An Update on the National Alliance - January 2004
Posted: January 29, 2004
Since September 2003, when the National Alliance launched a new, aggressive leafleting campaign (initially to honor the anniversary of deceased founder William Pierce's birth), the group has been active across the country, employing increasingly bold tactics to gain publicity and new members.
The leafleting campaign has been widespread and well-coordinated, with members distributing fliers in at least 18 states (including Maryland, Kentucky, California, Wisconsin, Arizona, Massachusetts, Texas, Florida, New Jersey, Missouri, Colorado, Washington State, New York, Ohio, Alabama, Michigan, Virginia and Nebraska). Some leafletings have been aimed at exploiting local racial tensions. For example, in Nebraska, one flier focused on the shooting of a white police officer by an African-American youth. In other areas, the group distributed fliers that were anti-Semitic, anti-Israel and anti-gay. The leafletings have brought the group media attention in local communities across the country.
In Florida, distributing fliers is just one of the strategies the NA has used to gain attention. In January 2004, a Tampa member used a mailing list of criminal defense lawyers purchased from the Florida Bar to send copies of racist and anti-Semitic literature and letters inviting lawyers to join the group. In addition, for the third time in as many years, the National Alliance rented a billboard to advertise the group's Web address. It was only after five months of complaints from residents, the threat of a boycott, and extensive media coverage that the owner of the most recent billboard (situated near Orlando) agreed to take it down in January.
These recent activities are part of the group's effort to regain its footing and high profile after contentious and public infighting among its leadership last summer led to significant discord among the rank and file. The leadership of Erich Gliebe, who assumed control after William Pierce's death in July 2002, has been repeatedly questioned and attacked; detractors fault his handling of the group's finances and staff, his unresponsiveness to members and their concerns, and his lack of basic leadership skills - the ability to plan and articulate strategy, for instance.
Some of the sharpest criticism leveled at Gliebe has come from two formidable white supremacist Web publishers outside the group - Bill White and Alex Linder, who run the Overthrow.com and Vanguard News Network (VNN) Web sites, respectively. Both sites feature articles, essays and comments of interest to the racist right.
White has never been an NA member but has ties to disgruntled members who have left or been expelled from the group. He is a skillful rabble-rouser and since January 2003 has been running a disinformation and destabilization campaign against Gliebe, Kevin Strom (who oversees NA's American Dissident Voices radio broadcasts, National Vanguard Magazine and the National Vanguard Web site), and David Pringle, NA's membership coordinator. Linder, on the other hand, was a respected NA member whose differences with the leadership led him to quit the group. (White and Linder, once allied, have since had a falling out)
Complaints against Gliebe peaked over the summer after many members expressed anger that the NA leadership did not provide financial support to an active and well-liked member, Chester Doles, who headed the organization's Georgia unit and was arrested in March 2003 on weapons charges. Linder led a successful campaign to raise funds (over $75,000) for Doles' legal defense, which members felt should have been spearheaded by the NA leadership. (Doles has since pleaded guilty to illegal weapons charges and agreed to a 10-year sentence.)
During this time, members began more frequently airing other issues they had with the leadership on e-mail lists. Their grievances included not being told about Pierce's illness or death in a timely fashion and not receiving NA materials on time. NA board members Fred Streed, Robert DeMarais and Kitti Molz (all of whom had been appointed by Pierce) resigned, leaving Gliebe as the only remaining member. White and Linder reported that the board members had resigned because they were upset with Gliebe's handling of the group's assets, business ventures and his indifference to members' concerns. A struggle ensued between Gliebe loyalists and the former board members over control of the group's reputation and assets. It appears that Gliebe has won the battle for now.
The NA has clearly been damaged and its future remains tenuous. Gliebe has elected to stay in the background while allowing Kevin Strom, David Pringle and Shaun Walker (chief operations officer) to take public roles both within the group and as media spokesmen. Whether this arrangement, and a more concerted effort by Gliebe to address membership concerns, will stabilize the group, or whether members will continue to leave, remains unclear. While many members have already left out of confusion or dissatisfaction, several local units remain strong and active, as demonstrated by their many literature distributions and other events.
It is also possible that the NA will divide into different factions, each claiming to be the rightful heir to William Pierce's legacy.
For now, the NA's prospects are helped by the fact that would-be rival organizations such as Aryan Nations and the Creativity Movement are faring even worse. Other than White Revolution and the National Socialist Movement, there are few attractive options for disenchanted NA members. On the other hand, the NA has attracted one prominent new member: long-time activist Edward Fields, publisher of the racist, anti-Semitic newspaper The Truth at Last, joined the NA in the fall of 2003.