Books and Movies Reviews

The Attraction of Skinheads

In American History X the skinheads gather around an older man Cameron Alexander, a "white power" writer and recruiter of youthful neo-Nazis.His rhetoric of race reduces all the social problems in America to one thing-minorities.The trouble is, complex social problems never have one single underylying cause to be addressed, but the skinheads lack education and don't understand that minorities are being used as scapegoats.Cameron exploits kids who don't know what to do with themselves or their lives, who don't know what to think, or how to think.They fall for his story-like most of the German people fell for Adolph Hitler's in the 1930s.Hitler made the Jews a scapegoat, while the Skinheads blame anybody who isn't white and protestant.
Of course, there is more to it.The film shows the Skinheads acting like terrorists; that is, they are disempowered people, young adults who think they are fighting for a "cause" and doing something good for themselves and society.They are full of rage about their lives, and minorities make a handy target against which to channel their rage.Also, a neo-Nazi gang is like any gang-the gang supplies a place to belong and fit in, a place to be part of some bigger purpose.Gangs are a response to social conditions, and gang members are not necessarily evil but they are impressionable.In the movie, almost all of them were adolescent males.I think they are looking for role models-someone to show them how to be "real men."Unfortunately, Cameron is personable, well-spoken, and fatherly.He sets the wrong example for them, but the skinheads see him as someone to be like, someone who can show them what it means to be a man.
When marginalized people feel powerless to address the inequities of society, they form gangs.They hope to achieve power in numbers.They are often hated by society, but experience love and loyalty in the gang&apos…

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