Saturday, May 17, 2008

Keystone State Skinheads Boss Steve Smith Proposes To Attend NAACP-Led Diversity Forum In Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania

I just about fell out of my chair when I read this. The Wilkes-Barre (PA) Times-Leader reported on May 16th, 2008 that Steve Smith, the director of the local chapter of the Keystone State Skinheads (KSS), says he’s willing to speak at a diversity summit proposed by the Wilkes-Barre Chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP). And surprisingly, the NAACP rep has NOT rejected the offer. Media story rewritten and summarized, while preserving the actual quotes. This development has also been reported by Newsnet14.

Update: On May 18th, the Wilkes-Barre Times-Leader published an editorial advocating that the Keystone State Skinheads be allowed to participate in the NAACP-led forum. Their premise is that real diversity requires allowing "unpopular" opinions to be expressed. This is a tribute to the constructive activism of this organization. By using mainstream tactics and explicitly rejecting violence and anti-social activity, the KSS have earned the grudging respect of some of the cultural plutocracy in Wilkes-Barre.

Ron Felton, president of the local NAACP, said he wouldn’t make the decision regarding the Skinheads’ participation, and is leaving it up to the Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission. Felton has set a tentative date of June 29th for the proposed diversity forum which has been apparently motivated by two recent significant events.

Update: On May 21st, Felton turned down Smith's offer to participate in the "diversity" forum. Details HERE.

First, there was the racially-oriented vandalization of a local synagogue on March 29th. Two teen girls – one a self-proclaimed Nazi – were recently arrested and charged with spray-painting anti-Semitic words and symbols on the Congregation Ohav Zedek synagogue and another building. One of the suspects, Nora Rynkiewicz, 18, waived her right to a preliminary hearing on Friday. The other is a 17-year-old juvenile. KSS leader Steve Smith wasted little time in disavowing and condemning this activity.

The second was a January 2008 publicity drive run by the KSS itself, when some of its members recently placed of banners and fliers at various locations throughout the Wyoming Valley. The banners, which carry messages such as “Preserve Our Heritage,” list the KSS website. This event is further described in this previous post.

Speaking further about the proposed diversity summit, Steve Smith said, “If (Ron Felton) would allow us to, that would be great. You have to keep things balanced, and this is a great way to do that.” Smith also explained that the Skinheads are trying to shake the stigma that its members are like the skinheads in movies such as American History X. “This past year might be the best for the KSS, in regards to activism and response from supporters,” Smith said. “More people are joining up.”

Smith says there’s always negativity associated with being a part of the group. When members are called “racists” or “bigots,” he said it’s a source of name calling for individuals who can’t argue for their points, Smith said. “If I’m wrong about something, just tell me. Don’t call me names. That’s childish.”

The way Steve Smith sees it, the fliers, banners, rallies and protests the Skinheads take part in are about preserving heritage and the local culture. He says multiculturalism is not a good thing for America. “It causes friction. If you’re white, you can say certain things. But, you can’t say other things or you’re labeled a racist…,” Smith said. “There’s so much hypocrisy. I just want to dispel the myths.”

Smith intends on dispelling what he calls “myths” of his group being racist and bigoted, by continuing to post banners and fliers. A recent posting said: “Take back our streets,” and again listed the KSS website. “We’re not the stereotypical people in movies,” Smith said. “I’m a family man myself, and I’m tired of the hypocrisy that’s in our society.”

And this theme was echoed in a recent interview of Steve Smith by WYOU-TV. Here's the YouTube video of the interview:

But while Ron Felton has not rejected the KSS overture out of hand, he's certainly not friendly towards their cause. Details of the summit are still being worked out, but Felton hopes to invite representatives of the state Human Relations Commission, the Luzerne County Diversity Task Force and the Anti-Defamation League. Felton would like to hold the event at a local college. “We need someone to educate us so we can have an effective response to these types of things,” Felton said. “Young people are targeted by groups. They need to know what kind of steps can be taken to prevent that from happening. That’s the goal of the conference.”

There have been two previous "anti-hate" rallies held in the local area. A 1998 rally was organized after a GAR Memorial High School student reportedly wore a Ku Klux Klan costume to school and after two Wilkes-Barre firefighters were suspended for distributing fliers that contained a racist slur. And in 2001, an event featured a former member of the Aryan Nations who said his job within the organization was to target young members. This former Aryan Nations member most likely was Floyd Cochran, who currently associates with Nicole Nichols of Citizens Against Hate and Darryl Lamont Jenkem of One People's Project. Cochran is rumored to be battling substance abuse issues; when confronted, he has not denied the rumors.

Commentary: Ron Felton seemed quite put out in January when KSS distributed their fliers; now he seems receptive to KSS participation in an NAACP diversity forum. What could have caused the change of heart? Perhaps the accession of a new national NAACP president may be responsible. According to CNN, the NAACP chose 35-year old Ben Jealous, the president of the Rosenberg Foundation, as their new president. Jealous has a media background and may have more modern attitudes towards race relations.

But Steve Smith's offer to participate in the diversity forum is a stroke of genius and is reminiscent of the public relations offensives waged by Dr. David Duke when he left the Klan in the 1980s and started running for public office. It provides us as white nationalists with a direct portal to communicate our honest and sincere grievances against the black community and to combat negative biases and stereotypes against white nationalism.

Whether the political plutocracy actually takes up Smith's offer to participate is problematic. Undoubtedly, he is fully prepare to engage them if he is allowed to participate.

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