| Billy Roper speaking at the Aryan Nations Congress 2003.
Billy Roper, head of Arkansas-based White Revolution, a racist organization that promotes cooperation between white supremacist groups, is devoted to unifying the disparate and fractious racist right. In fact, White Revolution's inception is due, in large part, to Roper's outreach efforts as an official with the neo-Nazi National Alliance (NA), where he first made a name for himself. His vision of a unified white power front conflicted with the NA leadership's conception of itself as an elite vanguard poised to carry out a "white revolution." Roper's views led to his dismissal from the NA in September 2002 and his founding of White Revolution a few days later. Roper used the skills and contacts he had cultivated as NA's Deputy Membership Coordinator to jumpstart White Revolution.
In the National Alliance: Roper's background
Roper, born in 1972, is a onetime skinhead and a former high school history instructor who claims that three generations of his family have belonged to the Klan. His teaching background and conservative style of dress (he looks more like a computer geek than a neo-Nazi) helped Roper fit in with the NA, which liked to promote itself as an organization of white middle-class professionals. He became an organizer for the group in 2000. The NA was at its height: it was the largest and best-organized domestic neo-Nazi organization, spreading its message on short-wave radio, the Internet and through nationwide literature distributions.
Membership was well over 1,000 and growing. William Pierce, the group's since-deceased founder, was one of the most formidable and best-known anti-Semitic propagandists in the country. Author of The Turner Diaries , a blueprint in novel form for overthrowing the U.S. government, Pierce hoped to form an elite group of revolutionaries that would eventually be able to establish an all-white "living space" in the United States and Europe.
Roper appeared to be a natural for the job of Deputy Membership Coordinator. He was articulate and energetic, and responsive to the questions and complaints of members on the group's membership list. He also focused on reaching out to potential constituencies, including college students, law enforcement and racist skinheads. In addition, he ran "The Kinsmen Rescue Project," a Web site mobilizing support to save "those of European descent from the horrors of African rule in Southern Africa either through relocation or intervention." Roper avowedly reached out to "as many diverse and differently opinionated individuals as possible," and developed many white supremacist contacts.
This ecumenical approach did not please Pierce and other NA leaders. Pierce denigrated the notion of a unified white supremacist movement, and generally exercised strict control over his followers. Nonetheless, he allowed Roper to continue reaching out to other groups, probably because Roper was popular with members and had good organizational and communication skills.
Roper built alliances with organizations such the World Church of the Creator (WCOTC), now known as The Creativity Movement, the now-defunct American Friends of the British National Party, EURO (the European-American Unity & Rights Organization) and various racist skinhead groups. In April and July 2001, Roper invited other white supremacist groups to join the NA outside the German embassy in Washington, D.C. to protest the treatment of neo-Nazi Hendrik Moebus. A 24-year-old from Germany, Moebus had recently served time in that country for murder, and had come to the U.S. hoping to do business with Pierce in the white power music industry. German authorities sought to extradite the young fugitive after he violated the terms of his probation by publicly giving a Nazi salute and making demeaning remarks about his murder victim, both illegal in Germany. Moebus was arrested in August 2000 as he left the NA compound in Hillsboro, West Virginia. Despite becoming a far-right cause célèbre - in part because of Roper's efforts - he was soon extradited.
After the September 11 attacks, Roper organized rallies in November and December 2001 in front of the Israeli embassy in Washington, D.C., which blamed Israel and Jews for the tragedy. Each rally Roper organized grew in size and inter-group participation, and led to a worsening conflict for him within the National Alliance.
In the National Alliance: organizing rallies
In this period after September 11, Roper's career with the NA appears to have been marked by both misjudgments and successes. Shortly after the terrorist attacks, he proclaimed on an NA e-mail list that "the enemy of our enemy is, for now at least, our friends…We may not want them marrying our daughters…but anyone who is willing to drive a plane into a building to kill Jews is alright [sic] by me. I wish our members had half as much testicular fortitude." While these comments gained publicity for the group, Pierce was apparently displeased and required Roper to put an advisory on his e-mail saying his views and opinions "do not necessarily reflect the official policies or positions of the National Alliance."
Pierce probably recognized that the 9/11 attacks offered recruiting and organizing possibilities, however, and let Roper go forward with the two anti-Israel rallies, which other groups joined and which numbered between 50 and 75 protestors. In January 2002, the NA and the World Church of the Creator sponsored a joint rally at a library in York, Pennsylvania. Both Roper and WCOTC head Matt Hale were scheduled to make speeches, but Roper and other white supremacists were mobbed by approximately 350 anti-racist demonstrators, and Roper never made it inside.
Media coverage of the incident focused on the WCOTC, which may have irked Pierce. In the January 2002 National Alliance Bulletin, he stated that the NA "certainly will not become stronger by 'uniting' with weak or defective organizations-and that includes virtually every 'movement' group." He suggested that NA members interested in being part of the "movement" should resign, adding that the NA "will act independently of other organizations" and "not engage in joint activities..."
Despite Pierce's pronouncements, Roper continued to invite other organizations to rallies. In planning a third demonstration at the Israeli embassy in May 2002, he created an incentive to attract protestors: only those who attended the rally would be admitted into a white power concert afterward. About 250 neo-Nazis, racist skinheads and other extremists showed up for the protest, which Roper considered a great success.
Two months later, however, the unexpected death of William Pierce in July left him suddenly vulnerable.
In the National Alliance: power struggle
When Pierce died on July 22, observers inside and outside the white power movement considered Roper a possible successor. However, the NA board of directors chose Erich Gliebe, a close associate of Pierce who ran Resistance Records, the NA's hate music business. Although Roper was reportedly disappointed, he pronounced himself loyal to Gliebe and continued organizing a "Rock Against Israel" rally to be held at the U.S. Capitol in August. The event became in part a tribute to Pierce, and attracted more than 1,000 participants. It was one of the largest gatherings of white supremacists in the nation's capitol since World War II.
Roper reveled in the success of the rally and praised the other groups who attended, particularly skinheads. However, some NA members felt that the rally projected exactly the kind of image Pierce and his associates had tried to avoid-that of swastika-clad neo-Nazis shouting "Seig Heil" in the streets. Roper argued that "either more National Alliance members must become activists and come to demonstrations, or we must continue to work with other organizations and accept the fact that they might not always do things exactly as we would, but their presence and help is necessary for large and successful demonstrations." Gliebe and others within the NA, who were not willing to work with other groups, contended that Roper had put his ego before the goals of the organization, that he had plotted behind Gliebe's back and had not obeyed or cooperated with the new leadership. (Faced with the difficult task of succeeding the unassailable Pierce, Gliebe may have perceived any difference as an unacceptable threat to his new position.) On September 16, 2002, Roper was "fired" from the NA.
White Revolution: Founding
Just two days later, Roper announced the creation of White Revolution. In the group's mission statement, he stated, "We seek a paradigm shift in our values, a revolutionary worldview in our people, and a fundamental change in the form and focus of our governing bodies." According to Roper, White Revolution's goal was to create an all white-government whose foreign and domestic policy are based only on the interests of white people. Roper (perhaps consciously echoing a WCOTC mantra in order to attract its members) claimed that "the guiding principle of the State should be that what is good for the race is good, and what is bad for the race is bad." He added that, "at this stage of the revolution, our weapons of choice are the pen, the leaflet, the keyboard, the videocamera, and every other weapon of mass construction which allows us to reach out to our people and awaken them to the dangers which threaten our very existence."
Roper lost no time in soliciting support for his new organization, and he won the endorsement of such white supremacist leaders as Matt Hale , Morris Gulett (Church of the Sons of Yahweh), Jeff Schoep (National Socialist Movement) and Bradley Jenkins (American Knights of the Ku Klux Klan-now the Aryan Knights of the Ku Klux Klan). Notably absent was the National Alliance. Roper pledged not to disparage the group, however, and called the circumstances surrounding his departure "not a matter for public discussion or debate."
||"At this stage of the revolution, our weapons of choice are the pen, the leaflet, the keyboard, the videocamera, and every other weapon of mass construction which allows us to reach out to our people and awaken them to the dangers which threaten our very existence."
White Revolution's "Mission Statement"
White Revolution: Ideology
In many ways Roper's ideology resembled Pierce's: he was racist, anti-democratic and anti-Christian in addition to being anti-Semitic. In a June 7, 2003, White Revolution Report, he evoked Pierce in speaking about racial determinism: "I'm a biological racist. I'd rather have the entire species become extinct except for one white boy and one white girl who were raised by a pack of wild wolves, than have our race go under and the world inherited by Asians and mulattos who can play the classical violin and recite Shakespeare all day long..."
"I'm a biological racist. I'd rather have the entire species become extinct except for one white boy and one white girl who were raised by a pack of wild wolves, than have our race go under and the world inherited by Asians and mulattos who can play the classical violin and recite Shakespeare all day long..."
Ben Vinyard, another White Revolution leader, extended these sentiments to include among the dregs of humanity whites who "betray" their race. He wrote, "Race traitors like Nicole Kidman [who reportedly dated a bi-racial singer] will continue to exist until someone decides to make an example out of her: to cut off the tip of her nose, to cut off her ears, to strap her to a kitchen chair, soak her in gasoline and burn her flesh off…."
While White Revolution leaders expressed hatred and contempt for non-whites and "race traitors," they scapegoated Jews for all the world's evils. In the April 4, 2003, Report, Vinyard identified a "vicious and intentional stranglehold designed to choke the life out of predominantly White rural areas. And who, you may ask, is the architect behind this grand scheme? Well, every time you kick over a pile of garbage it seems like a jew [sic] scuttles out."
Roper also expressly praised National Socialism, saying, "A state should just be the mechanism by which a race helps itself, in the same manner that a family helps itself. That's the true meaning of National Socialism. That's what we need in America today." Like Pierce, Roper hoped to break the world-control of the "alien" Jews, but where the anti-populist Pierce looked to an elite revolutionary vanguard, Roper believed that previously disunited pro-white groups needed to pool their strength.
White Revolution: Structure
Roper set up a Board of Directors - which included a number of former NA members - about two months after forming the group. Roper became Chairman and Victor Gerhard, a former lawyer for NA who was also kicked out of that group, was named Chief Counsel and Vice Chairman. Chris Quimby, a once-active NA member in Arkansas, was named North American Membership Coordinator and former NA member Tina Edwards was named Women's Issues Coordinator (she has since reportedly left the group and the position has been taken over by Justina Cook). Roper later named Tom Martin, a well-known West Virginia skinhead who once worked at the NA warehouse, as Youth Coordinator (later Webmaster).
Although Roper was clearly in charge, he announced he would form a planning and decision-making "Unity Board" made up of the leaders of every group that worked in partnership with White Revolution. Roper's hope was to position White Revolution as an umbrella group that could coordinate and unify white supremacist efforts without threatening the movement's various leaders.
White Revolution did not need the participation of other groups or their leaders to stand on its own as an organization, however. Roper soon planned a number of events and created a Web site and newsletter, which featured various writers, including David Lane, an imprisoned member of The Order, the notorious 1980s white supremacist terrorist group.
White Revolution: Activities
For White Revolution's "inaugural event," Roper planned an anti-Israel rally and white power concert in Gainesville, Florida on November 9, 2002. As he had done with NA, Roper tried to incite anti-Israel sentiment, claiming he chose Gainesville - the home of the University of Florida - because of a clash at the university between pro- and anti-Israel groups. In a press release, he promised to gather members from the WCOTC, Aryan Nations, the National Socialist Movement, National Alliance and other white supremacist organizations. In fact, relatively few people - only 30 - attended, although the rally did attract media coverage.
Roper announced another rally on January 25, 2003, this time to protest the Southern Poverty Law Center in Montgomery, Alabama, and its "attacks" against white supremacist groups (the SPLC has won several damaging lawsuits against racist organizations). A number of white supremacist activists quickly signed on. Aryan Nations' octogenarian leader Richard Butler, whose group lost a 2000 lawsuit brought against it by the Law Center, was a featured speaker. About 70 white supremacists from various groups, including (along with White Revolution) Aryan Nations, the Creativity Movement, the Southern Patriots Party and two Klan factions - the North Georgia White Knights and the American White Knights - attended. Victor Gerhard, writing about the demonstration for White Revolution Report, said that the most notable development was the participation of Klan groups and the fact that the Klansmen and skinheads were able to work together. Gerhard added that if these two groups, both large (albeit internally splintered), were able to unify, "it would immediately be the biggest pro-White organization in the country." A merger of separate white supremacist groups did occur, in fact: the American Knights of the KKK merged with Aryan Nations and became the Aryan Nations Knights of the KKK. This sort of amalgamation was exactly what Roper aimed for when he founded White Revolution (though the Klan group later broke with Aryan Nations).
Roper next sponsored a March 2003 anti-immigration rally in San Antonio, along with the National Socialist Movement, Aryan Nations, the Celtic Knights and others; about 30 people participated. In September, to commemorate the group's first anniversary, Roper planned simultaneous anti-immigrant demonstrations in Little Rock, Arkansas, and Chicago. The rallies responded to "Freedom Ride" bus tours by immigration advocates seeking to draw attention to the troubles of undocumented workers.
In addition to rallies, White Revolution has distributed racist materials around the country, including special distributions on Halloween and Thanksgiving. The group has also revived the Kinsmen Rescue project - helping whites from South Africa and Zimbabwe emigrate to the U.S. - that Roper operated for the NA. In addition, after the founder of the Aryan Baby Drive, Christine Greenwood, was arrested and charged with having bomb-making materials in her home, White Revolution took over the project. Now called the "White Family Network," it provides free clothing and other items to "needy Aryan families."
"Since its founding, White Revolution has been active in at least 16 states, including Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, North Carolina, Ohio, Texas and West Virginia."
Since its founding, White Revolution has been active in at least 16 states, including Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, North Carolina, Ohio, Texas and West Virginia.
Roper also aggressively uses the Internet to reach potential recruits and spread White Revolution's message. The group's Web site contains video, text, audio, and image archives; downloadable flyers; "racialist fiction"; movie reviews; interviews with white supremacists; and reports of events. Roper also launched from the Web site "Revolutionary Productions" - the "Storefront of the White Revolution" - which sells white-supremacist-themed products online.
Additionally, the group has created "White Revolution Television" or WRTV, which offers Internet broadcasts of its video news program. It also operates its own Internet server and has said it will host other "pro-White" Web sites as a "gesture of unity." One of the first sites White Revolution hosted was "Thunderbolt of Truth," a racist magazine created by Bob DeMarais, a former NA board member. Because the group has its own server, it can host hate sites created by groups from countries where such sites are banned.
White Revolution: Coalition building
White Revolution does not merely host events: members also participate in activities sponsored by other groups. Roper and his WR colleagues have been invited to meetings and rallies held by white supremacist groups ranging from the Council of Conservative Citizens to the National Socialist Movement. In June 2003, for example, Roper was a featured speaker at the Aryan Nations World Congress. Afterward, Roper wrote approvingly about how "National Socialists mingled with Aryan Nations members who mingled with skinheads who mingled with everyone else." In August, the Aryan Nations Knights of the KKK, the International Keystone Knights and White Revolution co-sponsored a white unity rally near Colt, Arkansas, that included Roper and Ray Redfeairn (an Aryan Nations leader, since deceased) as speakers. About 100 people attended the event. Roper was also one of the featured speakers at Aryanfest 2004, a white power music event sponsored by the neo-Nazi skinhead group Volksfront, which took place January 30 to February 1 in Phoenix and attracted nearly 300 white supremacists.
Several White Revolution members joined the Aryan Nations Knights, a Klan group, at an August 2003 rally in Colt, Arkansas.
Going beyond the formalities of the unity board he envisioned (and in a manner that would be unthinkable to NA authorities), Roper has also allowed leaders of other groups, particularly young skinheads, to fill leadership roles in his organization. For example, Tom Martin, the group's Webmaster, is also a prominent member of the West Virginia Skinheads. Kenneth Zrallack, the White Revolution state representative for Connecticut, also leads the White Wolves, a neo-Nazi skinhead group in Connecticut.
Additionally, White Revolution has initiated contact with foreign white supremacists. In April 2003, Roper noted that the group's International Membership Coordinator, Brad Forbes, had recently returned from a trip to Denmark and Germany, where he met with "prominent European White Nationalists" and spoke at a meeting of the Danish Nationalist Socialist Party in Denmark. Roper claimed that the meeting heralded "a new era of cooperation" between white supremacists in the U.S. and Europe. In September 2003, an interview with Roper was posted on a Finnish white supremacist Web site. In the same month, the Polish white supremacist "Blood and Honour" magazine interviewed Chris Quimby, White Revolution's Membership Coordinator.
Achieving unity among white supremacists is a difficult and seemingly impossible task. Roper had been adroit enough, since founding White Revolution, to avoid the infighting and feuds that characteristically afflict far-right groups and leaders. Nonetheless, the situation on the far right remains very fluid. Many of the charismatic leaders in the movement have died, are in prison or are aging, which has given Roper both the flexibility and opportunity to work with other groups. Presumably, some of the groups would not cooperate with each other if they had leaders strong enough to attract substantial, committed followings.
To succeed over time, Roper will have to continue positioning White Revolution as an umbrella organization that is not perceived by other leaders as a threat; cultivating goodwill between organizations or movements with competing interests or philosophies; satisfying moderates content with distributing flyers as well as radicals who urgently want major change. No white supremacist in decades has walked this tightrope successfully. For the moment, at any rate, Roper has established White Revolution as one of the prominent purveyors of bigotry and racism in the United States.