Monday, August 9, 2010

Rick Cooper's "Brief History" and the Defamation of Matt Koehl

Generally when I use the words Brief History on this Web log I am referring to an anonymous work.

However, before this anonymous work titled A Brief History of the White Nationalist Movement, there was another, much shorter work, with a very similar title, A Brief History of White Nationalism, written by Rick CooperCooper at one time had been a member of Rockwell's National-Socialist White People's Party, and had some acquaintance with most of the people that his history attacks.  Cooper was the NSWPP Business Manager from 12 August 1978 to 5 February 1980, under Matt Koehl.

When was this written?  Cooper's reference to the former Church of the Creator property "recently sold" by Dr. William Pierce (in 1994) suggests that his Brief History was  composed mainly in the mid-1990s.  The final section called "Current State of the Movement" may have been written later.  Cooper died in 2006.

  
Cooper's Thesis

Rick Cooper in his Brief History states a constructive purpose.  He describes a transition from the Old to the New Movement.  He sees this as progress and he wants to caution newcomers against being influenced by figures from the Old Movement.
The Old Movement, according to Cooper -- especially its uniform-wearing "nazi" aspect -- had started with financial support fr0m Jews and was laden with homosexuals.  Cooper alleged that Jews were able to control the Old Movement (after the death of Rockwell) because it was led by immoral people with skeletons in their closets.

Cooper sees 1979-1984 as a transitional period, beginning with the Greensboro Incident and ending with the death of Bob Mathews. This was a period of financial difficulty for the existing White Nationalist organizations, but it was also a period in which more radical elements appeared.

During this 5-year period, most of the White Nationalist Movement activity was done by five groups, and most of the Movement activists were active with one of these five groups - the National Socialist White People's Party (NSWPP) under Matt Koehl, the National States Rights Party (NSRP) under J. B. Stoner and Dr. Edward R. Fields, the National Alliance under Dr. William Pierce, the New Christian Crusade Church (NCCC) under James K. Warner, and the Knights of the Ku Klux Klan (KKKK) under David E. Duke.
[...]
All of the above group leaders know each other, and each of these, except for Dr. Pierce, has something to hide in his personal life and/or background about which he is very sensitive and fears exposure to his supporters and general public as he knows such would cause him to lose his current relative position of prestige within the Movement - not to mention a significant decrease in financial support.

Only Dr. William Pierce, among the five members of the "clique" of "dinosaurs" left over from the Old Movement, had no such skeleton in his closet, but Cooper dismissed Dr. Pierce's activities as of little value.

The New Movement, as Cooper saw it, consisted of skinheads* and generally more adventurous people, who, he thought, could not be controlled by the Jews.

The vast majority of Movement activists today are Skinheads and other young people who know nothing about the con-artists who await them.  It is unfortunate that many of our new activists and various supporters will learn about these dinosaurs (because they are outdated) and mossbacks (because they accomplish little) through bitter experiences. We hope to save a lot of people a lot of trouble.
To keep things in perspective, we must give credit where due. The Clique all contributed to the earlier stages of the Movement in their own ways. In fact, many of us entered the Movement through The Clique's organizations. Today, some of The Clique still contribute to the Movement and are worthy of support in some ways. We will not tell you whom to support, but we advise that you carefully weigh the pros and cons of those whom you plan to support before you make a final decision.

Cooper portrays the Old Movement as a rude beginning that should be surpassed with new leaders.  In his addendum, "Current State of the Movement," Cooper identifies as "outstanding" figures Pastor Richard Butler, Tom Metzger, Gerhard Lauck, and George Dietz.


Cooper's Bias

One might disagree with Cooper as to the worthlessness of Dr. Pierce's work in the 1990s.  Many people were brought into White Nationalism through Dr. Pierce's weekly radio broadcasts.  The SPLC's Mark Potok has acknowledged that at the time of Dr. Pierce's death in 2002 the National Alliance was by far the most significant force in White Nationalism.

Cooper's disenchantment with Dr. Pierce may have been due to the fact that he refused to be drawn into any conflict with Matt Koehl.  Cooper seems to have felt as if he were an outsider looking in on an old boys' club, which he resented and called "the Clique."

Some of Cooper's contentions, particularly the alleged homosexuality of Matt Koehl, seem to be beyond reason. Cooper maintains that contention even though he could find none of the documentation that he sought and even in spite of testimony to the contrary.

Cooper's main stated reason for believing that Koehl was a homosexual (apart from rumors about alleged incidents that Cooper could never confirm) is that Koehl, in spite of his high intelligence, was a weak leader who avoided dealing with problems.  Since anybody who is intelligent (one might suppose) should be a good leader, Cooper explained Koehl's ineffectiveness as due to blackmail from Jews about his closeted perversion.  Obviously this is quite a leap.

The rumor about Koehl, however,  apparently had already existed.

Early in his Brief History, Cooper presents us with an alleged case of forced sodomy of a minor from 1955 where the alleged evil-doers were the three leaders of the Free Ezra Pound Committee: Matt Koehl,  Eustace Mullins, and attorney Edward Fleckenstein, allegedly a Jew.  That horrific  incident sets the stage for Cooper's tale of progress. 

But did it even happen?

That egregious crime, if we are to take the story at face value, was never prosecuted despite the arrest of the three culprits. Cooper could find no documentation even about the arrest despite visiting the police department where the arrest supposedly occurred and being allowed to view their arrest files. One of the three alleged homosexual rapists, Fleckenstein, is a well known attorney who was never disbarred.

I checked Google News Archives and found nothing.  You can find news items from the 1950s  mentioning Eustace Mullins, Matt Koehl, and Edward Fleckenstein, but nothing about this alleged incident.  No news report about a homosexual rape by three "nazis"?  I think that would have been reported in the New York Times.  In 1955 they would have been lucky not to be lynched for such a crime.

This all seems highly unlikely.

Then Cooper recounts this rumor about something that allegedly happened in 1960:

Years later, Crommelin told former deputy commander of the American Nazi Party (ANP), Karl Allen**, that Mullins and Koehl were queers. Karl Allen later told former ANP member Christopher Bailey, and Chris then told Director Cooper in the early 1980s.

That story lacks credibility on its face simply because it is several generations removed from the source.  Cooper was never able to verify that this incident occurred. Neither Admiral Crommelin nor Karl Allen responded to Cooper's registered letters about the matter in the early 1980s, nor was he able to find any court record of a restraining order that Crommelin had allegedly filed against Koehl and Mullins.  Cooper left no stone unturned, and still came up empty-handed.  J.B. Stoner also did not answer.  Ed Fields did answer, but the answer that he gave wasn't what Cooper wanted to hear:

Director Cooper wrote to Ed Fields on February 28, 1982, asking specific questions about what happened to cause Admiral Crommelin to boot Eustace Mullins and Matt Koehl off his Wetumpka farm in late 1959 and 1960, as well as what he knew about Koehl's homosexual background.

At least Fields answered the letter, but his statement that he had heard nothing bad about Koehl is not believable - these guys all know each other going back at least 2 decades!

At some point you have to face the fact that what "everybody knows" might not be true.   It might  just be a rumor!  People love their rumors.

Furthermore, the propagation of rumors as a means of fragmenting and demoralizing dissident groups had been standard practice for the FBI under COINTELPRO, 1956-1971.

The bottom line about Cooper's Brief History is that it is an expression of personal opinion, and Cooper really makes no secret that it is a biased opinion.  Cooper says that Matt Koehl had "double-crossed" him 14 years earlier, although he does not explain how.  We can infer from the fact that Cooper only quit working for Koehl in 1980 that he probably had ignored any rumors about Koehl until then.

While Cooper's history is biased and impeachable in its own way, the man at least took responsibility for what he wrote.  Cooper specifically disapproved of anonymous rumormongering:

This report is not a continuation of Deguello, which is an anonymous 54-page report published in the 1970s and which contained a mixture of truth and lies about many prominent people in the White Nationalist Movement at the time. There is nothing sneaky or anonymous in this report.


Cooper vs. Covington

Behind Cooper's stated benevolent purpose of cautioning newcomers lurked a vendetta against Matt Koehl, and to a smaller degree against others like William Pierce and David Duke who didn't support that vendetta. From this personal motive he derived the generalization that the Old Movement was essentially bad. (The basic concept of the Old Movement, New Movement distinction probably comes from Richard Butler, who made some statement about the new, more radical generation of racial activists in the early 1980s.)

Covington (making use of Cooper's material in 2007) had gripes against Koehl too. Covington attacked Koehl under the pseudonym "Luther Williams" circa 1994 (and probably on other occasions too); thereafter Koehl supplied a packet of information to Will White Williams for his successful libel suit against Covington. Covington also had grudges against some of the other people that Cooper criticized, because some of the same people that had not cooperated with Cooper's vendetta also supported Ben Klassen and W.W. Williams in their conflict with Covington.

Moreover, it is a major theme in Covington's rhetoric that practically all White Nationalist leaders are unspeakably rotten (with the noteworthy exception of Covington himself). Cooper's generalization about the corrupt old guard vs. the idealistic newcomers therefore appears to support some but certainly not all of Covington's position.

Cooper's complaints thus provided convenient material for Covington. Large parts of Cooper's Brief History were incorporated into Harold Covington's anonymous Brief History without credit. Some parts were rewritten or augmented with commentary that twists the meaning. As usual, the changes made by Covington to his source material are almost entirely on the side of making it more defamatory. Covington also removes the indications of questionability that Cooper left in.

Since Cooper was recently (November 2006) deceased, nobody could consult him about the accuracy of these expanded attacks (appearing in 2007). We hear the protest that Rick Cooper wrote a lot of the material in the anonymous Brief History, and the similarity of titles between Cooper's work and the anonymous work adds to the confusion. Some careful reading will show that there are very significant differences between Cooper's work and what Covington did with it.


Removing Cooper's Expressions of Doubt

Covington plagiarizes Cooper's repetition of the rumor that Admiral John Crommelin had caught Matt Koehl and Eustace Mullins doing perverted acts in his basement in 1960, but he redacts Cooper's honest admission that he was never able to get confirmation and replaces it with this vague declaration:

Crommelin never made any secret of this incident and willingly discussed it with whoever was interested, and yet it stands as yet another example of the odd veil of secrecy which seems to shelter these early Movement figures such as Koehl, Mullins, and Benny Klassen when it comes to their perverse sexual predilections. Anyone who discusses these things, or attempts to discuss them, can never seem to get any traction on the issue and is usually silenced or victimized shortly thereafter in some odd way or another. Harold Covington has been subjected to years of vicious persecution, slander, and vilification because of his constant refusal to maintain a discreet and respectful silence over acts of perversion and skullduggery within the Movement, and his demands for the imposition of some kind or moral standards or code of conduct on the Movement’s self-appointed “leaders.”


Thus the fact that the whole account is questionable, which Cooper was sufficiently conscientious to let us see, is hidden from us by Covington, who furthermore cannot resist injecting a swipe at his favorite target, Ben Klassen, and an ironic promotion of himself as the only virtuous man in the movement.


Unreasonable Elaboration and Addition of Fictitious Confirmatory Details

Cooper very briefly, with a single subordinate clause, insinuated that there might be something questionable about Koehl's lineage.

Whether Koehl's actions are based on genetic background (His father is Rumanian and his mother's maiden name is Bierbaum) ...

That is the full extent of Cooper's speculation about Koehl's racial heritage. Covington took that one tin drum and built a whole marching band around it. The paragraph below is clearly an expansion of Cooper's brief comment because the parenthetical clause from Cooper reappears in pieces, and the rest of the paragraph is an attempt to answer the question "Whether Koehl's actions are based on genetic background" with an aye that will seem credible due to the large amount of verbiage devoted to it.

In the mid-1980s Rick Cooper was able to get hold of a copy of Matt Koehl’s birth certificate, and he discovered that while his father was Romanian, probably of German descent (there are many Saxon Germans in Romania) his mother’s maiden name was Ruth Bierbaum, which is about as Jewish-sounding a name as it’s possible for a woman to have. Since Ruth Bierbaum was presumably born in Romania as well, at a time when the country was almost one third Jewish, it has been impossible to establish Koehl’s actual racial antecedents, but his swarthy skin and greasy hair were always noteworthy within the Movement. There is an excellent probability that Koehl’s mother was Jewish, which would make him Jewish under rabbinic law, since descent is determined on the female side because “no one can truly know the father save the mother.” (A fancy Talmudic way of saying that Jewish women are such sluts that the mother is the only parent who can be reliably determined.) Plus there was the strong suspicion, never completely dissipated, that Koehl was somehow involved in Rockwell’s murder, as well as the constantly hovering rumors about the 1955 New York buggery case, and the well-known fact of Koehl’s open aversion to women.

Note that Cooper did not say that Koehl's mother's name was Ruth; he only gave her surname, Bierbaum, which is quite German. Covington added the Hebrew given name Ruth. Even if that is accurate, there is no reason why a woman named either Ruth or Bierbaum must be Jewish, and the other allegations to which Covington refers as forming a coherent picture with this allegation of Jewishness are not proven either. This is a lot of nothing being made to look like something simply by talking it up.

As for the alleged "open aversion to women" (offered as evidence for Koehl's being a Jew) it seems that Koehl enforced a rather old-fashioned moral code within the NSWPP that brought him into conflict with members (e.g. Joe Tomassi) who had embraced the looser morals of the 1970s, and who may have made some extravant accusations in response. Koehl has been married for several decades to the NSWPP's former office secretary, Barbara von Goetz.


Disagreement about Rockwell's Death and Why Koehl Succeeded Him

Regarding how and why Matt Koehl came to succeed George Lincoln Rockwell as leader of the NSWPP, Cooper writes this:

On August 25, 1967, George Lincoln Rockwell, Commander of the NSWPP, was assassinated in a laundromat parking lot in Arlington, Virginia, by John Patler [Patsalos].

The NSWPP members went through the protocol of selecting a new leader. The majority of the members present selected Major Matthias Koehl, Jr., to succeed as the new NSWPP leader.

[...]

Some of you people may wonder why anybody supported Matt Koehl at all but you must consider that many of these dedicated people were faced with the choice of NSWPP under Koehl or no NSWPP at all so, since there was no "proof" of Koehl's homosexuality or background, they backed Koehl.

Considering the other high ranking NSWPP members at the time, Dr. William Pierce, the NSWPP National Secretary, told Director Cooper personally that he often viewed Koehl as an "island of sanity amid a sea of insanity."


Compare the corresponding passage from the anonymous Brief History, which is not from Cooper but is an elaboration of a passage from Covington's 1998 "A Brief History of National Socialism in North America." The first sentence quoted below is verbatim from Covington's acknowledged work, except for the insertion of the name Matthias Koehl.*** Note the rumor-mongering and conspiracy-theorizing that is not found in Cooper:

Commander George Lincoln Rockwell was murdered in Arlington on Friday, August 25th, 1967, under circumstances which have never been satisfactorily cleared up, but which point to at least peripheral involvement on the part of Matthias Koehl, the man who succeeded him as leader of the Party.

[...]

The whole murder case has been buried for years, and several journalistic and literary attempts to re-open it have been met with a stonewalling and in some cases with outright threats and intimidation from official sources, which have frightened the would-be authors into silence.

[...]

The events immediately surrounding the death of Commander Rockwell are very murky. The NSWPP members allegedly went through the protocol of selecting a new leader, but many key members were not consulted.

[...]

There have been persistent rumors down through the years that on the night of Commander Rockwell’s murder, Captain Robert Lloyd and Dr. William Pierce broke into Commander Rockwell’s safe and destroyed his political testament.


Although Cooper hated Koehl, he represents the process whereby Koehl became the leader of the NSWPP as honest, and he admits that in some ways Koehl may have been the best man available for the job. Cooper does not insinuate that Koehl and some accomplices were involved in Rockwell's assassination. Those are embellishments that appear in Covington's anonymous Brief History but not in Cooper.

Cooper does give vent to a suspicion that there was more to the Rockwell assassination than just the lone nut "Patler," but he thinks that it was a Jewish conspiracy that put Patler up to it and not a conspiracy among leading members of the NSWPP.

The anonymous Brief History augments and twists Cooper's account of how Koehl succeeded Rockwell in order to convert it into a broad and lurid innuendo of conspiracy within the movement. Based on what? Based on completely vague claims and "persistent rumors" conveyed to us from an anonymous source who doesn't even say where he got it. We can say however that he didn't get it from Rick Cooper.


Cooper's View of Covington as a Source

Using the Wayback Machine I found this passage attributed to Rick Cooper. It was posted on Harold Covington's late 1990s "NSWPP" site by somebody calling himself John Hammer:

For a number of years now, our associates have questioned Harold Covington's sincerity in the Movement versus his psychiatric status after reading his allegations against other people and groups. Any investigation into this area would be merely academic. The important thing to understand is that Harold Covington, for whatever reason, is neither a reliable source of information nor competent to critique the Movement. (Rick Cooper, Editor, NSV Quarterly, Vol. 13, January-March 1995)

_____________________
* The anonymous Brief History differs with Cooper's Brief History about the auspiciousness of the skinhead phenomenon, dismissing it  as "an urban gang culture."  Harold Covington just happened to use exactly those words in a 2004 essay, "The Protocols of the Learned Elders of Honky":   "The one exception to the Protocols is Skinhead, which has wandered away from its origins and mutated into an urban gang culture, and now operates under those anthropological canons."  This was probably an easier assessment to make in 2004 than in 1994.

** Assuming that Karl Allen really did pass on such a rumor -- which may not be true -- there is reason to be circumspect about Allen and his associates as sources of information about Koehl since their relationship with him and the rest of the post-Rockwell NSWPP (and indeed with Rockwell himself after 1964) was inimical for other reasons. A newspaper item from 1968 describes Karl Allen's relationship to the NSWPP at that time:

A schism -- of a type that probably caused Rockwell more trouble than any other single thing -- has developed into a complete split within the party. Rockwell used to call it "the problem of reconciling my thinkers, my intellectuals, and my doers, my strong men of action."

An FBI agent described it as "friction between the weirdos and the rednecks. The weirdos like to spin dreams about ruling the world. The rednecks want to go break heads."

However the two factions are characterized, the former is now grouped around Matthias Koehl in Arlington, and the latter around Karl Allen, of Alexandria, Va., late of the White Citizens Council, whose wing calls itself the "white party." The Arlington group busies itself with producing reams of literature, ranging from crude broadsides and reprints of that ancient hoax, "the protocols of the learned elders of Zion," to scholarly-looking quarterlies.
The Alexandria group is not much heard from, although Allen is doing what he can to further the presidential campaign of George Wallace. [Hank Burchard, The Windsor Star, 28 September 1968]

This report accurately states that there was a division among men who at various times had supported Rockwell, but the uninformed reader would understand this split to be a result of Rockwell's death, which it was not. Karl Allen had left Rockwell's organization and founded his American White Party three years before Rockwell's death. One would expect a certain amount of resentment between two such groups, and criticisms of the leadership of the post-Rockwell NSWPP attributed to Karl Allen should be considered in that light. To be fair however, the FBI agent's implied characterization of Karl Allen (a native of Tallahassee, Florida) as a "redneck" seems unfair given that Allen had elsewhere been described as "a dapper Harvard graduate" (The Miami News, 22 May 1962).


*** Covington avoided all mention of Koehl's name in  A Brief History of National Socialism in North America, which is rather like avoiding any utterance of  Goering or Goebbels in a history of the NSDAP.  That work was openly connected to Harold Covington, unlike A Brief History of the White Nationalist Movement, wherein Covington libels Koehl from behind a thin camouflage of anonymity.

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