It seems as though the aesthetic admiration between hipsters and Nazis is finally a two-way street. While white male denizens of neighborhoods like Williamsburg, Silver Lake and Wicker Park have long been fans of copping Nazi style, neo-Nazis in Germany are increasingly adapting a hipster attitude and way of dressing as a way of becoming more appealing to young people. I see the slogan now — Nationalists: We Hated People Who Are Different from Us Before It Was Cool.
In an in-depth piece for Rolling Stone, Thomas Rogers investigates the rise of the "nipster," a word that might sound like what you'd call yourself when you wear a particularly revealing American Apparel shirt that requires you to go braless, but is actually a portmanteau of "Nazi" and "hipster."
It's not a huge movement (nor is the neo-Nazi movement's attempt to reach out to young people anything new), but it is a fascinating one. Whereas previously, Germany's far right-wing has refused to yield on certain issues in order to woo new followers, they're currently trying a different tactic — one that allows young neo-Nazis to listen to pop music, wear trendy clothes and have fashionable haircuts.
Andy Knape, the 28-year-old who runs the youth wing of "the country's oldest and biggest extreme-right political party," the National Democratic Party (NPD) of Germany, is hard at work, spreading the nipster way of life.
Knape wants to give "nationalism" a friendlier, cooler face (in the NPD, and many other extreme-right organizations, "nationalist" often functions as a politically acceptable euphemism for "Nazi"). For Knape, who grew up with American pop culture, the idea of policing what young members of the scene watch or listen to is silly — he'd much rather hijack it, and use it to bring young people into the fold. Michael Schaefer, the JN's excitable 31-year-old press person, chimes in: "We've taken over the nipster," he says, giddily, before catching himself. "I mean nationalist hipster, not Nazi hipster."
But how do you hijack American pop culture, much of which is produced by black artists, to promote xenophobia and white supremacy? Through dissociation, of course.
"We don't want to cut ourselves off," Knape says, about hipster culture. "I see rap and hip-hop, for example, as a way of transporting our message." In recent years, a number of extreme-right hip-hop acts have emerged in Germany — with names like Makss Damage and Dee Ex. Despite the awkward politics of using hip-hop to preach the virtues of German identity, they've amassed a small, but significant presence within the scene. Dee Ex, for example, has over 7,000 likes on Facebook and posts photos of herself in a revealing outfit on her blog. There is now neo-Nazi techno (biggest act: DJ Adolf) and neo-Nazi reggae.
And Knape isn't the only one demonstrating such a disconnect — young Neo-nazis across Germany are attempting to appropriate Che Guevara imagery, veganism, Sesame Street and even the Harlem Shake in order to attract new youth members members.
Rogers also profiles controversial neo-Nazi vlogger Patrick Schroeder:
Schroeder is 30 years old, about six feet tall, with the boxy musculature of an MMA fighter, his blond hair shaved except for a jaunty strip along the top of his head. He's dressed all in black, wearing armbands slightly reminiscent of those favored by vintage Avril Lavigne and speaks quickly and loudly, with a strong Bavarian lilt. When he laughs, his upper right lip rises up, making him look both threatening and insecure. "If the Third Reich was so bad, it would have been toppled," he argues, before the filming begins. "Every half-intelligent person knows there is no system where everything was bad."
He won't elaborate, for legal reasons, but he'll happily share his topline thoughts about everything from Obama (whom he grossly describes as America's "neger president") to why black people don't belong in Germany ("It's against nature — there's a reason we're not walking around in the sun, in Ghana, with our skin color"), to why American neo-Nazis are "primitive" ("It's like they're always dressing up for a costume party") and — because, just like many other Germans, he loves American TV — his strong feelings about the series finale of How I Met Your Mother ("The mother dying was a good reminder that the world isn't a great place").
His delusions are legen. dary.
While the idea of neo-Nazis targeting hipsters, a group already known for thinking that they're better than everyone, and getting them to join their hateful fold is alarming, it has yet to gain much traction. While — horrendously — the number of hate crimes is on the rise across Europe, Rogers reports that the number of people in Germany with extreme-right sympathies has actually decreased dramatically in the last 12 years, going from 9.7 to 5.6 percent — a statistic that has left young neo-Nazis feeling rather persecuted.
"We're the new Jews in Germany," Schroeder told Rolling Stone, "except we don't wear stars."