Sometimes you have to wonder why certain mainstream right-wing outlets keep glossing over this guy. Other times, you don’t have to wonder.
It has been seldom reported, but Matthew Heimbach, who organized last Sunday’s neo-Nazi rally in Sacramento, CA that had to be aborted in what became a full-on brawl was not even at the rally he organized. Citing car trouble, the leader of the Traditionalist Workers’ Party (TWP) was at his home in Indiana corresponding with persons on the ground over 2100 miles away. It is still his organization however, so media outlets have gone to him to learn more about the rally from his perspective, and that has meant many in social networks learning a lot more about Heimbach and his history, particularly his rather close association with more mainstream politics.
It is rather old news to those that have followed Heimbach since he started his career as a neo-Nazi gloryhound just four years ago, but that career started with him starting a chapter of the White Supremacist Youth for Western Civilization (YWC) at Towson University in Maryland, where he was studying at the time. YWC was an organization that was started by interns and others associated with the Leadership Institute, which has made a name for itself training high school and college students to be conservative activists on their respective campuses. YWC had the right connections from the very start, having their inaugural event during the 2009 Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC), and those connections loved them right back. Conservative propagandists James O’Keefe, who in 2006 attended a White Supremacist meeting sponsored by a small organization called the Robert A. Taft Club accepted an invitation to speak at Providence College in Rhode Island by the College Republicans chapter there, which was actually YWC that worked under that auspices because Providence College would not recognize YWC as a student organization. Coincidentally, Kevin DeAnna, the principal founder of YWC, also founded the Robert A. Taft Club.
O’Keefe was also working with Andrew Breitbart, another conservative propagandist who created a series of networks that have since been consolidated after his 2012 death to Breitbart.com. His schtick was to paint conservatives as victims of oppression and those conservatives routinely attack as the aggressors, and that often meant communities of color. To that end, he made it a point to specifically smear those communities and that had made him open to working with the paleoconservative circles that YWC was a part of. To that end it is not surprising that he was photographed with Heimbach, then a YWC member and wearing a YWC shirt, at an Americans for Prosperity conference. And it was apparent years after his death that Heimbach was still a fan. “Andrew Breitbart, he definitely shook things up with the political system,” he said last year.
Breitbart.com, for their part, seemed to reciprocate in the wake of the Sacramento rally, which would not be surprising as they recently published an article by Breitbart Editor Milo Yiannopoulos exalting the so-called “alternative right”, a name given to the particular circle of White Supremacists and fascists that Heimbach is a part of. As the narrative became that it was antifa that first became confrontational, a number of writers at the website took the side of the neo-Nazis and at least three articles were written attacking antifa, calling them “a rising danger” and giving no such critique, let alone much mention, to the neo-Nazis. Ironically Lee Stranahan, the author of two of those articles who was particularly vocal on Twitter about Sacramento, suggested in a tweet that a protest should be held against one of the groups that opposed the neo-Nazi rally, which was held in particular to protest such groups in the first place. Stranahan even retweeted a well-known racist troll calling themselves “Ricky Vaughn” when they suggested that “Absolute best thing we can do is keep having public rallies and bait antifas into attacking police and reporters.”
Curiously, this seems to be a regular tactic of Stranahan’s to give short shrift to racism on the part of Whites while attacking African Americans that respond to it. Last year, he pulled the same stunt when Dylann Roof shot and killed nine churchgoers in Temple Emanuel AME in Charleston, South Carolina, saying in one tweet that “the major problem with Dylann Roof was the murder more than the hate”, and then several more where he implies Roof was actually a leftist that fulfilled the part of a socialist plan to “agitate and cause violence on both sides”, and on June 14 “a self-loathing white person driven by progressive induced guilt”. He eventually got around to writing an article attacking the New Black Panther Party and their leader Malik Zulu Shabazz for a rally after the shooting in Charleston, where they never killed anyone.
Heimbach took note of how Breitbart.com took the side of the TWP when Daily Stormer’s Andrew Anglin interviewed him about the rally:
“Breitbart.com released a story detailing the radical and violent nature of groups like By Any Means Necessary and other antifa groups who view everyday conservatives, pro-lifers, traditional marriage supporters and even 2nd Amendment supporters as being on the exact same level as nationalists. This radical Leftist agenda and their continued violence will only send an ever increasing amount of everyday White people into the nationalist camp. As one Breitbart commenter said “These people have forced me into the position of having to defend my own existence just because of the color of my skin. I’ve never been able to stomach the KKK, Nazi, skinhead types. And now I am backed into the corner of joining with them in my own self-defense.
The Left is polarizing American politics and pushing White working families into our camp, it is now our duty to organize and mobilize them for the principles of nationalism.”
Just like Breitbart.com, Heimbach found himself a hero in Donald Trump. He also found himself in the spotlight thanks to his actions at a March 1 rally in Louisville, KY for the presumptive Republican nominee for president when he attacked University of Louisville student Kayisha Nwanguma when she attended to protest the campaign. Video showed Heimbach was one of several people who shoved Nwanguma as she left the arena, and for his part Heimbach had felt no remorse for his actions, but he said that he would not attend anymore Trump events “to avoid being a distraction.”
But that is not the only connection Heimbach would have with Trump. The Sacramento rally his Traditionalist Workers Party put on included members of the Golden State “Skinheads”. According to the Daily Stormer article he connected with them during a huge outing of neo-Nazis last year. “GSS organized Camp Comradery last summer which was a great nationalist event with over 200 attendees and it really demonstrated to me the power of White nationalist organizing potential in California and I got to know the comrades in GSS and really respect them for their dedication to the Cause, their families and one another.”
Another attendee to Camp Comradery was William Johnson of the American Freedom Party, who spoke at the event as Heimbach did, and has often worked with Heimbach in the past. The public today knows Johnson best as someone who has produced robocalls on behalf of Trump and as one listed as a California delegate for Trump, although he has said he will not be at the convention in Cleveland in the wake of the uproar.
Heimbach said in the Daily Stormer interview that he too may not go to Cleveland either, at least not with the intent to “make sure Donald Trump supporters are defended” as recent reports indicated since he doesn’t believe he can acquire the proper permits for a rally. Instead, he wants to have a rally on July 30 outside the United Nations Headquarters in New York City, and should such a rally take place once again they could expect to see the kind of opposition he saw in Sacramento, if not more. And it can also be expected that the Trump supporters and the Breitbart crowd will use the opportunity to continue their regular smear campaigns against who they call leftist agitators, while curiously turning a blind eye to the group that says on its website that “localism and secessionism are central to our mission”, a mission that is part of a neo-Nazi and neo-fascist subculture that runs afoul of the freedoms that they pretend to defend.