The neo-Nazi National Socialist Movement (NSM)–a prominent racist group that has been active across the United States and who refers to themselves as “America’s Nazi Party”–has announced that it is has moved its national headquarters to Detroit.
According to an article in the Minnesota Monitor, NSM’s head–Jeff Schoep–has moved from Hutchinson, Minnesota to Detroit, Michigan. Schoep has run the National Socialist Movement since 1994 and has had an active role organizing and speaking at rallies around the country, including an April 2006 rally on the steps of the capitol building in Lansing. Michigan has been home to several NSM “units” based in cities such as Cadillac and Grand Rapids. Most recently, members of the Michigan NSM attended a racist rally in Kalamazoo back in August of 2007.
According to the NSM, their “core beliefs” are:
“…defending the rights of white people everywhere, preservation of our European culture and heritage, strengthening family values, reform of illegal immigration policies, and immediate withdrawal of our national military from an illegal Middle Eastern occupation and promotion of white separation.”
While the NSM’s rhetoric and politics often have a rightwing populist tinge to them, the NSM is clearly a racist group–from its wearing of Nazi uniforms to repeated use of racial scapegoating. In his most recent column titled “The Will to Fight,” Jeff Schoep praised the alleged triumphs of the white race:
“We are of the Race that drove Genghis Khan and the Huns from Europe, the Race that claimed America, and nearly rid it of the pestilence of the American Indians, the Race that drove the mongrel Mexicans out during the Mexican-American war, and many other glorious accomplishments throughout history!”
He went on to state that in light of the economic situation in the United States, the NSM’s program could be pushed into the mainstream, just as National Socialism was brought into the mainstream in Germany in the 1930s. While it is hard to see the NSM’s program making real progress, we have seen the growth of racist groups in Michigan over the past several years as well as an increase in anti-immigrant racism across the United States that has coincided in part with economic downturns. In this sense, it is important that we take racist groups seriously. They are aggressively seeking ways to blame people of color and immigrants for the problems in this country, attempting turn what is legitimate discontent–for example over the ramifications of neoliberal trade agreements such as NAFTA that has cost thousands of jobs in Michigan–into support for racist and fascist policies.