Sunday, June 24, 2007

Columbia City Paper's Second Article On National Socialist Movement (NSM) Presidential Candidate John Taylor Bowles

I just found out yesterday (June 23rd, 2007) that the Columbia City Weekly, an alternative newspaper serving the Columbia, South Carolina area, published a second article about National Socialist Movement (NSM) Presidential candidate John Taylor Bowles (pictured at left courtesy of on May 15th, 2007.

The first article, published on February 14th, and also archived on this site, focused more upon the candidate's history, background and platform. This article focuses on a march that he and his fellow NSM comrades staged through Columbia, SC. To ensure the information isn't lost, I'm also archiving this story here.

Click HERE to enter Bowles' campaign website.

Click HERE to read the 25 points of national socialism.

Part II: On the campaign heil

Published May 15th, 2007

Inside Nazi presidential candidate John Taylor Bowles’ campaign headquarters and through the neo-Nazi rally at the South Carolina State House

By Corey Hutchins

On an early spring morning in the birthplace of the Confederacy one of 2008’s presidential candidates is doing something that — if he were anyone else — would be political suicide: he’s dressing up in a Nazi outfit. Pulling on his red swastika armband the National Socialist Movement’s presidential nominee, John Taylor Bowles, will tap it and say, “This…now this is coming back into style.” And then he’ll smile. And while you looked at him, smiling like that, dressed the way he is and running for president, you might think this is all just a really bad skit made for a presidential joke-fest. But— and I’m sorry but there’s really no other way to say this—he and his party are as serious as the Holocaust.

It’s nine in the morning the day after Hitler’s birthday and about 75 uniformed members of the largest neo-Nazi group in the nation are filing through a hidden door in the backroom of a tiny storefront in the rural upstate South Carolina town of Laurens. Winding down a hallway adorned with old photographs of the Ku Klux Klan, the group enters the gutted-out remains of a former movie house that has since been transformed into a horror den for nonwhites and Jews. At the front of the room there’s a stage set up with amps and a drum set. There’s a long table with CDs, DVDs and race-baiting literature for sale. There’s a massive mural of Adolf Hitler on the wall over an enormous black swastika and next to that there is a portrait of George Lincoln Rockwell, the founder of the American Nazi Party. And for the people filling up the room right now, this…this is home.

These less than 100 party activists are the current core members of the National Socialist Movement, or as its better known, the American Nazi Party based out of Minneapolis, MN. There aren’t a lot of them, but according to them, their numbers have been swelling. Re-vamped between 2002 and 2005 after a balkanization of other major neo-Nazi groups, the NSM is a throwback to what George Lincoln Rockwell started in ‘59 (Rockwell was shot dead at a shopping center in Arlington, Virginia in 1967). They wear the German Sturmabteilung “brownshirts,” sport swastika armbands and fly a red-and-black swazi flag. And they are, right now anyway, kicking off their Jackboots to what they’re calling the 2007 National Congress inside a hidden, converted theater with no windows and surrounded by symbols of exactly what they stand for.

Known in dubious circles as the “world-famous Ku Klux Klan museum,” owner John Howard transformed the old Laurens Echo Theatre into what it is now, hidden behind a storefront called the Redneck Shop, when he bought the crumbling building 11 years ago. In one corner of the neon-lit room is a stone statute of a white-hooded figure standing guard with its arms crossed. In another hangs an entire black robe and mask that looks like that of an executioner, and along the walls are glass trophy cases displaying esoteric tools and relics no doubt used in former acts of questionable behavior. Newspaper clippings of burning crosses; stock photos of white-hooded men and even children. It’s a museum all right, but this old theater isn’t subject strictly to echoes of the past. Not anymore. Just last night Howard had unveiled the room as the newest official NSM meeting hall. A feast had been served. A wedding ceremony had — for real — actually taken place. And on the morning of April 21 there runs along the far back wall a snack bar stocked with a full steaming buffet and by 10 a.m. every chair in the ground floor seating area is filled with a member of the NSM, each one silent as they mourn en mass the recent death of their East Coast Director, a man named Col. William “Wild Bill” Hoff who died in a car wreck only a day after accepting his bid as the party’s 2008 vice-presidential nominee. He was 71.

The Klan clubhouse-cum-Nazi nerve center tucked away in a corner of this sleepy Southern town, at the end of a dusty road off the interstate, has started to fill up again during the past few months. The hot-button illegal immigration debate has yanked all sorts of fractured white supremacy groups out of the national woodwork and spawned a ragtag coalition for defenders of the “Great White Hope.” In December 2006 a man from Baltimore named John Taylor Bowles declared he was running for the 2008 seat as U.S. president on the American Nazi Party platform. He relocated to the small town of Laurens, became a registered voter of South Carolina, and cranked up an official campaign staff, Web site and political action committee. Since then that back door in John Howard’s Redneck Shop has been getting a lot more use and Howard, 61, himself a 40-year member of the Klan who says he “hasn’t killed nobody yet,” surely couldn’t be happier.

As I am quietly escorted into the old building through the theater’s balcony vantage point it is, in fact, just as Howard is saying how much he truly hates the media. Days before a local news article had incensed the NSM and galvanized many party members who personally knew Hoff by revealing that the elderly high-profile NSM colonel had actually been half black, a secret he’d carried with him to the grave.

News media, I hate,” Howard sneers to the crowd through a microphone and a public address system. “I hate them with a passion.”

Shortly after Howard says it the memorial comes to a tearful end and the crowd stands to give the deceased “three good ones,” something they know he would well appreciate. In unison the men women and children who currently make up the distorted face of the NSM extend their arms in a trinity of Nazi salutes. “Sieg heil!” they shout once, twice, three times.

Here is where John Taylor Bowles is currently running his political machine. A former federal officer in the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Bowles has retired to run for president (“In fact they said I could come back and work for them anytime I want and they knew my politics from the start,” he says of the USDA), a lofty goal he seems incredibly optimistic about without having even started on the 10,000 signatures he will need to get on the ballot in South Carolina alone.

From the balcony of the theater the candidate, 44, is dressed in a tan shirt, tan hat, black pants, a black tie and black jackboots and sports a red-and-black swastika armband. He has let his bristly gray hair grow out since the last time I saw him, his head shaved clean. He smiles as the neo-Nazis below him mill about trading stories following the memorial. His head of security, a 24-year-old named Kevin Swift, paces back and forth behind a par of reflective sunglasses as another senior NSM official mans a stairway and repeatedly checks his earpiece. Bowles points to a uniformed man below and whispers excitedly that it is Jeff Schoep, the NSM commander. (Schoep, 33, reportedly took over the party in 1994 at the age of 20. He has been running the movement since and keeps official stats of NSM membership private.)

Bowles takes the time to ask if I’d like any soda, evokes briefly the legacy of George Lincoln Rockwell and also talks about the recent report that his own former vice-presidential pick was half black, something he refuses to believe. “He wasn’t black,” he says shaking his head and saying the source charging it, a family member of Hoff’s, has an ax to grind. At the moment it feels a precarious place for a reporter. But I’ve seen this movie before. In February I had profiled Bowles’ bid for the presidency exclusively for the Columbia City Paper.

(“Heil Y’all” Columbia City Paper, Feb. 14 2007)

Back then it was a formal face-to-face interview over a table and a bottle of water. This time Bowles is in his element. He whooped it up at last night’s slam bash and he’s about to take his band of neo-Nazis and descend on the S.C. State House for an anti-immigration rally and give his stump speech. He expects 200 uniformed “storm troopers” to meet him and his entourage in support. He expects the people of South Carolina to embrace him and his ideas.

Where’d that photographer of yours slide off to?” Bowles asks scanning the crowd until he spots him on the ground floor shooting a picture of a finger-pointing Uncle Sam with the accompanying words “The Klan Wants You.”

I’ve given them the sign to wrap it up,” the candidate says and minutes later the group leaves the auditorium one by one through the backroom of the Redneck Shop, which at this point seems to act as the de facto gift shop following a tour of 1930s Germany.

Out on the street the people of Laurens stop to gawk at this ad hoc assembly of neo-Nazis in full garb as they line up for press shots in a nearby parking lot. If it is anything this is a picture so surreal that it bends the logic of perceptive reality. As irony would have it a block away the town is holding some kind of cultural festival. A group of youngsters come running around the corner and stop dead in their tracks. In the moments their eyes focus on the neo-Nazis and the time it takes for their brains to accept it they have already grown older and wiser.

I shake my head and for a moment am tempted to write down the phrase “Nightmare at Disneyland.” Instead I watch Bowles, frustrated by a television film crew (“the Jew Crew from NBC” as one associate puts it) striding back and forth down the middle of the roadway. “I ain’t Hillary and I ain’t Obama,” he’s saying. “I have no tolerance for lateness.” 2002’s “Media Person of the Year” Martin Savidge from NBC, it seems, will have to wait for his interview.

The kids running by have left and I wonder whether or not they’ll tell their parents about what they’ve seen here today. I’m instantly reminded of a time when I myself was that age and Tony the Tiger was tooling around my neighborhood in a van and giving out free Frosted Flakes. A group of friends and I had followed him into a new development and caught him stopping to rest, the tiger head on the seat beside him, his suit unzipped and his hair sweaty in his face as he drank from a bottle of water.

You see kids,” I remember he’d told us, shaking his head. “This is what happens when you run around looking into things too much.” But unfortunately I know there’s a big difference between a make-believe tiger and…well… all of this.

In the parking lot, before the group begins the hour-long motorcade to Columbia for their scheduled parade and rally (they’d been granted permission to rally by the State Budget and Control Board and secured a legal parade permit from the city about four days before), the hierarchy is visibly upset by the disorganization in the ranks as they assemble in columns under the South Carolina sun.

Come on guys!” yells Tim Bishop, a mustachioed ex-Marine and NSM colonel whose formal title is “leader of storm troopers.” Bishop says he witnessed the horror of Ruby Ridge firsthand. He’s, tall and thin and wearing thick prescription glasses, making sure each storm trooper is a salutes-length apart and all facing the same direction. “Line up!” he yells, “Get the kids back!” and for a brief moment comes the awkward decision of where to place the children, one of them a 5-year-old girl and another a young boy no older than 12 who sports a “Proud to be white” patch on the arm of his camouflage jacket. After 10 minutes of photographs and posed Nazi salutes the group breaks apart and scatters into cars and vans, many with out-of-state license plates.

Bowles claps his hands together and points to the road. “If we want to take the White House we gotta move!” he yells.

A little after noon in Columbia 200 uniformed men and women are awaiting the arrival of Bowles and his entourage but they wear a different outfit — full tactical police riot gear — and they outnumber the neo-Nazis by two to one as the group breaks from their motorcade and takes to the streets. Bowles holds up the rear of the parade flanked by Swift and 18-year-old Nick Chappell, who is the director of the group’s Viking Youth Corps (in charge of every member under the age of 18), and acting treasurer of Bowles’ campaign. On either side of the street a group of hippies and crust punks protest the march by banging makeshift drums and waving signs reading “Right wing Nazi scum your time has come” and “Fuck you Nazis go home.” YouTube will be rife tonight with amateur videos.

On the corner of Gervais and Main Street, in full view of the Confederate battle flag that flies on the State House lawn, stands South Carolina League of the South Chairman Jim Hanks along with other members of the nationalist and secessionist organization that advocates support of the Confederate flag and Southern pride. But while the League of the South wants the flag to fly what they want more is decked-out Hitler fanboys to quit using it as a political wedge tool. Seemingly anticipating a backhanded media bitch slap the neo-Confederate group (classified in 2006 as a “hate group” by the Southern Poverty Law Center) printed up a sheaf of press releases a day before and one of their lackeys stuffs one into my hand as I ask Hanks what he thinks of this whole ordeal. But Hanks has to wait until a squat man with a gray ponytail fumbles with a video camera to record our question and answer parlay. The League of the South has been “taken out of context,” by the press in the past, he says, and they want all Hanks’ responses to reporters documented. Frankly the thought of a garage full of good ol’ boys cranking up the old Betamax and knee slapping about my northern accent over a washtub of High Life kind of creeps me out. But whatever. Welcome to the “You” decade.

Race hatred has no place in our state of South Carolina,” Hanks tells me after a deep breath and just before the first booming “Seig heil” explodes like a car bomb from four blocks away. “These people are neo-Nazis. They revere the most vile human being who ever lived and no good human being allows that to go unopposed. Adolf Hitler was a horror. He thought of human beings as nothing more than animals to be slaughtered. And these people have the audacity to come to our state dressed in his garb. That is an abomination. There is no other reason for us to be here but that they are scum.”

Larry Salley, an S.C. League of the South board member, echos Hanks’ sentiments. “We don’t want them using our flag,” he says as the neo-Nazis start to round the corner. “We don’t want the race haters using our flag. We don’t want groups like the NAACP and the Nazi Party to use the Confederate battle flag as a football. For too long people have said it’s time for people to stand up to people using the Confederate battle flag as a symbol of hatred — we’re doing that here today.”

Shortly after Salley’s remarks the neo-Nazis, goose-stepping a column wide up the closed-off Main Street, have just come into view of the State House with the Confederate flag reflected in their sunglasses.

Guys, check out that good-looking flag,” one of them says pointing toward the symbol of rebellion hanging limp against the pole. “That ain’t no Nazi flag,” another yucks back. With members of the Columbia police, State Law Enforcement Division (SLED) and state troopers on either side the Nazi-flag-waving parade stomps up the steps of the State House’s north side and scatters to assemble a PA system and hook up microphone cables. About 70 of them take the steps and set up their flags and Bowles does not salute as he walks off to the side to meet with reporters for a brief news conference before the anti-immigration rally officially kicks off with the shouts of “The ARA [Anti Racist Action] sucks!” and “Commies go home!” by the Nazi group.

I am the presidential candidate of the National Socialist Movement and I will be on the ballot in 2008,” Bowles says to into several TV cameras crammed in his face along with the microphones of surrounding journalists including one Charlotte reporter who inexplicably keeps calling him “Bill.”

The illegal immigration issue is a race issue. And we do look at race as a valid way of looking at things in life and believe we have a right to do so and we’re out here practicing our constitutional rights today, to free speech, and I encourage white people all over this country to get politically involved with something and just get away from that desk and computer and become active. Because every racial group in this country gets out in the street and raises heck when they need to protect their rights and white people need to do the same thing,” he says in one long breath.

With cameras rolling, Bowles says that membership in the NSM has gone up because of the illegal immigration issue and says, “We [the NSM] are trying our best to convince the American public to give us the constitutional mandate to govern this country.” He says he’s getting grass-roots volunteers to sign up nationwide to help with his campaign. And not just party activists, he says, but we’re talking “Like the mother with three teenage sons who write me and say ‘we want to help you but we don’t want to join, so tell us what we can do.’” He says the party is “Tapping into white middle-class America and evidently the support is coming to us… and we like that.”

And even though Bowles’ campaign slogan is “The white people’s candidate,” he says, “In this country everything should be fair. Nobody [should have] a special right.”

When asked if the rally at the State House is the biggest rally of the year, Bowles guffaws. “Aww this? No, this is a small crowd,” he says.

And to the protesters who outnumber them screaming from behind the barricades of the designated protest zone: “Is this the best that the opposition can do? In fact I’m laughing to myself. Is this it? Of course there’s opposition. George Bush has opposition; Obama has opposition. Every time those presidential candidates come they say the same bad things about this state. I’m going to show you that there’s a presidential candidate that can say some good things about South Carolina.”

About the four years Bowles spent in prison (Maryland, 1985-1989), reportedly for arson, he calls it a “railroad job,” and evokes a constitutional loophole he says would allow him to hold elected office regardless. “I had a railroad job 20 years ago and this is the result of it,” he says. “What’s that Justin Timberlake song? ‘What goes around comes around!’”

He also says he’s getting a lot of money in contributions coming into the campaign and is reporting it to the Federal Election Commission. He says the money is coming from average contributions from grass-roots supporters through his Web site and the mail. “We’re doing everything right by the book,” he says.

And why is he running… now?

If the leaders in this country would solve the issues I wouldn’t have to run,” he says. “If we didn’t have an immigration problem I wouldn’t be running. If we didn’t have a war that’s becoming unpopular I wouldn’t have to run. If we could get a health care system in this country, which is free…I wouldn’t have to run.”

And about his organization and its goals he sighs and gives a well-rehearsed answer: “The National Socialist Movement is America’s largest Nazi party; we’re the number one pro-white organization now. We’re running candidates and I’m going to have other candidates in 2008 run with me also. I’ve got candidates lined up for Congress, mayor, school board, dog catcher… we’re going to be running like the dickens here in 2008.”

And what about his campaign slogan, “The white people’s candidate?” What will he do with those who don’t apply?

I will sign an executive order, because I have a right to under the Patriot Act, to move any large sections of the population I want that I consider to be subversive or a problem and non-whites will have to leave. Any non-whites that want to stay, we will honor them and they can be on a reservation like the American Indians. Some might say that this is revolutionary and radical, well, we think one day the situation is going to get revolutionary and radical and we’re getting ready and getting everything set right now. This is our last chance for white people in this country to keep this country and not have a change geopoliticaly and also geo-racially. We don’t advocate violence. When we say the word ‘fight’ that doesn’t mean fistfight. Other groups fight, they get out there and become part of the political process, they get on the telephone and try to get people signed up. That’s fighting.”

As Bowles wraps up his news conference it is just as a massive section of the protesters are being herded off to a small section toward the east lawn of the State House. There they scream and bang drums and hold up signs like “Fat Nazis go home,” and even one large Photoshop job of a bare-chested, fetishistic Hilter dressed in queer gear. The neo-Nazis don’t like the opposition. In unison they call the protesters “commies” and homosexuals. They bait them, offering hygiene advice. They say they wish the police weren’t there so the protesters could come up on the steps with them. “That would be fun,” one speaker says. “That…would…be…fun.” Bowles and Swift struggle for a brief moment with an NSM flag as the wind keeps flipping it over in their hands. There is a police line of 10 officers in SWAT gear separating the north side crowd from the State House steps where Chappell takes the microphone and tells the crowd that it is time to “wake up.”

It’s Chappell’s job to recruit young future National Socialists between the ages of 14 and 18 as long as they have written consent from their parents or guardians and are of pure European descent. “This is your state,” Chappell says now in a flat monotone from the podium, his brown, square hat equipped with chinstrap covering his shaved head. “Take it back now. Do not allow your nation to be invaded…do not let these illegals to come over to your state and take your jobs. Make your founding fathers proud. Fight. Your fathers fought for that flag right there. That is a symbol of white resistance. Resistance to a tyranny we now stand against.”

Party rules dictate that no one under the age of 18 can actually be an official National Socialist Movement member and so the Viking Youth is really just a training program. Admission into the Viking Youth Movement requires a $20 start-up fee and a continual $5 per month for active membership. While in training the children will learn propaganda, public speaking, unit operations, public relations, staff operations and, of course, theories of communism, Zionism and capitalism “to ensure a more effective warrior against the enemies of our race,” according to the NSM.

And while public speaking may be a top priority for the Viking Youth, their current leader slips momentarily in his soliloquy with an extemporized and emotionally flat “Send these monkeys home,” which immediately garners him sharp reprimand from a nearby associate who lunges to cover the mike. “Send,” Chappell stumbles, searching for a term more politically correct, “send…these illegals home; send all non-whites home and make this a proud, white nation. This is our nation; we fought for it. It’s ours. Are you gonna give it away? Are you gonna lose your jobs? No. We will not allow that. It’s up to you to stand with us. It’s up to each and every one of you, the white people of America to stand up, come forward, join our organization; march through the streets. Wake up, white America. Think back to the Great White Hope. It’s up to each and every one of you to stand up beside us. Do not oppose us. You do not want to oppose us. You do not want the tyranny to keep on going. You do not want to be invaded by Mexico. You don’t want them to come here and slice your throats and rape your children. You don’t want them taking jobs. You want to rise up, white America. You want your country back and we are the only people standing up for your rights.”

When Chappell leaves the podium an NSM sergeant introduces Bowles, to a hail of insults from the crowd, as “the next president of the United States in 2008.”

His speech in full: “[The other 2008 presidential candidates] are bad talking our capital, they’re bad talking our police force and it’s time that it comes to an end. The last time Hillary Clinton came here she criticized that flag up there. If she don’t like it she needs to take herself out of this state and don’t come back to it again. That flag up there has a right to stay there. If any other group has a problem with it they need to get with these people in the back and have their flag up but you don’t take a flag away from somebody and think that that’s right. That flag has a lot of heritage and a lot of culture behind it and this flag should stay flying,” he says.

We are here today because in America we have an illegal immigration problem. The borders are wide open, if they weren’t we wouldn’t have it. And the Republicans and the Democrats are not addressing the issue right. Because the Republicans, which represent Big Business, want that cheap labor here to run their business and the Democrats would like to grant full citizenship with no limitations because they want there votes. Now how can you close the border when you have those two running everything? I am the third alternative and our policy here with the National Socialist Movement and elected as your president all illegal immigrants are going back. We believe things should be fair but not special. It’s time to close the border. It’s time to bring those troops back from Iraq, which is a shooting gallery and put them on the border where they belong, protecting us and doing their jobs. It isn’t a hard issue, it’s a very easy solution but out politicians don’t want a solution. They don’t even want a solution in Iraq, they want to keep it bombed into the stone ages just like with Afghanistan. And this war in Iraq is because Israel wants it done and we’re like Israel’s lapdogs. And George Bush is the number one lapdog. Everybody in this country should be glad if I get elected. At least I won’t be like the president being drunk in there making orders and things. To me he’s just nothing but a stooge. A Jew stooge as a matter of fact. If white people in particular want to keep their rights in this country they need to get out in the streets like the other races and raise a little heck to keep their rights, that’s the way to do it".

“A lot of people think we’re trying to make a new revolution, well you know what? The first on hasn’t been finished. That constitution is a living document it’s not just a piece of paper with words, it lives and so as long as that constitution lives this revolution hasn’t ended even though the military part of it has. We believe in a strong America and a strong constitution. We are not a hate organization. We don’t hate anybody. But we do believe that like a bad marriage that’s being forced together we think eventually things are going to come to a head when this economy goes bad and then the races are going to having to fight over the small piece of the pie and we don’t want to see that. We would like to see a separation of the races and all the races have their own racial homeland and I would be honored if leaders from the black community and Hispanic community and Jewish community and all would contact me and we can get talks going to solve this problem. But when you come to me please talk English. Don’t be coming to me and go ‘Yo, yo, man look at my bling bling’ nonsense. Talk English; that is our language. And if you can’t talk it have somebody speak it for you. (From the crowd someone yells, “You can’t even speak it yourself

Vote for me in 2008 I am on the National Socialist Movement ticket, I will be on the ballot here in South Carolina… I don’t think the American people are stupid. They have pretty good sense when it comes to voting and all. Vote for me in 2008. I’m John Taylor Bowles I will be campaigning and we are going to be doing this every year. Thank you very much.”

Click here to read transcribed speeches of other NSM officials

At around 2:15 p.m. the rally ends and the police line up in two separate rows to allow the neo-Nazis protection from the screaming mob that boos them as they march from the State House steps toward Main Street. Bowles takes up the middle of the parade as hecklers scream at him and the rest of the Sieg-heiling, saluting group.

Quiet in the ranks!” Bishop yells, telling them not to talk back to the hecklers. Near the middle of Main Street, before turning the corner, a single white egg is lobbed by a man in the middle of a group of protesters. As if in slow motion the egg passes directly in front of Bowles’ face missing his nose by inches. As he flinches and pulls back, the 5-year-old girl who had spoke from the steps earlier throws her hands over her head as it passes over it turning end over end before hitting the pavement and splattering all over the right leg of my corduroy pants as I watch from the opposite sidewalk.

Columbia police spokeswoman Florence McCants would later say the egg-thrower was 22-year-old Richard Robelot. After a brief scuffle Robelot was arrested for disorderly conduct. It was the only arrest that day.

Minutes later police escort the neo-Nazis to their motorcade of sedans and caravans parked in the middle of Lady Street, blocked off by barricades. As the group packs into their respective cars and the police let them through, down Lady Street and onto Assembly, the protesters scatter toward their own cars and back to the State House. A local TV cameraman asks a group of teenagers to hold up a Nazi flag they have torn to shreds. Pieces of it blow down the sidewalk.

Bowles is at the wheel of his dark blue Ford XLT SUV packed with NSM officials. He is smiling. As he turns the corner he leans out the window. A police officer tells people not to approach the vehicle. Asked how he thinks the rally went, he nods and his face glows.

It went very well,” he says and drives off leading the motorcade back to Laurens and, for them, perhaps back in time. There will be no hecklers at their after party that takes place in the brand-new NSM meeting hall inside the old Echo Theater far from the chants of “Nazis go home.” Inside bands will play, whipping the skinhead crowd that has since traded their uniforms for more informal neo-Nazi wear, into a frenzy. Bowles himself stripped down to a pair of pants and a T-shirt with Hitler’s face on it and the words “Adolf Hitler was right.”

For the National Socialist Movement the next year and a half should be interesting. If they do, like they say they will, keep organizing members and stay in the public eye they may even garner more headlines in the mainstream media. But the American public doesn’t take kindly to the symbol of the swastika.

With information overload at an all-time high and the Internet cranking out a million different world views and opinions a day the 2008 election cycle is sure to be the most viewed and criticized one to date. And perhaps that is exactly what John Taylor Bowles and the National Socialist Movement are putting their red-and-black swazi-colored chips on.

As I write this now, after midnight in City Paper’s downtown Columbia office with Hillary ’08 Press Credentials hanging over a desk and the looming prospect of covering the first Democratic debate that will take place less than an hour away in Orangeburg, it’s hard to believe that just as far away in the opposite direction Bowles, dressed in a brown shirt and wearing a swastika armband is, somewhere, mulling with his staff over a serious plan to take over the same White House as those eight contenders on the stage at S.C. State. But this is America. And this is what is important about America. The choices we have, the liberties we assume to do and say exactly whatever it is that we want. The preference we have to vote how we want. The choices we have that are so implicit that — if I wanted to

I could walk the several blocks down Hampton Street to the S.C. Democratic Party headquarters and say “Where do I sign?” or drive the hour and 10 minutes to Laurens and get fitted for the costume party. But Hitler never got my rocks off and I don’t think I ever even made it entirely through Schindler’s List.

To date, Bowles’ presidential candidacy has remained on the fringe and garnished about enough Associated Press reports to fill a bar napkin. Then again, the AP recently did say they were no longer covering Paris Hilton. For now, unless a group of Keebler Elves decides to start up a platform based on government subsidized hallucinogenic mushrooms and LSD in the water supply, the Laurens County Nazis are about the closest presidential campaign City Paper has access to and is interesting enough to cover. And while we don’t want to be a mouthpiece for the organization, it is still news, it’s what’s going on, and we’re not going to ignore it.

On Tuesday, July 31 at 7 p.m. there will be a two-hour-long independent presidential debate aired at including independent presidential contenders Orion Daley, John Bootie and John Taylor Bowles.

Commentary: A fair, comprehensive, and balanced account of the activities of an alternative Presidential candidate. Corey Hutchins has clearly gone out of his way to suppress any judgemental instincts in doing this story. Hacks like Christian Trebjal (Roanoke Times), Jayson Blair, and Leonard Pitts could learn some journalistic integrity from this man.

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