Yesterday the website for the Northwest Front confirmed the death of its founder, 64-year-old Neo-Nazi Harold Covington. “It is with a heavy heart I must inform you all that Harold Armstead Covington, founder of the Northwest Front, passed away last week in his apartment in Bremerton, WA,” wrote NF member Andy Donner. “Thankfully, preparations were made and the Party continues to operate in service of the Northwest Imperative,” he added.
This so-called “Northwest Imperative” was Covington’s dream: A white ethnostate carved out of territory in the northwest United States. Known as the “Butler Plan,” it proposed that white supremacists flock to a “core territory” made up of “Idaho, Oregon, Washington, and the western part of Montana with Interstate 15 being the approximate eastern border.” That means alt-right leader Richard Spencer could just stay in his hometown of Whitefish, which would be super convenient.
Unfortunately for Covington, he will never get a chance to see this plan come to fruition, and not just because it’s ridiculous and even few white supremacists take it seriously. Covington died days before that blog post, on July 14, 2018 — an end to a lifetime of hatred and grifting. Covington spent the majority of his life devoted to the tenets of National Socialism, a poisonous ideology that destroyed all of his closest relationships.
In his younger days Covington wanted to be an Army Ranger, but couldn’t pass the entrance requirements. Instead, he was assigned to the 14th Infantry Division and sent to Schofield Barracks in Hawaii. Although other members of his infantry division ended up in Vietnam, Covington never saw combat. Instead, he was caught distributing pro-Nazi pamphlets and ordered to see the base psychiatrist. He was discharged in 1972 after being diagnosed with paranoid personality disorder.
After the short stint in the U.S. Army he set his sights on aiding the military of white-ruled Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe). The thought of being a mercenary in a white supremacist African nation must have been tantalizing to Covington, but according to contemporaneous letters he sent his parents he was assigned work as a file clerk. Eventually even the Rhodesian military had their fill of Covington, and he was eventually kicked out.
In the late ’70s Covington, back in the states, led the North Carolina chapter of the National Socialist Party of America. It was members of that chapter who, in 1979, murdered five anti-Klan protesters in what became known as the Greensboro Massacre. Covington would later boast of “greasing Communists” in Greensboro even though, as usual, he never participated in any fighting. Fighting, it would seem, was for other people.
But that didn’t stop him from lying about himself in order to project an image of a fighter. In a 2008 interview with the Southern Poverty Law Center, Harold’s brother Ben Covington said that Harold exaggerated details about his time in Rhodesia. “In different blogs and writings, he was always bragging, ‘Oh, I was a mercenary in Rhodesia and I went out and did all this fighting,'” Ben said.
This was entirely typical of Harold. He even lied about a grade school fight that he turned into his Neo-Nazi origin story. According to Ben, Harold would tell “a story about when he had his great racial epiphany,” which was when two or three black students cornered him in the bathroom. “According to him, the black kids were up to thuggery and he, bravely, of course, grabbed a Pepsi bottle, smashed it, and fought his way out, bloodying his foes and covering himself in glory,” Ben told the SPLC.
“He learned from this, of course, that he could stand up righteously and defend himself as a free white man.”
In reality, Harold, when confronted by these students after “mouthing off” to them in the school courtyard, never smashed a bottle and fought back. Instead he urinated in his pants, forcing their parents to pick him up from school. Their father called the principal, but when the principal was adamant that Harold was at fault, their father told Harold that “if he was going to get into a fight, then do so, but if he was going to just shoot his mouth off and then act like a coward, then he got what he deserved.”
And Harold’s troubles didn’t end there. For years he fought with their parents, refusing their help in getting into a university in the U.S. because he had his heart set on the University of South Africa in Cape Town. At the time, South Africa was ruled by a brutal apartheid regime, which likely explains this choice. In the ’80s he moved to Ireland to manage a bookstore with his father’s financial backing. The bookstore floundered and shut down.
He married an Irish woman named Louise and had two children. He was still dependent on his father’s money as he was unable to gain Irish citizenship or find gainful employment. He moved his family to the Isle of Man and purchased a house with money sent from his father, but was warned that he would eventually have to find a real job to support his wife and children. Eventually he decided to move back to the United States, but his father refused to pay for this.
As Ben recalled, their father told Harold he was not going to “foot the bill for you to come back to Raleigh to take up your life as a Nazi.”
Their father eventually offered to pay for Harold and his family to fly to the states, on the condition they live somewhere west of the Mississippi. Harold refused, which was the last straw for his father who finally stopped subsidizing his son’s lifestyle. Ben said that Harold “cut and ran,” abandoning his wife and children and cleaning out their bank account. He moved back to the U.S. to take up his life as a Nazi, and founded the National Socialist White People’s Party (NSWPP) in Chapel Hill, North Carolina.
In that time span he would send his father letters and cards accusing him of ruining his life and depriving him of his family. He baselessly claimed that his father murdered his mother, who passed away in 1984. Ben called this “delusional,” and pointed out that their mother was a two-time cancer survivor with heart arrhythmia.
Eventually Harold founded the Northwest Front and settled out west, as he initially refused to do when asked by his father. He advocated for “racial migrants” to settle and eventually take over a large portion of the United States. According to the NF’s FAQ section, “If you refrain from shooting up restaurants with an automatic rifle, if you blend in, pay your bills, make friends and show people you are a normal human being, you won’t have much trouble with the locals [in the northwest U.S.].”
From 2010 until his death he hosted a podcast called Radio Free Northwest, which was hosted on the website Radio Aryan alongside shows like Grandpa Lampshade’s Thoughts of the Day, Sven Longshanks’ The Daily Traditionalist, and Dennis Wise’s Truth Will Out Radio.
For a time the program was co-hosted by Corinna Burt, a body builder who had a brief stint in the adult industry, under the alias “Axis Sally.” By 2013 she had left white nationalism behind, and, in an interview with the SPLC, explained that Covington’s goal was “to get a thousand alpha Aryan males to move to his neighborhood and then basically just start shooting everyone who isn’t white.”
Indeed, Burt painted a portrait of a man who was unstable and paranoid. He “called nearly everyone in the [white supremacist] movement a homosexual,” was petrified of the thought that black men wanted to rape him, and his apartment was “filthy” with “layers of grime” on the walls. In her words, Covington was “pretty much the most horrible person ever.”
His final years were spent making YouTube videos and podcasts for NF, much of which failed to gain traction even among other white nationalists. In the age of the alt-right, troll storms, racist memes, and torch marches, Harold’s influence had waned to practically nothing. When he was in the news, it was for calling Dylann Roof’s Charleston bloodbath “a preview of coming attractions” and speculating that The Right Stuff’s Mike Enoch was secretly Jewish.
He had already alienated his family, turning his back on his parents, brother, wife, and children. His kids, after reading about Harold online, decided they wanted nothing to do with him. White nationalists who once supported him had abandoned him over his paranoid belief that everyone else in the movement was compromised or out to get him.
Even Occidental Dissent’s Brad Griffin wrote that Harold “was a difficult person to get along with” and “clashed over the years with nearly everyone in the White Nationalist movement.”
I had only ever written about this curmudgeonly racist once, but decided that he didn’t seem important enough to merit further attention. Looking back I stand by that calculation. His brother Ben probably summed it up the best, however, stating that “the bottom line here is that my brother is a coward. He has always been a coward and he will die a coward.” On July 14, 2018, Harold Armstead Covington died a coward at the age of 64. He will not be missed.