Extreme Makeover: The Case of the Creators

Nineteen-year-old Kyle Anderson wants the world to know that he’s out to change the image of white supremacists like himself. “People used to think of a guy with a beer belly spitting out tobacco and missing a few teeth,” Anderson told the Billings [Montana] Gazette earlier this week. “Now we think of people who are determined, energetic leaders, educated and idealistic, we’re the best creators. We’re the elite.”

Well, sort of. Anderson, a former associate of racist skinhead gangs, is now a member of the Montana Creators Assembly — one of several splinter groups that emerged from the wreckage of the neo-Nazi World Church of the Creator (WCOTC). And the history of that group (whose name was changed in 2002, after a non-racist Oregon church sued over copyright infringement) does not suggest that “Creators,” in the past or today, are the “elite,” let alone “educated and idealistic.”

Started as the Church of the Creator in 1973 by Ben Klassen, a former Florida state lawmaker who was state chairman of segregationist George Wallace’s 1968 run for president, WCOTC specialized in popularizing particularly guttural language, with Klassen ranting incessantly about “niggers,” “the goddamned mud races” and, in a cry that became a slogan, “Racial Holy War.” In 1991, a Creator “reverend” murdered a black Persian Gulf War veteran in Florida. Around the same time, a man who had served prison time for selling millions of pounds of tainted meat to schools was briefly named Klassen’s successor. Another man who led the group briefly was convicted of planting a bomb on a police officer’s porch. In 1993, after Klassen committed suicide, eight people with links to COTC were charged with plotting to bomb a Los Angeles church and assassinate Rodney King. The Washington state director of the group bombed an NAACP office the same year. And time didn’t soften the group’s taste for criminal thuggery. In 1999, a member went on a rampage, murdering two people and injuring at least nine. In 2005, its then-leader, Matt Hale, was sentenced to 40 years for soliciting the murder of a federal judge. Throughout, various Creators were arrested regularly for street violence, drug use and even shoplifting.

But Anderson, buttoned down in a burgundy dress shirt and clutching preparatory notes for his interview with the Gazette, complained that his group’s hopes — for a bloody national race war against blacks and Jews followed by the creation of an all-white country — are misunderstood. “A lot of people against us have never read, never looked into our program,” he said. “They’ve been brainwashed.” Kind of like Kyle Anderson.