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July 6, 2007

{     The Racist Mind     }    

I must make something clear before I go into my review of this very good book because I don't want the title to give anyone a preconceived notion of this book. First of all, The Racist Mind: Portraits of American Neo-Nazis and Klansmen is not pro-white supremacy literature, rather it is actually an in depth look at some of the individuals that come from these various hate groups and organizations and takes a sociological look at them; where they come from, their own socio-economic background, what they know and what they think they know about those whom they hate.

The Racist Mind is categorized under sociology/psychology although I would go one step further and file it under the ethnography section because it takes a look at a few select groups and focuses heavily on certain members of them. Basically what Ralphael Ezekiel does is go to various group meetings, get-togethers and rallies and observes while playing a somewhat interactive role as well.

What I found incredible is what Rafe, as he is sometimes referred to as, was able to get away with. First of all, Rafe is Jewish. He was able to not only meet many of these individuals, go to their meetings and sometimes their own homes, but he had been accepted by many of these members and even many of these leaders. Rafe was able to talk to many of the heavy hitters in the white racist/militia/patriot/Neo-Nazi/Aryan/Ultra-right-Christian-fundamentalist realm and keep a certain level of friendship with them. A situation like this should seem incredibly ironic to most level-headed people. Picture this, Richard Butler, the late head of the Aryan Nations having a casual conversation with a Jewish man. If that isn't weird enough, how about Rafe Ezekiel and Tom Metzger of the White Aryan Resistance (WAR) having a friendly talk. WAR, by the way, is also a newspaper and is self-described as "the most racist newspaper on earth", to give one an idea of how odd seeing the two of them in each other's company would be.

Without going into too much detail about what goes on or how the book turns out, I will say that it was one of the most incredible books I have read and it really has had a rather positive affect on me and gave me a positive outlook on life, and I will explain why, without revealing anything important. Basically Mr. Ezekiel befriends a number of members in these various groups, knowing full well what he is in their eyes. There are certain moments in the book when Rafe catches one of his subjects revealing actual compassion and, dare I say, love for those that they are supposed to have the utmost hate and disdain for. It's kind of like catching someone in a lie, except it's a good thing. Not to sound too fluffy or soft but it restores some of my faith in human kind and shows that love really is a powerful thing. Of course this book is not all nice and cute with good lessons or stories that all have happy-ever-after endings. This is a real life look at these groups told from a firsthand unbiased observer. A good part of the book is dialogue and actual conversations taken verbatim from those whom he talked to. Incredibly fascinating at the least, even if one is not necessarily interested in this small but still very dangerous homegrown movement of hate.

I personally called and talked to Mr. Ezekiel after I finished this book because I was simply so moved and impressed by this body of work. I asked him how he felt when talking to some of these people knowing full well they thought of him as shit, inferior or the root of all their problems. He calmly replied that in a situation like that, it is best to stay dignified, which he obviously was. I was very impressed with the book and my conversation with him. The Racist Mind is definitely a book I had trouble putting down simply because it was fascinating.

- Contributed by Jerry:

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