A large black truck parked across the field came into view. Two men were inside, one of them wearing a ski mask. It was Edward. He exited and approached while his driver peered at us through his sunglasses. I introduced myself and asked how much time we had for the interview. “Until it gets hot, I guess,” Edward said and explained that earlier in the day he had received information that African American ex-military sharpshooters who were now gang members had traveled from Detroit to stalk him and his fellow Klansmen before the rally. It sounded ludicrous, but then again I was standing in the middle of a garbage dump talking to a member of the Ku Klux Klan in 2013.
This Guy Wants to Start His Own Aryan Country
You know who really gets the shitty end of the stick nowadays? White people. Sure, they come out best in socio-economic standings and suffer absolutely no persecution for the color of their skin, but they have to put up with non-white people living peacefully among them and going about with their lives. That’s just wrong. This injustice needs to be righted before black people, Mexicans, and Asians start getting uppity and trying to buy cars, run businesses, and all of that other evil stuff.
The Northwest Front feels the same way. They claim to be a movement tired of political corruption and “the genocide of the white race” (clearly a real issue since white people are 72 percent of the US population). The group is dedicated to breaking away and forming their own all-white state in the Pacific Northwest. As far as I know, the only thing on the radio over there is Ted Nugent.
At first it seemed like a legitimate movement, but after spending some time on the site, I kept noticing the name Harold Covington on all the blog posts, podcasts, and videos. Harold, it turns out, is a writer who has released five novels set in the American Northwest’s white-only future. That’s when I started to realize that anyone can set up a website, write a few blogs, and record a podcast. So what if this is some bizarre marketing ploy for Covington’s books? All press is good press, apparently. Even if it’s for being all kinds of deluded, disgusting, and racist. I called Harold to get some answers.
A promotional poster for Harold’s as yet non-existent Aryan nation, the Northwest Front.
VICE: So Harold, was this idea of a sovereign, Northwest state an invention for your novels?
Harold Covington: No, I didn’t invent the idea of Northwest migration by any means. There was a very serious move for a separate state of Jefferson in the 1940s, which was going to be taken out of California. Even back then, white people were sick of that shower of shit down in Los Angeles and Sacramento.
So what’s the point of this new country? Why don’t you just move to Scandinavia if you want to be surrounded by white people?
What we advocate is basically the establishment of a sovereign, independent nation in the Pacific Northwest as a homeland for all white people. Kind of like the white version of Israel. I don’t see why the Jews are the only people on Earth that get their own country and everyone else has to be diverse.
Yeah, it’s so unfair. They’ve had such an easy time of it so far. Why do you think it’s so important for white people to have their own country?
It’s kind of like reintroducing wolves into nature. The wolves have to have a habitat and the white man has to have a habitat. We need a piece of turf where we can raise several more generations in security and safety without all this corrupting crap that liberal democracy has produced over the past 100 years.
Straight White Guys, Just Stop It
“Call Your Girlfriend” - In its most innocent form, we’d call it sophomoric ignorance. If we’re being more direct, however, we’d call it dubious—at the very least—when a straight white male performs a song about a life which he has not lived and, by performing it, attempts to ingratiate himself with, and make himself sympathetic toward, the plight of the person who originally wrote it (Exhibit A is “911 Is a Joke” as sung by Duran Duran). Extending beyond racism, this issue becomes much trickier when it comes to straight males covering songs written by women, like with “Jolene” as performed by The White Stripes.
Now, I use “Jolene” purposefully here because, one, I like it, both the original and the cover, and, two, because the cover-er and the covered have similar enough backgrounds. But even with their commonalities, there’s an intrinsic problem, one where the straight man who’s covering the song unknowingly, or, much more likely, knowingly, is putting himself in the corner of the woman who wrote it so as to be against those ‘other guys,’ the brutes who only care about looks and just want blow jobs and steaks and motor oil, or some combination thereof.
Before we go even further, let this be said: it’s impossible to know who ‘hurts’ more. It could be that one group experiences more inner turmoil or it could be that we all feel exactly the same when love turns sour. Whatever the case, I can say from my own experience that watching a straight man covering “Call Your Girlfriend” seems very fake. Seeing his attempt to empathize with a woman’s pain, there’s just something very “guitar guy at the party” about it.
And while this is only a guess, one may now be thinking, “This is music, buddy. This is art. Don’t be so literal.” So, as another clarifying statement, let me go on record and say I understand that music is not always meant to be taken literally. I get that it doesn’t ‘know’ gender, creed, religion, sexual preference. But, I’m guessing, if your mind jumped to the sanctity of art, you’re also someone who, before David Foster Wallace’s biography came out, didn’t think of him as someone who went on book tours for the intent of landing “audience pussy.” So, for a moment, step with me out of fantasyland and into the reality that a vast majority of straight males who start a band do so because they want to have sex with members of the opposite sex who are more attractive than the members of the opposite sex they’re used to having sex with. That’s natural selection and if we want to start talking about how that’s supposed to be taken less than literally, I have a museum in Kentucky that’s open year round.
VISITING THE ART EXHIBITS IN TORBJØRN RØDLAND’S DREAMS
Torbjørn Rødland is a weird dude. I mean that in the best way possible, as his weirdness manifests itself in brilliant and subversive photographs that twist our perceptions of visual culture into a ball and throw them in the trash. What at first glance seem like beautiful, if not banal shots you see everyday, suddenly reveal themselves to be grotesque and peculiar. This element of surprise is what we really love. His fantastic new book, Vanilla Partner, was just released by MACK, and we decided to talk with him about his mad genius.
VICE: As I looked through the book, I kept wondering, “Where does he come up with these ideas?” For some of the images, I see you jolting out of a dream, writing it down, and recreating it later. What is your typical process?
Torbjørn Rødland: Well, some photographs are versions of images from dreams, but they’re created by my unconscious as I finish artworks for a show. You see, I sometimes visit other artists’ exhibitions while sleeping. And if it’s good photographic work, I wake up very excited, asking my conscious self, “Has that actually been done? If not, I’m doing it!” But this is untypical. I find that I can get ideas and take orders from the dream brain without actually going to sleep or taking psychoactive substances.
Typically I see potential in a cheap object or a jpeg from a Ukrainian blog or something like that, and after living with the object or jpeg for a while, I try to realize that potential. In the photograph that I end up producing, the conflict or quality that initially caught my attention is accentuated or is transformed into something more precise. I always improvise when I start the process of photographing, but the initial trigger is important to help keep the result interesting.
What I really love is the way that you take our accepted visual language—the Debordian “spectacle,” if you will—and subvert it. Do you think about these moments of confusion or discovery on the part of the viewer when creating the work?
I do gravitate towards visuals that need my participation to make sense and yes, I want the book to be surprising throughout. One-dimensionality is uninspiring, and the age where a series of photographs only needed a strong idea to be exciting is over. All in all, I believe viewers are getting more sophisticated. Photography is no longer a new art form.
Lil’ Thinks - Witness the Whiteness, by Kate Carraway
Some imperative sociocultural maneuvering was missed when Girls debuted; instead, a really embarrassing junior-kindergarten level of communal reinforcement led to the collective conclusion that Lena Dunham’s show is racist (and, yeah, that communally reinforced idea was right, because that show is racist to the point of making Brooklyn look like a sundown town). It is still being missed, which is cute because of how everyone I know—the “communal” in the “reinforcement”—is sure about race and especially about whiteness.
Following the retrospective social insight of five or ten years, Lena’s trial by ordeal will probably seem painfully, entirely, wholeheartedly retarded. There is, of course, everything right with calling something that is racist what it is, but often, something that is all milky white is criticized simply and specifically for its milky, cummy whiteness and not criticized specifically—and more crucially—for its values, assumptions, casting choices (the first season of Girls skewed very Magical Negro), and antiverisimilitude. (No affluent white girl in urban North America is without rich Asian and Indian friends. She’s just not.) So while the story within the criticism was all “La-la-la-la-la Lena!” whiteness and white culture snuck by unexamined.
Ignoring whiteness as its own thing to be considered is the easy way out, yeah, but it’s also a dangerous re-re-reestablishment of a bad precedent, in which whiteness generally is positioned and congratulated as being the dominant culture. And since whiteness holds fast to the most capital of every variety of culture except “cool” and remains very few generations (fucking one! one generation!) removed from institutionalized and mandated racism, it’s left as the cultural standard to which everything else responds. Which, as everybody knows, is racist.
Two important contextual items, here: America isn’t so white. If you didn’t know or live somewhere stupid, more black, Hispanic, and mixed-race babies were born last year than white ones—and since you and I have been conscious, the internet has (correctly) negated the social, economic, gendered, whatever boundaries of once-discrete subcultures. Sooo, that’s good. But because the collective consciousness moves as fast and elegantly as you do jogging in a hot tub following diazepam and margaritas, whiteness remains understood as this abstract, almost-imaginary but deeply embedded dominant paradigm.
Westerners Appropriate the Shit Out of Everything
This might come as news to you, but religion isn’t that cool anymore, and people trust their elected representatives about as much as razorblade toilet seats. Society’s traditional keepers of mutual respect are UNCOOL, possibly more uncool than they’ve ever been before. So we strut around our chaotic cities disrespecting whomever and whatever the hell we want. Because you know what is cool? Disrespecting someone by wearing their cherished, centuries-old culture as a fashion accessory.
With that in mind, here are a few more ways in which Western culture has made a complete ass of itself by re-appropriating cultures and religions it doesn’t even care enough about to want to understand.
OK, feathered headdresses aren’t exactly massive this season, but they definitely had their day. Kate Mossdid it, creepy child model Thylane Blondeau did it, and every university-age girl in Surrey has at some point in her life been photographed in one while high at one of the shittier music festivals.
Originally, though, they weren’t designed for models or sold at Forever 21—only those Native Americans who had earned them through battle, or by finding the biggest Yucca, or by eating the most paw paws were allowed to wear them. They were also made from things like buffalo horns and porcupine quills, and the natives reckoned these materials carried the powers of the animals from which they came. It might be useful to fatally gore anyone who gets in your way on Oxford Street on a Saturday afternoon, but it’s not considered good etiquette.
It’s not only the headdresses that have made their way into the wardrobes of fashionistas. It’s a ton of “Navajo-print” stuff in general:
Actual Navajos got hella mad when the “Navajo hipster panty” went on sale at Urban Outfitters, wafting a number of irate smoke signals aimlessly into the air. And don’t even get me started on the “Navajo hip flask.” That’s about as culturally sensitive as Henry Ford at a Bar Mitzvah.
The bindi was born as a Hindu sacrament, but it still got pretty trendy amongst Islamics and South Asians long before No Doubt were even a twinkle in Gwen Stefani’s curiously doll-like eyes. The bindi sits on the Kundalini-channelling spiritual hotspot between the eyes to make everything A-OK. Gwen, that pariah of cultural appropriation, did wonders for the bindi’s image among tweens, a little before popularizing harems of subservient Japanese girls dressed as cartoon characters. Oh, Gwen!
Putting Slinkys round the neck is a tradition of the Kayan people of Burma. They start when the girls are 2 so their necks are long enough for flirting by the time they are in their teens. Apparently, it doesn’t actually stretch the neck so much as push the body down, but to me that sounds pretty similar. But the latest trend can be observed among suburban housewives, who stretch their necks in order to look “as cute as Asian women.”
Instead of messing about with metal spirals, this American device makes stretching your neck as convenient as possible. Contrary to common knowledge, it was actually one of these devices that allowed Prince to suck his own penis.
“Boring white guys who look like the uptight dean in a college party flick will never go out of style.”
The Talk: Non-Conservative Version
There is apparently ”the talk” that black parents give to their teenaged sons and daughters where they tell them to be afraid of the cops, for good reason. There is also—thanks to National Review writer* John Derbyshire—another version of “the talk,” one where a white guy says some really, really racist, mind-poisoning shit to his kids. But there’s also a third version of “the talk,” one that white, socially liberal parents give their children on both coasts of the strange place known as America. It’s remained secret for a long time, but since Derbyshire decided to post his “talk” for all the world to see, I thought I’d match him and share the “talk” that my (white, socially liberal) parents gave me, and a version of which I will no doubt give my children (if I have any—us socially liberal folks don’t breed so much). Here’s how it goes:
1. There are a lot—I mean, a LOT—of folks out there in America who identify as “conservative,” and I will refer to them as conservative. Most are white and evangelical Christian; many are old and (thank goodness!) dying out. But there are still a lot of them, most of them in the Republican party.
2. You will encounter these people, America being a free and open society. You will probably be working at a non-profit, a coffee shop, a bike store, or in the media, and as such you won’t have much reason to meet such people (thank the good Lord, who doesn’t exist), but you will occasionally run into them. They are entitled to the same rights and responsibilities as you or I or any other citizen and should be treated with respect—except when they shouldn’t be. I’ll get to that in a second.
3. As with any large population, there is great variation among conservatives—they come fat, thin, short, tall, smart, dumb, introverted, extroverted, honest, crooked, athletic, sedentary, fastidious, sloppy, amiable, and obnoxious, but mostly fat, dumb, and crooked.
4. But as you meet more of them, the Law of Large Numbers will kick in and you will observe that the averages of many traits are very different for conservatives as they are for liberals.
5. For starters, the average conservative doesn’t believe in science. They let their bigoted feelings run wild—not all of them are racists like Derbyshire, but many harbor deep-seated hatreds of gay people, who they don’t think should get married. And, of course, they have insane attitudes regarding perfectly reasonable, healthy parts of human existence like birth control, drugs, and porn.
He won due to the color of his skin, without a doubt. A lot of people voted depending on their race, which I don’t think is right. It should depend on qualifications, but not everybody agrees with that. A majority of African-Americans are going to vote for the African-American.
Adding everyone’s job title made this slideshow (where southern Republicans answer the question “Why did Obama get elected?”) read exactly like an Onion “American Voices”.
It’s cool (read: SUPER RACIST) that so many of these people think Obama being black had so much to do with his election, especially when a) African Americans are only ~12% of the population, b) A huge percentage of those African Americans live in solidly Democratic states (e.g. California, New York), and c) African Americans already vote heavily Democratic, so they would likely have supported the party’s candidate regardless of his race. So yeah, while these white people think they are constantly being oppressed by reverse racism (i.e. the real racism), in reality they’re just hugely misinformed and totally racist.