Hate on Trial: The Case Against America's Most Dangerous Neo-Nazi

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Dees, co-founder of the Southern Poverty Law Center in Montgomery, Ala., and Fiffer follow up their bestselling collaboration, A Season for Justice , with this brisk, lucid, dramatic account of Dees's latest news-making case. After several skinheads fatally beat Ethiopian immigrant Mulugeta Seraw in Portland, Ore., in 1988, Dees seized the opportunity to expose the hate group he suspected was behind the killers--the White Aryan Resistance (WAR)--as he had done earlier with a Ku Klux Klan-supported murder. Suing WAR and leader Tom Metzger, Dees and colleagues found a WAR lieutenant willing to testify that Metzger encouraged the violence, and thus to support the suit under Oregon laws regarding liability for acts of others. (One skinhead had already pleaded guilty in the criminal case.) The trial had dicey moments, as jurors found the white supremacist charismatic, but Dees's evidence and deft rhetoric won a $12.5 million judgment, now under appeal, against WAR and Metzger for Seraw's family. Although the book is self-serving, the authors responsibly address the free speech concerns the case raised. Photos not seen by PW. Author tour. (Feb.)
Library Journal
Dees, co-founder of the Southern Poverty Law Center, has pioneered the use of civil suits to attack racist groups, notably in a 1984 suit filed on behalf of a lynching victim's mother, which resulted in the bankrupting of a major Ku Klux Klan organization. (For an account of this suit, see Dees's A Season for Justice , LJ 5/15/91.) In this book, Dees and Fiffer tell the story of a trial in which the racist leaders of White Aryan Resistance were found liable for the 1988 murder by skinheads of an Ethiopian immigrant in Portland, Oregon. The first half of the book, focusing on the pre-trial investigation, contains much annoying hokum, but the authors settle on a more compelling tone as they proceed, offering a revealing glimpse of legal strategies in the details of the trial itself. Still, the story might be more effectively told by an outsider, less certain of the correctness of Dees's methods and more sensitive to legal niceties and controversies.-- Timothy Christenfeld, Columbia Univ.
Donna Seaman
In attorney Dees' last book, "A Season for Justice" , he described the establishment of the nonprofit Southern Poverty Law Center and his courtroom assaults on the Ku Klux Klan. Here he divulges the behind-the-scenes strategies of his case against white supremacist Tom Metzger. As head of WAR, White Aryan Resistance, Metzger found ready recruits in disenfranchised skinheads. Dees made his move against Metzger after Mulugeta Seraw, an Ethiopian college student, was beaten to death in Portland, Oregon, in 1988. Several skinheads eventually pleaded guilty to the murder, and, when evidence of a connection between their violence and Metzger's propaganda surfaced, Dees went to work. This account of the research, acumen, persuasion, strategy, instinct, and plain old good luck that shaped and steered the case in the Seraw family's favor is both chilling and hopeful. On the frightening side are, of course, the sickening facts of the senseless and brutal murder. Detailed examples of Metzger's ignorant and hateful rhetoric are also deeply disturbing, as are the profiles of his unhappy, weak-willed followers. And hope? Well, Metzger was found guilty, Dees continues to defend victims of hate crimes, and books like this keep the spotlight on this most divisive of issues.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780679406143
  • Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 2/23/1993
  • Edition description: 1st ed
  • Pages: 280

Table of Contents

Prologue
Ch. 1 November 13, 1988: Portland, Oregon 3
Ch. 2 November 29, 1988: Montgomery, Alabama 9
Ch. 3 March 14, 1989: Montgomery, Alabama 19
Ch. 4 April 18, 1989: Oakland, California 25
Ch. 5 June 11, 1989: Mathews, Alabama 37
Ch. 6 June 12, 1989: Portland, Oregon 43
Ch. 7 July 6, 1989: Montgomery, Alabama 57
Ch. 8 July 12, 1989: Santa Ana, California 65
Ch. 9 January 24, 1990: San Diego, California 77
Ch. 10 February 20, 1990: Medford, Oregon 93
Ch. 11 June 17, 1990: Los Angeles, California 109
Ch. 12 September 20, 1990: Montgomery Alabama 129
Ch. 13 October 9, 1990: Portland, Oregon 153
Ch. 14 October 10, 1990: Portland, Oregon 167
Ch. 15 October 12, 1990: Portland, Oregon 199
Ch. 16 October 15, 1990: Portland, Oregon 217
Ch. 17 October 16, 1990: Portland, Oregon 231
Ch. 18 October 17, 1990: Portland, Oregon 243
Ch. 19 October 18, 1990: Portland, Oregon 253
Ch. 20 October 22, 1990: Portland, Oregon 269
Epilogue 275
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