My major complaint about this article is that it portrays people such as Andrew Anglin as lashing out at phantoms rather than real people with real conflicts of interest. Life is war. Different groups have different interests. Diversity plus proximity equals conflict.
Chaim Amalek writes me: “Do you ever think ‘there but for the grace of God go I’? I mean what if you had discovered Yggdrasil and William Pierce before happening upon Dennis Prager?”
At the time, Richard Spencer and Andrew Anglin barely knew each other. Spencer, who fancies himself white nationalism’s leading intellectual, cloaks his racism in highbrow arguments. Anglin prefers the gutter, reveling in the vile language common on the worst internet message boards. But Spencer and Anglin had appeared together on a podcast the day before Sherry’s Medium post was published and expressed their mutual admiration. Anglin declared it a “historic” occasion, a step toward greater unity on the extreme right…
Anglin is an ideological descendant of men such as George Lincoln Rockwell, who created the American Nazi Party in the late 1950s, and William Luther Pierce, who founded the National Alliance, a powerful white-nationalist group, in the 1970s. Anglin admires these predecessors, who saw themselves as revolutionaries at the vanguard of a movement to take back the country. He dreams of a violent insurrection.
But where Rockwell and Pierce relied on pamphlets, the radio, newsletters, and in-person organizing to advance their aims, Anglin has the internet. His reach is exponentially greater, his ability to connect with like-minded young men unprecedented.
…But he maintained a footprint in Columbus through his father, who has said he was “not really involved with Andy’s site.” In fact, Greg was involved. He’d registered The Daily Stormer’s trade name and filed paperwork for his son’s limited-liability corporation, Moonbase Holdings—a likely reference to a conspiracy theory that Hitler survived World War II by escaping to a secret lunar base…
No payment processor would touch The Daily Stormer, but Anglin had little trouble raising money. Since 2014, he has taken in about $250,000 worth of bitcoin, the cryptocurrency, from unknown sources, according to John Bambenek, a cybersecurity expert who has been tracking neo-Nazis’ bitcoin wallets. Anglin urged his readers to send checks as well. Those donations went to Greg’s office, which was why the protesters had gathered outside, many of them from the Columbus chapter of Anti-Racist Action, a national antifascist network.
Anglin had first come to my attention in the summer of 2015, after he endorsed Trump on The Daily Stormer. When I interviewed him over email for HuffPost last year, he lied to me repeatedly—about his site’s traffic numbers, his financing, his location. Before that article came out, he falsely accused me on The Daily Stormer of fabricating information from the FBI regarding his whereabouts. More than once, I offered to walk him through my reporting, but he refused to hear me out. He also refused numerous requests to talk to me for this article…
The Daily Stormer had become arguably the leading hate site on the internet, far surpassing Stormfront, whose message boards had brought white nationalism into the digital age back in the 1990s. Anglin was a punchy, prolific writer who used snark and hyperbole to draw in Millennial readers. “Non-ironic Nazism masquerading as ironic Nazism” was how he described his approach. Irony gave him cover to claim that he was just kidding around. He cited Infowars, Vice, and BuzzFeed as inspiration, but the closest analogue in terms of format and tone, he said, was Gawker. Like the now-shuttered gossip site, The Daily Stormer aggregated the news with attitude. Unlike Gawker, Anglin doctored everything to reflect his racist worldview….
Anglin wrote about his longing for a race war and urged his readers to prepare for combat against nebulous forces unleashed by Jews, blacks, Muslims, Hispanics, women, liberals, journalists—anyone who might impede the alt-right’s assault on the nation. Like many young men on the extreme right, Anglin hadn’t just given up on the idea of the United States as a liberal democracy. He wanted to burn it to the ground. “There is rapidly approaching a time when in every White Western city, corpses will be stacked in the streets as high as men can stack them,” he wrote. “And you are either going to be stacking or getting stacked.”
Anglin’s influence extended offline with Daily Stormer “book clubs,” which he created to engage his followers in “real world actions.” The clubs were small chapters of readers who gathered in cities in the U.S., Canada, and other countries. A Columbus group met at a gun range. Other clubs had been kicked out of bars after openly expressing anti-Semitic views or flaunting Nazi paraphernalia. Anglin pressed his readers to study martial arts, learn to use firearms, and engage in “simulated warfare” through paramilitary training with pellet guns.
Among the protesters in the rain outside Greg’s office, I met Anglin’s preschool teacher, Gail Burkholder, who described being shocked when she’d learned that her former student had grown up to be a notorious white nationalist. “Why would I think one of my students would become a Nazi who wants to kill me?” said Burkholder, who is Jewish. She’d spotted Anglin’s name in the news after Dylann Roof murdered nine black people in Charleston, South Carolina. Roof reportedly left comments on The Daily Stormer, and he has become a hero to Anglin’s readers, who honor him with “bowl cut” memes.
Roof wasn’t the only killer who read The Daily Stormer. In 2016, Thomas Mair shot and stabbed a British member of Parliament. This year, James Harris Jackson was charged with killing a black man with a sword in New York City and cited The Daily Stormer as an ideological influence. Devon Arthurs, an 18-year-old former neo-Nazi who converted to Islam, shot and killed two of his three roommates in Tampa, who were still neo-Nazis. Police arrested the surviving roommate for hoarding explosive materials.
…He also got deeply into drugs, according to half a dozen people who knew him at the time. He did LSD at school or while wandering through the scenic Highbanks Metro Park, north of the city. He took ketamine, ate psychedelic mushrooms, and snorted cocaine on weekends. He chugged Robitussin, and “robo tripped” so much that he damaged his stomach and would vomit into trash cans at school.
But people who knew Anglin in high school told me that, for reasons that were unclear, his behavior became erratic and frightening sometime around the beginning of his sophomore year at Linworth. Visitors to his house saw holes in his bedroom walls, and they knew that when he was upset, he would smash his head into things. Several recall an episode at a party: Anglin burst out crying after Alison drunkenly kissed someone else, then ran outside and bashed his head on the sidewalk over and over.
He harmed himself in other ways, too. He tried to tattoo the name of his favorite band, Modest Mouse, on his upper arm but gave up after two and a half letters, leaving him with moi etched on his skin. He stretched his earlobes by jamming thick marker caps into piercing holes until they dripped blood. He claimed to feel no pain and used lighters to melt the flesh on the inside of his forearms. He provoked people into assaulting him but never fought back, instead laughing as the blows fell. Two kids beat him into a gutter once. Anglin just lay there until they stopped, out of pity and confusion.
Former friends recall that Anglin’s parents seemed blind to their son’s alarming behavior. And while he could be tender toward his younger siblings, Chelsey and Mitch, and loyal to his friends, he also had a sadistic side. Alison (who asked that her last name be withheld from this article) told me that during Anglin’s sophomore year, she called him, distraught: She said she’d passed out at a party and been raped by a friend’s older brother. She needed compassion and support, but Anglin just laughed and broke up with her.
“You’re a slut,” she remembers him saying.
Several girls Anglin had gotten to know at another high school began calling her house at all hours of the night, according to Alison and other sources. “You deserved it,” they’d say. “You slut.” Alison says the abuse went on for weeks, as Anglin showed friends a video he’d made of them having sex.
After the breakup, Dan Newman, another friend at the time, remembers Anglin once bashing his head into the walls of his bedroom in such a frenzy that his mother had to call the police. Several classmates told me that Anglin didn’t date again in high school and sometimes tried to kiss other boys, including one black student he especially liked. Whether this behavior was authentic experimentation or just for shock value, it’s notable in light of the extreme homophobia Anglin has since expressed on The Daily Stormer and elsewhere. He has advocated, for instance, throwing gays off buildings, isis-style.
By Anglin’s junior year, Greg and Katie’s marriage had come undone. People who knew Katie back then described her to me as a browbeaten woman who lived in fear of her husband. A person who was close to one of Greg’s former clients, along with two Columbus pastors familiar with Greg’s work as a counselor, told me that Greg got involved emotionally, and sometimes sexually, with his female clients. Court documents related to his divorce support this claim: A former client is identified as his girlfriend. Greg would later make her a partner in his counseling practice.
… In Davao, however, Anglin hit on every pretty young Filipina he saw and had success with many of them, sometimes taking advantage of their hope that an American husband could be an exit from poverty. Most of these girls were 18 or 19 years old, but Edward says some were younger. He remembers Anglin once picking up a 14-year-old in a bar and bringing her back to the Sampaguita to spend the night…
This fixation on strength is common among members of the alt-right, but Anglin took his devotion to power to a wild extreme. “He thinks in terms of a fascist Disney film,” a prominent white nationalist who has collaborated with Anglin told me, adding that Anglin believed that if he tried hard enough, disciples would flock to his cultish vision and help him summon another Hitler into existence. “He imagines he has some magical power.” Over his heart, he’d tattooed the spidery black sun of the Sonnenrad, an occult symbol in a mystical strain of neo-Nazism whose followers embrace such notions as Hitler being an avatar of Vishnu.
In March 2013, Anglin, or perhaps his father, used Greg’s email address to register the domain name for The Daily Stormer. Then Anglin left the country again. First he went to Greece, where he stayed in a hostel in Athens for three months. He found work giving tours of the Parthenon and other sites and attended meetings of Golden Dawn, Greece’s ultranationalist far-right political party.
On July 4, 2013, The Daily Stormer launched in beta mode, replacing Total Fascism. Anglin named his new site after Der Stürmer, a virulently anti-Semitic Nazi-era weekly that Hitler had read devoutly. (As Anglin would later write, the official policy of his site was: “Jews should be exterminated.”) The Daily Stormer was unlike anything else in white nationalism: The design was clean, the posts were infused with Anglin’s wry humor. It was Nazi Gawker, and it caught on.
…In 2014, Anglin was living in Europe when he found a partner in Andrew Auernheimer, a.k.a. “weev,” a neo-Nazi hacker and troll. Auernheimer grew up in the Ozarks and went to federal prison in 2013 on identity-theft and hacking charges. After his conviction was vacated on appeal a year later, he moved abroad. He now lives in Transnistria, a small, Russia-backed breakaway region on Moldova’s eastern border.