By Bud Kennedy, Fort Worth Star-Telegram (MCT)
White racists will gather in East Texas next weekend.
Yes, even more than on any other weekend.
In a battle of the burning crosses, an extremist white neo-Nazi group and a Ku Klux Klan klavern plan competing rallies Saturday, campaigning for white members, money and media in the most conservative part of Texas.
The Michigan-based neo-Nazi National Socialist Movement promises a “show of force” against illegal immigration, starting on courthouse steps (where city officials are choosing not to enforce permit rules), and then moving to a private ranch for a swastika-lighting.
Nazi “Commander” Jeff Schoep was stunned to learn about his competition.
The Texas Knights of the Ku Klux Klan are promoting a noon rally nearby against all legal and illegal “mass” immigration, ending with a cross burning.
I’ve lived in Texas my whole life, and I have never heard of dueling cross and swastika burnings.
“You mean the Klan is doing a protest just like ours?” Schoep said by phone Friday from Detroit, sounding almost peeved.
“Which Klan group? Never heard of them!”
The Texas Knights, formerly based in Waco, are the remnants of a prominent 1990s klavern that staged much- publicized rallies in Waco, Fort Worth and throughout Central and North Texas.
A Knights flier calls for “honorable native-born white American men and women” to “keep America American.”
Schoep’s reply: “Hmph! Well, they’re not anything like us. We’re both pro-white, but our politics are very different.”
“Our policy is that religion is something for home and church,” he said. “We’re a political movement. We don’t have anything to do with religion.”
The New York-based Anti-Defamation League tracks extremist groups and publishes a schedule. Of 11 events in November, four are in Texas, also including two patriot-militia “training” sessions in Dallas and Big Spring.
Roberta Clark of the ADL’s Dallas office quoted from the group’s new website on extremist groups, Combating Hate.
“We believe that if nobody shows up (to counter-protest), there’s less media and less attention, which is what they want,” she said.
“The correct response to hate speech is neither silence nor more hate speech but more good speech, maybe later at an event celebrating diversity and what we stand for as Americans.”
She suggested events later to reinforce dignity and respect for all.
“In Texas, things like this do happen pretty regularly,” she said. “I can’t say it’s a surprise.”
Schoep said he’s bringing the neo-Nazis’ annual November gathering down south because he had “quite a few requests from local citizens.”
“It’s a natural fit for Texas,” he said.
Not my Texas.
Bud Kennedy is a columnist for the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. Readers may send him email at email@example.com.
Photo: Bill & Heather Jones via Flickr