Pearce Tefft wrote a letter to members of his community in Fargo, N.D., to set the record straight about his family and the current state of his relationship to Peter Tefft, calling his son "an avowed white nationalist" who attended the "Unite the Right" rally in Charlottesville, Va., over the weekend.
"I, along with all of his siblings and his entire family, wish to loudly repudiate my son's vile, hateful and racist rhetoric and actions," Tefft wrote in a letter to The Forum newspaper on Monday. "We do not know specifically where he learned these beliefs. He did not learn them at home."
As for what Peter Tefft did learn at home, his father says he believes in equality and opened his house to "friends and acquaintances of every race, gender and creed."
Peter Tefft's decision to "unlearn" what he was taught has brought heartbreak to the family, Pearce Tefft said. He added that he won't open his home to his son and that he is no longer welcome at any family gatherings.
Urging the community not to judge the entire family based on Peter Tefft's involvement with the neo-Nazi movement, Pearce Tefft said that while his son's beliefs are his own, they "are bringing hateful rhetoric to his siblings, cousins, nieces and nephews as well as his parents."
Calling Peter a prodigal son who might someday be welcomed back — but not until he disavows hatred — Pearce Tefft urged, "Please son, renounce the hate, accept and love all."
Peter Tefft was identified by an online campaign led by the Twitter account "Yes, You're Racist," which began working over the weekend to identify the non-hooded white supremacists who appeared at the march and rally in Charlottesville.
At least one attendee of the Unite the Right rally has lost his job; others have faced intense scrutiny. When it comes to Peter Tefft, his family is making it clear that his beliefs are not theirs — and that he is not welcome to come back home.
Other members of Tefft's family have also spoken out. When The Forum reported about Peter Tefft's involvement with the rally over the weekend, his nephew, Jacob Scott, issued a statement that read in part:
"In brief, we reject him wholly – both him personally as a vile person who has HIMSELF made violent threats against our family, and also his hideous ideology, which we abhor. We are all bleeding-heart liberals who believe in the fundamental equality of all human beings. Peter is a maniac, who has turned away from all of us and gone down some insane internet rabbit-hole, and turned into a crazy nazi. He scares us all, we don't feel safe around him, and we don't know how he came to be this way. My grandfather feels especially grieved, as though he has failed as a father."
In a Facebook post about his uncle, Scott wrote, "Peter, if you are reading this, PLEASE CHANGE YOUR NAME IMMEDIATELY. You are bringing shame and ignominy on your whole family, and causing a great deal of heartbreak and distress for all of us."
Both Jacob Scott and Pearce Tefft promised that they would resist their relative to the end, with Pearce Tefft telling his son, "you will have to shovel our bodies into the oven, too."
That sentiment, echoed by both relatives, was a reference to a joke they said Tefft had told about how fascists treat dissenting opinion.