Former white nationalist hopes to heal wounds left from hate
In Montana, Scott Kelley Ernest helps others who’ve left an ideology they once 'normalized' & recruited for
Pic: Ernest in a recruitment photo promoting a white nationalist haven, “Pioneer Little Europe Kalispell.”
White supremacist ‘normalcy’
“It’s like an addictive cult that spreads like an infection that spreads among the populace," Scott Kelly Ernest said in describing the white supremacist ideology they once adhered to.
"It gets into your mind, and you start getting the dopamine hits from going after the ‘libtards’ or threatening people.”
How an otherwise easygoing, amicable, and pacifistic Ernest found themselves in such a world where they even ended up moderating on the infamous Stormfront Nazi website and promoted a “Pioneer Little Europe” white supremacist haven in Montana is a story in itself, and they now use that experience to help those who fell into white supremacist rabbit holes stay away via the Hands of Eir program.
In the Heathen religion (pre-Christian Norse and Germanic religions) Ernst has practiced since they were 12, Eir is the Goddess of Healing. In fact, it’s how they inadvertently ended up coming across white supremacists online circles in the early 2000s.
“If you're searching for heathen stuff, unfortunately you come across a lot of white nationalists who’ve co-opted a lot of their symbology,” Ernst said. But also because of this, "We figured it was kind of fitting to use a Goddess of Healing."
Because it’s like an addiction, one cannot quit unless they truly want to. As such, Ernest says they don't ‘deradicalize’ anyone from their personal beliefs.
Instead, by the time people reach out to Hands of Eir, they’re usually already done with the movement and sincere about changing their lives, and for the most part already a “former.”
They cited a recent example where someone sought him out on his own.
“Nobody made him decide to contact me,” Ernest said. “Instead, in his particular case, he kind of was like, ‘I screwed up there, and I want to make sure I don’t screw up in the future.’ That’s the type of person who’s hit rock bottom, and you can kind of trust that they’re leaving.”
Ultimately, he says, “We’re giving them a social network and group where people understand what they’re going through. They’re basically deradicalizing themselves, we’re just being there for them.”
On the flip side, “If I don’t believe somebody is being sincere–like using it as a get of jail for free card–that’s not someone I’m going to help," Ernest says."If they’re not wanting to get out of that life and don’t’ think they’re doing anything wrong, they’re going to dig in their heels, and call you names—groomer or whatever they want to call you."
Sometimes, it is more nuanced. “Maybe they’re facing legal issues, or maybe they’re facing a lawsuit and they want to make those problems go away. Those people are harder to gauge if they’re serious or not,” Ernst says.
They noted how one Oath Keeper pretended to be apologetic prior to his sentencing in his January 6th role, before yelling “Trump won!” after he was sentenced to ten years.
Another person they met who slid back into white supremacy claimed it was now okay if Trump supporters were normalizing it.
In November 2022, Trump had dinner with renowned Holocaust denier Nick Fuentes, a person who’s also openly said, "Hitler was a pedophile and kind of a pagan. It's like, well, he was also really fucking cool. ... This guy's awesome, this guy's cool."
Counterpoint: How about no, creepo.
Congressional Representatives Marjorie Taylor Greene and Paul Gosar spoke at Fuentes's America First Political Action Conferences, and the lines of lines of those who call themselves Christian Nationalists (as Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene and Fuentes call themselves), white nationalists, and white supremacists on over to full-blown Nazis frequently overlap.
“This meme is very real.” Actual quote by MTG
In fact, Florida Governor and presidential candidate Ron DeSantis recently was forced to fire speechwriter Nate Hochman–who was also a former staff writer for the popular conservative National Review magazine–when it was revealed he’d created and shared a campaign video of DeSantis depicted in front of Nazi imagery.
Tired of Nazi dog whistles, dude just said, “Fuck it! I’mma go Nazi foghorn!”
In praising Fuentes in 2021, Hochman had said, “I think Nick’s probably a better influence than Ben Shapiro on young men who might otherwise be conservative.”
After Gosar attended the 2021 AFPAC,neo-Nazi and Daily Stormer editor Andrew Anglin wrote, "Getting a sitting congressman to appear is just fantastic. This is exactly how you would go about achieving … normalcy.”
And appearing to the “normies” is what Ernest excelled at. “I used to say I wasn’t a supremacist, only a nationalist,” they said in a January 9th, 2021 tweet–3 days after the January 6th Capitol takeover. “Functionally though, there wasn’t much difference. I was a hate recruiter. My job was to normalize hate and I was good at it. … Being able to normalize supremacy made me arguably worse than a 1488er.”*
*“The 14 words” is a reference to a phrase promoting a white ethnostate coined by Nazi David Lane who was convicted of terrorism in his part for killing a Jewish radio host who was shot 12 times in Denver in 1984; and 88 denotes Heil Hitler as “h” is the 8th letter in the alphabet.
They said, “I’ve met mass murderers, and that’s something that can give me PTSD knowing that I’ve unfortunately been around these people. I was Facebook friends with Anders Breivik!”
😥 Bastard Nazis.
In Oslo, Norway on July 22, 2011 Breivik murdered eight people with a car bomb before traveling to the island of Utøya where he murdered 69 people—mostly teens—attending a leftist-based Workers Youth League summer camp.
At a parole hearing in January 2022, Breivik kept giving Hitler salutes in the courtroom and said he’d continue to work for white supremacy—although he bizarrely claimed through non-violence this time.
But such claims are always uttered by those harboring accelerationist, fascist ideologies who dehumanize others as lesser, for the flames and fires of bigotry must constantly be fueled with hate until it erupts into violence they barely even pretend to condemn, but justify.
“Insist” on doing what? Being born LGBTQ?
While Ernest had always personally and even stanchly denounced the violence committed by those committing it, they found themselves “still agreeing with ninety percent of what these people were saying otherwise" while manipulating others into believing it, too.
So how did Ernest find himself in such a world?
Down the rabbit hole of hate
It was, ironically, through Ernest's personal disdain of violence that they found himself in an ideology that all too often frequently led to it.
When searching for fellow Heathen communities online and coming across white supremacists message boards and chats, they initially dismissed said ideology.
Then they happened to come across disturbing threats against the twin daughters of April Gaede, a fixture in white supremacist circles as she’d made her daughters perform white nationalist-based music under the name Prussian Blue—named so after the color found on the walls of Nazi gas chambers.
Ok, that was…weird—what you just saw. W…T…F?!
The twins now denounce their white supremacy forced upon them as children.
I mean, yah!
Ernest told authorities about the threats which included maps to their home, and they suggested there wasn’t much they could do about it, but maybe they should contact Gaede, so they did, and it sparked a casual friendship.
Ernest met April in person in 2005, and in the years after they started “hobnobbing” with white nationalist leadership at events.
“That’s where I met Don Black, David Duke, Kevin Strom—unfortunately—and that’s where I started hobnobbing—at the time—with the (Nazi) leadership,” they said. “I had instant cred just from knowing April.”
Black and Duke were KKK Grand Wizards, with Black being the 1995 founder of Stormfront. Strom was the leader of The National Vanguard, a splinter group of the Nazi group National Alliance, which the Southern Poverty Law Center describes as “the most dominant neo-Nazi group from the1970s until 2002, when its founder died.”
In 2007, Strom was convicted of child pornography possession, and around this time Ernst was leery of and on his way out of the movement, but after a miscarriage from his girlfriend and breakup, he ended up sliding back “headfirst” into the white nationalist community,” he said. “I became more hostile to those we’d call ‘libtards,’”
Still, he says, during this time, he kept up correspondence with AntiFa figureheads like Daryl Lamont Jenkins of One People’s Project who also helps white nationalists leave the movement, but popularized the sometimes controversial “doxing” technique to thwart their activities.
“Antifa is short for anti-fascist,” Jenkins explained to Al Día News. “You don’t have to wear a black mask or black clothes and break a window as they try to say we do. You have to just be you. You just have to say you will not do this in today’s society. You will not do this in my neighborhood, in my community. That’s what Antifa is.”
Daryl Lamont Jenkins. ⇙⇙⇙ #Legend.
Ernst came up to Montana from Florida and stayed for a summer with April Gaede, and ended up loving it. They eventually founded and recruited members for Pioneer Little Europe Kalispell in Montana, which aims to be a white nationalist haven.
Confirmed: PLE Nazis have poor taste in art.
Ernest said there’s been several PLEs, with most of them in the south that usually quickly collapsed, but the one in Montana had staying power until they finally helped shut it down.
Ernest in a PLE recruitment video.
But while recruiting for PLE, he noticed a large percentage praised violence which included condoning and even celebrating the Norway massacre. “‘You talk about protecting children, yet here you are glorifying killing them all!’'a frustrated Ernest would tell them. “When you start meeting people over and over that advocate violence, you start realizing most of them are psychos.”
Pictured: Psycho Nazis in Missoula earlier this year harassing local LGBTQ folks.
As he became more disillusioned and less involved in Pioneer Little Europe, Gaede let people in who Ernest otherwise wouldn’t have like Grand Rapids, Mich. native David Joseph Lenio, who was arrested in Kalispell in 2015 for making continuous threats on Twitter about going on a “killing spree. He said he hoped to kill at least 30 students at a school and also target Jews until “cops take me out.”
One of many of Lenio’s threats.
“That’s when I flipped out, and just kind of told everyone to ‘F-k off,’” Ernest says, and in July of 2016, they told everyone they'd left the movement for good.
While they still harbored a lot of their rightwing values and prejudices, they hoped to put it all behind them and start a new chapter as they enrolled at Montana State University.
It was aroundfdy this time, however, when the Nazi Andrew Anglin told his The Daily Stormer Nazi website to “troll storm” Tanya Gersh of Whitefish, Montana who’d spoken out against renowned white nationalist, Richard Spencer, who also lives in Whitefish.
While Ernest was mostly indifferent to the harassment Tanya Gersh received, he was disturbed that they’d written an article about featuring private information about 12-year-old son to target. Ernest eventually contacted he Cloudflare web hosting site of The Daily Stormer, who then forwarded their complaint to Andrew Anglin who called them.
This effin’ guy…
“He was just crying and bawling, ‘Why are you trying to get my webpage taking down?!’” Ernest recounts. Anglin then threatened to unleash all of his Nazi troll friends on Ernest like they did to Gersh, to which they replied, “‘Dude, if you’re going to do it, do it. I earned getting everyone to go after me. The Gersh family didn’t. If you want to target someone, go ahead and target me. But stop crying!’”
Couldn’t have happened to a more deserving people.
While he got a few phone calls and messages, he found it amusing they called Montana State University to try and get them fired—even though they never worked for the school. Tired of their calls, they told the Nazis, “Yeah, we fired Scott.”
It became an insider joke amongst staff and Ernest that they were fired from Montana State.
A way out
In February 2020, Ernest would be instrumental in getting the PLE Kalispell Facebook page taken down, thus removing them from all mainstream online platforms. It seemed symbolic that something that had once consumed so much of their life was now effectively gone.
While many young people fall into far-rightwing echo chambers to “own the libs” and "woke" people they feel suppressed their "free speech,” they themselves ironically fall into believing fascistic principals which ultimately seek to oppress and intimidate marginalized voices from speaking out.
They justify authoritarian “free speech for me, but not for thee” stances by dehumanizing LGBTQ people as "pedophiles," for instance, whose Pride events, literature, and even history should be banned in order to “protect the children.”
I was literally cancel cultured.
And lately, LGBTQ-phobia has been a popular recruiting tactic for white nationalists as they harass mainstream political conservative culture war targets like Pride events, drag queen story hours, and trans people. Bullying others while and using the pretense it is justified because ‘you’re the victim’ and ‘protecting the children’ is the playbook for every authoritarian to justify cruelty and eventually violence or at just shrug when it happens.
“Fear and insecurity it starts with,” they said. “Unfortunately, there’s so much people screaming about that in the world, it’s effective.”
Ernest, who’s non-binary and pan/bisexual and has always been open about being LGBTQ even while within the movement. While not wanting to fall back on the 'all LGBTQ-phobes are secretly gay!' trope, still, while at many a white supremacist events, Ernst says with a chuckle, "My gadar would be everywhere!"
I wish someone would look at me the way Nick Fuentes looks at Catboy Kami.😻
And because of this self-loathing amongst formers, if someone had feelings of guilt because they were surrounded by those who so violently shunned LGBTQ folks they remain closeted, Ernest ended up becoming a go-to person for support groups unsure of what to do when a former came out. “I would never ‘out’ anyone in the movement,” they said.
As such, Ernest decided what was sorely needed was someone who catered to and specifically understood LGBTQ people leaving the movement, and thus the Hands of Eir was born to create that safe space for them. Ernest says, “And since I primarily work with LGBTQ formers, many of them have nowhere else to turn and are themselves targeted by former associates.”
Apart from giving people a space where they are able to congregate amongst those able to empathize with their former life which might seem alien to said “normies,” Ernst hopes to do more social-type work.
Often if someone begins to backslide back into the movement, it’s done after hardship befalls upon them. Simple things like someone not being able to pay a phone bill, for instance, can cause frustration and resentment leading one back into a negative mindset where they might feel tempted to relapse back into white nationalism to cope.
“Every former has the possibility of slippage” Ernest says. “Usually, something bad happens with them and they become disillusioned, they go back to what they knew.”
While hearts can change—otherwise Ernst wouldn’t be doing what they do—they bluntly acknowledge most who ferevently believe in white supremacist ideology aren’t going to leave their hateful beliefs.
“There’s a reason a lot of these people are rejected by other social circles,” Ernst said. “They’re simply crappy people, have horrible personalities, and some of these people are the worst people in the world.”
But in working with formers,“It is all also good for me,” Ernest says. “While there are many people out there who might say I’m ‘redeemed,’ I do not. No former is. We are all works in progress. Sometimes, we slip back into our old ways as well. Doing my work helps me as much as it helps those I work with and educate.”
They conclude, “It’s important because people deserve a chance to change.”