This weekends events in Charlottesville just really shook me up. As pictures of the rally began to hit social media and some of the participants where identified as being from Ohio, I posted on my Facebook page saying “We can not say this does not affect us- we must admit we have a problem and talk about it if we are to have any chance to overcome this.”
As you can imagine, there were a slew of opinions posted, amongst them people that where angry, many of the posts were filled with hatred and disgust. I struggle to understand the motivation of what would make someone support this organization?
One of the posters said he knew one of the participants and had tried to talk him out of going. I replied, “ It would be great to hear from him- what his experience was like and how did this make him feel? “ I truly believe the only way we can learn is to hear what others think- doesn’t mean we’ll agree, but I think honest dialogue is a good start.
So I had the chance to speak with a young man in the White Nationalist Movement and I asked him to try to help me understand what made him go to the rally in Virginia, what he expected to happen there and how he felt about what happened there.
He started off explaining that he believed that African Americans have the right to support Black Lives Matter. Hispanics promote and defend their culture. He’s proud to be white and believes he honors his ancestors and the sacrifices they made for him and it’s his duty to serve his people and his family be being a White Nationalist.
According to this young man the movement had been planning this rally for months and over 1000 people were expected to attend. He emphasized that his organization was a non-violent group, but they were growing so quickly that sometimes it was hard to control all the participants. Here’s how he explained what happened in Virginia:
-The White Nationalist organized a peaceful assembly in Charlottesville called Unite the Right and organized by Jason Kessler.
-The organizers lawfully obtained a permit to host this event that was a protest of the removal the statue of confederate General Robert E. Lee from Emancipation Park.
-Charlottesville illegally revoked the permit for this event, denying the White Nationals their legal right to assemble, which was a violation of the rights of pro-whites.
-Jason Kessler successfully sued Charlottesville for violating the First Amendment, and a Federal judge ruled that the permit must be reinstated and the right to assemble honored on Friday night at 8:20pm
-The city and their police were upset that the courts overturned their decision and therefore they didn’t protect the White Nationalists rights to protest, allowing counter-protestors like Antifa and BLM members to infiltrate the space and creating a violent situation. Bricks were being thrown, pepper spray was used as well as tear gas and things got out of control.
I asked what his organization hoped to accomplish at Charlottesville and he said that they wanted to “Redpill” more people for the movement. (Redpill is a slang term in certain alt-right-adjacent Internet communities like the men’s rights crew. It refers to that famous Matrix scene where Neo takes the red pill and sees things as they really are. When alt-right dudes use it, they generally mean, “convince other white people that we’re better than others.) He shared it was working, they are gaining supporters and the turn out in Charlotte was double what they expected.
Asking him how he got involved, he referenced that when he was 16 in high school he became very interested in World War 2 and began reading about the history, the lies about the war that where spread and continued to read all about the ideology of the war.
I asked him if he identified with being a Nazi and he quickly threw back the question what did I define as a Nazi and I shared that I believed they were a group of people that believed there should only be one race- the white race. He answered that he had no problem with blacks and Hispanics and Jews, but he was “fighting to secure a future for the white race.” When I pushed for more information he told me the goal was to have a White Ethno-State where they could protect their white heritage.
When I asked who could be a part of that he shared that Caucasians, who might need to prove their lineage or take a DNA test. When I pushed for more clarification he said that he wasn’t able to talk to specifics, but that leadership would make those decisions. I asked if the movement was tied to religion and got a mixed answer. They were open to those of Christian faith, or even agnostics, but atheists could absolutely not be a part of the movement.
When questioned if he thought this would happen soon and he said he didn’t expect so, it might take fifty years to happen, but he would dedicate his life to the fight. He felt strongly that fighting for the cause was an unselfish thing to do and that while it was a hard road, it was better than just trying to be selfish and live for himself.
We talked about the ramifications after all the publicity from Charlottesville and he admitted he’s had death threats and that his family was being threatened and people were putting his life on the Internet, and that he’s scared. But he feels it’s his duty to the movement to carry on and he won’t move away from the Miami Valley. When asked how he deals with the threats, he says those people are the true oppressors, throwing things at them, chasing them down, vandalizing their cars. He shared that the White Movement had to deal with this often, like when Air B& B cancelled many of their reservations in Charlotte once they found out why they were there- another example of white discrimination.
As we wrapped up our discussion, I asked him for a quote to represent who he is and this is what he shared:
“I know what I believe, no one will deter me, you’ll always see my face, I know what I’m fighting for.”
So after spending 90 minutes with this young White Nationalist, I walked away and tried to evaluate what I’d learned. He was a well-educated young man, who spoke eloquently and fiercely believed in his cause. I appreciated him taking time to share his beliefs, and yet his final quote, which is so strong, was negated in my opinion, by his insistence that this interview be anonymous. If he knows what he’s fighting for, and is willing to march publically with a torch, why isn’t he willing to be identified?
I had no idea what I expected, but as I left the meeting, I can’t help but worry about the violence that this young man is facing and that his involvement in the movement will continue to be a part of more violence. I have a feeling that as dedicated as he is to movement, he’s really just a lonely young man, trying to find his place in the world.
My take is that a group of very savvy organizers have found a way to recruit young broken men, who feel marginalized, abandoned or lost and give them a sense of community and a promise of paradise if they dedicate their lives to the cause.
And now we as a community have to find a way to reach out and save these young men, from those who use them to fight for their agenda. I’m not sure what that plan looks like, but after this discussion at least I realize what we are up against.