Lynx and Lamb Gaede, blonde twins from Bakersfield, California, have a lot riding on their 13-year-old shoulders. Their hit musical group, Prussian Blue (an allusion to their German ancestry and shiny blue eyes), is due to release a second album soon and, like all teen stars, they must tackle homework, teenage angst and a busy performing schedule with equal gusto.
They also just happen to represent the future of the white nationalist movement in America.
"We're proud of being white, we want to keep being white," Lynx told ABC News recently. "We want our people to stay white . . . we don't want to just be, you know, a big muddle. We just want to preserve our race." The girls have been performing to sieg-heiling white crowds across the country since they were nine. With Lynx on the violin and Lamb strumming the guitar, they harmonise on pop-country ballads written by their white nationalist heroes and perform folk covers of songs by white power metal bands. They've even tried their hands at writing their own material, such as their original "Aryan Man Awake": "Where freedom exists for only those with darker skin . . . Aryan man awake/How much more will you take/Turn that fear to hate."
Leaders of white supremacist groups couldn't be happier about their new spokesgirls. "Imagine the hard sell that the ADL [Anti-Defamation League] and the SPLC [Southern Poverty Law Center] will have when confronted with these angelic-looking young girls who are wise to their anti-white schemes," a National Vanguard spokesman said recently. "I see an avenue opened up to family-oriented white men, women and children that has not been opened before."
White power enthusiasts are depending on groups such as Prussian Blue to attract new followers and break free of the violent, death metal image their music has traditionally had. The popular bands on Resistance Records, the premier white power music company in the United States (and Prussian Blue's label), have names such as Angry Aryans and Race War, which feed the rage of hard-core movement members with lyrics such as "Browntown burning down/Negro in flames rolling on the ground".
Prussian Blue's strategy, however, is to appeal to impressionable potential converts. They present an opportunity for the white power movement to tap into the coveted "tween" market, made up of kids aged eight to 12, a market estimated to be worth an astonishing $335bn per year, and to tempt adults attracted by fresh-faced youngsters and soft pop sounds.
In photographs on their website, the blonde twins smile wholesomely as they frolic in fields of wild flowers and romp at the playground, like normal girls. But then we see them hard at work in the recording studio, and posing with Tom Metzger, former Grand Dragon of the Ku Klux Klan, who in 1990 was found guilty of inciting skinheads to murder an Ethiopian student.
The girls have been compared to another pair of young blonde moguls, the Olsen twins, who have built a multimedia empire of movies, clothing lines and music albums. Lynx and Lamb may be taking a lesson from the Olsens' marketing strategy book. One photo shows them giddily modelling a clothing line called Aryan Wear, each bedecked in a T-shirt with the classic yellow smiley face icon. The Olsens' marketing is politics-free; with Prussian Blue, the smiley faces bear Hitler cowlicks and moustaches.
While it's difficult to track the success of the white nationalist music scene, Devin Burghart of Turn It Down, a watchdog campaign targeting white power bands, estimates that more than a million albums are sold each year through movement websites, festivals, hate rallies and mom-and-pop record shops. Most mainstream stores won't stock the records, but the albums move sufficiently well to line the pockets of hate groups with a few million dollars each year. And since music has shown itself to be such a profitable commodity, white power groups are looking to diversify their sound.
Music is "the number one recruiting tool" for white nationalist groups, says Burghart. "Whatever is popular with young people, white nationalists will try to develop a genre to fit those tastes. They know music is the bridge between healthy youth rebellion and hard-core white supremacy."
By their own admission, white power groups are willing to adopt new genres if it means gaining the ears of naive listeners. In a recent interview, Erich Gliebe, president of Resistance Records, said: "A lot of young people today simply do not read. Almost all young people listen to music. They listen to this music over and over again and eventually the lyrics will become embedded in their minds. If there was a pro-white message in the lyrics, one might hope that that would become embedded in their minds."
Last year, Panzerfaust Records, a neo-Nazi record label based in Minnesota, tried to boost its following with "Project Schoolyard USA", targeting kids aged 13 to 19. The plan was to distribute 100,000 copies of a compilation CD featuring tracks such as "Hate Train Rolling" and "Commie Scum" by such white power bands as Day of the Sword, whose album cover depicts a pig being disembowelled by a Star of David.
Panzerfaust claims it distributed the first 20,000 CDs outside schools across the country in just two weeks, billing the album as just another cutting-edge music choice for disaffected youths. But negative press, coupled with infighting within the label, ultimately drove Panzerfaust out of business shortly after. The reason? One of the co-founders of the label was "outed". It transpired that he was of Mexican descent and had slept with Thai women on a "sex tour" of south-east Asia. Both facts amount to heresy in the white power movement.
Such fierce backbiting and ideological bickering is largely what hampers the success of the white nationalist movement. "The number of neo-Nazi groups is growing, but very slowly," says Mark Potok, director of the SPLC's Intelligence Project. "If these groups concentrated solely on enemies [rather than each other], they'd be a lot more trouble." Potok says that his organisation found 158 active neo-Nazi groups across the country last year, with thousands of members involved in operations and tens of thousands of sympathisers. But these hate groups are a mere shadow of what they once were. In the late 1920s, the Ku Klux Klan alone had four million members. Today, it has about 5,000.
Still, it's unlikely that Prussian Blue is going to convert young teenagers in droves, the main reason being that the girls make Kelly Osbourne look talented. Their "I Will Bleed For You" ("I see the apathy in your eyes/. . ./watching as the white flame dies") reveals the girls struggling to sound earnest, with breathy, ear-grating inflections.
Yet behind every young, hate-mongering musical act, there is a pushy, hate-mongering stage mother. Enter April Gaede, mother of Lynx and Lamb, National Vanguard member and ardent white nationalist. April home-schools the girls with 1950s textbooks and soaks her daughters in her own vitriolic racism.
She's unlikely to give up the dream of success just because the girls haven't yet gone platinum. She's worked hard to turn them into soundbite-spewing racists. When Vice magazine asked the twins to name the most important social issue facing the white race today, the girls parroted: "Not having enough white babies born to replace ourselves and generally not having good-quality white people being born."
Hate groups such as National Vanguard are not popular among mainstream Americans, but an increasing focus on contentious issues such as immigration, outsourcing and affirmative action is giving them more willing listeners. Call it racism with a populist face. "You have major sections of the working class being hurt by lost jobs," says Potok, "and that provides an opening for groups with an easy explanation."
Carol Swain, a law professor at Vanderbilt University in Tennessee and author of The New White Nationalism in America, goes further, insisting that "white nationalists today are more dangerous because [they] have learned to spin and cloak their messages by using the language of . . . civil rights that allows them to reach into a mainstream white audience often frustrated by racial double standards and governmental policies that seemingly favour non-whites".
Lynx and Lamb are content simply to bask in their notoriety, leaving such analysis to the adults. Their upcoming album is sure to be a valentine to white power. The question is: will it strike a chord with a new generation of white nationalists or hit a dull note? For this off-key duo, bets are on the latter.
Carolyn O'Hara is editorial assistant at Foreign Policy magazine