Anyone looking for evidence that vicious hatred is alive and well need search not farther than “Skinheads USA: Soldiers of the Race War” (9 tonight on HBO), a chilling documentary filmed last summer.
Producer-director Shari Cookson was given freedom to film in the Aryan National Front, a camp for Skinheads about 20 miles southeast of Birmingham, Ala.
What she recorded was a group of young white men, many from broken homes, who find fellow-ship in the sharing of neo-Nazi philosophy.
Their leader and surrogate father is Bill Riccio, a three-time felon who considers Adolf Hitler the greatest person who ever lived and Nazi Germany “the greatest country ever.”
In a moment of candor, Riccio says he targets young men for recruitment because they are the most restless and most impressionable. “It’s a known fact,” he says. “Obtain the young people, and you have the future.”
Other scenes in the hourlong documentary show a parade in Birmingham, a white power rally in Conyers, Ga., and a “unification rally” with Ku Klux Klan members in Union Hill, Ala.
At the rally, Riccio asks a young boy, “Where does Adolf Hitler live?”
The boy promptly responds: “In my heart.”
Fringe fanatics? A few desperate hatemongers? According the HBO, Skinhead groups exist in more than 35 American cities and their ranks have increased 27 percent since 1990.
The documentary does not assess their national numbers but it shows the intense passion they hold for their bizarre beliefs.
This is not pleasant, but it should be seen. A cancer that is detected is far less dangerous than one that is ignored.