On October 29th, 2008, KSL Channel 5 aired a report on T.J. Leyden, a former skinhead who turned anti-racist after his then-three year old child uttered a racist remark. According to KUER-FM 90.1, who interviewed him on October 22nd, Leyden, who lives in Southern Utah, was visiting the Salt Lake area in conjunction with the Utah Humanities Book Festival, held between October 22-25, and gave a speech on the 25th. Additional discussion of T.J. Leyden on Phxnews.com and the Vanguard News Network Forum.
Leyden was discussing with KSL the so-called "assassination plot" embarked upon by two "skinheads" down South. Twenty-year-old Daniel Cowart of Bells, TN and 18-year-old Paul Schlesselman of West Helena, AR are being held without bond. The two are suspected to have hatched a plot to assassinate Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama by doing a drive-by shooting with high-powered rifles, while dressed in white tuxedos.
In addition, Cowart and Schlesselman allegedly discussed shooting 88 African-Americans to death and decapitating 14 others in a killing spree across the country. The two allegedly chose the numbers 88 and 14 because of their special significance within the white nationalist community. More background on this follow-up ABC News report. Specific legal documents associated with the case below:
- ATF agent's affidavit of complaint against Cowart and Schlesselman viewable HERE.
- Criminal complaint against Cowart and Schlesselman viewable HERE.
But while T.J. Leyden admits that it's unlikely they would have been able to carry out the plan, he claims there's still reason for everyone to be concerned. He believes that deep racism still exists in America. He says that today's white nationalists are more sophisticated and use the Internet extensively.
Leyden spoke of his own earlier involvement in the scene. Behind the parties, the punk rock and the burning swastikas, it was hatred that motivated Leyden to live the skinhead lifestyle. He was jailed a number of times for various crimes; assaults, stabbings, attempted murder. Leyden's leftover tattoos tell the story. But everything began to change when his child made a racist comment for the first time.
"I asked myself a question: ‘Am I ready to sacrifice my child for this belief?' The weird thing was in my head it was no, and if I'm not willing to sacrifice them, than what's wrong with my belief?" Leyden explained.
Leyden is now a public speaker. He's written a book called "Skinhead Confessions" and has worked with federal and local law enforcement agencies. He's also a consultant to the Simon Wiesenthal Center. He hopes to open a nonprofit program here in Utah. His primary website is HERE, and his personal blog HERE.
What T.J. Leyden won't tell you is that Daniel Cowart and Paul Schlesselman are not typical of the white nationalist community. In fact, looking at their case, there are many things that don't add up. First, these two incorporated nearly every popular stereotype about white nationalism. Second, the vehicle they were driving had a swastika on it. Either this was a false flag operation or these two were incredibly stupid.
More typical of the white nationalist community is the case of Florida House District 46 candidate John Ubele, who also serves as the Operations Manager of the Nationalist Coalition.
Look at him. Clean cut, missionary haircut, conservatively dressed, no tattoos, no swastikas, none of this "Rahowa" nonsense. A productive citizen who merely seeks to compete in the free marketplace of ideas.
But anti-racist extremists like the ADL and the SPLC are not interested in the John Ubeles, because they can extract only limited propaganda value from them. Instead, they score their biggest propaganda points from people like Daniel Cowart and Paul Schlesselman (as well as Curtis Allgier here in Utah), because they present the worst examples as typical for the sake of organizational self-perpetuation and to keep the donation spigot cranked wide open. And people like T.J. Leyden have sold themselves to these groups.