The white supremacist who is accused of shooting an
African-American man at the US
Holocaust Museum on June 10 has taken advantage of journalists' normal
reporting practices to publish a white-supremacist code praising Adolf Hitler in every
newspaper in the country.
As every media outlet dutifully reported, the suspect, James von
Brunn, is 88 years old. Of course, it is standard practice when identifying a
criminal suspect for reporters to find out, and publish, the suspect's age. But
his age is no accident. (And he really is 88, according to the federal Bureau of Prisons.)
Because von Brunn is 88, in printing that otherwise innocuous
piece of information, news organizations around the world have printed and
broadcast what white supremacists know is a numeric code meaning "Heil Hitler."
The letter "H" is the eighth letter of the alphabet, and hatemongers around the
world have long used "88" to mean "HH," or "Heil Hitler," honoring the leading
historical icon of hate and intolerance, Nazi dictator Adolf Hitler.
Von Brunn himself knew and used this code often. He signed many
of his Web postings "James von Brunn 88" - which, eerily, differs only by a
comma from how most newspapers and online news sites identified him after the
shooting: "James von Brunn, 88."
White supremacists, including von Brunn himself, must be dancing
with glee that - among other prestigious news outlets - the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal have, effectively,
printed "Heil Hitler" in their pages.
Von Brunn clearly wanted to make a statement - a longtime white
supremacist, he allegedly shot an African-American man at a museum honoring the
memory of the millions of Jews slaughtered by Hitler's policies in World War
What's more, it turns out that von Brunn was not going to be 88
much longer - his birthday is in mid-July. He was running out of time to make
his statement with full effect. And, tragically, he decided to seize the