Jason Kessler, the organizer of last weekend’s neo-Nazi rally in Charlottesville and a former contributor to the Daily Caller, tweeted overnight that the death of Heather Heyer was “payback time.” Response in the white nationalist community was mixed, with some distancing themselves from Kessler, others applauding his tweet, and still others floating various conspiracy theories.
Kessler’s tweet referred to Heather Heyer, the woman killed by a neo-Nazi in Charlottesville, as a “fat disgusting Communist” and claimed that since Communists had “killed 94 million” people throughout history, her death was “payback time.” His tweet included a link to the Daily Stormer, a white supremacist site that has been booted by both GoDaddy and Google and has had a hard time finding a home.
The most notable conspiracy theory was floated by neo-Nazi hacker Weev, who said that he had hacked Kessler’s account. Weev, whose real name is Andrew Auernheimer, published a post on the social networking site Gab about two hours after Kessler’s tweet, taking credit for the hateful message. But Weev is known for making outlandish claims and so far there’s been no evidence presented to substantiate the claim that he hacked Kessler.
Other white supremacists who attended the rally in Charlottesville, like Richard Spencer, said that they would no longer associate with Kessler. Spencer, who was a mentor to Trump White House advisor Stephen Miller at Duke University, came to prominence after leading a neo-Nazi rally in November of 2016 while shouting, “Hail Trump, hail our people, hail victory!”
“Hail victory” is English for the German Nazi slogan “sieg heil.”
White supremacist Baked Alaska, who also attended the rally and posted video of himself shouting “hail victory,” also sought to distance himself from Kessler, disavowing “actual racial hatred.” Baked Alaska’s real name is Tim Gionet.
It’s not clear what Gionet means by the tweet, as marching in a neo-Nazi rally seems to be the very definition of “spewing actual racial hatred.” Gionet has seemingly been much more open to the cause of non-violence since getting maced at the rally in Charlottesville, but not open enough to denounce the cause of white supremacy. He also doesn’t seem to understand that things like Holocaust denial and retweeting “Hitler did nothing wrong,” is itself a call to violence.
But there was a broad mix of responses to Kessler’s tweet on Gab, the social network of choice for white supremacists who’ve been banned from Twitter. Some on the network insisted that Kessler’s tweet was proof that he’s actually a “paid plant” controlled by the US government to make white supremacists look bad.
Some so-called alt-right activists have said that Kessler is a secret Barack Obama supporter and even wanted Hillary Clinton to win, basically the worst things you can say in the white supremacist community about other neo-Nazis. Others said that Heather Heyer herself was some kind of government agent.
Several white supremacists insisted that anyone distancing themselves from Kessler were cucks and traitors to the cause of white nationalism. The term cucks has been popularized in the Trump-supporting community as a derivative of “cuckold” and is meant to be a derogatory term for other conservatives.
One alt-right YouTube and podcasting personality, Tara McCarthy, said on Gab that she understood why some people would “lay low” for the time being, but hinted that the idea of disavowing the cause made one a traitor.
Gizmodo has reached out to Jason Kessler for comment and will update this post if we hear back. Heather Heyer couldn’t be reached for comment because she was killed by a neo-Nazi terrorist.
Update, 7:48am ET: Jason Kessler has now deleted the tweet, but has not responded to Gizmodo’s request for comment.
Update, 7:55am ET: Kessler just tweeted, apologizing for the tweet about Heather Heyer and claiming that he was hacked last night.
We have yet to see any evidence to confirm or deny whether Kessler was hacked, but he has previous used the term “payback time” in tweets from June 16, 2017 where he said, “And platforming militantly anti-white academics from
#UVA. Now its payback time. The #altright & right wing will have its day to speak.”
He also tweeted about the Unite the Right rally using the tweet above.
Update, 8:04am ET: And now Kessler just deleted his tweet saying he was hacked for some reason. But I got a screenshot.
I still haven’t heard from Kessler directly.
Update, 10:49am ET: Kessler just sent out two tweets where he no longer claims that he was hacked and instead blames his tweets about Heather Heyer on stress and a combination of alcohol, sleep medication, and anti-anxiety drugs.
Update, 12:54pm ET: It appears that Jason Kessler has either deactivated or permanently deleted his Twitter account. I’ve uploaded screenshots above for all the tweets that were previously embedded.