Too long to quote in its entirety, but it just gets more surreal from there.In the spring of 2017, Thomas White had an idea: What if he combined his love of gourmet coffee with his staunch belief in a white ethnostate?
In caffeinated circles, White was already well-known. Espresso Joya, which he opened in 2015, was a fixture of Thunder Bay, Ontario’s small but vibrant arts scene. The walls of the coffee shop, located in the town’s trendy Waterfront District, served as a revolving gallery for local artists. Joya’s small stage regularly hosted a mostly-acoustic plethora of singer-songwriters, and its shelves were stocked with local food and goods.
The quality of Joya’s espresso, hyped by locals and out of town Yelp users alike, completed this artsy smorgasbord. “It’s all about doing really exceptional quality in terms of the quality and the product as well as providing a really nice space for local artists,” White said in a short 2017 documentary on Thunder Bay’s coffee scene. An accredited teacher, he taught drawing art at the local arts centre and was a volunteer firefighter.
Online, White was the antithesis of this very earnest coffee shop owner. For the last six months, under the alias “League of the North,” White has co-hosted “This Hour Has 88 Minutes,” the most popular white supremacist podcast in the country.
VICE conducted a months-long investigation into White and his coffee businesses. This included going through hours upon hours of podcasts, thousands of forum posts, pulling property records, and speaking to numerous people familiar with the situation on background. Two separate teams, one from VICE Canada, the other from VICE Quebec, arrived at the same conclusion independently—former Thunder Bay coffee whiz Thomas White was the man behind both the neo-Nazi coffee company Rising Sun Coffee and League of the North, making him one of the biggest players in the booming Canadian alt-right scene.
If I wanted to write a hysterical conspiracy thriller about the secret alt-right conspiracy to stealthily infiltrate a country at all levels before coming out into the open and taking it over, in the style of all those shitty Cold War paranoia stories in the style of The Overton Window, this is the kind of subplot I would go with. Especially the part near the end where he refuses to tell off a valued employee for his unpopular political views and his clientele boycott his business as a result, oh noes it's political correctness gone mad! (Although even I have to admit he's not completely in the wrong there, because as long as said employee doesn't let them affect his conduct on the clock then his personal beliefs are nobody's damn business but his own.) Except, plot twist! He really is a neo-Nazi and his business is a front for low-key domestic terrorism. Oh, how I wish I could make this stuff up...
Also, this has got to be the first time in the entire history of the English language that "gourmet coffee" and "white ethnostate" have been used in the same sentence.