Elliott Kline and I played football together at Wilson High School in West Lawn, PA. I was two years his senior, and at the time my high school housed grades 10 thru 12, so we only really knew each other for one year. However, I remember him fondly, because he wasn't a total dick to me.
There is something to be said for high school football players who aren't total dicks. No man should have to receive a participation trophy for not being a complete and utter monster, but it seems like that's what Elliott has probably become.
After high school, we kept in contact via Facebook. Like a handful of other people who I went to school with, I probably interacted with him online more than I ever did IRL. He normally wouldn't comment on anything unless it was to argue with me. But that was okay. We shared a dark sense of humor.
I can't remember exactly when it happened, but it couldn't have been more than two years ago. His level of vitriol toward myself, my friends, and my beliefs had increased tenfold. Bear in mind, these interactions were exclusively via Facebook. He never threatened or harassed me, but dealing with his anger, circular arguments, deflections, and proud ignorance had become a real chore. It started to appear as if my former teammate had become kind of a racist jerk.
When I shared a Shaun King post about why people should stop defending Bill Cosby, Elliott said he agreed but chastised me for supporting a "racist" journalist who lies about being black. If you're not already familiar with these attacks on Shaun King's integrity, as I was not, you're probably thinking, "well, that's an awfully weird, tangential position to take." At the time, I thought it reeked of some Breitbart-esque bullshit. Upon minimal additional research, it became clear that Breitbart itself was the official source of this slander.
On another occasion, he asserted that placing Harriet Tubman's image on the $20 bill was a form of "affirmative action," and he was tired of it. Then there was the time that he essentially argued no one on the internet should ever be shamed for anything ever, because free speech. I agreed that sometimes internet shaming gets out of hand, and I will always recommend that you read Jon Ronson's "So You've been Publicly Shamed" if you want a wonderfully nuanced and humorous perspective on the issue. However, we're allowed to use our free speech to tell people we disagree with to fuck off.
Appropriately enough, this is exactly what he did to me after Donald Trump won the 2016 general election.
I was relieved to see this is what he had commented, upon receiving a notification from him, as I expected a polemic screed to end all screeds. I wish I had more screenshots like this, so that I could substantiate my paraphrasing of his other comments, but he has since either deactivated his account or blocked me.
Anyway, before he unfriended me (which he did before his account disappeared from my view), I encouraged him to message me privately rather than spew his verbal diarrhea all over my already admittedly unclean Facebook page. If he was genuinely interested in a dialogue with me, rather than the spectacle of an online argument, he should just talk to me. Normally when I encourage trolls to do this, they back down, because they are not interested in dialogue. But Elliott begrudgingly began messaging me. His demeanor was much more chummy. I was pleasantly surprised.
It was through these exchanges that I began to form a more coherent view of the alt-right. Elliott encouraged me to check out popular "alt-lite" figures such as Milo Yiannopoulos, Sargon of Akkad, and Dave Rubin. Publicly, Elliott would condemn me as a "lost cause," and assure me that I was "not an intellectual" but an "idealogue" whom he only kept around for the lulz. Privately, we shared how our experiences shaped who we believed we'd become. He offered to help me write a stronger CV, and I agreed to participate in a YouTube channel he was considering starting.
At the time, I assumed Elliott's public criticisms were projections of his insecurities. However, I've come to believe that they may have been more insidious than that. I now suspect he was not interested in maintaining any kind of friendship, but was trying to recruit me. Perhaps it's narcissistic of me to think of myself as useful to anyone other than my own damn self, but these insecurities are openly and routinely exploited in alt-right adherents by the respective leaders of its various contingencies.
I'm pretty sure the election marked the end of his efforts with me. Several months ago, One People's Project published something of a dossier on him. His public pseudonym, "Eli Mosley," is inspired by infamous Hitler-loving British fascist, Oswald Mosley. I already figured Elliott for a fascist, but hot damn. In the time since his disengagement with me, he quickly ascended the alt-right ranks, appearing on many far right podcasts, becoming best bros with antifa's favorite punching bag, Richard Spencer, and organizing both of the alt-right's events in Charlottesville, VA. He can be seen multiple times in the viral Vice News documentary on the Unite the Right rally, though he is unidentified in the piece. My favorite moment in the documentary is at around the 9:00 mark, when he threatens the police.
"Eli" is currently the leader of Identity Evropa. When he isn't throwing Jason Kessler or Chris Cantwell under the bus, he's defending himself from trolls against claims that he's Jewish. What a fun coincidence considering his earlier perpetuation of racist slander against Shaun King. No matter how deftly Elliott attempts to squirm around the legalese of Virginia or federal law, he has blood on his hands.
I'm writing this not necessarily to attack Eli Mosley, but to demonstrate to my liberal or centrist friends the futility of dialogue with some of these people. I don't entirely believe that Elliott Kline is irredeemable. More dedicated white supremacists have recovered and gone on to speak out against their past lives of hate. However, I understand that I am ill-equipped to facilitate this rehabilitation. Unless you can provide for me an alternative, and I am very much willing to listen, I will continue to support direct action against fascist threats. Specifically, with regards to my former football teammate, I will resume watching him stumble down his current path with equal parts repulsion and fascination.