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Jason Eric Kessler is a 34 year-old white nationalist from Charlottesville, Virginia, most widely known for his efforts to organize the calamitous 2017 “Unite the Right” rally that ended in the horrific death of anti-fascist activist, Heather Heyer.

After the murder of Heyer, Kessler could not contain his feelings when he tweeted “Heather Heyer was a fat, disgusting Communist. Communists have killed 94 million. Looks like it was payback time.”

As IREHR reported last week, Kessler is now pitching his latest effort, Unite the Right 2, as a so-called “white civil rights” rally scheduled for August 12 in Washington D.C.

Kessler has proclaimed that Nazis, the Klan and their symbols will not be allowed and that the event will be non-violent – even admonishing attendees not to bring actual or potential weapons. He urged supporters that, “when you’re at a civil rights styled event the primary purpose should not be showing off your militaristic defense capabilities. The objective should be fostering public sympathy rather than striking fear in the hearts of our enemies. Besides, they’ll fear us no matter what we do.”

In the end, Kessler declared that, “We need to fulfill the true promise of the Alt-Right by creating a movement capable of broad social upheaval akin to what the Left accomplished in the 1960’s but in reverse.”

While Kessler has dropped his efforts to hold a rally in Charlottesville, the event moving forward in Washington D.C. is, simply put, a white nationalist rally at which national socialists are welcome. Despite his declaration that Nazis and their ilk will not attend Unite the Right 2, Kessler stated in a recent deposition that several prominent white nationalists are slated to speak at the upcoming event.

As is generally the case when racists attempt to mainstream their message, there is more to the story.

Despite efforts to enter the mainstream by casting himself a “white civil rights” activist, Jason Kessler is a white nationalist who has promoted anti-Semitism by obsessing about the Jewishness of his political opponents and rushing to the defense of Holocaust deniers. He has even referred to cult murder Charles Manson as a “misunderstood genius.”

Jason Kessler, Proud Boy

Jason Kessler is an at least onetime member of the nationalist Proud Boys – an organization that touts itself as “proud western chauvinists” and whose founder, Gavin McInnes, claims to have gotten his ideas about the west from paleo-conservative Pat Buchanan’s 2002 book The Death of the West: How Dying Populations and Immigrant Invasions Imperil Our Country and Civilization. Ardent supporters of Donald Trump, the Proud Boys have become widely known for brutal attacks on anti-fascists during rallies in places like Portland.

In April 2017 Kessler plead guilty to misdemeanor assault and was later sentenced to 50 hours community service. The January 2017 assault occurred as Kessler was collecting signatures on a petition to remove Charlottesville’s African-American Mayor Wes Bellamy from office. When an individual argued with Kessler about the petition, Kessler punched him.

In the lead-up to Unite the Right I, Kessler was initiated into the Proud Boys at an event in Charlottesville, according to a lawsuit filed against numerous participants in the racist mobilization. This included being “beaten in an alley in Charlottesville by Proud Boys members until he could name five breakfast cereals” – the “second degree” initiation into the group, along with renouncing masturbation.

The fourth degree requires a “major fight for the cause,” meaning you “kick the crap out of antifa,” the complaint alleges. Proud Boys founder Gavin McInnes later claimed this was a joke, though his examples of acts leading to fourth degree status involved confrontations with anti-fascists. McInnes also claims to have removed Kessler from the group after Kessler’s white nationalism became public.

Kessler is also the founder of Unity and Security for America Inc., a Virginia-registered corporation that, like the Proud Boys, casts its nationalist aims as simply “defending Western civilization.”

Jason Kessler, White Nationalist

Jason Kessler’s “white civil rights” strategy is retread of national socialist David Duke’s posturing of the 1980s, attempting to mask a pernicious racism that would reshape public policies in the United States to openly favor white people.

While Kessler goes to lengths to sound non-racist, a little unpacking shows that the Unite the Right 2 organizer wavers between sounding like a 1920s anti-immigrant racist and a modern white nationalist – here seeking to maintain white domination of American society by controlling its “racial” demographics, and there indicating that a white ethnostate may be necessary.

A series of discussions on his GAB page lay bare Kessler’s white nationalism as well as the manner in which he attempts to mask it.[i] In response to an individual who stresses that the movement should seek guidance from U.S. historical precedents in which people of color were not citizens, Kessler counters:

Kessler continues in this vein, writing that,

While the idea that “Blacks, Jews & White Commies” are trying to “wipe us out” points to the direction Kessler is headed – and the centrality of the idea of white dispossession to modern white nationalism – his acknowledgement that America has always been multiracial (a simple fact), and that “Good Guy arguments” must be made, points to his mainstreaming efforts. Even with such a framing, Kessler moves in a decidedly white-ist direction. In response to Robert Cardwell’s argument about racial “separatism,” Kessler responds,

He adds that,

In claiming that he never said “America should be an ethnostate,” and hinting that an 85% domination of the U.S. population by whites might be a goal, Kessler harkens back to a previous era of white supremacy. Kessler’s attack on the birthright citizenship provisions of the 14th Amendment, and in particular his vision of “ending third world immigration” and “renewing European immigration,” recalls the 1924 Immigration Act – the so-called “National Origins Act.” The act set temporary immigration quotas at 2% of the foreign-born population of each nationality present in the United States at the time of the 1890 census. It also excluded most people of color from the count, resulting in some 85% of all slots going to northern and western Europeans.[ii]

In other GAB exchanges, Kessler sounds more like the white ethnostate-seeking groups he worked with to organize Unite the Right 1.  For instance, in response to Joseph Ross’s argument that black people should be given “100K and a plane ticket to a country of their choice,” Kessler responds,

In response to another individual’s apparent concern about whites becoming a numerical minority, Kessler writes, “If that happens, white people are going to need sovereign lands within the USA to preserve them from being completely eradicated, perhaps a state or a group of states” – that is, Kessler sounds like a modern white nationalist in search of a whites-only ethnostate:

In June 2017, writing for the white nationalist site, VDARE, Kessler bemoaned that,

“Whites will be the only ethnicity on Earth without a country of their own. Black people will still have the entire continent of Africa. Asians will still control the entire continent of Asia. Jews will have Israel. Even Native Americans will have Reservations. Whites alone slowly being dispossessed.”

Kessler also sees the very idea of multiculturalism – a framework that recognizes the contributions that people of many ethnic and “racial” backgrounds have made to the United States – as “handing the safety and security of our country over to foreign interests.”

Kessler also reposted a statement by John Rivers proclaiming that “I can ally/w ppl [people] who aren’t white – a long as they support the continued existence of white people and white countries…hell, I’d even support the Jews keeping Israel if they support us keeping Europe”:

Jason Kessler is a white nationalist.

Jason Kessler and the White Nationalists (and the National Socialists)

If Kessler makes clear that whiteness is central to his idea of nationality – i.e., that he is a white nationalist – he reinforces this by working with, defending, and promoting known white nationalists and national socialists.  In a deposition in his lawsuit against Charlottesville, when asked to name the groups that “attended the 2017 Event per your formal or informal invitation,” Kessler listed the white nationalist League of the South as well as the national socialist Traditional Worker Party, National Socialist Movement, and Vanguard America. Kessler also worked closely with these and similar groups to organize Unite the Right 1, according to lawsuits filed against multiple racists involved in the event.

It comes as no surprise, then, that Kessler has repeatedly defended and praised white nationalist groups and attended white nationalist events.

For instance, as Twitter began efforts to remove white nationalists from their platform, Kessler shot back that,

Kessler, who also refers to himself as simply “pro-white,” recounted his attendance at the 2018 conference of the white nationalist think-tank, American Renaissance.

As many in the white nationalist movement reeled from public outrage at the racism, anti-Semitism and violence on display in Charlottesville, Kessler fielded criticism and engaged in debate about the direction of the movement. One of the people he cordially debated was Andrew Anglin of the national socialist Daily Stormer.

The latter post by Kessler also demonstrates his idea that white nationalists should hold culture-building events alongside a “white civil rights” strategy.

Kessler had previously rushed to Anglin’s defense and, when Kessler issued his vulgar Tweet about Heather Heyer and blamed it on taking Ambien, Anglin returned the favor.

Anglin, a virulent racist and anti-Semite, gained national infamy when he engaged in and encouraged a vicious online campaign against Jewish civil rights activists in Whitefish, Montana.

Jason Kessler’s attempt to cast Unite the Right 2 as simply a “white civil rights” event, and one at which Nazis and their ilk will not be welcome, is a ruse. In his  deposition, Kessler stated that national socialist (read Nazi) David Duke is among the individuals who “have confirmed their intent to attend and speak.” Kessler also appeared on Duke’s radio show in April, mostly pressing his argument that Unite the Right 2 is a “civil rights” event and that whites are being oppressed.

Kessler said that another speaker at the event was Patrick Little, the defeated U.S. Senate candidate and national socialist from California who recently posted on GAB that,

However, Kessler’s attempts at mainstreaming appear to have led Little to reject his invitation:

Another speaker mentioned is Tom Kawcynski, the Jackman, Maine city manager fired in January for calling Islam the “scourge of Western civilization” and expressing the idea that the “races” should “voluntarily separate.”

Jason Kessler’s Anti-Democratic Vision

In attempting to mainstream his version of white nationalism, Kessler casts himself as a “Classical liberal.” Responding to an individual that voiced the infamous “14 Words” of racist murder David Lane, Kessler wrote,

Elsewhere, however, Kessler has expressed an abject rejection of democracy:

Jason Kessler, anti-Semitism and the Holocaust Deniers

Like the anti-Semites with which he has allied, Kessler displays his own obsession with the Jewishness of some of those that oppose white nationalism – raising this repeatedly and distorting the actual reason that they oppose racism and anti-Semitism. This has particularly arisen in the context of lawsuits brought against Kessler and other racists for their actions at Unite the Right 1. In the process Kessler displays a nationalism depicting “Heartland Americans” involved in Unite the Right 1 (i.e., white nationalists and national socialists) against “elitist” Jews and their “billionaire allies in the Jewish lobby”:

Als0 in white nationalist fashion, Kessler depicts “powerful Jews” aligned against “gentiles” and “whites”:

The group Integrity First for America brought the lawsuit against Kessler in the case of Sines v. Kessler.

As if to drive home that he is an anti-Semite, in response to a Tweet by actor and director Rob Reiner, Kessler repeated the slogan “Jews will not replace us!” – a bigoted call that gained infamy when white nationalists chanted it at the August 2017 torch rally at the University of Virginia:

Kessler has also rushed to the defense of Holocaust deniers:

The “sweet old lady” Kessler rushed defended was Jasper, Alberta’s Monika Schaefer, who along with her brother, Alfred Schaefer, went on trial in early July in Germany for “incitement to hatred.” In a YouTube video Monika Schaefer had declared the Holocaust the “biggest and most pernicious and persistent lie in all of history.”  Schaefer, a Green Party candidate in 2006, 2008 and 2011 for the Albert riding of Yellowhead, had also referred to the Holocaust as “the six-million lie,” a reference to the six million Jews murdered in the German Nazi genocide. As described by a freelance journalist covering the case,

“There was an incident right at the beginning that was really sort of horrible…When Alfred Schaefer was brought into the room, and he was joined by his sister who was brought in, he showed the Nazi salute three times in a row. This is really an outrageous incident in the courtroom…His sister, she was laughing at it, she was laughing.”

But Kessler went even further. In response to a post from Andrew Torba, Kessler cast the term “the Holocaust” as a Madison Avenue public relations invention.

In 2016 Torba created the platform. It has become a haven for racists in the face of expulsion from Twitter and other online venues. David Irving is the British Holocaust denier who lost a 2000 libel lawsuit, and later appeal, against historian Deborah Lipstadt. In his ruling, the presiding judge wrote that Irving was “an active Holocaust denier; that he is anti-Semitic and racist and that he associated with right wing extremists who promote neo-Nazism.”

Jason Kessler, Misogynist

Kessler has also frequently displayed his misogyny and radical anti-feminist politics. Like his view that multiculturalism is a threat to society, Kessler proclaims that:

In more recent terms, Kessler claimed dire pending social consequences as a result of the “Me Too” movement – that is, as a result of women mobilizing to address long-standing and institutionally-protected sexual harassment and violence by men.

In a particularly disturbing case, Kessler rushed to the defense of Judge Roy Moore when, during his bid for the U.S. Senate, multiple women came forward with accounts of sexual assault and inappropriate sexual behavior, including with 14 to 16-year-old girls:

Jason Kessler on Charles Manson

As IREHR reported last week, Kessler recently had to fend off the online suggestion that Atomwaffen Division provide security for the Unite the Right 2. Atomwaffen Division is a vanguardist national socialist group inspired in part by James Mason, an advocate of injecting “as many of [Charles] Manson’s ideas into Movement thought as possible.” Members of Atomwaffen Division have been implicated in multiple murders.

On his GAB page, Kessler displayed his own disturbing thoughts about the racist cult murderer, labeling him a “misunderstood genius in a lot of ways” before being confronted, and backpeddling that Manson “was not a good or admirable man.” Read below and draw your own conclusions (the third post below is in response to the statement just below it):

Unite the Right 2 – More of the Same

While Jason Kessler is attempting to cast Unite the Right 2 as a “civil rights” event, and one at which Nazis will not be allowed, the apparent speakers initially included national socialists David Duke and Patrick Little. While Kessler attempts to portray himself as simply “pro-white,” his writings on GAB indicate that he wavers between the goals of a classic white supremacist, seeking to maintain white domination of American society, and a modern ethnostate-seeking white nationalist. While Kessler claims to abhor violence, he has allied his cause with groups and individuals that would purge the country of Jews and people of color.

Whether or not Kessler manages to pull off a “non-violent” event in Washington D.C., and develop this into a mainstreaming strategy around “white civil rights,” his endgame is white domination – the long-held endgame of the white supremacist and white nationalist movements and one inherently dedicated to racial subjugation and the hardening of racial inequality in the United States.

[i] In several posts below, Kessler is responding to a statement that is listed just below his answer.

[ii] See Ngai, Mae M. The Architecture of Race in American Immigration Law: A Reexamination of the Immigration Act of 1924. The Journal of American History. Vol 86(1):67-92.

Chuck Tanner

Author Chuck Tanner

Chuck Tanner is an Advisory Board member and researcher for the Institute for Research and Education on Human Rights. He lives in Washington State where he researches and works to counter white nationalism and the anti-Indian and other far right social movements.

More posts by Chuck Tanner