Christian Nationalism, Thomas Achord and the disturbing tale of an anonymous twitter account

The other day, I introduced the concept of Christian Nationalism and explained why it is such a dangerous idea.  I’m currently working on a review of Stephen Wolfe’s book “A defence of Christian Nationalism.”  In the process of this, I picked up on some further controversy which further highlights the dangerous and murky waters we are beginning to navigate as we explore this.

Stephen Wolfe runs a podcast with a chap called Thomas Achord.  Recently, Alistair Roberts identified that Achord was behind an anonymous Twitter account that had been sharing deeply offensive, racist tweets. 

Achord’s initial response was to deny that the account was his and that he had made any racist comments.  However, in this statement, he now acknowledges that the account belongs to him. However, notice the rambling path he takes to get to the confession.  He writes:

From the start of this controversy I have tried to find the truth of the matter, and I have an appreciation of those on both sides who have pursued the same end, wherever it leads. The shock of the initial accusation and immediate demands for an answer sent me into an investigation concluding, with Twitter’s verification, that the account in question was someone else’s. I acted quickly upon this information to defend myself under a coordinated online attack aimed at using me to damage others. However, after more thorough research with the help of trusted friends and advisors and a great deal of counsel and soul-searching, I have come to conclude that the Tulius Aadland twitter account is indeed an old alias account of mine.

In a bizarre slight of hand, he sets himself up as some kind of independent judge, hearing the charges and carrying out a detailed investigation.  He then claims that although the account was his, he has completely forgotten and has no recollection of even having the account, let alone that he had sent specific tweets.  Throughout his statement, he treats the person who operated the account and made the statements as though they were a distinct and separate person to himself.

However, if we are to follow the truth, there are also some posts that contradict connection to me. One is the statement that I would never eat at a Mexican restaurant, while in truth I am half Mexican and grew up eating by the loving hands of my brown mother; or a statement that we should abandon the defense of western civilization, while I myself have devoted my career to promoting classical, western education. What explains these incongruities?

So, how did this other persona, this alter ego of Thomas Achord come into being and start writing such deeply offensive things?

After some deep reflection and consultation, I believe this period of my life was a spiritually dark time marked by pessimism and anger and strained relationships. The twitter account reflects a despairing man angry with the whole world. It is interesting that my tweets even vilified white people. I maintain that I have trouble recollecting tweets (and the entire account) in this period, and I think this helps explain why. I think this also explains why so many friends reached out to me to say that Tulius online sounds nothing like Thomas in real life. Although all of this occurred more than a year ago, going forward I am seeking counsel and repentance under godly authority.

Notice there, that one of the ways in which he seeks to distance himself is by arguing that “this occurred more than a year ago.”  Which makes it sound like all of this was in the dim and distant past, when in fact, it was pretty recent, back in 2020. In fact, it would be round about the time that Achord was writing his own book.  He claims that he is “seeking counsel and repentance.” Again, it is normal to seek repentance from others not from ourselves. When we are found to be in sin, we don’t seek repentance. We repent and we do so without obfuscation or excuse.

Further, as I read his protestations, I am reminded of something I read a few years back by a counsellor who worked with domestic abusers. They said that often those they were counselling would argue that they couldn’t be blamed for their crimes, they were “out of control”. The counsellor would not accept this nonsense. She would point out that they were enough in control to manage where and how they carried out their abuse. And so, to be honest, when I hear someone claiming that they were in such a mess in their lives that they didn’t have a clue what they were saying, I want to say. “No, you knew full well the evil of what you were saying. You were in control of your faculities enough to know that you wouldn’t get away with saying the things you were thinking in your own name. You were alert enough to choose to use an anonymous account.”

Now, Roberts notes that it was Achord’s connection with Wolfe that had drawn his attention to him.  However, he is clear in his article that he isn’t assuming guilt by association. His focus is very much on Achord himself.  However, the link does matter. It matters because Achord is not some mere acquaintance of Wolfe’s but is a close working partner and both their books contribute to a specific project. Both are concerned with “kinship” and “Christian Nationalism.”  It is important as we assess this particular philosophy that we are allowed to see its fruit as it works itself out. 

Thirdly, it matters because of how Wolfe has responded to the challenge to Achord’s behaviour.  Now, I can completely understand a friend’s desire to stand by and defend their friend, if they believe their friend to be innocent.  I can also understand their desire to support them and show love to them when they’ve got into a mess, to help them with that process of repentance and restoration that they say they are seeking.

However, look at Wolfe’s own tweets on the matter. For example:

Notice that his aim here is to do two things. First, he seeks to attack those who have identified and challenged the sinful behaviour.  Secondly, his priority is not to seek restitution to those affected by sin, not to seek godliness, not even to prioritise truth.  No, his true concern is to make this all about his book.

It may at first appearance seem worthy of him to argue that people should stop challenging Achord and engage instead with him and his book. At first glance, it looks like he’s attempting to protect his friend and to take the hits.  However, consider what he is in fact doing here.  What he is basically saying is that the racism in the tweets wasn’t the problem, nor was the deceit about the account.  No, the real problem was that nasty people wanted to attack his book but couldn’t really find anything wrong with it so they found a pretext to attack him by proxy.

It’s worth noting that Wolfe’s book is published by Canon Press and is therefore part of the Doug Wilson playbook.  This kind of smoke and mirrors tactic that plays games with the truth is sadly part and parcel of the Federal Vision culture.

We are warned that “by their fruit we shall know them.” Brothers and sisters, this fruit is poison.

%d bloggers like this: