The Military Says It’s Confronting Extremism. A Prominent White Nationalist Just Finished Boot Camp.
Written by Black Voices on April 10, 2021
A distinguished white nationalist joined the U.S. Air Drive and just lately graduated from boot camp, a HuffPost investigation has discovered, solely weeks after Secretary of Protection Lloyd Austin issued a military-wide stand-down order to handle the issue of extremism within the ranks.
Airman 1st Class Shawn McCaffrey, 28, is a widely known white nationalist who for years has hosted a racist and anti-Semitic podcast that includes pleasant interviews with among the most notorious fascists in America. He was additionally, at one time, a key member of the white nationalist group Id Evropa. Proof of his life as a white nationalist was solely a Google search away, and he even bought thrown off volunteering duties for Andrew Yang’s presidential marketing campaign in 2019 because of his affiliations. The FBI was additionally conscious of McCaffrey’s involvement within the far proper, HuffPost has discovered.
But a video from late January, posted to Fb by the Air Drive’s Detroit recruitment heart, seems to point out McCaffrey solemnly swearing to “assist and defend the Structure” of the U.S. “towards all enemies, overseas and home,” earlier than delivery off to primary navy coaching.
Air Drive spokesperson Ann Stefanek mentioned the navy department was not “conscious of the allegations” that McCaffrey was a white nationalist earlier than HuffPost reached out for this story. “Air Drive officers are wanting into it,” she mentioned. The officers will doubtless now decide whether or not McCaffrey violated navy guidelines relating to extremist exercise and discrimination.
The navy has lengthy had an issue with right-wing extremism. A sequence of HuffPost investigations in 2019 helped uncover 11 members of Id Evropa within the navy, no less than six of whom had been subsequently kicked out of the armed providers. The riot on the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6 threw a highlight on the issue: About 15% of the individuals arrested for his or her function within the rebellion had some form of navy affiliation.
After taking workplace in January, Austin issued the 60-day stand-down order, which required commanders to have “wanted discussions” about extremism with troops. “We won’t tolerate actions that go towards the elemental ideas of the oath we share, together with actions related to extremist or dissident ideologies,” Austin wrote in a memo saying the order.
However throughout that very same 60-day interval, the navy was additionally offering fight coaching to McCaffrey, highlighting simply how woefully ill-equipped — or unwilling — the navy is to maintain extremists from becoming a member of up.
“Both they knew what his ideology was, they usually didn’t care, or they didn’t do their due diligence and look into his background,” Cassie Miller, a senior analysis analyst on the Southern Poverty Legislation Heart, advised HuffPost.
McCaffrey didn’t reply to a request for remark for this story.
‘F**okay The Troops’
Earlier this month, HuffPost obtained a tip that McCaffrey might have joined the navy, although the tipster was not sure of which department.
A search of a Division of Protection database utilizing McCaffrey’s full title and birthdate, obtained by way of public data, revealed that he’d joined the Air Drive on Jan. 26, 2021.
A video posted to Fb that very same day by “U.S. Air Drive Recruiting Nice Lakes” reveals a person who bears a putting resemblance to McCaffrey standing amongst a various group of recruits, their proper fingers raised as they take their oath of enlistment. The transient ceremony befell in Detroit, a brief drive from the suburb of Novi, the place public data present McCaffrey lives.
Stefanek, the Air Drive spokesperson, confirmed to HuffPost that McCaffrey graduated from boot camp someday in March, however she wouldn’t specify a precise date or location.
McCaffrey has been a fixture of the resurgent white nationalist motion in America over the previous 5 years. The proof of his extremism is ample and in plain sight. If the navy couldn’t efficiently display screen McCaffrey for extremist ties, it’s laborious to consider they may display screen anybody.
He has his personal writer web page on AltRight.com, which describes him as “an Id Evropa activist.”
Id Evropa, thought of a hate group by each the Anti-Defamation League and the Southern Poverty Legislation Heart, is probably greatest recognized for being one of many essential organizers of the lethal 2017 “Unite the Proper” white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia.
“McCaffrey was actually within the internal circle of the group at its starting,” mentioned Miller, the SPLC analysis analyst.
Through the top of its exercise, Id Evropa largely eschewed specific neo-Nazi imagery and terminology, as an alternative branding itself as “identitarian” within the hopes of seeming extra palatable to most of the people.
McCaffrey featured prominently in among the group’s propaganda. One Id Evropa video — which continues to be on YouTube, regardless of the platform claiming to ban extremist content material — reveals him at dinner with the group’s founder, ex-Marine Nathan Damigo, and chief Patrick Casey.
In October 2016, McCaffrey attended a small Id Evropa anti-immigrant rally in San Francisco, holding the group’s banner and chanting “No sanction, no quarter, get again in your facet of the border.”
The following month, shortly after Donald Trump gained the 2016 presidential election, McCaffrey traveled to Washington, D.C., for a convention held by the Nationwide Coverage Institute, a corporation based by the distinguished white supremacist Richard Spencer. (Spencer infamously shouted “Hail, Trump!” and “Hail Victory!” — the English translation of the Nazi cry “Sieg Heil!”— throughout a speech on the convention, to which attendees responded by throwing up Nazi salutes.)
A photograph posted to Twitter by Id Evropa reveals McCaffrey in a go well with and tie on the convention, standing alongside Damigo, Casey and different group members.
A number of months later, in February 2017, McCaffrey joined different white nationalists exterior the Museum of the Shifting Picture in Queens, New York, the place they’d flocked to troll a livestreamed artwork undertaking created by actor Shia LaBeouf. The undertaking, known as “He Will Not Divide Us,” was conceived by LaBeouf as a chunk of anti-Trump protest artwork. Attendees had been inspired to face in entrance of the digicam and chant “He won’t divide us.”
McCaffrey and his fellow fascist trolls hijacked the livestream, taking off their shirts and chugging milk — a nod to a 4chan meme about lactose and white racial purity. At one level on the livestream, McCaffrey may be seen standing alongside a person with a chest tattoo of a sonnenrad, a logo usually utilized by Nazis, screaming into the digicam.
The museum, seeing LaBoeuf’s artwork undertaking as a safety threat, ultimately shut it down.
McCaffrey later left Id Evropa — and the group itself ultimately disbanded — however he remained deeply concerned within the alt-right, internet hosting a podcast known as “The Weekly Sweat” underneath the moniker “Prince Hubris” along with his white nationalist co-host Matt Evans, generally known as “Beardson Beardly.”
The pair routinely recorded marathon livestreams for “The Weekly Sweat,” throughout which they and their friends lashed out towards Jews, girls, LGBTQ individuals, Muslims and different teams, generally utilizing racial slurs.
“They’d among the largest names throughout the motion on the podcast,” Miller mentioned.
Among the many notable white supremacist friends had been Richard Spencer; Christopher Cantwell, the “crying Nazi” notorious for his function in a Vice documentary in regards to the Charlottesville rally; Patrick Little, a former Senate candidate from California who’s known as for the “full eradication” of Jews; Matt Forney, a distinguished misogynist who has defended raping and beating girls; Tim Gionet, also called “Baked Alaska,” who was just lately arrested for his function within the Capitol rebellion; and Andrew Anglin, the fugitive founding father of The Every day Stormer, probably the most influential and excessive neo-Nazi websites on the web, who believes Jewish individuals needs to be gassed.
Within the episode with Anglin, McCaffrey mentioned being “redpilled,” an alt-right time period for accepting a white nationalist worldview, and described changing into “woke to the JQ,” shorthand for the “Jewish Query,” a phrase with Nazi origins that refers back to the anti-Semitic perception that Jews have an outsize, malevolent affect over politics and tradition.
McCaffrey then complained that there have been too many Jews in West Bloomfield, Michigan, a suburb of Detroit. He known as it “West Jewfield.” (Public data present McCaffrey has lived within the neighboring city of Novi.)
Later in that very same “Weekly Sweat” episode, responding to a livestream commenter who steered that “gays are OK,” McCaffrey launched right into a homophobic tirade.
“You fucking faggots,” he mentioned. “They’ll’t cease sodomizing one another. You’re by no means OK. And for those who suppose we’re going to cease after we go after the Jews… no. Gays will not be OK ever, underneath any circumstance, and also you’re not welcome right here. It’s past a psychological sickness. It’s a really deep sick perversion.”
Had Air Drive recruiters merely Googled McCaffrey’s title, they might have discovered a sequence of articles about him from 2019, after Proper Wing Watch reported that he was a volunteer for the marketing campaign of Democratic presidential candidate Andrew Yang, who on the time was receiving a wave of (semi-authentic) alt-right assist. The Yang marketing campaign finally severed ties with McCaffrey, saying it had been unaware of his bigotry.
In 2020, lower than a 12 months earlier than he would be a part of the navy, McCaffrey continued to co-host “The Weekly Sweat” whereas making common appearances on different far-right podcasts.
In a March 2020 episode of “The Killstream,” a web-based present hosted by the alt-right Gamergate activist Ethan Ralph, McCaffrey expressed his disdain for the U.S. navy.
“You realize my entire factor with like ‘Fuck the troops’ and stuff, and as a lot as I hate the U.S. navy, I’d enlist to fuck up China,” he mentioned on “The Killstream,” later including: “Nuke China.”
The precise causes for his contempt for the navy — a sentiment he talked about usually — weren’t instantly evident.
“It looks as if each Marine is homosexual,” he mentioned in a single “Weekly Sweat” episode reviewed by HuffPost, “and I actually hope we get right into a battle quickly so that you fucking faggots should go defend sand and die and have all your folks die.”
In one other episode, McCaffrey argued that ladies shouldn’t serve within the navy. “They shouldn’t go away the home,” he mentioned.
It’s not clear whether or not McCaffrey nonetheless harbored this hatred of the U.S. navy when he took his oath of enlistment on Jan. 26.
A ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Inform’ Coverage About Extremism
For many years, legislation enforcement officers and students of extremism have raised alarm in regards to the dangers of far-right extremists, and specifically white nationalists, serving within the armed forces, the place they pose a hazard to fellow service members, can recruit new individuals to their trigger, and obtain fight coaching they will use to inflict violence on civilian targets.
Timothy McVeigh, who bombed a federal constructing in Oklahoma Metropolis in 1995, killing 168 individuals, was a U.S. Military veteran and served within the first Gulf Warfare. Neo-Nazi Wade Michael Web page, who shot and killed eight individuals in a Sikh temple in Wisconsin in 2012, was radicalized throughout his time as a soldier at Fort Bragg.
In 2019, Brandon Russell, chief of the murderous neo-Nazi group the Atomwaffen Division, was sentenced to jail for storing bombmaking supplies in his storage. Russell, who stored a framed photograph of McVeigh in his bed room, was within the Florida Nationwide Guard. Chatting with police, Russell’s roommate alleged that Russell “joined particularly for the data and the coaching, and he desires to make use of that coaching towards the federal government.”
Regardless of these scary examples — and plenty of, many others — the navy nonetheless lacks an efficient course of for screening recruits for extremist ties or beliefs.
A 2005 Division of Protection report mentioned that navy recruiters “weren’t conscious of getting obtained coaching” on learn how to establish extremists who had been attempting to enlist.
The report concluded, bluntly: “Successfully, the navy has a ‘don’t ask, don’t inform’ coverage pertaining to extremism. If people can carry out satisfactorily, with out making their extremist opinions overt … they’re doubtless to have the ability to full their contracts.”
For McCaffrey, becoming a member of the Air Drive might have been a breeze.
The screening course of he confronted doubtless consisted of only a few yes-or-no questions on a safety clearance utility about his “associations.”
“Are you now or have you ever EVER been a member of a corporation devoted to terrorism…?” begins one query in Part 29 of the Commonplace Type 86. “Have you ever EVER advocated any acts of terrorism or actions designed to overthrow the U.S. Authorities by power?” asks one other.
McCaffrey presumably checked the “No” field for each questions, and would have been capable of make a reasonable-sounding declare for doing so. Id Evropa was excessive, however modulated its views in public so it might extra simply infiltrate and affect the GOP.
And though McCaffrey actually palled round with individuals who have known as for the overthrow of the U.S. authorities, HuffPost didn’t discover an occasion of him explicitly doing so himself.
Maybe the final query in Part 29 would have given McCaffrey pause: “Have you ever EVER been a member of a corporation that advocates or practices fee of acts of power or violence to discourage others from exercising their rights underneath the U.S. Structure…?”
Some Id Evropa leaders actually advocated violence towards marginalized teams. Nonetheless, it’s doubtless McCaffrey simply checked “No” and moved on. Penalties for mendacity on an SF-86 may be harsh, however who was going to confirm whether or not his solutions had been true?
“Air Drive recruiters depend on nationwide and native legal background checks to assist establish membership in extremist/hate organizations,” Stefanek, the Air Drive spokesperson, advised HuffPost in her assertion.
“All candidates obtain an preliminary FBI background investigation earlier than coming into primary navy coaching that features nationwide and native company checks for unreported legal background,” she continued. “Candidates with a legal historical past related to violent extremist actions or extremist organizations will not be certified for Air Drive service.”
However these background checks, which solely detect an individual’s extremist ties if they’ve been charged with a criminal offense associated to their beliefs, wouldn’t have raised a crimson flag about McCaffrey.
A Go to From The FBI
There’s proof that McCaffrey was already on the FBI’s radar. HuffPost has reviewed emails between an FBI agent and a person who claimed to the FBI that McCaffrey waged a prolonged Twitter harassment marketing campaign towards them and a number of other of their buddies.
The emails point out that an agent on the bureau’s Chicago discipline workplace, together with brokers on the Detroit discipline workplace, had been in contact with McCaffrey.
McCaffrey himself has bragged about his FBI contacts throughout his podcasts, as soon as even holding up an agent’s enterprise card to the livestream digicam. (He blocked out the agent’s title.)
And through a visitor look on a podcast known as “TekWars,” McCaffrey recalled the time two FBI brokers visited him at his residence in 2017 — to ensure he was protected.
The brokers had been fearful about his well-being, McCaffrey claimed, as a result of he’d been doxxed just a few months earlier, after attending the white nationalist Nationwide Coverage Institute convention in D.C. (Anti-fascist activists usually “dox,” or expose the id and addresses of, white nationalists.)
“They’re like, ‘Have you ever seen anybody driving by, or, , do you are feeling such as you may be unsafe, or anyone may be like, , watching you or something?’” McCaffrey mentioned. “And I’m like… ‘I assume so, however I haven’t seen anyone.’”
The brokers, McCaffrey claimed, then requested why he’d signed up for a hid pistol license after getting doxxed. “I’m like, ‘Yeah, there’s a number of loopy individuals on the earth, so you bought to do what you possibly can,’” he mentioned.
“We’re simply right here to, , be sure to’re OK,” McCaffrey mentioned the brokers advised him. He mentioned they assured him they needed to “defend” his freedom of speech.
“They didn’t ask me something in regards to the alt-right or Id Evropa or something,” McCaffrey mentioned.
Spokespeople for the FBI discipline places of work in each Detroit and Chicago declined to touch upon the company’s relationship with McCaffrey.
It’s unclear if the FBI knew whether or not McCaffrey had joined the Air Drive, or if the company ever alerted navy officers about him.
‘A Wake-Up Name’
About 15% of the individuals charged in relation to the Jan. 6 Capitol rebellion ― throughout which a motley crew of Trump supporters, together with white nationalists, QAnon believers, Proud Boys and militiamen, broke into the nationwide legislature, sending lawmakers into hiding — had been present or former navy members, based on an evaluation from NPR.
“The sixth of January was a wake-up name for this particular drawback,” Pentagon spokesperson John Kirby advised reporters a couple of month after the rebellion. “It’s not as if it hasn’t been studied and reviewed previously. The issue is that it’s nonetheless an issue.”
And a few lawmakers are beginning to introduce options.
In early February, Rep. Jackie Speier (D-Calif.), chair of the Home Armed Companies navy personnel subcommittee, despatched a letter to President Joe Biden, urging him to difficulty an govt order requiring the navy to display screen the social media of latest enlistees. Social media, she wrote, is “not reviewed through the navy’s accessions course of,” though there’s already the “assortment and reporting of different intrusive, personal information, similar to monetary and behavioral well being data.”
Had such an govt order been in place earlier than McCaffrey joined up, recruiters might have discovered one among his a number of Twitter accounts, just like the one he used to state that “Black lives don’t matter.”
A Division of Protection report printed late final 12 months known as for exploring methods to work with information firms to mine recruits’ social media accounts for proof of extremism. Nonetheless, the report acknowledged that considerations about civil liberties must be addressed first, and mentioned it will be a tall process for “human analysts to … successfully search the Web on the tons of of 1000’s of individuals” who be a part of the navy every year.
Plus, white nationalist trolls like McCaffrey generally use aliases on Twitter — in lots of instances, he solely confirmed which accounts belonged to him throughout prolonged episodes of “The Weekly Sweat” — and their tweets are sometimes full of hard-to-decipher alt-right lingo. Discovering and understanding the social media posts of extremists could be an advanced, time-consuming job for any navy recruiter.
That’s why Heidi Beirich, co-founder of the International Undertaking Towards Hate and Extremism, thinks the navy must develop a “new unit of consultants” particularly targeted on rooting out extremists within the navy.
Your common navy recruiter, Beirich argued, may know what a swastika is, however might not know that “88” is code for “Heil Hitler.“ In addition they won’t acknowledge “extra delicate speaking factors” about white supremacist conspiracy theories, similar to “the Nice Substitute.”
“There’s a number of coded language in these actions, and so I simply don’t see how they’re going to be able to catching individuals who’ve been enlisted, and even within the enlistment course of, with out some experience right here,” Beirich mentioned.
Retired Military Col. Jeffrey McCausland, a visiting professor at Dickinson School and a nationwide safety marketing consultant for CBS, thinks the navy may benefit from new laws, together with a transparent, written definition of what teams are thought of extremist.
It’s a considerably “nebulous,” troublesome process for each recruiters and commanders, McCausland mentioned, to find out on a case-by-case foundation which teams or ideologies are extremist. That is very true contemplating how hate teams rise and fall, disappear, and kind anew underneath totally different names.
“The one approach you’re going to get a listing like that, and a complete revision to the laws that cowl all this, is for the Congress to face up and say ‘Yep, that checklist is accredited to ban individuals who have had, or at the moment have, membership in these teams, from becoming a member of the navy,’” McCausland mentioned.
However creating such a listing, McCausland predicts, would shortly turn out to be politically contentious and troublesome to go ― particularly as so many far-right teams, together with people who took half within the storming of the Capitol, take pleasure in shut relationships with the GOP and the Trump-led Make America Nice Once more motion.
A Home Armed Companies listening to on extremism within the navy late final month shortly devolved right into a circus, with Home Republicans repeatedly in search of to downplay the issue or solid it as yet one more demonstration of “cancel tradition.”
Rep. Pat Fallon (R-Texas) lashed out at a researcher from the Southern Poverty Legislation Heart who was testifying on the listening to, falsely claiming the group had beforehand listed two veterans organizations as hate teams. (It emerged later that Fallon’s supply for the declare was a satirical information web site.)
Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.) known as the listening to a “joke.”
“This isn’t about extremism,” mentioned Gaetz, who has ties to the far proper and different teams concerned within the January rebellion. “It isn’t about white supremacy, it’s about woke supremacy. It’s about changing the navy from an apolitical establishment to an establishment managed by the political left.”
“Right now is about nothing greater than cancel tradition coming for our navy, and it’s disgusting,” he added.
What Now For McCaffrey?
There’s a probability that McCaffrey might be allowed to remain within the Air Drive.
After a sequence of HuffPost investigations in 2019 helped uncover 11 members of Id Evropa within the navy, no less than 4 others had been allowed to stay within the service, together with — as HuffPost realized solely just lately — Airman Dannion Phillips.
Leaked Id Evropa chat logs confirmed Phillips becoming a member of the group in 2018, after he was already within the Air Drive, and later posting images of Id Evropa propaganda he had positioned all through Oklahoma Metropolis.
Stefanek, the Air Drive spokesperson, confirmed to HuffPost final week that Phillips continues to be within the Air Drive, however didn’t elaborate on why he hasn’t been kicked out of the navy, or whether or not he’s confronted any self-discipline or punishment for belonging to a white nationalist group.
That Phillips and three different Id Evropa members had been allowed to remain within the navy suggests the customarily uneven self-discipline doled out by commanders to extremists of their ranks.
That is due, partially, to vagaries within the navy code.
A Protection Division directive, final up to date in 2012, says that navy personnel “should not actively advocate supremacist, extremist, or legal gang doctrine, ideology, or causes.” It additionally says that service members “should reject energetic participation” in organizations that promote such causes.
In response to McCausland, the retired Military colonel, the important thing phrase in that directive is “energetic.”
“If I’m not an energetic member of an [extremist] group anymore — I’m not going to conferences, I’m not contacting them by way of the web, I’m not doing Zoom calls … then I’m undecided that present regulation precludes me from simply being a member,” McCausland defined.
Put one other approach: A Ku Klux Klan member may be in the usmilitary, simply so long as he’s now not attending cross burnings.
What this all means for McCaffrey’s future within the navy is unclear. Although deeply entrenched within the alt-right, he’s now not in Id Evropa and doesn’t seem to have been a member of a proper hate group for years.
And may his superiors ask him about his extremism in mild of this story, McCaffrey might simply declare he doesn’t maintain these views anymore.
In February, Kirby, the Pentagon spokesperson, admitted that in relation to retaining extremists out of the navy, recruiters’ fingers are sometimes tied.
“Till [recruits] signal on the dotted line, they’re personal residents and there are limits to what the navy can do,” he mentioned.
It’s now as much as McCaffrey’s commander to determine what punishment, if any, he’ll face.
His extremism confirmed no indicators of waning within the months earlier than he joined the Air Drive. A number of images and tweets present McCaffrey attending a “Cease the Steal” rally in Washington, D.C., on Nov. 14, 2020 — a precursor to the Jan. 6 rebellion.
In a single photograph, posted by a reporter from The Every day Dot, he may be seen sporting a Make America Nice Once more hat, standing alongside a gaggle of white nationalist activists led by Nick Fuentes — an in depth ally of McCaffrey’s, and a frequent visitor on “The Weekly Sweat.”
McCaffrey didn’t journey to D.C. on Jan. 6, when Fuentes reportedly helped lead the violent rebellion on the Capitol, however he seems to have cheered on the insurrectionists from afar.
In a non-public chat group run by McCaffrey’s “Weekly Sweat” co-host, the contents of which had been obtained by the impartial media collective Unicorn Riot, a consumer by the title of “Phubris,” whom different customers generally known as “Shawn,” expressed glee on the violence unfolding on the Capitol.
“Tomorrow may suck,” Phubris wrote. “However tonight, the white man woke up.”
The ultimate message within the chat group posted by Phubris got here just a few weeks later, on Jan. 26. It was the identical day McCaffrey held up his proper hand and took his oath of enlistment within the Air Drive.
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