Reprinted with permission from AlterNet.
No snowflake melts quite so easily as a neo-Nazi, or a white supremacist, or an alt-rightie, or an identitarian, or whatever obfuscatory name racists are hiding behind this week. That’s been clear in the aftermath of Charlottesville, Virginia.
As a reminder, Unite the Right’s explicit purpose was to bring together all of Donald Trump’s most fervent fans, from the alt-right to the Ku Klux Klan, in the fight to preserve a memorial to a U.S. traitor, one Robert E. Lee. Those various factions “spent months openly planning” for the violence that ultimately resulted in Charlottesville, as Mother Jones notes. “The Daily Stormer, a popular neo-Nazi website, encouraged rally attendees to bring shields, pepper spray, and fascist flags and flagpoles. A prominent racist podcast told its listeners to come carrying guns. ‘Bring whatever you need, that you feel you need for your self defense. Do what you need to do for security of your own person,’ said Mike ‘Enoch’ Peinovich on The Right Stuff podcast.”
The result was that 19 people were injured, and Heather Hayer was killed by a white nationalist terrorist who used his car as a weapon.
There’s been a bit of a backlash against this active, vocal segment of Trump’s base in the days since. And suddenly, those same white supremacists, the ones who are always telling black folks to suck it up, are whining about how unfair it all is. Which shouldn’t be surprising. They exist in a perpetual state of imagined victimhood to begin with, and it’s only grown more acute.
Here are five white supremacists who are whining in the aftermath of Charlottesville.
1. Christopher Cantwell
Who this guy is: Cantwell told the SPLC that his mission is “to normalize racism” and that anyone who “gets in my way is going to find themselves in a very long list of people who regretted underestimating me.” In 2000, he served time for criminal possession of stolen property, criminal possession of a weapon and drunk driving, then a few years later, returned to prison for another brief stint for driving while intoxicated. This upstanding citizen and moral arbiter told Vice that in “every single case” of unarmed black people murdered by police, “it’s some little black asshole behaving like a savage and he gets himself in trouble.” He also told the outlet he wants a Trump-like leader “who does not give his daughter to a Jew,” and declared he and his white supremacist buddies “are not nonviolent. We’ll f**king kill these people if we have to.” In another scene, he braggingly displays five guns and a knife he carried in Charlottesville, and suggests Heather Heyer was part of a group of “stupid animals” who didn’t “get out of the way” of her killer’s car. He goes on to call Heyer’s murder “more than justified…I think that a lot more people are going to die before we’re done here.”
Why is this white supremacist whining? In a video posted Wednesday, Cantwell sniffles and tears up—without shedding any actual tears!—in response to reports that a warrant has been issued for his arrest. He insists he and the other neo-Nazis are the real victims, and that his arsenal of weapons and threats to “kill these people” was no big.
“I know we talk a lot of shit on the internet…I want to be peaceful,” says Cantwell, who gets a “D” for effort. “I’m watching CNN talk about this as a violent, white nationalist protest. We have done everything in our power to keep this peaceful!” he adds.
2. Tim ‘Baked Alaska’ Gionet
Who this guy is: Gionet, better known as “Baked Alaska,” is one of the most well-known alt-righties. On the same day he paraded with the other proud fascists chanting “Jews will not replace us,” he also tweeted the “14 words,” a neo-Nazi mantra: “We must secure the existence of our people and a future for white children.” (The phrase was coined by a white supremacist martyred in Nazi circles for killing a Jew.) This wasn’t a special way to get the troops riled for rioting in Charlottesville. Au contraire, as Gizmodo notes, Gionet tweets the 14 words all the time. In July, he sent a tweet depicting Jewish alt-righter Laura Loomer in a gas chamber. This guy was actually disinvited from the notoriously anti-Semitic alt-right’s Trump inauguration celebration for going too hard on the public displays of anti-Semitism. Here’s footage of him Friday at the neo-Nazi tiki-riot shouting about how proud he is to be white and yelling, “Hail victory!” (the English translation of “Sieg Heil”).
Why is this white supremacist whining? For starters, Gionet claims he was maced Saturday in Charlottesville. (Because Gionet and his friends seemed to catch every other second of themselves on camera except for the actual macing, and he was the only person in his crowd affected by the mace, some are dubious of this account. We actually believe him, though.) After the incident, Gionet changed his tone, tweeting that we should all “come together as a country.”
That lasted for like, a day? Then he was back to tweeting anti-immigrant messages and retweeting Trump’s pro-Confederate rants.
3. ‘Millennial’ Matt Colligan
Who this guy is: A close companion of Gionet’s, Colligan is the hipster-mustachioed dude in this viral photo from the neo-fascist tiki torch rally. Since Charlottesville, Twitter shut down his account, which was full of Holocaust denialism and Hitler praise. Gizmodo did a bang-up job of compiling screen grabs and tweets (and a picture of his Twitter profile, which featured photos of his own face alongside pics of David Duke and Joseph Goebbels). Colligan’s favorite thing to tweet was “Hitler did nothing wrong.” For example, here he is “pranking” Shia LeBoeuf (who’s also totally problematic, but stay focused) by saying it on video! In footage that’s been removed since Charlottesville, Gizmodo quotes Colligan as stating, “The truth is, the Holocaust is one of the biggest hoaxes in world history. It’s one of the biggest lies ever perpetrated against the human race.” He also once tweeted that Nazi soldiers were treated worse than Jews at Auschwitz.
Why is this white supremacist whining? We do not, by any means, ever advocate violence or threats of violence against people, whatever their beliefs. But in a video posted Sunday in which he bemoans incoming threats—which again, we condemn—against himself and his family, Colligan suggests that all those statements he made were just for laughs. Now that he’s under attack, it’s different.
“This is horrible,” Colligan says. “What’s happening today is horrible. This is a very dark time for America.”
Yeah it is. Because you and your neo-Nazi friends are trying to make this place inhospitable for lots of us.
“I’m usually a jokester,” Colligan adds. “I do a lot of comedy, but there’s nothing funny about threatening people’s lives, threatening people’s families.”
Still reading? Cool. Just checking the lack of self-reflection didn’t stun you into a stupor.
4. Peter Cvjetanovic
Who this guy is: Cvjetanovic became the alt-reich poster boy after his screaming visage at the torch riot went viral. He identifies as a “white nationalist,” and told a local Nevada news outlet “the replacement of the statue will be the slow replacement of white heritage within the United States and the people who fought and defended and built their homeland. Robert E Lee is a great example of that. He wasn’t a perfect man, but I want to honor and respect what he stood for during his time.”
For the record, Lee stood for slavery.
Why is this white supremacist whining? Cvjetanovic says things are “spiraling out of control” with his newfound fame. In one interview, he said he hoped people would be “willing to listen that I’m not the angry racist they see in that photo.” (Then he went on to give the quote praising Lee, above.) In another interview, below, Cvjetanovic does a whole spiel in which he makes white nationalism sound like a cooperative society for the preservation and maintenance of multiple distinct but authentically American cultures, instead of a philosophy that POC should GTFOH. Nope.
5. This White Supremacist Who Changed His Clothes and Hid in the Privilege of His White Skin
Who this guy is: Some guy who got separated from the rest of the white supremacists and found himself fearful and alone among counter-protesters. So he did what no person of color could have done among a group of violent neo-Nazis: stripped off his neo-fascist costume (polo shirt and khaki shorts) and slipped seamlessly into the crowd.
No counter-protesters attacked him, even as they watched him shed his uniform. Documentarian CJ Hunt, who is South Asian, captured the entire incident in the scene below. Hunt noted in a column at GQ that the white supremacist then “slip[ped] shirtless and undetected through a crowd like a child playing capture the flag, taking his free walk back to his side. White terror, his sword. White innocence, his shield.”
Why is this white supremacist whining? “I’m not really white power, man. I just came here for the fun,” he shouts while removing his shirt. When Hunt challenges him on taking off his “costume,” he explains that his idea of fun is committing acts of racial terror. “It’s kind of a fun idea. Just being able to say ‘white power,’ you know?”
Hunt uses the incident to illustrate the power of white supremacy:
Since I’m a person of color, my identity is not a uniform I can take off when I am feeling unsafe—when I’m stopped by police or when my white girlfriend and I travel through southern towns where Confederate flags billow from porches and pickup trucks. Like all minorities, I’ve grown used to the way that difference marks me—the burden of being ever ready for the moment my skin turns me into a target for angry white men determined to take back what they think the world owes them.
The video of this part-time Nazi, this junior secessionist, is a perfect portrait of the very white privilege the so-called “alt-right” decries as liberal fiction. White privilege isn’t just an easy bank loan or the cumulative effects of discriminatory housing policy. It’s also the privilege to disappear. The privilege to terrorize a community and return to your regular life with the ease of peeling off a polo shirt. The privilege to come to someone else’s town, invoke the symbols and slogans used to terrorize Jews, African-Americans, and countless other races in history’s darkest chapters, and pretend it’s simply your way of showing ethnic pride. It’s the privilege to engage in terror “for fun,” and the privilege to walk away. For most of my life, I’ve thought of racism as the vestiges of a dying generation. It’s far more terrifying to behold a sea of young people for whom white supremacy is just a rec-league sport.
I followed the young man, watching him slip shirtless and undetected through a crowd like a child playing capture the flag, taking his free walk back to his side. White terror, his sword. White innocence, his shield. I looked on in horror and envy as he disappeared into the scrum, neither of us knowing that somewhere on a crowded street less than a mile away, others would not be so lucky.
Kali Holloway is a senior writer and the associate editor of media and culture at AlterNet.