Bannon Was Set for a Graceful Exit. Then Came Charlottesville.

WASHINGTON — John F. Kelly, the new White House chief of staff, told Stephen K. Bannon in late July that he needed to go: No need for it to get messy, Mr. Kelly told Mr. Bannon, according to several people with firsthand knowledge of the exchange. The two worked out a mutually amicable departure date for mid-August, with President Trump’s blessing.

But as Mr. Trump struggled last week to contain a growing public furor over his response to a deadly, race-fueled melee in Virginia, Mr. Bannon clashed with Mr. Kelly over how the president should respond. Give no ground to your critics, Mr. Bannon urged the president, with characteristic truculence.

At the same time, New York real estate investor friends told Mr. Trump that the situation with Mr. Bannon was untenable: Steve Roth on Monday, Tom Barrack on Tuesday and Richard LeFrak on Wednesday.

By Thursday, after Mr. Bannon undercut American policy toward North Korea in an interview published by a left-leaning magazine, Mr. Trump himself had concluded that Mr. Bannon was too much of a liability.

By Friday, when he was forced from his job as Mr. Trump’s chief strategist, Mr. Bannon had found himself wholly isolated inside a White House where he once operated with such autonomy that he reported only to the president himself.

This account is based on interviews with a dozen White House aides, associates of the president’s and friends of Mr. Bannon’s.

A former Naval officer, Mr. Bannon speaks often in the language of combat — of escalating conflict to “nuclear” levels and driving his enemies “ballistic.” But in the end, he had lost the war against a list of enemies that included nearly everyone in the West Wing. They included not just the adversaries whose conflicts with Mr. Bannon were widely aired — Gary D. Cohn, the president’s chief economic adviser; Lt. Gen. H. R. McMaster, the national security adviser; Ivanka Trump, the president’s daughter; and Jared Kushner, his son-in-law.

Also against him was Mr. Kelly, who was outraged by the indiscretion Mr. Bannon displayed in the interview with The American Prospect, according to three senior administration officials. And Mr. Bannon could no longer turn to Mr. Trump, whose confidence in him had eroded over a period of months, to ask for a reprieve.

Even the market tumbled on the prospect that Mr. Bannon could come out on top. Blue chip stocks slid last week after an erroneous report said that Mr. Cohn’s resignation was imminent because of his disgust with Mr. Trump’s failure to more forcefully denounce the racist Charlottesville, Va., demonstrators. Friends and former colleagues of Mr. Cohn’s said the economic adviser criticized Mr. Trump in such strong terms that at least one wondered how he could possibly remain in his position.

As soon as Mr. Bannon arrived at the White House on Inauguration Day, he seemed to realize that he would not be long for the job. He felt that Mr. Trump had treated him as a peer during the presidential campaign, but, he often complained to friends, “when I got to the White House, all of a sudden I was just a staffer.”

Opponents’ mythology around Mr. Bannon often held that he was the evil genius who pushed the president to make some of his more audacious decisions. And Mr. Bannon’s political opponents believe his departure has removed one of the biggest impediments to stability inside the White House.

But more likely, Mr. Bannon’s exit will clarify that only one person, Mr. Trump, for better or worse, has always been his own chief strategist. While several administration officials interviewed said they see Mr. Kelly as perhaps the last hope for fixing the fractured administration, they concede that only Mr. Trump can right his listing presidency.

“My view is that the president has his own mind,” said Matt Schlapp, the chairman of the American Conservative Union and a former White House political director under George W. Bush. “People make too much of the idea that he’s some kind of blank slate that advisers can push one way or the other.”

Steve Schmidt, who helped manage Senator John McCain’s presidential campaign in 2008 and is a critic of the president, said: “We are seeing all of the personal qualities and character of the president on a daily basis. It’s not restrainable or controllable because he is who he is.”

Mr. Bannon’s opponents had long argued that he inflated his importance in White House debates and took more than his fair share of credit in plotting Mr. Trump’s victory. But he was someone with whom the president, for the most part, had long enjoyed spending time.

The two men, whose friendship was cemented during the two and a half months in which Mr. Bannon helped rescue Mr. Trump’s presidential campaign, reinforced each other’s rough-around-the-edges tendencies. Both could be gratuitously foul-mouthed, viciously cutting to their enemies and unapologetically politically incorrect. “Dude, he’s Archie Bunker,” Mr. Bannon would say with fondness when talking about Mr. Trump.

Mr. Bannon fed Mr. Trump’s paranoid streak and shared the president’s penchant for believing in conspiracies. He viewed not just intelligence agencies but most of government as stocked with a devious bureaucratic underbelly, the “deep state.” Mr. Trump, who has never worked in government, eagerly adopted that view.

Mr. Bannon was notorious for maintaining his own, shadowy presence within the White House. He would frequently skip meetings where policy was discussed, injecting his views into the process in other ways, according to two administration officials. He did not use a computer, preferring to have paper printed and handed to his assistant to stay outside the formal decision-making process.

Mr. Bannon favored a culture similar to the one Mr. Trump brought with him from the business world to the White House — a flat structure with blurred lines of responsibility and competing power centers. And early on Mr. Bannon benefited from that structure, sitting at the top, free to slip unvetted materials to the president without a gatekeeper to get past.

“Theoretically, a more coherent staff should produce a more coherent policy,” said David Axelrod, who was President Barack Obama’s senior adviser and the person in a comparable role to Mr. Bannon in the White House. “But that presupposes a president who embraces the process and the policy.”

With little process to speak of, tensions over policy swelled. Ideological differences devolved into caustic personality clashes. Perhaps nowhere was the mutual disgust thicker than between Mr. Bannon and Mr. Trump’s daughter and son-in-law.

Mr. Bannon openly complained to White House colleagues that he resented how Ms. Trump would try to undo some of the major policy initiatives that he and Mr. Trump agreed were important to the president’s economic nationalist agenda, like withdrawing from the Paris climate accords. In this sense, he was relieved when Mr. Kelly took over and put in place a structure that kept other aides from freelancing.

“Those days are over when Ivanka can run in and lay her head on the desk and cry,” he told multiple people.

Ms. Trump and Mr. Kushner, who had helped oust Mr. Kelly’s predecessor, whom they saw as ineffective, also told people that they wanted a new system for the same reason.

Mr. Bannon made little secret of the fact that he believed “Javanka,” as he referred to the couple behind their backs, had naïve political instincts and were going to alienate Mr. Trump’s core coalition of white working-class voters.

He told White House colleagues including the president that too many conservative Republicans in Congress would balk if Mr. Trump took their advice and showed more flexibility on immigration, particularly toward young undocumented immigrants brought to the United States as children.

He also advised that ideological softening would buy the president no good will from Democrats or independent voters, whom Mr. Kushner and Ms. Trump believe Mr. Trump still has a chance of reaching.

“They hate the very mention of his name,” Mr. Bannon told them. “There is no constituency for this.”

His advice for the president: “You’ve got the base. And you grow the base by getting” things done.

Mr. Bannon’s disdain for General McMaster also accelerated his demise. The war veteran has never quite clicked with the president, but other West Wing staff members recoiled at a series of smears against General McMaster by internet allies of Mr. Bannon. The strategist denied involvement, but he also did not speak out against them.

By the time Charlottesville erupted, Mr. Kushner and Ms. Trump had a powerful ally in Mr. Kelly, who shared their belief that Mr. Trump’s first statement blaming “many sides” for the deadly violence needed to be amended.

Mr. Bannon vigorously objected. He told Mr. Kelly that if Mr. Trump delivered a second, more contrite statement it would do him no good, with either the public or the Washington press corps, which he denigrated as a “Pretorian guard” protecting the Democrats’ consensus that Mr. Trump is a race-baiting demagogue. Mr. Trump could grovel, beg for forgiveness, even get down on his knees; it would never work, Mr. Bannon maintained.

“They’re going to say two things: It’s too late and it’s not enough,” Mr. Bannon told Mr. Kelly.

In truth, long before Charlottesville, Mr. Trump had begun losing patience. The arrival of Mr. Kelly to play precisely the gatekeeping role that would stymie aides like Mr. Bannon marked the beginning of the end.

The president believed that Mr. Bannon had been leaking unauthorized stories about infighting inside administration for months before he ultimately took action.

Mr. Trump was irritated by a book, “Devil’s Bargain,” that portrayed Mr. Bannon as a brilliant political Svengali but put Mr. Trump in a supporting role.

When one Trump ally noted to him recently that Mr. Bannon did help him at the end of the race, Mr. Trump interrupted, “You know, he came very late.”

The week of Aug. 7, Mr. Bannon suggested timing the departure to Aug. 14, which was a day after his one-year anniversary working for Mr. Trump on the campaign. It made sense to everyone.

Mr. Bannon’s physical appearance was crumbling, and his mood swings had become pronounced.

In late July, after a weekend with Robert Mercer, the hedge fund billionaire who finances some of his projects, Mr. Bannon told him, “I dread going back” to the White House.

But after Charlottesville, Mr. Bannon maintained that an Aug. 14 exit would look like part of the president’s response to the violence. He did not want that, and others were understanding. So they discussed moving the date to around Labor Day weekend, although two administration officials said Mr. Bannon sought to entirely renegotiate the terms of his departure.

Then came Mr. Bannon’s unguarded comments to The American Prospect, published on Wednesday evening. He denigrated some colleagues, specifically identified one that he was going to see fired and said of striking North Korea, “There’s no military solution here, they got us” — a direct contradiction to the message Mr. Trump had been sending. Mr. Bannon could buy no more time.


A New Generation of White Supremacists (White Idiots) Emerges in Charlottesville

The white supremacist forces arrayed in Charlottesville, Virginia, over the weekend — the largest gathering of its sort in at least a generation — represented a new incarnation of the white supremacy movement. Old-guard groups like the Ku Klux Klan, the Aryan Nations and the Nazi skinheads, which had long stood at the center of racist politics in America, were largely absent.

Instead, the ranks of the young men who drove to Charlottesville with clubs, shields, pepper spray and guns included many college-educated people who have left the political mainstream in favor of extremist ideologies over the past few years. A large number have adopted a very clean cut, frat-boyish look designed to appeal to the average white guy in a way that KKK robes or skinhead regalia never could. Interviews show that at least some of these leaders have spent time in the U.S. armed forces.

Many belong to new organizations like Vanguard America, Identity Evropa, the Traditionalist Workers Party and True Cascadia, which have seen their numbers expand dramatically in the past year. Most of these groups view themselves as part of a broader “alt-right” movement that represents the extreme edge of right-wing politics in the U.S.

These organizations exhibited unprecedented organization and tactical savvy. Hundreds of racist activists converged on a park on Friday night, striding through the darkness in groups of five to 20 people. A handful of leaders with headsets and handheld radios gave orders as a pickup truck full of torches pulled up nearby. Within minutes, their numbers had swelled well into the hundreds. They quickly and efficiently formed a lengthy procession and begun marching, torches alight, through the campus of the University of Virginia.

Despite intense interest from the media, police and local anti-racists, the white supremacists kept the location of their intimidating nighttime march secret until the last moment.

The next day, the far-right forces — likely numbering between 1,000 and 1,500 — marched to Emancipation Park. Once again, they arrived in small blocs under military-style command. The racist groups were at least as organized and disciplined as the police, who appeared to have no clear plan for what to do when the violence escalated. The racist groups stood their ground at the park and were not dislodged for many hours.

For many of them, this will be seen as victory. “Every rally we’re going to be more organized, we’re going to have more people, and it’s going to be harder and harder for them to shut us down,” said a spokesman for Vanguard America, a fascist group, who gave his name as “Thomas.” “White people are pretty good at getting organized.”

And though police arrested James Fields Jr., a 20-year-old Ohio man, for allegedly driving a Dodge Charger into a crowd of anti-racist protesters, killing 32-year-old Heather Heyer and wounding many others, the white supremacists generally avoided arrests.

They also outmaneuvered their anti-racist opponents. On Saturday, a multifaith group met at the historic First Baptist Church for a sunrise prayer ceremony featuring academic Cornel West and pastor Traci Blackmon. The anti-racists, many of them clergy members, walked quietly to Emancipation Park, where they were vastly outnumbered by the white supremacists.

Later, a band of more aggressive counter-protesters showed up at the park, chanting “Appalachia coming at ya. Nazi punks we’re gonna smash ya!” These militant “antifa,” or antifascists, were also repelled by the white supremacists.

Given the scale of the protests, the far-right groups suffered few injuries. That was particularly notable given the fact that multiple people near the protests were armed. Throughout the weekend, right-wing and left-wing militias equipped with assault rifles, pistols and body armor patrolled the streets of Charlottesville. (Virginia is an “open carry” state, so gun owners are legally allowed to tote around firearms.)

State police and National Guardsmen watched passively for hours as self-proclaimed Nazis engaged in street battles with counter-protesters.

Many of the armed men viewed their role as maintaining a modicum of order. A “Three Percenter” militia out of New York state posted itself near Emancipation Park with the intention of keeping anti-racists from disrupting the rally. The group says it disapproves of racism but is dedicated to defending the free speech rights of all.

Blocks away, Redneck Revolt, a leftist militia from North Carolina, watched over the perimeter of a park where anti-racists had gathered, committed to preventing violent attacks by the white supremacist groups.

The presence of heavily armed citizens may have played a role in the decision of authorities to largely stay out of the violent skirmishes between the white supremacists and their opponents.

Those who actually marched included many new to the right-wing cause. The victory of Donald Trump in last year’s presidential election has energized a whole wave of young people who were previously apathetic or apolitical, rally organizer Eli Mosley told ProPublica. The president has served as “megaphone” for far-right ideas, he said.

Mosley and his comrades are seeking to draw in as many of these newly politicized young people as possible. “We’re winning,” he said. “We’re targeting the youth and making a movement that appeals to the youth.”

Some of those who’ve gravitated to the extreme right milieu are former liberals — like Mosley’s fellow rally organizer Jason Kessler — and supporters of Bernie Sanders. Many are ex-Libertarians.

“I was a libertarian,” said Mosley, as white supremacists chanted “Whose streets? Our streets!” in the background. “I looked around and noticed that most Libertarians were white men. I decided that the left was winning with identity politics, so I wanted to play identity politics too. I’m fascinated by leftist tactics, I read Saul Alinsky, Martin Luther King … This is our ’60s movement.”

A.C. Thompson is a staff reporter with ProPublica. 

Netanyahu was right not to condemn Charlottesville rally, top Nazi hunter says

The Israeli government was correct to keep mum on last week’s neo-Nazi rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, since the US government can be relied upon to tackle the problem by itself, Efraim Zuroff, the world’s leading Nazi hunter, said Wednesday.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu did well not to comment publicly on Friday’s march, Zuroff argued, since any condemnation could have been understood as an insult to the administration.

“I think he was right not jump in,” said Zuroff, the US-born director of the Simon Wiesenthal Center’s Israel office, who often calls on Jerusalem to act against anti-Semitism in other parts of the world. “The government doesn’t have to respond as if the fate of the Jews depends on a statement of the prime minister. That’s not the case.”

In fact, it could be considered “bad manners” for an Israeli leader to comment on the events in Charlottesville, he said. “On a certain level, it’s insulting to the host country if Israel has to [preach] on every event of this sort.”

The statue of Confederate General Robert E. Lee stands behind a crowd of hundreds of white nationalists, neo-Nazis and members of the "alt-right" during the "Unite the Right" rally August 12, 2017 in Charlottesville, Virginia. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images/AFP)

Noting the special relationship between Washington and Jerusalem, Zuroff said, “I don’t think the Israeli government has to do it everywhere and every time… I would say that the most important responses by the Israeli government to such cases are where there is a physical danger to Jews on a large scale, where it’s clear that the local government is incapable or unwilling to deal with it.”

While the rally in Charlottesville — during which neo-Nazis marched in broad daylight through the streets waving swastika flags and chanting “Jews will not replace us” — was a “blatant demonstration of racism,” Zuroff said there was no need for Israeli leaders to publicly denounce it because the local authorities could be relied upon to take care of the matter without any prompting from Jerusalem.

The violence that followed Friday’s rally was “a screw-up” in that the police failed to protect the public, Zuroff added. However, it is likely this event won’t repeat itself because local authorities are sure to be especially vigilant in the future. “They don’t need the Israeli government to tell them to do that,” he said.

As opposed to Jewish communities in Eastern Europe, US Jewry does not depend on Israel to speak up on its behalf, posited Zuroff, who was born and raised in New York and moved to Israel in 1970.

“There’s no danger to American Jewry. An individual Jew may be harmed by a neo-Nazi, but certainly these people don’t pose a threat to the Jewish community as a whole. There’s no danger of them overthrowing the government or anything of this sort, and the US government has the willingness and the ability to deal with instances like this.”

Anti-Semitic graffiti left on a building near the University of Virginia campus in Charlottesville. (Courtesy Michaela Brown via JTA)

Zuroff, who has been described as the world’s last active Nazi hunter, said it was important for Jerusalem to speak out on the situation in Eastern Europe, pressuring the governments of the Baltic countries, Croatia, Hungary, Ukraine and Poland to stop what he called Holocaust distortion — downplaying their respective local government’s guilt in the mass murder of Jews during World War II, and equating Nazism with Communism.

In this respect, Zuroff, 69, was critical of Netanyahu’s recent meeting with Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban, who a few days before the Israeli premier’s visit had praised the country’s wartime leader, Miklos Horthy. Netanyahu said he discussed the issue with Orban, and Hungary’s leader acknowledged the “sin” of failing to protect the Jewish community. Even though this admission of guilt was unprecedented, critics said it was insufficient because Hungarian officials were actively involved in the mass killing of Jews.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (C) and Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban read the names of the Hungarian Holocaust victims on the metal leaves of the 'Emanuel Memorial Tree' in the Raoul Wallenberg memorial garden of Budapest synagogue in Budapest on July 19, 2017. (PETER KOHALMI / AFP)

Netanyahu has been attacked by opposition politicians and pundits for not weighing in publicly on Charlottesville and on comments by US President Donald Trump, who on Tuesday apportioned blame for the violence that erupted Saturday to both the white supremacists and those who protested against their march.

After three days of silence, Netanyahu on Wednesday tweeted a vague statement opposing “anti-Semitism, neo-Nazism and racism.” It did not specifically refer to the event in Charlottesville.

“That’s for here [Israel], not for there,” Zuroff told The Times of Israel in his Jerusalem office, citing Henry Kissinger’s famous bon mot that Israel has no foreign policy but only domestic politics. “Because he couldn’t ignore the round of voices from here, that’s why he did it.”

Some analysts have explained Netanyahu’s decision to keep a low profile on Charlottesville as an effort not to antagonize the American president. Having to choose between denouncing anti-Semitism in defense of Diaspora Jewry, or refraining from crossing the leader of the free world — who is crucially important to Israel’s national security — the prime minister chose the latter, they posited.

Zuroff, too, believes that this is likely Netanyahu’s reasoning, and argued that this was “definitely” a legitimate position.

US President Donald Trump delivers remarks at Trump Tower, August 15, 2017 in New York City. (Drew Angerer/Getty Images/AFP)

Trump, however, should have immediately reacted to denounce the events occurring in his country, he went on. The president is no racist, Zuroff said, but in his desire to differentiate himself from his predecessor Barack Obama, whose “knee-jerk reaction would have been, correctly, to immediately condemn the neo-Nazis in Charlottesville,” Trump took his time before denouncing the rally.

The president then committed a “big mistake” Tuesday when he said that “there’s blame on both sides” and that there were “very fine people on both sides,” said Zuroff.

While it is entirely possible to assume that there are anti-Semites on the extreme left, “this canard of equivalency is dangerous,” Zuroff said. “I’m very perturbed by the fact that Trump didn’t immediately identify the culprits. I am very perturbed that he created a false equivalency.”

What This Rabbi Found When He Went To Charlottesville


It was a surreal moment. Approaching the Robert E. Lee Monument in the center of Charlottesville, Va., a young black woman, Aliya, joined her white friend Tom in placing a placard in front of the statue. Covering the words “Robert E. Lee” the placard read: “The Heather Heyer Memorial.” Heather Heyer was the 32-year-old woman who was murdered when a car driven by a white supremacist rammed into a crowd of counter protesters at a white nationalist rally.

Together with my colleagues Rabbis Shmuel Herzfeld, Etan Mintz and Uri Topolosky, we asked if we could join in. Together we stood, singing “We Shall Overcome.” White supremacists try to divide America, declaring “it’s us vs. them.” We were humbly responding — it’s us, all of us, we, together.

We had come to Charlottesville to express solidarity with the beleaguered Jewish community and with all of Charlottesville’s citizens. Sitting with Rabbi Tom Gutherz, rabbi of Charlottesville’s Congregation Beth Israel, we were overwhelmed by his story. He shared with us that he had received a call last Friday from municipal officials telling him they had picked up information that the synagogue was under threat. The rabbi asked for protection and was told that not enough personnel was available.

He continued by sharing with us that on Saturday, the Sabbath morning, three neo-Nazis were standing in front of the synagogue with semi-automatic weapons as congregants assembled for prayer. The rabbi again asked for protection, but none came.

His account echoed an article posted by synagogue president, Alan Zimmerman, where he stated: On Saturday morning, I stood outside our synagogue with the armed security guard we hired after the police department refused to provide us with an officer during morning services.

Incensed, we walked a few blocks to the Charlottesville City Hall, insisting that we see the city manager, Charlottesville’s highest government official. One of the assistant city managers, Mike Murphy, spoke to us. Rabbi Herzfeld chastised the Charlottesville Police for not offering the synagogue protection. I added, “It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that with many, many hundreds of neo-Nazis marching through the streets of Charlottesville on Friday night with KKK type torches, declaring ‘Jews will not replace us,’ the synagogue needed to be guarded.” That protection should have been automatic, without any request coming from the synagogue at all.

From our perspective, the lack of police protection deserves an investigation by the U.S. Justice Department.

We made our way to the University of Virginia Medical Center. Rabbi Mintz had served there years ago, and knew the supervising chaplain, Mildred Best. Mildred shared with us that the open lobby where one enters the hospital had been transformed into a closed emergency center during the hours of crisis on Saturday. She arranged that the full chaplaincy staff join us in a prayer service. It was important that we show support to the spiritual healers who had been there, offering help during the crisis. Even the healers need healing.

Fifty years ago, I started singing this song with millions of others during the dark days of the civil rights movement. Never would I have imagined then that decades later we would still be facing similar times, singing the same melody, the same simple but piercing words.

We gathered around as Rabbi Topolosky, on his guitar, led us in Rabbi Shlomo Carlebach’s heart-wrenching song of one word — “Ruach.” Ruach literally means “wind” but more deeply refers to the image of God, a spirit that unites all of humankind. Some of the chaplains were in tears. We held hands as our visiting group offered the blessing: May the Lord guard your going out and coming in; May the Lord offer renewal of body and soul for all the injured.

Our final stop was meeting with the Chabad rabbi at the University of Virginia, Rabbi Shlomo Mayer. Raised in Romania, he described how late on Friday night, after the white supremacists marched through Charlottesville, he was awakened by a loud noise. For an instant, he said, “I thought I was back in Romania with the Jewish community under attack.” As it turned out, the noise was not a danger. But the rabbi told us that the fear he was feeling was palpable.

As I left Charlottesville, my mind wandered to the moment, perhaps the most piercing of the day, where we stood at the very spot where Heather was murdered. Flowers and notes were everywhere. As I looked up, I could see a police car blocking the intersection. If only the police would have placed a car there on Saturday — Heather would still be alive. We chanted the prayer for the dead.

And then we began to sing “We Shall Overcome Some Day.” Fifty years ago, I started singing this song with millions of others during the dark days of the civil rights movement. Never would I have imagined then that decades later we would still be facing similar times, singing the same melody, the same simple but piercing words.

Then and there I offered a silent prayer: O God, we shall overcome someday. “Someday” no longer works for me. America cannot wait. The world cannot wait.

We need more Aliyas and Toms, more Mildred Bests. We need white, black, brown and yellow, Jewish, Christian, Muslims singing together — we shall overcome — not some day, but today, today, today.

5 White Supremacists (White Idiots) Whining About How Unfair Things Are After Charlottesville


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 Vicethat 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.



The US Conference of Mayors and The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) announced Friday a joint plan to fight extremism and bigotry and promote justice and equality in response to the violence protests which rocked Charlottesville, Virginia, last week.

More than 200 mayors from across the country representing the Conference of Mayors have so far have pledged to implement the plan in partnership with ADL. These include both Republicans and Democrats.

Under the 10-point Compact to Combat Hate, Extremism and Bigotry, mayors commit to: vigorously speak out against all acts of hate; ensure public safety while protecting free speech and other basic constitutional rights; punish bias-motivated violence to the fullest extent of the law; encourage more anti-bias and anti-hate education in schools and police forces; support targeted communities and bring together civic and community leaders to build trust; encourage community activities that celebrate their population’s cultural and ethnic diversity; encourage residents in their communities to report hate incidents and crimes; and ensure civil rights laws are aggressively enforced and hate crimes laws are as strong as possible.

“What happened in Charlottesville last weekend reminds us all that violent hate and racism are very much alive in America in 2017,” said Tom Cochran, CEO and Executive Director of the US Conference of Mayors. “For decades, America’s mayors have taken a strong position in support of civil rights and in opposition to racism and discrimination of all kinds. At this critical time mayors are doing so again through this compact in an effort to combat hate, extremism and bigotry in their cities and in our nation. “

“Charlottesville made clear that we have a lot more work to do in our communities and we can’t wait a minute longer to step up our efforts,” said Jonathan Greenblatt, ADL CEO and National Director.

In a conference call with mayors and reporters, Greenblatt drew parallels between the lynching of American Jew Leo Frank in 1915 and recent events in Charlottesville, describing the similarities as “eery.”

“Events in Charlottesville once again showed us we have much to do to bring Americans together,” he said, stressing that his organization is ready to “redouble our efforts.”

“In the past week we have seen hatred at its ugliest,” said Mayor Shane Bemis of Gresham, Oregon. “As a Republican mayor, I can tell you right now that President Trump’s actions, and inactions, have consequences…” he continued, charging that “Trump has divided us to nearly historic proportions and doesn’t seem to be bothered by that.”

“Terrorism by white supremacists, like what took place in Charlottesville, is a clear and present danger to America’s cities,” said Austin Mayor Steve Adler. “Mayors are eager to join with the Anti-Defamation League to fight hate, and I’m honored that Mayor Landrieu asked me to help lead a coordinated campaign across this country to promote the Mayors’ Compact to Combat Hate, Extremism and Bigotry. Only the Statue of Liberty should be carrying a torch these days, and her message of respect must echo in America’s cities where this battle is being fought.”

VA secretary David Shulkin says Charlottesville rally dishonored veterans

WASHINGTON — David Shulkin, the secretary of veterans affairs, became the first Jewish member of the Trump administration after President Donald Trump’s daughter to speak out about the white supremacists and neo-Nazis who marched in Charlottesville, Virginia.

Shulkin, speaking Wednesday at Trump’s golf course in Bedminster, New Jersey, told reporters that he was “giving my personal opinions as an American and as a Jewish American,” according to The New York Times. “And for me in particular, I think in learning history, that we know that staying silent on these issues is simply not acceptable.”

The Washington Post quoted Shulkin as saying it is “a dishonor to our country’s veterans for the Nazis and the white supremacists to go unchallenged, and that we all have to speak up about this as Americans.”

Shulkin did not condemn the president, who on Tuesday said there were “very fine people on both sides” in Charlottesville, where white supremacists and counterprotesters clashed on Saturday. An alleged white supremacist plowed his car into a crowd of counterprotesters, killing a 32-year-old woman, Heather Heyer, and injuring at least 19.

The Post quoted Shulkin as saying that Trump had done a “good job” of denouncing bigotry in the wake of the Charlottesville events.

Trump has repeatedly said that the protesters and the counterprotesters were both to blame for violence during the events last Friday and Saturday. During Friday night’s torchlit march and Saturday’s aborted rally, several marchers carried Nazi flags, and at times shouted anti-Semitic and racist slogans.

Trump’s daughter Ivanka, an unpaid senior adviser to her father, condemned the march on Sunday, tweeting, “There should be no place in society for racism, white supremacy and neo-nazis.”

Two Jewish members of the administration who shared the stage with the president during the Tuesday news conference have not publicly expressed their views about Trump’s remarks.

Gary Cohn, the director of the president’s National Economic Council, was said to be “disgusted” and “deeply upset” by the remarks, sources told The New York Times, but has not commented publicly.

Steven Mnuchin, the secretary of the Treasury, has not said anything publicly about the president’s remarks. Nor has Jared Kushner, the president’s son-in-law, who also is Jewish.

Shulkin’s remarks come as virtually the entire senior US military brass, in extraordinary statements, condemned the white supremacists in Charlottesville. The latest to do so was the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Joe Dunford.

“I have been traveling, so I’ve been following in bits and pieces what’s been happening in Charlottesville and very saddened by the events there and the loss of life of the young lady who was hit by a vehicle,” he said, according to Department of Defense News. “I can absolutely and unambiguously tell you there is no place — no place — for racism and bigotry in the US military or in the United States as a whole.”

Dunford spoke after chiefs of the Army, the Air Force, the Navy, the Marines and the National Guard Bureau posted similar statements on social media.

“They were speaking directly to the force and to the American people: to the force to make clear that that kind of racism and bigotry is not going to stand inside the force,” Dunford said. “And to the American people, to remind them of the values for which we stand in the US military, which are reflective of the values of the United States.”

Fear, resolve and more security at Charlottesville’s only synagogue

NORFOLK, Virginia (AP) — For Diane Gartner Hillman, the new reality of being Jewish in Charlottesville sunk in when she had to leave Congregation Beth Israel through the back door.

On any other Saturday, worshipers at the city’s lone synagogue would have left through the front and walked without fear to their cars, parked near the statue of Gen. Robert E. Lee in Emancipation Park.

But now, men wearing white shirts and khaki pants and other white supremacists carrying semi-automatic rifles were streaming past their sanctuary, taunting Beth Israel with phony Brooklyn accents and mocking Yiddish expressions, such “oy gevalt.”

“We were in a different world than where we had been previously,” Hillman, 69, said Friday, as a stream of people entered the synagogue, now guarded by three police officers out front and several more in the park. “We just don’t know where things are going to go from here.”

The presence of hundreds of white nationalists and the loss of three lives last weekend have members of the synagogue confronting new levels of anxiety and resolve. Anti-Semitic vitriol and violence has been on the rise in the United States, according to the Anti-Defamation League and other organizations that monitor hate groups. But the dynamic in Charlottesville showed an intensity of bigotry rarely seen out in the open.

A white supremacist carrying a Nazi flag into Emancipation Park in Charlottesville, Virginia, August 12, 2017. (AP/Steve Helber)

Writing for the website of the Union of Reform Judaism, Beth Israel President Alan Zimmerman said Nazi websites had called for the temple to be burned.

“Fortunately, it was just talk — but we had already deemed such an attack within the realm of possibilities, taking the precautionary step of removing our Torahs, including a Holocaust scroll, from the premises,” he wrote.

Beth Israel hired an armed security guard for the first time last Saturday, and plans to increase security, according to the congregation’s Facebook page. One Beth Israel member was “injured by the terrorist who used his car as a weapon, but is recovering at a local medical center and is expected to do so fully,” that post said.

As much as the show of hatred increased fears, it also boosted a sense of community in this normally quiet college town.

Police block off the street after a car rammed into a crowd of anti-White Supremacy protesters in Charlottesville, Va., USA on August 12, 2017. (Photo by Samuel Corum/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images via JTA)

Cale Jaffe, a University of Virginia law professor, watched as the white nationalists marched past with guns, helmets and body armor, “explicitly with the intent of intimidation and to create violence,” and for the first time, felt anxious about walking into his synagogue, he said.

“But it has crystalized for me why it’s so important to push through that anxiety and step inside the sanctuary,” said Jaffe, 44. “It made it clear that’s a place I need to be.”

And many people in Charlottesville who aren’t Jewish have come to Beth Israel to show their solidarity, Jaffe said. “What gives me hope going forward is knowing so many people in the larger Charlottesville community feel that way and are there with us.”

‘My life is over’: 21-year-old Charlottesville marcher (White Idiot) whines over ‘outing’ by anti-fascist group

A 21-year-old Honeoye Falls, NY man was outed as a white supremacist after photos of him marching in Charlottesville, VA circulated online.

According to the Livingston County News, Jerrod Kuhn was filmed on Friday and Saturday last week by a BBC documentary crew as he carried a torch on the University of Virginia campus and chanted Nazi slogans and marched with the KKK and neo-Nazis the following day.

Rochester, NY-based group called Eastside Antifascists took still images of Kuhn and distributed 250 fliers bearing his photo throughout the Honeoye Falls area with the slogan, “No Nazis in our neighborhood.”

The fliers explained that Kuhn is a participant and prolific poster at neo-Nazi website The Daily Stormer, “an avowedly neo-Nazi website around which local groups have been organizing to promote anti-Semitism, white supremacy and violence against LGBTQ communities.”

Kuhn says he’s not a racist, but that he traveled the nearly 500 miles from Honeoye Falls to Charlottesville to protest the removal of a Confederate monument to Gen. Robert E. Lee from Charlottesville’s Emancipation Park.

“It’s a piece of history, and I thought that it should remain,” Kuhn said. “It’s important to me that we preserve American history no matter how ugly the past is it’s associated with.”

“I’m not a neo-Nazi,” he insisted. “I don’t belong to a German workers’ party from 1933. I’m a moderate Republican.”

Other white supremacist marchers from Saturday’s deadly melee have made similar claims, like Washington State University College Republicans president James Allsup, who said, “They have no proof that I’m a racist”when confronted with photos of himself at the white supremacist rally.

“People have a right to know if their neighbor is a violent neo-Nazi just as much as they would if their neighbor was a violent sex offender,” said Peter Berkman of Eastside Antifascists. “I think it’s important that people know the dangers the community faces and we think people having that information is important for them to protect themselves.”

Berkman said that his group has been tracking Kuhn’s participation in online neo-Nazi groups over a period of time, including the Daily Stormer, which has migrated to a Russian domain after a series of U.S. web hosting companies refused to provide it service.

Kuhn now says his life and reputation are ruined in his community and that he and his family are receiving threats.

“I can’t live in this community anymore. I’m in the process of figuring out what I’m going to do,” he complained. “I’m 21 years old and now my life is over in this area.”

“These folks don’t just get to be weekend neo-Nazis and then come home and live comfortably without having people around them knowing who they are,” said Berkman. “It’s important that people know who he is and that this person is in their community and to proceed with caution.”