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How Many Swastikas Does a Guy Have to Tattoo on His Face Before We Can Safely Assume He's Racist?

July 29, 2011, 3:59 PM

Here's a strange story: Erica Herrera plans to marry Curtis Allgier, even though he's an incarcerated alleged murderer with white supremacist tattoos all over his face and she's not white. (Full-sized image)

Herrera attempts to explain her decision to the Associated Press in terms of kind of Anthropic Principle of Racism: Her fiance couldn't possibly be as racist you might assume from the Iron Cross, swastikas, and white power acronyms tattooed on his face. Because if he were, he wouldn't have agreed to marry her.

There's no indication that Allgier has renounced whatever worldview inspired him to put a combat boot on his nose and SS lightning bolts on his cheeks. But Herrera is choosing to assume he doesn't mean anything by it.

She wouldn't be the first person in love to twist logic to portray her beloved in the best possible light.

What's really weird are all commenters on Jezebel who are going out of their way to explain why Allgier might not be a racist after all. A variety of innovative arguments have been put forth to explain why he might just be a misunderstood white guy with a face full of swastikas.

Here are two of my favorites:

Not all skinheads are racist. True. But anti-racist skinheads don't go in for all that Iron Cross, swastika, SS lightning bolt iconography. You know why? Because being Skinheads Who Hate Nazis is their core brand idea.

He panicked in prison. This contingent argues that we should cut the guy some slack because the really Nazified tattoos look like prison tattoos and everyone who watches prison documentaries on A&E knows that you have to join a racially-based gang to survive inside.

First off, the U.S. locks up hundreds of thousands of people, at least some of whom are white. Most of them don't come out looking like that.

Besides which, Allgier has vehemently denied belonging to any white supremacist prison gang. He thinks that these gang members are a bunch of opportunists who are debasing the white supremacist movement. That's a little hard to believe in light of the fact that he has "A.E.W." tattooed on his head, the initials of the Aryan Empire Warriors, a California prison gang. He says it stands for "Allgier Eternally White."

At any rate, he's a lifelong white supremacist skinhead who was written up by the Southern Poverty Law Center. He says he was born into a skinhead family and "raised that way." His association with white supremacy predates his incarceration.

I'll leave the last word to my friend Gregory A. Butler, a comment moderator at Jezebel, "I've said it elsewhere and I'll say it again why is it so hard to wrap your mind around the idea that a man with White supremacist tattoos ON HIS FACE is a White supremacist?"


How Many Swastikas Does a G...

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