Jason Kessler, the disgraced white supremacist and University of Virginia graduate behind the Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville this summer, has started an organization called New Byzantium. Kessler, in his announcement from late September, claims, “I’m proud to announce the formation of the New Byzantium, a premier organization for pro-white advocacy in the 21st Century.”
His announcement goes on to say, “New Byzantium is a civil rights organization operating through non-violent action. We believe in a robust right to self-defense of our people and heritage which are being ethnically cleansed due to hostile government policies.”
Kessler, while disavowed by other white nationalists like Richard Spencer after the tragic events of Unite the Right, which left one counter-protester dead, has managed to maintain a consistent following on social media. He continues to be propped up by supremacist websites such as Occidental Dissent and the Daily Stormer and has an active following on Twitter. The language used by Kessler to launch New Byzantium is entirely reflective of modern hate speech, which is masked by allusions to western civilization and European heritage – both of which have been powerful recruitment tools for white nationalists, supremacists, and the alt-right.
Statements made by Kessler on New Byzanitum, like, “We maintain traditional values distinct from mainstream society, which in its self-destruction, mirrors other great civilizations which have grown weak and disintegrated,” reinforces the idea of ethno-nationalism espoused by all spectrums of the white supremacist, nationalist, and alt-right movements.
Ethno-nationalism is a form of nationalism and identity politics that defines the idea of nation or statehood through terms of ethnicity, and in the case of Kessler and his cohorts, white European identity.
While Kessler’s new group has only a small following on social media, it provides one more outlet by which violent white supremacy can be advanced throughout the Commonwealth. Indeed, the recent arrest warrant issued by a Charlottesville magistrate against DeAndre Harris from a complaint originating with neo-Confederate Harold Ray Crews is a symptom of the kinds of creeping success that white nationalism can have in Virginia. Harris’ attorney, S. Lee Merritt reinforced this sentiment in a statement, indicating that the charge was part of a campaign by the League of the South to, “manipulate the Charlottesville judiciary and further victimize Mr. Harris.” Kessler has blogged and tweeted in support of the League of the South.
Regardless of his current activities, Kessler was charged earlier this month with felony perjury after lying about an altercation on the Charlottesville mall earlier this year. In one of his posts to New Byzantium, he is asking his supporters to contribute to his legal defense fund which is called ‘GoyFundMe’ – goy is a Jewish term for a non-Jewish person. So far, his campaign has raised $1,604 dollars and earned a significant amount of backlash on Twitter, with one person tweeting, “awww, snowflake wants a handout.”