Does it matter that one of William Gheen's Facebook buddies is a well-known Phoenix-area neo-Nazi, a neo-Nazi that likes to go out on "patrols" with wannabe stormtrooper J.T. Ready, totin' assault rifles, searching for illegal aliens?
Normally, it wouldn't, save for the fact that Gheen's made such a big stink over the Facebook associations of one Dan Smeriglio, the organizer of a pro-SB1070 event June 5 at the Arizona state Capitol.
Because of these associations, Gheen very publicly pulled his North Carolina-based ALIPAC (Americans for Legal Immigration PAC) out of the June 5 hillbilly hootenanny, which features former Colorado congressman and nativist extremist Tom Tancredo as a speaker. Gheen tied Smeriglio to an avowed skinhead by the name of Steve Smith, based in part upon info derived from Smeriglio's Facebook profile.
However, as Phoenix videographer Dennis Gilman first noted online, Gheen has a neo-Nazi on his extensive "friends" list as well: Harry Hughes. Hughes, a resident of Maricopa, Arizona, doesn't announce his National Socialism on his Facebook page, as far as I can tell, but he's a frequent attendee of neo-Nazi demonstrations and has never hidden this fact.
Of his political views on Facebook, Hughes simply states, "You probably won't like them."
Oddly, Hughes, despite his unsavory political beliefs, is generally a civil guy, perhaps the friendliest neo-Nazi in the Valley. In covering nativist demonstrations in Phoenix, I've run into him several times.
That said, his postings to his blogspot "Just another day..." can be quite disturbing, particularly a recent one where he and Mesa neo-Nazi J.T. Ready go on an "illegal immigrant patrol" in camouflage, armed with assault rifles.
The blog entry has some interesting pics and passages, including this one:
"Shortly after crossing the Pinal County line, we were pulled over by a sheriff's deputy. We stated that we had weapons on board and the deputy told us to have a good night. The duration of this traffic stop was barely 30 seconds. This was probably the shortest traffic stop I ever witnessed. I think we were racially profiled and allowed to be on our way because we were white. I think they were looking for somebody, but not us."
Hell, I feel safer already, don't you?
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This whole trend of "outing" people on Facebook for their "friends" can get pretty silly. Not to belittle the links between nativists and white supremacists (their crowds definitely overlap), but a lot of people just approve every friend request they get, without checking the people out.
This was a problem for AZ Treasurer Dean Martin and Governor Jan Brewer of late, when it was discovered that Ready, the Ernst Rohm of the East Valley, was one of their Facebook "friends."
But as Gheen has used this tactic against folks, you'd think he'd be persnickety about his online buds. Especially when one happens to be a neo-Nazi who likes to go on "patrol" for migrants, his assault rifle ready to go.