For the racist “alt-right” and white nationalist crowd, the song “Charlottesville Ballad (War is Coming)” by “folk” musician Paddy Tarleton (identified as Patrick Corcoran by The News Journal, a newspaper in Delaware) has been the song of late summer in 2017.
Note: This blog post was updated at 6:23 CT.
Released on August 13 on YouTube, the day after the “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville erupted in violence, culminating in the death of 32-year-old counter-protester Heather Heyer when a white nationalist drove a car into a crowd, the song is a paean to racism and violence:
In the year of ’17, on a hot Virginia street
The Jews’ Talmudic army swung toward us
And in the face of death, we had watched our old world sweat
Away and now our war is coming swiftly
Oh how you faggots screamed when you gathered on live-stream
Surrounding cars as they fled while you bragged
Till one of our wagoners drove his black Dodge Challenger
Straight through the horde and killed one of you scumbags
Come out you antifash, come out and get your faces smashed
Show the world how you take refuge in the system
Show ‘em how you cowards hide
Advocate white genocide
Cops and feds are all in bed with the reds
The melody to Tarleton’s hate song is appropriated from an Irish rebel song from the 1920s, “Come Out, Ye Black and Tans,” points out Antony McAleer, co-founder of Life After Hate, a nonprofit created by former members of the far-right racist movement. Back in the ‘90s, McAleer created the first website for Resistance Records, the white power record label connected to the neo-Nazi hate group National Alliance, and managed the racist rock band Odin’s Law.
Tarleton appropriates traditional Anglo-Celtic melodies throughout his catalogue: “The Naming of the Jew,” a typically vitriolic Tarleton song, is set to the music of “Rising of the Moon,” an 1860s ballad about the 1798 Irish Rebellion.
“I use many of these melodies for my own songs because that is the folk tradition,” Tarleton said in an interview with AltRight.com in late June.
McAleer, once an organizer for Tom Metzger’s White Aryan Resistance (WAR), recognizes the sentiment behind Tarleton’s lyricism. “It reminded me of something the old me might have done, in the sense that it’s extremely provocative,” he says. “I’m sure the guy has a very funny sense of humor, he’s probably pretty smart, but there’s a malevolent mischievousness about it.”
Tarleton explains his folk “tradition” as “the soundtrack to our entire historical timeline. Every people the world over makes music that is an expression of their communal [kinship]. Blood sings,” he told AltRight.com.
Hate music has always accompanied racist movements, from the KKK-praising Johnny Rebel in the ‘60s to the punk/Oi! stylings of Skrewdriver in the ‘80s to the melodic metal of Rahowa in the ‘90s, to national socialist black metal (NSBM) in the Aughts. These musicians and their ilk have functioned as both cheerleaders and propagandists for white supremacy.
Carleton appeared on the YouTube hate scene musically in 2016. Metal and Oi! music seem too abrasive for the buttoned-up alt-right scene. “I wouldn’t be surprised if they’re listening to Wagner,” McAleer says. “I don’t see them listening to black metal.”
There are new entrants besides Tarleton: Outfits like White Hot Takes and Mr. Bond appropriate modern rock and rap for parodies like the former’s “White World,” a rewrite of Tears for Fears’ “Mad World.”
But Tarleton insists his tunes don’t belong in the same genre. “I want to take the opportunity to say that it is important to realize what I do is not ‘parody,’” he told AltRight.com. “All traditional folk melodies are borrowed. That’s why it’s traditional … I not only want to revive our traditionalist music but I also want to rail against modernity through the music itself, not just the lyrics. Seeing it for only the lyrical content is a utilitarian view. If that were the only reason, there would be no point. I’m not Mr. Bond. And this isn’t parody.”
“Some of those songs are written in the 1800s,” McAleer says of Tarleton’s atavistic sonic source material. “They’re very powerful in that they can carry thoughts and memories and emotions through the generations.”
“White power music is significant, both to extremists themselves as well as to the larger communities in which they live and move. Music is a powerful medium at all times; music with a message can be more powerful still,” reads a 2012 report on white power music from the Anti-Defamation League. “Collectively these messages strengthen and embolden the white supremacist movement.”
McAleer echoes that opinion. “The right song, when you’re in the right mood, or the wrong mood, it speaks to your soul,” he says. “You’re listening to those lyrics, they’re going around in your head over and over and over again, and I think as a delivery system for a message, the music provides the tone and opens the mind at the right frequency. Certainly it’s an extremely powerful tool.”
Paddy Tarleton first attracted notice in a 2013 Vice documentary titled White Student Union, about white nationalist Matthew Heimbach’s organization of the same name at Towson University in the Baltimore suburbs. Heimbach, who would later co-found the hate group Traditionalist Worker Party, recruited a group of white students to patrol the campus targeting “black predators.”
In the documentary, Tarleton, identified only as “Paddy,” is rarely not by Heimbach’s side, a slight smirk on his face, a smudge of stubble on his shaved dome, wearing a flight jacket and a German Football Association (Deutscher Fussball-Bund) t-shirt. (Tarleton confirmed his appearance in the documentary in the AltRight.com interview.)
“America as an idea is hardly existent anymore; the original idea is not what it’s supposed to be now,” Tarleton tells the Vice cameras. “We’re essentially headed towards the dissolution of the United States. But in a sense that could be for the better because that may lead to a white ethno-state, which is ultimately what we want. The criteria of citizenship, it would be based — I mean, I’m gonna say it bluntly, it would be based on race, it would be based on white,100%.”
In 2013, Heimbach joined with his future father-in-law Matthew Parrot to form the Traditionalist Youth Network (TYN), and in 2015 the two created the Traditionalist Worker Party (TWP), the TYN’s white nationalist and anti-Semitic political arm, with a blog and podcast.
Tarleton became the mid-Atlantic regional chairman of the Traditionalist Worker Party, and began writing for its blog in October 2015. In an article bashing the leftist hippie folk songs of the 1960s and ‘70s, Tarleton wrote, “A people’s identity is always safeguarded in traditional song. Whether it relays the tales of loss of life or of love, there are literally thousands of songs that tell of hardship, pain, suffering, and toil. They tell our fears, our pains, our anxieties, and our triumphs, and they are ours, and ours alone; they are not inclusive and they are not for sale. The are not ‘people’s’ music, they are our people’s music.”
“Politically, I tend to lean more towards social nationalism but I have friends and allies in every camp of the Alt Right/New Right,” Tarleton later told AltRight.com. He told the blog he began to “wake up” to white nationalism in 2008 and 2009.
In early April of 2016, Tarleton appeared on the first installment of Heimbach’s podcast, “The Daily Traditionalist,” to promote his five-song EP, Diversity is Our Strength, featuring songs like “The Ballad Of Tiny Tim Wise,” “Which Side Are You On,” and “Sovereignty and Blood Forever.”
“The Left has long dominated this musical genre in America but around the world nationalists from the Irish Republican pub songs to the various folk ballads of Germany have long been used to promote nationalist sentiment and local culture,” Heimbach wrote on his blog the same month, promoting Tarleton’s release. “I have personally known Paddy for half a decade now and I consider him to be one of the best organizers, activists, and spokesmen for our movement.”
Tarleton’s notoriety caught up with him in his local music scene, though, where he’d performed with the bands Paddy and the Brandywine Travelers and the Scrapple Creek Runners, according to The News Journal. A June 2016 article recounted how local club promoters and fellow musicians had been shunning Tarleton since the Vice documentary.
“I wake up the next morning to get a barrage of what seemed to be well over a hundred text messages from friends and family telling me that I was on the front cover of the state newspaper,” Tarleton recalled to AltRight.com. “Almost all of them knew my politics before the article came out and never said a word to me. Now, suddenly, like magic, they cared. If that doesn’t tell you anything, well, I don’t know what will.”
Ostracized by the mainstream music scene, Tarleton planted his flag as a mainstay of the white nationalist scene. But he made some missteps: Prior to a showdown between TWP members with Golden State Skins and antifa activists in Sacramento on June 26, 2016, an “antifa Twitter sock-puppet” engaged with Tarleton and he responded explaining the white nationalists’ organizational disarray, according to the anti-fascist blog It’s Going Down.
“…since those other crews bailed on you guys in CA, from what I’ve heard, there’s only around thirty of you. This puts you in a very difficult position,” Tarleton wrote to the entity he assumed was a racist ally. “No army would sacrifice its troops like that, but I do understand you don’t want to lose face in front of the Reds.”
“I had it in mind that you had obtained all the permits and that the police were aware of where you would be and everything,” he continued. “If that’s not the case, I would advise against it man. You don’t want to get yourself into any kind of trouble.”
An editor at antifascistnews.net told Hatewatch that Tarleton had “sort of disappeared from public view” between the Vice documentary and the Sacramento event, where around 30 white nationalists clashed with nearly 400 counter-protesters, resulting in five people being hospitalized.
Tarleton quickly capitalized on the melee, releasing the song “Battle of Sacramento” on YouTube nearly immediately afterward. After a similar clash in August 2017 in Berkeley, known on the extreme right as the “Battle of Berkeley,” Tarleton immortalized that event as well in “The Ballad of Raunch Vag Rosie” — the title a vulgar reference to antifa activist Emily Rose Nauert, who was punched in the face by a white nationalist in the confrontation. Tarleton is documenting history from the white nationalist perspective as it happens.
“They’re all songs to evoke emotion, and they’re played because they’re designed to remind people of past injustices, that’s the idea — or past glories,” says Life After Hate’s McAleer. “That’s the timelessness of folk music. In many ways folk music was the history of the people, when people didn’t have books — the history was in their music. It’s an old tradition.”
Tarleton released a collection of 15 songs on Bandcamp on September 14, and seems committed to continuing to stoke the flames of hate with his lyricism, spread swiftly and easily over the internet. “He makes music that speaks directly to the heart of the Alt-Right’s current issues and plight,” the introduction to Tarleton’s interview on AltRight.com states.
“A homeland is something special, it is yours and no one else’s, and white peoples, wherever they live, deserve their own homelands as much as anybody else,” Tarleton told AltRight.com. “Fortunately, for us, we are growing, and the opposition’s hatred for us is exactly what is helping us grow. They’re making heroes of us and captivating the interests of young people. In this way, it’s great for us. The suffering eventually pays off. This scares the living shit out of Joe Pancake who loves his football teams full of Africans who would otherwise hate him, his processed food, and precious porn websites.”
Tarleton’s music is designed to inflame non-racists, encourage white nationalists, and recruit disaffected white people to his cause. “I am more interested at this point in time trying to get them to come over to our side,” he told AltRight.com, speaking of “the enemy” on the left. “One thing that a lot of these young saplings and retarded anarcho ragamuffins don’t seem to know or consider is just how many of us were once in their shoes. Most of them have no idea.”
Photo credit: YouTube