A small group of neo-Nazis gathered outside an Arlington, Virginia shopping center Friday to commemorate the 50th anniversary of an American Nazi leader’s assassination.
As one man held a large red flag emblazoned with a swastika, half a dozen others raised their right arms in a Nazi salute. Their ceremony came two weeks after neo-Nazis and white supremacists rallied in Charlottesville, where clashes with counterprotesters left one woman dead and many others injured.
The neo-Nazis who appeared in Arlington are members of New Order, a successor to the American Nazi Party, whose founder, George Lincoln Rockwell, was shot to death at the Dominion Hills shopping center on Aug. 25, 1967.
Martin Kerr, New Order’s chief of staff, said most of those who attended the commemoration live in the Washington area, although one came from Wisconsin to pay tribute to Rockwell.
“We laid a wreath, I said a few words and then we gave a nationalist socialist salute for 88 seconds,” Kerr said, explaining that the 88 seconds symbolized “Heil Hitler.”
Kerr described Rockwell, who called for shipping blacks to Africa and sending millions of “Communist Jews” to the gas chambers, as “an authentic American patriot.”
Kerr, who attended the white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, said his group didn’t hesitate to pay tribute to Rockwell at such a fraught time and scoffed at any suggestion that it was inappropriate.
“There lots of things in society that offend and disgust me. That’s part of living in a diverse society. You have to put up with it,” he said.
His group’s antics were a “test,” he said.
“It shows whether or not they can tolerate us,” he said. “It shows their commitment to diversity.”
Kerr said that Rockwell’s racist legacy is more alive now than ever.
“We’re very encouraged generally about the mood of the country,” he said. “We think things are moving towards radicalization and polarization. I know a lot of people think polarization is a bad thing but we don’t. The more racial polarization, the better.”
(c) 2017, The Washington Post · Michael E. Miller