James Mason

James Mason is an American neo-Nazi author and acolyte of cult leader Charles Manson. Mason’s 1992 book Siege, an anthology of violent pro-Nazi and pro-Manson essays he wrote in the 1980s, has inspired a generation of neo-Nazis who have formed an online subculture devoted to the promotion of Mason, his writings, and Manson.Alexander Epp and Roman Höfner, “The Hate Network,” Der Spiegel, August 25, 2018, http://www.spiegel.de/spiegel/print/index-2018-35.html; A.C. Thompson, Ali Winston, and Jake Hanrahan, “Inside Atomwaffen As It Celebrates a Member for Allegedly Killing a Gay Jewish College Student,” ProPublica, last updated August 3, 2018, https://www.propublica.org/article/atomwaffen-division-inside-white-hate-group.

George Lincoln Rockwell founded the American Nazi Party (ANP) in 1959.“1967: ‘American Hitler’ shot dead,” BBC News, accessed December 19, 2018, http://news.bbc.co.uk/onthisday/hi/dates/stories/august/25/newsid_3031000/3031928.stm. Mason joined the ANP in the 1960s at the age of 14. Two years later, he dropped out of school to work at the ANP headquarters in Virginia.“Guide to the James N. Mason Collection – Papers of James N. Mason,” Kenneth Spencer Research Library, University of Kansas Libraries, accessed December 19, 2018, http://etext.ku.edu/view?docId=ksrlead/ksrl.kc.masonjames.xml. In 1969, the National Socialist Liberation Front (NSLF) splintered off from the ANP, which had collapsed after Rockwell’s 1967 assassination. Mason joined the NSLF and embraced its calls for political terrorism.Alexander Epp and Roman Höfner, “The Hate Network,” Der Spiegel, August 25, 2018, http://www.spiegel.de/spiegel/print/index-2018-35.html; A.C. Thompson, Ali Winston, and Jake Hanrahan, “Inside Atomwaffen As It Celebrates a Member for Allegedly Killing a Gay Jewish College Student,” ProPublica, last updated August 3, 2018, https://www.propublica.org/article/atomwaffen-division-inside-white-hate-group. During this time, Mason also formed a relationship with cult leader and convicted murderer Charles Manson. In the 1970s, Mason formed the Universal Order movement with Manson, who designed the movement’s logo, a swastika imposed over scales of justice. Mason wrote of his admiration for Manson and praised him as “a great leader/philosopher.”Matt Lebovic, “Inside ‘Atomwaffen,’ where Blaze Bernstein’s alleged killer trained for race war,” Times of Israel, January 29, 2018, https://www.timesofisrael.com/inside-atomwaffen-where-blaze-bernsteins-alleged-killer-trained-for-race-war/; Adam Lusher, “Charles Manson: Neo-Nazis hail serial killer a visionary and try to resurrect fascist movement created on his orders,” Independent (London), November 20, 2017, https://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/charles-manson-death-dead-serial-killer-neo-nazis-resurrect-fascist-movement-cult-family-universal-a8065781.html. Referring to Manson as “the highest authority,” Mason credited the cult leader with directly inspiring Mason to form the movement and creating the name Universal Order.Adam Lusher, “Charles Manson: Neo-Nazis hail serial killer a visionary and try to resurrect fascist movement created on his orders,” Independent (London), November 20, 2017, https://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/charles-manson-death-dead-serial-killer-neo-nazis-resurrect-fascist-movement-cult-family-universal-a8065781.html.

Nonetheless, Mason remained involved with the NSLF. In 1980, he took over responsibility for writing and editing the NSLF’s monthly newsletter, “Siege.” Though the NSLF disbanded in 1982, Mason continued to publish “Siege” through 1986, promoting pro-Nazi and pro-Manson ideologies.“Guide to the James N. Mason Collection – Papers of James N. Mason,” Kenneth Spencer Research Library, University of Kansas Libraries, accessed December 19, 2018, http://etext.ku.edu/view?docId=ksrlead/ksrl.kc.masonjames.xml; A.C. Thompson, Ali Winston, and Jake Hanrahan, “Inside Atomwaffen As It Celebrates a Member for Allegedly Killing a Gay Jewish College Student,” ProPublica, last updated August 3, 2018, https://www.propublica.org/article/atomwaffen-division-inside-white-hate-group. In 1992, Mason compiled the newsletters into an eponymous book.“Guide to the James N. Mason Collection – Papers of James N. Mason,” Kenneth Spencer Research Library, University of Kansas Libraries, accessed December 19, 2018, http://etext.ku.edu/view?docId=ksrlead/ksrl.kc.masonjames.xml. The book promotes the creation of autonomous terror cells fighting a guerilla war against “the system” under the common banner of the White Liberation Front. Mason praises the Manson Family murders and Dan White—who murdered San Francisco Mayor George Moscone and gay rights leader Harvey Milk—as “direct action.”A.C. Thompson, Ali Winston, and Jake Hanrahan, “Inside Atomwaffen As It Celebrates a Member for Allegedly Killing a Gay Jewish College Student,” ProPublica, last updated August 3, 2018, https://www.propublica.org/article/atomwaffen-division-inside-white-hate-group; Adam Lusher, “Charles Manson: Neo-Nazis hail serial killer a visionary and try to resurrect fascist movement created on his orders,” Independent (London), November 20, 2017, https://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/charles-manson-death-dead-serial-killer-neo-nazis-resurrect-fascist-movement-cult-family-universal-a8065781.html. The second chapter of Siege focuses on violent revolution and political terrorism, while other chapters glorify Manson and Adolf Hitler.James Mason, Siege (2015: IronMarch.org), https://ia800604.us.archive.org/26/items/SiegeByJamesMason/Siege-by-James-Mason.pdf.

In 1994, Mason moved to Colorado where he was arrested and subsequently imprisoned on charges of sexual exploitation of a minor stemming from a relationship he had with a 14-year-old girl in Ohio. Mason was imprisoned for three years and then again shortly after his release for parole violations.“Guide to the James N. Mason Collection – Papers of James N. Mason,” Kenneth Spencer Research Library, University of Kansas Libraries, accessed December 19, 2018, http://etext.ku.edu/view?docId=ksrlead/ksrl.kc.masonjames.xml; Jake Hanrahan, Twitter post, April 21, 2018, 7:40 p.m., https://twitter.com/jake_hanrahan/status/987838629627289600?lang=en; Jeffrey Kaplan ed., Encyclopedia of White Power: A Sourcebook on the Radical Racist Right (Walnut Creek: AltaMira Press, 2000), 193-199.

Mason’s writing garnered little attention and he remained out of the public eye after his incarceration. But in 2015, a group of users on the now-defunct fascist web forum IronMarch discovered Siege and began to promote it on the forum.A.C. Thompson, Ali Winston, and Jake Hanrahan, “California Murder Suspect Said to Have Trained With Extremist Hate Group,” ProPublica, January 26, 2018, https://www.propublica.org/article/california-murder-suspect-atomwaffen-division-extremist-hate-group. These members formed the Atomwaffen Division (AWD), a virulent neo-Nazi network suspected in multiple U.S. murders. AWD openly embraces Nazi and satanic imagery and rhetoric based on Mason’s Nazi beliefs and fealty to the late cult leader Charles Manson.A.C. Thompson, Ali Winston, and Jake Hanrahan, “California Murder Suspect Said to Have Trained With Extremist Hate Group,” ProPublica, January 26, 2018, https://www.propublica.org/article/california-murder-suspect-atomwaffen-division-extremist-hate-group; Kelly Weill, “Satanism Drama Is Tearing Apart the Murderous Neo-Nazi Group Atomwaffen,” Daily Beast, March 21, 2018, https://www.thedailybeast.com/satanism-drama-is-tearing-apart-the-murderous-neo-nazi-group-atomwaffen; Sonneinkreig Division, Gab account, accessed August 16, 2018, https://gab.ai/skd; “Worldview,” Universal Order, accessed August 16, 2018, http://siegeculture.biz/worldview/. In 2015, AWD members republished Mason’s book online.Jessica Schulberg and Luke O’Brien, “We Found The Neo-Nazi Twitter Account Tied To A Virginia Double Homicide,” Huffington Post, last updated January 5, 2018, https://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/nicholas-giampa-neo-nazi-teenager-murder-girlfriends-parents-virginia_us_5a4d0797e4b0b0e5a7aa4780. In July 2017, a group of IronMarch users claimed they had met with Mason, which led to their creation of a website for Mason’s writings called Universal Order at https://siegeculture.biz/. The group included a user nicknamed Rape, the pseudonym of AWD’s reported leader, John Cameron Denton.James Poulter, “The Obscure Neo-Nazi Forum Linked to a Wave of Terror,” Vice News, March 12, 2018, https://www.vice.com/en_au/article/437pkd/the-obscure-neo-nazi-forum-linked-to-a-wave-of-terror. Accused murderer and AWD member Sam Woodward also claimed to have met Mason. AWD chat logs revealed that members frequently praised Mason and posted his writings and picture.A.C. Thompson, Ali Winston, and Jake Hanrahan, “Inside Atomwaffen As It Celebrates a Member for Allegedly Killing a Gay Jewish College Student,” ProPublica, last updated August 3, 2018, https://www.propublica.org/article/atomwaffen-division-inside-white-hate-group. Using Amazon’s self-publishing tool CreateSpace, AWD has republished Siege and published new Mason writings, which they sell through Amazon.Alexander Epp and Roman Höfner, “The Hate Network,” Der Spiegel, August 25, 2018, http://www.spiegel.de/spiegel/print/index-2018-35.html.

The Siege Culture/Universal Order website.

So-called Siege Culture has developed into an online subculture of its own based on the Universal Order website and social media dedicated to Mason’s writings. The Siege Culture/Universal Order website is dedicated to Mason and his Universal Order movement. It includes links to a version of Siege on the Internet Archive and hosts essays by Mason, his Siegecast podcast, and links to various other neo-Nazi content. Its library includes neo-Nazi and white supremacist literature such as Mein Kampf and The Turner Diaries by William Luther Pierce, as well as books on Satanism, the occult, and fantasy like The Lord of the Rings.Universal Order, accessed December 20, 2018, http://siegeculture.biz/. The Worldview section of the site declares that the page is “something that James Mason attempted to put into form himself, but due to circumstance, he never implemented it. This changed in the year of 2017, when the Atomwaffen Division discovered and met James Mason,” which led to “a new course of action for SIEGE.”“Worldview,” Universal Order, accessed August 16, 2018, http://siegeculture.biz/worldview/. The page administrators deny that Mason runs Universal Order, though he is cited as the author of blog posts and podcasts on the website.“Contact,” Universal Order, accessed August 16, 2018, http://siegeculture.biz/contact/.

The podcast section of Siege Culture/Universal Order, featuring podcasts by James Mason

The library section of Siege Culture/Universal Order, featuring images of Mason and Charles Manson, the Universal Order logo designed by Manson, and pro-Nazi, white supremacist, and fantasy literature.

In addition to the website, Mason’s followers have created Twitter, YouTube, and other social media accounts.SIEGE Culture Gab account, accessed December 20, 2018, https://gab.ai/SIEGECulture; SIEGE Culture Twitter account, accessed December 20, 2018, https://twitter.com/siegeculture_?lang%3Den; SIEGEWAVE YouTube account, accessed December 20, 2018, https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC3oRnYKTvOHg5hyFuC-RCWA; Read SIEGE YouTube account, accessed December 20, 2018, https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCdh4N2bPSIWn5Bbfyc8bIVQ. As of December 20, 2018, the Read Siege YouTube channel hosted 48 videos and has received more than 25,000 views since its creation in 2017.Read SIEGE YouTube account, accessed December 20, 2018, https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCdh4N2bPSIWn5Bbfyc8bIVQ. The SIEGE Culture Twitter account had 650 followers as of the same date.SIEGE Culture Twitter account, accessed December 20, 2018, https://twitter.com/siegeculture_?lang%3Den.

The Read SIEGE YouTube channel.

In line with Mason’s racist, violent ideology, AWD members have been linked to at least five U.S. murders since 2017. Among the most prominent was the January 2018 murder of gay, Jewish college student Blaze Bernstein, allegedly by AWD member Sam Woodward.A.C. Thompson, Ali Winston, and Jake Hanrahan, “Inside Atomwaffen As It Celebrates a Member for Allegedly Killing a Gay Jewish College Student,” ProPublica, last updated August 3, 2018, https://www.propublica.org/article/atomwaffen-division-inside-white-hate-group; A.C. Thompson, Ali Winston, and Jake Hanrahan, “California Murder Suspect Said to Have Trained With Extremist Hate Group,” ProPublica, January 26, 2018, https://www.propublica.org/article/california-murder-suspect-atomwaffen-division-extremist-hate-group. In December 2018, the FBI arrested Washington state white supremacist Dakota Reed after he made several posts on Twitter threatening violence against Jews and Muslims. Reed also posted about Siege.“Washington White Supremacist Arrested for Threatening Mass Killings of Jews and other Minorities,” Anti-Defamation League, December 17, 2018, https://www.adl.org/blog/washington-white-supremacist-arrested-for-threatening-mass-killings-of-jews-and-other. Suspected AWD member Nicholas Giampa, who allegedly killed his girlfriend’s parents in December 2017, praised Siege, Adolf Hitler, and anti-Semitic violence on Twitter.Jessica Schulberg and Luke O’Brien, “We Found The Neo-Nazi Twitter Account Tied To A Virginia Double Homicide,” Huffington Post, January 4, 2018, https://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/nicholas-giampa-neo-nazi-teenager-murder-girlfriends-parents-virginia_us_5a4d0797e4b0b0e5a7aa4780.

Mason continues to author blog posts and host podcasts on the Universal Order website. AWD leader Denton claims he owns the distribution rights to Mason’s writings and that Mason “passed the torch to us.”Alexander Epp and Roman Höfner, “The Hate Network,” Der Spiegel, August 25, 2018, http://www.spiegel.de/spiegel/print/index-2018-35.html.

On February 26, 2020, federal authorities arrested Denton in Montgomery, Texas, for his alleged role in multiple swatting conspiracies. Swatting is a harassment tactic that involves misleading dispatchers with information on an imminent threat in a specific location, leading authorities to respond in full force, including a SWAT team response.“Two men arrested in Montgomery County linked to hate group with history of violence,” KHOU 11, February 26, 2020, https://www.khou.com/article/news/crime/hate-group-based-in-montgomery-county-has-history-of-violence/285-d08cc091-c237-4df3-9a43-5df9fbad91c1; “Former Atomwaffen Division Leader Arrested for Swatting Conspiracy,” U.S. Department of Justice, February 26, 2020, https://www.justice.gov/usao-edva/pr/former-atomwaffen-division-leader-arrested-swatting-conspiracy. Four other AWD members were also arrested for sending anti-Semitic and racist threats to journalists.Tess Owen, “The FBI Just Arrested a Bunch of Neo-Nazi Atomwaffen Members,” Vice, February 26, 2020, https://www.vice.com/en_us/article/bvgy9a/the-fbi-just-arrested-a-bunch-of-neo-nazi-atomwaffen-members. On March 9, 2020, an alleged audio recording by Mason announced AWD would immediately disband due to increasing pressure from legal authorities. Mason further declared that anything found on the Internet in the future claiming to be from AWD was fake. Vice confirmed the authenticity of the message with multiple sources familiar with Mason’s voice.Ben Makuch, “Audio Recording Claims Neo-Nazi Terror Group Is Disbanding,” Vice, March 14, 2020, https://www.vice.com/en_us/article/qjdnam/audio-recording-claims-neo-nazi-terror-group-is-disbanding.

 
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