An all-American racist

Wade Michael Page, vocalist and guitarist in the band 'End Apathy' and suspected gunman in the Sikh temple shooting. Note Page's Confederate flag design guitar-strap and the Nazi flag draped behind his band.

Is there much chance that America will own its latest mass murderer?

I doubt it.

When a white man picks up a gun and slaughters a bunch of fellow Americans, the most predictable feature of the subsequent process through which everyone else tries to come to terms with what happened is that it will be seen as an isolated event. We will look at it through the narrow prism of the personal history of the gunman and his idiosyncratic pathology and refuse to acknowledge that the killing might also have been shaped by some of the darker contours of the surrounding culture.

In the case of Wade Michael Page, the suspect in the Sikh temple shootings that took place in Wisconsin yesterday, there are already a few indications that this time some cultural context becomes inescapable.

The Southern Poverty Law Center has already pointed out some of the white supremacist connections that surely say a great deal about why Page chose his targets.

The man who allegedly murdered six people at a Sikh temple in suburban Milwaukee yesterday, identified in media reports as Wade Michael Page, was a frustrated neo-Nazi who had been the leader of a racist white-power band.

In 2010, Page, then the leader of the band End Apathy, gave an interview to the white supremacist website Label 56. He said that when he started the band in 2005, its name reflected his wish to “figure out how to end people’s apathetic ways” and start “moving forward.” “I was willing to point out some of my faults on how I was holding myself back,” Page said. Later, he added, “The inspiration was based on frustration that we have the potential to accomplish so much more as individuals and a society in whole.” He did not discuss violence in the interview.

Page told the website that he had been a part of the white power music scene since 2000, when he left his native Colorado on a motorcycle. He attended white power concerts in Georgia, North Carolina, West Virginia and Colorado. At various times, he said, he also played in the hate rock bands Youngland (2001-2003), Celtic Warrior, Radikahl, Max Resist, Intimidation One, Aggressive Force and Blue Eyed Devils. End Apathy, he said, included “Brent” on bass and “Ozzie” on drums; the men were former members of Definite Hate and another band, 13 Knots.

In 2000, the Southern Poverty Law Center has found that Page also attempted to purchase goods from the neo-Nazi National Alliance, then America’s most important hate group.

The fact that many (most?) Americans are too ignorant to know the difference between a Sikh and a Muslim is reason, some observers infer, to think that Page wrongly believed the people he was killing were Muslims. But given the other indications of his racist xenophobia, it seems quite likely that Page bore equal animosity towards everyone who in his eyes did not look like an ‘American.’

If American xenophobia does not frequently express itself through mass murder on American soil, the tentacles of racism — particularly fear and hatred of Muslims — nevertheless spread far and wide.

Pastor John Hagee, Pastor Terry Jones, Robert Spencer, Pamela Geller, Sam Harris, Frank Gafney, David Yerushalmi, Daniel Pipes, Steven Emerson, Geert Wilders, Michael Savage — all would no doubt disavow Page’s action, yet they share a kind of spiritual kinship. At one end of the spectrum are those who can apply varying degrees of intellectual sophistication to soften the edges of their fear of Islam and to dampen the flames of hatred with what appears like cool rationality. Yet the underlying message they promote is that Islam is a pathogen and individual Muslims are infecting America.

Once in a while this message gets translated into physical action as individuals such as Wade Michael Page take it upon themselves to engage in a barbaric act of ‘cultural defense.’ And at such moments all attention turns to the brutality on display while very little goes to the tendrils of the mycelium through which the fungus of hatred permeates this society.

Where pluralism has demanded that Americans broaden their knowledge of the world, instead political correctness has provided effective tools through which hatred can be kept alive, yet largely out of sight.

American racists have found it much easier to change the way they talk than change the way they think. And while Page most likely, in his actions, speaks for far too many, unlike him, most of them will continue to harbor their hatred in silence.

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2 thoughts on “An all-American racist

  1. delia ruhe

    As Matt Taibbi recently wrote, quoting Pat Buchanan:

    ‘ “Whites may discover what it is like to ride in the back of the bus,” and “Every New York cabby must know the odds, should he pick up a man of color at night.” He even wrote wistfully of the segregation era, seeming to suggest it was a time that even nonwhite Americans should remember with fondness.

    ‘ “Back then, black and white lived apart, went to different schools and churches, played on different playgrounds, and went to different restaurants, bars, theaters, and soda fountains. But we shared a country and a culture. We were one nation. We were Americans.”

    ‘ Right, except for the fire hoses and the lynchings, there was unity then! A sense of collective purpose! Sure, we used black men as lab rats for syphilis experiments, but dammit, we were all in this thing together. As Americans!’

    We should also put in a contributing word for PTSD. There’s nothing like fighting in a coupla pointless wars to stir up those white supremacist fantasies.

  2. H R Bushell

    Wade Michael Page is a hero for his cause. Really.

    He found a target that crystallized his beliefs. A target that he could attack with few repercussions, at least initially, and make a statement to America, nay the world, that he was no longer going to be marginalized. And what better target than a gathering of “others” at their place of worship? They were brown skinned, wore sheets and turbans, prayed to some weird deity that no one cares about and more importantly they mocked him by disavowing violence and paid him no heed when he sneered at them when passing them by on the street almost every day. It was a side note in his mind that they were all unarmed (“Fucking idiots for that non-violence thing. They’ll learn!” he thought) . It was pretty damned convenient that many were women and children.. after all, their newest generation needed to be taught some tough lessons about life in his America.

    Too bad for him he didn’t think of the possibility of police officers showing up earlier than he anticipated. Too bad he wasn’t able to afford the expensive body armor that that faggy dude wore a couple of weeks ago at that movie theatre or buy more ammo or even just one assault weapon. But never mind, once he’d killed a bunch of towel heads everyone would listen. They’d listen to him and believe. They’d hear his message of love of God and country and understand why he had to do it. He wouldn’t cower in court like that red headed idiot.. he’d stand up proud and defiant and white and tell everyone like it is.

    He’d be a hero. He’d make more like minded friends in prison and the media would observe and take notes and spread his message far and beyond.. just like that Breivik guy. He’d be remembered with admiration and tears by his former band mates and by hundreds of like minded real, white Americans. He’d show off his tattoos, he’d write letters to anyone who’d listen and would dream of the day he met God, his God who would welcome him into heaven and make him an archangel because he believed and he sacrificed his life for a righteous cause. A cause that God approved of because his God is also white and powerful. A God in whose image he was created.

    The great American God.

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