When we imagine of North Dakota, thoughts of blizzards, Lutherans or a 60-ton buffalo statue come to mind.
Or maybe you are from North Dakota, so we can assume you have no problem spelling "Wahpeton," at least 50% of your relatives smell like beets and you refer to the state just east of you as "The People's Republic of Minnesota."
But while North Dakotans might "send liberal Democrats to Congress and rock-ribbed Republicans to the statehouse," one tiny town is sending neo-Nazis to its council.
Well, let's be more clear. Craig Cobb, a "self-confessed white supremacist" showed up in Leith, N.D. in May 2012 after he was kicked out of Canada to avoid criminal charges for a white power/hate blog (who gets kicked out of Canada?).
Cobb had big plans to transform the small town into a neo-Nazi colony. And so far, his plans are moving forward.
Leith is about 60 miles southwest of Bismark, the state capital. It's the home to 24 residents, including one mixed-race family that is feeling uncomfortable at the prospect of a neo-Nazi colony. Cobb has bought over a dozen plots of land in Leith, along with a house he purchased on Craigslist. He also charitably donated the town's creamery and meat locker to the National Socialist Party.
But this is only the beginning of Cobb's vision. Three more white supremacists have bought property into Leith.
If the scheme wasn't crazy enough.. one of the three Nazikateers is the mother of the white nationalist pre-teen pop duo from the early 2000s, Prussian Blue. (On a side note, yes, this exists. "Prussian blue" is a by-product of the chemical used in gas chambers during the Holocaust. Imagine Rudyard Kipling's "White Man's Burden" mixed with Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen, and add a dash of smiley-faced Hitler t-shirts. Check out the twins' hit music video, "Victory Day.")
So, what are Cobb's "big plans" for Leith? Here are a few of his goals:
1. Encourage more neo-Nazis to move to Leith and take over the town council. "I only need 17 people," said Cobb. "You have to have a majority to win an election. If we get 22 we've got a landslide."
2. Continue forming an online presence, posting on forums to promote his enclave while avoiding adding indoor plumbing to his two-story abode.
3. Transfer land purchases to friends such as former grand wizard of the Ku Klux Klan and founder of the White Aryan Resistance, Tom Metzger (sounds like a champion....of white supremacy.)
4. Fund a park with a swimming pool dedicated to a neo-Nazi.
5. Host a white power music festival in Leith.
6. Create "racialist" banners for residents to hang on their porches, decorated with Swastikas.
7. Arrest any liberal journalists who visit Leith to "try to make trouble."
Mayor Ryan Schock explained that there is a doomsday plan in place if the neo-Nazis truly threaten to take over the town. He explained to The New York Times,
If enough of Mr. Cobb’s friends move in to gain a majority that could vote out the current government, the Council would immediately dissolve the town.
Cobb is also potentially in violation of town health code for living in a home without a septic tank or running water. He moved from Minnesota to North Dakota to find work in the oil field industry, but lost his construction job last week after his story became national news.
Community members are supporting Bobby Harper, the only black resident of Leith. While some encouraged him to leave town for the weekend for a break, his wife Sherrill decided Cobb wouldn't run them out of Leith after reading one of his online postings, describing her as a "filthy race-mixing white woman."
Cobb looks more like a friendly hippie with his shaggy white hair and beard than a spewing, scheming, racist Nazi. Still, the undertones of hate are still too present, especially if they're intruding a tiny town in southern North Dakota. Even if Cobb's plans are irrational and unlikely to succeed, his mindset is destructive to the morale of the Leith community. In Cobb's own words, "If I'm the only one in Leith forever, white consciousness has already been raised."
We'll keep you updated on this story as we find out if Cobb is a scheming weasel or just a publicity hound.