published Tuesday, April 8th, 2014

Cook: The Nazis come to town

With more than 50 chapters and hundreds of members, the National Socialist Movement is the largest neo-Nazi group in America. They are white supremacists and skinheads who quote Hitler, dress in black fatigues — looking like Storm Troopers or Italian fascists — and march with giant swastika flags while calling for an America populated with only one type of citizen.

"Those of pure White blood," their manifesto reads.

Later this month, the National Socialist Movement is bringing together neo-Nazis and white supremacists from across the nation to celebrate their 40th anniversary with a two-day event.

And they're holding it here, in Chattanooga, Tenn.

"Come out and let your voice be heard, and your boots stand in solidarity in the streets of Chattanooga in defense of our nation, our race, and the American way of life," the registration form reads.

It begins on the evening of Friday, April 25, with a meeting and dinner for movement members and other known guests. On Saturday, April 26, there is a rally: "open to all known white patriots," the website reads. No location is given for either event.

That weekend also holds other significance.

"That is Yom HaShoah," said Rabbi Bill Tepper, of Chattanooga's Mizpah Congregation.

Yom HaShoah is the Jewish day of Holocaust Remembrance. Around the world, Jews remember the Holocaust, teach others about it, and work to prevent such evil from happening again.

This means that as Jews around the world begin to commemorate the sufferings of the Holocaust, the nation's largest neo-Nazi group will be gathering here.

"I am alarmed and disturbed by this," said Tepper.

Based in Detroit, the National Socialist Movement has its roots in the American Nazi party. Their leader Jeff Schoep -- they call him Commander -- has been banned from entry into the United Kingdom as a threat to the public good. The NSM membership application requires allegiance to the Aryanism of "a strong free republic without Jewish influence or control."

The group created its own record label and operates a social networking website. Its members question the Holocaust and march alongside the Ku Klux Klan. When asked how many members he expects to travel to Chattanooga, the NSM's public relations coordinator -- who was at work, and not able to talk for more than a moment -- was not sure.

"We usually get between 50 and 100 people in the streets," said Brian Culpepper, a leader within the movement's Tennessee chapter.

Chattanooga officials say the group has not yet applied for a permit to march. (According to city code Sec. 26-14, a group planning any public event at a park involving more than 15 people must file a permit at least 10 days in advance of the event). Several years ago, they marched through a predominantly black neighborhood in Ohio; riots followed. The event made international news.

"They are seasoned provocateurs," said Mark Potok, director of the Southern Poverty Law Center, which estimates there are 33 other white supremacist hate groups in our state. "They have over the years specialized in provoking crowds and creating incidents."

So ... how will we respond?

Do we organize a massive counter-protest? Try and outnumber them? Line the streets and turn our backs to them? Encourage a white-hat-hacker response that shuts down their website? When the movement traveled to Knoxville in 2010, activists calling themselves the Coup Clutz Clowns dressed in clown suits and danced (to Ricky Martin, the Knoxville News-Sentinel reported) in loud protest.

Potok, who predicts the National Socialist Movement will wait until the last moment to announce the location of its rally, said the group's strategy is to provoke a response, which it will use for publicity and propaganda. (Schoep blamed the Ohio riots, which made international news, on "the Negro beasts.") They thrive on turning their rally into a shouting-altercation that can easily turn violent.

"Do something," Potok advised. "But don't do it in the same venue."

Potok suggests creating some anti-racist program elsewhere -- same day, same time, with tons of folks -- that counters the Nazi message while also creating an opportunity for something meaningful to emerge among the rest of us. The Nazis may come and go, yet there remains a real and present racism within Chattanooga that doesn't pack its bags and leave after the weekend rally.

"Ultimately, I think we need to spend as much energy fighting back to dismantle racism and anti-Semitism in the first place," said Ash-Lee Henderson, with our city's Concerned Citizens for Justice. "Hopefully, what it does is remind us that bigotry is alive and well but the everyday, systemic, micro-aggressions against communities of color are also just as real."

Contact David Cook at or 423-757-6329. Follow him on Facebook and Twitter at DavidCookTFP.

about David Cook...

David Cook is the award-winning city columnist for the Times Free Press, working in the same building where he began his post-college career as a sportswriter for the Chattanooga Free Press. Cook, who graduated from Red Bank High, holds a master's degree in Peace and Justice Studies from Prescott College and an English degree from the University of Tennessee at Knoxville. For 12 years, he was a teacher at the middle, high school and university ...

Comments do not represent the opinions of the Chattanooga Times Free Press, nor does it review every comment. Profanities, slurs and libelous remarks are prohibited. For more information you can view our Terms & Conditions and/or Ethics policy.
tifosi said...

Ugly and non-American. Proud we have defeated their kind many times.

April 8, 2014 at 6:05 p.m.
John_Proctor said...

What's next? Will the Phelps family decide to re-locate their church of hate here?

April 8, 2014 at 7:29 p.m.
cmocs said...

Could we please do what so many have such a hard time doing...IGNORE THEM COMPLETELY. They crave attention, they beg for it, they want it. Deny them ANY ATTENTION AT ALL and they will never return.

I realize that turning away and ignoring them is very, very difficult, but I would love to see Chattanooga be the first to accomplish it. People expressing hatred of their ideals, as abhorrent as they are, lowers us to their pathetic standards. Do feed their hate.

April 9, 2014 at 2:37 a.m.
aae1049 said...

Liberals are so funny, you want freedom of religion and political freedom as long as it matches your own views. See this freedom thing is a double edged sword, you cannot eliminate the voices you disagree with and have genuine freedom.

Clearly, the Nazis were evil and murdered 6 million Jews and there is nothing to celebrate about that party, and everything to destest. However, we cannot have freedom if any group is silenced.

Are liberals that attack Christians a hate group? I don't see Southern Poverty Law adding these groups to their "list." The list is a political partisan listing, where conservative is one strike. I am sure there are also genuine hate groups.

We live in a free country, so must tolerate things we don't agree with, as long as they are not violating the law. If they commit a crime, that is a different matter. I am wondering if David really understands the quandry of a truly free country.

April 9, 2014 at 3:49 a.m.

I didn't see where Mr. Cook was advocating that the neo-nazis were not allowed the freedom of speech in a public arena.

""Come out and let your voice be heard, and your boots stand in solidarity in the streets of Chattanooga in defense of our nation, our race, and the American way of life," the registration form reads."" That reads like the playbook of Glenn Beck and many of the Christian extremists advocating a return to the imagined American "glories" of a distorted and disturbing past.

Most often in America it's the religious Christian extremists who are for the banning and burning of books, censorship, the denial of science and intellectual freedom, control of women, birth control and reproductive rights, the condemnation of outsiders, the persecution of freethinkers, agnostics, and atheists, and the weary claims of divine support and guidance. Don't forget that Hitler claimed God on his side and German soldiers wore belts with buckles that said, "Gott mit uns" (God is with us)."

In that respect there's disturbing similarities between the neo-nazis, Stalinists, the Phelps' Westboro Baptist Church, Taliban, and Christian extremists.

April 9, 2014 at 8:43 a.m.
sangaree said...

cmocs said: "Could we please do what so many have such a hard time doing...IGNORE THEM COMPLETELY."

That's what they initially said and did in Germany.

I'm not at all surprised they picked Chattanooga. It would be interesting, however, to know who or what group invited them. Shouldn't be at all difficult to figure that one out.

There was a large KKK rally in 1964 Chattanooga to protest school integration. The Klan burned a large cross on a hill alongside Forrest Hill Cemetery on the southside of Chattanooga.

April 9, 2014 at 8:59 a.m.
ctp58 said...

I think the citizens of Chattanooga need to be concerned that a hate group feels comfortable selecting Chattanooga as the venue for their rally. Regardless of your political or cultural beliefs, it does not bode well for a city looking to progress in the 21st century to be viewed as a welcome haven for hate groups.

April 9, 2014 at 10:40 a.m.
GaussianInteger said...

"We live in a free country, so must tolerate things we don't agree with,"

Oh really, April? Where is your tolerance for gay people? You had no problem endorsing the recall of a councilman for being gay.

April 9, 2014 at 10:47 a.m.

I see where the petition to recall Anderson is flopping like a fish on dry land.

If Anderson were not gay, the Tea Party and homophobes wouldn't be trying to unseat him.

On the pretense of fiscal policies the recall was started. Fortunately most of those asked to sign the petition know the difference between disagreement with a fiscal policy and the homophobic chatter of religious bigots.

Will Congressman Vance McAllister, Republican from LA, caught with a woman not his wife, be subject to the same reaction from the Christian extremists? After all, Rep. McAllister claimed to be a good Christian and campaigned on his committment to God, faith, and family?

Will there be a massive petition drive in Chattanooga to ask for his removal as a hedonist sinner? Let everyone know when the Tea Party bus is leaving Chattanooga to Louisiana for the mass demonstrations against him.

I'll be looking for the announcement.

April 9, 2014 at 10:58 a.m.
aae1049 said...

Most people do not wear their sexuality for public display. I don't hear the other council members stating they are victims of their own sexuality. Just Chris Anderson, everything that happens to Chris is due to being his sexuality. So tiresome to the voters in his district, who just want representation, who do not wish for their elected office to be used for his sexuality agenda or drama. Just represent the people, not personal agendas.

April 10, 2014 at 12:08 a.m.
moon4kat said...

Nothing good will come to Chattanooga as a result of the Nazi rally. They bring bad publicity with their strutting hate. It makes me sad and angry to think they feel welcome in my home town.

April 10, 2014 at 9:07 a.m.

It will give the Anderson recall petitioners a chance to get signatures.

Look for them with their clipboards, shiny boots, and little mustaches.

Not sure what the men will be wearing.

April 10, 2014 at 12:49 p.m.
moon4kat said...

I wonder what managers of the local German automaker think of Chattanooga hosting Nazis. Has anyone asked their opinion?

April 10, 2014 at 6:04 p.m.
GaussianInteger said...

"So tiresome to the voters in his district, who just want representation, who do not wish for their elected office to be used for his sexuality agenda or drama"

So they must be lined up to sign that petition, right? Oh no, that's right, Wysong and his goons had to forge signatures just to have a few hundred to turn over to the commission. And thanks for that lesson on tolerance that you earlier preached. You may be the biggest hypocrite on this forum.

April 10, 2014 at 6:46 p.m.

Don't forget that the Volkswagen was the design of Ferdinand Porsche, commissioned by Hitler. Porsche also worked on the German tanks, the Panzer and Tiger, the V-1 rocket bomb, and was a Nazi Party member and in the SS.

Not all Germans were Nazis, not all French were in the Resistance and opposed the roundup of Jews, The Duke and Duchess of York were Nazi sympathisers, and Churchill shelled the French Navy and was responsible for the fire-bombing massacre of German civilians in Dresden. Yasser Arafat's relative, the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, raised Arab SS troops for Hitler, and Dr. Joseph Mengele's family was then and still today is a major German company.

There's many infamous ties throughout history, but money trumps it all.

The American neo-nazis of today are simply losers, thugs, and low-lifes.

April 10, 2014 at 7:11 p.m.
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