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It is much easier to find William Pierce than it is to see him. His work, that’s everywhere. The radio. The Internet. Leaflets on Fairfax County mailboxes. Protests at the Israeli Embassy. Video games. CDs. In that sense, he and his National Alliance — the White Power, neo-Nazi organization that Pierce personifies — surround you, even if you aren’t aware of it. But a face-to-face meeting is trickier. You travel six hours out of the District of Columbia, and three hours into the journey you leave behind any trace of a highway. Instead, you adopt unsteady two-lane blacktops that snake through despairing West Virginia hill towns, looking for an anonymous dirt road that you’ll probably never find. The SUV is a good thing, because you will need it. For the roads, for the rain, and especially for the rocky path that, if you do find it, leads to Pierce’s compound. Compound. A word that should bring uneasiness, but a word that everyone uses to describe Pierce’s mountain hideaway. Compounds make you think of David Koresh, or Manuel Noriega. And a compound it is. A secluded lot. Multiple buildings on acres of land. Fences. He sounded small, even kindly, on the telephone, with an almost Jimmy Stewart tic in his throat. He gave you directions like your Uncle Al. But to hear him on his weekly radio and Internet broadcast is to hear someone else entirely. “As long as the Jews who control America’s mass media are permitted to continue teaching our women that frolicking with Blacks is fashionable, and as long as they are permitted to continue teaching our men that being thought a ‘racist’ is a fate worse than death, we will not be able to avoid the future the media bosses have planned for us,” is an example of Pierce’s usual didactic. “The governmental structure is in place that will annihilate our race and our civilization, and the masters of the mass media are at the controls of this structure.” The dirt road leads to a gate. You pass a house. There are other buildings. Then, you see it, a barn-like structure adorned with a huge circular symbol, something that looks like an anorexic version of the United Way logo. You will find that it adorns Pierce’s headquarters in multiple forms. It’s raining hard. You get out of the car. Your portable phone can’t grab a signal. You realize no one knows where you are. A man emerges, one of as many as 20 people who live on the property. “You’re here to see Dr. Pierce?” You nod. You are led into the building. There is a small auditorium. At the front stands a podium with the National Alliance symbol. William Pierce, whom hate-monitors such as the Anti-Defamation League have labeled one of the most dangerous racists in America, whose organization the Federal Bureau of Investigation places at the forefront of potential domestic terrorists, is waiting in a small room at the rear. He looks like an aging tenured college professor who has been stashed in a windowless office writing tracts no one will read. And then you notice one thing that throws you. He has a cat. The cat, of course, is white. Despite his age, the 69-year-old Pierce is a high-tech spin doctor of an age-old yarn. Over the Internet, through music CDs, with books, he repeats his dusty motifs: Jews control American government. Jews control the media. Blacks roam the streets of suburban America, waiting to rape innocent white girls. America’s lax immigration laws have turned its towns into a Third World cesspool of brown skin and broken English. The Anti-Defamation League calls the National Alliance “the largest and most active neo-Nazi organization in the nation” and estimates it has 16 active cells nationwide and a membership of more than 1,500. The Southern Poverty Law Center, which also monitors hate groups, says the National Alliance’s membership has increased 30-fold since 1990. Although Pierce denies advocating the violent overthrow of the U.S. government, he frequently makes use of the phrase “white revolution.” Because of that, the FBI considers the National Alliance to be a domestic terrorist organization. In testimony before Congress in February, the bureau’s senior counterterrorism expert, Dale Watson, told a Senate panel that the Alliance represents “a continuing terrorist threat.” Pierce and the Alliance were allegedly tied to a 1980s white supremacist gang named The Order whose leader died in a shootout with federal agents in 1984. Pierce himself has never been arrested, nor has he been tied to any violence done in the name of the Alliance. “The organization is openly revolutionary,” says Mark Pitcavage, director of fact finding for the Anti-Defamation League. “They say now is not the right time for organized violent action, but maybe down the road.” Pierce’s Alliance, of which he is the unquestioned philosopher-king, seems of late emboldened. On May 11 it organized the most recent in a series of demonstrations in Washington, D.C., this time in front of the Israeli Embassy. The event drew an estimated 300 people, almost 10 times more than a similar protest last year. “Only in the last year did [the Alliance] really come out with this kind of public action,” says Mark Potok, spokesman for the Southern Poverty Law Center. There is one clear reason for that. To Pierce, the attacks of Sept. 11 were validation of his anti-immigrant, anti-Israel platform. “In many ways, what 9/11 did most was dramatize the revolutionary nature of the radical right today,” Potok says. “[They were] standing back and applauding.” The cat has relocated to a warm spot on top of Pierce’s computer. His cramped office is jammed with books with titles like “A History of the Jews” and “The Jewish Lists.” It feels like a bunker. Pierce is talking about Sept. 11. “My initial reaction was, ‘Wow! Spectacular!’ ” he says. “ This really was the most televised terrorism event, the most televised act of war ever.” For Pierce, there are two ready answers for any equation: Israel and foreign immigrants. At the time, the most recent issue of Free Speech, the newsletter he publishes, carried an article titled “Send Them All Back.” He is not subtle. “The September 11 attack is a very minor consequence of bad immigration policy if you consider that most of the people involved were people who shouldn’t have been here,” Pierce says. “The loss of life, the damage, is trivial to the damage that has been done to our changing demographics.” Pierce’s origins have their roots in the D.C. area. He came here in the 1960s after obtaining his Ph.D. in physics from Oregon State University. He helped found the National Youth Alliance, a student group designed to battle campus radicals that drew the attention of the FBI. In 1985, he moved the headquarters of the now-named National Alliance from Arlington, Va., to his current 250-acre site in West Virginia. By then, Pierce had already written “The Turner Diaries,” the novel about an American race war that allegedly inspired Timothy McVeigh to blow up the Oklahoma City federal building in 1995. “I realized I couldn’t do it all by myself,” Pierce says. “I formed an organization for informing and educating the public.” Pierce denies that the book served as McVeigh’s muse for his terrorist act, but Pierce says he understands why McVeigh did it. “He didn’t have any other way of expressing his anger. I have a radio show. I publish books,” he says. “I don’t have to go blow somebody up.” He says his organization is not about violence, or revolution — merely education. But almost in the same breath he notes, “If you are some little guy that doesn’t have any other way, doesn’t have any money, no powerful friends, no medium to express yourself, you may well use terrorism. “One cannot beat the government at this stage. The government has too many secret police, too many guns,” he says. “It may be later on that the balance of power will shift.” A few years ago, Robert Griffin, a professor of education at the University of Vermont, became so intrigued by Pierce that he moved to Pierce’s West Virginia stronghold and lived there for a month. “I found him the most fascinating human being I’ve ever been around in my life,” says Griffin, who describes himself as “right-of-center.” “He’s a very honorable man of the highest character. People can’t get beyond ‘The Turner Diaries.’ He has to grab people by the lapels and get their attention through elevated language and heated talk.” Griffin attended National Alliance leadership conferences at the compound, where, he says, as many as 70 leaders of chapters nationwide would attend. He followed Pierce on a speaking tour in Germany. He wrote a book about Pierce and then shopped it around. He called it “The Fame of a Dead Man’s Deeds.” There were no takers. Eventually, he published it himself. “I don’t see him as a racist,” Griffin says. “He has a strong commitment to white racial identity and solidarity. If that makes him a racist, he’s a racist.” Pierce mixes in retail smarts with his overcooked rhetoric. His detractors call him “smooth” and “savvy.” He’s part Klan Imperial Wizard, part Ron Popeil, filling cyberspace with his own brand of hate-enabling products. The most famous of these are his two novels. After the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing, more Americans seemed to know about “The Turner Diaries” than “Anna Karenina.” Pierce wrote the book in 1978 under a pseudonym, and followed it up with “Hunter,” a book that serves as a guide to assassination. (Like any author, Pierce favors the more recent work as more polished.) Both can be widely found at area gun shows. In recent years, however, Pierce has gone multimedia. Three years ago, he bought a struggling white-power record label called Resistance Records (“The Soundtrack to the White Revolution”) for $250,000, a transaction consummated at the University Club in the District. He now runs the label from his West Virginia headquarters, and the Anti-Defamation League estimates it rakes in $1 million a year. The label and its Web site feature skinheaded-and-tattooed bands with names such as No Remorse and with lyrics like: Did six million Jews really die or was it just a Zionist lie Torture by the Nazis, where’s the proof Why did they try to cover up the truth? Earlier this year Pierce released his first video game, Ethnic Cleansing, which, he says, gave his record label “a big boost.” The label describes the game like this: “Run through the ghetto blasting away various blacks and spics in an attempt to gain entrance to the subway system, where the Jews have hidden to avoid the carnage.” Pierce says the label has sold 9,000 copies of the game. “That’s not many compared to Grand Theft Auto,” Pierce jokes. But civil rights organizations are not laughing. They say Pierce is targeting teens, trying to recruit them into his ranks. “The music is aimed at 14- to 26-year-olds,” Southern Poverty’s Potok says. “In fact, I’ve spoken to many people who have come out of the movement. Virtually every one says the music was the most important thing that brought them in.” Griffin says Pierce is conscious that, at almost 70, he is running out of time. He seems to be making a late-in-the-game push to stretch his influence. Using his anti-Israel rhetoric, Pierce has been cozying up to extremist Islamic states. He was interviewed on Iranian radio last year. And the Simon Wiesenthal Center in Los Angeles, which tracks neo-Nazi groups, claims Pierce has ties with Ahmed Huber, a Swiss banker and Islamic right-wing activist. Huber reportedly financially backed a Holocaust denial conference featuring Pierce that was scheduled to be held in Beirut last year before the Lebanese government put a stop to it. “From a global point of view, there are two names: his and David Duke’s,” says Rabbi Abraham Cooper, associate dean of the center. “In terms of transnational hate, he is the most sophisticated global thinker.” Locally, besides organizing demonstrations, the National Alliance has been littering Northern Virginia communities such as Herndon, Reston, and Great Falls with propaganda. “We started seeing them last year, before September 11,” says Lt. Mike Ditmer, bias crimes coordinator for Fairfax County. “They would go to a neighborhood and do a mass leafleting.” One leaflet features the face of a young girl asking, “What did you do during the revolution, Daddy?” Brittanie Werbel, the assistant director of the Anti-Defamation League’s Washington office, says the National Alliance “is making a strong effort there. As far as success, that’s what we don’t know. They’re very frank about trying to draw people in.” Pierce says most of the demonstrators at this month’s rally came from this area. “It used to be hard to organize in Washington,” he says. “But the attitude is shifting now. If I keep working, if I do the best job I can, I can do good things. Other people will come along.”

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