Matthew Heimbach started drawing attention for his white nationalist views in college at Towson University. With the focus on the “alt-right” that has come with Donald Trump’s candidacy and electoral win, Heimbach is appearing in national media. His appearances are a window onto the way the media is approaching the movement.
He first made 2016 news when he reportedly shoved a black protester during a Trump campaign rally earlier this year. The Washington Post said he may be the “next David Duke.” Ryan Lenz of the Southern Poverty Law Center called him the “affable, youthful face of hate in America.” Such words stand out with higher profile of white nationalists since Trump’s win and the commentary that warned against normalizing white nationalism that followed.
In Sunday’s New York Times, Heimbach was one of the white nationalists featured as part of a feature that said they were undergoing a “makeover” to the “shroud the swastikas.” We learn that Heimbach is now living in Indiana, and the piece features pictures of Heimbach and his wife holding their young son around their home. He tells the Times that it’s a “beautiful thing” that the political establishment “has made an entire generation of young men and women into fascists.”
A week earlier, he told Business Insider that Russia is the “leader of the free world” and praised Russian President Vladimir Putin, who the piece says is a hero to white nationalists.
“We’re trying to position ourselves to be a part of this worldwide movement of globalism versus nationalism. It’s a new age,” he said.
Heimbach has been getting this kind of attention since college with moves like nighttime crime patrols to investigate “black male against white female crime.” Where he goes, attention — for himself and in turn his views — always seems to follow.