The recent shooting in the Sikh temple in Wisconsin has focused the media on a genre of American music that promotes hate and violence.
So called hate-rock bands like the one once led by temple gunman Wade Page are increasingly important to the U.S. white supremacist movement, drawing in new recruits and bringing in cash, according to groups that keep tabs on those groups….
He led a North Carolina-based band called End Apathy for the past several years and played with several groups “in the leading tier” of the genre over the past decade, said Devin Burghart, author of “Soundtracks to the White Revolution,” a book on the subculture.
Bands like Page’s are instrumental to bringing disaffected teens into the movement, he said.
“They’re isolated individuals, often with behavioral problems, perhaps problems at home who are looking for a new familial bond as well as a sense of identity and belonging,” said Burghart, the head of research for the Institute for Research and Education on Human Rights in Spokane, Washington.
“So white-power music comes in,” he said. “It bridges the gap between healthy youth rebellion and hardcore white supremacy, providing that kind of Aryan identity.”
Once drawn in, hate groups “get these younger kids to do their bidding,” said David Gletty, who once infiltrated the movement for the FBI.
“It is one of the pillars of the white supremacist subculture,” Mark Pitcavage, director of investigative research at the Anti-Defamation League, said of white power music. “The message can motivate people to action, cause them to be proud of themselves and their cause. It can aggravate anger levels. It can rouse resentment.”
Arno Michaelis, the former leader of a white power band called Centurion, whose CD “14 Words” has sold 20,000 copies worldwide, recalls being swept away when he heard racist music from the British skinhead group Skrewdriver in the 1990s.
“Listening to that music was an essential part of how we rallied around the idea of racism,” said Mr. Michaelis, now 41. “It made me feel I was part of something greater, that I had purpose and that my race was something very special and was something I needed to defend.”
A Milwaukee resident, Mr. Michaelis distanced himself from the racist scene years ago, but was stunned to receive a call in 2005 from a German neo-Nazi who wanted him to reunite with Centurion for a European tour. The call prompted him to help form an organization, Life After Hate, that evangelizes against racism.
Though what may have set off the rampage remains a mystery to investigators, Mr. Page’s life as a white power musician playing violence-inciting songs was surprisingly open. He did interviews, posted photos on MySpace pages (one shows him playing guitar with a noose in the background), performed at festivals and even spoke candidly about his beliefs with an academic researching the movement.