Writing at the Guardian, David Smith, a white South African, remembers attending a recruiting meeting for the AWB, a pro-apartheid militia-style group, during the dying days of South African apartheid. He was 14 at the time and went with his father. They never went back.
His description of the meeting sounds as if it could have come from the contemporary US. Here’s a bit of it:
After the preacher, the “general” spoke. Direct and to the point, he said that Afrikaners stood at a crossroads. We could either choose death or we could fight to survive like he had always done. He then painted the history of South Africa in biblical terms, a chosen people battling against the odds to secure their promised land. The irony of a guy in quasi-Nazi regalia citing a Jewish story didn’t seem to worry him or anyone else in the room. All they heard was that apartheid had been a necessary reaction to the circumstances the Afrikaner had found himself in. And if he didn’t fight again, he was bound to die.
All of which was absurd rubbish, racist alarmist bunkum. But for so many people in that room, it made sense. Somehow, when they weighed up their options, the lunacy of a preacher with a handgun and a racist army of fat blokes in khaki seemed like a credible path forward. And that is scary. The same kind of scary that leads people to join all sorts of extremist groups. Whether it be the AWB, the KKK or the BNP. Their strategy is perfectly simple. Find the panic button and hit it as hard as you can.