Tom Metzger, a notorious and anti-Semitic white supremacist who cultivated a generation of neo-Nazi skinheads as the founder and leader of the White Aryan Resistance, died Nov. 4 in Hemet, Calif., He was 82 years old.
Jose Arballo Jr., a spokesperson for the Riverside County, Calif., Department of Public Health, said Thursday that Metzger died at a skilled nursing facility. The cause was Parkinson’s disease, Mr Arballo said.
Although Mr Metzger has moved away from public view in recent years, he was widely regarded as one of the most influential leaders of the white supremacist movement, responsible for organizing young neo-Nazi skinheads in the mid-1980s and 1990 and prompting them. to violence.
He pioneered the use of television and radio to disseminate his racist and anti-Semitic views, including through his own publicly accessible cable TV show and appearances of him and his supporters in events. talk shows hosted by Oprah Winfrey, Phil Donahue and Geraldo Rivera.
In 1990, a jury in Portland, Oregon, found him, his son and the White Aryan resistance financially responsible for the racially motivated murder of an Ethiopian student two years earlier by three skinheads who were followers of the organization.
The $ 12.5million judgment, which included penalties against two of the skinheads, left Metzger financially bankrupt and diminished his influence, though he until recently continued to broadcast his racist views to the media social and in radio-style shows on its website.
“Tom Metzger has spent decades working against core American values as one of the nation’s most visible hard-core white supremacists,” said Jonathan A. Greenblatt, chief executive of the Anti-Defamation League. “And, unfortunately, his mark of hatred will likely persist long after his death.”
Thomas Linton Metzger was born on April 9, 1938 in Warsaw, Indonesia. He settled in Fallbrook, Calif., About 55 miles north of San Diego, in 1961 after serving in the military, where he learned electronics.
Mr. Metzger worked as a television repairman for 40 years and became interested in white supremacist ideology. He joined the Knights of the Ku Klux Klan in 1975 and was quickly elevated to the role of Great Dragon, or Head of State, for California.
In this role, he led other armed members of the Klan on patrolling the U.S.-Mexico border in search of illegal immigrants. The patrols were dismissed as a publicity stunt, but they drew considerable media attention.
In 1980, after falling out with David Duke, the then great wizard of the Knights of the Ku Klux Klan, Mr. Metzger separated his state group from the national organization and renamed it California Knights from the Ku Klux Klan. . , according to the Southern Poverty Law Center.
In March of that year, he and several dozen Klan men armed with bats, chains and night dies clashed with anti-Klan protesters in Oceanside, California. Seven people were injured in the melee, including one seriously.
That same year, Mr. Metzger won a Democratic primary to represent part of the San Diego area in Congress. He received around 33,000 votes, more than a third of the total, but was resoundingly defeated in the general election. He ran for a seat in the United States Senate in 1982, but lost badly in the Democratic primary.
In between these elections, Mr. Metzger formed his own hate group, the White American Political Association, to promote “pro-white” candidates for election. In 1983, he changed the name to White Aryan Resistance, or WAR.
The formation of WAR coincided with the rise of the skinhead movement in the United States. Skinheads “scared a lot of right-wing people because of their comments about the violence, their personalities, their dress,” said Morris Casuto, who retired in 2010 after nearly 40 years as director of the Anti-Defamation League in San Diego. “Metzger saw them as street soldiers and he embraced them.
One of Mr. Metzger’s main recruiting tools was television. He hosted “Race and Reason,” a show that aired on public channels across the country, where he featured guests who shared his views.
“Three years ago, when cable was taking off,” Metzger told the New York Times in 1986, “I realized that public access channels were perfect for opinions like mine that had to. difficult to express themselves.
Mr Metzger also published a newspaper and operated a hotline and electronic bulletin board where skinheads could communicate with him and each other.
In his 1990 book, “Blood in the Face: The Ku Klux Klan, Aryan Nations, Nazi Skinheads and the Rise of a New White Culture”, James Ridgeway described Mr. Metzger as “the person most responsible for attracting young people. in the far-right political movement.
Mr. Metzger is survived by his partner, Mary Arnold; six children; nine grandchildren; and a great-grandchild, according to an article on his website. Full information on the survivors was not available on Thursday.
At the height of his influence, in 1990, Mr. Metzger was sued by the Southern Poverty Law Center and the Anti-Defamation League on behalf of the family of Mulugeta Seraw, 27, an Ethiopian student who was beaten to death in Portland, Ore., by three skinheads who were WAR followers.
A jury found that Mr Metzger and his son John had instigated Portland skinheads to cause confrontations with people of color and should therefore be held financially responsible for Mr Seraw’s death. Jurors assessed $ 12.5 million in damages against WAR, the Metzgers and two of the skinheads.
After the verdict, Mr. Metzger proceeded to operate “like a lone wolf”, according to Mr. Ridgeway, who interviewed him in 2017 for an upcoming revised edition of “Blood in the Face”.
Mr Metzger was to make monthly payments to Mr Seraw’s estate for 20 years, the Southern Poverty Law Center said. The verdict bankrupted WAR, which was reduced to function as an online platform for Mr. Metzger’s racist opinions and propaganda.
Although his influence was diminished, the Law Center said, Mr. Metzger remained active in his later years, continuing to run a war hotline and publish pamphlets on white supremacy.