Recently I came across Thomas Coletto Renounces Neo-Nazi-ism, Alleges Former Comrade to be Satanist by Stephen Lemons on the Phoenix New Times site, June 9, 2009. This blog post is about Thomas Coletto, a former member of the National Socialist Movement, the same neo-Nazi group that Joy of Satan founder Maxine Dietrich’s husband Clifford Herrington had a leading role in.
The post contains a link to my page How can we effectively discourage neo-Nazism in the Satanist scene?, in a sentence which reads: “There are also Satanist Web sites out there where Satanists discuss how to weed neo-Nazis out of their ranks, which begs the question: Which is worse, genuflecting to Beelzebub, or slapping a swastika on your arm?”
Evidently Stephen Lemons didn’t read my page very carefully, because it addresses that very question:
Should we care? Some Satanists have argued that because we Satanists are so hated and feared by the general public, we shouldn’t have any problem with other groups that are hated and feared by the general public too, such as neo-Nazis. Some have even argued that, because Satanists are feared anyway just for being Satanists, we shouldn’t even care if anyone thinks we’re all a bunch of Nazis too.
But there are some important differences between a dislike of neo-Nazism and the popular prejudice against Satanists. Neo-Nazism isn’t just a religion or a lifestyle. It’s a political movement. A political movement, by definition, aims to change the rest of society. That being the case, people in the rest of society certainly have the right to object if they don’t like the proposed changes. And the changes that most neo-Nazi groups are calling for are pretty darned drastic. The most extreme neo-Nazis want to kill whole large sectors of the population, including both Jews and gays, and they want to force vast numbers of other people to relocate. Admittedly there are different kinds of neo-Nazis, some of whom have less aggressive agendas than others. But, at the very least, nearly all of them want strict racial segregation over large areas, and/or they want whole large countries like the U.S.A. or some big portion thereof to allow only people of pure white European ancestry to be citizens. If any neo-Nazi group were ever to attain power, their agenda would severely disrupt a lot of people’s lives, to say the least.
Admittedly, there have also been some very noisy Satanists who have tried to define Satanism as a political movement calling for changes that would be every bit as drastic. But, as far as I can tell, the vast majority of Satanists don’t see Satanism that way. For most Satanists, their Satanism is just a personal religion. Analogously, not all Christians – not even all fundamentalist Christians – support the Christian religious right wing. Furthermore, among those Satanists who do see their Satanism in political terms, their political aims vary all over the map. On the other hand, neo-Nazism is clearly a political movement. Of course, there’s nothing necessarily wrong with a political movement either; it depends how you feel about a particular political movement’s goals. My point here is that condemnation of a political movement – justified or not – isn’t comparable to prejudice against people based on an unpopular religion or lifestyle.