The Nazi in the Chemistry Department: What I Learned While Investigating Dylan Bleier
Dylan Bleier was an upperclassman at Oberlin the first time he first made national news. Between February and March of 2013, Bleier and an accomplice went on a month-long racist and anti-Semitic vandalism spree. According to the police report naming Bleier, on February 11, 2013, a female student was contacted via email by a person pretending to Oberlin College President Marvin Krislov:
On February 12, 2013, flyers (such as the ones detailed below) were placed in file folders outside of professors offices:
There are well over a dozen such incidents, including these anti-Muslim posters reported on February 27, 2013:
The most reported item was the Nazi graffiti below:
Bleier was expelled, but the prosecutor (allegedly reluctantly) dropped all charges against him.
It’s both shocking an entirely unsurprising that Bleier faced no charges. Using an excuse that hardly holds up to scrutiny, Bleier claimed, “I’m doing it as a joke to see the college overreact to it as they have with the other racial postings that have been posted on campus.” The police report contains a similar explanation:
Looking his social media presence, this is quite literally not believable. Before we dive into the present, though, it’s worth looking at why police were persuaded by Bleier’s excuse at the time.
The Mythical Struggle Between the Tolerant White and Intolerant Left
Bleier had- and continues to have- an inconsistent set of beliefs. He fluctuates between hating racists and hating Jews, with the only unifying ideology being a hate for “the elites.” He once allegedly believed in economic equality, but any orientation towards justice was overridden by a decisively inaccurate and anti-Semitic idea about who holds power and privilege in America (and the world).
When Bleier’s identity was released, the university had already conceded his “hoax” excuse, concluding there was no malicious intent. After all, Bleier briefly registered voters for Obama. According to his LinkedIn page, he was an anti-racist activist, and allegedly stood for all the values leftists believe in:
Oberlin College and the reporters who had been following the racist propaganda seemed so ashamed of the attention they gave Bleier — a purported liberal — that they looked no further. One article attempted to point out that privileged white boys trolling with Nazi symbolism isn’t a false-flag just because they are liberal, but never gained much traction. Still, it’s a big jump from “tone-deaf troll” to “literal Nazi.” What the hell happened between this LinkedIn profile and the tweet below, and what can we learn from the curious case of Dylan Bleier?
Most White Men Don’t Understand Oppression, and It’s Usually Not Helpful When They Try (No Offense)
Before going full, bat-shit, Nazi radical, Bleier was an advocate for social justice. He was an engaged citizen, as even his racist graffiti demonstrates. After he was ejected from Oberlin, he posted to a blog called the Libertarian Liberal, for his “political musings.”
Bleier also had a Medium site, chemistry blog, a physics blog, a philosophy blog, a music blog, and about a dozen other sites he posted content to. His desire to be a public, political face is as unfortunate as it is obvious, but it did provide a convenient way to trace his work:
Over the next year, Bleier’s professed racist actions began lining up with his outspoken beliefs. His expulsion gave him a deep sense of grievance and injustice that became core parts of his identity. He developed an intense hatred for any rejection of his ideas, no matter how illogical or objectionable they are. He considered his injury of not being able to spread flagrantly racist material all over his university to be on par with the oppression faced by the groups he was targeting. Over time, this developed into a kind of intense political pathology.
Here’s the reason I invested time into Bleier: I suspect he is the most common type of white supremacist. He has several Black Facebook friends. He has a history of the “correct” beliefs. He wants to develop solar technology because he is concerned about climate change. But above all else, Bleier believes that his grievance is equivalent with any other social justice struggle. Bleier believes that offending people is his fundamental right and duty as a citizen. Or, as he put it:
It didn’t matter what Bleier was advocating for, and he did change his worldview both dramatically and quickly— the important part was advocating his beliefs forcefully and without being told “No”. It is a warped and dangerous view of deliberation that is really just white male entitlement by another name.
Here’s where things get really dark (again). If you were looking for a place to exit, this would be your opportunity.
In the years since his expulsion, Dylan took up a fascination with hacking and communication security, posting plans to the website hackaday.io for various drones (including a pretty humorous “anti-commie laser drone” — I’ll keep my windows shut), along with eavesdropping tools, a way to use video feeds to retroactively add back audio for surveillance, and the occasional electric bike. But I’m sure all of that is unrelated to his dramatic dive into the depths of the alt-right, so scroll ahead, nothing to see here.
Around 2015, Bleier starts scrubbing his internet presence. As I started looking into his background, I almost didn’t find anything. I was about to stop searching when I came across a series of tweets that seemed…. odd.
So I continued looking, finding an abundance of anti-Semitic memes tweeted over the course of his 2016 radicalization. It confirms what many of us who study the alt-right already knew: White Supremacy operates independently of political ideology — you can be a Nazi socialist, communist, fascist, capitalist, libertarian, or anything else — it is simply a matter of what your white utopian society looks like.
And of course, memes expressing anti-Muslim racism:
“But wait, CV! Retweets aren’t endorsements!”
That’s true, and I would hardly call someone a Nazi if all I had were racist retweets. The thing is, between those two anti-Muslim memes:
And beneath that tweet from earlier, is this:
Full stop. There is no remaining argument to be made that this man is not a Nazi. But I’m going to keep going, anyway.
Dylan wants to use his fundamental human right to offend people as he sees fit to its fullest extent, so allow me to document his greasy, hateful glory:
Okay, I’ll stop now. You get the point.
Now that Bleier has relocated to Madison and is in his first semester of graduate school in the chemistry department, he is getting involved in our city’s own lovely pocket of alt-right jerks: the Proud Boys. It’s evidence of an uncontroversial trajectory into white supremacy, where Bleier is making himself comfortable:
And here he is, trying to get a student chapter of the Proud Boys started (lol), so that he can invite his white supremacist kin, Milo Yiannopoulos, to UW-Madison. Trust me, Dylan. No one wants him here.
So, there’s a Nazi on our campus. What do we do?
The responsibility first is in the hands of the powers that be- our Chancellor, Rebecca Blank, and the rest of her faculty. This man constitutes a threat to any community that he belongs to, and so I don’t know that another expulsion can solve anything. Had I been asked, here are my recommendations:
- Twelve weeks of mandatory counseling with someone trained to deal with… whatever this is. On the heels of the Vegas shooting and the Nazi graffiti last month in Madison, I really don’t need to remind anyone that mental health services are our best chance at prevention.
- The community — especially the Chemistry department — must be aware of this figure and his beliefs, given the violent nature of his rhetoric. When a community of peers can conduct surveillance on one of their own, instead of having an external authoritarian force impose surveillance or discipline, we have a much better chance at growth and de-escalation
- Revoke his TA appointment until he completes counseling. His actions, such as joining the Madison Proud Boys chapter, demonstrate his intent to continue, well, being a Nazi. He should not be TAing for a large intro-level chemistry course where he is in a position of authority over students of color and/or Jewish students. That’s an obvious no-brainer. Being an educator is a sacred responsibility, and Dylan Bleier is unfit for the role.
If we are to believe in restorative justice, these are the things we may begin to demand. Not ostracizing and displacing threats onto unknowing populations, but taking accountability for our collective role in the modern manifestations of white supremacy on our campus.
Warmest Regards, Badger Family.
Oh, and before anyone says “But he supported Obama!”
There are so many, and they are all the same level of absolutely idiotic. I think you’ve more than gotten the point, dear reader.
On October 17, 2016, Dylan Bleier posted the following conversation to the image-based social media site, imgur.com. He titled the post “insane convo with an extremely dumb lesbian,” apparently believing this made him look good, intelligent, or reasonable. You can judge for yourself:
Someone in this conversation is extremely dumb, Dylan. It’s you.
Below are the transcripts of conversations from two individuals who have reached out with stories about Dylan. Identifying information has been omitted, indicated by elipses.
Transcript 1: “I went to high school with Dylan and remember him… Seemed like a pretty troubled guy even back then. He’d go out of his way to annoy people, but at the time it seemed like it was for attention. Unfortunately it mostly just resulted in a lot of bullying. Looks like these days it’s more of a credo.”
“I went to Oberlin with Dylan…He was very creepy, but relatively harmless at that point. He once showed up [a female student]’s room while [she] was having friends over and just kind of stared at [her] and drank [her] alcohol. When everyone left he wouldn’t leave and [she] had to kick him out. That night he posted about having a crush on [her] on our anonymous message board, obietalk.
Obietalk was shut down for cyber bullying, at which point oberchan was created. To provide some context to the police report you saw, he wrote something along the lines of “This girl… likes to get railed with 10 inch poles” then created the fake email address from our president, and emailed that girl the link to the post saying “I’m very disappointed in you”
As soon as Obietalk went down, that’s when he and his friend started doing all of the awful graffiti and circulated KKK affiliated material
He was eventually caught red handed and expelled, but less than a year later, he managed to get into University of Rochester…
A year later [a professor at the University of Rochester] asked about [Dylan] because he was now harassing one of [the professor’s] students online!
I told him what I knew and eventually the student filed a complaint, but nothing came from it.”
On the morning of October 11, 2017 a member of the Proud Boys reached out to clarify their organizational goals, “We are not alt-right, and we are certainly not jerks…And not white supremacist.”