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"About six, seven years ago, when I took on the issue of the illegal alien in South Carolina, a lot of people said, 'Oh, man, you don't want to go there, you're not going to get anything done,' " Garcia-Quintana tells the crowd. "Ladies and gentlemen, I have gotten two laws passed, and we've gotten rid of those wetbacks, and we didn't get them some towels. We should have given them some towels to dry their backs."
The audience reaction is mixed. A few in the audience make disapproving gasps — but many more nod their heads in silent agreement. The division isn't surprising. The crowd is even split on the issue of President Obama's birth certificate, with a vocal minority concerned that pursuit of the issue threatens AmRen's big-tent ambitions butting heads with a majority who apparently share the same concerns as Donald Trump.
Watching Garcia-Quintana before this crowd calls to mind that old Dave Chappelle joke about white thugs in black gangs: "There ain't no telling what they done to get them black dudes' respect, but them black dudes have seen them do some wild shit, I'll tell you that." Indeed, Garcia-Quintana tried very, very hard to win this crowd's respect. In so doing, he violated one of the unspoken rules of the nascent white nationalist movement: Do not, under any circumstance, act like a white nationalist.
That would make it far too easy for those American Renaissance is courting to confuse it with more familiar racist organizations such as the KKK and the popular white supremacist website Stormfront. Already some reports suggest strain among AmRen's pool of supporters and fellow travelers. In 2006, former Klan leader and Louisiana GOP candidate David Duke — now running another hate group called European-American Unity and Rights Organization (EURO) — spoke at an AmRen conference held in Herndon, Va. Here's an excerpt of the account from The Jewish Daily Forward:
Duke approached the microphone on the floor during the question-and-answer session for French writer Guillaume Faye. After congratulating Faye for stirring remarks that "touched my genes," Duke asked if there weren't an even more insidious threat to the West than Islam.
"There is a power in the world that dominates our media, influences our government and that has led to the internal destruction of our will and our spirit," Duke said.
"Tell us, tell us," came a call from the back of the room.
"I'm not going to say it," Duke said to rising laughter.
But Michael Hart, a squat, balding Jewish astrophysicist from Maryland, was not amused. He rose from his seat, strode toward Duke (who loomed over him like an Aryan giant), spit out a curse — "You f...ing Nazi, you've disgraced this meeting" — and exited.
Duke broke one of Taylor's cardinal rules: No anti-Semitism. Two months after the incident, the AmRen leader denounced Duke for "disgraceful behavior," which caused a backlash among the movement's decidedly anti-Semitic adherents, who asserted that Taylor was part of a Jewish conspiracy. (Perhaps they forgot about the kosher meal and rabbi guest speaker featured at AmRen's inaugural 1994 conference.)
One 2012 conference attendee didn't have much nice to say about Duke, either. A man who identified himself as Kenneth Quarterman, a perennial office seeker from Atlanta, spoke of the KKK as being composed of "rats" that had the audacity to kick him out of a Klan rally. But he's fine with it now. He's got a new family at AmRen.
Having such views has "lost me a lot of friends" over the years, says Quarterman, a thin, elderly man with a frazzled white beard who talks in a stream of consciousness. He shared his thoughts on a wide array of topics, which somehow led to a racist non sequitur: that Southern whites were upset after World War I because African-American soldiers "had white pussy from French whores for the first time," which spurred the KKK to "put the niggers on notice that they needed to be put back in their place and that this was the United States and they were still segregated," but that later, during Vietnam, people didn't mind it when black soldiers copulated with Asians. Shortly afterward, at dinner, he turns his attention to his pork tenderloin, chewing with his mouth open.
Seated to Quarterman's right is Paul Fromm, the Canadian far-right organizer once described by Fox News as a "free speech activist," but referred to by the Toronto Sun as a former teacher "with ties to the neo-Nazi movement" who was "fired for participating in meetings and conferences sponsored by those who support white supremacist and anti-Semitic views." Fromm and his wife implore me to join the Council of Conservative Citizens. I tell them I'll think about it.
By the time Fromm is finishing dinner, he launches into a diatribe against the "soulless" and "immoral" Chinese who cannot possibly be the ones to carry the torch of Western civilization, adopting an Anglicized pidgin accent. He says the white race would be better off founding its own country, perhaps somewhere in South America. I nod, excuse myself to use the bathroom and make a controlled dash for the exit.
In so doing, I would miss the next day's guest speaker, David Yeagley, self-professed descendant of the Comanche leader Bad Eagle. (As white-separatist speaking engagements go, this qualifies as diversity.) Writing for Front Page Magazine — a hard-right website founded by David Horowitz, the ex-Marxist cum right-wing propagandist, which has spotlighted Nashville's Center for the Study of Political Islam and other groups sounding the Muslim menace — Yeagley offers a unique take on racial differences.
"[No] white man dare say he prefers white women. That would be unforgivably racist," Yeagley wrote in a 2006 column titled "What's Up With Dark Men?" "So, as a dark man, I'll say it. Superior beauty is in the white race, with its scintillating varieties of color: red, brown, amber, golden hair... green, blue, light brown, gray eyes. In the darker races, everything is always the same, dark brown and black a beastly bore."
According to the write-up on American Renaissance's website, Yeagley told the 2012 conference that he didn't mind his ancestors being defeated by superior white warriors, but he would be livid to see that land handed over to Muslims without a fight. But by that time, I wasn't around to hear it. Some things, it seems, are even harder to stomach than dry pork tenderloin.