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What white supremacists teach us about online dating

Commentary: A neo-Nazi organizer was banned from OkCupid after taking part in the Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, Virginia. This is a cautionary tale.

Online dating is more popular than ever. You probably know some couples who've paired off after meeting on a matchmaking website. Mazel tov!

But if you find the idea of meeting a potential soulmate from the internet IRL unsettling, oh boy, do I have a tale to spin for you.

It's about a 36-year-old fella named Chris Cantwell, who let prospective partners visiting his OkCupid profile know he's "interested in getting married and having children."

The would-be family man is also a bona fide TV star after being featured in a Vice News documentary earlier this month. It's just a shame that the documentary was about the Unite the Right rally on Aug. 12 in Charlottesville, Virginia, that left one woman dead and 19 injured. 

Cantwell isn't only seeking love, you see. He's also seeking a white ethnostate. It's something of a turn-off.

People leave stuff out of dating profiles all the time. Do you think my Tinder bio explains that I spend my free time watching Japanese pro wrestling or that I haven't listened to any music made after 1997?  

Leaving out that you're a neo-Nazi, though? That's bold. Imagine all the awkward first dates that leads to.

Not that you can blame online dating entirely. Many of my friends have found love through the magic of Tinder, Match or OkCupid. Still, plenty of people are freaked out by the whole enterprise. One-third of people who have used online dating services have never actually gone on a date set up through the services, the Pew Research Center said last year. For these folk, I don't imagine suitors like Cantwell do much to instill confidence.

That unease can largely be chalked up to the jarring contrast between the Cantwell of OkCupid and the Cantwell of Vice's documentary. It's literally the difference between "I'm splitting my time between building my business and and [sic] improving my physique" and "We'll kill these people if we have to." Gym on Thursday, Unite the Right rally on Friday.

Cantwell doesn't come across well in the Vice piece. Along with other members of the self-described alt-right, a loose collection of white nationalists and neo-Nazis, Cantwell storms through the streets of Charlottesville to protest the removal of a Confederate statue. Things were pretty ugly from the start, but they took a deadly turn when a car allegedly driven by a neo-Nazi plowed into a crowd of counter-protesters, killing 32-year-old Heather Heyer.

Her death was "more than justified," Cantwell tells Vice. "I think that a lot more people are gonna die before we're done here."

None of Cantwell's anger comes through in his OkCupid profile, which the company quickly pulled. OkCupid says it has no tolerance for racism and felt it needed to make a stand consistent with its beliefs. It says it will pull profiles for anyone else who is part of a hate group. Sorry, ItsChris603

"We make a lot of tough decisions every day," OkCupid CEO Elie Seidman said in a blog post. "This was not one of them."

All of this might be moot because it looks like Cantwell could be off the market for a while. On Wednesday, Cantwell reportedly turned himself in to police in Virginia, where he was wanted on three felony charges stemming from his behavior at a torch ceremony the evening before the protest. A day later, on Thursday, Cantwell was denied bail, reports CNN

Police couldn't comment, but Cantwell's next date will probably be in court. Sorry, ladies.

Still, if you'd still like to have a look at what you're missing, Cantwell's old profiles are still available at the Internet Archive. They're wild. Not because of what Cantwell says, but because of what he doesn't say.  

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It's a shame Cantwell was banned from the site -- this could have been such a nice, totally non-threatening OkCupid picture for him to use.

Vice

I don't know what you'd expect a neo-Nazi's dating profile to look like. I figured it'd, y'know, reflect Nazism. I expected Mein Kampf: OkCupid Edition.

But it wasn't that. Cantwell, who once ran for Congress in New York, comes off relatively well. Relative to other Nazis, I mean.

"I talk a great deal about philosophical issues," he wrote in an archived profile. "Morality, politics, economics, religion, relationships and everything in between."

That sounds more like a pretentious college freshman than the alt-right figure who told Vice that he wanted a president who is "a lot more racist than Donald Trump."

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Nowhere does he mention white nationalism, though he does gently describe himself as "jacked."

If you'd like to see another Cantwell profile, you can check out the Southern Poverty Law Center's biography of the New Hampshire resident. He also has an old blog, with a tagline that reads "Anarchist, Atheist, Asshole." Neither are likely to make you want to date him.

OkCupid isn't the only company to pull its services from neo-Nazis. After the rally, FacebookGoFundMe and Airbnb said they'll boot anyone who's part of a hate group.

The Daily Stormer, a hate site that helped pull together the Charlottesville rally, has since been banished from the internet thanks in large part to GoDaddy and Google. That's the same website, by the way, that told its readers women really dig white supremacy.

Conservative folk might say free speech is being trampled on, but no constitution can shield the neo-Nazi movement from the wrath of Silicon Valley.

I reached out to Cantwell for comment on his profile being yanked by OkCupid. He responded quickly via email using a slur for Jews, who he says "will stop at nothing."

#JustNaziThings.

First published Aug. 22, 5:00 a.m. PT
Update, Aug. 24 12:36 a.m. PT: Adds news that Cantwell surrendered to police in Virginia.
Update, Aug. 25 10:39 p.m. PT: Adds news of Cantwell being denied bail. 

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