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But normalcy ended there. One of the moms, in a turquoise blouse, is married to a Georgia Klansman and had a large KKK cross and drop-of-blood medallion around her neck. The other woman, quite cute in tight jeans and heavy blood-red lipstick, sported a T-shirt with "88" emblazoned across her pert Aryan bosom.
The letter "h" is eighth in the alphabet. "88" stands for "HH" -- or "Heil Hitler." "88" was also a fashionable cryptic tattoo among the crowd. It competed for skin space with the Klan's "311" ("k" is the 11th letter), the lightning-bolt Nazi "SS" and the Aryan Nations symbol of Christian cross, sword (symbolizing the need for violence) and half-swastika (glorifying National Socialism).
On one side of the auditorium during a break in the speeches, a man who identified himself only as Darren from Toccoa alternated between wearing Klan regalia and a Confederate flag leather vest. Jerald O'Brien, attired in a "White Boy" T-shirt and with a large ornate swastika tattooed on the top of his shaved head, grimaced for cameras after his ordination as Aryan Nations' newest pastor.
Across the room, Doug Hanks was looking decidedly normal. The preppy Hanks -- clad in a "Hanks University" T-shirt (there is no such school) -- was peddling books he'd authored. One, on the AR15 assault rifle, tells how to skirt federal laws on gun registration. The other, a novel titled Patriot Act, is touted as the new Turner Diaries, a 1978 depiction of a future race war that has long been regarded as a prophetic bible for militia groups and white supremacists. Hanks explained part of his motivation for writing Patriot Act: "In Turner Diaries, you had blacks still wearing Afros."
In 2005, Hanks ran as a Republican for the Charlotte City Council -- until it was revealed that he'd posted 4,000 messages to the racist stormfront.org Web site. He explained that the "real reason" he withdrew was that he'd discovered Republicans as well as Democrats had cloaked lethal plans in innocuous-sounding environmental programs. "Green space," he said, is a code word used by politicians to hide a scheme that will end with the murder of all but 500 million of the world's 6.5 billion inhabitants to make room for, mostly, Jews and minorities. "Until we convince people of the evil Israel represents, we'll never get anywhere," Hanks said.
Midway through the afternoon, the band Definite Hate, superstars of bigot rock, marched in with a contingent of groupies and roadies. One band member's T-shirt featured the legend "Dancin' in the Air," with an illustration of a lynched black man. A second shirt announced "Carolina Hate Rock." Another T-shirt had a skull with a Star of David on it, and the message: "Associating with ZOG and Known Race Traitors Is Hazardous to Your Health." "ZOG" translates as "Zionist Occupied Government," a reference to federal authorities.
A dozen or so groups -- ranging from the venerable Klan's multitude of splinters, to upstart outfits such as Arkansas-based White Revolution, to Nazis of various stripes -- sent delegates to what Aryan Nations leaders described as a "unity conference" of white supremacy.
There was even a German in attendance, Peter Josef Boche, who runs a racist church in Berlin. At one point, Boche was surrounded by a group of women and girls. The stubble-faced German, accompanied by his properly blond daughter, was leading a session in how to rakishly throw up the right arm in a stiff-armed "Heil Hitler!" salute.
JOSH FOWLER, NATTILY robed in green, albeit sans hood, was one of the first in a series of Klan speakers. He swaggered onto the Echo's stage flanked by two bodyguards, one bearing a round shield adorned with the Klan cross. The youthful grand dragon of one of the Klan groups from South Carolina first warmed up the crowd with a little humor, joking that he welcomed speaking inside, at a podium. "Most of the time," Fowler quipped, "I'm on the back of a pickup truck."
The tempo of Fowler's speech quickened and the decibel level soared, until at full screech he brought the audience to its feet in cheers by announcing that what he "really hate[s] is white women with little mongrel babies."
Although an Aryan Nations event, the largest contingent was from the KKK. The two groups share the Christian Identity and violence-as-a-solution philosophies, and memberships overlap. The major difference is taste in costume -- the neo-Nazi uniforms of Aryan Nations vs. the Klan's robes, hoods and masks.
However, one Klansman was outfitted in black SWAT-team-style fatigues, his shirt emblazoned with military lettering that announced he was a "U.S. Army Veteran" and a member of the "AWKKKK" (American White Knights of the Ku Klux Klan).