When the police mug shot of Wade Page circulated on the Internet over the weekend, I was struck, again, by the unmistakable face of domestic white terrorism. Page, who led a skinhead rock band and was a drunk who washed out of the military and a truck driving job, killed six people in a Sikh temple in Wisconsin.
I know that face. It’s the face of anguish, and hurt, and violence. I’d seen it almost two decades ago when I reported on the white supremacy, skinhead, and militia movements for the New York Times. I’ve seen it, also, in the young white men in rural America, men with high school diplomas, perhaps a semester or two of community college, who today struggle to stay relevant and financially afloat in an economy that pays them, if they work at all, with what we now refer to in America as a “globally competitive wage.”
That face is young and framed in a buzz cut. Its eyes are hardened and jealous. The moustache and goatee, carefully trimmed, ring a hard mouth familiar with the words of hate. The face of modern white American terrorism is as unmistakable as the slick-backed shiny hair of the Klansman, the thumb-length black moustache, or the long al-Qaeda beard.
I saw that face in the Michigan Militia, in skinhead murders in Allentown, Pa., in the Oklahoma City bombers, and in the Wisconsin Sikh massacre. I see that face, too, in the grinding lives of too many young white American men too willing to blame “the other.” It’s the face of American menace.
Here is a sampling of those Times articles: