The white supremacists, nationalists and far-right trolls who starred in last weekend’s violent Charlottesville, Virginia, rallies have suffered no lack of humiliation in the days since. Take “Millennial Matt,” whose catchphrase – “Hitler did nothing wrong!” – earned him tens of thousands of fans before he went to the rally, but his Twitter account has since been deleted, his real identity publicized, and he is now begging fans for money to flee his hometown because “my life is in shambles.” There are plenty of other examples, from the hot dog restaurant cook who lost his job to students whose universities publicly renounced racism after they went to the march. There’s even a Twitter feed devoted to shaming the tiki-torch-lit faces of white nationalism. But none of the marchers soared so high or crashed so hard as Chris Cantwell, who became the ivory-skinned, gun-toting star of a documentary about Charlottesville that aired Monday on HBO – and a week later is better known as the “weepy white supremacist” or “weeping Nazi” who got banned from OkCupid.
For a few triumphant hours, Cantwell was the thick-armed embodiment of white nationalism to tens of millions of people – the star of VICE News and HBO’s Web documentary about last weekend’s rallies, which has been seen more than 30 million times. “I’m trying to make myself more capable of violence!” he says. And violence there was. Men in the streets of Charlottesville wielding Confederate flags like spears. A black man beaten by white men with sticks. Heather Heyer, killed when a car rammed a crowd of counterprotesters, as 19 others were injured. “We’ll f-ing kill these people if we have to,” Cantwell says.
Cantwell’s bravado only increased over the weekend, as news of the violence spread across the country.
He invited the VICE reporter to his hotel room after the marches, where he showed off his high-powered rifles and the 9mm pistols trapped to his ankle. The fatal car strike was justified, Cantwell insisted. The protesters had been “stupid animals.” “Someone died,” the reporter reminded him. “I think a lot more people are going to die before we’re done, frankly,” Cantwell said. End film. Tens of millions of people have since watched it, and Cantwell would freshen his Facebook profile with photos of himself in the thick of the violence. But as the weekend faded, other footage began to circulate. Cantwell had apparently recorded it during the rally, in what appeared to be the privacy of a hotel room. And the famed white separatist appeared to be at the point of tears.