German fairly well, and whose family gave arduous service in France with Guderian, at the gates of Leningrad under Rheinhardt, and whose maternal uncle drove Rommel around until he was invited by Hitler to blow his brains out.
They sat down to a meal at McDonald's, clad in swastika-swathed shirts; there were blacks and Hispanics in the restaurant, but they either didn't notice or didn't mind. Justin, who said he has visited Germany, seemed impressed by my editor's pedigree; from this I concluded he is first of all a Germano-phile. Justin Boyer is a somewhat undersized, bumptious, 21-year-old who obviously relishes the attention. He was delighted when I recognized his Southern accent, though his surname, I noted, is French.
"We're a paramilitary organization," he told me, and when I asked if either he or JC had ever tried to join the military, they responded so obscurely I suspected they had indeed tried, but failed, to hitch up. But I was surprised to find he knew next to nothing about the ideological origins of Nazism. He said he had read Mein Kampf, but he didn't seem to understand it (he did not know what I meant when I tried to discuss Hitler's concept of the "folkish state") and he had never heard of Hegel, Spengler, Houston Chamberlain, or even Bismarck; nor was he aware of the esoteric elements of Nazism, such as Otto Rank's curious search for the Holy Grail.
But what Justin Boyer did have was a dream: Adolf Hitler himself, he insisted, came to him one night and told him it was his job to save the white race. Boyers' convictions are founded on this extraordinary visitation, though he admits his parents brought him up to be a racist. He thinks white people are naturally superior and should be running things, and that Jews, blacks, and gays are destroying Western culture. That's it, in a nutshell. Justin Boyer believes the Holocaust is a myth and that Jews run the US government.
"Jews are slime," he said. "They get their hands into everything. They're here to destroy the planet."
Like many neocons and poorly educated persons who think simply, Boyer believes Democrats, liberals, leftists, socialists, and communists are the same thing. But he has no truck with Republicans, either.
"Bush is controlled by Jews," he said.
Boyer insists that the NSM, which was founded in 1974, is nonviolent and working to come to power through "legal means." He refuses to discuss organizational or personal matters, but best I can tell, there are only about a dozen members statewide. It is impossible to take the movement seriously, but Justin's anger is so wide that he has trouble containing it, and he sometimes makes threatening statements.
"There's a lot of people who should be killed," he said. "But I can't do anything about it." When Justin talked like that, JC would shake his head in despair.
Justin lamented the restriction of free speech in Germany, where Nazi demonstrations are banned, and when I said, "Don't you see the contradiction in that?" JC suddenly exclaimed, "Hey, are you here to interview us or the other way around?"
"Look," I said, "If you don't like the way I'm doing this, keep out of it. I didn't come here to talk to you in the first place."
So finally there was a confrontation. JC the "stormtrooper" blanched and abruptly scooted his chair back; it made a screech on McDonald's well-worn tile like the sound a man might make while enduring an amputation without anesthesia.
Even so, Justin persisted. He asked me what I thought of Adolf Hitler. I said, "He was an evil genius," and immediately regretted my response, because it does not begin to express all I had to say.
"It took the entire world to defeat him," Justin said. "He was a genius."
"On the other hand, he ended up with his country in ruins and occupied by his enemies," I said. "How smart is that?"
But by then I had begun to understand that it was going to be impossible to penetrate to the distillate of Justin Boyer's beliefs because they were too diffuse to discuss. I realized, with a twinge, that I had been naive to think it might have gone better. I was not talking to the intellectual heir of Alfred Rosenberg I was watching a frustrated punk rock star wannabee dining on overly salted fries slathered in low grade ketchup.
Justin Boyer didn't believe in much of anything, not really, and he and his bunch were too unsophisticated to be a threat. Unlike the counter protestors he had encountered in Olympia, I couldn't even be angry with him. I thought of saying something like, Justin, your hatred will eventually eat you up, but I had become not only tired and bored but hungry _ and I had a dinner date at this pretty little bistro I had discovered in Seattle and was eager to get on the road.
We met friends for drinks at Dad Watson's, then strolled across the street for escargot and a glass of vintage. An agreeable breeze was floating through the Fremont neighborhood. I was happy to be with people I love and reflecting on how very good life can be; then I got to contemplating the human predeliction for violence and madness, and that made me think about how, when I was young, I was often very angry about things that now seem not to matter. A little melancholia began to ride the night air. I had wanted to like Justin Boyer, and could not.
My last words to him had been, "You've got a lot of growing up ahead of you. I suspect you'll feel differently about things in a few years."
His last to me was a reminder that his little bunch of Nazis plan to rally on the Capital steps in early July.
Well, good luck, bub.
But Justin, there are some places where I would advise you not to rally.