IMPACT: James Mason is a neo-Nazi who advocates violent revolution against the United States government. He believes that chaos caused by white supremacist violence will lead to the collapse of the government and the rise of Nazism by way of a “race war.” His writings serve as a textbook for many violent white supremacist groups, including Atomwaffen Division. In March 2020, Mason announced that AWD is disbanding as an organization.
James Mason was born in 1952 and grew up in Chillicothe, Ohio. Mason has been actively involved in or associated with various factions of American Nazism since he was 14 years old, including George Lincoln Rockwell’s American Nazi Party (ANP, later know as the National Socialist White People’s Party), the National Socialist Liberation Front (NSLF), and William Pierce’s National Alliance. Pierce, the author of The Turner Diaries (a notoriously racist and antisemitic novel that serves as “the Bible of the extremist right”), was one of Mason’s key mentors.
In 1968, 16-year-old Mason planned to murder his school principal and other school staff. In an interview published in 2019 by MSNBC, Mason stated that when he called the ANP headquarters and described his plan, Pierce asked him to come and assist the party instead of committing the shooting. Mason moved to Alexandria, Virginia to work in the ANP’s national office shortly after.
One of Mason’s heroes is serial killer Charles Manson. After making contact with several of Manson’s followers, Mason corresponded with Manson from 1981 through the early 1990s. Mason saw the Manson Family killings as necessary “direct action” and praised Manson, saying, “His actions have been mightier, his ideas loftier, his eloquence greater, his philosophy superior and his impact ten thousand times that of anything the Movement can offer as its closest runner-up.” In the 1980s, Manson and Mason co-founded the “Universal Order,” which Mason describes as “more a concept than the name of any group or organization” and “everything National Socialism is and much, much more.”
In 1980, Mason took over the writing and publication of Siege, the monthly newsletter of the NSLF. After the NSLF collapsed in the mid 1980s, Mason continued to publish Siege until 1986. In 1992, the entire run of Siege was collected and published. According to the introduction of the 2003 edition, “SIEGE is to be used as a cookbook and guide. It is sincerely hoped this edition will prevail the vigilant(e) intelligence to heed a clarion call, wage battles of attrition, and act in a manner commensurate to Timothy McVeigh of Oklahoma City fame.” Siege remains highly influential in many white nationalist circles today. The University of Kansas library reports that in the past few years a growing number of people have viewed Mason’s collected papers in their archives.
In Siege, Mason repeats the common white supremacist conspiracy theory that white people are being “terrorized” and overrun by non-white people, and that “Western culture” is under attack. In response to such perceived attacks, Mason quotes Hitler, saying that “the only answer to terrorism is stronger terrorism.” He believes that this terrorism will eventually lead to the collapse of society, and that neo-Nazis will be able to take control.
Siege is filled with violent racism and antisemitism. Throughout the text Mason repeats the conspiracy theory that Jewish people control the media and the government, and claims, “A healthy state will expel – or kill – the Jew.” In a PBS FRONTLINE documentary that aired November 2018, Mason stated during an interview with ProPublica reporter A.C. Thompson, “The white race is in danger and it’s not by accident. It’s driven. It’s planned.” When Thompson asked who’s planning it, Mason responded, “The Jews. We know it’s the Jews. I mean, we know that.” He also deliberately dehumanizes people of color in order to encourage violence against them. When asked if a race war would involve the killing of women and children, he says his favorite response to ask is, “You mean females and offspring?” At another point, Mason praises a neo-Nazi who had recently been arrested for murdering two mixed race couples. He goes on to claim that the “proper target” of effective terrorist attacks might be “the offspring rather than the adult.”
In the 1990s and 2000s Mason largely receded from public view. However, in the early 2010s members of the now-defunct neo-Nazi online forum Iron March rediscrovered Siege and began encouraging others to read it. A former forum user described the book as “something of an ‘ah ha!’ moment” for them. The hashtag #readSIEGE became a meme on the forum and is still used in some right-wing circles today. In 2017 one of the groups that originated on Iron March, the violent neo-Nazi group Atomwaffen Division (AWD), claimed that they had met with Mason.
According to an investigation by Frontline and ProPublica, a former member of AWD stated that interest in Mason’s work swelled after 2017’s violent Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville. That same former member claimed that following Charlottesville many white supremacists came to believe that public demonstrations would not help them achieve their political goals and were therefore drawn to Mason’s ideas of violent revolution for white people.
Mason’s followers have posted his writings on the website Siege Kultur. As of March 2020, the Seige Kultur’s webpage on the writings of Mason states that a “seigecast,” likely a combination of the terms “seige” and “podcast,” is “soon to come.” Mason also writes for Siege Culture, including Nazi history and politics, Donald Trump, Charles Manson, what he sees as the degeneracy of modern society, and UFOs. On President Donald Trump, Mason has stated, “With Trump winning that election…I now believe anything could be possible. … As Trump says, and he has it printed right across the front of his hat: ‘Make America Great Again.’ In order to make America great again, you’d have to make America white again. It’s interesting. We’re headed for interesting times.”
Mason sees Muslims as a threat to his vision of a white, Christian Europe: “We had a little trouble with the Muslims during the Middle Ages and even afterward. They very nearly overran all of Europe during that time. Had they succeeded then, there would be no White race today, no light in the world whatsoever. And had it not been for early Christianity, they most surely would have succeeded.” He also described the refugees and migrants in Europe as “invading every White land.”
Mason has a close relationship with Atomwaffen Division (AWD). A former member of the group claims that “they’re basically his disciples.” Christian Picciolini, a “peace advocate” and “former violent extremist,” calls Mason their “ideological godfather.” Members of AWD have met with Mason to talk and take selfies. Mason has stated that he’s “always happy to meet with them” and that “on occasion they will come through the territory.” While AWD was linked to five murders between 2017 and 2019, Mason claims that he never advised AWD to commit any of them: “I never said go out and kill anybody. I said if you or anybody else must do this, for God’s sake, do it right . . . If you’ve got to do it, make it worthwhile.” Mason has also stated, “I do not urge anybody to do anything like that, but when it gets done, I won’t disown them. I kind of welcome the chaos.”
In March 2020, Politico reported that the U.S. State Department is considering designating a white supremacist group as a Foreign Terrorist Organization (FTO), with some analysts speculating that U.S. neo-Nazi group Atomwaffen Division (AWD) would be “the top candidate.” Historically, the FTO designation process has had a “disparate impact on the Arab Muslim community” and has been criticized for issues concerning due process and equal protection, among others. Following Politico’s reporting, Mason, who is described as the “chief philosophical influence” and advisor of AWD, released an audio message declaring that AWD is disbanding as an organization. Mason acknowledged increasing federal pressure on AWD and claimed, “I was approached by members of the group known as Atomwaffen Division with the request that I make the official announcement of that group’s disbanding, effective at once.”
Mason has a long history of praising terrorists and mass-murders. In addition to his personal relationship with Charles Manson, Mason has expressed admiration for Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McViegh, whom he has described as a “hero.” Mason has also spoken highly of the perpetrator of the Charlottesville car attack that killed one protester, stating, “That had to be done. There should have been more. I think somebody should have opened up on that crowd of communists down there and just laid waste.”
Mason has been arrested several times for charges related to assault against minors and sexual misconduct with minors. In 1992 he pled guilty to two counts of “illegal use of a minor in nudity-oriented material” after investigators found pornographic photos of a 15-year-old girl in his home. He was arrested again in 1994 and convicted of felony menacing for threatening his 16-year-old ex-girlfriend and her new boyfriend with a firearm. In 1973 Mason was jailed for six months in Ohio for macing Black teenagers in the parking lot of a Dairy Queen.
Updated April 1, 2020