Filed under: Anti-fascist, Editorials, Southeast
Editor’s Note: This article has been updated since it was first published to remove the name of a person in a band that has since cut ties with a white nationalist organization.
It is imperative more than ever that we, the anti-fascist and anti-capitalist left, understand and document and expose the networks and techniques through which the right-wing replicates itself and spreads it’s destructive and oppressive ideology. While groups like the Southern Poverty Law Center has documented the spread of hate-groups throughout the USA, we need more detailed information that reveals the complexities of the right-wing as it threatens our collective existence. This includes anti-LGBTQ groups, to neo-Confederates, to anti-labor chamber of commerce members, and all other defenders of right-wing bullshit, our enemies are all around us. Now is the time to build up our network of Right-Wing Watchers as we go forward and connect with each other, because this network will be a necessary aspect of linking our struggles and resistance. We must know the extremist groups that hide on the fringes and the wealthy donors who masquerade as genial members of society, because these groups form symbiotic relationships time and time again.
Virginia is quickly becoming a hub of antifa resistance as well as grassroots organizing. This past weekend in the state capitol a coalition of state-wide Virginian resisters stepped and drown out to a Corey Stewart anti-Sanctuary City rally. The traditional faces of the neo-Confederates and run-of-the-mill racist elements of the community mingled with the younger generation of Tucker-Carlson-looking-bro-bloggers and lone white nationalists. Leftists took the day in victory, but must be diligent in the face of these movements. The more successful and dangerous strains of right-wing movements are not necessarily rallying behind Trump-like candidates, but spreading online propaganda and quietly infiltrating Virginia’s various communities. It is important to see these people for who they are and resist them whenever possible and strategic. From Richmond to Roanoke, Norfolk to Winchester, South Boston to Abingdon — your help is needed to expose and shut down your local right-wing organizations.
UNITY AND SECURITY FOR AMERICA
Unity and Security for America is an alt-right affiliated white nationalist group that was started by Charlottesville blogger Jason Kessler in February 2017. Their website contains thinly veiled racist and white nationalist rhetoric, stating that they will be “lobbying for immigration laws which require that most immigrants come from Western countries,” and “defending the values of western civilization and culture that unite us as Americans.”
Mr. Kessler first came into the public eye regionally in September 2016 when he began targeting a black Charlottesville city councilor named Wes Bellamy for removal from city council, citing problematic tweets he’d made between 2009 and 2013. His attacks on Bellamy were, and continue to be, racist and xenophobic. Since then he has frequently caused disruptions at public events in Charlottesville, most notably attempting to interrupt a public speech by Khizr Khan (who lives in Charlottesville). He has also rallied with white supremacist GOP gubernatorial candidate Corey Stewart in Charlottesville in defense of the Robert E. Lee statue, which Charlottesville City Council recently voted to move after concluding that it was a symbol of white supremacy. While Mr. Kessler has found some minor recognition for this, other white supremacists in the area appear to be distancing themselves from him, possibly because they find his tactics embarrassing as he is often taunted and publicly ridiculed. Kessler recently visited Richmond, VA to get laughed at while having his phone smashed.
Mr. Kessler has also frequently posted on Voat and 4chan under the handle TheMadDimension, and several of his posts have been unearthed that illustrate what a truly vile person he is. The most incriminating of them seems to condone rape based on some very uninformed ideas about evolutionary biology:
“How in the world did rape get to the point in Western society where it’s considered worse than murder? I’m not saying go out & do it; you don’t want to go to jail, but it seems pretty natural to me. Other species do it. All of us have ancestors who were rapists. Our strongest DNA probably comes from the conquering armies of Ghengis Khan, Julius Caesar, Alexander the Great, etc. whose lineage entered our own through the rape & pillage of foreign cities. Besides that there are many strong, beneficial traits that should be passed on for the benefit of humanity besides good looks & a smooth tongue (traits valued in the female-run mating rituals of the WEst): ambition, physical strength, hunting mentality, conquering mentality. I’m sure this is a thoroughly unpleasant experience for a woman but I absolutely believe that the hyperbolic demonization of the act by feminists has convinced women that it is a more traumatizing experience than it naturally should be.”
(Left to Right) Isaac Smith, Jason Kessler, Corey and Maria Stewart
The only other known member of Unity and Security for America at the moment is Isaac Smith, who has been dubbed their secretary. Although they have a very small following here in Charlottesville, they should not be underestimated as a threat to the city and the surrounding region, if only because they feel that they have a platform for their white nationalism.
According to their website, Unity and Security for America meets every Wednesday at 7pm at Central Branch Library in Charlottesville, VA, although they have not been sighted there yet.
TRADITIONALIST WORKERS PARTY
The Traditionalist Workers Party (TWP), by now one of most infamous groups within the growing “alt-right”/far right, appears to be looking to expand its ranks in Richmond, Virginia. The face of their movement in Richmond— especially on the Virginia Commonwealth University campus— is Derrick Davis. In recent months, Davis has tried to make a name for himself and draw attention to his group by flyering, putting up TWP stickers, promoting himself online, and by orchestrating ‘confrontations’ with anti-fascists and left-wing marches in Richmond.
Derrick Davis is from Mechanicsville, 20 minutes east of Richmond. Mechanicsville has a reputation for being a very conservative small town. His alma mater is (fittingly) Lee-Davis High School – complete with its team mascots: the Confederates. It’s no surprise that this environment produces plenty of right-wing conservatives flying Confederate flags from the back of their lifted trucks. But Davis is a different breed, going a route most of his barely-politicized redneck peers don’t. In high school, Davis straddled two identities: that of run-of-the-mill Mechanicsville redneck, and edgy, pseudo-goth/metal kid.
Leaving Hanover County and his traditional conservative hometown behind to come to school in the big city coincided with his movement toward “alternative culture.” Davis began his involvement with right-libertarianism/anarcho-capitalism, and became affiliated with a well-known Richmond anarcho-capitalist, Kal Molinet (of Liberate RVA). At the same time, Davis adopted a techno-goth/steampunk aesthetic. Sometime in early 2016, Davis abandoned this look and lifestyle, broke with Liberate RVA, and began his affiliation with the TWP — swinging from an anarcho-capitalist to a white nationalist and a vocal supporter of Donald Trump. During the summer of 2016, Davis popped up on the radar of Richmond radicals, leftists and anti-fascists.
With the Trump campaign, election and inauguration, tensions between anti-fascists and the TWP and other neo-Nazi/white nationalist/fascist groups came to a boil. During Richmond’s J20 protest, Davis appeared alone on the sidelines of the march, heckling and recording protesters using a “selfie-stick,” and eventually flashing a firearm. In following weeks, he’d be seen trying to scrub anti-fascist graffiti from the sidewalks in Richmond’s Fan District. Davis recorded his efforts with the hashtag “#rightwingcleansquad.” Davis’s poorly-written, misogynistic, conservative propaganda can be found on https://theunitedright.com.
Most recently, Davis was spotted in one incident trying to make friends with the VA Flaggers. We can only guess why a white nationalist like Derrick Davis would be interested in mingling with neo-Confederates… But it appears that Davis is also reaching out to local Ku Klux Klan members. Unfortunately, this is not surprising — in the grander scheme, we see a possible attempt to form a coalition between the Traditionalist Workers Party and other white supremacist groups.
Or maybe our local white supremacist sycophant is just trying everything he can to find a home for his hate. Derrick Davis’ history makes one thing clear: he’s been all over the place since day one. A quick scroll through the aforementioned…
He’s followed the same path that many young white men have ventured on — becoming interested in Ron Paul-style right-wing libertarianism as an alternative to mainstream politics, progressing to an anarcho-capitalist approach, jumping on board with the alt-right before eventually just becoming a straight-up fascist. Despite his attempts to project an air of importance and an involvement in something bigger, the truth is that Davis is quite alone in Richmond.
Davis is very cautious to show his face in most of the city, where he knows plenty of anti-fascists and others are more than willing to engage with him. Davis usually carries a firearm while venturing around the small area of Richmond where he stickers in solitude (VCU campus).
He’s still known to reside in Hanover, just past Mechanicsville in the Old Church area.
Finally, we turn attention to Operation Werewolf, an affiliate project of one of the most prominent white-supremacist organizations in Virginia: the Wolves of Vinland (WoV). To get familiar with this hate group, start with the excellent, thorough article by Rose City Antifa that documents the WoV’s philosophical and physical evolution from a small black metal commune into a crypto-fascist brand. The Wolves have a sizeable following in Virginia, especially concentrated in central and southern VA. (Their compound is located in Lynchburg.) WoV have also been extensively documented as a fascist gang. So here, we focus on the acceleration and evolution of their recruitment-effort-turned-spinoff-movement, Operation Werewolf.
Operation Werewolf (OWW) shares a name and a number of symbols with Hitler’s failed plans for a grand Nazi insurgency in the final days of WWII, as well as an earlier novel about German vigilantes during the Thirty Years War.
Wolves co-founder Paul Waggener’s writings form the ideological basis of Operation Werewolf. His books and accompanying media consist of fitness workouts, crypto-fascist condemnations of the modern world and neo-nihilist interpretations of classical philosophy.
Waggener’s writings and media on Operation Werewolf have generated a subculture of self-identified membership and merchandise which has grown rapidly and spread beyond the reach of the insular Wolves of Vinland. In contrast to the slow, extreme and exclusive membership process to join the Wolves proper, Operation Werewolf offers a faster, more accessible option.
One merely has to buy the book, sport the merchandise, start working out, and form a local cadre in order to receive support and praise online — both from other participants and Wolves members. That’s because the best place to get to know your local Wolves is Instagram — they love it.
Most of their Instagram accounts are public and function as recruitment and publicity tools. Wolves use the app to announce new members and annual events, peddle their merchandise, and recruit new folks. It’s easy to spot them; several standardized hashtags are attached to nearly every one of their posts. Their followers in turn use the hashtags when documenting their own lives, attaching #operationwerewolf or #wolvesofvinland to pictures and short videos of work out routines, target shooting and merchandise hype. And they rake in the followers.
One of the things that separates this group from competing alt-right gangs: Operation Werewolf present a unified, marketable image, set clear levels of engagement and is self-perpetuated by its adherents. A sarcastic comrade accurately described the organization as “Nazi Crossfit.” They have branded themselves, and it is working.
While there is some evidence of crossover between the WoV pledge process and Operation Werewolf, increasingly the latter brand has become its own monster, with a larger and more overtly white nationalist subculture. Instagram has seen an explosion of #operationwerewolf hashtag as it is used liberally among The Three Percenters, right-wing fitness groups, European skinheads and small, white-dominated MMA gyms.
One of the defining features of the Wolves is their careful effort to disassociate themselves publicly with political movements. This lends them legitimacy as an apolitical organization and makes it harder to directly link them to other white nationalist organizations. The Wolves and their affiliate movements appear to try to avoid being openly racist or far right in their public values. One might even say they strive to be “post-right.”
OWW is not quite as committed to a public apoliticism — their hashtag regularly appears in online posts from a surprising range of far-right groups. The official website of the project appears to be run by Waggener himself. It hosts articles by individuals or groups who follow the workout regimen and literature. Though this content varies, repeat themes include Nietzsche, Aristotle, “traditionalism,” and a veneration of Norse and/or Roman ultra-nationalism, all of which appear in numerous articles. Like much of the Wolves’ literature, this stuff is not all overtly political. But it shares its themes and conclusions with overtly white-nationalist philosophies.
Although Waggener may write much about his disgust for the right, the left and everyone in between, he interacts with and sells his merchandise to Serbian skinhead gangs. He posts about stoking racial tensions on facebook. His hashtags are used by youth far-right groups who call their gang chapters “tribes.” And his own Wolves post MAGA selfies while wearing black sun necklaces and declaring that they’re “feelin alright to be whyte.”
OWW and WoV can deny their white supremacist affiliation as much as they want in interviews with sympathetic, apologist music blogs and outdoor magazines, but the evidence for who these people truly are is overwhelming.
As followers of It’s Going Down are aware, the alt-right (if it can even be called that) is deeply variant, and despite their current ascension, its coalitions are ultimately fragile. They have also shown themselves to be vulnerable to sudden and catastrophic infighting. We’ve seen this tendency leveraged to delegitimize Richard Spencer after his hilariously-public beatings, and out Mike Enoch, host of The Daily Shoah, as being married to someone of Jewish origin. These weak spots are real, so the more fractured, afraid and insular the culture of each group, the better.
However, Operation Werewolf presents perhaps its largest danger by cultivating a widely digestible and appealing white-supremacist ideology. OWW is vaguely pan-European but misses being overtly fascist in the style of other White Nationalist movements. Its philosophies are presented via a bizarre, “fitspo”-style lens, as its leaders emphasize physical self-improvement. People following the regimen associate OWW’s brand and the surrounding culture with a motivating physical change in their bodies “for the better.” OWW’s branding normalizes language and symbols at the heart of Nazism and white supremacy using a guise of cultural reclamation and brand fashion.
And critically, OWW mandates contempt for those who do not devote themselves to the extremist values and “lifestyle” of the group. This rejectionism is portrayed through the narrative of a mythical pan-European perspective, which normalizes the idea of a superior culture and ethnic identity from which this movement draws its influence. The movement leverages trends of fitness and bodily improvement as an alternative access point for young white racists.
In short — Operation Werewolf threatens potential broad success where the notoriously fractured far-right has so often failed, and it proposes to build violent organized white nationalists from the ground up without followers’ having a full self-recognition of what they are becoming.
This is not an original approach to normalizing youth ultra-nationalist and white supremacist movements, but it has been redecorated for the current generation. Much of the imagery and tactics visible in OWW’s recruitment and gang structure are variations of European neo-Nazi and ultra-nationalist efforts that have existed for several decades.
The combat sport and gang isolation approach has had wide success in Russia and Europe across a range of nationalist movements. Notably, Ukraine’s Right Sector and the Azov battalion have taken fractured gangs of hooligans and nationalists and turned them into a military force that rivals the government’s own army. This success is why we see many of the same symbols, tactics, and results among the Wolves and their affiliates in america. The Wolves of Vinland is no longer a novel, tiny commune of racist metal heads. They are striving to build the new white nationalism: both militant and digestible. And they are getting good at it fast.
We would like to see more information like this arise as we unite further in our struggles. The more we know about our enemies in various parts of the world, the more our resistance can flourish. Research the local police department, anti-abortion group, militia, or whatever variety of right-winger you’ve got to expose their presence to the larger community and organizers in your area. Remember to be safe while researching these individuals and groups by protecting your identity and those you are working with. Many thanks to the comrades who have taken part in contributing to this project. More to come.