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“Vile, Hateful & Racist”: A Fargo Family Disowns White Supremacist Relative After Charlottesville

StoryAugust 17, 2017
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One of the participants in the white supremacist rally in Charlottesville was a man named Peter Tefft. He was outed by the Twitter group “Yes, You’re Racist,” which had been posting screenshots of participants in an effort to expose them. His father, Pearce Tefft, has come out and publicly denounced his white supremacist son in an open letter published in The Forum, a newspaper in Fargo. The letter read, in part, “I, along with all of his siblings and his entire family, wish to loudly repudiate my son’s vile, hateful and racist rhetoric and actions. We do not know specifically where he learned these beliefs. He did not learn them at home.” We speak with Jacob Scott, the nephew of Peter Tefft.

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This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.

AMY GOODMAN: Another participant in the white supremacist rally in Charlottesville was a man named Peter Tefft. He was outed by the Twitter group Yes, You’re Racist, which had been posting screenshots of participants in an effort to expose them. The site posted a picture along with the tweet, “This charming Nazi is Pete Tefft of Fargo, ND.”

Well, on Monday, Pearce Tefft publicly denounced his white supremacist son, Peter, in an open letter published in The Forum, a newspaper in Fargo. The letter read, in part, quote, “I, along with all of his siblings and his entire family, wish to loudly repudiate my son’s vile, hateful and racist rhetoric and actions. We do not know specifically where he learned these beliefs. He did not learn them at home,” his dad wrote.

The letter ended, quote, “Peter, you will have to shovel our bodies into the oven, too. Please son, renounce the hate, accept and love all.”

Joining us now is Jacob Scott, nephew of Peter Tefft. Jacob, your uncle marching in Charlottesville, talk about what’s happening in your family right now. You, too, live in Fargo, North Dakota, where we’re speaking to you.

JACOB SCOTT: I do. Peter had, for a long time, been a bit of a bully and kind of unstable. And my cousin and I had long wanted there to be some kind of reaction to this from the family, you know, some kind of repudiation. It was after Charlottesville, after he was involved in a demonstration that killed a person, that we were kind of finally able to get the rest of the family on board with us.

And we had been kind of forthcoming to the community. We had—there had been posters that had been put up around Fargo by some other people who had encountered him and who had dealt with his hate, kind of saying—with his picture on them, saying, you know, “This is Pete Tefft. He’s a Nazi. He’s not welcome in this community.” And when these posters started coming up, people started talking to me and my cousin, and we were like, “Yeah, he’s a Nazi. You should disassociate with him if you know him.”

But, you know, going to what the guy who founded Life After Hate said, I do think his ideology comes from something deeper than just, you know, the facts or the values. You know, he really—I feel like there’s something broken about him as a person, and he’s often very—he’ll get very, very emotional, very, very suddenly, if you get him flustered. And he’ll get violent. I mean, there was an incident where he attempted to assault my other cousin. So, I definitely do agree with the idea that this comes from something more deep-seated.

AMY GOODMAN: How did his white nationalism happen? Did you see it as you were growing up? Are you about the same age, even though he’s your uncle?

JACOB SCOTT: I’m a little younger than him. I’m the oldest of my generation. He’s is the youngest of his generation. So, even though we’re uncles, we’re closer to age. We’re more like cousins, but—

AMY GOODMAN: And what does it—what does it mean to say that his father has disowned him?

JACOB SCOTT: What was that?

AMY GOODMAN: What does it mean to say that his dad has disowned him, his family has disowned him?

JACOB SCOTT: Well, it means that he’s not welcome at family gatherings anymore. It means that pretty much nobody in our family would welcome him into our homes.

To answer your first question, he–you know, our whole family, I mean, we’re all progressives. We’re all feminists. But around 2012, around the time of the Ron Paul presidential campaign, Peter started getting off into these sort of fringe internet spaces, like 4chan and Infowars and the like, and he started kind of swallowing up that whole mythos. And once he got inundated in that, he just kept moving further and further and further right. And this all happened kind of behind our backs. He became a men’s rights activist. And then, a couple years ago, he showed up to a family gathering and started ranting about the Jews. And I asked him if he identified as a white nationalist, and he said, “Yeah, I’m a fascist.” And—

AMY GOODMAN: Well, his father wrote, Jacob—his father wrote in this open letter, “The thing about”—that his son once joked, “The thing about us fascists is, it’s not that we don’t believe in freedom of speech. You can say whatever you want. We’ll just throw you in an oven.” So his father wrote, “Peter, you will have to shovel our bodies into the oven, too.”

This is Part 1 of our conversation. You and Christian, we will continue with, in dialogue together. Jacob Scott, nephew of the white nationalist Peter Tefft, who marched in Charlottesville, and Christian Picciolini, former neo-Nazi, co-founder of Life After Hate, just defunded by the Trump administration.

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