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In the late 1980s, shaven-headed youths called “skinheads” espoused white supremacist and neo-Nazi ideologies and became the media's latest folk devil. Racist skinheads appeared as the villains in movies, police dramas, and TV talk shows, going so far as breaking one host's nose in a 1988 brawl on the Geraldo Rivera Show. The characterization of skinheads as “racist terrorists” can be misleading, as skinheads come in many varieties and engage in various levels of skinhead activity. Nevertheless, since the 1980s, skin-heads have routinely been linked to hate crimes, political extremism, and bias-motivated terror; by 1990, more than half of violent racial assaults were attributed to skinheads.

The lifestyle known as “skinhead” emerged from the plethora of British youth subcultures in the late 1960s. Amid well-documented groups, such as mods and rockers, skinheads appeared as, essentially, a working-class response to the more middle-class hippies. Their style ...

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