(photo credit: REUTERS)
For more than 40 years, Kevin Wilshaw was an active member of the neo-Nazi movement in the UK. But on Tuesday night, the ex-white supremacist said he is leaving the movement, he is gay, and he has Jewish heritage.
In an exclusive interview with Briton’s Channel 4, Wilshaw unpacked his past hateful behavior – including an arrest for vandalizing a mosque – and explained why he had to leave.
As a youth, Wilshaw said, it was exhilarating to be a member of the far-right Nazi movement.
“You’ve got the same belief system, the same enemy as well, and it was unifying,” he said in the interview. “It was Jewish people, immigrants, the far Left, anybody who imposed a left-wing agenda.”
He joined a number of neo-Nazi groups over the years, including the fascist National Front political party.
This was despite the fact that he said his mother was “part Jewish – her maiden name was Benjamin. We do have Jewish blood in the family on that side.”
That didn’t stop him from seeing Jews as the No. 1 enemy.
Wilshaw shared some of his earlier writings, in which he railed against “the Jews.”
“You’re presenting a global faceless mass of people,” he said. “You know you can’t personalize it, you can’t see an individual there... that’s the sort of generalization that results in six million people being deliberately murdered.”
As late as earlier this year, Wilshaw was spreading hate speech online and appearing at fascist events. He showed the interviewer the huge swastika flag that was, until recently, hanging in his bedroom.
But as he began to confront his gay identity, Wilshaw saw cracks in the movement he had supported for so many decades. And when some of his fellow neo-Nazis suspected him of being gay, he felt their wrath turn toward him.
“It’s not until it’s directed at you that you suddenly realize that what you’re doing is wrong,” he said. “I feel appallingly guilty as well, I really do feel guilty,” he said.
And now that he’s left, he said, he has an agenda of his own.
“I want to do some damage to the people who were propagating this sort of rubbish,” he said. “I want to hurt them... I want to show what it’s like to actually live a lie and be on the receiving end of this sort of propaganda.”