Filed under: Action, Anti-fascist, US
Throughout the past year, the Torch Antifascist Network has been monitoring the internal communications of Patriot Front, an American fascist organization.
The leaked documents reproduced below reveal an organization incapable of moving beyond furtive flyering sessions and photo opportunities, and falling under the increasingly centralized and heavy-handed control of Thomas Rousseau as other longtime leaders step back. Despite their attempts to present an intellectually respectable and professional image, Patriot Front chat logs reveal a group defined by crude fascism, neo-Nazism, and misogyny.
As well as the leaked communications, we’re providing an analysis of Patriot Front and a collection of article links profiling PF members past and present.
Study these contents to your heart’s (dis)content and submit additional identifications to TorchAntifa[at]riseup[dot]net to be included.
- Promotional Materials Guide Download
- Legal Guide Download
- Preventing Information Release Download
- Patriot Front 2019 Chats Download
- Patriot Front 2020 Chats Download
An Analysis of Patriot Front
Patriot Front is a splinter from and rebranding of its former incarnation, Vanguard America, which held the prime organizers and participants in the infamous Unite The Right rally in 2017. Two weeks after James Fields, Jr. murdered Heather Heyer at UTR in Charlottesville, Virginia, a very young Thomas Rousseau announced the transformation of Vanguard America into “Patriots Front,” seizing control of the Southern Front Discord server from ex-marine Dillon Irizarry (aka Dillon Hopper).
Having served as Texas state director and then second-in-command of Vanguard America, Rousseau wanted ultimate authority in the group, according to an investigation into the group’s formation posted on It’s Going Down. Although he is adamant about disassociating Patriot Front from Vanguard America, claiming entirely new leadership and very little overlap, it’s clear that Rousseau cherry-picked members for his new organization and then split, taking most of the leadership structure with him. Predictably, VA limped along for a few months and then disbanded.
Patriot Front’s growth has been slow and steady, rising from less than a hundred members at the end of 2017 to almost 300 as of this writing. The contiguous 48 states are clustered into “networks,” each of which has a “Network Director” chosen by Rousseau. Members are pressured, increasingly it seems, to do more and more “activism” in the form of banner drops and postering/stickering/stenciling runs.
The placement of promotional materials is carefully curated and catalogued online to show the world what dedicated, industrious “revolutionaries” their members are. They hope that more disaffected and alienated young men will be inspired by their aesthetic and purported militancy and want to join their ranks. Their immediate plan is to romanticize nationalism through lofty rhetoric and recruit online to create an internal hypermasculine culture that presents as empowerment, while exploiting disgruntlement with late stage capitalism and corporate oligarchy. Their long-term strategy is to gain social and cultural grassroots power with the goal of eventual political domination. They have strict criteria for membership, however — men only, 80+% white, 35 or younger, no military, etc. — and seem to have little interest in good relations with other US fascist groups, the vast majority of whom they despise and constantly ridicule.
The Leaked Files
We are publishing PDF files of Patriot Front member chats from a RocketChat server, accessible via a user login on their website. We are also releasing three internal documents from the organization: a brief legal guide, a guide to avoiding release of personal information, and one on how to place promotional materials. Patriot Front uses a separate Mumble app for their voice chat, records of which researchers are not releasing at this time. From the chat logs, which run from March 2019 through June 2020, readers quickly get a sense of the asinine level of discourse of Patriot Front’s young and mostly inexperienced fascists. Members try to impress one another (and especially Rousseau) with anti-Semitic conspiracies and regurgitated, pseudo-intellectual political positions while sharing pictures of their “activism.” Because there is little ideological cohesion or unity of thought and purpose, this quickly degenerates into displays of bigotry, petty gossiping and juvenile chat about memes.
Rousseau, in his role as PF’s director and ultimate authority, tries in vain to keep the group’s largely immature male membership under control and on task. Members are consistently reminded of the threat of doxxing: “treat #general as if the public is watching and knows our real identities,” warned New York member “Samuel.” In an attempt to impose order and tighten security, Rousseau barks rules at members and occasionally pleads with them to quiet their impulsive talk and neo-Nazi rhetoric.
The tone of these conversations shifted markedly in August of 2019. Leadership became more concerned with infiltration over the summer, no one new was added to the chat, and certain members were removed for failure to abide by the intensifying rules. These concerns were well-warranted. With this publication, fellow antifascists and the general public now gain a look into Patriot Front’s internal discussions and its membership is gradually unmasked.
Through reading their manifesto and wading through chat room drivel, it’s clear that Patriot Front believes in the supremacy of the US-American “Nation” (which for them, is white by definition), and that the current State is failing to adequately represent white citizens. Their ultimate goal is to enact “revolution as tradition”, destroy the current State, and redefine what it means to be an American through a dogmatic, racialized lens. By gradually expanding their base of power, they will ultimately decide who gets to be a part of the new fascist utopia, and who suffers deportation and exile. Their manifesto clearly states that “Membership within the American nation is inherited through blood, not ink […] Nationhood cannot be bestowed upon those who are not of the founding stock of our people”.
Whiteness is not just a racial category, but also a socio-political system of power and control. Rousseau clearly wants power over that system. Although whiteness in the USA has gradually enfolded various ethnicities into its system of power and privilege, Rousseau is certain that nonwhites who he deems “extranationals” have no room in Patriot Front’s planned nation. While some members openly state they are White Nationalists or even identify as Nationalist-Socialists (actual Nazis), they publicly portray their nationalism as cultural rather than explicitly racial to avoid scrutiny and maintain deniability. Rousseau provides some additional clarity, however, when he says in the chats, “We don’t use the term White to describe ourselves […] because it’s reductive”. Genetics and race matter, but so does a national “story” and “cause” (4.13.19).
While this focus on the nation might seem to position Patriot Front close to identitarian groups such as Identity Evropa (now rebranded as “American Identity Movement”) or even the purportedly non-racist “Western Chauvinist” Proud Boys, Patriot Front’s true ideology and aims are blatantly fascist and white supremacist, placing PF much closer to organizations like the now-defunct Traditionalist Workers Party. Explicit fascism permeates the chats, including their nonsensical feeling of being entitled to the North American continent based on a perceived ancestral greatness, and the belief that their destiny is a return to this greatness, no matter how mythological. This sad settler fetishism and sense of entitlement to places and resources based on “shared heritage” pervades their discourse. A narrative of phoenix-like national rebirth from the ashes provides the mythic core of all fascist politics. Much emphasis is placed on defining the “Nation,” when it can easily be summarized as “white people like us.”
Misogyny, Racism, & Anti-Semitism
The chats reveal a desperate desire to legitimize and bond with others around bigotry and delusion. There is a pervasive false narrative of white victimhood, one that nearly always involves the scapegoating of Jewish people and the criminalization of immigrants and nonwhite people. Thinking that they are alone, Patriot Front members indulge in various forms of dehumanization and allude to or explicitly state their predatory motives. Their persistent obsession with “degeneracy” takes the form of homophobia, transphobia, and the general policing of others’ sexuality, especially that of women.
Patriot Front’s misogyny is deep and persistent. Members fear female desire, treating it as something to be broken and tamed before it corrupts their fragile masculinity. For many Patriot Front members, this is couched in religious terms. Sexual pleasure is treated as suspicious, except when tied to growing white families. An undercurrent of violence runs through all of Patriot Front’s writing about women.
Due to Patriot Front’s sanitized public image, Rousseau wants members to appear healthy, sensible and virtuous, to the degree they appear outside a masked anonymous mass at all. Crude racism and violent intentions are to be kept in the background. But as carefully controlling as Rousseau is, evidence of PF’s fanatical worldview and insidious goals abound. This highlights why Patriot Front members don’t do mainstream press interviews, because their veneer would be impossible to maintain when asked specifics about the world they really want: an ultra-conservative ethnostate created by mass deportations and maintained by brutal repression. Patriot Front members aren’t spending their weekends relentlessly promoting the organization just to have more “brothers”, as they refer to each other. Their long term goals are far-reaching and horrific. They claim not to seek political power, rather merely to win the culture war, but their ambitions reveal themselves in discussions in their chat logs.
While Patriot Front’s internal conversations may appear like a mixture of prejudice, half-baked ideas and militant posturing, the organization’s aims remain dangerous: to further marginalize already vulnerable people and target them for interpersonal or state violence. Members attempt to pin their problems on their immigrant neighbors, an imagined Jewish power structure, or both. PF members see every challenging personal or social issue as being a product of civil rights advances, multiculturalism, feminism, and an alleged Jewish/”Zionist” conspiracy, with the solution being a racially homogenous society where women are strictly controlled and “degeneracy” is severely punished. Like all those who can’t effectively grapple with the complexities of life, they are desperate for a scapegoat for their various miseries. And no matter how nonsensical their argument, their appeal during this moment — with its political turbulence, the political and economic disenfranchisement of a growing number of people, and wealth polarization under late stage capitalism — is greatly concerning. Historically, these are the times when fascism is more likely to gain traction in a populace.
The Other White Meatheads
Considerable time in the chat is spent making fun of other white nationalist organizations and their leaders, but especially the American Identity Movement, formerly known as Identity Evropa, who they consistently denounce as a social club and fundraising organization. They repeatedly accuse AIM leader Patrick Casey of greed, careless operational security leading to the repeated doxing of members during the #IdentifyEvropacampaign, and wonder if he will “get Picciolini’d after AIM collapses”. (Christian Picciolini is a former Nazi skinhead who founded the deradicalization organizations Life After Hate and Free Radicals Project, and is viewed as a traitor by the fascist movement.)
Patriot Front members position themselves above all other American nationalists, and constantly deride others in the movement for what they deem to be a sub-par aesthetic, ineffective outreach, poor operational security, and inadequate membership numbers. A sizeable percentage of the chats consists of them patting themselves on the back and making derisive remarks about those they see as their competition, with Casey, Andrew Anglin (of The Daily Stormer) and America First’s Nick Fuentes garnering the most abuse. Only occasionally are competitors on the US far-Right recognized for moving their adherents in the same general direction as Patriot Front.
While anti-fascists have noted a general uptick in Patriot Front activity in late 2019-early 2020, including a national show of force in Washington D.C., and highly performative Fourth of July actions in Chicago and San Francisco, their organization seems to be grappling with internal schism and ejections, such as former Network Director Chris Hood of Boston getting kicked out of the group and subsequently forming the rival NSC-131. There also appears to be stagnation from ineffective strategy and a general sense of treadmill activism. An anonymous report published on It’s Going Down detailed PF members on the verge of tears when police pulled them out of a box truck following “an unbelievable waste of time, and complete failure” in Chicago. Rousseau focuses on theatrical flash demonstrations to boost membership, rather than street confrontation like the Proud Boys or Boogaloo adherents, or even the GOP infiltration of the American Identity Movement and the Groypers.
Patriot Front’s red, white and blue branding was initially intended to make the organization attractive to other far-Right sympathizers, for example militia supporters. However, the organization has increasingly painted itself into a corner through its aloof attitude, dogmatic fascism, and its leader’s fear of repression. This renders Patriot Front another ineffectual fraternity that can’t stand up to real confrontation, whether by antifascists or police — none of which will serve them well in upcoming times. Ironically, the militia movement has mushroomed this year. Patriot Front may have gained some numbers from general trends of political polarization and far-Right radicalization during this same time period, but it is unclear whether the organization can harness these new recruits in a particular direction and keep them involved, or whether they will fall away.
While we do not minimize Patriot Front’s ability to do harm, dissatisfied members and splits from the organization represent an equally significant threat. Patriot Front provides a networking space for hardcore fascists, it reinforces the resentments and delusions of its members, and promotes a shared culture of hypermasculinity and militaristic posturing. However, the activities that Patriot Front tries to steer its members toward — incessant propaganda placement, physical training and occasional flash demonstrations — may not be enough for some members. Some may move on to other groups that are less committed to plausible deniability when it comes to violence. For example, former PF Network Director Chris Hood of Boston moved from Patriot Front to The Base, an accelerationist neo-Nazi terrorist group, and eventually set up his own “NSC-131” formation. Further, a common theme in Patriot Front chat is a hunger for vengeance against perceived enemies, even if this involves giving up one’s own life. The more people who join or pass through Patriot Front, the more likely these fantasies will be enacted. In a time of escalating violence against those advocating for racial justice and rising murderous attacks based on xenophobia, antisemitism, racism, and misogyny, the threat that Patriot Front poses must be taken seriously
The Torch Antifascist Network asks antifascists and the general public to help us identify and expose the members of Patriot Front. It’s our hope that these leaks will help interrupt Patriot Front’s fascist organizing and assist in community self-defense. Please submit tips regarding Patriot Front activity to torchantifa [at] riseup [dot] net or contact your nearest chapter.
PHOTO: Texas Observer, YouTube Screenshot