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The group rejects the label hate group. Instead its members call themselves "white preservationists" and live by the motto, "We are the descendants of the Founding Fathers; this is our country and we are going to take it back." That's essentially it. The AF-BNP has no political party in America, no candidate, and almost no members, but it does have a publication, Heritage and Destiny.(A recent 20-page copy includes lousy pictures and fairly eloquently describes America's British heritage.)
At the red, white, and blue rally -- a national AF-BNP gathering that was held at Alder's house in February -- only about 50 people showed up. They came from all over the country but mostly from Broward County. Alder says this is because the Fort Lauderdale/Hollywood area has the heaviest concentration of British transplants in the region. "Fort Lauderdale will be one of our strongholds."
Since the British National Party's founding in 1982, it has become Great Britain's largest far-right-wing party. In the June 7 parliamentary elections, the BNP captured two House of Commons seats in the borough of Oldham, where angry whites recently rioted. British papers often compare the BNP to Austria's Freedom Party, and the group's outspoken leader, Mark Cotterill, to Freedom's Jorg Haider. Cotterill describes his complaints to New Times this way: "The United States was founded by people from Britain; we've lost it, and we've got to take it back. In America in general, you've just got to look around the areas that are now multiracial to see how [minorities] have changed the country. This is not the America I knew when I came ten years ago."
Cotterill's words impress Alder. "Why would I keep spinning my wheels and going through that headache with the Klan?" he asks. "I already know the pattern of the Klan and I know what's going to happen and I know where it ends. It's just a repetition over and over and over."
When Alder announced to his brethren that he was leaving the KKK, he wasn't shunned by his hooded buddies. Many of them felt similarly, and so, Alder relates, the South Florida chapter of the Klan is now just a hazy nightmare of the past.
These days Alder shows some telltale signs that he is not the hate-spewing racist he appeared to be on Jerry Springer, Geraldo, and Donahue. Among other things he's removed a flag with a swastika from his living room because the AF-BNP is not a fascist party. "Sometimes after our meetings, we go to the Chinese buffet," Alder adds. "If I go to a restaurant and I get a black or a nonwhite waitress, they get the same tip that a white one would if they give the same service. I don't say, "I want this one or that one.' In a grocery store I don't seek out the white cashier. I go to where the line is the shortest."
But the Anti-Defamation League believes Alder's new friends are dangerous. According to ADL assistant director Brittanie Werbel in Washington, D.C., Cotterill was a shady character when he spewed racist diatribe in England; now that he's teamed with Alder, the two could be a ruthless tandem. Indeed Cotterill has ties to David Duke, famed Internet hatemonger William Pierce, and Combat 18, a violent, neo-Nazi organization that includes convicted murderers among its members. "[AF-BNP members] mask their racism in British culture and heritage," Werbel says, "but we keep tabs on them. Definitely."
Alder, for his part, is a learned man. He's an encyclopedia of medieval and Civil War history. Since his mother passed away a few years ago, leaving him a little money, he's been living at home and caring for his 93-year-old father. When New Times showed up at his home, Alder was dressed like a reverend, complete with frock and a big, silver Cross of St. George around his neck.
He says the AF-BNP is growing in South Florida. Minions are recruiting -- but subtly, with leaflets and invitations to meetings. Alder says he won't know exactly how many members the group has until the next rally, which is scheduled for February 2002. As for the KKK, he doesn't miss the pointy hats. "Any time I've gotten nostalgic for the Klan, I think of all the headaches," he says. "One of the hardest things was finding land for cross-lighting. And if we did find it, well, would the people let us use it? And half the time it was so far out in the boonies that half the people couldn't find their way there. Then there was "Who's going to make the robes?'
"What a headache."