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Cross-Post: Hatewatch’s Annual Smackdown Awards

Imagine 2050 Staff • Dec 31, 2011

Originally posted by Hatewatch on December 20th 2011.

Another year, another horror. As we close out another 12 months of mayhem, criminal violence and just plain stupidity on the radical right, it’s time, once again, to compile our annual year-end roster of winners of Hatewatch’s Smackdown Awards. And this year’s been a doozy — from neo-Nazis trying to hide their past to irrepressible birthers and on to all manner of other hypocrites of the extreme right. So, without further ado and with apologies to Keith Olbermann, here are the awards as picked out by Hatewatch’s 5th Annual Smackdown Awards Committee.

10. Least Successful Name Change Award

Neo-Nazis always seem to be telling us about how proud of their views they are, how no amount of “political correctness” would cause them to cringe or hide. They’ve got the truth on their side! Well, yes, except when the truth seems to be really, really uncomfortable. Hatewatch found once-famous Idaho neo-Nazi Vincent Bertollini hiding in plain sight in New Mexico this year, not long after he emerged from prison after serving almost four years on weapons charges. He was using the name Vince Bert, emitting occasional Internet howls for the “shedding of blood,” and trying to rid himself, as he told us, of “the burden of Bertollini.” But this year’s award goes to Kevin Alfred Strom, who also tried to adopt a new identity after serving federal time for possession of child pornography. We found Strom, the dapper former leader of the neo-Nazi National Vanguard, posting about the travails of “love” on Facebook as “Julian Dene,” and the poor man sure sounded lonely. The field’s open, ladies. And word has it that Strom, who says he works for the “Society for the Propagation of False Doctrine,” is just terrific with the kids!

9. We Don’t Need No Stinkin’ Evidence Award

For a while, you could almost forgive the “birthers.” After all, here was this dude, this black guy, with his black wife and his black children, strolling around the White House like, well, like he belonged there! He must be Kenyan, a secret Muslim, a foreigner with “a deep-seated hatred for white people.” But then, in what The New York Times called “a profoundly low and debasing moment,” Obama released his “long form” birth certificate in a bid to muzzle the “carnival barkers” of the right. The birthers reacted predictably: Orly Taitz shouted that she had draft records to prove Obama is a fraud. Joseph Farah, the WorldNetDaily creep who was just about to publish Jerome Corsi’s unfortunately titled Where’s the Birth Certificate?, whined that the certificate was a forgery. Not Donald Trump, our hands-down winner for this year’s award. After bravely saddling up as a birther for his brief foray into the presidential race, the megalomaniacal Trump first congratulated himself at a press conference for having forced Obama’s hand. Then the man who says he gets along with “the blacks” just fine offered this up: Obama was a “terrible” student, one who couldn’t possibly have gotten into Columbia University and Harvard Law School, then edited the Harvard Law Review, graduating magna cum laude, all on his own — accomplishments Trump hasn’t come close to. Good thinking, Donald! Let’s investigate how this black man managed to actually make it on his own merits.

8. Unlikeliest LGBT Activist Award

Not many people are fond of the unpleasant congregants of Topeka’s gay-bashing Westboro Baptist Church, people who spend their days picketing the funerals of soldiers with signs like “Thank God for Dead Soldiers” and “Thank God for AIDS.” A range of Americans from conservative bikers to progressive activists have leveled withering criticism at the church led by Fred Phelps and helped organize their own pickets in order to screen funeral-goers from their Kansan tormenters. But this May, a counter-protest against the Phelps congregation, which is almost entirely made up of Phelps’ extended family, drew an unlikely human rights campaigner: Dennis LaBonte, imperial wizard of the tiny Powhatan, Va.-based Knights of the Southern Cross Soldiers of the Ku Klux Klan. LaBonte piously told reporters that it was soldiers who protected free speech in this country and, darn it, the Phelpses should quit hassling them. Retorted Abigail Phelps, in perhaps the only Phelpsian statement Hatewatch has ever agreed with: “They have no moral authority on anything.”

7. Dumbest Apparently Lucrative Scam Award

Last May, we came across a little outfit, apparently based in Courtland, Va., that calls itself Silver Bullet Gun Oil and sells a line of gun oils that supposedly contain 13% liquefied pig fat. The idea, coming a year after anti-Muslim hate crimes went up 50% in this country, was to allow U.S. soldiers abroad to kill Muslims and deny them a “place in paradise,” because, after all, consumption of pork is forbidden in Islam. The courageous proprietor of Silver Bullet refused to make his name public, but he went by Midnite Rider and claimed to have sold large amounts of his oil to soldiers and Marines deployed in Afghanistan and Iraq. “Many, many of allah’s [sic] misfits, murderers and morons have been turned away from his gates of ‘Paradise’ due to their stench of swine,” he gloated. Online gun forums and right-wing websites of various descriptions also plugged the idea, reveling in the thought that Muslim “martyrs” would be denied their “72 virgins.” Just one problem: In Islam, if a believer unknowingly ingests pork, he is completely forgiven. Foiled again!

6. Most Disingenuous Anti-Racist Award

It’s true that David Duke, the neo-Nazi and former Klan chieftain, has a bit of a reputation. He’s famous for chasing skirts, and former allies have warned their friends to lock up their sisters, wives and daughters when the Dukester is in town. It’s also true that he’s known for ripping off his allies, taking donations to save the “Aryan” race and then spending them on gambling and home improvements. And it’s undeniable that he’s made statements like this one: “White people don’t need a law against rape, but if you fill this room up with your normal black bucks, you would, because niggers are basically primitive animals.” But don’t let any of that mislead you. Don’t listen to the Jews! In an “Open Letter to the World” written from a German jail where he was detained before being expelled earlier this month, Duke shrugged off his “controversial long ago past,” said “I represent the very opposite of racism,” and insisted that he opposed “any form of racial supremacism.” We thought his letter was a little glib, however, and suggested that Duke might want to redraft it, perhaps taking a few ideas from a letter written from a Birmingham, Ala., jail in 1963 by another famous activist. He was against racism, too.

To continue the countdown, click here.

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