White nationalist beliefs may have motivated the teenage shooter at the Gilroy Garlic Festival in California, who killed three people and wounded a dozen others in late July. Police arrived shortly after the attack began and killed the shooter. While trying to determine the perpetrator’s motive, journalists have noted that a social media post by the shooter before the incident featured racial slurs and referenced a novel frequently glorified by white nationalists, Might is Right.

While Might is Right was originally published in the 1800s, a white nationalist living in Montana has helped market the book to racist neo-pagans for decades. Butte’s Ron McVan, a longtime white nationalist, illustrated and published a version of Might is Right that is very popular with followers of racist strains of Norse-based religions.


While we don’t know which version of Might is Right the Gilroy shooter read, the book’s potential influence on the attacker provides an opportunity to look at McVan, who moved to Butte after playing a significant role in creating and spreading Wotanism, an explicitly racist version of Odinism. In 1995, McVan joined David and Katja Lane in launching Wotanism out of St. Maries, Idaho, through an entity called 14 Words Press. While McVan and Katja Lane worked out of the group’s headquarters, David Lane resided in a prison cell for his role in a domestic white nationalist terror group called The Order.

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