"Roman Candle" turns 20: Secrets of Elliott Smith's accidental masterpiece (slideshow)
Elliott and the friends with whom he recorded in middle school in Texas (photo courtesy of Dan Pickering)
Kyle Hunt is a reclusive man, paranoid enough to log my IP details when I contact him. He’s also the Massachusetts-based founder of the White Man March, which “involves coordinated pro-white activity around the world. The purpose is to spread information through activism, but also to make a statement that white people are united in their love for their race and in their opposition to its destruction.” Though its website claims it has no centralized leadership, it is obviously Kyle’s brainchild and seemingly his alone. Through it, he sells (white) T-shirts emblazoned with “Diversity is a codeword for white genocide.” The subtext of this is not too hard to work out, but I wanted to hear the sugar-coated sour press release.
“The anti-white ‘diversity’ agenda involves government-sponsored racism against white people in the form of affirmative action and ‘diversity’ quotas, which requires employers and colleges to give preference to less qualified non-whites,” Hunt said. “With fewer opportunities, white people are able to make less money and are now having much smaller families. The anti-white ‘diversity’ agenda also stipulates that there can be no all-white countries anywhere, and there can be no all-white areas within the confines of those formerly all-white countries. Massive immigration and forced assimilation, along with persistent race-mixing propaganda, will inevitably lead to the destruction of a racial group. This is genocide. The White Man March will continue,” he added, “on the third Saturday of every month until the anti-white genocidal system is destroyed.”
Kyle refuses to speak on the phone. It must be via electronic correspondence or not at all. This was not ideal, especially given someone who clearly thrives on uncontested rhetoric. I acquiesced because something unbidden told me to, on the condition we may go back and forth as much as I’d like. I did wonder why he won’t pick up the phone. I had seen him give a peer at Vice, David Schilling, the same line with a bizarrely different excuse.
“In addition to doing many interviews, I am busy running a variety of different Web properties, including a social network, a broadcasting network, an online publication, and a social movement. In addition to this, I have to scrounge together some money to keep me going and complete some of my paintings.”
When Kyle sent his initial answers back to me, he had pointedly emboldened my questions in what he described as “Commie Red.”
“Though you might not be a card-carrying communist,” he said, “your questions indicate to me that you are certainly a cultural Marxist.”
* * *
Masked ethnic nationalism had been enjoying a nice stay as a dot-point in the “dark enlightenment” of the so-called neo-reactionary movement, but bigotry is never content to be itemized. Say hi to nuwe racism, and the composite ire-ony of using the Afrikaans for “new” here seems so complexly black and white as to transcend meta. Hyper-aware there is less and less room on earth for old hate, nuwe racists dress their prejudice in conspiracy and pseudoscience and call it “pride.” Pride is a much more appealing sin than wrath, and allows them to, heinously, plead victimhood just as they pursue a policy of victimization. It is like punching someone and getting angry at them for hurting your fist.
Still this does not stop VDARE, Pioneer Fund and men like Kyle from becoming accidentally unified. When pressed on the admittance he is “a spiritual man” and not a religious one, he said, “I let no man or organization stand in between me and the divine. I strive toward sacred honor and glory in all that I do. I can only hope that one day, when my time here has come to an end, the Valkyries will find me worthy.”
Neo-paganism, check. Kyle imagines himself some kind of all-odds hero of the bad-odds white race, envisioning this article as a grandiose Portrait of a Man titled “Kyle Confronts Cultural Marxism.” He insisted as much. He insisted on a lot. He insisted I do not capitalize the “J” in “Jew,” and that I do capitalize the “w” in “whites.” Like many racists hiding behind a veneer of faux-intellectualism and the appropriated-unrelated (how I mourn the perversion of the Celtic cross), he does not want to tend to reality where it does not provide a soapbox. A milk crate in this instance, I guess. I wanted to know what he would do if all our skins were gray and he could not divide anyone with his eyes.
“Stupid question. Are you a hipster or something?”
I decided to nudge his superiority complex into asserting itself in a way I suspected would work: This was silly. I am genuinely interested in what you think of the concept of “race” as a social construct. Please reconsider your answer.
“I find it ‘silly’ to even purport that race is a social construct or only skin-deep. An African man with white skin (which happens with albinism) would still have a very different skull shape, hair and eye color, nose structure, body type, intellectual abilities, and higher testosterone levels than a European man. Also, though an Asian man might naturally have a similar skin color as a European man, he will still likely have different hair, eye shape and color, nose structure, intellectual abilities, and a shorter body than a European man. I don’t even need to get into the cultural differences, which are the result of our unique histories and the innate biological and spiritual differences between the different peoples of the planet. Though humans are all of the same species,” he continued, “the different races (sub-species) exhibit distinct and important variations on a genetic level. Maybe you should try applying your arguments to dogs, wolves, and dingoes which are all the same species (Canis lupus). Compare a Chihuahua with a grey wolf and then you can tell me about how breed is just a social construct.”
Neopaganism, check, racial realism à la David Duke and Jared Taylor, also check. Much as I love dogs, Homo sapiens are not dogs.
* * *
“I am here to light an inferno in the minds of men.”
Kyle likes to pepper his salt with inflammatory but hollow rhetoric. All things considered, it started to make me think of Hitler. He was quick to profess an admiration for the man, though allegedly only for his capacity as a statesman.
“Adolf Hitler was a far greater man than Stalin, Churchill and FDR combined. Hands down. He stands head and shoulders above any of the so-called leaders of today. The main reason most people fear Adolf Hitler is because they have been inundated since birth with deceitful Holocaust propaganda and kosher Hollywood movies.”
Of course, no one “resisting white genocide” ever really admires Hitler solely as a statesman.
“Asians have fair skin, but no one in his or her right mind would call Asians white. When Jews are questioned about any of their atrocious actions, vicious anti-white quotes, or general criminal behavior, they scream ‘anti-Semite.’ Semites are not white! It is pretty confusing because one minute we are told that Judaism is a religion and then the next minute, it’s a race. Jews can pretend to be ‘white’ when it suits them and then turn back into a persecuted minority when shekels or security are at stake. For example, Jews dominated the transatlantic slave trade and then blamed the whole practice on white Europeans by using their control of the media and academia. Everyone loves to talk about white supremacists, but I never hear anything about the Jewish supremacists,” he’d raged, ready with another ill-gotten quote. “As the Israeli Sephardic leader Rabbi Ovadia Yosef once said, ‘Goyim [non-Jews] were born only to serve us. Without that, they have no place in the world; only to serve the People of Israel. Why are gentiles needed? They will work, they will plow, they will reap. We will sit like an effendi [master] and eat.’”
Continually and without pause, Kyle makes the classic mistake of the racist, nuwe or old: the convenient presumption that world and spiritual leaders speak for every person their station claims to represent. “German” does not equal “Nazi,” and this courtesy is not one with limits. Yosef was a far-right extremist. He died in October last year, and is not particularly missed by Jews or anyone. The irony is he had at least one thing in common with Kyle.
“John F. Kennedy remarked that, ‘Hitler will emerge from the hatred that surrounds him now as one of the most significant figures who ever lived … he had in him the stuff of which legends are made.’”
Trying to reconfigure archaic historical quotes to apply to contemporary contexts is a favorite pastime of the modern bigot. Kyle’s trotting out of John F. Kennedy with Swiss timepiece reliability was hard to ignore. He does not parlay Thomas Jefferson’s “all men are created equal” speech with the same verve, for some reason. I mentioned that JFK seems a strange choice for Kyle’s lexicon given he granted amnesty to Mexican immigrants and advocated, in however small a way, for black civil rights.
“I do not support JFK’s policies whatsoever, but his words regarding Adolf Hitler should go to show that we are presented with a false and misleading narrative regarding World War II. Hitler did not despise non-whites at all, but simply wanted a nation free from oppression and dedicated to the furtherance of the Germanic people. Most people today do not realize that over 2 million non-German foreigners and other ethnic minorities served in Hitler’s armed forces, which created the most culturally, ethnically, and religiously diverse military in Western history.”
And children manned the Waffen SS’s guns because the Deutsches Heer’s dead had started to outweigh its living. Revisionist history, check. True conviction is purpose-built to stand up to extreme duress, but in times of said duress, these “convictions” are revealed for what they are: hate. Elements of the psyches that favor this thinking often point to personal and more repressed wellsprings, but that is about as speculative as the concept of white genocide itself. When asked what he might do if he discovered what constitutes, by his own rhetoric, non-white “racial impurity” in his bloodline, at first Kyle replied, “I would smoke a blunt, drink a 40, listen to Miley Cyrus, and twerk all night long.” I asked him to rethink this answer. Implying he was being childish worked well.
“Honestly, I would never allow a small percentage of non-white blood to stop me from advocating for white interests.”
* * *
When the White Man March did march for the first time on Saturday, March 15, 2014, it was not the cataclysmic worldwide event first envisioned. Contrary to Kyle’s assertion that “it went well,” it did not go well. At least, not for Kyle and the handful of other men who appeared to rattle their nuwe racist declarations at uninterested passersby. Fewer than 10 people reportedly showed up to stampede in Cincinnati. You could not hear them coming from miles away, let alone meters.
“The media outlets that disparaged our efforts are both implicitly and explicitly anti-white, so it would be ridiculous to think that they would paint us in a favorable light,” Kyle would later huff to me. “The fact that they covered the White Man March and helped spread our message is a huge victory, as we have been ignored for far too long.”
“I really wanted to piss off the anti-whites,” he went on. “I am resisting the ongoing genocide of my people. Why don’t you ask Jamie Foxx, Jesse Jackson, Al Sharpton, Eric Holder, Barack Obama and all the big media bosses if they are willing to take responsibility for ‘the knockout game’ and the increasing black mob violence after they have continuously incited anti-white hatred? ‘I kill all the white people in the movie – how great is that?’ Oy vey, ‘Saturday Night Live’ has the funniest jokes! That Lorne Michaels is a real mensch.”
I had stopped balking. Better the subterranean bridge-dweller you know; better cultural Marxism than cultural hegemony.
Elliott and the friends with whom he recorded in middle school in Texas (photo courtesy of Dan Pickering)
Heatmiser publicity shot (L-R: Tony Lash, Brandt Peterson, Neil Gust, Elliott Smith) (photo courtesy of JJ Gonson photography)
Elliott and JJ Gonson (photo courtesy of JJ Gonson photography)
"Stray" 7-inch, Cavity Search Records (photo courtesy of JJ Gonson photography)
Elliott's Hampshire College ID photo, 1987
Elliott with "Le Domino," the guitar he used on "Roman Candle" (courtesy of JJ Gonson photography)
Full "Roman Candle" record cover (courtesy of JJ Gonson photography)
Elliott goofing off in Portland (courtesy of JJ Gonson photography)
Heatmiser (L-R: Elliott Smith, Neil Gust, Tony Lash, Brandt Peterson)(courtesy of JJ Gonson photography)
The Greenhouse Sleeve -- Cassette sleeve from Murder of Crows release, 1988, with first appearance of Condor Avenue (photo courtesy of Glynnis Fawkes)