I returned late last night from Daytona Beach where I had not only played two glorious appearances at the Daytona Blues Festival but got to drive an up-to-date stock car at speeds up to 135 MPH for 8 laps around the Daytona Superspeedway. When I opened my Facebook page I saw that one of my dearest English friends, a world-traveling musician and agent currently living in Cyprus, had noted that he was blocking all communications from the ultra-right-wing British organizations Britain First and the British National Party (BNP). One of our mutual musical friends commented, a little snarkily, that he wished he could block all the left-wing bullspit too.
After some byplay, my two friends cut to the chase.
John Adams, my former English tour manager, declared: Britain First & BNP are basically Neo Nazis, Bill Homans, they have no place in a modern world.
Todd Sharpeville responded: No they're not. They're just angry simpletons who comprise a tiny enough minority of the population to not be worthy of such attention. Ignoring is more grown up then blocking.
I thought about this Dialogue, and about my heritage, and I managed this:
John Adams and Todd Sharpeville, I know who they are from meeting the American neoNazis in combat against the NSWPP (National Socialist White Peoples' Party, the American Nazi Party renamed after the death of founder George Lincoln Rockwell) at the Republican Convention in 1972 in Miami, and in academic research upon these Americans, descendants of the original Nazis, that are like BNP (and BUF, the British Union of Fascists, before them).
North American Fascism: Transmission of the Virus is the title of my MA thesis in history. I would offer the link if anyone is interested to read the first official academic document on the Oklahoma City Bombing, published in 2000.
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My father fought the Nazis in the North Atlantic, in the British Navy. John Adams and I have been to the Painted Hall in Greenwich, at the Royal Naval Academy, where Dad is memorialized with 22 other young men who dropped what they were doing in 1941 before the US deigned to enter the war against the Nazis, crossed the ocean and joined the Royal Navy.
Dad was the very youngest, a British ensign at 20, on minesweepers and corvettes. He wanted to fly Spitfires, but a 6'4 1/2" was too tall, so he joined the Royal Navy instead. Much later in the war, he returned to the US, joined the US Navy and was a gunnery officer at the Anzio Beachhead.
Much, much later, one of his legal colleagues bought a BMW automobile, and Dad, the most courtly of men, jumped all over him about it. When the incredulous lawyer asked him what could have prompted his vehement outburst, Dad apologized but told him that he hadn't fought the Nazis for more than 4 years to have his friends buying cars from them! Every man was entitled to one prejudice, he said, and his was Nazis.
Dad knew who he was going to fight, and as a frequent sailor as a boy, how and where. Dad had been invited to visit Nazi Germany in 1938 as A 17-year-old Harvard student by "Putzi" Hanfstaengl, a Harvard man in the early part of the 20th century, who was the personal secretary (later liquidated) of Adolf Hitler.
You may read all about this history in my Dad's biography, "William Perkins Homans Jr: A Life In Court." It's still well in print. Dad died in 1997.
Dad fought the Nazis, for keeps, with two allied Navies. I was no more than a politicized bouncer (as part of the Vietnam Veterans Against the War, VVAW) who had to remove the NSWPP from the staging area of the anti-Vietnam-War movement at Flamingo Park at in Miami..
I bear proudly a scar on my left shin from that encounter, where I was kicked by one of the Nazis. My dad was lucky enough not to be wounded; the first American combat casualty of WWII was one ensign Robert Parker, like Dad, one of the RNAR.
But I will fight them again if need be, and my daughter would too, if necessary. She would decide for herself, of course, but she knows her anti-fascist heritage. My dad, two uncles and two aunts all served in WWII.
Viruses are very little, Todd. Maybe you think BNP/Britain First are insignificant, and indeed, they did not make much of a showing in Denmark at that last attempt at fascist internationality (I think they had-- what? 14? 22?-- I forget the number.
,But I do not dismiss them because they DO have comrades in Europe and here, and the neoNazi/racist-fascist movement has already shown that it will strike. And there certainly is as much matrix for the ultra-right-wing radicalization of young fascists (like Dylann Roof) as there is for the same process among Muslims in this country.
Probably more. Race relations ARE far better than when I was growing up in the last 15 years of Jim Crow segregation. The overwhelming majority of Americans have become colorblind. But racism is still a force to be reckoned with in America, and Roof's mass killing in Charleston SC is perhaps an outlier for its focused racist savagery and number of casualties, but by no means unique.
I shall never dismiss as insignificant this political strain and its participants, though what I would do with them on Facebook remains to be seen. I have only unfriended and blocked one person in-- what?-- 8 or 9 years I have had a Facebook page. I greatly regretted doing it, because I couldn't figure out where this excellent blues and folk performer had come by his right-wing-ness after I had known him for years as a blues music colleague, and as the son of my dear comrade, the famed antifascist musician Barbara Dane!
I doubt that I shall be faced with such a blocking decision. Nazis and their ilk wouldn't dream of writing to me. I once corresponded with William Smith (aka Harold Covington), president of the NSWPP, early in my Masters' research. Smith sent a nice little postcard with a picture of Adolf Hitler patting the head of a pigtailed little blonde girl. On the card he wrote one sentence: "Mr. Homans, we Nazis are not lab rats to be studied."
My name is William Perkins Homans the third, but probably more people know me as the bluesman (and artist) Watermelon Slim.
I've been in the fight against war, fascism, injustice and inhumanity for 40 years. I was at MayDay, and at the moratorium March the week before. I was one of the leaders of the Great New Jersey Turnpike Stall on my birthday, April 25, 1971.
I bear the scar on my left shin from a neoNazi jackboot, when I was one of the Vietnam Veterans Against the War who bounced the NSWPP from Flamingo Park at the Republican National Convention of 1972. My father fought the Nazis in the North Atlantic and Anzio, and I met their spawn in Miami.
My formal education has been first-rate. I wouldn't trade my degrees for Harvard ones. I was raised in the finest private Catholic and Episcopal high schools.
Elementary School: Gibbons Hall, Asheville, North Carolina
High Schools: Asheville School for Boys, Asheville Country Day, Lenox School for Boys. Graduated with honors 1968.
College: Middlebury College, 1968-DNG
1984-86: University of Oregon, B.A., Journalism and History, Departmental Honors in History, 1986.
I was also captain of the U of O bowling team, 1984-1986. High game 299.
1997-2000: Oklahoma State University. M.A., History, 2000, plus the school-teaching curriculum. Mentor: Dr. Ronald Petrin.
This was my second great self-reinvention attempt. In both, I got the degrees, but neither worked. After both, I went back to truckdriving and the blues. and now the latter makes my living. I just am not a button-down enough fellow ever to be a schoolteacher or general-purpose news reporter. But I think and analyze, and so I write...