|Young Ben Klassen with lifelong spouse Henri. (1950s)|
Based very loosely on the Southern Poverty Law Center Intelligence Report, Montgomery, Alabama November 2002, with additions to the Klassen bio and COTC early years sections provided by Slim Deardorff, Matt Hale, Matt Hayhow, Gary Gallo, George Burdi, Carl Messick, and the late Harry Kelly as well as many former COTC members who wish to remain anonymous. - RD
In fact the Brief History's section on Ben Klassen is a very heavily "re-worked" article from the SPLC's Intelligence Report, Summer 1999, titled "A History." Covington's "The Strange Case of Benny Klassen" retains that article's format and much of its text.* It is not apparent that any source named on "Jack88_2005's blog" other than the SPLC was used.
You would expect the SPLC as an anti-racist organization to be among the harshest critics of Ben Klassen, but their material is quite innocuous compared to what was added to it. The SPLC never accused Ben Klassen of rape, fraud, or murder ( apart from civil liability in the case of a Negro that was shot dead because he threatened to kill COTC minister George Loeb with a brick, a case which the SPLC won by default because Klassen was dead and his successor neither responded to the suit nor appeared in court).
If there were some verifiable revelations of impropriety about Klassen from former associates, such as appear in this Brief History, one would expect the SPLC to publicize them, but they do not. As Craig Cobb ("Chain") commented in 2007, "Likely the SPLC knows not to publish such disprovable lies on its website...." It stands to reason that the wild allegations that do not appear in the original SPLC piece -- allegations of sexual perversion, Jewish heritage, weird religious rituals, and a multitude of concealed crimes ranging from fraud to murder -- have no demonstrable basis in fact.
These stories were simply invented by Harold Covington. There is nobody else known for the kinds of bizarre accusations against Ben Klassen that Harold Covington makes, and he has a history of making these and similar accusations at least since 1989. Several of Covington's anti-Klassen smears which appear in the Brief History were also contained in his very nasty essay gloating over Klassen's death in September 1993 (which is substantially or entirely reproduced in all three of Jew Jeffrey Kaplan's books on White Nationalism).
From that essay one gets a hint of the basis of this conflict: Covington had tried to discourage Klassen relocating to North Carolina because that was his own home state and he didn't want competition. This interpretation is confirmed in a letter written by Covington on 5 November 1992 wherein he complained that Will Williams was "trying to deliver the entire racialist movement in North Carolina to Old Benny Buttf-ck on a silver platter."
These smears don't seem to be entirely a matter of unscrupulous competition, though: to continue making false attacks on a man's reputation after he is dead, as Covington has done, seems more an expression of psychopathology than of calculating evil.
Following publication of "Anatomy of a Hypocrite," Covington retaliated by publishing highly imaginative libels against Ben Klassen and his right-hand man of the time, Will Williams, and subsequently against anybody (e.g., William Pierce, Tom Metzger) that seemed to be other than hostile toward them. That is the origin of the smears against Ben Klassen and several other of the people attacked in A Brief History of the White Nationalist Movement.
The malicious bias of the author of the Brief History toward Ben Klassen is evident in the fact that the most noteworthy fact about Klassen prior to founding the Church of the Creator, that in 1955 he had invented an improved form of electric can-opener, marketed as Canolectric, is not even mentioned. There are several references to Klassen's can opener in online news archives. The Hartford Courant of 8 December 1957 mentions that Canolectric was developed by Klassen Enterprises, Inc. The Miami News of 28 July 1958 contains the following note about the product:
A new entry in the field of electric can openers is the Canolectric, made by Robbins & Myers, Inc., Memphis, Tenn., which claims that it is the only fully automatic can opener. It requires no manual piercing of the can lid or manual release of the cutting blade. You just push the button, says the firm, and that's all.
Klassen, former Republican state representative from Pompano Beach, protested vigorously when the board denied his application to register for sale Palms and Pines Ranchos, a Collier County development.
"I don't want to appear contentious," said Klassen. "But I have lived in four countries and I am a refugee from communism and the only nation I chose to live in was the United States. Jabbing his finger at his Constitution he continued, "I contend that when I can't sell my land due to some bureaucratic edict, my constitutional rights under the 14th Amendment have been abridge." "Board Eyes All Isolated Land Sales," from the St. Petersburg Times, 2 November 1968.
Ben Klassen was born in Ukraine to German-speaking Mennonite parents. His family, described in his books as "early victims of Jewish Communism," lived briefly in Mexico and then moved to Canada, where he earned a degree in electrical engineering and a bachelor of arts. In 1945, Klassen settled in the United States and became a citizen three years later. (Sarah Henry, "Marketing Hate", Los Angeles Times, 12 December 1993.)
2. that Klassen was indicted in 1948 along with several others (with Jewish names) for "mail fraud, bankruptcy fraud, and theft from interstate commerce by a Federal grand jury in New Orleans." The author admits however that he really knows of no such indictment when he says, "Details are sketchy." Grand jury indictments are a matter of public record, and it would have been reported in newspapers. A news archive search for 1947-1949 turns up nothing relevant.
Vice-chairman of Dr. Douglass' Wallace organization is Ben Klassen, a Palm Beach Republican, the only member of the Florida Legislature to identify himself as a member of the John Birch Society. ("Wallace Men Feud in Florida," by Charles F. Hesser, from The Miami News, 7 December 1967.)
There is plenty of mention in old newspapers of Ben Klassen's involvement in the 1968 Wallace for President campaign, but no mention of "Jews for Wallace" anywhere.
The only curve in the state's new election law is that no more than 2458 signatures can come from any one county. And there must be petitions from at least 34 different counties in the state with a minimum of 61 signatures on them. But Broward County's Wallace chairman, Ben Klassen, has said this requirement can be easily met and will actually be an aide to Wallace workers in stimulating voter action. ( Wallace Builds Election Machine in Kirk County," from the St. Petersburg Times, 18 January 1968.)
NO. 2 man on the Wallace-For-President Committee is former Rep. Ben Klassen, a Palm Beach Republican who lost out in an attempt to move from the House to the Senate. ("Wallace Supporters In State Gear For January," St. Petersburg Times, 6 December 1967.)
"Jews for Wallace" -Klassen
In the next section you will see confirmation that the detail about "Jews for Wallace" was simply made up.
The first entry in the SPLC's chronology of the Church of the Creator, on which "The Strange Case of Benny Klassen" is very loosely based, is dated 1973 and reads as follows:
1973 Be[r]nhardt "Ben" Klassen, a former Florida state legislator and state chairman of George Wallace's 1968 presidential campaign, announces the formation of the Church of the Creator (COTC) in Lighthouse Point, Fla.
1973 - Benny Klassen, a former Florida state legislator and state chairman of "Jews for Wallace" during Wallace's 1968 presidential campaign, announces the formation of the Church of the Creator (COTC) in Lighthouse Point, Fla.
Covington simply replaced "George" with "Jews for Wallace during" and replaced the respectful form of Klassen's name with the insulting diminutive, "Benny." (Covington also does this to his younger brother Benjamin Covington, referring to him as Benjie.)
In addition to the altered passages from the SPLC's chronology, there are claims that have no basis in it, like this one:
Circa 1973 - At some point in this time period, Klassen is arrested for something, no one is quite sure what.
1978 - Klassen business manager Barry Edwards is murdered in what police call a “gangland style execution.” Edwards’s body is found on June 12th, 1978 in the trunk of a car parked at a public beach in West Palm Beach.
Regarding your inquiry into the death/murder of a Mr. Barry Edwards, our records show a Barry Edwards alive as of April 1984. Without any other details such as his date of birth, social security number, etc., we may not be talking about the same person. I can tell you we don't have, according to our records, a Barry Edwards murdered in the City of West Palm Beach after 1967.
The Brief History has two entries for 1978. The SPLC's entry for 1982 became the first two sentences of the Brief History's second entry for 1978. Why? Probably to make Klassen's relocation to North Carolina conform to a canard under Covington's "Circa 1973" heading that he "needed to get the court’s permission to leave the state [Florida] in 1978." The underlined portions were added by Covington:
1978 - In March, Klassen moves COTC headquarters from Florida to 22 acres of land he has purchased in Otto, N.C., building a personal residence, a three-story church, a small warehouse and a “School for Gifted Boys.” Later in the year, COTC is granted an exemption from state taxes based on its status as a church. This exemption is later lifted by the state and an investigation for mail fraud and fraudulent conversion of funds is launched by the State of North Carolina around 1990. These investigations are eventually dropped without any charges or indictments, and neither the Southern Poverty Law Center, who investigated this incident as part of the Bryson City lawsuit (q. v.) nor anyone else was ever able to obtain any information as to why.
Here Covington alleges that Klassen and the COTC had friction with their North Carolina neighbors in 1980 when in fact the COTC didn't relocate from Florida to Macon County, North Carolina until 1982. This is 100% fiction:
1980 - Klassen stages quasi-Roman Goat Dance rituals on his property, resulting in complaints from Shouting Baptist neighbors to whom these offensive rituals are visible from the highway and from their homes. The Goat Dance is apparently an attempt to invoke the Graeco-Roman god Priapus, also known in mythology as Pan. The ritual involves Klassen dressing in toga-like vestments with a wreath of leafy greenery on his head, and a number of young men or boys dancing around a bonfire largely nude except for loin cloths of some kinds, thong type bathing trunks or athletic supporters. A goat is also present, presumably because of the animal’s connection in myth to Pan, etc. Macon County Sheriff Homer Holbrooks visits Klassen and informs him of the neighbors’ complaints, and the Goat Dance ritual is discontinued, or at least moved indoors.
The son, John, Metzger had submitted an application to become a minister in the COTC in July 1984, when he was 16, and was accepted. Klassen perceived the son as more receptive to COTC's doctrine than his father. According Klassen's own account, during his 1988 visit he intended to discuss with John Metzger, then age 20, the possibility of his taking over the church. The SPLC's entry for 1988 (the part not underlined below) thus appears to be correct.
1988 Klassen, now 70, travels to California to ask John Metzger, son of neo-Nazi White Aryan Resistance founder Tom Metzger, about taking over COTC. Metzger, saying he "wouldn't want to be affiliated with a church," declines. Klassen begins lengthy smear campaign against both Metzgers. The Metzgers reply with pointed comments about Klassen’s sexual orientation. John Metzger tells Skinheads, “If you go to [Klassen’s ashram at] Otto, make sure you sit down and keep your mouth shut.”
The underlined part was added by Harold Covington. Klassen did not accomplish what he had hoped on this visit and left very disappointed. As a result there was some friction between Klassen and Tom Metzger, but Covington has exaggerated it. The claim that the Metzgers made any comment about "Klassen's sexual orientation" is a lie, according to Tom Metzger. Referring to Covington as "Tubby," Metzger sets the record straight:
[Ben Klassen] did say some unkind words about his stay in California at my home in his book. At the time whoever was editing the paper attacked us pretty hard. We never talked about Klassen's sexuality and doubted Tubby's smears very much.... Anyhow after a few nasty statements it smoothed out and I always supported him against unwarranted attacks. Ben had money and was upper-middle class. His my way or the highway is common among that class.
John Metzger continued to be a minister in the Church of the Creator and Tom Metzger calls Creativity his religion today.
The following entries that appear in the Brief History have no connection to anything in the SPLC's "A History." You will note that all three have the element of sexual perversion, and that two insinuate murders for which nobody was prosecuted.
1991 - Skinhead Steve Martell commits suicide after leaving note describing homosexual liaison with COTC “Reverend” Jerry Michael Pace. Martell’s brother Dave vows homicidal vengeance against Pace. Pace disappears; later believed to have re-surfaced in the Movement under several different pseudonyms.
A Google news archive search shows nobody named Martell committing suicide in August 1991. Since no city, county, or state is specified for this alleged event it is impossible to investigate further. "Jerry Michael Pace" the "known homosexual" makes two appearances in the Brief History.
1989 - In July, “Reverend” Harry Kelly is found dead in his New York City apartment of a heroin overdose. Kelly, a former drug user, was believed to have been clean for some time. The last person to be seen with Kelly alive was an unknown white male whose physical description bears a resemblance to known homosexual COTC “Reverend” and suspected government informant Jerry Michael Pace.[...]
According to the obituary in Racial Loyalty (July 1989) Harry Kelly had been COTC's "chief organizer for New York City and beyond." He did die of a heroin overdose after having been clean for some time, on 1 July 1989, after reestablishing connection with old acquaintances who were drug users.
As for the mention of a "known" homosexual in the COTC, this seems practically impossible on its face. The Church of the Creator exalted Nature (e.g. Klassen's book Nature's Eternal Religion), and point 10 of "salubrious living" as outlined in The White Man's Bible (p.61) is "Healthy expression of our sexual instincts." COTC's position on homosexuality would echo that of Thomas Aquinas, that homosexuality is contra naturam. If any "known homosexual" had been tolerated within COTC it would have caused serious dissension.
Covington didn't dare claim that Ben Klassen was a known homosexual, because this would have been recognized on its face as a lie; therefore Covington always accused Klassen of being a secret homosexual. But regarding some obscure figure like "Jerry Michael Pace," it was possible to say everybody knew and be believed by some people, because very few of the readers would have had any knowledge of that person apart from what Covington told them.
Actually, there is no way that anybody could know anything about Jerry Michael Pace apart from what Covington told them. W.W. Williams, who was the number two man in COTC at the time, says that he never heard of any Jerry Michael Pace. That would seem to put this name in the same category as some of Covington's other fictional characters that appear in Covington's Brief History.
1989 - Alabama Klan leader Roger Handley is arrested by the Alabama State Police on gun charges in a nighttime raid. He is found in bed with 17 year-old male COTC “Reverend” Will Satterwhite, thus adding to the general air of homoeroticism surrounding the original Klassen COTC.
This is a distorted reference to something that did happen, not in 1989 but in 1992.** According to The Tuscaloosa News of 24 June 1992, the Invisible Empire's Grand Dragon for Alabama, Roger Handley, was arrested for first degree sodomy of "a male less than 16 years old," and in May 1995 he was found guilty. This incident had absolutely no connection to Ben Klassen or the Church of the Creator.
1990 - On October 12th, 20 year-old former Skinhead Dennis Witherspoon is found dead in a rural area of Dade County, Florida. He has been bound with duct tape and shot several times in the head with a .22-caliber revolver. Witherspoon was known to have been a former COTC “Reverend” who claimed that in the summer of 1989, a year previously, he arrived in the Otto, N.C. compound and was invited to Klassen’s basement rec room for a private showing of Leni Riefenstahl’ s Triumph of the Will. He was given drugged liquor and passed out. Witherspoon then claims he suddenly awoke on the floor, doubled up nude with sofa pillows under him, while Klassen was in the act of sodomizing him, with the movie still playing. Witherspoon jumped up and assaulted Klassen, beating him very badly and extorting a promise of money. Witherspoon claims he was given $10,000 in cash next day and a used car, with which he drove to Florida. The only comment Klassen ever makes about this incident is that Witherspoon was attempting to blackmail him. Florida police write off Witherspoon’s death as a drug-related killing, which may be correct.
The details given here imply that Klassen was a suspect in this "murder" and was questioned about it, but you will find nothing about it in a Google News Archive search. "The Old Order Passeth," an article written by Harold Covington under the pen name Luther Williams, which Covington sent out to readers of his Resistance newsletter in the 1990s, gives (on page 3) 1987, not 1989, as the date of the alleged anal rape: obviously, dates can be flexible in a story that was never based on fact anyway. According to Will Williams there was never a Dennis Witherspoon in the COTC.
For absolute verification, an inquiry was sent to the Miami-Dade Police Department:
Is there any record of a Dennis Witherspoon being found dead in rural Dade County? The claim is that he had been shot several times in the head with a .22-caliber revolver. This is alleged to have happened on 12 October 1990.
On 2 September 2010 Major Rey Valdes of the homicide bureau gave this response:
Thank you for your recent email requesting information related to the death of Dennis Witherspoon, which occurred in Miami-Dade County, on October 12, 1990.
We have researched our records and were unable to locate a homicide case involving Mr. Witherspoon, or matching the description you provided. In abundance of caution, we also contacted the Medical Examiner Department, with similar results.
This means that they could find neither any record of a homicide involving a Dennis Witherspoon, nor any killing of a similar description on or about the specified date.
Major Valdes says that further information, if anybody has any, or further inquiries about the alleged Witherspoon homicide (which evidently never occurred) should be directed to Sergeant Miguel Tabernero of the Homicide Bureau, Miami-Dade Police Department.
The examples given above are typical of the stories that Harold Covington was peddling about Ben Klassen and the Church of the Creator in 1989-1993.
The SPLC's entries for 1997, 1998, and 1999 are reproduced in the Brief History without alteration or addition, probably because Ben Klassen by that time had been dead a few years, so that it was not practical to change those entries in a way that would make them defamatory to him.
Some of the unaltered information from the SPLC has its own problems, affecting people other than Klassen:
1990 - Declaring that church leadership would change "at the top of every decade, on the decade," Klassen announces that Rudy "Butch" Stanko-then serving a six-year sentence for selling tainted meat-will take over once he is released from prison.
According to Rudy Stanko the meat was not tainted. Stanko was the owner of Cattle King Meat Packing , a very large meat-packing business that had been in his family for three generations. Meat-packing is now owned mainly by Jews and Stanko says that they determined to eliminate him as a non-Jewish competitor. The Score is Stanko's book about his ordeal. A real, good-faith history of White nationalism would have given Stanko's side of the story instead of just reproducing the SPLC's hostile summation without comment.
Nor can anything whatsoever from the Southern Poverty Law Center, a private organization which raises millions of dollars by assaulting and destroying the civil rights and liberties of Americans of European descent, be considered in any way a legitimate source of information or validation. Trashing people like me is how Morris Dees makes his millions.
The title of Ben Klassen's and Will Williams' 1989 polemic against Harold Covington, "Anatomy of a Hypocrite," was very well chosen.