“A Skinhead at Heart with a Hate-Filled Mind”: Understanding the Themes Present in the White Power Music Scene

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White extremism in the U.S. has not received much attention in the literature, despite scholars arguing that it represents the most sustained form of terrorism in the U.S. While much of the research on extremist movements has focused on the groups’ violent acts, there has been significantly less attention on the nonviolent activities, such as music. Following a social movement theoretical framework, we set out to understand the role that music plays in constructing the worldview and narrative of white extremists. Using lyrics from 337 white power songs from seven white power bands, we analyzed the linear and interconnected narrative that emerges in the music. What we found is a narrative interwoven throughout the music that presents a clear picture of white societies under threat from immigration, the Jewish-controlled media, and liberalism, with clear directives for extreme violence and vigilante justice. Based on this picture, we discuss the potential counterextremism implications and provide several avenues for future research.

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Studies in Conflict & Terrorism, in press