|For more than three decades, William Potter Gale warned the world that a satanic Jewish conspiracy disguised as communism was corrupting public officials and the courts, undermining the United States and wrecking its divinely inspired Constitution.Jews, the self-described “reverend” taught, were offspring of the devil, while non-whites were “mud people” and whites were the real Hebrews of the Bible. By the time of his death in 1988, Bill Gale had spent half a lifetime energetically promoting his particularly bloodthirsty brand of anti-Semitism across America.
“Arise and fight!” Gale preached in one infamous sermon broadcast to Kansas farmers in 1982. “If a Jew comes near you, run a sword through him.”
But William Potter Gale had a secret. It turns out that Gale, founder of the Jew-hating Posse Comitatus that raged through the Midwest in the 1970s and 1980s, was descended on his father’s side from a long line of devout Jews.
In interviews with this author for a book being published this fall, Gale’s daughters revealed with some bemusement the Jewish roots of their grandfather and his forebears.
Ironically, like so many other 19th-century Jews from Eastern Europe, Bill Gale’s father Charles was fleeing Russian anti-Semitism and seeking economic opportunity when he arrived in the United States in 1894, changing his name from Grabifker in the process.
Four years later, Charles, then 18, lied about his age and place of birth in order to join the U.S. Army — but he was truthful enough to declare on his military enlistment papers that his parents’ nationality was “Hebrew.”
While Charles Gale eventually abandoned Judaism, married a non-Jew and raised his children as Christians, all of his siblings proudly embraced their religious heritage. Charles’ younger sister, a practicing Jew, was often a guest in the Gale family household in Los Angeles when Bill Gale was a teenager.
Despite this and many other reminders of his father’s heritage, Bill Gale had adopted Christian Identity theology and become an unrepentant anti-Semite by the mid-1950s.
Although it is in some ways unique, the remarkable case of Bill Gale is not unprecedented. Some of the most zealous anti-Semites on the American white supremacist scene have turned out to have direct family links to the religion and the people they have devoted their lives to hating.
Similarly, a self-described “Aryan” named Leo Felton, convicted this year in a conspiracy to blow up Jewish and black landmarks, turned out to have a black father. And uncounted white supremacists have sneaked across the color line to engage in sex with black women.
Jewish anti-Semitism, however, is a case unto itself.
Power and Powerlessness
As described by Norman Cohn — a leading scholar of the Protocols of the Elders of Zion, a classic anti-Semitic text — the political myth about Jewish world domination can be summarized as follows:
On a more individual level, Jews are often stereotyped as unethical, dishonest, socially aggressive, conceited, clannish, stingy and obsessed with money.
Historically, these myths have been pervasive — so pervasive that they seep into the consciousness of many Jews as well as non-Jews.
“It is important to remember that western society has a heavy anti-Semitic underpinning, and negative stereotypes about Jews are part of the culture in which everybody grows up, Jews and non-Jews alike,” says Sander Gilman, a University of Illinois at Chicago liberal arts professor and the author of Jewish Self-Hatred, a key text on the subject.
This view is echoed by Raphael Ezekiel, a psychologist and the author of The Racist Mind: Portraits of American Neo-Nazis and Klansmen.
“If you live next door to a cement factory, then inevitably cement dust gets into your body,” says Ezekiel, who in recent years has worked as a senior research scientist and visiting scholar at the Harvard School of Public Health. “And the same goes for anti-Semitism and other prejudices. Everyone who grows up in a culture gets impacted by those beliefs that are deeply held, including the members of endangered groups.”
These observations apply to Bill Gale. But there were other factors, too.
Like many other retired military officers in the early 1950s, Gale was drawn to the extremely conservative, anti-Communist politics of the time, which were often tainted by anti-Semitism and diehard opposition to racial integration. And because his idolized father had abandoned Judaism and lied about his immigrant status, Gale’s adoption of anti-Jewish beliefs also may have been driven by a desire to preserve what he felt was his father’s shameful secret.
Charles Gale also apparently endured subtle slights from his more financially secure Jewish relatives in Portland, Ore., and young Bill seems to have picked up on these resentments.
Besides Dan Burros, there are very few known instances of those of Jewish heritage rising to prominence in the Klan. But one man who has persisted steadily in his efforts to promote the hooded order despite being born Jewish is Jordan Gollub, currently leader of the tiny Royal Confederate Knights of the Ku Klux Klan.
In the 1980s, Gollub managed to rise to the post of Mississippi state leader of the Christian Knights of the Ku Klux Klan, then led by Virgil Griffin of North Carolina. But in 1989, Griffin uncovered Gollub’s background — Gollub had been born to Jewish parents in Philadelphia — and booted him out of the Knights as a result.
To the amusement of many, Gollub angrily qualified Griffin’s account, saying that he had actually been ejected because of his religious “background and the fact that I’m against Catholics joining the Klan.” Catholics, he argued, have a primary loyalty to the pope, rather than the United States. “We can’t have an organization with 100% Americans with Catholics,” Gollub told the Jackson (Miss.) Daily News.
Things haven’t gone too well for Gollub since then.
Gollub has spent the last years trying to get a new Klan group going, with most of his efforts ending in disappointment. This summer, he announced plans to march in three Mississippi cities with a phalanx of his Royal Confederate Knights. In the event, he actually showed up in only two of those cities, accompanied by just three followers.
Afterward, said he would lead the Klan in three Alabama marches this December. When he learned that one of those marches would conflict with a Christmas parade, he said he was willing to reschedule.
Is That Wolfgang or Andy?
Andrew Britt Greenbaum was a bright, high-achieving high school student living in the predominantly Jewish suburb of Westwood, outside Boston, when he ran for class president on an explicitly racist platform and launched a tiny anti-Semitic hate group on the Internet that he called the Knights of Freedom.
Within days of graduating high school in 1996, the one-time chess whiz of his parents’ neighborhood legally changed his name to hide his partly Jewish heritage. If the appellation Davis Wolfgang Hawke left any doubts as to his politics, the SS suits he liked to dress up in did not. His Wofford College dormitory room in South Carolina was draped with National Socialist flags, and he sold swastika armbands.
The architect of the “Ministry of Racial Unity” was not shy.
“We must all carry with us in our hearts this knowledge, that the dreams of Adolf Hitler have not faded away, but are just as alive today as they were years ago! The German army was defeated on the battlefield, but the ideals of Adolf Hitler live on in the hearts and souls of those who now carry the torch of the Aryan peoples,” Hawke told supporters who called him “the chosen one.”
Hawke’s Net-based group, renamed the American Nationalist Party in its last moments of life, eventually claimed more than 100 adherents. But it collapsed in along with his make-believe ethnicity after the Intelligence Report described his Jewish heritage.
His one last bid for attention disintegrated into ignominy when, after promising a march of thousands of neo-Nazis in Washington, D.C., just four people showed up — not including the wannabe führer of Wofford College.
“He’s a chicken,” his mother, Peggy Greenbaum, told a reporter.
Greenbaum, who was labeled a “race traitor” by her son, told the Intelligence Report at the time that she had had no idea of her son’s neo-Nazism. Weeping, she recalled how her nerdy boy had been taunted as a “kike” at school and was even beaten by classmates jealous of his good grades.
“I just don’t know where it came from,” she said of the 20-year-old who earlier bragged to the Report that he intended to become the “absolute, supreme dictator” of the United States.
“He seems to be so full of hate and so power-hungry. … I just don’t want him to hurt anyone.”
Like other young people drawn to hate groups, Hawke was impressed by the power of Nazi martial regalia and its message of violence. The rest of what drove him to reject his parents and recommend their extermination may never be known.
Today, Gale and Burros are dead, Gollub is trying against all odds to rehabilitate himself in the world of the Klan, and Hawke has vanished without a trace from the public arena. But the story of hypocritical hate did not begin with Bill Gale, and it surely will not end with Gollub or Hawke.
For an entire millennium — from the 8th to the 18th century — Jewish converts to Christianity were among the leading advocates of forcibly converting their former brethren and of burning the Talmud, the text of rabbinical commentaries on Jewish law. In the early 20th century, there were numerous converted Jews who also made careers out of attacking their former co-religionists.
As long as there is religious and ethnic hatred in this world, there will be members of oppressed groups who turn on themselves.