Special Edition - A periodic update from the Anti-Defamation League
of B'nai B'rith - Civil Rights Division. June 1993
Tom Metzger's Long March of Hate
Tom Metzger, a 54-year-old television repairman from Fallbrook,
California, may be America's most notorious hatemonger. His nearly
30-year career in the radical right has included affiliation with
the John Birch Society in the 1960s, the Ku Klux Klan in the 1970s,
and his own organization, White Aryan Resistance (WAR), during the
80s and 90s. On October 23, 1990, an Oregon jury rendered a $12.5
million judgment against Metzger and his son, John, for their role
in inciting neo-Nazi skinheads to murder Mulugeta Seraw, an
Ethiopian immigrant, in Portland two years earlier.
The Portland Trial
On the night of November 12, 1988, a neo-Nazi skinhead gang in
Portland called the East Side White Pride attacked three Ethiopian
immigrants with a baseball bat and steel-toed boots; Seraw was
killed. Investigation into the murder revealed links between the
skinheads - three of whom were convicted of murder - and Metzger's
White Aryan Resistance.
Crucial among these links was a letter to the skinheads signed by
Metzger, which stated in part: "Soon you will meet Dave Mazzella,
our national vice-president, who will be in Portland to teach you
how we operate and to help you understand more about WAR...." Among
the operations Mazella taught the Portland gang was attacking people
of color. Mazzella later explained: "Tom Metzger said the only way
to get respect from skinheads is to teach them how to commit
violence against Blacks, against Jews, Hispanics, any minority. The
word will spread and they'll know our group is one you can respect."
Mazzella, who was not charged in connection with the murder, later
decideed to renounce his racist past and his ties to the Metzgers.
He did so by contacting ADL; he later revealed that while a WAR
member, he had cased the League's Los Angeles office several times,
planning to blow it up. Mazella became a key witness in the civil
lawsuit brought on behalf of Seraw's family by the Southern Poverty
Law Center (SPLC) and ADL.*
The jury awarded the Seraw family $12.5 million, distributed as
follows: WAR, $5 million; Tom Metzger, $3 million; his son John, $4
million; and two of the murderers, $500,000. Upheld on appeal on
April 20, 1993, this judgment is one of the largest civil verdicts
of its kind in U.S. history.
A Genealogy of Hatred
Metzger, an Indiana native, moved to Southern California in 1961 to
work in the electronics field. By the mid 1970s, he had joined David
Duke's Louisiana-based Knights of the Ku Klux Klan, eventually
becoming "Grand Dragon" of its California branch, one of the largest
and most violent groups in the organization. Also in 1975, Metzger
was ordained a "minister" in the Louisiana-based New Christian
Crusade Church, an "Identity" group led by James K. Warner, a
veteran of the American Nazi Party also associated with Duke.**
A Foray Into Politics
In the fall of 1980, Metzger was the surprise winner of a California
Congressional primary. In the November general election, the Klan
leader faced incumbent Rep. Clair Burgener, who defeated Metzger by
a margin of over 210,000 votes (88% to 12%). Metzger soon left the
California Klan and formed the White American Political Association,
the forerunner of WAR.
Next Metzger ran in a primary for the U.S. Senate from California in
1982, and received 75,593 votes - roughly 2.8% of the total cast.
Following this defeat, Metzger's organization adopted its current
name; the change from a "Political Association" to an "Aryan
Resistance" group reflected a shift toward more openly violent,
A Family Affair
Metzger now found a receptive audience among a newer segment of the
extremist underworld - the neo-Nazi skinheads. Metzger's outreach to
the skinheads has been largely orchestrated by his son John, who has
served as nominal head of WAR Youth (previously known as the Aryan
Youth Movement and the White Student Union).
The recuiting effort involved appearances by Tom and John Metzger on
radio and TV talk shows. One such appearance, a November 1988
segment of the "Geraldo Rivera Show," led to an onstage brawl in
which Rivera's nose was broken by a flying chair.
Sensing the publicity and recruitment benefits of television
exposure, the Metzgers had begun their own public access TV series,
"Race and Reason," in 1983. The show now claims distribution in 49
markets in 13 states.
The Aryan Women's League
Another skinhead outreach program operating under the WAR umbrella
is the Aryan Women's League (AWL), ostensibly led by Metzger's
daughter, Lynn. A 1989 editorial in White Aryan Resistance's
publication, WAR, described the women's auxiliary by stating: "The
A.W.L. is trying to recruit White racially concious women to battle
the Jew/mud/Zombie/Mutant, degenerate, lesbos...This Jew-dyke
conspiracy... has to stop as it is the jews' [sic] most vicious
campaign against us yet..."
Ad additional propaganda outlet for WAR is a taped telephone call-in
line (updated every few days). These messages are, of course,
replete with Metzger's familiar hatemongering; moreover, they often
offer news about skinhead gangs affiliated with WAR, as well as
predicatble tirades against rival hate group leaders and Metzger's
legal adversaries, ADL and SPLC.
In response to the 1992 Los Angeles riots, Metzger also used the
telephone hotline to express a perverse solidarity with the looters:
"The courts and the police along with our keepers in Washington are
corrupt to the core...Any attack on that system that weakens Big
Brother is fine with white separatists...Too bad they didn't take
out City Hall and the Federal Building."
After the Oregon Verdict
Further legal troubles befell Metzger in late 1991 when he was
brought up on misdemeanor charges of unlawful assembly for his role
in a 1983 cross-burning incident in Los Angeles. Found guilty, his
sentence was commuted after serving 46 days so that Metzger could
attend to his ailing wife, Kathleen, who died in March 1992.
As a result of this conviction, Metzger was ordered not to leave the
country without permission. Nonetheless, he was deported from Canada
in July 1992 after attempting to attend a rally of the extremist
Heritage Front in Toronto.
Since the Portland decision, Metzger's assets - including his home -
have been seized to help compensate the Seraw family. Although it is
unlikely that Metzger will ever fully pay his portion of the $12.5
million judgment, all subsequent revenues have been accounted for
through court supervision so that a substantial percentage of WAR's
profits have gone toward this penalty. Yet Metzger's hotlines and
publications continue to generate support. Given his track record of
hatred and violence, his continuing presence on the extremist scene
remains cause for concern.
* The League was responsible for introducing another key item of
evidence which demonstrated Metzger's advocacy of violence - a
photograph of Metzger with an AK-47, instructing a group of racist
skinheads in the desert.
** See also "Religion as Bigotry: The Identity Church Movement," ADL
Special Edition, October 1991.
1993 Anti-Defamation League