LEADER: Erich Gliebe
YEAR ESTABLISHED OR BECAME ACTIVE: 1993
ESTIMATED SIZE: 1,500
USUAL AREA OF OPERATION: Europe; North America; South America; South Africa
Resistance Records is a white separatist music company that produces and distributes hate rock/country/folk music of neo-Nazi/skinhead musicians. It maintains an Internet web site, publishes Resistance Magazine, operates Internet radio station Resistance Radio, and sells video games, and other related merchandise. As a subsidiary of the neo-Nazi organization National Alliance, Resistance Records also manages several small music companies. Headquartered in Hillsboro, West Virginia, and headed by Erich Gliebe, the company is considered by music industry commentators and extremist group analysts as one of the largest commercial suppliers of racist music in the United States.
A small rock music distribution company called Resistance Records was founded in 1993 by George Burdi in Windsor, Ontario, Canada. He started with only a small number of album titles involving hate rock music (also called hate-core music and white power rock). Burdi incorporated the company in May 1994 with assets of about $48,000.
In order to evade Canadian anti-hate laws, Burdi moved his business office to the Detroit, Michigan, area. Burdi created a glossy, multicolored music magazine to promote the company's music and his racist philosophy. Various news reports, along with research performed by the Southern Poverty Law Center, stated that the company had its first profit in 1996 from the sale of approximately $300,000 worth of products. In that year, Burdi distributed music for about twelve white power rock bands in Europe, North America, South America, and South Africa.
On April 9, 1997—while Burdi was serving a jail sentence for assault—the Michigan State Police raided Resistance Records' offices and the Ontario Provincial Police raided Burdi's residence. The two raids confiscated numerous boxes of materials, including about 200,000 compact discs, cassette tapes, and records, along with magazines, computers, T-shirts and other related merchandise, business records, and subscriber lists.
As a result, Burdi and other leaders were investigated in the United States for tax fraud (allegedly for not paying Michigan sales tax and operating a business without a license). In September 1997, they were charged in Canada with conspiracy to promote hatred and willfully promoting hatred. By the end of 1997, the jailed Burdi was forced to terminate the business.
In 1998, Willis A. Carto (founder/leader of the anti-Semitic group, Liberty Lobby) and business partner Todd Blodgett (former-staffer, strategist, and advisor for presidential campaigns/administrations) acquired Resistance Records. During the first year, Carto had financial difficulties and passed control of the company to Blodgett.
Looking to expand his anti-Semitic, white separatist organization National Alliance into the music industry, William L. Pierce, in early 1999, sought a partnership with Blodgett. According to David Lethbridge of the Bethune Institute for Anti-Fascist Studies (Canada), Pierce and Blodgett were unable to agree on the final details. As a result, Pierce purchased the company in the fall of 1999 for $250,000.
With the acquisition of Resistance Records (to increase membership) and the purchase of Swedish record label Nordland Records (to increase inventory) at the end of 1999, Pierce now controlled a comprehensive media company that distributed newsletters, magazines, leaflets, books, Web sites, music, and a weekly radio show. Leaders of the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), a leading organization combating anti-Semitism, estimate that in 2000 Resistance Records had annual sales close to $1 million. With Pierce running the company, Resistance Records soon became one of the most profitable organizations in the United States that promoted hate-related music and accessories. One year later, according to research performed by ADL, annual gross revenues were approximately $1.3 million and membership was estimated to be about 1,500.
On July 23, 2002, Pierce died, and Erich Gliebe was appointed as the new head of National Alliance. Since 2003, Resistance Records was forced to contend with more competition, especially Minnesota-based Panzeraust Records, which has degraded its profits.
Born in 1970, George Burdi became active with the white supremacist movement while a teenager. By the age of twenty-one, he was the leader of the Canadian unit of the white supremacist group, Church of the Creator. Under the alias Reverend George Eric Hawthorne, in 1989 he formed and was the lead vocalist of the skinhead band called RaHoWa (slang for Racial Holy War). Through most of the 1990s, the band was considered the most popular hate-rock band in North America. In 1993, Burdi became the founder and leader of Resistance Records, which distributed records and materials for his band and other white power bands. Four years later, he was convicted of assault and sentenced to one-year imprisonment for kicking an anti-racism female protestor while playing at a 1993 concert. Then, in 1998, Burdi was forced to sell Resistance Records to the neo-Nazi organization National Alliance. Cynical of the movement, Burdi renounced white supremacy and, as of 2005, is a musician in the Canadian multiracial rock band Novacosm.
- Resistance Records is founded, primarily by George Burdi.
- Burdi incorporates the organization in Michigan.
- Burdi is convicted and sentenced to jail on a 1993 assault charge.
- The business offices of Resistance Records and residence of Burdi are raided by U.S. and Canadian law enforcement officials.
- Burdi and other leaders are charged by Canadian government with hate crimes.
- Carto and Blodgett acquire bankrupt Resistance Records but, due to financial difficulties, Carto passes control to Blodgett.
- Pierce takes over Resistance Records from Blodgett and the company becomes part of National Alliance.
- Pierce dies and Gliebe is appointed head of National Alliance.
PHILOSOPHY AND TACTICS
Resistance Records leaders advocate the establishment of a whites-only society in the United States. They also assert that the U.S. federal government should be abolished. Because of racial tensions, its leaders contend that a whites-only political society is a feasible political solution to those problems. Thus, they support and make associations with members of any organization that support racial separation.
These leaders also view the music and related merchandise that they sell as a very important and formidable way to recruit new members, especially impressionable teenagers and young adults, into their ideology. The profits generated at Resistance Records are used to further the racist goals of the National Alliance.
Resistance Record leaders use hatecore music to attract younger customers who may be initially unaware of the company's racist and hate-based ideology. In many cases, troubled children and young adults are searching for alternatives to the mass-produced music selections available from established music labels. Once attracting such people to the music, leaders of Resistance Records make it easy to join their organization. Such a strategy, which involves racist and anti-government messages, is used as a way to attract troubled customers and converts.
Hatecore on the Web
When Canadian George Burdi founded one of the first North American racist music companies in 1993, he said a part of the goal of his Resistance Records would be to remedy a situation in which whites had "no clue where they could purchase a White Power CD or cassette."
Today, white youths have more than a clue; they have the Internet. Although Web-based commerce has grown more slowly than expected for many industries, it is critical for racist music, which is very difficult to find in music stores.
Here are two Web sites that make buying "hatecore" simple: Resistance Records (www.resistance.com). Styling itself "The Soundtrack for White Revolution," Resistance Records sells books, clothing, flags, and over 319 CD titles from bands around the world. A highlight is Resistance Radio, which streams white power music 24 hours a day.
The site also features the current issue of Resistance magazine, which is part of the music operation, and explains how to become a local distributor. Resistance, owned by neo-Nazi William Pierce and headquartered at his National Alliance compound in West Virginia, says that its mission goes beyond music.
"You are not merely consumers of a product," the site instructs its readers. "And we are not merely distributors of a product. Together we are fighting a war to awaken the survival instincts in a dying people…. Ours is not just a culture worth preserving. It is the only one worth preserving."
Panzerfaust Records (www.panzerfaust.com). Featuring black-and-white photos of the Third Reich, this site boasts of the international bands among its 252 CD titles. Of one disc, it exhorts readers to "Get your copy now before it gets confiscated by the German government!"
Owner Anthony Pierpont, who has close ties to the extremely violent Hammerskin Nation, runs Panzerfaust Records from Minnesota.
The firm's name reflects how it sees its role. "During the fratricidal conflict of the Second World War," the Panzerfaust site says, "National Socialist Germany developed a portable, hand-held anti-tank weapon … suitably dubbed 'Panzerfaust,' which in German means 'armored fist.' Effective only to 100 meters, it took tremendous courage to confront the enemy with [it.] Success was possible, but not guaranteed."
Its music, Panzerfaust adds, is "the audio ordnance [for] today's racial struggle."
Source: Southern Poverty Law Center, 2001
Anti-Defamation League (ADL) leaders contend that Resistance Record's parent company National Alliance is one of the most dangerous hate groups in the United States. As its subsidiary, Resistance Records is in a position, through sales of its music and merchandise, to greatly strengthen the ability of the National Alliance to promote its racist ideals.
The music promoted by Resistance Records, according to ADL analysts, is not just rebellious music, like much heavy metal music, but is also dangerous. Its lyrics talk of hate and racism to susceptible minds. Such music, according to ADL analysts, encourages acts of violence.
Michael Barkun, an expert on right-wing extremist groups, stated in the 1998 article "Resisting Arrest" by the Southern Poverty Law Center that Resistance Records is able to attract customers because of its excellent leadership style. Barkun stated that most extremist organizations perform poorly due to inadequate leadership. However, Resistance Records leaders use very professional methods such as slick-looking magazines, compact discs, and web sites, which are especially attractive to youth who often feel like outcasts and desire to be part of a larger group. Once Resistance Records leaders have attracted their usually unsophisticated customers with their sophisticated media campaigns, the often-times unsuspecting customers are then easy recruitment targets to the company's political agenda.
Michelle Lefkowitz, an Oregon official with Communities Against Hate, stated in the same 1998 article "Resisting Arrest" that Resistance Records is one of the most successful organizing instruments used by white separatists to recruit new members.
Since 1999, when Resistance Records was purchased by Pierce, the record company has seen strong growth in music and music-related sales of its merchandise. The company has been successful within the extreme right-wing, white separatist movement due to its appealing approach toward young people who are not attracted to the older, traditional leadership of well-established white separatist/supremacist organizations.
Its foreign sales are especially strong where hate movements and hate music are very popular. Its strong performing markets include Denmark, France, Germany, Greece, the Czech Republic, Poland, Serbia, Slovakia, and Sweden. Besides providing hate rock music, leaders of Resistance Records have recently branched out into hate country and hate folk music.
The strategy of Resistance Records leaders to attract members to their white separatist views with the use of hate music has been seen by extremist groups as an excellent way to recruit new members into their organizations. Resistance Records leaders, particularly Burdi and Pierce, have successfully molded the company into an effective way to sell hate music and promote their interests in the anti-government and national separatist movements.
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