CADILLAC – Floyd Cochran admitted Friday that he wasted his life on hate.
When he was the spokesman for the Aryan Nations, however, he would tell people something different.
He would say he didn’t hate anyone, he just loved the white race. Likewise, he was not a white supremacist, he was a white separatist. But when those people left, his words would change. They would change to words of hate.
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Cochran left the white supremacy group in 1992 and Friday he came to the Cadillac area to talk about hate groups. Despite threats on Web sites received earlier, he talked to students in Buckley and Mesick and at night he spoke to community members in Cadillac. The event was sponsored by Cadillac United.
“Threats come and go. I was threatened but I will not be intimidated,” he said.
During his nearly two-hour presentation, Cochran shared information about symbols and signs hate groups, things happening in other communities and personal stories from his experiences. One thing he wanted to stress was that it was not easy overcoming hateful ways.
“Change is not easy, it requires work when hate does not,” he said. “It’s much like a relationship. When you are involved in a relationship you work hard at it but when it ends it takes no work to hate that other person.”
The light turned on to change for Cochran when the hate turned inward toward his family.
While the Aryan Nations treated Cochran as family, something he did not have a child, it did not extend the same attitude toward his son. Cochran was told the child would have to be euthanized because of a genetic defect. Over the next couple months, Cochran struggled with the issue until he finally left the hate group.
Although he does not wish to go back, he said he still struggles with some of the things he learned while with the group.
“A year ago in Philadelphia, a black man cut me off. I instantly thought of a racial epitaph. Then I thought, ‘Why did I feel that way?’” he said. “I’m still working on that.”
After his presentation, Cochran held a question-and-answer session where members of the audience were able to ask questions.
A few members of the local National Socialists Movement asked Cochran how he could defend members of anti-hate groups who were arrested in Toledo for assaulting various Neo-Nazis.
He simply said he did not endorse or justify violence and it was better to take a non-violent path against such groups.
“I was waiting for them to ask a question. I thought (the question) would be a more hostile type question. Like, ‘we don’t do that or we don’t hate people,’” he said. “They did not deny it.”
As for what the people can do to combat hate groups such as the National Socialists Movement, Cochran said not to forget the First Amendment protects hate groups as well as every other citizen.
“It’s not what you say at the rally, it is what you do the day after the rally. Find creative ways to take a stand,” he said. “There is a passive way to deal with them.”
Hate groups reach out to youth and play on people’s fears and stereotypes.
Ignoring hate groups with the hopes that they will go away is a myth. It allows them to continue to play on fears and stereotypes.
Until July 1992, Floyd Cochran was the fifth ranking member and Director of Propaganda for the Neo-Nazi group, Aryan Nation, in Idaho.
This is a white supremacist group that combines Nazi ideas with a racist brand of biblical fundamentalism known as Christian Identity. Since leaving the Aryan Nation, Cochran has been working to counter the messages hate groups bring to communities and schools.
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