By Ray Downs
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By RFT Staff
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You may have noticed legions of leaflet-toting activists infiltrating your neighborhood. They come by day and by night, their uncompromising world cast in hues of black and white. They knock on the door, demanding your full attention, and if you're not at home, your mailbox brims with fiery propaganda. You may ask yourself, as they did in Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid: "Who are those guys?" The Riverfront Times tagged along last week with two extremely divergent groups -- the white-pride-or-bust National Alliance and the Constitution Defense League, a group opposed to messing with the state constitution to make marriage a strictly man-woman compact. We offer this dispatch from the front lines.
The White Album
The West Virginia-based white pride group the National Alliance says it is making small strides to win over a few St. Louis hearts and minds. White America, goes the Alliance's mantra, is an amalgamation of rootless drifters in a "cosmopolitan chaos," having lost its racial and cultural moorings.
The night begins at Seamus McDaniel's in Dogtown. It's a party atmosphere, with WGNU (920 AM) radio host and new National Alliance public-relations director Frank "Couch Potato" Weltner coordinating the event. Burgers are thrown down the hatch along with toasted ravioli, sodas and iced tea as two young Alliance crusaders talk about their passion for white people. Fliers will soon be flung from Weltner's car as it creeps under the cover of darkness along the streets of Maplewood and Richmond Heights.
For fear of retribution from those lacking in white pride, Alliance members -- who claim 50 active brethren in the St. Louis area -- asked that their real names not be used.
The crusaders: "Bob" is a 22-year-old, blond Jefferson County resident who is wearing a black T-shirt with white lettering that reads: "CLOSE the BORDERS." He runs a landscaping company and delivers pizza on the side. Bob is engaged and wants ten kids. "Well, we're going to try for at least five, because I want to save the white race." Bob's white pride developed while he was at Bayless High School, which is part of the desegregation program.
Twenty-five-year-old "Rob," also blond and well built, is a St. Charles County resident who owns a flooring business. The unit coordinator of the St. Louis branch of the National Alliance, Rob was turned on to the group after hearing one of its talks on a short-wave radio. He's not a Christian but rather an Odinist, one who worships Odin, the mythological Norse god of wisdom, war, art, culture and other things.
The plan of attack:The crusaders are winding through the streets of Maplewood and Richmond Heights, and tonight's goal is to toss 600 or so fliers onto the doorsteps and driveways of these middle-class houses. The flyers say "THE DAY OF NO RETURN, JULY 4TH, 2040: This is the day whites will become a minority in their own country." On the route are Gayola Place and other streets believed to be largely white. "We're not out to try to recruit Jews or non-whites. This is strictly our message that we're bringing to white people," Rob says.
The goal:"We want a giant fishing net over St. Louis, and anybody who feels remotely like we do, we're going to try to catch them in our net and bring them into our group," Rob says. "The larger goal is a white living space -- a place that we can call our own."
The technique:Driving at about ten miles an hour, Alliance members flick tightly wrapped fliers, each bound by a rubber band. The key is to use the wrist and avoid tennis elbow -- and to be careful. "If there's somebody walking down the street, we don't necessarily throw it at them. We don't want anybody to think we're trying to assault them with our literature," Rob says. He insists nocturnal distribution is not an act of cowardice. "It's not that we're hiding or anything like that, it's just that that's the only time available for most of us."
Three observations gained from the experience:
They are different from the Ku Klux Klan. "The Klan dwells on these negative things," says Rob. "We don't really feel that way; if we're going to change anything, it's got to be in our people's hearts. It's not out of hatred but of love of our own. The Alliance has a zero-tolerance policy for illegality or violence. If you just talk about it, even, you're out."
They think Michael Moore is cool. On this night, other Alliance members are passing out fliers at local showings of Fahrenheit 9/11. "People are walking out of these theaters distrusting the media and the government," explains Rob. "One of the fliers says: 'Hey George, where's the weapons of mass destruction?'" Says Bob: "I think we agree a lot with some of what the left has to say."
Lots of hate mail comes from suburban whites."These white people that escaped to these suburbs, they live in Never-Never Land. They don't want to be bothered with the world's problems; they just want to be left alone. We get a lot of vulgar phone messages from whites, like soccer moms out in the county who say, 'Oh no, what if my kids would have seen this flier!' I mean, it says, 'Love your race.' It's not hateful."