Thursday, October 19, 2017

Back From Fascism


I have a new friend who I'll be meeting soon in person-- someone I've been writing about for over a decade: Frank Schaeffer. Frank's story is pretty well known. He is the son of right-wing extremist Francis Schaeffer, one of the founders of the religious right. Eventually Frank saw the light and rejected the crazy conservatism he had been raised in. In 2007 he wrote the much-acclaimed Crazy for God: How I Grew Up As One of the Elect, Helped Found the Religious Right and Lived to Take All (or Almost All) of It Back. His newest book is Letter To Lucy: A Manifesto of Creative Redemption In The Age Of Trump, Fascism And Lies. (You can read the first chapter online for free.) Lately, Frank has been busy driving around the country meeting progressives running for Congress as part of his ambitious goal of helping the Democrats win back the House. He started in Racine with Randy Bryce, drove down to Winston-Salem to meet Jenny Marshall and is on his way to film Doug Applegate, Laura Oatman, Sam Jammal and other Southern California Democrats.

I hope Frank's example inspires someone else who now says he's seen the light and has given up on the far right, British neo-Nazi Kevin Wilshaw, who just announced he's giving up on the white nationalism and all the hate doctrines that have been motivating him for 4 decades. Paraic O'Brien reporting:

After a lifetime of involvement with the far-right Kevin Wilshaw announces on Channel 4 News that he is leaving the movement-- at the same time publicly coming out as gay.

The well known National Front organiser in the 1980s was still active in white supremacist groups earlier this year-- including speaking at events.

But tonight on Channel 4 News he explains for the very first time why he is publicly disavowing the movement – sharing his secrets, explaining how he was both a Neo-Nazi and of Jewish heritage , while admitting to violent acts and what motivated his hatred.

Kevin Wilshaw also opens up about his Jewish mother.

“She was part Jewish, maiden name was Benjamin, we have Jewish blood on that side.

On an application form to join the National Front, he wrote about his hatred of “the Jews.”

“That term ‘the Jews’ is the global faceless mass of people you can’t personalise it, not individuals. That’s the generalisation that leads to 6 million people being deliberately murdered.

“I didn’t have many friends at school, I wanted to be a member of a group of people that had an aim, and I thought getting involved in that kind of thing would be comradeship.“

“Even though you end up being a group of people that through their own extreme views are cut off from society, you do have a sense of comradeship in that you’re a member of a group that’s being attacked by other people.”

“On one or two occasions in the recent past I’ve actually been the recipient of the very hatred of the people I want to belong to … if you’re gay it is acceptable in society but with these group of people it’s not acceptable, and I found on one or two occasions when I was suspected of being gay I was subjected to abuse.”

Mr Wilshaw admits that being a Nazi who is gay-- but with a Jewish background-- is a contradiction.

“It’s a terribly selfish thing to say but it’s true, I saw people being abused, shouted at, spat at in the street-- it’s not until it’s directed at you that you suddenly realise that what you’re doing is wrong.”

“You have other members leading National Front who are overtly gay. And nobody could see the contradiction of it that you have an overtly gay person leading a homophobic organisation, makes no sense.”

“Then you have someone like Nicky Crane, one of the hardest people who would be gay.”

“Even when people found out, they’d rationalise it, ‘He’s not really gay’ or ‘gay and ok’.”

He said he had hurt people, “but not unprovoked, in defence. In a by-election in Leeds I smashed a chair over someone’s head.”

But he denied ever having approached minorities and assaulted them.

“I’d never do that, but I have seen incidents where people were singled out because they were black by a group of people. It turned my stomach, I rejected that, I pushed it to the back of my mind.”

Mr Wilshaw was arrested for vandalising a mosque in Aylesbury in the early 1990s-- and in March this year he was arrested for online race hate offences.

He joined the BNP after being part of the National Front and flirted with dangerous fringe groups like the Racial Volunteer Force.

Mr Wilshaw says he remembers meeting David Copeland-- the Brixton and Soho nail bomber. More recently he took to social media-- and until the start of year was still speaking at rallies.

Former National Front activist Matthew Collins, who now works for the anti-racist group Hope not Hate said: “One of things we noticed is there was someone who was struggling, he was becoming more and more extreme.”

“We almost expected the phone call and a cry for help, and that’s what he’s done.”

“I feel appallingly guilty as well, I really do feel guilty, not only that, this is also a barrier to me having a relationship with my own family, and I want to get rid of it, it’s too much of a weight.”

“I want to do some damage as well, not to ordinary people but the people who are propagating this kind of rubbish-- want to hurt them, show what it’s like for those who are living a lie and be on the receiving end of this type of propaganda, I want to hurt them.”

Fearing some level of revenge, Mr Wilshaw says “one or two would want to sort me.. they’d see it as betrayal.”

“I am going to find it difficult, granted, to fill a void that has occupied my life since childhood.”

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At 7:59 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I cannot find any solace in these isolated cases. A Nazi who is a jew AND gay? His epiphany should have occurred in 3rd grade. That it took so long is a testament of how fucking stupid and fundamentally evil he is.

I'm sure there are far more authoritarian follower types who have converted from potential Nazi to Nazi upon the rise of demagoguery, hate, nationalism and evil religious zealotry.

If only there existed a GOOD sociopolitical example for decent people to rally behind... Lying, corrupt and now recruiting xenophobes for office don't cut it.


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