Nearly two years after an ill-fated attempt to take control of a tiny town in North Dakota and turn it into an all-white enclave for racists, white supremacist Craig Cobb is once again buying up properties, this time across the Midwest.
So far, Cobb has made efforts to buy properties in Red Cloud, Neb., and has begun eyeing more houses — mostly dilapidated, condemnable homes — in Missouri and Kansas. In an interview with the Kansas City Star, Cobb said he has been making the purchases with the help of others, and that many properties he has purchased have yet to be discovered.
“We have property and people in place in the area,” Cobb told the Star about his efforts in Kansas. “I’d rather not speak to precisely what we have and what we bought except to tell you it’s a lot more extensive than just this.”
While the proclaimed size and scope of his plans may be all bluster, one thing is certain: Cobb is trying very hard to build a Pioneer Little Europe (PLE), a racially conscious community of like-minded racists. As he told the Kearney Hub, his plan was to fix the houses and sell them to “nice, young white people.” But the idea of a PLE at its core is anything but nice.
First proposed in a 2001 pamphlet by H. Michael Barrett, the concept envisions consolidating white people in racially homogenous communities to push out other ethnic groups. In an 83-page prospectus, Barrett refers to PLEs as “Stormfronts of the Street,” a reference to the violently racist online message board Stormfront, and promises the idea will pull together the “culturally homeless, the berserkers, the greatest misfits, the especially angry, those who refuse to run any more, who refuse to bow and scrape, the doers rather than the thinkers, wild dogs in the cellar.”
Cobb, who has spent a lifetime on the racist right, is certainly one of those.
Since the 1970s, Cobb has been a mainstay on the radical right, often preaching the tenets of the Creativity Movement, a racist and anti-Semitic religion that preaches whites are the superior race, true gods, and that progress for human beings has hinged on white domination. He was kicked out of Canada and Estonia for hate speech, and by 2012, Cobb had moved to Montana to answer April Gaede’s call to build a PLE in the state’s Flathead Valley.
Soon afterward, drawn by the promise of employment in North Dakota’s booming oil fields, Cobb took work on a highway crew and settled in Leith, where he quietly began buying properties to sell to hardcore racists like himself.
Hatewatch uncovered his plan, which was the focus of Welcome to Leith, a documentary that debuted at the Sundance Film Festival this year. The film recorded the circus that surrounded his efforts to bring racists to a quiet little hamlet and the legal ramifications after he pleaded guilty to one count of felony terrorizing and five counts of misdemeanor menacing.
Even with that history, Cobb seems unfazed and willing to do it all again.
According to media reports, Cobb purchased a house in Inavale, Neb., for $3,410 and two properties in Red Cloud at a Webster County Sheriff’s sale on Sept. 23 for $25 and $100. Red Cloud Mayor Gary Ratzlaff told Hatewatch those sales are pending a judge’s approval in November. But already, serious questions about Cobb’s intentions have surfaced.
Is this a reiteration of Cobb’s efforts in Leith? Or, is this just a chance for Cobb, who claimed to be “the most famous racist in America,” to once again have a moment of infamy? Cobb has not moved to Nebraska, and cannot without the approval of his probation officer. But already he’s fallen back into an old habit of harassing his critics.
Red Cloud resident Mike Goebel, an Afghanistan veteran, has been a vocal critic of Cobb online and to news media. Cobb, who once posted the address of a judge whose family was gunned down, posted a picture of Goebel’s wife on Stormfront, as well as a link to her Facebook page.
Goebel is not impressed, and he is not scared. “I’ve never been one to run from confrontation, and I’m sure as hell not gonna run from it now,” Goebel told The Guardian. “If they want to come to my house, come on in. Actually don’t come in. And don’t threaten us. Because you will be answered.”
While it remains to be seen what will come of Cobb’s most recent efforts, he’s sure angling to be a slumlord for the racist right, the poster boy of an idea whose time he feels has come. But whether he’s as organized as he was before, or simply traipsing the plains looking for a fight, that’s anyone’s guess.
His fellow racists on Stormfront have had a mixed reaction to seeing Cobb in the headlines. And while there are many cheering, the conversation is not without a healthy share of skepticism.
“I defended Craig Cobb on this forum before,” wrote a poster with the username “LeonidasThe2.” “But this is a bad idea.”