The Null Device
It's getting harder to identify the neo-Nazis; no longer content to shave their heads and wear white bootlaces (much to the relief of skinheads into the scene for the music), they now have their own street-casual sportswear brand, Thor Steinar, which looks like any other streetwear, only with a few more Nordic symbols and (allegedly) the odd hint at Nazi sympathies:
Many of the symbols are straightforward. On one Thor Steinar T-shirt, the word kontaktfreudig is splashed across red splotches that look like spatters of blood. The word could be translated as "outgoing," or more literally, "happy to make contact." The display on Rosa-Luxemburg Street includes clothing with common symbols like an eagle for German pride, or "18" and "88" for "Adolf Hitler" and "Heil Hitler" -- numbers freighted with meaning because of the position of the initials in the alphabet.The Thor Steinar brand (some of whose earlier designs have been banned for looking too runic and warlike) denies deliberately appealing to neo-Nazis, though some regard these denials with scepticism. Still, it's not clear how long they can cash in on the crypto-Nazi demographic, now that the company has been bought by a Dubai-based Arab investor. On the other hand, the Nazis of today aren't necessarily all that discerning:
"They are getting harder to spot," she said, taking a picture out of a folder showing far-right and far-left activists facing off at a march. Both groups wore Che Guevara T-shirts and checked scarves -- long a leftist symbol of solidarity with Palestinians. But the far right co-opted both symbols, she explained, just as neo-Nazis have taken to wearing all black, which used to be an anarchist fashion statement.
Guevara may be the strangest appropriation of all. Neo-Nazis wear his image but don't hesitate to beat up people who look different -- including Latin Americans.Perhaps next they'll adopt Robert Mugabe as a political icon; after all, he's thuggish enough, and is one of the few political leaders in recent times to have proudly equated himself to Hitler. The whole "white-supremacy" angle could prove to be a stumbling block though.