My history with Christopher Cantwell

When I wrote recently that libertarianism and fascism have a complicated relationship, I was thinking specifically about people like Christopher Cantwell, who represented the grassroots movement for violent white nationalism in the VICE documentary on Charlottesville.

The SPLC (which which I have my grievances) has a good history of Cantwell’s libertarian thought leadership and activism.

My history with Cantwell goes back to 2013 when I began writing about the misogyny and white nationalism of prominent thought leaders within libertarianism.

In 2014 Cantwell began writing about me. There’s a tag for me on his website. When I Google my name, his articles about me come up in the results. For years, Cantwell would create social media accounts with which he’d harass me. I’d block them, and he would create more accounts, harass me, and I would block those accounts.

On his blog, he once wrote “Cathy, you meet resistance on feminism in libertarian circles because feminism has about as much a place here as white supremacy.”

A pretty ironic statement, as it turns out one of those ideologies does indeed have a place in libertarianism.

It’s frustrating how much a place white supremacy has in libertarianism. Tom “the War of Northern Aggression” Woods interviewed Cantwell in 2014.

Cantwell’s beef with me (along with Jeffrey Tucker, SFL, BHL, and “the rest”) was that we advocated for libertarianism to explicitly reject white nationalism. “She’s one of many race baiting liberal snobs who goes out of her way to make libertarianism look bad by calling it racist, sexist, homophobic, evil white male rape culture etc.”

He would call me a “race-pimp” while blogging about how libertarianism is absolutely not opposed to racism or misogyny.

“If you think drawing attention to her is bad, then ignoring her is worse,” he wrote. “She’s out there convincing thousands of people that libertarianism is egalitarianism, right along with McCobin of SFL, Buehler of the Peaceful Streets Project, Bleeding Heart Libertarians and all the rest. If these people are not stopped, then their assault on language will continue just like it did on the term “liberalism”, and in 5 years, Barack Obama will comfortably call himself a libertarian without having changed any of his policies.”

Libertarians told me to ignore Cantwell

Until last week I have mostly ignored Cantwell. I ignored him because I was afraid. I was afraid because he was a violent, deranged man who would not leave me alone. I was afraid that talking about him would make him even more obsessed with me. I was also afraid talking about him would grow his considerable audience, who also harassed me, and lend his views legitimacy. In case you’re still not sure why there aren’t more women and minorities in libertarianism, you might be interested to learn that just saying libertarianism should oppose racism and sexism will result in death threats, rape threats, and other forms of harassment from libertarians.

I was afraid because he was writing things like “I assure you this woman is a serious problem that needs to be addressed” and “people like Cathy need to be corrected, and shunned until they make proper penance.”

When I wrote that “until the alt-right, libertarianism was the best fit for radical white identity politics,” I was referring to the fact that I’m not aware of any other “mainstream” political movements whose prominent thought leaders write this:

In case you haven’t turned on a television or picked up a newspaper in the last 30 years, there’s a war being waged by the left against anybody who doesn’t care to associate with, or holds any negative opinions of, certain groups of people. If you have anything to say that blacks, women, gays, or trannys take issue with – you have to fear for your safety in America. If due to that fear, or any other reason, you want to exclude these groups from a place or activity – you have to fear for your safety in America.

That’s right. In libertarianism, racists are the real victims. To this day, libertarians are still defending Cantwell and Woods.

 

I hoped the libertarians were right, and that he would go away. But he didn’t. And I’m still afraid. Every time I write about race I’m flooded with harassment. I’m afraid that publishing this will stir up the hornet’s nest in my direction again. To this day, libertarians are still defending Cantwell and Woods.

The crying video is recruitment propaganda 

I’m writing about him anyway because there are two things my experience with Christopher Cantwell taught me about America’s white nationalists:

  1. They are going to murder more non-whites
  2. Ignoring them will not stop them

“I carry a pistol,” Cantwell said in the VICE documentary. “I go to the gym all the time. I am trying to make myself more capable of violence. I’m here to spread ideas, talk, in the hopes that somebody who’s more capable will come along and do that.”

Early last week Cantwell issued a video of himself crying because he fears for his safety in the wake of a warrant for his arrest. Many people are sharing the crying video because they think it represents victory. It represents the opposite. It’s a recruitment tool.

In the crying video, Cantwell says of his previous promotion of violence, “I talk a lot of shit. I do not want violence. I am terrified.”

I believe it’s important to understand that white supremacy holds that whites should be perpetrators of violence against non-whites but never see that violence inflicted upon themselves. Therefore,  there is no contradiction between “I am terrified” of becoming a victim of violence and advocating violence against others. When Cantwell says “I do not want violence,” he means only against himself and other whites. He still very much wants violence against “little black asshole[s] behaving like a savage.”

Crying in the video is a 2017 manifestation of his 2013 contention that there’s a “war being waged” against “anybody who doesn’t care to associate with, or holds any negative opinions of, certain groups of people.”

He’s scared, he says, and you should be too.

Kevin Williamson recently wrote about angry white men who are attracted to white nationalism. “The great irony of identity politics” is that white nationalists “seek identity in the tribe because they are failed individuals. They are a chain composed exclusively of weak links.”

Cantwell is trying to start a race war by telling weak-link whites that they aren’t losers because they suck, but because they’ve been under attack. And it’s working. America’s weak-link whites have long suspected that they’re under attack. They chant about white genocide because they think it’s real. They don’t feel the erosion of white supremacy in America as the natural and right loss of unearned, corrupt power. They feel backed into a corner. And people who feel backed into a corner will lash out violently, and feel justified doing so. Today’s crying and afraid is tomorrow’s church shooting.

In the VICE video Cantwell says, “We are not non-violent. We will fucking kill these people if we have to.”

 

We should take him at his word

“At some point,” a writer for the Daily Stormer says to VICE, “we will have enough power that we will clear them from the streets forever. That which is degenerate in white countries will be removed. We’re starting to unveil, a little bit, our power level. You ain’t seen nothing yet.”

People told me to ignore Cantwell in 2014. They said he didn’t matter. That libertarianism didn’t have a racism or sexism problem. They told me that libertarianism wasn’t a political home for white nationalism, and that those people were just “irrelevant fringe.”

Today, people say fascism can’t happen here. That it’s all just talk.

They can’t say white nationalists won’t start killing black people and their sympathizers because they already are. James Alex Fields Jr. killed a young woman for protesting against white nationalism. “James Alex Fields Jr. has more than a little whiff of Dylann Roof about him,Williamson wrote. “And we know what Dylann Roof wanted: to murder black people.”

It’s easy to say someone shouldn’t be afraid when you’re not the target. Cantwell says his goal is to spread ideas that will inspire others to commit racial violence. “Sometimes, it is worth taking angry white boys at their word,” Williamson wrote.

As for me, I don’t pretend to know what’s next. All I know for sure is that ignoring the problem isn’t working.

6 Comments

  1. Edward B

    Thoughts on Julie Burowski having made cutsey videos about Cantwell back when he was harassing you and throwing anti-semitic abuse your way?

    • cathyreisenwitz

      There’s an argument to be made that her “political philosophy” has always been more alt-right than libertarian.

    • Julie Borowski

      Do you not realize that I was one of Cantwell’s targets, too? He did the same thing to me. Several nasty blog posts, harassment on social media, legit sexist memes, and he even did a video parody of me. I defended myself on social media and eventually he moved on to other targets. I’m not sure why I’m the bad guy here. I did include Cantwell briefly in a video parody I made of well-known libertarians titled “Libertarian Infighting.” Cathy is in it, too! I certainly did not defend him in any way in that video. When he asked me to come on his show later, I told him that I wanted nothing to do with him.

  2. Good for you for speaking out! Too many women have been silenced by these types of jerks! Most women just don’t like conflict and just avoid it when attacked. Like you, I speak out. I wish I had a magic potion to get us all hepped up – like we were in the late 1960s & early 1970s when women’s liberation really took off! I guess when you are really oppressed like we were then you are so angry you can’t control it. Now like a lot of issues feminism has been co-opted by rich statists employing women to be their fronts. Very sad…

  3. John Kauffman

    Now he’s arrested for illegal use of explosives.. Hope they have enough to put him away for a good long time.

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