Pierce no longer has yearly national conventions of the National Alliance. He told me that they became too difficult to organize and that he doesn’t have the resources to bring them off properly. Now instead, he hosts two leadership conferences, as he calls them, at the West Virginia property on weekends in the spring and fall of the year. They commence early Saturday afternoon and participants have left by mid-afternoon on Sunday. Most participants stay in motels in the area, as accommodation space on the property is limited. Pierce invites about fifty Alliance members to each conference based upon, he says, their potential for playing a more active role in the organization.
Pierce uses the conferences to connect with the membership – otherwise, he rarely sees them in person – and to solicit support for the Alliance, both financially and in terms of service the members can provide. He also uses the conferences to recruit staff. Pierce met both Evelyn Hill and Bob DeMarais at leadership conferences.
For the Alliance members, these weekends are a chance to meet Pierce. To many of them he is a revered and distant figure, and they consider it a privilege to be in his presence. As well, it is an opportunity for them to connect or reconnect with one another and recount what they are doing and share ideas. Also, being with like-minded people boosts their morale and motivation. Plus, the weekend affords them a pleasant weekend away in the mountains.
One of the leadership conferences was held while I was in West Virginia. As I walked over to the headquarters building on a sunny Saturday afternoon for the formal start of the meeting, I saw thirty or so cars, trucks, and vans parked in front of the building and along the dirt road leading up to it. The license plates were from around the East and South. One of them, on a pickup truck, caught my eye. It was a personalized plate – F ZOG. The F stood for, well, the “f” word. As for what ZOG meant, in far-right lingo the federal government is thought to be in the hands of the Jews, so it is referred to as the Zionist Occupied Government, or ZOG for short. I don’t know whether this particular Alliance member ran into any problem over the plate. It could be that the authorities and other people didn’t get the reference. I know that one of the Alliance unit leaders has had some difficulty along these lines. The North Carolina Division of Motor Vehicles recalled his ARYAN plate because it deemed that the plate might be offensive to others.
About twenty people were standing on the lawn in front of the headquarters building talking as I approached. They were dressed up – Pierce had said in his invitation letters that the men should wear coats and ties. Pierce was standing among them. He was taller than just about everyone and was wearing a wool sports jacket that looked as if it had seen many a moon. It was the first time I had seen him dressed up.
As I walked into the building, I saw a small table had been set up. On it were a few books for sale and some flyers. Also on the table was a framed portrait of Pierce. It was one of those airbrushed, glamorizing, almost deifying depictions of the sort I associate with someone like Mao, the Pope, or some other “bigger that life” personage. I didn’t look at it closely, but I wouldn’t have been surprised if it had had clouds in the background. It had an ethereal look about it in any case.
People were starting to take their seats in folding chairs that had been set up in the narrow meeting room four to each side of an aisle that ran down the middle. In the front of the room was the lectern with the Life Rune symbol on the riser where it always is. Its microphone was plugged in.
Bob DeMarais called the conference to order. He was dressed in a lightweight gray suit. I hadn’t seen Bob dressed up before either.
As I looked around the room, I noticed there were only six women in attendance. I later learned only a couple of them were Alliance members. The others had accompanied men to the conference. Pierce had told me that women make up twenty percent of the Alliance membership. If that is the case, they weren’t at the conference in numbers reflective of their percentage in the organization. There were a few children at the conference, all of them quite young, under seven or eight years of age. The conference had a distinctly male cast to it.
Most of the men in attendance were in their thirties and forties, with a few older and only one who appeared to be younger than twenty-five. The fifty or so members in the room introduced themselves. Pierce had talked to me about having a sizeable professional contingent in the Alliance, but here again the backgrounds of the leadership conference participants weren’t indicative of that. I don’t remember any doctors or lawyers or business executives or politicians or journalists or schoolteachers or university professors. There was a software engineer, a driver for a motor parts company, a prison guard, a construction worker, a computer consultant. Many of those in attendance were of the sort to have had junior college or technical training, that level of education. And many seemed to work on their own, out of their home in a number of cases. During the weekend, I spoke to an out-of-work airline pilot. He said that he had been distributing National Alliance literature on a school campus – I think he said it was at a high school – and that a gun was found in his car and it had cost him his job.
With a few exceptions, the people at the leadership conference didn’t come across as loud, angry, or strident. They tended to be soft-spoken, modest, and somewhat diffident. I had the impression that with regard to American life many of them saw themselves as basically on the outside looking in. There were bad things going on in this country, they were sure of that, but these things were going on over there somewhere, apart from them, and it was all bigger than they were. For them, life was their family and their job and, for some, the other Alliance members in their unit with whom they meet once a month to talk about what is happening to their country. I didn’t get the sense that this was a group on a collective mission to change the world. Not like, say, a group of feminists, multiculturalists, conservationists, or gay rights activists who feel themselves to be on the cutting edge of a movement to bring about a new and better society. Rather, these people seemed more a collection of individuals just trying to get through their lives in a society that in their eyes had gone very wrong.
I don’t want to overstate the case about the peripheral quality I sensed among the participants in the conference. It was distinctly there, but there were some in attendance who were taking action in light of their convictions. How effective the action was is open to question, but they were doing something. I noticed that many of these activities were in support of the National Alliance as an organization. These were attempts to bring attention to the Alliance and to attract new members to it. For example, one participant in the conference reported setting up a telephone message service. With a message service, a number for the National Alliance is listed in the telephone directory. When people call it they get a recorded message from Pierce about the Alliance, a place to write to get further information, and an opportunity to leave their address and phone number so someone from the Alliance can get back to them. This is the means, evidently, that Timothy McVeigh used to contact the Alliance. Another example: one conference participant had put up a billboard outside of the Fort Bragg, North Carolina army base promoting the Alliance. Several reported putting Alliance material on cars underneath the windshield wiper and inserting it into books at the library. One participant said he put Alliance material into the postage-paid envelopes that accompany advertising notices and put them in the mail. One unit had made up some posters. And then there were a couple of people who said they regularly wrote letters to the editor to their local newspaper. Along with stating their piece on whatever the topic was, they made sure to include a pitch for the Alliance.
During the weekend, I spoke with the unit leader in Cleveland – a tall brown-haired, gregarious man in his thirties named Erich – about some European cultural festivals his unit had been organizing. The most recent one, he told me, included a dinner of ethnic food catered by unit members. The entertainment was Scottish bagpipes and Bavarian and Slovak folk dancing groups. Erich said that so far his unit has been getting a good response to his European cultural fests.
Erich said he considers European white kids in this country to be culturally deprived. He believes they have been conditioned by the Jewish-controlled music industry to buy into rock and rap music – black or black-inspired music – and taught to look down on the musical expressions of their own people, including classical music. Erich said he wants to show white kids that there are other kinds of music out there.
Erich considers the way white young people dance these days to be alien to European culture. It emulates black ways of moving and being, he says. Often whites do it very self-consciously and clumsily, simply because it isn’t natural to them. Dance has come down to girls gyrating suggestively to pulsating music while their “partners” – most of the time a boy, but sometimes another girl – do the same thing some distance away. Often, the boys aren’t as good at this kind of wiggling as the girls are, and the whole business becomes a bit embarrassing to everybody involved. And if it isn’t embarrassing it ought to be – they look silly. The break in this pattern comes with the slow music, when pairs hug each other tightly and sway back and forth as they shift from one foot to another and call it dancing.
Erich asserts that young people – and most adults too, the dominance of the media-driven “pop” culture having prevailed for decades – have come to believe that these undignified displays are “cool,” while more elegant and subtle dances such as the fox-trot, waltz, and ethnic folk dances – where males and females work as a team to accomplish something rather than put on self-centered and chaotic sexual displays – are “out of it.” The European dances, Erich holds, set out different roles for men and women in contrast to the blurring of natural distinctions that has taken hold in recent years. They also reflect romance and courtly love rather than sexually “hooking up.” In Erich’s eyes, today’s dances reflect an ill-mannered, loose, and loud way of being that is more African American than European-American. One promising sign in an otherwise bleak picture, he said, is that Irish step dancing is selling out arenas, and European-style dancing was prominently displayed in the popular film Titanic.
I also spoke with a Washington State University student by the name of Justin. Justin was dressed in a buttoned-up suit and is a blond, fairskinned, polite young man of medium height and build. He stood out to me at the conference because he was the only person under twenty-five and the only one who looked to be a student. He told me that he had been influenced by The Turner Diaries, and that he was majoring in psychology at WSU and interested in philosophy and wanted to go to law school after he got his bachelor’s degree.
I learned later that Justin had raised a stir on the WSU campus when he organized a lecture by the controversial British historian David Irving. Irving’s lecture was attended by four hundred people. Irving has the reputation of being overly sympathetic to the German side in World War II and the Nazis and for his skepticism about the accepted account of the Holocaust. Irving’s most recent book is on Joseph Goebbels, the Nazi propaganda minister. Many consider the book to be too friendly to Goebbels. The book was scheduled for publication in this country, but its American publisher withdrew.
Bringing Irving to campus put Justin under the gun. One of Pierce’s membership bulletins reprinted excerpts of a letter by a WSU professor to a local newspaper. (I have decided to use just the first initial of Justin’s last name.)
… I said months ago that Justin R – was a vicious anti-Semite with ties to a wide network of neo-Nazi organizations whose affiliations endanger the security of the Jews… I said that his goal is not to debate the Holocaust but to use the freedoms afforded by an open society to spread poisonous notions… The size of the crowd at Irving’s talk will be touted by R – and his friends as a demonstration of their growing influence and legitimacy… Here is what the advocates of unfettered free speech have wrought: a not entirely unsympathetic audience of college students for a speaker who made a clear gesture of solidarity with the greatest act of mass murder in history, and who said in broad daylight… under the cover of the respectability afforded by the venue where he spoke that the Jews who died during the war years were somehow responsible for what happened to them. This is an extraordinary thing. It is nothing less than a disaster for WSU, for Pullman, and for Jews everywhere in the United States.1
In the bulletin, Pierce wrote about Justin’s actions:
Justin R–’s success with this lecture is due in part to his hard work and his organizing skill, but more than anything else it is due to his courage. It takes courage for a 21-year-old senior to stand up to the sort of hatred that was directed against him by Jews and their allies in the administration, faculty, and student body at his school. Because he did stand up and see this project through to its successful conclusion, he now can walk with his head higher than thousands of other young men at universities all over America who share his beliefs but not his courage.2
One of the speakers the first afternoon of the conference was a board member of Germany’s radical-nationalist NPD party (Nationaldemokratische Partei Deutschlands), Alexander von Webenau. Alexander is in charge of student recruitment for the party. He was staying with Pierce for a week in order to establish a closer relationship between the NPD and the National Alliance. Pierce told me that parties like the NPD have a tough go of it in Germany. One of the rallying cries of the NPD is animosity toward the increasing number of foreigners entering Germany’s workforce and society from Turkey and elsewhere. In his talk, Alexander said they wanted to get the “big noses” out of Germany. Pierce says that there are laws preventing such references to minorities. All parties in Germany must have a democratic structure and can’t use any of the symbols or terms of banned parties such as the Nazis. For instance, right-wing groups have used the term “88” in the past, but now it is prohibited (the letter H is the eighth letter of the alphabet, so 88 is HH or Heil Hitler). Pierce says there is some chance that the NPD will be outlawed as a political party.
Pierce says he would like to see The Turner Diaries made available in Germany but the printing and sale of books like The Turner Diaries is banned in that country. The German distributor of the book (in German it is Die Turner Tagebücher) has had it printed in German outside of Germany and is trying to get the book back into the country for sale. Pierce’s writing may also soon be available in Poland. Both The Turner Diaries and Hunter were recently picked up by a publisher in that country.
I was surprised to learn that Alexander was only twenty years old at the time. He looked older. I would have guessed him to be twenty-eight or thirty. He is tall and well-built, has short dark hair parted on the side, and wears wire-rim glasses. His skin seemed a little pasty to me – perhaps he could eat better or get more exercise – and from his red gums he might have the beginnings of periodontal disease. In manner, Alexander seemed a nice young man. He was somewhat shy and removed, although that may have had something to do with his difficulty with English. My image of Alexander during the conference is of him sitting over on the side looking through the German-English dictionary he brought with him and then responding warmly and politely to someone who came by to say something to him.
In introducing Alexander as guest speaker, Bob DeMarais informed the audience that Alexander had been kicked out of the German army when his political affiliations became known, and that his removal received a good deal of press coverage in Germany. Bob said that the speech Alexander had prepared to deliver at the conference had been confiscated at the Munich airport just before his departure, and that he had been forced to reconstruct it from memory after arriving in West Virginia.
Alexander’s brief talk – fifteen minutes or so – centered on the progress the NPD is making, as well as some of the problems it faces in light of what it considers to be the repressive political climate in Germany. He referred to himself as a German nationalist. He spoke of a rally the NPD had organized on what they call the Day of National Resistance. Over six thousand people had attended, Alexander said. The event was a success, he said, and nationalist sentiment in Germany is growing.
The rally Alexander referred to is the same one where Pierce was prevented from speaking by German authorities. I remember being taken by the fact that Pierce didn’t appear indignant over what had happened to him on that occasion. He spoke to me about being barred from speaking in a very matter-of-fact and somewhat bemused manner. I learned that is Pierce’s typical response to the actions of the people who oppose him. He reflects a “they do what they do and I do what I do” attitude with reference to his adversaries. For example, there is his posture toward Morris Dees, the co-founder and chief legal counsel of the Southern Poverty Law Center, who hounds people like Pierce and others of his political stripe. Dees recently won a judgment in court against Pierce in a case involving some land in North Carolina Pierce had purchased from the head of a far-right group called the Church of the Creator, a man named Ben Klassen, who has since died. The jury held that Pierce’s profit from his subsequent sale of the property – eighty-five thousand dollars – should go to the mother of a black man who was killed by a member of Klassen’s organization. I expected Pierce to talk about Dees in a way that indicated that he resents Dees, despises him – but he never did. I picked up a quiet contempt for Dees from Pierce, but he never outwardly showed resentment or animosity when Dees’s name came up. It was more a matter of Dees being who he is and being up front about it. He is not pretending to be something he is not. He is out to get me and that is just the way it is, and I accept that.
The same thing held true with regard to Pierce’s attitude toward Jews. When Pierce talked about Jews it was as if it is simply in the natural order of things that Jews are his enemy. It is like one animal being a predator of another. It is not something to get all worked up about. It is as if one were to get distressed about the fact that lions kill zebras. That is what lions do. And zebras run from lions, that is what they do. “Jews do that what they do, and I do what I do.” That seems to be Pierce’s basic attitude.
Or at least that is his attitude on the surface. Underneath Pierce’s outward stoical acceptance of reality, which gives him the appearance of possessing a kind of above-it-all serenity, I pick up something simmering inside him; or perhaps it is better described as something pressuring him from within. One episode that gave me the chills, in which this whatever-it-is came to the surface, occurred one evening when he and Irena invited me to dinner. Pierce sat at the table silently, pistol in his holster. He seemed to be smoldering over something. I felt very uncomfortable and had trouble keeping up a conversation with Irena, which was difficult for me in any case because she was still having trouble with English. Pierce finally came out with what was on his mind. A stray dog had been hanging around the Pierces’ trailer and had chased after a three-legged raccoon that lived in the vicinity. Pierce was concerned that the dog either had or was going to harm the raccoon. He began grilling Irena about the details of the chasing incident she had evidently earlier reported, and she seemed to be becoming increasingly apprehensive. Sitting next to Pierce, I could feel the emotion rise up from within him. I became aware of his size – 6’4” – and his muscular arms and large hands as they rested inches away from me on the small kitchen table.
Finally, from out of nowhere it seemed, Irena said, “Don’t shoot the dog, Bill.”
Pierce didn’t reply. Now it was just the two of them. It was as though I weren’t there.
“Don’t shoot the dog, Bill,” Irena repeated, becoming increasingly alarmed and, as it seemed, fearful. “Please don’t shoot the dog.”
Pierce still didn’t reply.
Finally, in a cold, low voice I hadn’t heard before, Pierce said “That dog ought not to be around here.”
The three of us ate in silence for what felt like a long time.
The matter ended there, but the dinner was strained, and I was relieved to take my leave of the trailer that evening.
I never found out what happened to the dog. On another dinner occasion, I asked “Is that stray dog still around here?” Irena answered with a terse, “No, it isn’t,” and I thought it was best to drop the subject.
The Pierces were very gracious to me, and I came to know them and care about how they fared as a couple. One day I talked to Pierce about his marriages.
“I have devoted myself to what seems to me the most important work I could be doing,” Pierce replied. “I justify going home at night and even taking a day off once or twice a year – you can’t burn yourself out too soon. You need to work at maximum efficiency, and that means pulling back for a while, eight hours a day or so. The problem is that that kind of schedule doesn’t fit well with a woman’s priorities, which are home and hearth. Women like to go places – shopping and eating out in restaurants and so on. Irena is constantly on my case that I don’t spend enough time with her. But that doesn’t mesh with the way I approach my work.
“All of the women I have been married to have been good women in one way or another, but none have been soul-mates in the sense of shaping my decisions or sharing in the work I have been doing. My work is not really compatible with a family life, and in one way or another it has broken up all of my marriages – or at least my first four. I have always felt the need for a woman’s company, but there is this problem.
“How a person lives depends not only on his role in things but also on his own character. As for me, I am sort of a loner. When I have time, I prefer to go up to my shop [on the second floor of the office building] and play with my electronic toys and mess around and fix things. Today, for instance, I was fooling with a rifle that was given to me when I was in Cleveland recently. My personal style has put some strain on my marriages too, I suppose.
“As for the other people who come here [to West Virginia], I’m not saying they have to work the same hours I work. I just want them to give as much as they are capable of giving, and for some people that may mean working even more hours than I do. I don’t think this is the right period in history to try to make this into a monastic effort, where everybody who comes out here gives us everything he owns and in return gets a coarse robe and a little room to live in, and he belongs to the Alliance eighteen hours a day. That worked fine in the Middle Ages, but times were different then and the monasteries were a real shelter from the world. Some people couldn’t have made it if they hadn’t gone into the monastery. Back then, monasteries served a useful function in the society. Some good scholarship was accomplished in them. They had good discipline, and some really intelligent people with good character were drawn to them. But now religious orders have declined sharply. The Catholics, for example, can hardly find enough priests to fill the available positions. So I don’t think trying to have a monastic tone around here would work.”
Pierce says that he realizes that the work he is doing may make it impossible for him to keep a relationship going long term. As he was telling me this, I thought of the price he pays to be in the relationship with Irena. He would like to work even more hours than he does but feels that he owes it to her to be with her and take her places. Other than work trips and the necessary visits to the post office, the grocery store, and the hardware store, I don’t think that Pierce has the desire to go anywhere. Irena doesn’t understand his passions and she hasn’t shared his history. And as far as I can tell, she doesn’t share his politics. (A couple of indications of that: One evening, Pierce was going on about Jews. Finally, in a quiet voice Irena said, “Every group has a right to a place on this earth.” On another occasion, Irena interrupted one of Pierce’s discourses on Jews with, “Now Bill, what would you do if you found out I was Jewish?”)
Pierce has been through the loss of all the women close to him. He must feel as if he is standing on a trapdoor that will spring sooner or later. I asked him on one occasion whether he thinks about being quite old and alone in West Virginia and with his health not as good as it is now. He replied he knew that might well happen, and that he will just have to deal with it if it does.
It is hard to tell what Pierce and Irena’s future is together. On the positive side, they look like a couple to me, and a handsome and dignified one at that. She gently teases him, and they smile and laugh together, and he makes sure she gets her new glasses up in Elkins (a town 90 miles to the north). There they are, side by side, in the Chevy Blazer bouncing along the dirt road on the way to the post office, he in his T-shirt and jeans and workboots, she is her white blouse and jeans with her hair neatly in place and her make-up carefully done, and looking for all the world like mates content to be with one another.
But then again, I remember one day when I went with them to get the mail. That day, Irena was late walking down the mountain as she usually did to meet Pierce at the headquarters building for the ride into town. To save some time, Pierce, with me in the front seat, drove the Blazer up the road of the mountain toward their trailer with the intention of meeting Irena as she was coming down. When we got about half way up the mountain, I saw Irena walking on the driver’s side of the road. Pierce stopped the vehicle and waited for her to get in.
As Irena walked toward the Blazer and crossed in front of it toward the passenger door, her eyes were cast downward, and she seemed grim. When she got into the car and saw me – she obviously hadn’t known I was in the car – she immediately switched back to the upbeat persona that I associated with her. Or at least she tried to; I could tell that something was wrong.
It was a tense ride to the post office. Pierce seemed to me to be on his best behavior and was solicitous to Irena. In return, she was polite but brief with him. When we arrived at the post office, Pierce went in to get the mail, and Irena and I stood on the sidewalk waiting for him. I looked over at her and saw that her eyes were filled with tears. I finally said, “It has been kind of a rough day, Irena?”
“Not just today, Bob,” she replied.
After Alexander von Webenau’s talk at the leadership conference, it was Pierce’s turn to speak. Essentially, Pierce’s speech – he writes everything out and reads it word for word – was a “state of the organization” report. He outlined how he viewed the current status of the National Alliance and where he wants it to go in the future.
The major theme of his talk was the need to get more people involved in leadership positions. He said that the National Alliance has a well-defined philosophy, and there are people committed to the Alliance and its beliefs, but it has no real organizational structure. From what I can tell, that is true. The Alliance’s local units operate under general guidelines set out in the 143-page National Alliance membership handbook, but they function for all practical purposes autonomously and are left to their own devices as to the activities and projects they undertake.3 There simply isn’t anyone to oversee what they do or give them direction. Pierce and those who assist him in West Virginia are working day and night to keep their heads above water and don’t have the time to provide it.
In his talk to the conference, Pierce reflected his advancing age and sense of mortality as he expressed concern about what will happen to the National Alliance after his retirement or death. He said that the pattern of one-man organizations – and the Alliance is that, really – is for them to fade away when their leader passes. As an example, Pierce cited George Lincoln Rockwell’s organization where Pierce himself got his start, and how it didn’t survive after Rockwell’s assassination. Pierce also pointed out that the Christian Nationalist Crusade dropped from the scene when its leader, Gerald L. K. Smith died. Smith was a fundamentalist preacher who focused his energies on politics. In the early 1930s, he had been one of the first members of an organization called the Silver Shirts, which was an American version of Nazi stormtroopers led by the journalist and novelist William Pelley. In 1934, Smith left his church ministry to go to work for the populist Louisiana governor Huey Long as the national organizer for Long’s “Share the Wealth” campaign, a scheme to decentralize and redistribute wealth in America. Smith later moved to Michigan and aligned himself with his idol, the auto giant Henry Ford, who, it is said, fueled Smith’s anti-Semitism and financed his activities, including a radio program. Smith was a galvanizing orator who attracted large crowds to hear his message combining nativism, nationalism, populism, and anti-Semitism. Smith promoted Charles Lindbergh and General Douglas MacArthur as presidential possibilities and vehemently opposed the Kennedys, whom he considered, as one writer put it, “fake Catholics, whiskey-drinking whoremongers, and puppets of the international Jews.”4 When George Wallace ran as a third party candidate in 1968, Smith was one of his Oklahoma electors. Smith died in 1976.5
Pierce said that the National Alliance needs to create a clearly defined organizational structure. He said this would help ensure the vitality and continuity of the organization. With such an arrangement in place, it would be easier to bring new people in at the bottom and mold and assess them each step of the way to top leadership positions. A priority, Pierce said, is for the Alliance to recruit a few good men and women to fill the slots in a newly-created hierarchical organizational pattern. He said he was looking for leaders at both the regional and national levels. He acknowledged that making a full-time commitment to an organization such as the National Alliance might not be the best career move in the conventional sense. The kinds of people he wanted, Pierce said, were “unreasonable people who are willing to stick their necks out.”
Pierce then listed other personnel needs. He said he wanted someone to manage recruiting efforts. (He later found someone, a thirty-four-year-old recent immigrant from South Africa by the name of Sam van Rensburg, but van Rensburg left after a few months.) Pierce said that he wants to recruit new members at ten times the current rate. There are segments of the population whom the Alliance has not been reaching with its message well enough, Pierce noted. Police and career military personnel are two groups who lean toward authoritarianism and might be attracted to the Alliance, he added. And more could be done on university campuses, he said. There are a lot of healthy men and women in university settings who haven’t bought into the consumer culture, Pierce said. Schoolteachers are another group; and radical environmentalists, many of whom are now exploring “flaky religions” and getting into the Jewish-influenced Green movement. Teenagers are another group who could be better informed about the National Alliance and its ideas, Pierce said.
Many of these kinds of people, and others as well, Pierce maintained, have a gut feeling that something is wrong with this culture and amiss in their own lives, but there are difficult hurdles to be overcome in tapping into that feeling and linking the Alliance’s message to it. Anyone taking on that job for the Alliance faces the challenge of overcoming all of the social conditioning that has predisposed people to turn away from an organization carrying around the negative labels and characterizations which others have attached to the Alliance. People have been trained not to even listen to what the Alliance has to say, Pierce asserted. And if they do listen at all, they are so set in the thinking previously drummed into them that they are unable to do anything other than plug whatever the Alliance says into their pre-existing negative ideas about it and its way of looking at the world. A major challenge, Pierce acknowledged, is to find ways to communicate with mainstream people in a form they find acceptable and can relate to – something the Alliance has had difficulty doing up to now.
Pierce said that recruitment won’t be geared to an immediate project – supporting a proposition on a local ballot or this-or-that candidate for office, or some such thing. That kind of short-run project is not the Alliance’s focus, Pierce stressed. Rather, the Alliance is looking for people who are ready to make a commitment to its long-term mission, which is a grander goal: to bring about the transformation of our people.
Pierce then listed some recruiting tactics the Alliance might employ. Internships could be set up for college students to work in the Alliance central office in West Virginia. Ways could be sought to reach young people through the music they listen to. (A few months later, Pierce purchased Resistance Records. This company produces and distributes “white resistance music” by bands with names like Nordic Thunder, Celtic Warrior, and Kindred Spirit, and publishes Resistance magazine, which is devoted to the music scene. In an Alliance bulletin, Pierce wrote: “We want young, alienated White Americans to understand why they are alienated and to have a positive goal for which they can work and fight, instead of simply being filled with undirected and often self-destructive rage.”6 In 2000, construction of a large building on the property to house Resistance’s operations began.)
Culture fests of the sort that the Cleveland unit is organizing are a promising recruitment vehicle, Pierce told the leadership conference audience, as are lectures by well-known figures such as the one Justin set up at Washington State. Pierce said he was impressed with the NPD rally he had attended in Germany, and that perhaps someone could come on board to organize public meetings. Displays at gun shows might be useful for recruitment, he said. Also, someone could take on the responsibility for helping local units set up more frequent and appealing meetings. And perhaps the Alliance’s Web site could be made more interactive and engaging. All of these activities could augment the current means of recruiting, he said – the radio program, the Web site, the telephone message services, and the Alliance stickers. Pierce said that at this point the Web site was the most effective recruiting tool the Alliance had at its disposal.
Pierce told his audience that there is a need for the Alliance to generate more publications. At the present time, he said, there are only the radio program transcripts which are compiled in Free Speech each month. There is much to be written, Pierce pointed out, on issues such as immigration, the political system, racial differences, free trade and the de-industrialization of this country, World War II and the Holocaust, and the Jewish influence on life in America. There is the need for ideological fiction and nonfiction books. Posters need to be created. Audio and video productions are needed. And the Alliance would benefit greatly from the contributions of writers and editors, as well as people with technical skills like audio-mixing and video production.
As I listened to Pierce tell his audience about his concerns and hopes for the future of the Alliance and his hopes for it, I thought about how he is pulled this way and that by competing impulses. On the one hand, I am sure he is sincerely worried about what will happen to the organization when he no longer heads it as its chairman. And I think he very much wants a more active, vital organization, and more people involved in its operations. And he most certainly would like to get out from under the administrative responsibilities he carries, as well as the burden of writing, recording, and distributing the radio program week after week. But at the same time, I think Pierce likes things the way they are. He has set up a life for himself that serves his needs quite well. He has an arrangement where he can write and disseminate what he wants to say. He is in charge of things and doesn’t have to accommodate himself to anyone. People work under him and do his bidding. He is basically a loner, so he must welcome to some extent a situation where day-to-day he doesn’t have to deal with a lot of people. He is living in the kind of remote, rural setting that is his preference. His relationship with Irena is pretty much of the sort he prefers. He has enough of an ego, I believe, that he finds it gratifying not to have to share the spotlight with anybody. And finally, while I’m sure Pierce would like the Alliance to continue upon his passing, I think the idea that carries the most weight with him is that one’s most important legacy is the memory the living will have of the way he conducted his life. The fame of a dead man’s deeds is what lives on, Pierce believes. I think he takes comfort in the thought that although he is a vilified figure now, future generations will remember him in a different light. And I don’t think he believes that the continued existence of the National Alliance is necessary for the perception of him someday to be a positive one.
Saturday evening after dinner, everyone gathered in the meeting area of the headquarters building to listen to one of Pierce’s radio programs at its regularly scheduled time on the shortwave radio station WRNO. A large radio was set up in the front of the meeting hall. As it turned out, however, the station put on the wrong tape and started it too early. The voice of Kevin Strom was heard saying “four, three, two, one” before the show started. I was sitting next to Pierce as he squirmed and grumbled in response to this turn of events.
On Sunday morning, people waited outside Pierce’s office to be called in one at a time for a private talk with him. I don’t know what transpired in these conversations. I think for most people it was a chance to meet Pierce whom they admire so much, and to get his advice and encouragement.
By Sunday afternoon, all of the cars were gone, and life was back to normal at the property for that time of the week. Pierce was in his office working with Hadley perched atop the case of the computer. Bob was sitting in front of his computer in his office. Evelyn was in her house on the property. Fred Streed and his wife Marta were in their small house near the entrance gate. Irena was in the trailer. Ron McCosky was at home in Marlinton. And the lone car in front of the headquarters building was Pierce’s white Chevrolet Blazer.
1 National Alliance Bulletin, April 1998.
3 National Alliance Membership Handbook (Hillsboro, WV: National Vanguard Books, 1993).
4 James Ridgeway, Blood in the Face: The Ku Klux Klan, Aryan Nations, Nazi Skinheads, and the Rise of a New White Culture, 2nd ed., New York: Thunder Mouth Press, 1995).
5 See Glen Jeansonne, Gerald L. K. Smith: Minister of Hate (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1988).
6 National Alliance Bulletin, July 1999, pp. 1-2.