“ I hate the fact that’s cool to be black these days. I hate this hip-pop fuckin’ influence on white-fuckin’ suburbia.”
“You think I’m gonna sit here and smile while some fuckin’ kike tries to fuck my mother? […] fuckin’ forget it, not on my watch, not while I’m in this family. I will fuckin’ cut your Shylock nose off and stick it up your ass before I let that happen.”
Derek Vinyard says these lines in the film American History X. As one of the most influential members of an American Neo-nazi group, he orchestrates riots against black and Latino people to enforce white hegemony. Derek is arrested and sent to jail after he kills two burglars who had broken into his house.
“Adolf Hitler was my God. He was sort of like my Fuhrer, my leader. And everything I done was, like, for Adolf Hitler.”
These words were uttered by Nicky Crane, an actual Neo-Nazi who took part in violent riots against racial minorities . His aim was to impose British hegemony upon these groups. If we compare Vinyard and Crane, we can see that, sometimes, reality is stranger than fiction. Nicky Crane caused controversy, not only for his affiliation with radical Neo-Nazi groups, but also for the double life he kept secret in order to protect his tough-as-nails reputation.
He was part of the skinhead movement during the late seventies, when he joined the openly Neo-nazi group known as the British Movement (BM). The group was led by Michael McLaughing, who recruited young working-class hooligans who were around the punk scene or smaller Neo-nazi groups. They would become his soldiers or personal security guards. BM’s members dressed completely in black and wore Nazi insignias on their clothes. They received combat training during the weekends in the provinces outside of London.
Crane had earned a solid reputation as one of the most savage and faithful members of this group. He is remembered for savagely assaulting a black family in a bus stop using broken bottles while shouting racist remarks at them. For these savage groups, the only way to get rid of those unwanted minorities that didn’t belong to the English pure race was by taking to the streets.
He took part in other violent assaults against foreign people with furious skinhead groups led by him. They showed no mercy, causing chaos and destruction on their path. The brutality of their attacks had physical and psychological consequences in their victims. People would panic every time Neo-nazis were seen on the streets of London.
Nicky Crane’s legendary status escalated even more when he was featured in the cover of the album Strength Thru Oi! (1981), a compilation of crude songs of a popular punk sub-genre among skinheads. He appears grumbling, kicking to the camera’s direction. His violent attitude became an insignia of British Fascist movements. His image was printed on posters and t-shirts that were particularly popular among Neo-nazi followers.
In addition to his prominent membership in the brutal Nazi world, Crane was also a head of security of the band Skrewdriver, whose lyrics and music clearly evidenced their Fascist ideology. Craned developed a bond with Skrewdriver’s vocalist, Ian Stuart Donaldson, and together they founded the skinhead racist organization Blood & Honor.
In 1981, Crane’s violence finally reached a boiling point and the authorities arrested him and gave him a sentence of four years imprisonment for his violent and racist acts. His stay in prison only exacerbated his hatred towards the rule of law and the races he considered to be inferior. After attacking the guards several times during his confinement, he was isolated in a top security zone.
The outside world continued on without the presence of Crane. Groups against Fascism began to emerge, such as the Anti-Nazi League (ANL) and Anti-Fascist Action (AFA). Without their leader, Neo-Nazis could not counteract the destabilizing attacks of these new clicks. They also weren’t prepared to learn the truth about their hero. The possibility that Crane was homosexual would have never never crossed their minds, even though he secretly frequented London gay bars. Given his savage behavior and hatred towards groups that went against Fascist ideologies, no one was prepared to accept Crane’s sexual orientation.
Crane was aware of the contradictions that he embodied and was burdened by his status as one of the most prestigious icons of Fascism. To preserve his reputation, he would make public appearances with skinhead girls who pretended to be his girlfriends. Nonetheless, Crane attended a gay pride rally on 1986 and appeared in gay amateur pornography videos. It was until 1992 that the ruthless Neo-nazi leader publicly accepted his homosexuality in a TV documentary called Skin Complex. The aim of the program was to explore homosexuality in different subcultures like the skinhead movement. His appearance turned him into the object of scorn of various Fascist groups and also people who once were his friends, like Ian Stuart Donaldson, who declared with frustration:
“I was fooled the same as everybody else. Perhaps more than everybody else. I felt I was betrayed by him and I want nothing to do with him whatsoever.”
Nicky Crane ultimately abandoned the Neo-nazi ideology. He died just over a year after his appearance in the documentary. He caught a bronchial pneumonia, which worsened severely due to AIDS.
Discrimination is an alarming issue around the world. Prejudices should be buried in the past already, but still there are many groups trying to dig out bigoted ideologies like Nazism. We have a long way to go regarding human rights.
Translated by Andrea Valle Gracia
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