Network of terror
Nick Ryan spent six years penetrating the world of white supremacist groups and is now considered an expert on this subculture of hate. A profile by DEEPA KANDASWAMY.
Exposing a world of hate.
THE Rodney King incident led to a series of exposés on American television of institutionalised racism prevalent in the U.S., which made the media take a closer look at the neo-Nazi/extreme right movement prevalent in North America. There has been a spate of exposés of racism on British TV, particularly by the BBC since January this year.
Political analysts in Britain and elsewhere have been watching the growth of the British National Party (BNP) in mainstream politics with alarm, as its leaders call for a racially "pure" Britain.
But this phenomenon is not confined to Britain alone but has spread to Europe, Australia and the U.S. forming the largest international racial hate network in the world. The trend becomes alarming when these groups or individuals enter mainstream politics and win.
Nick Ryan, an award winning British writer and producer, is an expert on this subculture of hate as he spent over six years undercover, investigating the various groups. Ryan was consulted when various publications and the media in the West including the BBC decided to do exposés on these groups. He was also the creative producer of "England Expects", which was screened on BBC1 in April this year.
Born in 1968, Ryan is Anglo-Irish, who spent his childhood in France and was raised in the Home Counties area of England.
A trained journalist, he spent his early 20s travelling in Asia, ending up in Kuwait just before the Gulf War. He has written for among others, The Guardian, New York Times Magazine, The Scotsman, The South Morning China Post, The Australian and Wired. In 1999, he received a special commendation from the International Federation of Journalists for his investigation of the extreme right. What led him to explore and expose this culture of hate in the West? Was it just an accident or something else?
Ryan says, "To be honest, it was a combination of both. I was looking to write a book about Britain's subcultures new religious movements, gangs, that kind of thing and I wanted to include a chapter or two about `outsiders'. The idea was to look at those placing themselves `outside' of society's normal constraints. After seeing a copy of an anti-racist magazine called Searchlight, I spoke with the editors and they believed they could get me access into a soccer hooligan gang, which held neo-Nazi beliefs and was trying to create an `Aryan homeland' in an area east of London. That in turn led me to a meeting with the leaders of Combat 18 a violent bunch of thugs, with links to all sorts of nasty causes. In the travels that followed, I discovered millions of Europeans, Americans and Australians people who loved their children, worked nine to five and thought of themselves as respectable citizens vote for neo-Nazi and ultra nationalist parties."
Nick Ryan's book Homeland: Into a World of Hate is already being hailed as a classic. With comparisons to Orwell's non-fiction, it is a powerful first person reportage of a six-year journey into the terrifying arena of white nationalism.
The book, a gripping social commentary, exposes how easy it is for the extreme right to enter mainstream politics in Europe, the U.S. and Australia and find favour with a majority of "normal" people starting with Le Pen in France. The network gets more bizarre as neo-Nazis are all pro-environment, Holocaust deniers who admire Hitler with links to militant organisations in the Middle East.
When asked, Ryan says, "That's not so surprising. Hitler and his Nazis were into the idea of `Blood and Soil', back to the land. Sharing a distrust of big business, etc, allies some of the far right with those on the left and in the global protest movements. Also, there have been both formal and informal co-operation, from the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem working with Hitler, to neo-Nazis supporting the Palestinian cause against the Jews (`the enemy of my enemy...'). The Holocaust is an issue linking this. But it's been further complicated by a rise in Islamphobia since September 11, 2001, so there is no hard and fast enemy right now."
When asked if the sudden upsurge against Asian immigrants was due to the more popular acceptance of the myths spread by neo-Nazis and if politicians could win on an anti-immigration platform, Ryan answered, "I hope not. They would have to whip up hysteria about asylum seekers (as they are trying to do), and Islam ("terrorists" as they are trying to paint them) and link this to local Asian communities (as they have done).
"Also the British (and some other European governments) have been impressed by how tough the Australian government has been with asylum seekers, and seen how well the Australian public reacted (by voting for John Howard's tough policies against refugees). Our government is trying pretty much the same tactics. People I speak to who monitor the far right tell me this approach is failing. The argument is that these governments need to `distinguish' their approach from far-right parties, not become them."
The parallel world of white nationalism that exists in three continents makes one wonder if unity in diversity is a joke.
It would be stupid to ignore the largest network in the world, which operates on leaderless resistance a tactic introduced by a former U.S. marine who fought in the Vietnam conflict.
He thought white nationalists should adopt a guerrilla structure similar to the Vietcong; have small cells of fighters who didn't know others, and could work autonomously.
A leader only has to give vague instructions and oratory, to leave the soldiers to carry out attacks. This means if one cell is found or discovered, the others can theoretically carry on without it.
Ryan's work is very important for what we do about the widespread terror network based on sheer hate. It calls for serious rethink of the premise that today's world is a giant melting pot and mankind's future is in a world without borders and makes one wonder if we are receding to the Middle Ages.
Send this article to Friends by