Tuesday, February 15, 2011

The Anatomy of Hate: White Supremest

Last night I attended a viewing of "The Anatomy of Hate", aired at Converse College. When I heard that it would be aired and that the Westboro Baptist Church was coming, I had to go. I'm glad I did. But I have to admit that some of the images are haunting me today.

Meet one of the interviewees of the film. This is Billy Roper:

Billy Roper, head of Arkansas-based White Revolution, a racist organization that promotes cooperation between white supremacist groups, is devoted to unifying the disparate and fractious racist right. In fact, White Revolution's inception is due, in large part, to Roper's outreach efforts as an official with the neo-Nazi National Alliance (NA), where he first made a name for himself. His vision of a unified white power front conflicted with the NA leadership's conception of itself as an elite vanguard poised to carry out a "white revolution." Roper's views led to his dismissal from the NA in September 2002 and his founding of White Revolution a few days later. Roper used the skills and contacts he had cultivated as NA's Deputy Membership Coordinator to jumpstart White Revolution.

One of the most troubling images of the film was the greased pig chase. Now, I've never attended a greased pig chase, nor have any desire to do so. For me, it is a metaphor rather than a reality. Before I go any further, allow me to say that I did a little research and greased pig chases don't usually end in the death of the pig, unless the winner slaughters the pig after they go home. This was different.

During a summer white supremest festival, children were extremely excited  about a greased pig chase. I was unprepared for the small pig, more like a piglet, to be so cute. He was released and really had no fear of humans. Children chasing him and pushing him around finally got him to run. Until the taunting children brought him down. Beat him down. Kicked him down. Viciously, brutally killing the small pig one blow, one kick at a time from small hands and feet. I hope you are horrified as I am. I hope you are even more horrified when I report a father encouraging his four-year-old son to kick the poor thing until it died. Then the father cut the belly and I couldn't look after I saw entrails spill out. A later image showed an older child holding up the gutted carcass.

Besides the animal rights issues, which we can all agree upon, I have another one. I grew up in Arkansas. My pardon to his son and his wife, but I'm telling you that folks from Arkansas can be mean. An Indian friend once told me it's because the displaced Indians cursed the soil. I have another theory. By the time settlers reached Arkansas, the fertile hills and valleys of Ohio, Kentucky and Louisiana were gone. It took hard scrabble settlers to settle hard scrabble land. I remember when parts of Ar got electricity in the '70s.

So this summer festival, held by white supremests encourages children to kill animals, devaluing life. Surely killing comes easy when a young child learns such valuelessness of life and is praised for callous cruelty. And in a world where white supremests disdain "other", killing other just got trained into the children as I watched. 


  1. I was there and saw this too, and I have to say, that this was profoundly disturbing. I feel the same way. I don't think I can ever use the phrase "greased pig" again. My God. Frankly, the Aryan and White Supremacists were a lot more disturbing than the Westboro Church. None of it was easy to watch. But it was good to watch, if that makes any sense. Because the final focus on the film was on dialog, compassion and change. Hope. Israelite Jews and West Bank Arabs working together an opening a school for their kids,Iraqi and American troops working together, the fact that Westboro's infamous Fred Phelps is an honored Civil Rights Activist Lawyer from the Civil Rights movement, whatever else he has become, a White Supremacists who nearly bombed a gay church and didn't because he suddenly realized that they were people, like him, took the bomb and walked away. It ended with Hope. But the darker images are hard to forget...
    Hope. Dialog. Compassion. They are harder than hate. But they are our salvation.

  2. What a horrible, hateful subculture. I pity any kids caught up in it.