Wade Michael Page wasn't just a garden variety loser.
The gunman who killed six Sikh worshippers at a temple in Wisconsin before turning his 9 mm semi-automatic on himself belonged to one of thousands of white power cults that operate openly on the fringes of American society. He was an American Nazi who proclaimed his allegiance to death and racial intolerance from stages across the country as the bassist in a band that would never go anywhere.
Nearly seven decades removed from the battles that ended National Socialism as a state religion in the heart of Christian Europe, there are thousands of armed losers like Page swearing allegiance to Hitler, embracing racial violence and saluting Nazi banners in improvised beer halls across America.
These latter day National Socialists have never been big on self awareness, but even the stupidest among them knows that most Americans instinctively abhor Nazis and aren't generally susceptible to the flatulent Fuhrer's charms.
Still, neo-Nazis immerse themselves in rituals that honor a notorious carpet chewer who committed suicide in a bunker long before most of their parents were born. Their hatred of non-white citizens who have the temerity to call themselves American is their only guiding theology. No other moral compass is needed. In another era, they might even have been considered demon-possessed, given their dedication to Hitler's blood-soaked ideology.
The irony of Americans pretending to be the vanguard of a restored Third Reich would not be lost on the generation that fought to rid Europe of its infestation of fascist lunatics.
Nicknamed the Greatest Generation, the soldiers who fought in Europe, in northern Africa and across the Pacific would have vomited uncontrollably at the sight of Americans wearing swastikas tattooed on their flesh.
At 40, Page, an unemployed Army veteran, was part of a community of racists that attracted a disproportionate number of bottom feeders on its best day. Like his colleagues in hate, Page longed to participate in a war that would put frustrated nobodies like himself in position to commit heroic acts of violence against dark-skinned people and Jews.
Their booze-fueled gatherings are reputed to be showcases of humanity's worst impulses. It is difficult to imagine one good thing coming out of meetings dedicated to reinforcing a deadly feedback loop of racial resentment.
According to the Southern Poverty Law Center, there are nearly 1,300 active hate groups operating in America. Their membership numbers aren't in the hundreds of thousands like the Ku Klux Klan in its heyday, but every American Nazi has access to something his spiritual daddies in Germany would have found mind-boggling -- unfettered and mostly under-regulated access to guns.
Despite an arrest record, Page was able to walk into a gun shop a few months ago and buy a 9mm semi-automatic handgun with as much ammo as his evil heart desired. What could be more American?
What would have happened if Page had wandered into a gun shop a decade after the end of World War II to buy the most powerful gun available to the public at the time? Would it have been an affront against the Second Amendment for a dealer to refuse service to a Nazi? What about 1965? Page would have gotten thrown out of the shop as late as 1975, probably, and the NRA wouldn't have said anything. It would've been common sense -- don't sell guns to crazy people.
American Nazis have a real track record in history and in our society. They are a violent anti-American, white power cult that subscribes to the notion of terror and anarchy. Their highest allegiance is to a dead foreign enemy of the United States, yet gun shows are crawling with these people. There is no shortage of dealers willing to sell to them. Why obsess over Muslims allegedly infiltrating the government when people like Wade Page are buying guns?
I often wonder what those soldiers who fought the Nazis would do if they could be magically transported to contemporary American gun shops when jackbooted idiots walk in with $500 and murder in their hearts? What would the soldiers be more appalled by -- the presence of Nazis in America or the morally vacant dealers who sell them guns?
If the Second Amendment entitles Nazis to stock up on guns, then the Greatest Generation fought a rear guard action at best.
Tony Norman: email@example.com or 412-263-1631. Twitter: @TonyNormanPG.