Sikh shooting draws attention to white power music
The shooter of six people in Wisconsin at a Sikh temple, Wade Michael Page, was a participant in bands that performed racism-charged music. This music is considered 'an active practice of hate and violence' by some.
OAK CREEK, Wis.
The killings of six worshippers at a Sikh temple in Wisconsin has thrust attention on white power music, a thrashing, punk-metal genre that sees the white race under siege.Skip to next paragraph
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It was a movement fully embraced by shooter Wade Michael Page.
With a shaved head and tattoos, Page played guitar and sang for a number of white power bands with names like End Apathy and Definite Hate, espousing views on albums such as "Violent Victory" and encouraging others to act through his Internet postings.
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"Violence is part of this culture," said Robert Futrell, professor of sociology at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, and co-author of "American Swastika: Inside the White Power Movement's Hidden Spaces of Hate."
Called "hate music" by detractors and "independent music" by advocates, it provides an outlet for white supremacists, some of whom openly preach violence against minorities while others offer more subtle messages of angst and alienation found in many forms of music.
"There is a set of ideas that suggests that a race war is going to happen," Futrell said, in which whites will be pitted against all others and must fight to defend against their extinction.
"Part of preparing for the race war is stockpiling weapons," he said. "It's instructive to know that one of (Page's) bands was called 'End Apathy' and part of this ... is this push to activate people. So his action could be seen as an act that sparks or catalyzes action, that sparks or ends the apathy he was seeing."
Former white supremacist Arno Michaels, the founder of Life After Hate, an online magazine that advocates for racial, religious and gender equality, said white power music was "an active practice of hate and violence."
"If you are playing white power music ... you are learning how to hate people and you are practicing emotional violence against them. Tragically, what happened Sunday was the logical conclusion of this hate and violence," Michaels said.
Armed with a 9mm handgun, Page, a 40-year-old U.S. Army veteran, opened fire at the Sikh Temple of Wisconsin, killing six people and wounding four others before he was shot dead by police.
The dead were five men and one woman, aged between 39 and 84, including the president of the congregation and a priest.
Police were searching for a motive, but the New York-based Sikh Coalition said on Tuesday it believes Page was driven by hate. The shooter also left a number of clues in his music and postings on Internet site for skinheads.
The Definite Hate album "Violent Victory" displayed a drawing of a white arm punching a black man in the face, one eye popping out of its socket and blood coming from his mouth.
Page was also closely tied to the Hammerskin Nation, a skinhead organization whose 14-word motto - "We must secure the existence of our people and a future for white children" - has made the Roman numeral 14 a symbol of the movement.
The neo-Nazi skinhead group is deeply connected to the white power music scene with chapters across the United States and in Europe, New Zealand and Australia. The group puts on one of the biggest white power music festivals, called Hammerfest.