Former Neo-Nazi Frank Meeink, whose life story mirrors the Oscar-nominated film American History X, sat down with Clarion Project to discuss a fast-rising new extremist group in America called The Base.
The Base is a neo-Nazi group reported to have been established in 2018. The group sees itself as soldiers in a race war with a mission to accelerate societal collapse. While the group was predominantly noted to have an online presence, repeat reports show that members of The Base are pushing into physical space, including openly recruiting at top U.S. campuses.
Clarion Project recently reported on The Base during the Virginia Second Amendment rally that brought together tens of thousands of gun rights advocates to protest against the state’s latest checks and red-flag restriction laws. The FBI also tagged three Base members that planned to join the rally. The trio were stopped and arrested in connection with federal crimes in other states, but not before mainstream media tried to paint patriotic pro-2A Americans with the neo-Nazis who tried to crash the rally for their own agenda.
Clarion Project: One of the selling factors for ISIS was the brutal honesty of their extreme beliefs. It seems to be that The Base is taking a similar approach. What do you see?
Frank Meeink: This group, The Base, shows exactly what all racists secretly want. It’s exposing themselves, what every racist in this country wants. We have to stop kidding ourselves. Everything The Base does, every word they say, you hear anger, violence and fear.
They’re not doing the whole “Oh, we’re against violence” thing [like other groups do. For example,] a group like the National Socialists, for example, [put up a] front like they’re not violent, but they are violent. Every group wants to be The Base, but they have to hide under “we’re not violent.”
The Base, to the core of it, is what every racist in America is looking forward to, but they can’t say it because they know that it’s bad [to admit it openly]. The Base exposes what racists really want.
Clarion Project: How is The Base different from generic neo-Nazi rhetoric?
Frank Meeink: The difference between a neo-Nazi sitting by himself and saying any of this, and The Base is that people are now in a group. When you’re all by yourself, you’re that lone wolf, and you still have that feeling of, “Are people going to agree with what I say or not?” With The Base, you now have a group of people saying, “We agree with every thought you have in your head to cause a race war, we have your back on this.” It lets them be free.
Clarion Project: In studying extremism and this idea of being free to be as terrible in one’s beliefs as one wants to be, it feels like there are certain people who have rejected society more easily once they find something that lets them be free in their own way, something that lets them “breathe.”
When that happens, when these people find each other, I feel like they dig their heels in deeper in who they believe they are.
We saw this open embrace of hard identities in a recent uptick in arrests of neo-Nazis plotting violent attacks. Though they weren’t affiliated with The Base, there was an unapologetic acceptance of the hateful ideologies these young men had and their willingness to use violence to see them through.
Frank Meeink: Violent extremists aren’t hiding their beliefs anymore. Last year, The Base posted flyers at Boston University for recruitment drives.
When I was younger and I was with the Aryan Nation, they said I talked “Black.” I was in Idaho and they pulled me in a room. They asked me, if we gave you a gun right now and told you to kill a black baby and you’d get away with it, would you do it? And obviously I said yes.
You can’t be in that room and say no, even though in my heart I thought “no.” In public, we said we were non-violent though because we had to pretend to be. When I’m looking at The Base, at all their writings and all their chats, I’m thinking back to that moment. These people are walking out of the room and into society.
Clarion Project: So the mask comes off with The Base, just like it did with ISIS.
Frank Meeink: Yes! That’s what I mean. It’s the true heart of the war extremist groups want. When I was a neo-Nazi, the final goal was a race war, — all day, everyday.
Clarion Project: News reports show that The Base is run out of Russia by its founder Rinaldo Nazzaro, who is originally from New Jersey. Given all the allegations of Russia’s election meddling in the last presidential election and this one by stoking hate and leveraging American polarization, what do you make of this news?
Frank Meeink: They know the trick is to leverage America’s hate and indifference. They know they can’t beat us, so they’re going to have us rip each other apart … happily. I think there are ties but I don’t have the facts to say more.
Clarion Projects’s Preventing Violent Extremism Training Program educates communities on theories like the war of extremes and acceleration. Contact us to learn more about our program and lecture series.