White Nationalists Conference in Kentucky
This may not necessarily be a story, but still written (loosely) in a story format. Its more of a catalogue of links, research, and ideas I’ve developed over the past week about a particular event/issue happening on April 28th and 29th that happens to be close to me. I don’t have a background in journalism, writing, or political science, so lets just get that out of the way up front. Neither do I have aspirations or delusions of being such. Just a 30-something Kentucky native with an interest in learning and world events. This is my first Medium post as well, and wanted a medium (ha, im so clever) to plainly explain this event, in a rudimentary way, to friends and family and those who are otherwise disengaged, and add links and definitions along the way. There seems to be a lack of understanding of definitions and a general skepticism around terms and ideas in some of my circles, and I want spell things out clearly, for anyone and everyone to understand. Anyways, here we go…
The current election hit my wife and I hard. We’ve spent the last month since the inauguration on the edge of our seats, self medicating and researching and learning as much as possible to try to get our minds wrapped around what is actually going on. So many things were happening, and there was so much to learn and discuss. The thing that hit us hardest though, hit close to home… quite literally.
The Issue at Hand: White Nationalist Conference in Pikeville, KY
The Traditionalist Worker’s Party (TWP), the political party of the Traditionalist Youth Network, and the National Socialist Movement (NSM) announced a conference in Pikeville, KY at Jenny Wiley State Park. (Local KY News Article). The TWP and the NSM are part of a rebranded White Nationalist movement. They understand the stigma associated with the labels of “Neo-Nazi,” and “Fascists”, so have worked to publicly soften their edges for public appeal, and have labeled themselves in a more ambiguous and non-threatening fashion. This has been the agenda of the Alt-Right, lead by Richard Spencer and his National Policy Institute, explained in this The Atlantic Vimeo video.
Notice that the names of these organizations sound very bland and ambiguous. That’s the point. And it’s working. Not only are White Supremacists of all avenues recruiting at high rates, but they are joining forces in an organized front . Here are some definitions for anyone unsure:
Nationalism: loyalty and devotion to a nation; especially : a sense of national consciousness (see consciousness 1c) exalting one nation above all others and placing primary emphasis on promotion of its culture and interests as opposed to those of other nations or supranational groups <Intense nationalism was one of the causes of the war.>
White Nationalism: White nationalism is a type of nationalism or pan-nationalism which holds the belief that white people are a race and seeks to develop and maintain a white national identity. Its proponents identify with and are attached to the concept of a white nation.
Fascism: a political philosophy, movement, or regime (as that of the Fascisti) that exalts nation and often race above the individual and that stands for a centralized autocratic government headed by a dictatorial leader, severe economic and social regimentation, and forcible suppression of opposition.
My wife volunteered to help organize a peaceful protest of the TWP conference with Rally For Equality And American Values (Facebook link) immediately. She’s been conference calling and messaging non-stop, and we’ve gotten an inside scoop on some of the buzz around the event. I’ve been behind her scenes researching and being inquisitive about the event for her benefit and safety…..and we’ve found that it has gotten much wilder than we expected. We’ve learned that white nationalism is growing much faster than we could have imagined. I wanted to share what we’ve learned from our perspective so far.
After the announcement of the TWP conference, and the beginning stages of the peaceful protest against it, the TWP released a forward-looking article on dailystormer.com (White Supremacist and Neo-Nazi news site), titled “The Next Step of the Revolution: April Rally in Pikeville, Kentucky.” The article was written by Matthew Heimbach, the leader of the TWP, and here’s a bit of info I’ve dug up on him:
He was disinvited from Richard Spencer’s National Policy Institute for being anti-gay, which Richard Spencer and his AltRight movement have come to include, but only if white. (Article by Richard Spencer of NPI)
In Matthew Heimbach’s “Next Steps…” article mentioned above, we learned a LOT more about their intentions…
- This is not merely meant to be a simple gathering, it is meant to be a training and recruiting seminar for new recruits to spread their white nationalists ideology and train members to run for political office.
“Action on the street is a manifestation of the countless hours of building a political movement. The podcasts, propaganda, networking, and infrastructure building all build to real life action of marches, rallies, conferences, and direct community engagement.”
“Without the streets, we have no capacity to truly bring about our political, social, and economic Revolution.”
2. They intend to bring weapons to fight against “leftist attacks” and taking the law into their own hands.
“Those with Concealed Carry Permits that are valid in Kentucky are also welcomed and encouraged to carry, in accordance with all local and State laws and ordinances. Armed volunteers will be looking over our vehicles during the festivities, because if you want something done right, you do it yourself.”
3. They are prepared for “leftist Attacks”, and intend to stand their ground.
“Given that the venue is a State Park, the radical Leftists cannot shut down the event, giving us a great and beautiful place to hold a time for fellowship.”
“All attendees should be prepared for possible Leftist attacks, we will not be driven from the streets, under any circumstances.”
4. There will be speakers/performers.
Paddy Tarleton, White Nationalist folk musician
Matt Parrott from the TWP
Jeff Schoep of the NSM — intends on uniting white nationalist groups across America
Max Macro of the Renaissance Party of North America (Boring video of an awkward guy in an ill-fitted suit oddly smoking a cigar in a cemetery)
5. They use Fascist, White Supremacist, and Nazi language.
Golden Dawn —Far-Right, Fascist Political Party in Greece: “The people cannot rely on or trust the political establishment, we must fill that void, much like Golden Dawn in Greece, to be the force in society that our people know and trust.”
Benito Mussolini- Italian Dictator and Leader of the National Fascist Party: “The time is now to take our movement to the next level. As Benito Mussolini said ‘Fascism promises neither glory nor titles nor gain — only duty and struggle.”
George Rockwell- Founder of the American Nazi Party: “Bringing our message directly to the White working class in Appalachia is a fulfillment of what Commander Rockwell said when he wrote “When you rise and stand up and the masses see what a man of FORCE looks like, they will love you, as they now imagine they hate you.”
Translated Nazi Salute “Sieg Heil” to end the article: “Hail Victory!”
So, to recap, a White Nationalist Movement group, with undeniably Neo-Nazi and Fascist ideologies is holding a training seminar in Kentucky, and has instructed their attendees to bring weapons in the event of a clash with the Left, which they are expecting.
I think this is a good time to talk about ‘Antifa.’
Remember the “Nazi” Richard Spencer (mentioned above)that got punched in the face by some dude that earned instant fame? That elbow to the face was delivered by a member of Antifa. And Richard Spencer is a White Supremacist (for lack of an updated, less abrasive term that he would prefer to be called) Remember the dudes with masks breaking Starbucks windows and setting limos on fire? That’s Antifa (Not Women’s March protestors).
Antifa is a name that stands for “Anti-Fascists.” These guys are not an American phenomenon, just as much as any Nationalist party is not an American phenomenon. Its just the first time most Americans are being exposed to it. Antifascists have a history as global and as old as Fascists (eg. Antifa Germany, Antifa Sweden, Haymarket Affair 1886, 1999 Seattle WTO protest) They often use “Black Bloc” tactics, and are associated with Anarchism, a philosophy that has existed for over 2,000 years.
It should be understood that Antifascists and Nationalists are at opposite ends of the spectrum, and are now increasingly more present in the American political landscape. Antifa have tasked themselves to be a violent opposition to the White Nationalists and fascists, to ensure they do not feel safe gathering or protesting anytime, anywhere. Antifa often work alone, but are going to attend any large Leftist protest. They tend to ‘piggy back’ protests, and show up to be heard, execute their own agenda, and fight against the police if they act violently or unjustly against protestors.
Antifa groups have made it known that they will also be at the Pikeville, KY TWP conference, to confront the TWP.
Antifascistnews.com — “This action by TWP is not going unchallenged as a counter rally is already being organized and it is going to need the support of antifascists around the country.”
Hoosier Anti-Racist Action (Facebook)
Louisville Anti-Racist Action- No Nazis in Pikeville Article — “Their ideas don’t keep our people safe. For this reason, they are not safe. Not in Appalachia, not in Kentucky, and not anywhere else. We will be there, and we will not be alone.”
That rally meets at Pikeville Park on Main Street. There is a HUGE (YUGE) history between Nationalists and Antifascists in recent history.
The last time Antifa crashed a TWP protest was in 2016 in Sacramento California, where 10 people were hospitalized from stab wounds (most being Antifa counter-protestors). 30 TWP vs 300–400 Antifa. (Yvette Felarca of BAMN explains motivations behind protesting video)
The fight includes online battles, between physical confrontations. Ive read, in message boards, an apparent white nationalist say that they want to “teach Antifa a thing or two about the ‘stand your ground law.’” (Sorry, no link)
Berkley Riots, Antifa violently protests AltRight Milo Yiannopolous … Antifa seems to believe that freedom of speech does not extend to those with fascist ideologies, and that fighting against them is “self defense.”
So, tensions are rising between these two groups, and the next event is set for Pikeville, KY. But this time, the White Nationalists have the upper-hand: a national park and a small town setting (not urban confrontation, like Antifa is accustomed to), bringing open carry weapons, small police force of a small KY town, and numbers at all time high for this White Nationalist conference. It is promising to be, in the words of Matthew Heimbach, “one for the history books.”
So, to recap, again:
-TWP announces conference in Pikeville, Ky
-Peaceful Protests begin to organize
-TWP puts out a statement asking attendees to bring weapons
-Antifa groups make statements of intent of attending
This is beginning to look like madness. So I decided to look into what kind of place Pikeville, KY was, and how it could manage to handle an event of this complexity and magnitude.
Pikeville, KY is a city of 6,903 people. Currently, as far as I can tell, the police department has 21 officers.
The TWP conference will be held at Jenny Wiley State Park, and the peaceful protest by Rally For Equality will be held at Pikeville City Park, 243 Main Street in Pikeville. These two events will be held 28 miles from each other. My first reaction to this realization was that of relief. 28 miles is a long distance for anything violent to happen between the two groups of people. Then I realized that the TWP is also planning a protest at the Pikeville courthouse on the evening of the 29th, a mere 0.3 miles from the peaceful protest; a 7 minute, straight-stretch walk. So there will be a clash. Antifa will not merely stand by in the park, participate in a peaceful protest, and not take a 7minute walk to confront one of the largest white nationalist protests in the nation.
Also, two weekends before the TWP conference, is Pikeville’s largest event of the year, “Hillbilly Days,” which is reported to bring in 100,000 people from all across North America. The city is currently inundated in preparations for this large festival, while juggling the complexity of the TWP conference, and the subsequent protests. This has caused some concerns that the city of Pikeville might not be able to fully understand and make the appropriate preparations for the 29th on such short notice in the wake Hillbilly Days.
So, in conclusion…. and to recap, once more…
The TWP White Nationalist group, which has been gaining popularity, power, and unity with other white nationalist organizations across the US, announces a conference to recruit and train new recruits on ‘taking back the streets’ and running for political office. They then encourage attendees to bring weapons to defend themselves from protestors which they are expecting. Antifascist Anarchist groups with a violent past with Nationalists (both historically, globally, and recently) pledge to confront the TWP in a small town with a small police force, though the TWP has the upper-hand in location, planning, weaponry, and possibly numbers.
I am concerned, to say the least, and I don’t mean to be inflammatory. In my opinion, this will be an event that will be reported nationally, at the least, and possibly be a major event in recent US history. I believe that the ramifications will be significant. I could see this being the event that causes the current administration to create stricter laws concerning protesting. I could see congressional action against Antifa after a raucous clash that gains widespread attention and judgement from moderates to liberals to (certainly) conservatives. After all, the TWP has dotted their “i’s” and crossed all their “t’s” to make this appear to be a respectable, legal, and law-abiding gathering for neo-nazis and white nationalists under the guise of a political party movement, while Antifa is showing up, regardless of law, to prevent their gathering from spreading harmful ideals by any means necessary. I guess we’ll just see how it goes.
I’ll be there, hoping that this event will be a positive one in Kentucky, and American history. I hope you will be there alongside me as well.
In the words of Woody Guthrie, “We’ll show these fascists what a couple of hillbillies can do.”