Sam Johnson, part three


Last Saturday afternoon, I called National Socialist Movement (NSM) Southeast Minnesota leader Samuel Johnson, who this spring began organizing rallies in Austin, Minnesota, to protest the presence of undocumented workers and their families in his community. We talked for a hour and a half about his views about what he called “white separatism” and the transformation of the United States that he hopes to achieve by political means via the National Socialist Movement. This is the third post based on that interview.

(Note: In order to put this post in more complete context, review the chronology of media coverage of Johnson and NSM activity in Austin, please see Bluestem’s earlier backgrounder here. You should also read Part One and Part Two of the interviews.)

National Socialist Movement Southeast Minnesota unit leader Sam Johnson doesn’t think he should be labeled a “neo-Nazi.” 

“That’s just a derogative term created to put us down,” he said in a phone interview on Saturday. According to Johnson, only members of the National Socialist German Workers’ Party  can properly be called neo-Nazis. (The NSGWP was the official name of the Nazi party under Hitler in Germany).

Experts on neo-Nazis would disagree with Johnson’s narrow definition. The ADL, for instance, identifies the group as neo-Nazi, noting 

One of the most explicitly “Nazi-like” neo-Nazi groups, emulating the uniforms and paraphernalia of the Third Reich. It has a vaguely paramilitary structure, with military ranks for its members.


Ideology: Neo-Nazi; NSM calls for a “greater America” that would deny citizenship to Jews, nonwhites, and homosexuals.

Like many neo-Nazis, Johnson admires Hitler and shares his hero’s virulently antisemitic views.

He believes that under Hitler, Germans achieved prosperity, and that Heinrich Himmler, rather than Hitler, was the evil mastermind behind the Holocaust. Johnson also believes that the Holocaust didn’t claim as many victims as most scholars believe, taking the writings of discredited British historian David Irving.

Johnson told me he had been to a lecture by  David Irving in Minneapolis a few weeks earlier. The American Jewish World blogged about the October 9 event in advance, noting that its location could only by learned by those who paid for the talk; no taping or photographs were allowed. Irving is a notorious Holocaust denier

At the secret lecture, Johnson heard Irving discuss how far fewer Jews died in the Holocaust, and how Hitler’s own plan involved sending Jews to Madagascar. Irving’s claim was debunked in the 2000 libel trial, Irving v. Lipstadt. The judge ruled:

. . .Dr. Lipstadt and Penguin had won their case resoundingly.

Judge Gray found that Irving had “for his own ideological reasons persistently and deliberately misrepresented and manipulated historical evidence” in order to portray Hitler “in an unwarrantedly favourable light” particularly in his treatment of the Jews. Irving had “significantly” misrepresented, misconstrued, omitted, mistranslated, misread and applied double standards to the historical evidence in order to achieve his ideological presentation of history. Judge Gray also found that Irving was an “active Holocaust denier; that he is anti-semitic and racist, and that he associates with right-wing extremists who promote neo-Nazism.”

Along with Hitler’s distaste for Jews, he shares the dead Nazi’s fondness for repeating libels against Jews.  He observed to me that the Talmus was a “filthy” document that advocated lying to the “goyim” and sexually molesting Gentile girls over the age of three.

These are old antisemitic libels. In releasing The Talmud in Anti-Semitic Polemics, the ADL noted:

The Talmud in Anti-Semitic Polemics, exposes how certain passages from the Talmud and other traditional Jewish texts are used to foment anti-Semitism through distortions and fabrications. The authors of anti-Talmudic polemics seek to paint Judaism as an immoral religion that preaches hatred for non-Jews and promotes obscenity, criminality, sexual perversion and other immoral acts. Widely available on the Internet, such anti-Talmudic tracts “are clearly designed to provoke hostility toward Jews,” Mr. Foxman said.

Johnson believes that American Jews should be forced to live in Israel. “They have their own country,” he said.

The NSM unit leader thought that the quality of life in Austin had declined in the last 15 years because Hormel and other large corporations preferred to hire undocumented immigration workers over “100 percent Americans,” and that between 6,000 and 10,000 illegal immigrants live in the city of 23,000.

I asked why Hormel might deploy that human resources strategy.

“It’s not about the wages,” Johnson said, adding that few local white workers would turn down $12 an hour to work in the meat packing plants. “It’s about working conditions. Hormel likes to hire illegal immigrants because they won’t bitch about conditions. If they do, they’re out of here.”

Johnson didn’t believe that immigration reform was the answer to ending this problem, but the deportation of all undocumented workers and the creation of racial separatism in this country. If National Socialism can ” get the white race to come together,” then”we can end class warfare between the rich and poor. Everyone will be able to do what they can do best.”

As it is, employers hire Latinos “while white families starve,” Johnson said.

He believed that corporations are able to adopt these hiring practices because they are controlled by the government, especially agribusiness and food processing companies like Archer Daniels Midland, Cargill and Hormel. 

“Look at the millions of dollars the corporations give to politicians every election year,” he said.

I suggested that if true,  that might be evidence of corporations wielding influence over the government, but Johnson disagreed.  “The government owns them,” he said,  the government will put more in their pocket to do what they want.”

Johnson offered other examples of what he took to be additional evidence of government control of the farming and food industries. He believes that most of Hormel’s board has ties to the government and so immigration raids by ICE and the Sheriff’s department are called off by the federal government in Washington.

“The government” also controlled companies like Hormel through investment in the firms by government pension funds.

Johnson also decried NAFTA and other trade agreements, noting that they harmed workers regardless of race in most countries, but the solution was to let each national group build sustainable economies in their own countries.

“The people who founded this country intended that it should be a white nation,” he said

Johnson thinks that this government control can be loosened by the National Socialist Movement achieved peaceful victories at the polls. He noted that the NSM endorsed a presidential candidate in 2008, though he didn’t know how many votes he had received. (Brian Holland was a write-in candidate who received a handful of votes.)

In Austin, Johnson says, the NSM is making headway and now has members working for the city and in the school system. These members haven’t made their membership known, he says, because their work rules prevent them from being active in the movement.

He noted that, at age 29, he has no job, though he has tried to be hired by local factories. He claimed to have lost his janitor job at a local nonprofit because a board member with ties to the Welcome Center (a group that helps immigrants in Austin) wanted him fired because he joined the NSM. Because his supervisor lied about his job performance, Johnson claimed, he couldn’t seek redress for being fired for his political beliefs.

Until he disclosed his membership in the NSM to the Minnesota Coalition for Immigration Reduction, Johnson was an active volunteer with MCFIR. While he was never told not to attend meetings and actions, Johnson said they stopped sending him notices of what they were doing. He did know that the MCFIR had put a video of him  on its Youtube channel mounting  a counter-protest of an immigration reform rally in Albert Lea this summer. The group didn’t identify him to viewers, but since he had disclosed his NSM membership to them, they know of his neo-Nazi beliefs.

Tomorrow: Reflections on extremism in Southern Minnesota. For now, I’ll close where the series began, with the Anti-Defamation League’s discussion of the NSM tactics:

Over the years, the National Socialist Movement (NSM) has displayed a growing ability to attract media coverage of the organization’s activities. One element which draws media attention is the group’s penchant for wearing swastika-adorned Third Reich-themed uniforms and carrying banners reminiscent of Nazi rallies. The group targets rallies to specific issues and against specific groups which are in the news. In this way, the media comes out to cover a story related to a current hot topic and the frequent counter-protests are very emotionally charged.

The NSM isn’t simply an anti-immigration reform group. Its objective is to use this issue to convert people to its larger agenda. Know what it is.