactics (large portions of the Republican party for example) are far more dangerous to those who do not share their views.

It is cases like the Aryan Nation and similar groups that really test one's belief in the virtue of American democracy and the freedom of speech. Do we allow these groups to fully express their hateful views, even while they're calling for the destruction of America as we know it?

I say we do. The more average Americans hear their message of hate, the more their views will be repudiated. If we stifle their expression we compel them to cultivate an even greater victim mentality, which only fuels their violent fervor and the recruitment of more vulnerable youth.

1 comment:

Jamelle Bouie said...

We have to do more than simply allow them to speak their views, we have to publicly repudiate their views when they do speak, and in the process remind the community that these views are not acceptable.