Suspected Neo-Nazi Arrested Before VA Gun Rally Is Actually an Illegal Immigrant
I often suspect I’ve woken up inside a Tom Clancy novel when I open The New York Times app and hear about how the neo-Nazi threat is all around us.
Granted, actual white nationalists are a legitimate problem we shouldn’t underestimate, but I suspect it’s more a question of a bunch of out-of-shape guys in the Idaho wilderness doing some military cosplay rather than a massive secret cabal of alt-righters bubbling just under the tectonic plates of American society, waiting for their moment to erupt through our cultural fault lines and cover us all in the magma of hate.
It can occasionally seem a bit different from time to time.
One of those times came this week when several suspected members of a neo-Nazi group were arrested before a rally in Richmond, Virginia, against gun control legislation being considered by the state’s legislature.
The statehouse in the Old Dominion just recently came under the control of Democrats, who got elected by promising the blue electorate a slate of Second Amendment-baiting laws.
Check out the first few paragraphs of this New York Times story Thursday on the rally and the arrests, which sounds dispiritingly like the Netflix description on a bad 1980s exploitation flick than serious reporting on the subject:
“Alarming calls online for a race war,” the article began. “The arrest of three suspected neo-Nazis. Memories of the explosive clashes in Charlottesville, Va., three years ago.
“A sense of crisis enveloped the capital of Virginia on Thursday, with the police on heightened alert and Richmond bracing for possible violence ahead of a gun rally next week that is expected to draw white supremacists and other anti-government extremists.
“Members of numerous armed militias and white power proponents vowed to converge on the city despite the state of emergency declared by Gov. Ralph Northam, who temporarily banned weapons from the grounds of the State Capitol. The potential for an armed confrontation prompted fears of a rerun of the 2017 far-right rally that left one person dead and some two dozen injured in Charlottesville, about an hour’s drive from Monday’s rally.”
Oh lordy. Northam himself didn’t exactly help the situation by saying, when he declared the state of emergency, that “armed militia groups planned to storm the Capitol.”
The Monday event was organized by the Second Amendment-centric Virginia Citizens Defense League, which has stated that the protest was supposed to be a peaceful demonstration about gun rights.
However, a number of small extremist groups apparently planned to participate in the event and hijack it for their own purposes, which led to the decision by the governor to declare a state of emergency.
“I took this action to protect Virginians from credible threats of violence,” Northam said in a statement. “These threats are real — as evidenced by reports of neo-Nazis arrested this morning after discussing plans to head to Richmond with firearms.”
Megan Squire, a professor who monitors extremist online chatter, somehow managed to make this all sound direr: “They are fanning the flames for this event,” she said. “They want chaos.”
So about those neo-Nazis who were arrested. They’re allegedly members of the Base, which, according to the FBI, is an agglomeration of carbon-wasting individuals who want to start a white ethnostate.
Not exactly the kind of people you want attending your protest — but one hopes, given the arrests, the Base is being effectively tracked by the FBI and that most of its scanty membership will spend far more time in jail than they will in any ridiculous prospective ethnostate.
Once the story got an awful lot of alarmism out of the way, there was some interesting stuff buried in The Times’ article. Take this part, for instance: “One of the men, Patrik J. Mathews, 27, a main recruiter for the group, entered the United States illegally from Canada, according to the officials.”
Yes, an illegal immigrant is considered the ringleader of all of this.
The irony is probably lost on everyone: This guy wouldn’t even pass the most desultory of background checks. He’d crossed into in this country illegally, making the debate over whether he could own a firearm under Virginia’s laws wholly inconsequential to him.
Of course, another irony is that he seems to have had access to guns anyhow, given that he’s charged “with possessing a firearm and ammunition while being in the country illegally,” according to The Times.
And it wasn’t like he just got here for the rally. According to Canada’s Global News, the criminal complaint against Mathews states he entered the country on Aug. 19, 2019. He’s been living in Delaware with Brian Mark Lemley Jr., another member of the Base who was arrested. The two apparently used gun parts to make a “functioning assault rifle” and also tried to make the psychedelic drug DMT.
BREAKING: A missing Manitoba army reservist with alleged ties to a neo-Nazi group has been arrested in the U.S., according to the FBI.https://t.co/52BimS7Evl
— Globalnews.ca (@globalnews) January 16, 2020
Mathews was formerly a Manitoba army reservist who had “disappeared in August after a Winnipeg Free Press report alleged he had been recruiting for the group,” Global News reported.
“Before he was relieved of his duties with the Canadian Armed Forces, Mathews was a combat engineer who had achieved the rank of master corporal with the 38 Canadian Brigade Group in Winnipeg,” the report said. “Defence chief Gen. Jonathan Vance told reporters prior to Mathews’ disappearance that he had been under investigation before the news report was published. Mathews had also applied to leave the Forces.”
Two paragraphs above that buried information in The Times’ story was another tidbit that probably should have been a bit further up.
“The parallels with Charlottesville are inexact because the organizers of Monday’s rally are mainly gun advocates,” the story read. “Charlottesville was a concerted attempt to make far-right, neo-Nazi views more mainstream. There is some overlap among the groups, but the outpouring of online support is an imperfect gauge of who will actually attend.”
This was never supposed to be about extremism. A small number of extremists have tried to hijack the event — and yet the co-mingling of a small number of extremists and a much larger contingent of Second Amendment-supporting Virginians who are outraged about the proposed infringements on their constitutional rights doesn’t seem to have registered with either Democrats or the media, who have treated the rally as if it were all a horde of “armed militia groups [that] planned to storm the Capitol” and that “want chaos.”
We’re not in the midst of a Tom Clancy novel. I’m fairly confident there isn’t a group of white nationalists willing to storm the statehouse in Virginia on Monday, alarmist headlines to the contrary notwithstanding. Almost all of the individuals turning out for Monday’s rally certainly aren’t anything like the tiki-torch degenerates who turned out for the infamous Charlottesville rally in 2017.
If the media wants to pin the responsibility for this week’s arrests on a political phenomenon, they should realize illegal border crossing is just as much — if not more — to blame than peaceful individuals turning out in defense of their Second Amendment rights.
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