Skinhead Concerts Attract Young People to Nazi Doctrine and Violent Resistance

By , Special to The Christian Science Monitor

`I DON'T think people should fear the rise of Nazism," says Nick Cross, a leading Blood and Honour (BH) activist, expressing genuine incredulity at the suggestion. "It's a good thing."

Nick Cross is a pseudonym. He does not want his real name used. Cross is a BH concert promoter. He is also out on bail for an alleged assault, along with some other BH supporters, on five Asians in a remote English village. The incident was reportedly unprovoked.

An investigative journalist following the case (which is set to go to trial shortly) says the attack took place about an hour after a BH concert.

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BH people consistently deny that their music events engender racial violence.

Cross says that he does not want to comment on the case. When asked later if he condones violence in certain circumstances, he repeats the question, pauses, then answers: "I'm totally against mindless violence.... But like on Saturday [at Waterloo Station] ... you've got to fight back, with any means necessary."

In separate exclusive interviews with Cross and BH founder Ian Stuart Donaldson (who himself served a one-year jail term for seriously injuring a black man), I learned about the ideals and aims of this rapidly growing international phenomenon.

Donaldson explains that the birth of BH came about through disillusionment with another neo-Nazi group, the British National Front (NF). Donaldson was an NF organizer until discovering that some of the money he helped raise was going toward support of such groups as the Palestine Liberation Organization. He agrees with "their struggle against Israel," he says, "but I don't particularly like Muslims, you see."

Others concurred. So Donaldson and his band, plus two other British rock groups - Sudden Attack and No Remorse - broke away to form BH.

Music, believes Donaldson, is pivotal to BH's rising popularity. Comparing his movement with other, purely political, extreme right-wing organizations such as the NF, the British National Party, and the British Movement, BH's ranks are swelling among the young, "because our basis is music," he notes. "We more or less cross [right-wing] party lines."

TONY Robson, chief researcher for Britain's Searchlight Magazine, which is dedicated to exposing and opposing the rise of neofascism, agrees with Donaldson's assessment. The rock concerts, he says, serve as the lifeblood of the movement. "They have a joint purpose: They offer [followers] a social life as well as an ideology and a structure to their lives. Indeed, the concerts are how [BH] gets its [ideas] across; he says that's how it recruits people into Nazi politics."

Bands bring their own backdrops for adornment while they perform; standard decor is a Nazi swastika, a British Union Jack, or the "three sevens" of South Africa's extreme right-wing, pro-apartheid Afrikaner Resistance Movement. Posters of Hitler are typical. Apart from listening to mostly heavy-metal music, what provides the emotional frisson of the evening is the raising of arms in Nazi salute, accompanied by a fervently chanted "Seig heil." That kind of audience participation, says Donaldson, is parti cularly gratifying.

"It's great when the whole crowd is doing it, united as one," he remarks, "It gives you a good feeling."

Robson, who has seen videos of the concerts, describes the salute as taking place during or after a song. A few hands go up, then the rest join in "and off they go," he says. "It gives them tremendous group strength ... because most of them are such social inadequates, that it's the only way they feel a complete person, that they feel strong, by merging themselves within a mob."

But some BH members I spoke with seem quite articulate and socially adept. Anne Savage, manager of the pub hall where the last concert was held, commented that the BH people were "generally well-behaved, polite ... and they were of all ages."

DONALDSON says he does not think his views are extreme. "They are just common sense, really," he says. He is adamant that a multiracial society is anathema. A prime aim of BH, he continues, is not only to promote "pride in our race," but also to keep white people from being "sucked in by the media image" of "how all black people are nice, and it just isn't true."

What is especially worrying to anti-fascist activists like Robson is BH's appeal to teenagers. "It provides a lot of unemployed kids - those kids who are fairly racist and reactionary anyway - with a radical solution to what's clearly a serious problem right now of mass unemployment: Get rid of the [ethnic minorities] and get a hold of their jobs."

From his study of the movement, Robson notes that the confidence of the leadership is especially high following the large-scale, anti-immigrant protests in Germany.

"The international links are quite clear," Robson says. "These people are going to Germany, taking part in riots, and there are a lot of German [BH] Nazis coming to Britain, as well. [The law enforcement agencies] should be really cracking down on them. If these were left-wing extremists, their feet wouldn't touch the ground. But as they are right wing, the police and security forces just don't seem to be particularly bothered."

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