The weekend shooting at a Sikh temple by gunman Wade Michael Page has revealed the continuing presence of white supremacist groups in America.
Ever since it was revealed that Page had tattoos of white supremacist symbols, it’s been painfully apparent that America has not yet moved beyond the threat of hate killings by white supremacists. Here’s everything you need to know about Page, the symbols on his body, and the history of the groups they represent:
1. Wade Michael Page had a classic Neo-Nazi symbol tattooed on his left shoulder.
His tattoo consisted of a Celtic cross inside a circle, a combination known as the Odin’s cross, with the number 14 superimposed over it. Although the Celtic cross is not necessarily a white supremacist symbol, many white supremacist and Neo-Nazi groups combine it with the symbols of their movements.
2. The number 14 is key.
What makes Page’s tattoo symbolic of white supremacy is the combination of the cross with the number 14, one of the most important white supremacist symbols. 14 is a reference to the “14 Words,” a 14-word sentence that has been taken up by the white supremacy movement as its core tenet: “we must secure the existence of our people and a future for white children.” In addition to his 14-bedecked Odin’s cross, Page had a tattoo of the 14 words.
3. David Lane, who coined the 14 words while serving time in prison, was a core member of white supremacist group The Order.
The Order, also known as the Silent Brotherhood, was one of the most famous white supremacist terrorist groups in the 1980s. Founded by Robert Matthews in 1983, The Order quickly became infamous for numerous acts of domestic terrorism, including the bombing of a synagogue, bank robberies, and the 1984 murder of Jewish talk show host Alan Berg. Lane died in 2007, while still serving out his sentence for the murder.
4. Lane also wrote the 88 precepts, effectively a white supremacy game plan.
Lane’s manifesto, also written while he served out his prison term, was inspired by Adolf Hitler’s famous Mein Kampf.
5. The number 88 is just as important as 14 to white supremacists and Neo-Nazis.
88 symbolizes the phrase “Heil Hitler,” since “H” is the eighth letter of the alphabet.
6. Many American white supremacist groups are connected.
Robert Matthews, founder of The Order, also served as a recruiter for the National Alliance, one of the most popular Neo-Nazi groups in the early 2000s. Though their membership is now estimated to be below 1,000, they reported 2,500 active members in 2002. The National Alliance once referred to Adolf Hitler as “the greatest man of our era” and argued that the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks were a result of America’s support of Israel. The National Alliance has been linked to the Aryan Nations, another famous white supremacist group.
7. Speaking of famous white supremacist groups, the KKK is still alive and well.
The Ku Klux Klan, perhaps the most famous white supremacist group in American history, is estimated to have between 3,000 and 5,000 active members in 2012.
8. The KKK is growing.
Although KKK membership has decreased over time, membership grew substantially after the election of Barack Obama as president in 2008.
9. Other groups using Odin’s cross as their logo include Stormfront.org, one of the most popular white supremacist websites.
The Stormfront logo consists of the Odin’s cross encircled by the phrase “White Pride Worldwide,” the official motto of the website.
10. Stormfront was founded by a former Klan leader.
Don Black, who founded Stormfront in 1995, is a former Grand Wizard of the Ku Klux Klan. Some of the website’s most offensive posts, as collected by the Southern Poverty Law Center, include a 2007 post by member Preston Wiginton that argues: "Beating down a mud [a non-white person] when they try to poisen [sic] one of our own or when they try to seduce one of our girls may not be God inspired, but rather a righteous act of collective preservation.”
11. You’d never believe how many members Stormfront has.
The website is reported to have over 130,000 registered members, roughly 20,000 of whom post regularly. Even more people log onto the website to read its posts despite never registering accounts. Who knew white supremacy was still so popular?
12. Looking to find white supremacist love?
Don Black will hook you up. One of the many sites hosted on Stormfront is “White Singles,” a dating site where over 200 registered white, heterosexual, Christian members can find romantic partners whose white supremacist ideology matches their own. I wish this were a joke.
13. African Americans and Jews are equal targets on Stormfront.
Stormfront-hosted sites include “Our Legacy of Truth,” which publishes the entire text of Mein Kampf and articles like Alexander Winchell’s “Proof of Negro Inferiority,” and “Jew Watch,” which claims that Jews control the media and the economy.
14. But according to a Stormfront poll, homosexuality is the least acceptable behavior within the “white nationalism community."