Since the Sikh temple shooting in Wisconsin on August 5, reactions from American white supremacists have varied widely, from deploring the shootings to praising the shooter, Wade Michael Page.
Early responses occurred before white supremacists learned the shooter was a long-time white supremacist. Many reactions expressed concern that the mass shooting would prompt calls for gun control. Others were unhappy with the target. “I have to say that Sikhs are the least objectionable non-White immigrant group in North America by far!!” wrote one poster on the white supremacist discussion forum Stormfront. Another Stormfronter agreed: “There’s so many legitimate enemies, it’s just so stupid to pick Sikhs.” A poster to the Vanguard News Network (VNN) asked, “Why get focused on Sikhs? Just weird. Very specific turd in a giant sewer…Our worst enemies are jews and white traitors. If you aren’t fighting them, you just aren’t living.”
Others made crude jokes, as did this Stormfronter from Wisconsin: “In a related story, several gas stations and convenience stores in the Milwaukee area have put out Help Wanted signs.”
Soon, however, white supremacists learned of Page’s extremist past, prompting a general attempt at distancing themselves. Some claimed the shooting was not representative of white supremacists. Others thought it was poor targeting. “He…never learned the crucial lesson,” posted one Stormfronter. “Don’t attack the symptoms, attack the cause.” A VNN poster opined that “I don’t mind the massacres so much as the sheer idiocy of those doing the shooting, the random thoughtlessness of their targets. If they are going to go out in a blaze of glory then they should at least attempt to select more politically significant targets instead of meaningless individuals.” Many expressed fear of a backlash against the white supremacist movement.
Others, however, thought of Page as a martyr to the cause. “See you in Valhalla, brother,” posted Zach Butler, a North Carolina white supremacist, to his Facebook profile. One Orange County based white power music band, Armed and Ready, posted to its Facebook page: “R.I.P. Brother Wade, out with a whimper or out with a bang, it’s your choice.”
These sorts of sentiments appeared especially popular among members and supporters of the Hammerskins, the large racist skinhead group of which Page was a member. “For Wade, the fight goes on,” posted one Idaho Hammerskin to Facebook. “R.I.P. brother, you’ll be missed!” wrote another. “RIP, Wade, U were one hell of a white patriot,” posted Robert Kopko, a Florida Hammerskin. Several days later, he announced that he was “gonna go out with some brothers an[d] have a couple drinks for a fallen patriot.” Another Florida Hammerskin wrote that “I miss my good friend WADE! HAIL WADE!!”