Among the crowd of well-dressed white nationalists that made up the now infamous National Policy Institute conference in November 2016, he certainly stood out. In a purple t-shirt, an unkempt man with a thick Scottish accent took to grand metaphor and shocking allegations to keep across a message of white separatism. Millennial Woes, the pseudonym for Colin Robertson, has become an Alt Right star in the caustic cauldron that was 2016. His strange YouTube videos, often long-winded Google Hangouts with other Alt Right celebrities, are so numerous that in the world of constant racist podcast streams and talking-head webcams, he has stood out.
While his face has been well seen over the last two years, he has attempted to remain completely anonymous. The expectation was that his name, address, and personal information would remain his own, hidden from the media, all while his face and voice became ubiquitous, easily accessible in a search engine. When British tabloids finally revealed who he was several weeks ago, the only person that seemed surprised that this occurred was Robertson.
The Alt Right, as it exists today, has relied on anonymity as the key to its growth. White nationalism has been personally toxic for decades, and someone’s associations with open racism and anti-Semitism often making it difficult for them to keep a job or a hold down relationship. The ability for people to interact in a meaningful way while remaining anonymous to the general public has been exactly what the Alt Right needed to get a large base of educated Middle Class racists, exactly the crowd who would not be willing to give up their comfortable life in the way that many public KKK members and neo-Nazis have. They have been able to have their cake and eat it too: they keep their bourgeois lives in tact while also continuing to contribute to a revolutionary fascist movement.
The step beyond being a Twitter “shitlord” was to start blogging and, later, podcasting, where people could hear your racial slurs without ever seeing the face of the person on the other end of the microphone. This became popular as pseudoanonymous Alt Right ideologues became well known, from the crowd at The Right Stuff podcast network to people like Paul Kersey and his blog Things Black People Don’t Like. The number of people living under false names yet joining weekly web radio shows is growing, all with the idea that their anonymity could be maintained for the long-term. As they make the next step towards in-person organizing, this step is even more difficult, making it impossible to remain in obscurity for long.
2016’s National Policy Institute conference was the largest white nationalist event of the year, a place where the Alt Right could get together to pat each other on the back after a year of media validation and the arrival of the Trump Train. In the crowd were scores of these Alt Right media celebrities, both “out” and still under the radar. Emily Youcis has recently made a name for herself for her surrealist Alt Right cartoons and vicious racist remarks, and she stormed out of the building to tangle with the protesters out front. After the aggressive confrontation and heavy media saturation of the event, Youcis was fired from her job selling pistachios for the Philadelphia Phillies. She has since then gone on the Alt Right blogosphere and Twitter to make appeals for donations since she now lacks an income to make her bills. Youcis had not hidden her face or name from the public, and so retribution from her employer was a matter of time. For others, they have worked hard to keep their images out of photos and hide information so as to avoid recognition.
The Daily Shoah has been the center of this effort, becoming a popular podcast that streams to thousands of listeners who tune in every week to hear their “Opie and Anthony for white nationalists” brand of angry racial epithets. The hosts Mike Enoch, Seventh Son, Ghoul, and, off and on, Bulbasaur, rant about weekly political issues, inventing their own racial slurs, talking about “Jewish domination,” and pining for a “white Ethnostate.” After Ghoul began doing a video series without a mask and publicizing his image, activists quickly identified him as Cooper Ward, a talkative philosophy student at the University of Nebraska. He was quickly identified as an organizer with the white nationalist American Vanguard, though he has denied this when questioned by It’s Going Down. After Red Ice Radio hosted a show with a “reactionary Jew” who was asking if fascist Jews could be a part of the Alt Right, something akin to a meltdown occurred on the Right Stuff message boards. The hosts of the Daily Shoah were accused of being Jews and homosexual sympathizers; funny since they have been some of the most virulently anti-Semitic and homophobic people imaginable.
After some prodding on both sides, Bulbasaur and Seventh Son were doxed by their former fans, revealing them to be Van Bryant II and Jesse Craig Dunstan, respectively. While they have discussed the desire to go public for quite some time, the fact that this could have ramifications for their careers is something they could not abide. Enoch, their talkative leader, was a software developer making a six-figure salary in Manhattan, and he took special accommodations to avoid being identified in his personal life while skyrocketing to fame in the white nationalist circuit.
Just a few days later people started hearing rumblings that Enoch was about to be revealed after someone traced an article he mentioned on Red Ice Radio to a post on The Mises Institute website from years before, and then used an old PayPal address to find his real name: Mike Peinovich. The internet came apart at the seams at this point as Mike Peinovich was revealed to be one of the most well known white nationalists in the country. He was immediately fired from his job at the tech startup Pronoun, where he was a front-end developer. His family reportedly then disowned him, except for this wife.
It was at this point that the Peinovich saga took an even more bizarre turn as it was then revealed that his wife, Ames Friedman, a PR executive in New York, was Jewish. This made the neo-Nazi wing of the Alt Right lose their mind and declare that Enoch was a “Jewish spy,” and Enoch conceded that he had hid this. He went on Rebel Yell to apologize profusely for what he has done, and it was even suggested that he was leaving his wife. It does appear now that they will stay together, though he continues to believe that Jews are subversive agents out to destroy the white race. Without a job and having lost everything, Enoch is vowing to continue to push the Right Stuff and the Daily Shoah forward, though he has been “rent seeking” for money to pay his bills while he waits to start his media empire.
While these revelations are fresh, it is clear that the fallout has been dramatic, and several have started hiding from the limelight. First, Cooper Ward left The Daily Shoah, and later so did Van Bryant, also pulling all of his social media from the Internet. Jess Dunstan has not gone into complete hiding, and even put a song by his own band on a co-hosted episode of Fash the Nation, which many are interpreting to mean that he is comfortable with taking the next step into doing this work in real life. He later began saying his name on the air, refusing to hide like his “comrades” did. This is likely because he is self-employed, though the fallout is likely to continue in this regard.
The real results of this kind of revelation can be seen as newspapers arrived at the home of Colin Robertson, asking to speak with the man behind Millennial Woes. They were instead met with the police as Robertson cowered inside, refusing to allow the press to see his face. In a statement put up on his YouTube channel he said he had left the country and is being supported by a network of his supporters. His YouTube channel has become one of the dominant institutions on the Alt Right, with over five hundred videos and 23,000 subscribers. He put out a public statement saying that he has had to go into hiding in another country and that this may be the end of his anonymous career, one built on such a tenuous grasp on reality that he actually believed he could go under the radar while putting his face on camera.
The growth of the Alt Right has rested solely on the ability to have a voice while remaining anonymous. The Right Stuff, Millennial Woes, and more blogs and podcasts than we can count have been built on this principle, with podcasts like the Neoreaction Ascending the Tower or The Fatherland being open about what would happen if they were doxed. If their identities were revealed then lucrative careers would be shattered, marriages and families torn apart, and social outcast status imposed. Part of what has kept white nationalism to the fringes and the participation of only the edges of acceptable society is that there are consequences for participation, and this rash of Internet participation has tried to blow this open. Now, a series of doxings is closing this window back up.
Some on the Alt Right are trying to push back on this and create a network of support for those being revealed. Part of this is white nationalist attorney Kyle Bristow’s Foundation for the Marketplace of Ideas, an organization founded to “promote the United States Constitution and to oppose people who and organizations which strive to usurp the freedoms it guarantees.” Bristow, who gained much of his experience consulting National Alliance projects, hopes to fund those who are losing their careers for white nationalist participation, namely though some form of crowd funding.
What they want, more than anything, is to create negative consequences for those who do the doxing. They had a small victory when a Salon editor was fired after posting Richard Spencer’s address on Facebook with a line about how his grandparents “took baseball bats to Bund meetings.” While they thought this was a step in the right direction, as the punching of Richard Spencer shows clearly, the culture has shifted even further into an antifascist mindset. Trump’s election put a sense of urgency around a general disgust with the far right, and now more and more people are willing to stand up and take a militant approach to organizing. At the same time, even the centrist and moderate left public is unwilling to let the Alt Right pass in their midst, which means it is still just as toxic as it ever was to be an open white nationalist.
While the Alt Right wanted to create consequences for those doxing them, journalists are continuing to reveal their information. Fash the Nation, which was the most popular podcast in the Right Stuff podcast network, went off the air and took down its website when they got wind that they were about to be doxed. Their information will still likely come out shortly, and there is little they can do as their work has been mirrored all over the internet. At the same time, their toxic internal culture threatens to dox them daily, and there is little reason to believe that the structure of anonymity will continue more than a few more months. The Alt Right now has a choice: go big or go home. The answer for many of the middle class young adherents will be to choose a family and a career over a failed revolutionary tract.
The question will be if those that are going out in the open will find enough to sustain themselves, and most will quickly see that the future for people like Mike Peinovich are less than rosy. Few people can get the family and investment funds that Richard Spencer has achieved, and therefore life as an open racist is going to be difficult. For antifascists, it will be important to institutionalize this information as much as possible; to follow up when the information is revealed and make sure everyone in their life is aware. It will also mean replicating this over and over again, therefore robbing them of the sense that they can hold down a normal existence while actively contributing to that movement. It will also mean confronting their platform hosting, distribution companies, and financial tools to sever their access to the culture and their ability to raise funds. Without this, a life out of the closet is even less viable.
This end result was inevitable for a movement who never reconciled the fact that they went full fascist with ugly racism without developing a professional infrastructure. What the Daily Shoah did was create a fandom off of the most disgusting kinds of racist humor imaginable, all of which was not slow enough to bring the culture with it. This is to our benefit since we know that they lack the ability to propagandize society and since they couldn’t insulate their vanguard from consequences, they will lose them as well. All the pieces are here for antifascist organizations; all it requires now is to use them thoughtfully and effectively.
14 thoughts on “The Alt Right’s Anonymity is Failing, and They Are Unable to Withstand Exposure”
Should point out that it was the blog, athousandflowers.net that did the investigative work and revealed Robertson’s identity. The newspapers merely picked it up from there.
While I don’t condone violence, “free speech” has its consequences and these Alt-Right jerks should be aware of that. You may be able to spew all the hate you want, but that doesn’t mean people aren’t allowed to react in return. Great article, very interesting!
Saying you don’t “condone violence” when talking about containing and destroying the inherent and existential violence of fascism is keeping your head in the sand. These people will speak, then they will organize, then they will carry out individual attacks, then they will carry out mass attacks, just like they said they would when they were speaking.
To an extent I agree, it’s similar to radical muslims actually wanting to radicalize resident muslim population and complaining about the lack of freedom of women to wear hijab as fascist and intolerant, that’s how it started in Turkey and now it’s almost prohibited officially and unofficially at a social level to not wear hijab.
But that’s not a good reason to actually prohibit from wearing hijab, the object is to fight reactionarism, but if you use reactionary means to do it, you risk them aquiring more consensus and uninformed people thinking you are the fascist.
Al though some refresh on how they abuse the concept of free speech to actually complain and whine (what they accuse “snowflake” and “sjw” of doing btw, while most of the actually very “emotional” ones are teens and you see these 30 years old or 20 something acting though and bullying of them to feel grown up shame on them) about anyone who dare contraddict them and calling them on their prejudice as being against free speech, for pc and though police, “orwell” etc, lol.
How do you define “hate speech?” Blacks have a rate of violent crime that is nearly eight times the white rate. Is pointing that out hate speech? Should drawing attention to the high black crime rate be prohibited?
Why do you bring it up? If that questionable data is a base of discussions about its possible distortions because of profiling and self fulfilling prophecies, and how to positively tackle the problem at it’s cause, socially speaking it’s ok. If it’s to say blacks are inherently violent and to advocate racialism, I think that’s hate speech.
I don’t always agree with all antifa’s method though, leads to hateful people calling them fascists, which become ironic :D.
I have similar objections to the shroedinger rapist theory applied to men.
The problems with most people of either groups, defines only either of them mysandry or hate speech.
Their sheer stupidity underlines the fact that even in their imaginary all white world, they’ll still be utter losers residing firmly at the bottom of the food chain.
Ah, I can’t believe I didn’t see it before. I have been wondering all this time why the right wing has been gaining so much organizing power via the Internet: the power of anonymity. It was that simple all along. I never realized how powerful it was for them.
I have been banned from a few antisemetic websites, including Richard Spencer’s Radix Journal.
I do not feel the right to defend the right of others to express their opinions if they will not allow me to do the same on their websites.
If the case for antisemitism is rational, those presenting it should welcome polite debate.
That said, I am alarmed at efforts by some to suppress scientific inquiries into obvious racial differences in average intelligence, and rates of crime and illegitimacy.
I believe that race is an important human classification, that the races differ significantly in average ability levels and behavior, and that these differences are the result of evolving for thousands of years in response to different population pressures.
I believe that there should be no taboos and sanctions against the discovery and propagation of facts.
I also welcome polite debate from those who continue to maintain that the races are intrinsically equal.