Monday, November 2, 2009

A white supremacist with a green outlook

Jeff Hughes poses for a self-portrait in his Nanaimo apartment.

By Tom Hawthorn
Special to The Globe and Mail
November 2, 2009


The deceased is honoured on a Facebook page, as is the custom in this digital age.

“Rest in peace mate,” a mourner posts.

“Jeff,” writes another, “you are a true inspiration to all involved in the movement. May your work carry on through your words of wisdom!”

“Your memory will live on,” a third writes, “we’ll see you in Valhalla. 14/88.”

Valhalla? 14? 88?

The tributes and salutations are posted on a page launched by Jeff Hughes, a soft-spoken man with close-cropped hair who liked photography and volunteered for an environmental organization.

Mr. Hughes, 48, was shot to death by the RCMP outside his home in Nanaimo on the morning of Oct. 23. Police have released few details of the shooting, which is being investigated by the Vancouver Island Integrated Major Crime Unit.

His Facebook page promotes the Northwest Imperative, which is a call to carve a “whites only” homeland from the states of Washington, Oregon and Idaho. It includes a so-called “Homecoming Guide” urging white nationalists to resettle in this area.

He posted videos in which he urges white nationalists to overcome their fears and meet one another in person instead of relying on computer connections.

“Are you afraid they’re going to kick in your door? They know where you live,” he says. “They know who you are. They know what you do. It doesn’t matter. You are not hiding from the enemy. You are hiding from yourself and your friends.”

He also expresses frustration that the call for a white homecoming was not being propagated on the Web.

“We’re not asking you to march down the street in crazy, idiotic uniforms,” he says. “We’re not asking you to go out there and risk life and limb. We’re just asking you to take two minutes out of your day and push a simple thing like a website.”

The page includes links to an anti-Jewish pamphlet he encourages readers to reprint and distribute. It has an address for a post-office box in Nanaimo for a group called Northwest Front Canada.

Mr. Hughes participated in at least two social networking sites devoted to white racists — New Saxon (“an online community for whites by whites,”) and Nazi Space. In the latter, his profile includes favourite movies (“Triumph of the Will,” Leni Riefenstahl’s propaganda ode to Naziism, tops the list) and turn ons (“National Socialism”).

In the “About me” section, he writes, “I am also moody, dark, introspective, painfully shy sometimes, actively anti social at others. I am curious, will do just about anything for my friends, but rarely forgive betrayal.”

Though immersed in the neo-fascist and white separatist movements, Mr. Hughes managed to be a valued volunteer for the Georgia Strait Alliance, a respectable environmental group active in Nanaimo. Brennan Clarke of the Globe reported colleagues there thought well of the man and his work, though they had no idea about his other political involvement, which he seems to have kept hidden.

He poses with fellow environmentalists in a photograph published on the alliance’s website. When the charitable group held a photo contest, Mr. Hughes won the volunteer category with an image of a sailboat.

His death was announced by Harold Covington, a notorious figure in neo-Nazi circles. Mr. Covington led a local unit of the National Socialist Party at the time of the Greensboro Massacre, when neo-Nazis and Klansmen killed five members of a Maoist organization in a confrontation on the streets of Greensboro, N.C.

In 1981, following the attempted assassination of U.S. President Ronald Reagan, Mr. Covington said the shooter, John Hinckley had been a member of his Nazi party, though he did not offer any documents proving the assertion.

Mr. Covington was later linked to Combat 18, a shadowy and violent extremist group active in Britain.

About 15 years ago, he moved to Washington State, leading a call to create a white homeland.

(He is not an admired figure within his own movement, where is dismissed by some as “Weird Harold” and by others as an informer. His younger brother said he was diagnosed as having paranoid personality disorder.)

Mr. Covington said he knew Mr Hughes for almost seven years, though the two never met in person.

“Make no mistake. Jeff Hughes was a real loss,” Mr. Covington told an Internet radio program last week. “He wasn’t just one of those useless net Nazis.

“Jeff stood up. He resisted. He passed out leaflets. He put up stickers. Posted all over the Internet.”

Mr. Covington has written three print-to-order books describing the creation of an Aryan Nazi republic in the American Pacific Northwest, a hate-filled fantasy disguised as novels. The author makes little secret of his intent, as he compares the potential of his works to that of “The Turner Diaries,” another dystopian work and one that possibly inspired Timothy McVeigh’s bombing in Oklahoma City.

Mr. Covington’s books can be ordered online from Amazon and Chapters.

The figures 14 and 88? The former refers to a 14-word slogan coined by a white nationalist, the latter to the eighth letter of the alphabet, a double H standing for “Heil Hitler.”

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