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Fascist fest

Skinheads eat, drink, and talk hatred in rural Georgia

The man in combat boots, camo pants and a "White Power Skinhead" T-shirt yells "Sieg hiel" in unison with his buddies. They chop their chests and throw their right hands up in a Nazi salute.

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He's holding his blond-haired, blue-eyed son and showing him how to do it. The boy, who couldn't be more than 3, taps his own chest softly and throws his hand into the air.

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It isn't perfect. His fingers aren't cemented together, his hand isn't stiff and his arm flops up like a noodle. But his father's eyes light up. He proudly lowers the boy, who runs off to play. There's hope for the kid.

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Dad was one of approximately 100 white-power skinheads, neo-Nazis and Ku Klux Klan members to congregate on a Paulding County pastureland last weekend for Hammerfest 2005, the annual Hammerskin festival. Patrick Lanzo, possibly the most politically incorrect guy in Georgia — he's best known for the racist signs outside his bar — hosted the Hammerskins in a field behind his establishment.

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Attendees paid $35 to embrace white power and promote their 14-word motto: "We must secure the existence of our race and the future of our children." Men dressed in jeans and T-shirts boasting such slogans as "Deport Pedro" and "I survived the guilt trip of the Holohoax," drank beer and chatted, while the bands "Definite Hate" and "Action Group 88" warmed up ("88" is white-power code for "Heil Hitler" because H is the eighth letter of the alphabet). Pregnant mothers watched their children bounce up and down in a yellow, inflatable castle. A popular children's T-shirt featured a photo of Adolf Hitler and the words "I regret nothing."

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The aromas of grilled chicken, rice with sausage and pinto beans wafted through the air. Skinheads from as far away as Detroit, Canada and Germany compared Confederate flag, swastika and SS tattoos. Others donning Fred Perry polos and Celtic necklaces tailgated on pickups and SUVs, guzzling Jagermeister.

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Earlier that day, the NAACP had protested outside Lanzo's bar. They attracted about 100 cops and several helicopters. But by the festival start at 2 p.m., most of the protesters were gone and the sunny afternoon contributed to the feel of a family reunion. In a movement that embraces racial cleansing and believes tolerance is suicide, Hammerfest 2005 had something for everyone.

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Men could enter the "Strongman Competition" — bench-pressing against each other in a small horse rink — while others could browse for SS flags, Hammerfest sweatshirts and Aryan artwork. Some people slam-danced in front of the stage or asked for autographs from famed white supremacist (and keynote speaker) Tom Metzger.

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I came to check out Prussian Blue, a duo of 12-year-old blondes from California who look like the Olsen twins. They've pioneered a new genre: racist folk. Their gentle harmonies and cheery innocence belie lyrics that glorify a coming race war.

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But the girls were late, so metal jammers Blood in the Face took the stage instead. Driving guitars battled the words they screamed into the microphone, making it difficult to understand the lyrics — something about blacks, gays and Jews, of course.

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To Scott, a fortysomething from east Tennessee who's been in "the movement" for 25 years, I looked like a fresh recruit, so he approached me. Aryans need a female leader, he explained. A woman like myself was the perfect candidate.

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"For 200 years, men have been preaching our message," he said, tying a blue bandana over his scalp and swigging Killian's Red. "It's time for a change."

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He advised me to read Klansman David Duke's My Awakening and Machiavelli's The Prince. He even suggested I change the title to The Princess. Once I developed my platform, he guessed, I could recruit 500 people in five months.

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"Look at how beautiful we are," Scott said. "Let's have the women that brought our beautiful race to existence lead the way."

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Adam, a 21-year-old skinhead from Chicago who drove 12 hours with six friends, preached the word as well. He said that two years ago he was dressing in baggy jeans and Fubu shirts, and thought Eminem was God. He called his old self a "wigger" who eventually got sick of hanging with thugs.

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So he swung the pendulum hard and started surfing white power websites. This was his first Hammerfest. He doesn't have any tattoos.

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"They're permanent," he said while smoking a Marlboro Light. "I gotta think about it some more."

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As the sun lowered itself, Adam blurted out a surprise: The United States will soon have a black president. He argued that Barack Obama, an African-American U.S. senator from Illinois, is the darling of the Dems. It wouldn't be outlandish for him to make the national ticket in 2008.

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"Maybe he could do a better job," Adam said. "Bush hasn't exactly been good." His word were a bit open-minded. But literature available at Hammerfest made it plenty clear that the movement he recently joined is based on the same old hatred and lies.

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A pamphlet titled "Judaism — The World's Strangest Religion" states: "Judaism is a religion based upon selfishness, greed, revenge and hatred of one's enemies." Another pamphlet, "God and Lincoln on Negro-White Marriages," argues that the Biblical story of Babel is a warning against race mixing: "Their attempt to amalgamate into one race (like the integrationists of today) had produced half-breeds who worshipped idols and committed amoral abominations just as the heathen did." And one called "Fag Facts," says: "Part of the fag agenda is to turn people from Christianity: 'The teaching that only male-female sexual activity within the bounds and constraints of marriage is the only acceptable form should be reason enough for any homosexual to denounce the Christian religion.'"

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As the evening wore on, the music became louder and more strident. The father of the little boy threw back another beer and slam-danced to a Canadian white-power band. At the end of a song, he yelled, "Where's the NAACP now?"

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It was time to leave.