By Keegan Hamilton
By Albert Samaha
By Village Voice staff
By Tessa Stuart
By Albert Samaha
By Steve Weinstein
By Devon Maloney
By Tessa Stuart
"We're going to look at the sculptures, some of the most amazing work done by our race," Kelso announced. Two nearby security guards exchanged worried glances, but said nothing. Kelso reminded the restless group to stay together and not to use flash photography. "We have no contingency plan if we get separated," he added cheerily to a companion, and the group promptly split up in different directions.
The group made its way through the crowded galleries of European sculpture and decorative arts. Kelso, a self-proclaimed artist and art buff, occasionally paused along the way to explain that "this painting is worth $2 million," and that piece of art, "is one of only 41 works by the artist." The white supremacists didn't stand out from the hordes of other tourists crowding the galleries, and their hushed comments, half-heard snippets about shooting Arabs or speculation about Muslims being thieves, were swallowed up with noise.
As he walked the halls, the man from Brooklyn told anecdotes from his days in the New York City school system. "It's a zoo," he said as a few others listened curiously. The animals, he implied, were all the black and brown kids who force schools to "teach to the lowest common denominator." This, he said, was the problem with forced diversity. The discussion morphed into a brainstorming session on how to create public whites-only schools without being accused of outright racismperhaps, the ex-teacher suggested, by creating a charter school that specializes in something he believed that black kids wouldn't be interested in, such as Latin. His small audience nodded in approval at the scheme.
The group continued its journey, pointedly bypassing the African, Asian, and Latin American wings. No one was interested.
In the European and American galleries, however, every object or image was interpreted as a symbol of white accomplishment, from sculptures of Zeus to paintings by Winslow Homer. Kelso paused in front of a tempera painting of a blond, blue-eyed woman wearing an opulent red gown and pearls in her hair. The artist was Piero del Pollaiuolo, a 15th-century Italian painter. Kelso called everyone over to admire the Aryan beauty, hinting that perhaps the artist was making a statement about racial purity, something the members of Stormfront are especially passionate about. (In a recent post on the site's message board, a woman suggested this response to unwanted advances from non-whites: "I wish I had a time machine . . . because there was a time when your attempt at hitting on me would have resulted in you becoming a tree ornament.")
Kelso made sure to stop and admire the famous 21-foot-long oil painting, "George Washington Crossing the Delaware," by Emanuel Leutze. (Online, Kelso calls it a "great white treasure.") No one, meanwhile, pointed out the black oarsman pictured alongside the great Revolutionary War general.
The Stormfront tourists also paid particular attention to Civil War art, especially artist Winslow Homer. A favorite work portrays several oppressed but hopeful Confederate soldiers who, "continued to carry on a hopeless fight against overwhelming odds," according to Kelso. The scene seemed to strike a chord with this group of white people who say they, too, are oppressed and carrying on a discouraging fight against a society corrupted by non-whites.
After a couple hours of reviewing masterpieces of white art, Kelso herded everyone into the cafeteria. Over cupcakes, cookies, chips, and juice, the dwindling group was beginning to develop real friendships. Bob Whitaker, a stalwart of the white nationalist movement, reminisced about his days as a mercenary in "small engagements in South America and Africa" where, he said, he may have killed some people.
Eventually the group disbandedone to the airport, a handful to Central Park, a few young men in search of Little Italy and some beer. Kelso, as always, headed back to his computer to spread the Stormfront message.
Some of the others posted their own remembrances. A 29-year-old Pennsylvania man claimed that he'd gotten lost during the field trip and had happily come across some Nazi relics at the museum. He only regretted, he wrote, that he'd been unable to insult any non-white people while he visited the city. The solo Queens member of the outing thought it had gone so well, he suggested midtown Manhattan as the next conference location. "It would be epic," he wrote, "like that picture of Washington crossing the Delaware."
Several days later, Kelso was informed that one of his participants was actually a newspaper reporter. "Oh, I'm all atwitter!" he exclaimed, seemingly unfazed and excited by the opportunity to get the word out about his cause. Told that the Voice had wanted to observe the members of his group as they really are, he heartily endorsed the idea, saying that we had been given an accurate representation. With only a hint of doubt in his voice, he added, "You would be a great white nationalist!"