“They can have my guns, bullets first.”
We’re coming into a generation of leaders who will have grown up on the internet and know no world without it.
What will happen to our online pasts when we all have a lifetime of potentially shameful Facebook pictures, forum posts and tweets to hide? In 2030, how much will a politician have to pay to have his extensive online past scrubbed? Will it even be possible to clean your past completely? Will a future candidate for President live in fear of old blogs and ancient forum posts coming back to haunt him or her?
At least the old IRC chat logs are gone forever, right? Right?
In 2005, Doug Hanks ran as a Republican for a seat on the City Council of Charlotte, North Carolina. Doug was 36, a relatively young age in the traditionally wrinkled world of politics. He had been using the internet for years. In fact, he made thousands of posts on major forums where he was comfortable enough to have his username listed simply as Doug.
Doug joined Stormfront on May 2, 2002. Stormfront is one of the first and most successful white supremacist forums on the internet. The Southern Poverty Law Center calls it “the most influential hate site on the net.” The site was born into politics in 1990 as an organizing point for former Grand Wizard David Duke’s failed U.S. Senate campaign in Louisiana. Stormfront’s popularity rose in the mid-90s when it opened to the public. It came to national attention when it was featured in Hate.com, a 2000 CBS documentary about the online white supremacy movement.
When Doug joined the site in 2002, there were around 5,000 members. It was an impressive forum population at the time. Today, Stormfront boasts 194,936 members.
Within three years of joining, Doug had made over 4,000 posts on Stormfront at a rate of around 10 posts per day. He was considered admirably active in the white nationalism movement by friends on and off the forum. By 2003, he’d written and self-published two books. His first book was 80-page how-to guide for forging and building an AR15 rifle called The Workbench AR15 Project that sold for $19. Today, it sells for $22.
In a 2008 sit down interview with soft spoken white supremacist Pastor Jonathan Williams, Doug noted that his AR15 book was briefly #8 on Paladin Press’s top-selling books, “so it was a very popular book.”
His second book was a novel titled Patriot Act: A Novel of Resistance priced at $15 complete with an autograph from the author himself.
Here’s a description of the book from the defunct PatriotPublications.com, Doug’s one-man publishing operation aimed at selling the book to Stormfront members and other supremacists:
This novel deals with the ramifications of the Patriot Act not sunsetting in 2005, but being voted into permanence. Government abuse of power, and intrusion into our everyday lives becomes rampant, as more liberties vanish on a daily basis. How far will the people be pushed before they fight back? How can we fight back? The book presents some unique methods of improvising weaponry when our guns are banned, as well as preparing and caching your weapons when that inevitable day arrives.
Described as “‘Unintended Consequences and Harrison Bergeron meets The Turner Diaries, Patriot Act foretells of a future where a Zionist-controlled government eliminates all freedom and individual thought; where patriotism is akin to terrorism, and being proud of one’s heritage is criminal.
A quote from the 2003 book itself:
In your new war of oppression, you may take a man’s house, his land, all his property, and even his life savings for speaking out against you; you may take all that is dear to him but remember, when a man has nothing left, he has nothing left to lose. Take what is mine, and you will face a warrior unlike any you have ever battled before. Do not try to squelch us, for you will only invigorate our pride.
Here’s the novel’s best one-liner:
They can have my guns, bullets first.
Patriot Act had multiple buyers and backers on Stormfront. One thread was dedicated to passing a used copy of the book around the country to curious white nationalists.
“That book might just end up the most traveled book on storm front,” wrote user Nurse1969 the day after he put his copy in the mail to another user. The thread, started in early December 2004, attracted the attention of Doug himself.
“Glad everyone has enjoyed it so much,” wrote Doug. “Remember, The Turner Diaries started off by word of mouth, so if you’ve enjoyed it, please tell others, and it makes an excellent Holiday gift. I can personalize and sign these things for everyone you know. There’s still time for Santa to get them loaded on his sleigh..”
Doug and his fans regularly compared Patriot Act to The Turner Diaries, a 1978 novel about a genocidal race war successfully waged by white supremacists. The book is believed to have inspired Timothy McVeigh’s bombing in of the a federal building in Oklahoma City.
Allow me to spoil the ending of Doug’s book. In it, white supremacists take over the American government and exterminate minorities. As is often the case, originality took a backseat to resonance. The Patriot Act seems to have resonated mightily with what few readers it has had.
Doug’s website featured five positive reviews from readers. The first review was from one Rob C.:
Hello, I received your book (Patriot Act) last Thursday, and finished it last night. Loved it. God, I hope something like this occurs to this country, and soon, preferably in my lifetime. Keep up the good work.
In several threads around Stormfront, Doug’s fans went out of the way to assuage fears that the book would tip toe around issues important to the white nationalists. To help send the message the book hit those core issues head on, Doug featured a review from “Billy in North Carolina”:
I finished reading Patriot Act…AWESOME! It’s The Turner Diaries for the 21st century. It’s better than I had hoped. I was thinking it was more of a pro-Constitution, pro-Second Amendment novel which only touched peripherally on the race and Jewish problem. Not so, it’s hardcore! It’s a really compelling read because of your extensive character development and the way you tied them together in the end.
On his website, Doug took to the third person to describe himself as “a licensed general contractor, legally ordained minister, and the chief conservation officer of an experimental redwood reforestation project in the North Carolina mountains. He is presently an honorary co-chairman of the National Republican Congressional Committee’s Business Advisory Council, and received an award for environmental protection achievement from the President of the United States. He is currently working on a series of pro-Second Amendment novels.”
On his publishing site, Doug referred to himself as a “red-blooded American” dedicated to freedom and liberty. His books “are not for everyone,” he wrote. They were aimed at gun owners, patriots, people who are proud of their heritage and people “who do not conform to the politically correct views of the media regarding ethnicity.”
When referring to himself by name as an author, Doug almost always used the name “D.A. Hänks.” Only once did he refer to himself as “Doug ‘D.A.’ Hanks” on his own website. By changing his name, Doug may have been intentionally obfuscating his identity and throwing a small wrench in the search machine. Another possible motive was that Doug wanted to build up an identity in the white nationalist movement and liked the way that D.A. Hänks looked like an author’s name ought to.
Doug’s two books met with some success and good reviews in a corner of the white nationalist community and, in the AR15 guide’s case, beyond. As of 2004, he was working on three more workbooks and two more novels on similar subjects.
In January 2005, the Charlotte City Council ordered the removal of the Confederate flag from Elmwood Cemetery, a burial ground holding the graves of Confederate soldiers. Controversies surrounding the Confederate flag resonate deeply with many white supremacists and the issue found sympathy on Stormfront.
Doug, a Charlotte resident, made numerous posts urging action and launched a popular petition against those who he thought were at fault: politicians such as City Manager Pam Syfert (whom Doug would later call a “dumb b—h”) and “NY Jews” “whose only wish is to cause more strife between blacks and white.”
Within days of the flag’s removal, Doug entered the cemetery, scaled the empty flagpole and strung the Confederate flag back up with zipties. The media and police were there, he reported with pride to Stormfront, all taking videos and saving the event forever. It should be noted that no video of this event is currently viewable online.
The Stormfront community reactive positively but not overwhelmingly. Doug posted numerous threads on the political situation surrounding the flag but only one thread managed to get more than a few hundred views.
On Febuary 7, 2005, Doug angrily addressed the Charlotte City Council over the issue. “I pulled no punches,” he wrote. “By the time I was finished, the mayor had his arms crossed and a scowl that would have melted the varnish off the woodwork. News 14 ran a nice piece showing me putting the flag back, and then a nice clip of me angrily denouncing the City’s actions.”
On that day, whatever political dreams Doug had once held became much more real. Stormfront posters encouraged him heartily, writing that the movement needed more men of action like Doug.
More people began to ask about him saving the Confederate Flag at Elmwood. Did he really climb up that pole?
“I actually went up it twice,” wrote Doug, “two days in a row. The first day I literally shimmied all the way up, but it was 27 degrees out, and I had to take off my coat and gloves to do it. By the time I reached the top I was so numb I had no strength left. The second day, we came back with the ladder you saw in the clip. I put it on with cable ties, so it’s up there firmly.”
It didn’t take long for Doug to establish DougHope.com and declare his candidacy for the City Council.
My name is Doug Hanks, and I am running for Charlotte City Council at Large in 2005, for the 2006 Seat. I feel very strongly about personal rights and a limited role of Government in our lives. We are being overtaxed and under-represented in almost every aspect of our lives, and this needs to change. There was a time when elected officials were voted into office to represent the people. Over the years, this has changed dramatically, with Big Business becoming the focal point of our City Council’s decisions. This does not represent your best interests, the interests of the many, but those of a few. If I am voted into the Charlotte City Council, I intend to speak for the people who put me in office, and represent them.
Doug wrote that he’d be running on a handful of basic issues. He’d fight lewd art, cut taxes, attack crime and build new roads. He shined a spotlight on his continued actions to keep the Elmwood Confederate flag flying, describing a 50’ climb in freezing weather to string up the flag as proof positive that he would fight for what was right no matter what.
Although Doug made half a dozen threads about the flag issue and dozens of posts about it afterwards, he never created a new thread on Stormfront announcing his candidacy for City Council. However, it’s not as though he was outright hiding the political run. He linked to DougHope.com in several posts and possibly even in his forum signature, meaning that every one of his over four thousand posts would end with a link to the website launched to support his candidacy.
There was little to no disconnect between Doug Hope the candidate for office, Doug Hope the man who fought to fly the Confederate flag and Doug Hope the man who made thousands of posts on Stormfront. They were the same man even in politics, an art whose best practitioners compartmentalize as if it were an Olympic sport. Perhaps this is the most obvious sign that Doug never was the best political practitioner.
For months, Doug never stopped posting on Stormfront. He did, however, change his username several times first to Snarkie and then Boojum. If the goal was some temporary disconnection between his online persona and his new political life, this was a move in that general direction.
In June 2005, Doug was still posting. On June 1, Stormfront discussed a piece of news about black motorcycle riders claiming that South Carolina was discriminating against them. Myrtle Beach Mayor Mark McBride wanted to discourage tourism by black bikers whom he considered dope smoking, beer drinking law-breakers. McBride testified that “when you tell a group of white youth to behave or you’re going to jail, for the most part, they behave.”
That evening, Doug chimed in:
Hats off to Mayor McBride for not only taking this stance, but having the guts to stand by it publicly. They have the same problems in Daytona during Bullet Bike Week, and it gets so bad during Black College Reunion Week, that 99% of the business owners shut down and board up for that week.
When Blacks start acting equally, only then will they enjoy the benefits of being treated equally. I treat a rabid dog differently from a healthy one. In fact, this gives me a terrific idea! Let’s treat all the Blacks like the rabid beasts they are. “Yeller! Here Boy!”
Did Doug believe that a simple username change on the forum would hide his identity after years of promoting his name, writings and beliefs on Stormfront? He’d made close personal friends within the movement and Stormfront had become a significant part of his life. Now, Doug believed that he could push a button and instantly be wearing an unrecognizable mask called “Snarkie” (which is also the name of a character in his first novel).
In August, his entire history on Stormfront became known when an unspecified person “disclosed” his forum posts to journalists at The Rhinoceros Times. An article written about his comments specifically highlighted the “rabid beasts” remark and became big news in Charlotte.
On NNNForum.com, another white nationalist site, user Brewski had a theory as to where the journalists might have found out the information.
A Google search for “Doug Hanks” turns up a since-TOS’ed tripod page called “The truth about Doug Hanks” (still cached), which obviously did a hit piece on the guy showing purported webcam images and identifying him (accurately, as it turns out) as “Snarkie” on Stormfront.
I think if you’re not prepared to be “public” with your WP/WN political views, then a little more discretion is advisable in order to keep a low profile on the internet. What you write (or who you decide to webcast to) can haunt you!
Hanks was immediately on the defensive. He said that whoever “tipped off the Rhinoceros Times wanted him out of the race so that there would no need for a Republican primary.”
In an interview, Hank claimed his over 4,000 Stormfront posts were actually false attempts to win the trust of white supremacists as he researched a novel he was writing meant to appeal to supremacists. He wasn’t a racist, he said, simply an enterprising marketer.
“I needed information for the book and some other writings I was doing,” Hank told the Associated Press. “I did what I thought I needed to do to establish myself as a credible white nationalist.”
“That (white supremacists) was who I was trying to target for better sales of the book,” he said. “They have more of a tendency to word of mouth, to say, ‘Hey you ought to pick this up.'”
After initially resisting calls to end his campaign, Doug Hope’s City Council campaign ceased to exist within hours.
Many in Stormfront were not pleased. Some posters said he was a cowered who slandered the forum, the white nationalist movement and his race by tripping over himself to make excuses for what he’d written.
“Should he even be trusted?” asked user macclad.
When one user asked if he should send Doug condolences, the overwhelming answer was no.
“I don’t think we should reward this guy for his two-faced behavior,” wrote user Galvani. “He might have really believed what he said and is now only trying to save his own reputation.”
Doug’s friends and admirers defended him, pointing to his flag pole activism and urging Stormfronters to give Doug a chance to defend himself.
“I have an idea,” wrote user StormHammer88. “Why don’t we all reserve judgement until Boojum gets here to tell his side of the story, which I’m sure he will. I’m surprised at how many people are so quick to believe what a mainstream news source prints, seeing as how we are also so quick to point out that they, above all, are the most likely to mis-quote and distort what people say, especially White Nationalists.”
In the midst of the argument, user Tommy Atkins asked the obvious question:
Why the hell would anyone use their real name here, if they were going to run for public office. Not the brightest idea as its a gold mine for the opposition?
After a noted absence of several days, Doug returned to Stormfront, posting from “an undisclosed location.”
Doug wrote that the entire incident was a calculated conspiracy “months in the planning.”
“When I picked up a copy of the paper the next day, I almost had a myocradial infarction. It was obvious that this was payback for my refusal to back out of the race when ‘suggested’ to, two weeks prior.”
There were angry reporters banging on his door, he claimed, and worse. Unmarked black vans “with a surveillance-looking thing on the back” parked on his lawn. The men inside filmed around his house, claimed to be from the Republican Party and demanded that he resign and end his candidacy.
I am not from the South originally, and I know full well who they were. 25 years ago, another politician was pressured to leave and when he did not, his son was busted with two pounds of marijuana in his car. I have an elderly father and other family in the area. I will not see their lives ruined because of me.
He was “set up” by a wide-ranging conspiracy of powers, he said, and even TV reporters knew it. In his explanation of the recent episode, Doug even threw in a mention of Patriot Act.
My book was fiction based on fact, but I never realized how true a prophesy I was actually writing.
Doug continued to post on Stormfront. Creative Loafing looked at his activity towards the end of 2005. They found Doug reflecting on his recent experiences on November 19.
“I learned that it is never a good idea to be caught with your pants around your ankles in regard to your personal life/beliefs,” Doug wrote. “Be ready to explain the difference between White supremacy vs. White separatism, and racialism vs. racism.”
Very little changed in the content of Doug’s posts.
In 2006, Doug switched to acting as a full time career, according to his IMDB biography, and landed a role on Atlanta Homicide – AKA Atlanta Investigations: HD (Homicide Division) as Detective Tom Berncliff. This is the picture posted to his Facebook page:
Doug’s IMDB biography – written by him, one quickly assumes — says this look is his trademark: “[Doug] has a deep and imposing, no-nonsense, glaring stare that he uses for all of his law enforcement roles.”
A few other highlights from the trivia and quote sections on his IMDB page:
- Was Jeff Gordon’s stand-in for a series of pizza commercials in 2005.
- Has donated over 11 gallons of blood, saving more than 300 lives.
- Turned down a black tie dinner invitation with President George W. Bush, twice.
- Was hired as a “private contractor,” for a tour of duty in New Orleans, after Hurricane Katrina.
- “You cannot place wolves and bobcats into the same cage and expect them to coexist peacefully. Therefore, it is just as wrong to force people to be together, as it is to force them to be apart.”
The Katrina point is particularly interesting. Here’s a post Doug made on Stormfront on September 3, 2005, a month after he ended his City Council candidacy:
Apparently, there are 200 [evacuees] arriving here in Charlotte today … Look for riots to spring up across the country and be prepared.”
Later in 2006, Doug wrote another novel titled The Green Day Prophecies “meant to expose globalism and the new world order,” said Doug in a 2008 interview. “[This book] takes a lot of the information I learned as a political candidate and the stuff I was brought into and expected to abide by and embrace. I did the exact opposite.”
“The Green Day Prophecies” – although a fictitious story – follows what I believe will happen to our country in the near future, if we do not secede from the UN and cease meddling in the affairs of other countries around the world.”
Doug’s prophecy — also described as a nightmare that “may soon become waking reality” — was that the UN would assume authority over the entire planet and create a green communist state that would commit genocide to the tune of 6.5 billion deaths in the name of environmentalism.
Doug described the book as a retaliation against the powers that be for the 2005 campaign.
Doug’s political ambitions never died but they were forced adjust to a new reality. In 2012, he launched a campaign to the Soil & Water Conservation District Supervisor in Mecklenburg, North Carolina. You can see his campaign website at DougHanks.com.
Doug claims to be a leading global authority “on the critically endangered dawn redwood” whose photographs have appeared in magazines and are featured on a permanent exhibit at the Leo Carillo Ranch State Park in Carlsbad, California.
While the title may sound unglamorous or even mundane, Soil and Water Conservation District Supervisors, in reality, have a much more important role than most people even realize. District supervisors are charged with the task of protecting farmlands and other open spaces, as well as finding the funding and incentives that are crucial to preserving our natural resources. If these measures were not in place, our streams and rivers would quickly silt in, compromising the quality of our drinking water, and urban flooding would be much more commonplace than it currently is.
During an October 23, 2012 forum in which Doug gave a stump speech and took questions from the audience, one resident read two of Doug’s more infamous remarks (including the “rabid beasts” post) and asked for an explanation.
“I sure would [like to explain it],” said an excited Doug as he shot up from his chair. “I’m an author and I’m an actor. I was doing research for a book. That was explained. I saw the post you [addressing the questioner] made on Facebook where you went back and pulled everything up. That’s nice, everyone can find something on someone. I think it’s absolutely despicable that you’d bring that up in this neighborhood. Real professional, I appreciate that. You’re darn right I want to address that.”
Doug was livid. The crowd was talking. He continued his explanation.
“Seven years ago, I was writing the book called Patriot Act. I had two audiences I targeted: the average gun owning audience and the white racialist audience. And I made a mistake, I admit that. I have nothing against anyone. Since then, if you had looked, you’d have seen that I acted in a show called Atlanta Homicide where I was the only white detective on that show. It was black written, black produced, black directed. By the time that show was over, I was directing and I was writing episodes for it and I explained what happened to them and no one had an issue with it. So if those black people didn’t have an issue with it, why do you still have an issue with it?”
“Seven years ago, you were still old enough to know better,” said the questioner.
Doug ended the questioning, saying he was tired of it being brought up. He’d go on to explain the plot of Patriot Act and his marketing ploy directed at white nationalists.
“I have nothing to hide as far as that goes,” said Doug. “I have been nothing but cordial to everyone I have spoken to not only today, not only in my campaign by every time since then and before.”
The next questioner asked him if he was ashamed or comfortable. Wayne Powers, Republican candidate for the position then stood up to speak, informing the crowd that it was not one or two comments made but thousands.
“Is it really?” said a surprised woman in the audience.
“What does that say about your judgement that, in doing your research, you become an activist spreading hate rather than just reviewing or reporting on it?” asked Wayne.
Doug explained that you couldn’t garner support by simply making a few posts. He had to make many posts.
“Once the book was sold out, that was the end of it,” he said.
In fact, Doug has made posts on Stormfront as late as January 2012. Some of his latest posts include holocaust denial and tips on how to carry yourself in “a known Negro location, like a mall.”
Doug hasn’t made a post on Stormfront since early 2012, presumably just before he began his latest campaign for political office.
The author, Patrick Howell O’Neill, writes at weirderweb.com, a travel log from the stranger side of the internet.