A Day in the Life in the Newest Leader of the White Nationalists

Give this guy a fair hearing. His idea of scrapping the American empire and embracing decentralized, self-determination for all has much merit.

By Vegas Tenold

ate at night on June 17, after he and his wife had gone to bed, Matthew Heimbach’s phone rang on his nightstand. On the other end of the line was a man from the South Carolina field office of the FBI. The man asked Heimbach if he knew a man called Dylann Roof and, if so, if he knew where Roof was. Heimbach told the officer that he had never heard of Roof and wondered what the call was about. Without explaining further, the officer thanked him and hung up.

“That’s when things got weird,” Heimbach says. Soon calls were coming in from associates who had all gotten similar calls from the FBI, and they were all now wondering the same thing: Who was Dylann Roof, and why hadn’t any of them heard of him until tonight?

“None of us had ever even heard the name Dylann Roof before,” Heimbach says. “Now he was all anyone was talking about.”

Heimbach is the leader and founder of the Traditionalist Youth Network, a nationalist high school and college organization that, according to its website, aims to speak against “the united voices of decadence, individualism, Marxism and modernity.” While the group claims to accept members from diverse ethnic and religious backgrounds, he and his comrades have been called Nazi sympathizers and white supremacists. The Southern Poverty Law Center once labeled him the Little Fuhrer, a charge he found ridiculous because he is not a National Socialist. This, presumably, was why, when a white supremacist gunned down nine congregants in a historically black church in Charleston, the FBI called him.

In the days after the massacre, everyone was trying to figure out why no one had heard of Roof before. The incident sent shockwaves through American far right communities, in which everyone seemed completely baffled as to who Roof was. To many, that fact alone was proof enough of a false flag operation: an operation orchestrated by the federal government to either — depending on whom you ask — malign and break the far right movement in America or provide an excuse to disarm American patriots in order to bring about a Barack Obama–led socialist Islamic police state. Heimbach wondered how he could have missed Roof’s online presence and, had he known about him, if there was something he could have done to channel his violent impulses into political action.

“We need to use the tools that we have,” he says from behind the wheel of his silver 2001 Toyota Corolla, which he named Serenity after the spaceship in the sci-fi TV show “Firefly.” It was mid-July, a couple of weeks after he returned from Charleston, where he laid down flowers at the site of the massacre. “We live in a political system, and if you want to effect change, the way to go about that needs to be political. Violence is never right.”


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