Carlos Zapata & His Posse of Anti-Intellectual Misfits Talk Juneteenth, Critical Race Theory, the Liberal Threat, & More

Even though he has been out of the public spotlight over the last few weeks, Carlos Zapata is one of the leading voices in the movement to recall three Shasta County Board of Supervisors members. He is an extremist right-wing celebrity in the North State and plays a leading role in producing and staring in the pro-recall Red White and Blueprint (RW&B) docuseries, the fourth episode of which just dropped on YouTube.

Consistent with the fact that Zapata is keeping out of the spotlight — which could be based on the fact that he has a second court date on July 7 related to the temporary restraining order assigned to him for assaulting local comedian Nathan Pinkney at his place of employment last May — Zapata did not have any speaking lines in the latest RW&B episode. However, he did appear in the most recent RW&B podcast.

How does one become an extremist right-wing celebrity? Here’s the recipe: Threaten the county board of supervisors with a violent overthrow if they continue to support the governor’s COVID-19 mandates, appear on Infowars and be interviewed by Alex Jones, define yourself as being representative of the poor white folks in rural Northern California oppressed by the evil governor in Sacramento, fat shame people and brag that you have the best of everything and that liberals are losers and communists, repeatedly tell stories about how tough you are and your sense of hyper-masculinity, claim that the U.S. military is weak and that “the Chinese would come and they would rape us” because men and women in the armed forces drink “foofy lattes,” threaten and assault people who speak out against the recall movement like local comedian Nathan Pinkney, record and post nonsensical selfie-videos of yourself ranting about politics while barreling down Interstate 5, and claim on a local conservative radio talk show– with your wife who works as a nurse at Mercy Medical Center in Redding – that COVID-19 and the vaccine created to fight it are a hoax, and make implicit and explicit racist comments about members of the community. Then refer to yourself as a victim of unfair reporting.

It helps that Zapata also owns a bar named after a type of horse and that he’s active in the rodeo community, and that he is a darling to local law enforcement officials. These are just some of the greatest hits of the man, the myth and the so-called legend, Carlos Zapata.

In addition to appearing in RW&B episodes, Zapata has been teaming up with different members of his band of anti-intellectual misfits to record podcasts, which, like the RW&B episodes, also air on YouTube. Each podcast is recorded in the infamous RW&B studio, and usually features five men sitting around a table and discussing different issues for approximately an hour as they sip on booze.

The ninth podcast, which dropped on June 24, featured Zapata, Woody Clendenen, Jon Knight, Lani Bangay, and special guest, Blair Hodgdon. Clendenen is a barber in Cottonwood and a militia member, Bangay owns a fitness center in Palo Cedro, Knight is the executive producer of the RW&B docuseries and owner of Northern Roots, and Hodgdon is co-founder and a managing partner at BMP Capital LLC in Cottonwood and a mortgage banker at Von Mortgage in Redding. All of these men support the recall movement.

Zapata, Clendenen, Knight, Hodgdon, and Bangay as they appeared in the 9th RW&B podcast

In the ninth podcast, the men discussed Juneteenth, critical race theory and racism, so-called white Western civilization, the act of running people who they don’t agree with out of town, and the liberal threat posed by peoples moving into Shasta County from California’s urban centers to the south.

At one point in the podcast Zapata admitted that he is “done being politically correct.” In reality, he has not been politically correct since he entered the limelight.

We Don’t Need Juneteenth”

One of the first topics tackled by the men in the podcast was Juneteenth, and their discussion was short but not so sweet.

“We don’t need Juneteenth,” exclaimed Clendenen, who continued by stating, “We don’t need any other holidays besides July 4th.” 

Representative Doug LaMalfa expressed similar sentiments after he voted against the Juneteenth National Independence Day Act on June 16. While it unanimously passed the Senate, LaMalfa was among the 14 representatives who voted against the act, a majority of whom represented districts in the American South.

Locals and non-locals alike sadly joke that rural Northern California is “Calabama,” meaning that it resembles Alabama, and like a plethora of other jokes, there’s some truth to this if you look under the surface in certain social circles. Just take the most recent RW&B docuseries episode, for example. In the middle of the episode, when it tackled resistance to COVID-19 safety mandates, nearly all of the examples of people protesting in news footage took place in the American South. These examples, which ran from the 14-minute mark to the 15-minute and 30-seconds mark, included footage of people protesting COVID-19 mandates, like the wearing of masks, in Florida’s Pinellas County and Martin County, as well as North Carolina and Georgia.

In the statement LaMalfa released regarding his vote against the Juneteenth holiday, he explained that the act “could lead to further racial divisions” despite the fact that his refusal to vote in support of Juneteenth is the real culprit when it comes to the exacerbation of racial divisions and the denial that racism exists.

Zapata took it a step further in the podcast discussion when he said, in reference to the celebration of Juneteenth, “If you want to make a racist out of me, start doing shit like that, you know?” If you claim, as Zapata did, that the celebration of something like Juneteenth will make you a racist; you might be a racist.

Let’s get rid of that whole race deal, there’s all this divide your holiday and my holiday – no listen we’re all Americans,” continued Zapata. While the idea that “we’re all Americans” is clearly true on one level, American history and the United States in the contemporary era are composed of a panoply of experiences and racial and ethnic identities. Furthermore, race does indeed matter, and to deny this is to live in a world of incredible denial.

Do Zapata and Clendenen feel the same way about other cultural celebrations, such as St. Patrick’s Day? Does Zapata refrain from celebrating St. Patrick’s Day at the Palomino Room in Red Bluff, or does he take advantage of the day to sell plates of corned beef and cabbage and pints of Guinness beer? You guessed right; it’s the latter.

Zapata’s narrow and shallow understanding of American history and the contemporary era makes one wonder about his undergraduate experience studying history and social studies at Simpson College in Redding, California’s only Christian university north of Sacramento. The college’s website states that “history majors gain extensive skill in the areas of reading, writing, research, documentation, argumentation, and critical analysis,” yet Zapata’s inability to formulate arguments and provide evidence for his bold extremist claims makes one wonder if he missed the days when these skills were covered.

Zapata explaining something to the men gathered around the table

While most of Jon Knight’s comments during the podcast were shallow incompetent outbursts, he followed Zapata’s comments about racism by stating that “any patriotic American doesn’t care about racism at all” and that “there is racism that exists but at the same point they’re like they understand all these agendas are to divide and conquer us and all the patriots and freedom liberty loving people need to stick together you know? [sic]”

It is possible that the alcoholic substance he was drinking — Blade & Bow Bourbon Whiskey — had already gotten to Knight as he uttered these lines.

No, we do not know, Jon. Please explain.

Before discussing the topic of critical race theory, Zapata continued to enlighten viewers on his perspectives about race.

“Here’s the deal with the whole  race thing,” Zapata said, “it’s a construct to divide people, you know, and they feed this to kids.”

Here, Zapata echoed not only the comments of State of Jefferson movement leaders such as Sally Rapoza, but also President Trump’s executive order that created the 1776 Commission in early November of 2020 to push a right-wing agenda in education as well as Marjorie Taylor Greene’s “American First Caucus Policy Platform” statement on education.

President Trump’s commission, which was terminated by President Biden immediately after he took office, claimed that children are being encouraged to “hate their own country” because they are taught about systemic racism. Likewise, the “American First” platform that claimed that rather than preparing kids to be productive in the future, schools have been taken over by “left-wing special interest groups” to indoctrinate them. Zapata and Knight’s comments on Juneteenth and racism are firmly based in right-wing talking points and anti-intellectual ignorance.

The men at the table agreed with Zapata’s fictitious remarks that the celebration of Juneteenth and the study of racism were divisive. Jon Knight stated as much on his Facebook page in April of 2021 when he wrote that not only race, but also that gender, religion, culture, masks, vaccines, social distancing and economics were used by “Globalist/elites” to divide and conquer people.

Knight also proposed to make Ashley Babbitt – the San Diego resident shot and killed by law enforcement officials as she broke into a closed off section of the U.S. Capitol during the Jan. 6 insurrection – shirts “just like BLM DID WITH GEORGE FLOYD” to honor and mourn her death. “Say her name, say her name, say her name,” continued the post, followed by “i’t [sic] was a black cop that shot her but I don’t care it has nothing to do with race, you are the race baiters not us.”

Jon Knight’s Facebook post about Ashley Babbitt.

Knight shared his comments regarding Ashley Babbitt as he was driving home from Washington D.C. after attending the Jan. 6 rally and insurrection. He took special care to share photos of himself with people of color at the rally to push an unrealistic narrative that the rally and insurrection, upon which he blamed ANTIFA, was composed of a multiracial collection of people. Personal video footage on his Facebook page showed that he, at the very least, made it to the steps of the U.S. Capitol during the insurrection where he claims to have confronted a so-called ANTIFA agitator working as a “hired actor.”

Jon Knight claims on Facebook that he stopped an agitator at the events leading up to the insurrection in Washington D.C.


Jon Knight claims events leading up to insurrection in Washington D.C. was peaceful

Jon Knight posing with attendees at the January 6th rally and the so-called ANTIFA agitator at the insurrection

Knight’s wife Ash shared one of the videos he took during the insurrection and claimed her husband “apprehended a man who was throwing full 20 oz cans of Monster drinks at a police officer,” and that he “was wearing Trump gear” and “being a complete jackass and trying to start a fight between police and citizens.” She left out the part, which was likely false, that the violent man was an actor paid by ANTIFA. She also claimed the event was peaceful, a false statement echoed among right-wing Trump supporters.

Ash Knight shares Jon Knight’s video from Washington D.C. on her Facebook page.

Although there is no evidence that Knight, the executive producer of the RW&B docuseries, entered the U.S. Capitol, video footage taken by him and shared on his Facebook page places him in the crowd that started the insurrection.

As Knight sat across the table from Zapata sipping on whiskey, Knight exhibited an even broader failure to understand history when he stated, “I don’t care if your grandparents were slaves or your great-grandparents came over on the Mayflower” because “who cares you know we’re here now – let’s get along.” His larger point, rooted in falsities, was that differences between people in the past do not matter in the present. How can this be the case if an individual’s family tree is composed of white European colonial settlers or enslaved African Americans, or both?

Zapata also claimed that he does not support reparations for African American who are the descendants of enslaved people. “I’m certainly not giving you any money because your great grandparents were slaves,” he boldly exclaimed. Hodgdon then jumped into the conversation to express that no amount of money would be enough because African Americans would continue to ask for more.

Zapata’s comments on critical race theory are also rooted in an extreme form of ignorance.

“Now we’re seeing CRT, critical race theory that’s being taught in schools at a young age,” Zapata claimed, before he continued to explain, “It’s white guilt you know?”

Like a significant portion of Americans, Zapata does not understand what critical race theory is, but it’s doubtful that he cares. Moreover, it takes a serious amount of mental gymnastics to re-center the teaching of the history of racialized oppression and racism in the present on the feelings of white people in the contemporary era, but like so many others, Zapata has mastered the false victimhood component of Trumpism.

Zapata’s Racist Alt-Right View of White Men & Western Civilization

Despite the fact that he acknowledged that “our history” is not perfect or “beautiful” and that there are “things that we regret,” Zapata’s comments on white Western civilization mirrored that of alt-right hipster racists like Richard Spencer.

“I’ll tell you what you know? I’m not a white man, but every day I thank my lucky stars, I thank God that white men existed that settled Western civilization and gave us what we have today,” Zapata said.

While Zapata did express that he is not a white man, it is important to note that an individual does not have to be white to subscribe to white supremacist ideas or white nationalism, which is exactly what Zapata was doing with these comments.

In an earlier RW&B podcast, Zapata claimed that he was not a racist, a statement that is hard to believe considering that he called Pinkney, a man of color, a monkey,  and that he is against the celebration of Juneteenth and the study of critical race theory, and that he has stated that he does not care if African Americans are the descendants of enslaved peoples, and the fact that Zapata echoes the language of alt-right racists.

People Used to Get Run Out of Town”

Toward the middle of the podcast, Zapata got really fired up, as he tends to do, regarding public complaints submitted to his wife’s supervisor at Mercy Medical Center after she made a series of false and conspiracy theory-laced statements about COVID-19 on AM 1460 and FM 96.5’s “Jefferson State of Mine” radio show on June 6. I covered this in depth in my June 14 A News Cafe article. According to Zapata, people have called the hospital and complained that they do not feel safe with her employed there, and that would like her to be fired.

“Who are these fucking people?” asked Zapata as he raised his voice.

I don’t want to live in the same town with them,” continued Zapata, who followed with, “They need to go fucking move somewhere else.” He then stated that, “people who live in this town live here because we have a certain shared value system” and that “if you can’t get along with that, go to Seattle, go to Portland, go to these cities that are gonna embrace you,” because “you don’t belong here.”

People used to get the fuck run out [sic] of town and that doesn’t happen anymore because everybody wants to be politically correct,” and “nobody wants to offend anybody,” Zapata said. Zapata then doubled down by stating, “If we want our kids to see a brighter day, a brighter future, a brighter place here in Shasta County, we need to get rid of these people.”

It is not the first time he has claimed that people who do not agree with the recall movement and its politics should be run out of town. It is also not the first time he has claimed that people used to be run out of town for these things, without providing any examples or historical points of reference.

Shittin’ on the Sidewalk and Syringes in the Streets

After describing how people used to get run out of town, Zapata asked Hodgdon about the real estate market in the greater Redding area, to which Hodgdon explained that the region has witnessed the influx of out-of-town buyers from Silicon Valley, the greater Bay Area, Sacramento and Los Angeles as people are working more from home because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Zapata responded to Hodgdon by stating, “As we’re seeing this influx of people coming up here, you know, again what we’re hoping, as we mentioned earlier, is that they adapt to our way of life. If you’re coming up here, it’s because you want to assimilate,” and “appreciate and like the things that we like.”

What did Zapata mean by “the things that we like,” and how does one expect to assimilate in Shasta County?

After Zapata commented on his desire for new residents to assimilate into Shasta County’s culture, Hodgdon interjected and said, “They like all the things we like,” and “they like the area” and the “affordable place to live” and the outdoors “but for some reason, and it’s really weird, they want to bring shittin’ on the sidewalk and syringes in the streets here with ‘em with all of the policies that brought that.”

Hodgdon, after explaining to Zapata it was “not good for business” to tell liberals to go back to where they came from, offered no evidence or examples of policies in California’s urban centers that sanction the tossing of syringes in the streets or defecating in public, nor did he provide proof that there has been an increase in this sort activity in Redding, and that it is linked to homeless people moving to the area from other cities.

If you’re going to escape a shithole” or a “dumpster fire, why come somewhere like this and bring your shit politics with you?” asked Hodgdon. A little later in the podcast, he referred to California’s urban environments as “cesspools.”

Hodgdon describing the particular measure to take when escaping a urban “shithole”

In response to the discussion about “outsiders” moving into the greater Redding area, and how they supposedly threaten the region with their “liberal ideas,” Zapata explained that a lot of the people move to the area and figure out that they’re not actually liberal.

“They come up here and go, ‘You know what, maybe I’m not a liberal anymore’ ” and “maybe these people have it right.”

“I love your positive thinking,” responded Hodgdon with a sarcastic laugh. As usual, Zapata provided no examples of what he was talking about.

As Hodgdon laughed, Knight and Zapata refilled their glasses from the bottle of the amber-colored liquor at the center of the table. Clendenen agreed with the potential for liberals to redeem themselves after moving to area because, “they’re institutionalized down there,” meaning in urban centers, and “can’t speak out” for fear of being canceled. People in urban centers are “in a bubble” interjected Hodgdon.

Clendenen, of course, failed to take account of the massive pro-Trump rallies and caravans that have occurred from Sacramento to Southern California since the 2020 presidential election. Hodgdon, on the other hand, failed to see that he is in an even bigger bubble.

Hodgdon then claimed that he grew up as a “staunch Republican,” as Clendenen laughed while stating, “you had to be or else you were gay.” The words came out of Clendenen’s mouth as if he were a homophobic high schooler in 1970s Palo Cedro. This, as Zapata smirked, chuckled, and took a sip of alcohol.

COVID is Over”

From the so-called dangers posed by liberals moving to Shasta County, the discussion transitioned to the COVID-19 pandemic. As Zapata announced, “COVID is over,” to which Clendenen chimed in, “It was always over.”

Zapata continued on by stating that “COVID as an ideology is not over,” and that it was “far from over.” He then expressed that while he used to tell people to not get the vaccine, “now I’m like, you know what, get it, because who’s going to be left at the end.” He was clearly implying he would be left in the end because he will not get the vaccine.

Zapata took a similar stance while dipping into conspiracy theories during his and his wife’s appearance on the “Jefferson State of Mine” radio show a few weeks ago when he falsely explained that the vaccine was designed to limit the population by essentially killing people, which would then prevent them from receiving retirement and Social Security payments.

From here, the group laughed and started to joke in Darwinian fashion about how, no matter what, the strongest will survive, which in their minds, is them. Knight followed this with a statement that made no sense: “It sucks when you start thinking along the lines of how Bill Gates and these peop…these eugenesis [sic] things, you’re like well maybe the thinning of the heard isn’t so bad” – this said as he worked on his second glass of booze.

The Most Powerful Thing in the World”

As the podcast wrapped up, the men started joking about women, as well as the men’s own sense of masculinity. Zapata boldly cited that “if I was a woman, I’d rule the world,” then continued on by stating that “if they could just figure out that they have the most powerful thing in the world,” they would presumably rule the it. What “thing,” exactly, was Zapata referring to? In the end it does not matter because, as he explained it, women are not intelligent enough to figure it out.

Knight responded to Zapata’s incredibly sexist statement by expressing that the “last thing a woman wants is some soft ass guy with some little wimpy handshake” because women “will leave your ass” if you are the “nice guy.”

“Trust me, I’ve been the nice guy before,” continued Knight, but “nobody respects that.” Here again, the discussion devolved into that of a high school sleep-over attended by boys in the 10th grade.

Zapata followed Knight’s comments by joking about how men like him who have been through a divorce give the best marriage advice, because he was able to do so after his first marriage ended.

While the sexist conversation about relationships, divorce and gender continued, the men joked about how “limp handshakes” were like “limp dicks” and how hard masculine handshakes attracted women. Zapata boasted that “the girls” of men who give him limp handshakes are attracted to him because of his stern grip.

“Your old lady’s sittin’ there thinking, ‘Damn, I want to go home with that guy,” he explained.

Jon Knight demonstrating a “limp handshake” during the RW&B’s podcast

As the men delved into the topic of gender, a live viewer on YouTube commented that “women are biologically wired to seek safety and security” and “if you are weak, they will leave you and exercise their options.”

Despite the blatantly sexist comments made by the group, Zapata claimed that while “their side” — meaning liberals and leftists — claims to be the feminists, “our side has the real strong women.”

“Talk to our wives,” Zapata boasted, and you will find “they’re the toughest chicks in the world” because “they put up with us” and “are the leaders in this movement” and the “backbone of what we do.”

Following this, all of the men shared what seemed like an uncomfortable silence as they struggled to find a way to follow up Zapata’s sexist and gendered expression of appreciation for “their women.”

After the moment of silence, Zapata continued by explaining that “strong men need to be strong men and strong women need to be strong women” and from here the conversation devolved into their disgust of transgender athletes.

“It’s sickening,” said Zapata, followed by an outlandish claim by Hodgdon that “the feminist side of this whole thing” that is “championing women’s rights” is cannibalizing itself because they support the ability for transgender women to fight in martial arts matches against women. “How are they going to justify and rationalize a man, a biological man, crushing a woman’s skull in an MMA match in the name of woke bullshit?” asked Hodgdon.

The globalists know,” responded Knight, “that the minute you accept that they got your ass” and “I’m telling you that is all you [sic] read the Communist Manifesto, I’m tellin’ you, once they get you to accept a man beatin’ the crap out of a woman, sayin’ they’re a woman, I’m tellin’ you they got you!”

The podcast concluded with Zapata saying that because of an upcoming July 7 court date, he did not want to talk about the May 4 assault upon satirist Nathan Pinkney, whom the group jokingly referred to as “pink eye”;  nor did he wish to discuss the attack shortly thereafter upon Pinkney by Christopher Joseph Meagher and Elizabeth Bailey.

Update: On Sunday Meagher was arrested for beating into unconsciousness 73-year-old Robert Hazel outside a Redding bar.

As with the May 4 assault upon Pinkney, Meagher was accompanied during the attack by Bailey, who’s employed by Zapata at his Palomino Room bar and restaurant in Red Bluff.

Monday the Shasta County District Attorney filed charges against Zapata, Bailey and Meagher for crimes committed during the May 4 attack upon Pinkney. The DA also filed charges against Meagher and Bailey for the Friday night assault of Hazel. 

The latest RW&B podcast shows, yet again, that the recall movement is composed of childish, uneducated and uninformed, racially ignorant — if not outright racist — homophobic, sexist, dangerously hyper-masculine far-right individuals who, like the air we breathe, embrace conspiracy theories.

Shawn Schwaller

Opinion writer and reporter Shawn Schwaller grew up in Red Bluff, California. He is an assistant professor in the History Department at California State University, Chico and holds a Ph.D. in history and an M.A. in American studies. Schwaller specializes in North State stories about law-enforcement corruption and far-right politics. He can be reached at schwaller.anewscafe@yahoo.com and welcomes your story tips.

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