Counter-Currents Radio Podcast No. 38 Interview with Charles KrafftCharles Krafft
Editor’s note: The following is the transcript of Charles Krafft’s appearance on Counter-Currents Radio, no. 38.
GJ: I’m Greg Johnson, welcome to Counter-Currents Radio. My guest today is Seattle artist Charles Krafft. Charlie, welcome back to Counter-Currents Radio.
CK: Thank you, Greg. Good to be back.
GJ: Well recently, Charlie, you’ve been at the center of some controversy over your art. Now some time ago, you started painting swastikas onto delft porcelain, and, I want to know, do you have something against the Dutch?
CK: [laughs] No! I began painting on plates. And the plates I started to paint after I learned how to be a china painter were called “Disasterware.” And I was concentrating on natural catastrophes, which would be fires, floods, and earthquakes. Airplane crashes and such; train wrecks. And then I drifted into sociopolitical catastrophes and because I was working in the blue and white on china, I thought “well, I’ll do an occupation of Holland picture on a plate.” So the first swastika I ever painted was referring to the German occupation of Holland.
GJ: About what year was that?
CK: About 1991.
GJ: 1991. OKay. I noticed these little Dutch windmills with swastika blades that say Von Dutch on them.
GJ: This was my theory, and I didn’t have any way of confirming it with you because you were in India at the time. But my theory was that that was kind of a visual pun on the name Von Dutch, with the Dutch delftware and the windmill, and then the “von” would be the swastika which is German, with the swastika sort of associated with the Germans. Was that a correct hypothesis or was I way off there?
CK: No, that’s half-correct because. . . my drift into ceramics was a result of me not knowing how to paint a Dutch delft tile portrait of Von Dutch to send to him as a token of my esteem. So I had to take a class from some hobby crafters in town that I got in touch with who showed me how to paint on a ceramic surface and have it be permanent. So you’re right about the Von Dutch / Dutch delft connection. It’s a play on words.
But the swastikated windmill was made during a residency in Hertogenbosch, Holland, where I found a bunch of delft kitsch molds in the mold room that had been donated by a kitsch factory. And I had another project going which I couldn’t start, so I began to play with some of this airport Dutch kitsch that you might pick up in the Schiphol airport or in a Dutch souvenir store somewhere in Dam Square if you were in Amsterdam. And I began to tweak those objects. There was a cow creamer and windmills and some, I think, some vases, that I found.
So when I got the windmill mold, I thought, “well, what can I do with this?” Well, the windmill blades were already kind of swastika-looking, I just re-sculpted them. And started putting swastikas on windmills.
GJ: And you also did versions with the Laibach symbol.
CK: Yeah. It’s the same windmills except I used the Laibach cog logo. That logo is the “Malevich Black Cross,” and the black cross, that’s their logo. With a cog around it.
GJ: Which is a kind of commie, East German kind of feel thing as I interpret it. Right?
CK: Ah, no. It actually refers to the Nazis and the Arbeit Work Units. Do you know? They had a swastika inside a cog.
GJ: Oh really?! I didn’t know that. That’s interesting. Because I do know that there was an East German image that used a cogwheel. Maybe they were just riffing off the Arbeitsdienst thing. That’s really interesting.
There’s also this famous Hitler teapot which is in San Francisco — the Hitler / Idaho teapot — and again, whenever I look at that image, I have to ask: Do you have a beef with the people of Idaho? Is there some issue that you’ve got here that you’re putting their name on a teapot with Adolf Hitler?
I mean, how did the Hitler / Idaho pot come about?
CK: Well, because the Aryan Nations Church — Richard Butler’s Aryan Nations Church — and Paul Greitz’ all-white gated community project were all being written about a lot in the Seattle newspapers. So Idaho became kind of a. . . when we thought about Idaho, we thought about Nazis. That’s the way they were painting the State of Idaho in our media here. That all these white supremacists were moving to Idaho.
GJ: Right, that makes sense, I was just curious about that.
So just to repeat. Your first use of the swastika was 1991.
GJ: What percentage of your ceramic output, would you estimate, contains images of swastikas, or images of Adolf Hitler, or anything else associated with the National Socialist period?
CK: Less than 10 percent.
GJ: Okay. And let me ask you — I know that you are an artist who responds to commissions. You’re a businessman as well as an artist, and so if there’s a particular market for certain kinds of things you’re going to do more of these things than say other things that are less in demand.
What percentage of your Hitler or swastika images are responses to actual commissions?
CK: Maybe. . . five percent. One to five percent. I don’t get that many commissions for. . . people are. . . I’ve gotten commissions for the Hitler Teapot. That’s kind of a semi-popular thing that I do on demand.
People have seen the picture on the internet in various places, and they want to know if I’m still making them, and whenever I get asked if I am still making them, I say “yes” and I tell the potential client that I will make them one.
So, that is always in production, but I don’t sell a lot of those, and I don’t sell a lot of other items that reference the Third Reich history or imagery because they’re unpopular and unsalable.
GJ: Really? That’s interesting.
On the assumption that most of your patrons — most of the people who may give you commissions — are not going to be self-identifying, but still, do some of them identify themselves as someone who is interested in this stuff? Do you have people who come to you and say, “I’m a Jewish collector and I really love your Hitler Teapots.” Or. . .
CK: Yes! I had a Jewish collector ask me to do a Hitler Teapot in blackface.
GJ: I’ve seen that. Yeah, that was pretty impressive.
CK: This was a request that I probably would not have stumbled on myself, as an idea. And when I got done doing it, I was pretty pleased with myself, because I turned it into a comment on the Insane Clown Posse.
So, it turned out pretty nicely for me. The client liked it a lot until he found out I wasn’t making ironical comments about the Third Reich.
Because — this is before the scandal — he was visiting my Facebook page and noticing some of my postings, and especially some postings by a stalker I had there that was a very crude anti-semite, whom I should have blocked earlier on. But allowed to continue to splatter my timeline there with attacks on posters there that he felt should be taken to task for not knowing enough about things.
GJ: So, do you think you get more commissions from Nazis or Jews of Third Reich-related stuff? Because my intuition is that if somebody is a really sincere and pious Nazi, he’s not going to want to serve tea out of a pot shaped like Adolf Hitler’s head — that seems a bit irreverent. Or even just a bust of Hitler in delftware, that doesn’t seem particularly reverent.
Do you have any impressions on the percentages of people who are actually commissioning these things?
CK: The people who are actually commissioning them are neither Nazis nor Jews. They’re Gentiles, for the most part. A lot. . . not a lot of my clients. . . they don’t identify themselves as anything, although. . . I do know that sometimes when someone is a National Socialist, I mean not a National Socialist, but a maybe white nationalist, put it that way — I mean they might identify themselves as that.
But, Nazis, I mean, there are no Nazis. I don’t know any Nazis. Nobody is identifying as a National Socialist anymore. There are some people on the internet — national socialist information websites — but there’s no organized national socialist groups that, really, I’m aware of.
GJ: Well, there are ones out there on the web that claim to be that but, of course, anybody can create a website. The recent revelations, for instance, about the Norwegian Defense League, which was painted in the Norwegian press as this extreme right-wing, racist group, and turns out it was being run by a combination of anti-racists, anti-fascist activists, and the Norwegian secret police, makes you scratch your head and wonder “are there any real Nazis out there on the net or these all people working for the government and the opposition trying to entrap people by going and saying “Hey! Finally, a Nazi website that I can get behind!” So, yeah, there are questions that you could raise about that.
CK: There’s answers, too, because it’s been proven that some of these American Nazi organizations — they’re called “Costume Nazis” in the community, because they like to wear uniforms — they’ve been exposed as honey-traps.
I mean, it’s happened repeatedly. There’s no speculation about the fact that the government is setting up honey-traps to surveil people with, I guess we’d just say, extreme right-wing opinions about things.
You said you first used the swastika in 1991. When did you first become interested in the Holocaust and Holocaust revisionism?
CK: Around the same time. And it was a result of a residency I did in Slovenia; Ljubljana, Slovenia, with the NSK collective of which the band Laibach is a part.
So, they were involved in this post-modern bouillabaisse of symbols. Symbology and iconography. Catholics, Nazi Kunst, and Soviet Socialist Realism — and they would mix this up in a salad and present it and you got this totalitarian imagery — but it was balderdash, you know?
I don’t know how else to explain it. Their rhetoric sounded very fascistic and totalitarian, but when you actually went back to look at it more closely, it was just a collection of tropes that they had collected from everywhere and repackaged as speeches and manifestos but it didn’t really make much sense. They’re making a comment on “the state.” And what they said was they were holding a mirror up to “the state” by being more of a state than “the state.” They were sort of. . . it was all hyperbole. Fascist, Nazi, and Communist hyperbole. Are you following me?
GJ: Yeah, yeah — what year was this?
CK: Well, this was when I actually went to Slovenia to work with them on a collaborative project that was sponsored by the ArtsLink Citizens Exchange Council [now CECArtsLink] which is a non-profit in New York City that puts Eastern European artists together with American artists and [sic] vicea versa. They send us to Eastern Europe for collaborative projects and bring Eastern Europeans to the United States to work with artists.
So, that’s when my art sort of took on this political look, because I was fascinated with the NSK theory which they actually worked out called Retro-Avanteguardism. It’s sort of academic and I started to understand it as a post-modern comment on the tyranny of, I guess, Globalism.
GJ: Right. So, your own work has a kind of a range of images that are drawn from — how to say — the sort of “totalitarian rogues galleries,” the “Axis of Evil” that was put forth by the Bush Administration. Because you have images of Ahmadinejad of Iran, you’ve got images of Kim-Jong Il in North Korea, so you’re sort of using that same range of totalitarian boogie-man images that the NSK people were using. Is that a fair characterization?
CK: Ahh, yes, that’s fair. Fair enough, except that the NSK group concentrated on pre-World War II boogie-men and I was looking for post-World War II, contemporary boogie-men.
They [the NSK] had a theory about the avant-garde being co-opted by capital and power as the war, the Second World War, started up. These new artistic genres like filmmaking, and sound, and painting — Modernism in general — became part and parcel of their propaganda programs. And the idea of. . . this utopian trajectory that Modernism, they thought — Eastern Modernism — let’s put it that way. Russian Constructivist and Malevich’s Supremetism. Wasn’t he a Russian Supremetist?
GJ: I really don’t know.
CK: The avant-garde Russian.
GJ: Yeah, I know his work but I don’t know what his politics were.
CK: It’s not racial supremacism but its called “Supremetism,” I think. Malevich. It’s a kind of a metaphysical thing. He was inspired by Madame Blavatsky.
GJ: Oh really? That’s interesting.
CK: Yeah, it is interesting. Maybe I’m mispronouncing Malevich’s philosophy, but in any event, these guys thought that the trajectory of Modernism, because it leaned east, to Russia. Okay, they’re in Slovenia, Eastern Europe. They’re inspired by the Russian avant-garde. They thought that utopian trajectory Modernism was on, for them, had been derailed by the war, so they wanted to figure out — they wanted to go back to re-examine the trauma of World War II and see if there was some way to get Modernism back on track; you see? So, anyway, I liked the way they mixed and matched symbols. And it was very powerful to me. And I understood that they weren’t promoting Nazism, Communism, Catholicism, or any -ism at all except post-Modernism; you see?
And that’s how I started to look for “clichéd evil” to incorporate into my ceramic work because I thought it was interesting who’s deemed the next Hitler, for instance. So, Ahmedinejad and Kim Jong-Il; they always have to have a boogie-man to go after. And I was interested in these boogie-men; and then de-mythologizing them by satirizing them. Turning them into teapots. . .
GJ: . . .and Chia Pets.
CK: And Chia Pets, and listen, piggy banks…
GJ: Oh, that’s even better!
CK: . . .and [laughs] and also just busts and Toby Mugs, you know, you have can it as a mug, a piggy bank, a Chia Pet, or a teapot. Or you can have it as a bust, if you really like the guy. Whatever.
GJ: And want it in blue and white.
So, one of the things I’m concerned about is the big controversy started on February 13th in The Stranger, which is one of these free, alternative, urban weekly publications as I understand it. And their arts writer, Jenn Graves, wrote a piece with a really, really concise and snappy title: “Charles Krafft is a White Nationalist Who Believes the Holocaust is a Deliberately Exaggerated Myth” — you can almost hear her breathlessly tattling to the world. And in there she makes the argument that your use of an image like the swastika or putting Hitler’s head on a teapot is an expression of hostility toward Jews and the prima fascia evidence that you’re hostile to Jews is that you’re interested in historical revisionism about World War II, more broadly, and also, specifically, the Holocaust. And it occurred to me that while if you’re using these images before you really were involved in revisionism, then obviously, her argument doesn’t follow. So I was just trying to get clear when you started using such imagery and why. And did that have any connection, at least at first, when you developed an interest in revisionism?
CK: I didn’t follow your question because it had a couple of parts, but I think I got the gist of it.
The answer would be that I was using Nazi tropes before I became interested in Holocaust revisionism.
GJ: Okay, yeah, that’s what I wanted to know.
CK: Yeah, but I did get interested in Holocaust revisionism as a result of that trip to Slovenia, because it was around that time I picked up the book, Nazis in America, by Howard Blum* and learned about Viorel Trifa, the case against the Romanian Arch-Bishop, that was ultimately deported from the United States in about 1982.
*[Book is Wanted!: The Search for Nazis in America, by Howard Blum]
GJ: What happened to him once he was deported?
CK: He ended up in Lisbon, where he died of a heart attack shortly after he had chosen that place to go and live because. . . I don’t think Romania wanted him and the only place he could find to land was Portugal.
GJ: Oh really? That’s interesting.
So, 1991, the first time the swastika shows up. Sometime later you became interested in World War II and revisionism. About what year did you start taking white nationalism, as a political world view, seriously?
CK: Well, I don’t think I started to take it seriously until about 2 years ago.
GJ: That was my impression. Because I remember when I was with you in September of 2009 in Seattle, and we were talking, and you seemed a little skeptical of my white nationalism. I mean, I am a white nationalist. I’ve been calling myself that since 2001. And you seemed rather skeptical, and, not dismissive — you weren’t treating me as if I was a leper or anything like that, but it was clear that it was something that was kind of foreign to you in terms of something that you could take seriously. Something you could believe, if that makes any sense.
CK: Well I hadn’t done any reading really about . . . like Wilmot Robertson’s The Dispossessed Majority; I hadn’t read it yet. So I hadn’t really been exposed to white nationalist thinking. I mean I knew that there was White. . . Pierce [William Luther Pierce], you know. The National Vanguard.
I was aware of that. I wasn’t a member of it. I wasn’t a subscriber to any of these magazines, but I did know there was this guy down in Virginia that was organizing a sort of high-toned white nationalist book catalog. Which I thought was pretty interesting. I think I even got my hands on one of those lovely book catalogs that he published.
GJ: I wanted to ask this because, when I wrote the first article about this whole thing, you were in India and I couldn’t really confirm certain things. I just wanted to make sure that I was correct in my assumptions on this — and I guess I basically was. The Stranger article went viral, it got reprinted in a number of places and other blogs, and media outlets have taken up this discussion.
Are there falsehoods and misleading claims in the Stranger article that you would like to identify just so that we can factor these out?
CK: Okay, the major falsehood that was perpetuated by the Stranger article is that I’ve been hoodwinking my patrons. That I’ve sold this stuff. . . They use this Sandy Besser, he was a Jewish ceramic collector who died and left his collection of ceramics to the DeYoung Museum in San Francisco. It was implied that I sold the Hitler head to him and was laughing up my sleeve as having put something over on this Jewish collector. And that I was doing the same with other people who had purchased artwork from me. Thinking that I was being ironical or satirical when, in fact, I’m not being satirical or ironical and that I’m trying to slip this subversive iconography and ideology into their homes, museums, and galleries. That I’m hoodwinking the public with this.
I’m not hoodwinking anybody! I did not sell that Hitler teapot to Sandy Besser! It was sold to him by a gallery. I had no idea who bought that Hitler teapot until I was notified by the Besser’s estate that his collection was going to the DeYoung. So it’s not like I even knew the man who bought the teapot.
So, like the idea of this meme, of me laughing up my sleeve at liberals about subverting their art collections to be repeated in the media. Because it’s not true. I’m not laughing at anybody. I never did laugh at anybody and I don’t like being accused of this hoax that they’re trying to pin on me.
GJ: Right! It seems a little nutty, frankly, to believe that somehow, smuggling a teapot shaped like Hitler into a museum is really going to somehow change the political dynamics of the world today, anyway. What, exactly, are they thinking that you’re up to? It seems to presuppose that there is some kind of numinous evil, that they can’t even put their finger on [both laugh] that’s involved in these things. But, they know that they have to act hysterical and run around and talk about maybe smashing the stuff to exorcise all this numinous evil.
CK: They’re predating my interest in Holocaust revisionism, which is commiserate with anti-Semitism; you see? And white nationalism; they’re pre-dating all of this so that all of my 40 years of art-making is going to have to be re-examined. And then if there’s some subversiveness detected, then it’s going to have to be deaccessioned from the museum or taken out of the private collection or the galleries. And I can’t be included. . .
GJ: And ritually smashed!
GJ: And “this evil” is so all-powerful and yet so numinous and pervasive that I don’t think smashing it could really get rid of it!! So, they’re in a bind. I don’t know what they’re going to do.
CK: Well, it’s so fu-manchu. It’s so clever and sly and insidious; you see? Because it’s coming in under the guise of post-modern irony.
GJ: Right. And its obvious now in retrospect, to these people, apparently, that you really do think that putting Hitler on a teapot with big soulful eyes is a tribute to the Führer, which I just think is insane. But to them, now they look at this and they think, “he’s obviously up to something. He’s trying to rehabilitate Nazism by putting Hitler on a teapot.” It seems rather implausible. But, you know, I think a lot of people, especially Gentiles, feel that they just have to play it safe in this context, It makes me think of two instances of superstition, really. The first was when they discovered some trees in the eastern part of Germany; that in the fall, their leaves would turn yellow. And from the air, you’d see a yellow swastika, of yellow trees in the green of the evergreen forest. And, when this was discovered, these trees had to be cut down! Presumably because if extra-terrestrials or [CK laughs] something flying overhead would see them somehow this would inspire a murderous hatred of Jews, or something.
And the other thing was, when it was discovered, that from a satellite that there was some buildings, I think it’s on a military base…
CK: Oh! I remember that. It was the Naval Headquarters someplace.
GJ: Yeah! I think it’s in San Diego. If you look at it from outer space, it looks like a swastika and, again, they had to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars disguising this, just in case, again, this would inspire extra-terrestrials to hate Jews, or something!
And the kind of hysteria there, and the kind of lack of any concern with plausibility or causality. They just see the swastika and they start running amuck, acting like clowns and expending money trying to get rid of it — indicates a kind of fear, I think, basically. And a kind of assumption that when it comes to anything connected with the swastika, Jews are just completely nuts.
But, anyway, I want to go onto a few other things.
CK: Greg, you know you can’t sell Third Reich imagery on eBay. Didn’t they pass a law?
GJ: I don’t know if they passed a law, but there are certain rules and certain things get taken down off eBay if they sneak on there.
CK: Right. And especially in Europe. You can’t have anything that’s militaria, it can’t be sold on eBay, or something. I can’t remember exactly what it is, but there was a great big cleansing of the internet 10 or 15 years ago of people who were trying to sell Third Reich militaria on the internet auction sites.
GJ: So the main misleading claim, or false claim, in the Stranger piece is the idea that you are somehow laughing up your sleeve and duping people and cackling all the way to the bank by getting them to buy these things.
Are there any other false or misleading claims that have been circulated because of this Stranger piece?
CK: They’ve also claimed that my dealers have decided that they are no longer going to sell my work.
GJ: So that’s false?
CK: Apparently. I don’t know. There’s a resale gallery they mentioned where the woman said, “I no longer will take any of his art for resale.” But the galleries that actually deal with my work and deal with me; none of them have informed me that I’m no longer in their stable.
GJ: Well, that’s good news. One of the things that very clear about the Graves article is that she’s pulling the Saul Alinsky treatment on you. She’s trying to isolate you from your friends and from your source of income and brand you as some kind of radioactive hater who needs to shunned by everybody.
And this is the way that they always react to anybody who is even slightly prominent and has a heretical thought or two.
My question is: Is it working? I certainly hope it’s not working. I certainly hope it’s not harming you.
CK: It’s working because I’m now on the spot with old friends who have somehow stumbled on this news. And I’m getting emails with lines like “say it’s not true,” or “read it and weep.” And some of them have even sat down to let me know how repulsive they think I am now that they know that I’m a Holocaust-denying white nationalist. It’s hurtful! It hurts!
GJ: Yeah, I know it’s got to hurt. You’d have to have a heart of stone not to be affected by things like that.
So how are you holding up?
CK: I’m holding up pretty well! I’m not wallowing in a lot of self-pity here. And I’m actually kind of surprised that I’ve been given a platform — a bit of platform. Not a whole platform, but a part of a platform to explain myself in some of these articles. Southern Poverty Law Center actually let me say a few things. And so did the Jewish Daily Forward.
I mean, it’s all negative; I’m being painted as an evil artist. But people who have been following this controversy have been noticing that the treatment I’m getting is with kid gloves. I’m not really being excoriated as viscously as I could be.
GJ: Yeah, I’ve noticed that too. I mean they are actually bothering to contact you for quotes and then reproducing them fairly accurately, I would assume.
CK: They don’t want a lot of quotes, of course. Because they don’t want to examine how I arrived at my opinions.
I tell them I wish the article would be less about me and about my art, and more how it is that somebody like myself could end up with opinions that you claim I have. What’s the process; you see? But then they don’t want to follow the process, because then somebody else might get the idea that how I arrived at these opinions was through scholarship. That it isn’t as bad as thinking that I want to gas six million Jews.
GJ: Yeah, you didn’t wake up one morning with a blind, murderous hatred in your head and decide you want to research the history of the Holocaust hoping that it would come out differently, or something. I think that’s interesting.
It strikes me that if a person is a really articulate, rational advocate for certain ideas; that the really smart people in the opposition camp don’t want to give them a lot of publicity. I mean, the Anti-Defamation League and the Southern Poverty Law Center didn’t really go to great lengths, for instance, to do anything to publicize and excoriate Wilmot Robertson. They let him be pretty much in peace. And I think that the reason why they did that is that they thought “well, this guy writes really classy books. He’s a very reasonable person. Obviously highly intelligent.” They didn’t really want to draw a lot of attention to him. They generally want to draw attention to people who are crazy-sounding or buffoonish, and if they can’t find somebody like that, they’re always willing to create them themselves — as we’ve discovered with things like this Norwegian Defense League.
So I was a little surprised, frankly, that this article popped up, because it doesn’t seem like a really smart move from a propaganda point of view to want to give you a spotlight or a platform to talk about these things. Because a lot of people might think, “well, this guy doesn’t seem crazy to me” and follow you down the rabbit hole.
CK: Yeah, they did say, though, after I got my two cents in, that I might be senile. Did you notice that? That I’m getting into the period of my life where senility might be setting in. [laughs]
GJ: Yeah, that rich! That’s really funny!
CK: So that’s how they’re explaining this thing; you know?
GJ: Their motto is never forget, and, obviously, you’re starting to get forgetful. So maybe that explains it! [both laugh]
Do you know Jen Graves personally at all? Have you come across her at a gallery or anything like that?
CK: Yeah, I met her at various art openings and events in Seattle to speak with her just briefly. And she interviewed me once for a radio program that she did and we had a pretty nice back-and-forth. So I can’t remember exactly why I was being interviewed, but I remembered that I enjoyed talking with her. And I don’t follow her articles, really, in The Stranger very much and I don’t socialize with her regularly, but I was aware of her and I had been interviewed for one of her podcasts.
GJ: Do you know of any personal reason why she would have it in for you? Do you have any speculations as to why she wrote this article?
CK: She was notified, anonymously, that I was a bigot, by, I believe, a community college art teacher out here. Because this art teacher messaged me on Facebook and said, “I’m very surprised that you haven’t been outed by the Seattle art community for your bigotry and your Holocaust skepticism.” She didn’t phrase it “skepticism” — that’s my phrase — but Holocaust denial. I wrote her back, this woman. I messaged her back. I said, “Well, if you think I should be outed, maybe you should be the one to do it.” So I think I gave her the idea to write this letter to Jen Graves. Then I get an email from Jen Graves asking me point-blank: “Would you like to write about Holocaust revisionism for The Stranger,” I think that was part of this letter that I got. And “Are you a Holocaust denier?” She said, “somebody has written to me accusing you of this. Are you?” And, oh, “. . . are you? And would you like to say something for The Stranger.” I don’t think they were offering me column space, but “would you like to make a comment about this accusation for The Stranger?” I guess she was going to be prepared to say something about it; in my defense, maybe. Because at that particular time, I don’t think she had any animus towards me.
I told her: “Well, listen, unless you want to write about this in conjunction with some art that I’m exhibiting somewhere, I don’t feel like I have to answer the question ‘am I a Holocaust denier’ because it’s obvious that whoever put you up to this doesn’t have my best interest at heart.” This is a no-win question. So I’d rather not answer it unless you want some further explanation of some art I have on exhibit somewhere. Because this isn’t about my art. This is about me and my politics. I didn’t say that, but that’s what I was thinking. I was thinking to myself, “Well, just stick to the art.” Whether or not I’m a Holocaust denier has nothing to do with the art I might be exhibiting somewhere in Seattle that month.
So I didn’t answer the question. And she wrote back and said, “fair enough.” And then she came back 4 months later and she just announced that she was going to go ahead and write about this. And I learned from some of my associates and friends in the art community that she had been polling people, getting comments, harvesting opinions about me, and that this article was going to go through. And I could either say something about it to her or not, but she was going to expose me.
GJ: Right. The first time, I think, I was in touch with you was maybe 2004. And I’d heard about your artwork before that. It was in one of the Pop-Surrealist books that I had. And then I remember, in 2005, the National Vanguard site, mentioned that you had won the Holocaust Historiography Project for the most outrageous Nazi Atrocity Story. That was in 2005. And then in 2006, you mentioned revisionism as one of your non-art related interests in an interview — I believe it was on an Italian blog called The Extra Finger. So this is hardly a well-kept secret and you have hardly gone to great lengths to keep this a secret. And it’s kind of interesting that seven years later, finally, somebody has put this together in the mainstream and wants to bring you down or do you harm, I guess.
CK: Yep. I definitely think that they want to do me harm. Because this is part of a ritual defamation. And part of the defamation is to separate me from my friends, family, and see if they can’t impact my ability to make a living.
GJ: Right. Well, it’s good that you’re not employed by some company that could be quietly pressured behind the scenes to fire you. You are an independent person. Which doesn’t mean that you’re immune to that, it just means that they have to get in touch with a bunch of different galleries. But then you’ve got private collectors and people who contact you directly, so it’d be very difficult for them to completely cut you off from a market.
CK: Completely! But listen, now that I’ve been smeared, I’m not going to be able to go for grants and fellowships; you see? Non-profit art support organizations aren’t going to want to give me money to travel and complete projects using either city, state, or federal government monies. Or private foundation monies. I’m too toxic now to be able to be awarded any grants or residencies. I’m on a blacklist, a college blacklist of events. Directors, they’ve got some kind of thing that they’re circulating with my name on it that says it would be best not to have me included in college art gallery shows or to be invited onto a campus to lecture about my art. And that was part of my income stream for a while. I was being brought to ceramics departments in universities to talk to the graduate students. So I think that’s over now.
GJ: Right. Well, I’m really sorry to hear that. On the other hand, this does give you a little bit more freedom, I suppose.
What use are you going to make out of this new situation? Are there ways that you plan to turn this to your advantage and to the advantage of the larger community.
CK: I don’t really know how to turn this train-wreck around. And if somebody has an idea, by all means, pass it on! Because I’m sort of stymied here. I’m not going to waste a lot of time feeling sorry for myself; I’ll just continue to make my art. I’ve noticed a spike in my friend requests on Facebook so my notoriety is causing more people to want to be a Facebook friend, but that doesn’t translate as extra income, really. And I guess I could use this little “window of notoriety” where the media is interested in me, to maybe get the word out about revisionism and white nationalism.
GJ: Well, that would be a good thing!
Let me segue into talking about revisionism, in particular. First of all, you reject the term “Holocaust Denial.” That term brings to mind pictures of some Puritan witchfinder-general standing up and saying, “Do you deny the existence of God or the divinity of Christ?” It’s an Inquisitor term. It’s very loaded. And, for one thing, it’s question-begging, because it presupposes there is this massive, incontrovertible fact, and you’re guilty of the perversity of denying it.
CK: Well, listen. I’ve learned that most people, who have never even read a revisionist text let alone a bestseller on the Holocaust, like Goldhagen’s Hitler’s Willing Executioners. These people that are so upset about Holocaust deniers — they think that we are denying that there was a Holocaust. The whole thing. They say, “how could you deny the pictures of the corpses that were being bulldozed into the pits at Buchenwald?” Or, “how could you deny that my great-aunt has a tattoo? Where did she get that tattoo? How can you deny that so-and-so didn’t go through a concentration camp?” They think that the whole thing — lock, stock, and barrel — is being dismissed as some kind of hoax or a lie.
GJ: Right. It’s a strawman, in other words.
CK: It’s a complete strawman. We don’t deny that there was a Holocaust. We just deny some aspects of this received history — this series of events that they call the “Holocaust.” So I have to spend time educating some of these people that have been contacting me or commenting. Listen, I don’t want to spend a lot of time in the comments boxes below the articles wherever they’ve appeared. I’d be wasting too much time. But at my Facebook page when I’ve been attacked for denying the existence of concentration camps, for example; I’ve got to qualify was “denial” is.
It’s an umbrella term that’s been weaponized by the Holocaust industry to make everyone who has a doubt about the Holocaust be called a “denier” and then to look stupid. Just to look like we’re crazy.
GJ: Yeah. Stupid, crazy, or evil.
So you’d call yourself a “skeptic,” then?
CK: Yeah, a “skeptic.” I like that term.
GJ: And in terms of white nationalism, and things like that. What term are you comfortable with describing yourself as?
CK: A “white advocate.”
GJ: Okay. And how do you define that?
CK: Well, someone that is racially aware of their whiteness. And is proud of the achievements of European civilization.
That’s essentially what I am — A European-American who is an advocate for preserving European-American traditions and proud of the accomplishments of European-Americans.
GJ: That’s good. That’s very good. And you are explicitly opposed to the use of terms like “white supremacism” and things like that?
CK: It’s another weaponized media attack term. You know what I mean? Who, in their right mind, would want to have to reign supreme over the races? I mean, it’s ridiculous that anybody wants to control all of them.
GJ: Right. A hundred years ago, various European powers controlled practically the whole globe and there was definitely a supremacist element to that. The Russian Empire, and the British Empire, and the French Empire and things like that.
CK: Right. The colonial eras, right?
GJ: Right, and in America, of course, there was Jim Crow and things like that.
CK: In a multicultural society, all that I am asking is to be left alone to be white. [laughs] Essentially. I don’t want to reign supreme over the other races. Yeah, okay, that’s about all I want to say. Leave me alone! I don’t want to be made to feel guilty for things I didn’t participate in or have any chance to participate in. The guilt of the father, or the guilt of the grandfather, being passed onto me. I mean, come on! I wasn’t there for slavery. My family didn’t own any slaves. We came years after the Civil War.
And this whole business about my people being the cause of all of this, whatever that you, whatever anybody else finds not good about Western civilization — I don’t want to be burdened with the guilt for it! I wasn’t around for it.
GJ: Yeah, and if they really believe in collective guilt, then shouldn’t they also believe in collective pride?
CK: Yeah, but we’re not allowed to take pride in anything because they’re worried if we take too much pride in what we do then we’re going to start up the gas chambers again!
GJ: Right! Right! The phrase we like to use at Counter-Currents is: “We take our own side in ethnic conflicts.” If there are groups that are pointing their finger at white people and claiming that we’re the source of all evil in the world, you’d have to be a completely suicidal nitwit not to take your own side in those conflicts.
But a lot of liberal whites, they’re falling over themselves to accuse themselves, and hate themselves, oftentimes over completely spurious things. And yet, even though they are willing to accept collective guilt for things that other white people have done, they’re never willing to consider maybe feeling a little bit of collective pride for all the accomplishments of their kinsmen. And the danger of that, of course, is when you start comparing the tallies of things to feel bad about and things to feel proud of, there’s quite a lot to feel proud of the things that Europeans have done in the world.
CK: I think so too. And I don’t understand this rush to dismantle Western civilization, to tell you the truth!
GJ: So what advice do you have for other people who are given this kind of treatment in the future?
Do you have anything you would say to somebody who suddenly has an article published about them — “outing” them?
CK: [pauses] No, I don’t really have any advice for anybody else that might find themselves in my position.
It could be a lot worse than it is. And it’s nice that we have a First Amendment so that I’m not being charged with a “thought crime” and possibly tried and then jailed for it; you see? So I feel pretty lucky!
That’s another thing I don’t think that Americans realize about Holocaust skepticism — is that it’s a jailable felony in 14 European countries; where skeptics are sitting in prison right now because of translating — one fellow, Günter Deckert, translated a Holocaust revisionist text from Italian into German. He’s doing 5 months just for doing the translating. He’s doing 5 months in a prison with murderers, thieves, and all kinds of riff-raff; you see? And all he did — his crime was translating! The author of the book that he translated could be also charged with “defamation of the dead” or whatever it is they’re using to put these revisionists in prison. So, Americans, apparently, don’t realize the extent of the taboo. [And] what’s been done to prevent people from looking at the full spectrum of the history of the Holocaust. It’s been legislated against in Europe to investigate it.
GJ: Right. Last summer, I published a piece at the Occidental Observer called “Dealing with the Holocaust” where I argued that I didn’t really think that, from a white nationalist point of view, revisionism didn’t really have a great deal of political utility.
CK: Well, it’s a stumbling block, and I understand your position. And that’s what got me into trouble, because when they wanted to find quotes about my white nationalism, they went over to the white network where your essay was under discussion on Carolyn Yeager’s program and Hadding Scott, Carolyn, and I were debating about your premise. So they were pulling quotes from that debate to print in The Stranger to prove that I was a white nationalist.
As a Holocaust skeptic that’s spent quite a lot of time looking into the Romanian end of the Holocaust story, I can’t really give it up because I’m not finished with my research. But I understand why you would think that getting stuck on the Holocaust might prevent white nationalism from being accepted more readily by non-white nationalists.
GJ: Well, my position is that I think that all historical narratives are subject to revision, because as time progresses, you become aware of things like lies and propaganda that have been accepted as fact. You become aware of questionable assumptions that people brought to history in the past that you might want to question and then you revise their narratives in light of that. And also, new information comes to light and therefore all history has to be revised to bring it in line with facts, as Harry Elmer Barnes described revisionism.
And then, beyond that, I think that it’s an absolute scandal that the First Amendment does not apply to this and that there are people being jailed for engaging in skeptical, critical, historical inquiry.
CK: Well, not in America, where we have a First Amendment; in Europe where they don’t have a First Amendment. That’s the difference between our freedom of inquiry and freedom of speech and their lack of both.
GJ: Right, but unfortunately, our government has been all too willing to hand over people like Ernst Zündel. . .
CK: Oh! They’re complicit. Yes, they are! They’re in complicit[y] in having these people deported and punished and pilloried. And hate speech laws about Holocaust revisionist speech — they’re on the books! I mean, they’re waiting to be able to get them on the books here that we can’t revise the history of the Holocaust in America either.
GJ: And that I am totally opposed to. Even though personally I’m not into revisionism and I don’t think it’s a necessary part of white nationalism and it’s not part of my particular take on it. But at the same time, I think everyone has to stand up for the freedom of speech of revisionists and defend, in principle, the necessity of historical revision in every case.
I also think it’s a grotesque, absurd situation that the United States government actually has made entry into NATO, contingent upon having laws on the books that penalize freedom of speech and inquiry. Basically, if a country like Romania wanted to adopt the Bill of Rights of the United States, the United States would oppose them getting aid or becoming a member of NATO. So our government actually is actively opposed to any country that would want to adopt the American First Amendment, because they want to push ahead the criminalization of this particular form of historical inquiry.
CK: Exactly! And that happened to Romania when it entered the NATO-sphere and then again when it was accepted into the EU. And I think one of the rules for EU membership is you have to outlaw “hate speech” as it applies to the Holocaust history. And then there’s also an imposition of Holocaust studies; the curriculum of the Holocaust imposed on the schools. So they can get it taught beginning with primary school through college. They have a whole curriculum ready to be used in the school systems of the EU countries.
Did you know that?
GJ: Yeah, yeah! It is shocking and very, very interesting, the priorities of the American government.
Our government talks about exporting freedom and democracy around the world whenever it, say, wants to get in another war in the Middle East. Rub off another enemy of Israel in the near-East; they’re always talking about exporting freedom and democracy. But when it comes right down to brass tacks, in Europe, they are actively opposed to any country having the American Bill of Rights. Especially the First Amendment; and I think that is an eloquent testimony to the real priorities. Just like it’s an eloquent testimony to the priorities of our education system and our regime that every American thinks he knows how many Jews died during World War II but practically none of them have any idea how many Americans dies during World War II.
CK: I didn’t until I looked it up. I had no idea.
GJ: I had no idea either. And I had a Ph.D. and I still had no idea what that number was until I actually went out and looked it up.
And the other thing, of course, you point out is that it’s really extraordinary that they built a Holocaust museum before they built a memorial to the soldiers and other people who died in the Second World War.
CK: Yeah, the memorial that they built to the soldiers in World War II is only, I think, only about 5 years old. It’s very recent. And the Holocaust Museum went up right there in the heart of everything — next to the Lincoln Memorial and the Washington Monument.
Let me just reiterate: These people that died in the Holocaust didn’t live in America, they didn’t die in America, and they didn’t fight for America. So I don’t understand why, on Pennsylvania Avenue, they have to have a museum — this “museum of horrors,” by the way — planted with all the other monuments to the greatness of the American way of life and American heroes.
GJ: Irmin Vinson talks about this in his Holocaust commemoration essay which we republished at Counter-Currents, and his book, Some Thoughts About Hitler, which we also published. He talks about the reason why Holocaust education and Holocaust memorials and museums are all over America. . .
CK: In every state in the Union!
GJ: In every state. It’s not to thank America for its role in fighting Nazism in World War II and for the sacrifices they made. But rather it’s premised on the assumption that Americans are a danger and that we need to be constantly propagandized about this lest we get the same idea.
CK: Yeah, that we catch this lethal anti-Semitic virus, right, that would lead to another wholesale, industrial genocide of the Jews.
And plus, these places are set up to instill the guilt that we didn’t do enough for the Jews of Europe. That somehow, the sacrifices that we made to liberate Europe, wasn’t enough; you see? For the Jews, we could have done so much more. And that’s constantly being reiterated in the media. I mean I just read another review in, I think it was the New York Review of Books, that another couple of Jewish intellectuals decided that maybe Franklin Delano Roosevelt wasn’t so bad when he turned that ship back that was supposed to be coming here with the refugees.
Yeah, this guilt trip for Americans for not doing enough during World War II for European Jewry really chaps my hide! [laughs]
GJ: So, Charlie, we’re running out of time, really, but I want to ask you one more question: Has there been any good coverage in the mainstream media about this whole affair?
CK: No! There’s been none. The only defense anybody has mounted for me has been your two essays. And Adam Parfrey at his Feral House blog wrote a little piece that said that he supported me and my right to have these controversial and heretical opinions. But other than that, nobody has actually sat down and. . . I don’t know, deconstructed like you did Jen Graves’ article to point out all the agitprop behind her outrage.
GJ: There was a piece in the Toronto Globe & Mail that I thought was. . . it wasn’t exactly laudatory. But I thought was at least intelligent. It provided some context.
CK: It did. It provided an artistic and cultural context for the use of Nazi iconography in contemporary art. He mentioned that Polish person and then an Israeli, that I wasn’t aware of, who were both sort of playing with Nazi symbols. And I thought that was nice; at the end of the article he says Krafft’s work remains. . . didn’t he say “weirdly powerful”?
GJ: Yeah, “strangely powerful.”
CK: “Strangely powerful,” even though he’s just been outed as a — what they’re saying is that I’m a Nazi, right?
GJ: Right. They’re saying you’re Nazi. Well, maybe what will happen is you’ll just be like Ezra Pound, or Heidegger, or some of these other figures. That it will sort of rattle around in the background, but people will still be looking at your work [and] taking it seriously and displaying it. I hope that that’s what happens. I really do.
CK: Well, I think that will happen. But at the same time, if I don’t generate more conversation about the things we’ve just discussed in the mainstream media then this all has been kind of for naught; I mean, my martyrdom is going to have been for naught!
I’d like to see more people outside of Counter-Currents. . . we’re way off in the fringe of media; you know?
I don’t understand why they can’t talk about it, let’s say, at The Nation or some other place that has a wider audience because these are issues that I think should be addressed by thinking people.
GJ: Well, why don’t you approach, say, Alexander Cockburn, or somebody like that; people at, say, CounterPunch? These people do sometimes think outside the box.
CK: They do. I suppose I could. I could do that.
Alexander Cockburn just died, you know? Who’s left over there?
GJ: Oh, well, I didn’t know that. I’m out of touch. I hadn’t tuned into CounterPunch for awhile. That’s sad, I didn’t know that.
CK: Yeah, unfortunately, he’s dead. He died about 6 months ago.
GJ: Okay, well, I really haven’t been tuned in over at CounterPunch for a long time, then!
CK: Who’s that Libertarian that we like — Anti-War.com?
GJ: Oh, Justin Raimondo.
CK: Yeah, Justin Raimondo! He’s about as good as Alexander Cockburn used to be.
GJ: Yeah, it would interesting. I think he would run screaming from the idea of any kind of historical revisionism, even though he knows, that as far as the neocons are concerned, it’s always Munich 1938 and we’re always refighting the Second World War.
I really do think, in general, the Second World War has to be treated under a magnifying glass and our understanding of it has to be reevaluated. Because every new war that’s being sold is being sold on the model of a particular whitewashed narrative of the Second World War. And until we really question that narrative of the Second World War, we’re not going to ever be able to avoid the people who are pumping for a Third and a Fourth world war. And that’s really the great political problem of the globe, I think. And so I do think revisionism, in a broad sense, is absolutely necessary if we’re going to save the world from nuclear holocaust, frankly.
So, Charlie. Is there any last thing you want to say?
CK: Your comment about revisionism being good for peace, future peace. Let me recommend Herbert Hoover’s Secret War Diaries that were just published; there’s about 970 pages of really solid World War II revisionism there that for people that are interested in World War II, I recommend that book.
GJ: Well, great! Thank you very, very much. I really have enjoyed having you on. And we really appreciate what you’ve done. We appreciate you being courageous and standing your ground and stating your views publicly for all these years. And I hope the bastards don’t get you down!
CK: Well, I don’t think that they’re going to get me down. And if they do, I’ll be running to you for help! [laughs]
GJ: Well, okay! We’ll be in touch one way or another.
CK: Yeah! Okay, thanks a lot!
GJ: Thank you! Bye.
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