By Anita Wadhwani, The Tennessean
A Caucasian heritage and $75 are the price of entry into next week's
international conference for white supremacists in East Tennessee
organized by Stormfront, the oldest and best known website devoted to
the "white pride, white power" movement.
Like a Facebook for white
supremacists, Stormfront is the virtual gathering space for like-minded
people to meet, post and respond to messages, tell jokes and offer
political commentary in a variety of labeled discussion groups that
range from "fighting white genocide" to poetry.
conference represents a rare offline gathering for Stormfront members.
The two-day agenda includes a luncheon and workshops on immigration,
political organizing and communications by some of the movement's
best-known contemporary leaders.
"This will be a national
conference, drawing people from around the United States and Canada,"
said Mark Pitcavage, director of investigative research for the
Anti-Defamation League, which monitors hate groups. But the 150-mile
radius surrounding the meeting includes concentrations of active
supremacist groups most likely to attend, he said.
And the state's
historic ties to the white supremacist movement -- the Ku Klux Klan was
started in Pulaski -- may be another reason for locating the conference
"Tennessee is one of the states that has a strong
presence of all of the major white supremacist groups active right now,"
Former presidential candidate David Duke will lead "an
informal nature walk through the Smokies" on day two of the conference,
which begins Sept. 15. Duke is the former Grand Wizard of the Ku Klux
Klan and Louisiana lawmaker. The conference is limited to 150 people,
but it's unclear how many will attend.
The meeting is one more sign of renewed organizing efforts among white supremacists in recent years, Pitcavage said.
now three and a half years into a resurgence of right-wing extremism in
the United States," he said. "Compared to four years ago, the white
supremacist movement is more agitated. There aren't more white
supremacists than there were four years ago, but the ones who are, are
The fact that Tennessee has strong and active
pockets of each main faction of the contemporary white power movement --
there are five, experts say -- may be one reason that the international
Stormfront gathering landed here, he said. Unidentified Stormfront
members in Tennessee started an online campaign of sorts to host the
first gathering, which was last year.
More than 30 white
supremacist organizations operate in Tennessee currently, representing
the five contemporary strains of white supremacists, according to the
Anti-Defamation League. They include neo-Nazis, racist skinheads,
"traditional" movements like the Ku Klux Klan, racist prison gangs and
"Christian identity" groups that espouse the belief that God favors
The Stormfront gathering is likely to draw from all but the prison groups, Pitcavage said.
Fromm, a Canadian resident who broadcasts his own online radio show
from Ontario via the Stormfront site, is coming to the conference to
give a presentation about the perils of immigration in North America.
if the present trends continue, the founding set of people will be a
minority in America in 2041," Fromm said this week in an interview with
The Tennessean. "Once you change the population, you have a
substantially different country. We have never really been consulted
about these policies. They've been snuck in over the years by very
Fromm has spoken at numerous white power
events held by neo-Nazis and Ku Klux Klan groups, according to the
Birmingham, Ala.-based Southern Poverty Law Center.
The organization has called Fromm "one of Canada's best-known white supremacists."
But that doesn't mean he embraces the term "white supremacist."
meaningless," Fromm said, responding to a question about whether he
describes himself as one. "It's like calling a woman a slut. It's white
pride. It's European pride. It's not putting anyone down. It's
celebrating what we have to be proud of. The founders of North America
are European; the American political system traces back its roots to
ancient Greece. It's something we are proud of."
Other speakers at
the conference -- including Stormfront's founder, Derek Black, and
David Duke -- did not respond to requests for an interview. Contact
information for a speaker known as "Horus the Avenger" could not be
found. Horus the Avenger's White Rabbit website uses animated videos --
with a white rabbit as symbol for the white race -- and podcasts to
teach communications approaches such as "baseline humiliation
techniques" in "response to political correctness."
meeting also represents one growing strain of the white supremacist
movement, which is interested in crafting more palatable talking points
to convey a white pride sensibility without sounding extremist,
Instead of "white supremacist," advocates within
the movement are urging adherents to talk about "anti-whites" who oppose
them, Pitcavage said.
Over the past several weeks, Stormfront
members have been getting ready, posting messages about ride shares,
hotels and good places to visit in Tennessee.
"Even the hotel
maids are white," one poster said of last year's conference, held just
outside Gatlinburg. The exact location of this year's conference is kept
secret until just before the event, but members have recommended hotels
in Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg.
"You will probably see less
Negros on an airplane. By the way," another poster, Jukuls, advised
poster Lycia, who was weighing whether to fly or take a bus.
live in the area. I assure everyone here anti-whites will not be a
problem nor would they be tolerated by the locals or the law
enforcement," newthoughtnationalism wrote.
Sevier County, where Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge are located, is 96.1 percent white, according to the Census Bureau.
law enforcement said they were aware of the gathering but did not
anticipate any trouble. The gathering was peaceful last year, according
to the Knox County sheriff's office.
Tennessee, where the Ku Klux
Klan was formed in 1865, continues to play a key role in re-energizing
the white supremacist movement.
Pitcavage said a confluence of two
factors -- the election of Barack Obama and the down economy -- is
driving the white supremacist resurgence, connected to a spike in
violent incidents which include a shooting at the Sikh Temple of
Wisconsin in a Milwaukee suburb that left six worshippers dead,
including the shooter, Wade Page, a self-identified neo-Nazi.
But it was a foiled terrorist plot in Tennessee that may have lit the first spark, he said.
2008, during Obama's first presidential campaign, Bells, Tenn.,
resident Daniel Cowart, 20, and his friend Paul Schlesselman, 18, from
Arkansas -- both self-described white power skinheads -- were caught
before they could carry out an assassination attempt against Obama and
88 African-Americans at a school in West Tennessee.
The two met online at the Stormfront site.
number "88" is often mentioned on the Stormfront site, a symbol of
white supremacists that derives from "Heil Hitler," both words starting
with the eighth letter in the alphabet.