Monday, December 2, 2013

North Dakota Neo-Nazi Separatist, Outed as 14% Black, Now on Hunger Strike

Let’s check in, shall we, on Paul Craig Cobb—he goes by Craig Cobb—the 62-year-old neo-Nazi white separatist from Canada who was eventually hounded by criminal charges to the minuscule hamlet of Leith, North Dakota, where, as reported in this blog a couple months ago, he intended to establish a racially pure enclave.  His idea was to make Leith into an autonomous whites-only town, and perhaps eventually to make all of North Dakota into a “white bastion” of the sort that has been dreamed of by white supremacists in places like the Pacific Northwest.  As Dr. Phil would say: how’s that been working out for you?  Not so well, as it turns out.

Craig Cobb (right)
First, Cobb made the mistake of assuming that Leith’s 24 residents were as bigoted as he was.  When he called Sherrill Harper, the wife of the town’s one African-American resident, Bobby Harper, “a filthy race-mixing white woman” and tried to intimidate Bobby into moving out, the community closed ranks against Cobb.  (The Harpers are both on the town council.)  Leith residents told Bobby Harper they “have his back” and formed a united front against Cobb, letting him know he was not welcome there.  Although Leith is isolated and in one of the most socially and politically conservative and demographically whitest parts of the country, its citizens have managed to make their town a byword for tolerance.

Location of Leith, in Grant County, North Dakota
Last year, when Cobb first moved to Leith, in southwestern North Dakota, it was via Montana from Canada, where he is wanted on charges of promoting racial hatred.  Cobb is a member of the Church of the Creator, which the Southern Poverty Law Center (S.P.L.C.), an Alabama-based organization which monitors hate groups, classifies as neo-Nazi.  But it is not a typical white-supremacist organization.  Drawing on paganism and on the occult, Theosophy-based “Ariosophy” doctrines to which Adolf Hitler and his inner circle subscribed, Creativity, as the church’s ideology is known, also uses the jargon of American self-help and New Age movements and is more interested in home-grown American notions of a coming black-vs.-white “race war” than in traditional bugaboos of the Nazis such as Jews.

A sign on Cobb’s property refers to one of the 73 “credos” (chapters)
of the Church of the Creator’s 1981 holy text, The White Man’s Bible.
He bought a dilapidated off-grid house (no running water) for a song and also started buying up 13 other houses in a town so full of ancient derelict properties that some tourist guides put it on a list of “ghost towns.”  But Muriel Ulrich, Grant County’s property-tax assessor, thought something was fishy when he started selling the properties at a loss.  He sold houses for a dollar each to Tom Metzger, head of the White Aryan Resistance (WAR), and to Alex Linder, a neo-Nazi who runs the white-supremacist Vanguard News Network (V.N.N.) website.  Cobb outright gave the cemetery next to his house to Jeff Schoep, who heads the fascist National Socialist Movement (N.S.M.).  Leith’s list of landowners was turning into a Who’s Who of modern American neo-Nazism.

Then the white-supremacist settlers started arriving, including April Gaede, a fellow “Creator” (as followers of the Church of Creator, oddly enough, call themselves) and Holocaust-denier who used to bring her pre-teen twin daughters Lynx and Lamb Gaede around to White Power rallies and music fests as a white-nationalist pop singing duo called Prussian Blue.  Gaede and her husband are vocal proponents of setting up an archipelago of all-white communes across the country under the name “Little Europe,” which quickly became a tentative name for the proposed racially-purified Leith.  (She is also a former B-movie actress who appeared in the 2003 straight-to-video horror flick Darkwalker.  Lynx and Lamb had cameos in that one, too, and are listed in the cast as playing “Creepy Twin” nos. 1 and 2.  This is where I need to interject that I am not making any of this up.  But keep reading.  It doesn’t even let up.)

Patience and Prudence they ain’t:
Lynx and Lamb Gaede of the white-supremacist pop due Prussian Blue
Leith banded together to find some way to eject him.  He was cited for the dereliction of his properties. He was fired from his construction job.  Things came to a head in mid-September when 350 people from North Dakota, Minnesota, and elsewhere held a rally in Leith to urge him to go.  Prominent among the organizers were American Indians from the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation.  Cobb and members of the N.S.M., including Schoep himself, held a counter-protest.  Cobb taunted one of the Sioux activists, James Testemary, saying, “You’re stumbling, and obviously drunk.  Have you been drinking?” and adding, “You have your sovereign land and your own nation.  Why is it wrong for us to have our sovereign land?”  A not incorrect, but irrelevant point, to be sure, but his logic broke down even further as he riffed, “How come we go all over the world with B-52s and B-1s in the name of democracy and call it world-building?  I’m doing village-building, except I’m not using violence.  Here’s this white guy trying to get 17 people together in a democracy who think like he does and they just go bananas, while there’s 50 million Mexicans running around.”  But I will spare you more of his ranting; you get the idea.

American Indians came out in force to stand up for tolerance in Leith.
Even apart from being a racist asshole, Cobb made some tactical public-relations errors.  He groundlessly accused one Leith resident of murdering his daughter; the young woman had actually been killed by her abusive husband.  That is hardly a way to make friends in a tight-knit community.  But Cobb’s biggest error was agreeing to appear on The Trisha Show, an N.B.C. talk show hosted by Trisha Goddard, a British T.V. personality of Caribbean ancestry who was raised in Tanzania.  The Harpers were brought onto the stage to confront Cobb, who referred to Bobby Harper as “her pet”; he also calls African Americans “orks” and, mysteriously, “strolling biological early warning devices.”  As part of the show’s “Race in America” segment, Cobb underwent genetic testing that revealed that he was only 86% “European” and 14% “sub-Saharan African.”  When Goddard moved in for a fist bump, saying, “You got a little black in you, bro,” he recoiled—either in fear of her cooties or because he believed Fox News (which he surely watches), which called Barack and Michelle Obama’s use of the gesture at a campaign stop in 2008 a “terrorist fist jab.”

Cobb called the test results “statistical noise” and “short science” (sic)—and is probably not likely to be convinced of it anyway, since understanding the data might involve accepting evolution ... plus the idea that all human beings are 100% African insofar as that is where humanity emerged.  Etc. etc.  But he seems to have taken the genomic results rather hard.  Though there are no legal grounds for forcing someone out of a town just because of his personal views (and nor should there be, to be sure), he and his fellow “Little Europeans” (which I’m sure is not what members of the Leith commune call themselves) were more and more isolated and more and more reviled.  On November 16th, Cobb sort of snapped.  He sent text messages to the local newspaper warning, “Because of the many violences [sic] and harassments against we [sic] and the children, we have commenced armed patrols of Leith”—and then he and a fellow white supremacist approached the home of another town councilman with rifles cocked.  911 was dialed, and the “patrolmen” were arrested and slapped with three counts, including terrorism.

This “neighborhood patrol” eventually segued into a perp walk.
The 62-year-old Cobb is now sitting in a jail cell in Stanton, in nearby Mercer County, awaiting trial on charges that could give him up to 35 years in prison.  At last report, he was refusing food.  By telephone, Cobb told an Associated Press reporter that, in A.P.’s words, “he is not on a hunger strike to protest his imprisonment—though he does feel he is wrongly accused—but is instead practicing mahasamadhi, a form of spiritual enlightenment in which the physical body is permanently left behind.  Cobb said that will happen for him at yuletide, another term for Christmas.”  The reporter may have mangled this; Creativity, which is anti-Christian, does not recognize Christmas in any form and instead celebrates “Festum Album” (not to be confused with “Festivus,” presumably), a week-long celebration of White Pride which begins December 26th.  Having stopped taking food on November 21st, he may not make it even until his preliminary hearing scheduled for December 9th.  As even Cobb’s own court-appointed attorney said, “To a certain degree, if he wants to starve himself, he can.”  I’m sure none of Leith’s long-standing residents will argue with that.

In happier times: Cobb, posing with some Estonian skinhead friends,
with the Church of the Creator flag
[You can read more about Cobbsville and many other separatist and new-nation movements, both famous and obscure, in my new book, a sort of encyclopedic atlas just published by Litwin Books under the title Let’s Split! A Complete Guide to Separatist Movements and Aspirant Nations, from Abkhazia to Zanzibar.  The book, which contains 46 maps and 554 flags (or, more accurately, 554 flag images), is available for order now on Amazon.  Meanwhile, please “like” the book (even if you haven’t read it yet) on Facebook and see this interview for more information on the book.]


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