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The last time Hatewatch caught up with Craig Cobb, the veteran neo-Nazi and creator of the white nationalist website Podblanc, he was about to be kicked out of his adopted home country of Estonia. That happened. Now, it turns out that Estonia’s loss is Montana’s pain.
Cobb has surfaced in Big Sky Country, where he and fellow white supremacist Zachariah Harp are scheduled to show a Holocaust denial film at the Kalispell Public Library on Sept. 9. A room there was reserved in the name of the “Creativity Religion.”
Cobb and Harp are followers of The Creativity Movement, a self-styled racist and anti-Semitic religious organization that worships no deity, but proclaims that “what is good for the white race is the highest virtue, and what is bad for the white race is the ultimate sin.” (The Creativity Movement is the new name for what was once known as the World Church of the Creator. Its 1990s leader, Matt Hale, is now serving a 40-year prison sentence for soliciting the murder of a federal judge.)
Cobb, 58, founded Podblanc in 2007 after he moved from the United States to Estonia. Modeled after YouTube, the site featured videos with content that included combat handgun training and instructions on how to make Molotov cocktails and other explosive devices, and extolled “lone wolf” terrorism, including hate-crime murders of non-whites and Jews. One popular and deeply disturbing video on Podblanc, which is currently inactive, showed Russian neo-Nazis beheading and shooting Asiatic immigrants. Another featured a log-wielding skinhead bashing in the head of an African immigrant.
One of Podblanc’s avid viewers was Keith Luke, a mentally disturbed young man in Brockton, Mass. Luke is now awaiting trial on charges of shooting to death two West African immigrants the day after President Obama’s inauguration in January 2009, and attempting to kill a third after raping her. During a videotaped interview with detectives, Luke said he spent most of his free time on racist websites, especially Podblanc, which he said “spoke the truth about the demise of the white race.” At his first court hearing, Luke appeared with a bloody swastika freshly cut into his forehead with a prison razor.
After Estonian officials ordered him out of the country last year — because he was seen as a threat to public safety and morals, Cobb said — he showed up in Finland. He was soon deported back to Estonia, where he was jailed, then released and banned from the country for 10 years. From there, Cobb apparently went to Vancouver, had trouble with Canadian authorities because of his white supremacist activities, and moved to Montana.
Harp is a Kalispell native and the son of a former Montana state legislator. He has “been a central player in the Flathead Valley’s white supremacist movement for some time,” said Travis McAdam, executive director of the anti-racist Montana Human Rights Network. The Flathead Valley is in the northwest corner of the state, near Glacier National Park. “There’s been a tremendous upswing in white supremacist activity in the Flathead area over the past two years and adding somebody like Craig Cobb to the mix is not a good sign,” McAdam said.
Cobb is only the latest white supremacist to reserve a room at the Kalispell library to show Holocaust denial films. In the past few months, Karl Gharst has done the same thing under the name of the “Kalispell Christian Alliance.” Gharst’s group also has booked a library room for another film next Tuesday.
Gharst has his own unpleasant history. In 2004, he pleaded guilty to charges stemming from his threatening a social worker who he called a “greasy, turd-colored mongrel” and a “wild savage from the Flathead Indian Reservation,” according to the Daily Interlake newspaper. He also was one of two members of the neo-Nazi Aryan Nations to run for City Council in Hayden, Idaho, in 2003. Both men lost, with Gharst getting a mere 42 votes. Aryan Nations founder Richard Butler — whom Gharst was living with at the time — ran for mayor in the same election and was similarly trounced, getting less than 2% of the votes cast. Butler died the following year.
Members of another white separatist group, Kalispell Pioneer Little Europe, worked with Gharst in organizing the previous film showings. One of them, April Gaede, was arrested along with her husband on misdemeanor charges stemming from a scuffle with somebody outside the library at one of the showings. Gaede, who lives in Kalispell, enjoyed a brief moment of national infamy several years ago as the neo-Nazi stage mom for her teenage twin daughters’ singing duo, Prussian Blue. More recently, she has tried her hand at being a white nationalist matchmaker.
So many neo-Nazis reserving rooms at the Kalispell library has caused some grief for Kim Crowley, director of the Flathead County Library System. “We do get calls from people who are upset. There is some confusion that we are sponsoring the programs.” Now the library requires groups reserving library rooms to give the sponsor’s name and state on their fliers that the library isn’t sponsoring their event. But the groups have been allowed to continue their activities. Crowley says the library is the equivalent of a town square, where people of varying viewpoints can exercise their First Amendment right to speak their minds. “It’s my duty to allow the room to be used for almost anything people want to use it for,” she says.
If Karl Gharst’s experience is a good barometer, Craig Cobb will see far more protesters than sympathizers when he stages his event — thanks in large part to the work of McAdams’ group. The three previous Nazi revisionist films drew perhaps six to 15 people each time, Crowley says. Sign-carrying protesters turned out at all three of them, with more than 250 showing up most recently, Crowley says.