The central project for most neofascists is to restore the place of unapologetic white supremacism to its former dominance in American (and global) society, so many of their activities and strategies involve finding ways to insinuate themselves as a toxic presence within the functioning components of working democracy so they can hollow them out and displace them with their own. Whether it’s the local police, or local and state politics, or environmental activism, or Republican politics, or even athletic events, the growing ranks of Hitler-loving neo-Nazis keep finding new ways to worm their way into the mainstream mix.
And then there is education. Especially education. Hatred of what they call the “Jewish” or “Communist” public education system in America has long been a cornerstone of neofascist beliefs, and their advocacy for removing the children of movement followers from public schools and homeschooling them dates back to at least the 1980s. And as we can see from the recent exposure of a neo-Nazi Ohio couple’s “Dissident Homeschooling” operation, it’s alive and festering on social media today.
Homeschooling in order to indoctrinate children within the movement has been an important component of far-right advocacy for decades; that is, after all, the reason that Randy and Vicki Weaver moved to the northern Idaho panhandle in the 1980s and bought a home in the woods of Ruby Ridge. One of the best-known organizations for providing homeschooling materials is a far-right Christian nationalist outfit based in Moscow, Idaho, which features lessons offering slavery apologetics and misogynist tropes.
But the “Dissident Homeschooling” operation, organized on Telegram, takes the extremism in an entirely new, explicitly fascist direction. Its overseers post archival photos of German children performing the Nazi salute in class. It shares curricula featuring books that celebrate Hitler and memes dismissing the Holocaust as a hoax, or depicting Black people as apelike beasts.
The husband-and-wife pair who run the Telegram channel—which currently has 2,500 subscribers—were recently exposed by the Anonymous Comrades Collective, a group of antifascist researchers that released a Jan. 23 report and Twitter thread revealing their identities as Logan and Katja Lawrence of Upper Sandusky, Ohio, who use the noms de plume “Mr. and Mrs. Saxon” on Telegram. Reportage by Christopher Mathias at HuffPost and David Gilbert at Vice further confirmed their identities.
“I just work hard to homeschool the children, live life, enjoy the children, do the whole homestead bit, AND secretly anonymously share homeschool information with a group of fellow nazis on a private little corner of the internet so that our children can all become super aware and fight for their race,” explained Katja Lawrence, who seems to do the majority of writing on the channel.
She shares recipes for Führerkuchen (Führer cake) and boasts about her swastika snickerdoodles. She also shares words of wisdom from Hitler about the value of reading stories, and shares audio of her children shouting, “Sieg Heil!”
Her husband, Logan Lawrence, runs his family’s insurance business in Upper Sandusky, and is an officer in the local Masonic lodge. Katja Lawrence is an immigrant from the Netherlands who obtained her U.S. citizenship in 2017. They own a German Shepherd named “Blondi,” after Hitler’s dog of the same breed.
They appeared together on a neo-Nazi podcast called Achtung Amerikaner, extolling the virtues of homeschooling young Nazis. “We have our children’s best interest at heart and nobody can do a better job than we can because it’s our child. We are so deeply invested into making sure that that child becomes a wonderful Nazi,” she said.
“Typically speaking,” wrote “Mrs. Saxon” on Telegram, “whites build societies whereas blacks destroy them.” In another post she mused: “Without homeschooling our children our children are left defenseless to the schools and the Gay Afro Zionist scum that run them.”
On Martin Luther King Day, Mrs. Saxon offered her thoughts about what to tell children about the holiday:
Martin Luther King is known for many things, and it is up to us to ensure our children know him for the deceitful, dishonest, riot-inciting negro he actually was. He is the face of a movement which ethnically cleansed whites out of urban areas and precipitated the anti-white regime that we are now fighting to free ourselves from.
This movement, that forced negro idolatry into all areas of society and its power to radically alter the character of our nation was granted to it by Jewish radicals, cowardly politicians and the treachery of the media.
She included a downloadable lesson plan, which teaches children that King was “a degenerate anti-white criminal whose life’s work was to make it impossible for white communities to protect their own way of life and keep their people safe from black crime.”
As Mathias describes the channel:
There are copywork assignments available for parents to print out, so that their children can learn cursive by writing out quotes from Adolf Hitler. There are recommended reading lists with bits of advice like “do not give them Jewish media content,” and there are tips for ensuring that home-schooling parents are in “full compliance with the law” so that “the state” doesn’t interfere.
The channel also frequently touts book offerings from the neofascist publisher Antelope Hill, a Pennsylvania-based house with a catalogue entirely comprising far-right texts, particularly translations of historical works by Nazis and fascists of the early to mid-20th century. It also publishes original works by contemporary white nationalists and neofascists, including the testicle-tanning “manliness” guru/expert Tucker Carlson produced a whole “documentary” about.
The Southern Poverty Law Center’s Hatewatch blog exposed Antelope Hill in an in-depth report earlier this year. “Since 2020, Antelope Hill has profited from hate by translating historical works by 20th-century Nazis and fascists, offering a publishing platform to contemporary white power propagandists and shipping books around the world using selling platforms including Amazon,” it reports.
Gilbert contacted the host of Achtung Amerikaner for comment on the Lawrences and their channel, and received a brief reply from the podcast host, who uses the nom de guerre Gordon Kahl: “I think you should kill yourself instead.” (“Kahl”—a reference to a neo-Nazi martyr of the early 1980s from North Dakota—in fact was also recently exposed by Anonymous Comrades Collective as a South Dakota man named Riggin Scheer.)
Mathias notes that the Lawrences’ operation is, in fact, perfectly legal under Ohio state law (as well as most homeschool-friendly states). Ohio is considered a “moderate” state when it comes to regulating homeschooling. As Mathias observes:
Although the Lawrences will now surely face some public scorn and accountability, it’s likely their neo-Nazi curriculum is legal. A concerted, decades-long campaign by right-wing Christian groups to deregulate home schooling has afforded parents wide latitude in how they teach their kids — even if that means indoctrinating them with explicit fascism.
Meanwhile major right-wing figures are increasingly promoting homeschooling as a way to save children from alleged “wokeness”—liberal ideas about race and gender—in public and private schools. As extreme as the Dissident Homeschool channel is, the propaganda it shares targeting the American education system is just a more explicit and crass articulation of talking points made by Fox News hosts or by major figures in the Republican Party.
However, Gilbert reports in Vice that the Ohio Department of Education is “now actively reviewing compliance with statutory and regulatory requirements as a result of the media reports.” Congressman Bob Latta, who represents the district in which Upper Sandusky is located, called for the authorities to investigate the homeschool network.
In the meantime, it should surprise no one who has followed Twitter’s operations under Elon Musk closely that Anonymous Comrades Collective received a takedown warning notice from the platform for some of its tweets, so they complied. At least they haven’t been personally targeted for excision by Musk following Andy Ngo’s dictates, like Chad Loder. Yet.