What do neo-Nazis, skinheads and fundamentalist Mormons have in common? In South Dakota, they comprise the “hate groups” identified by the Southern Poverty Law Center.
The SPLC has created an online map of organizations and groups it considers to be “hate groups,” which it defines as having “beliefs or practices that attack or malign an entire class of people, typically for their immutable characteristics.” The South Dakota map has four such groups: the National Socialist Order of America, a neo-Nazi group; Nordwave, another Neo-Nazi group; Retaliator Skinhead Nation, a “racist skinhead” group; and, the Fundamentalist Latter Day Saints, a “general hate” group.
Perhaps the best known is the Fundamentalist Latter Day Saints, which was headed by now-jailed Warren Jeffs. The group split from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints when the LDS Church renunciation of polygamy and is now the largest polygamist Mormon group in the U.S. It is known in South Dakota because it bought about 100 acres of land it developed into a compound near Pringle (although the SPLC bases the group in Edgemont). The SPLC designated the sect a hate group in part because of Jeffs’ comments on blacks, women and gays,
The only other group given a specific location by SPLC is the Retaliator Skinhead Nation, which it puts in Centerville. According to its web site, the group is “an elite organization created by and for the white race. …our goal is to secure the streets and neighborhoods which we live [sic] no matter where that may be from the increasing crime and vandalism created by the savage gangs and the increasing number of mudd [sic] races that are infesting our land.” According to the Anti-Defamation League, though, the group disbanded in 2006 and became part of an organization known as Volksfront.
No location is given for the National Socialist Order of America, a Neo-Nazi party created in 2007 following a rift in the National Socialist Movement. It was started by John Taylor Bowles, who was the NSM’s presidential candidate until the split. Among his contentions during the campaign was that the Patriot Act gives the President the ability to remove nonwhites from the country.
Nordwave, meanwhile, bills itself as “the voice of National-Socialism.” Its web site identifies one of its “units” as Nordwave South Dakota. Although no location is mentioned, a November 17, 2008, item on the South Dakota group’s site says it is “beginning to build a community here in South Dakota. We now make up 1% of th [sic] population of a small town. It may not seem like much but its [sic] only the beginning. This is the first of many targeted towns and has alot [sic] of potential to become a strong white cultural community.” There is little after that date, though.
Assuming the latter to be true, South Dakota’s pioneer heritage appears to be reviving in a perverse sort of way, given that two of the four groups are trying to create their own communities.
…you can safely assume that you’ve created God in your own image when it turns out that God hates all the same people you do.
Anne Lamott, Bird by Bird