By DOUG ALDEN
New Hampshire Union Leader
Christopher Cantwell of Keene in a still image from the VICE News documentary “Charlottesville: Race and Terror.” (VICE NEWS)
White separatist Christopher Cantwell of Keene, host of the alt-right podcast “Radical Agenda,” said Wednesday that Donald Trump’s statements about the violence at the Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, Va., aren’t helping the President politically.
“I’m going to go ahead and say it’s hurting him and it’s more or less neutral for us. He gains nothing by denouncing us,” Cantwell told the New Hampshire Union Leader in a phone interview Wednesday. “That earned him nothing. They just said, ‘Why did it take so long?’”
Cantwell said Trump’s condemnation of the violence from “many sides” Saturday was his most genuine statement and that subsequent statements were the result of political pressure.
“I don’t think he did himself any favor by denouncing us because it demoralizes some of his most enthusiastic supporters and it earns him nothing with the media or the left,” Cantwell said.
Cantwell, who was at the Charlottesville rally, said the counter-protesters initiated the fighting.
“They’re the perpetrators of the violence here,” Cantwell said. “Whatever anybody thinks about our opinions, those are the people who are stifling peaceful political speech.”
Cantwell is featured throughout a HBO VICE News documentary on the Virginia rally. Violent clashes ensued last Friday and Saturday between right-wing demonstrators — rallying to protest the removal of a statue of Gen. Robert E. Lee from a downtown park — and counter-protesters.
On Wednesday,. “I have been told there’s a warrant out for my arrest,” he said on the video.
Hours earlier, he said the city of Charlottesville should accept some responsibility for what happened.
“They gave us just a little corner of the park; they wouldn’t let us get our cars anywhere near it so we had to walk through this gauntlet of rocks and pepper spray to go to our peaceful demonstration,” Cantwell said. “We wanted to go out, have a peaceful demonstration with a permit at this particular event, and we knew that people were going to attack us. We went there prepared to hurt the people who were going to hurt us.”
He believes the public’s perception of what happened has been distorted by the national media, including the HBO VICE News documentary. Video footage showed him and others chanting “Jews will not replace us” and other separatist slogans.
“They did their best to make me look like a monster — not that I’m complaining. I thought it was very entertaining,” he said.
The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) has a file on Cantwell in its “Extremist Database,” which the group describes as profiles of prominent extremists and extremist organizations.
“Christopher Cantwell is an anti-Semitic, Alt-Right shock jock and an unapologetic fascist, who spews white nationalist propaganda with a libertarian spin on his live-streamed call-in show,“ a statement at the top of Cantwell’s file reads.
Tuesday, the SPLC said: “Cantwell has frequently advocated for violence on his show and exhibited a temperament that can only be described as volatile.”
Cantwell said he routinely gets death threats, but they have escalated dramatically since the HBO VICE News documentary aired.