Hiding in Plain Sight: An American Renaissance of White Nationalism

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This article appears in the Fall 2017 edition of The Public Eye magazine.

From July 28-30, nearly 300 White men in suits and ties—and a smattering of women—attended a sold-out American Renaissance conference, business consultant Jared Taylor’s annual spectacle of “gentlemanly,” “decorous” White supremacy.

Many of the same individuals and organizations who showed up at “AmRen” would also turn out for the violent, openly Nazi-signaling march in Charlottesville two weeks later. But at this confab, intended to attract White people just beginning to dabble in White nationalism, they hid their ideology behind the benign-sounding language of “White advocacy” and “race realism.”

“Race realism” is vitally important to understanding White nationalists’ attempts to recruit beyond their base, based on two supposedly scientific “realistic facts.” First, that White people surpass people of color in intelligence, as “proven” by racially-biased IQ tests, and second, that criminal justice statistics prove people of color’s supposed criminality. A third gambit is that history proves “increasing hatred and violence”1 when different races live together. With these pseudoscientific claims, White nationalists strive to recruit White people resistant to explicit slurs.

American Renaissance (or AmRen) is a White nationalist and White supremacist online magazine and annual conference.

AmRen, one of only two U.S. White-supremacist conferences open to the press, does all it can to project an image palatable to the unconverted, who might be turned off by people wearing Nazi regalia, issuing openly antisemitic rants, or flaunting weapons or racist skinhead tattoos.

Instead, attendees are told, “gentlemen will wear jackets and ties—equivalent dress for ladies,” a dress code that Taylor told me was instituted because it “encourages a certain deportment and demeanor” that bespeaks “civilization.” The dress code, Taylor’s theatrically stern request that attendees not scuffle with protesters,2 conference organizers’ politeness with media, and AmRen’s unspoken ban on antisemitic talk were all intended to make the event seem legitimate and respectable, a worthy entrant into mainstream political discourse.

Aspirational Supremacy

But an additional purpose of all this3 is to make the gathering seem patrician. It’s no accident that Taylor uses his Yale alumni email address for American Renaissance communications; that conference-goers talk rapturously about the annual after-party hosted by wealthy Klan lawyer Sam Dickson at an onsite bungalow conference-goers call the “villa”; or that Taylor is one of the Alt Rightists most fiercely opposed to discussing economic inequality. (In a 2014 speech, Taylor called income inequality a “phony debate,” and falsely implied that Whites are little represented among the poor.4 This in contrast with other White nationalist leaders, including AmRen attendees Richard Spencer and Greg Johnson, who express anger about exponentially rising income inequality but blame it on “the Jews.”)

Taylor takes the aristocratic aura of his 27-year-old organization very seriously. When I asked him what demands he thought White nationalists should make of the government, he demurred: “Demands are not gentlemanly.”

AmRen’s aspirational sensibility highlights the semblance—not the fact—of ruling-class membership.

Yet there is no actual evidence that AmRen attendees have higher incomes than other White people as a group. The most important reason for the AmRen dress code is the semblance—not the fact—of ruling-class membership. Speakers and attendees at the conference kept pointing out the visual difference between themselves and the protesters outside.

“We have the best people,” attendee @Manly_Task noted triumphantly on Twitter, posting a photo of seated conference-goers in business clothes and conservative haircuts. Another Alt Rightist tweeted back, “Imagine being a normie and seeing some weird, poorly dressed youths harassing a group of well-dressed white men. Wonderful optics at #AmRen.”

Jared Taylor. Photo: Wikimedia Commons.

From the AmRen stage, Taylor called the shorts- and t-shirt-clad protesters “neither beast nor human,” and in an interview, identified them as “trash,” while Nathan Damigo, founder of the antisemitic, White supremacist campus group Identity Evropa, tweeted a photo of his members attending AmRen, dressed for all the world like the Young Bankers Association of Louisville. Shortly thereafter, Damigo tweeted, “There is nothing inherently or morally wrong with privilege.”5 Yet while Identity Evropa members had barrels of White privilege, it’s unclear that they had all that much of the economic kind; Damigo himself is an ex-con and former Marine enlistee who has described his experiences with severe PTSD,6 and who didn’t go to college until he was 28. Other IE members attending included a New York City-based veteran now in nursing school, and a young man from the lower-middle-class neighborhood of Bay Ridge, Brooklyn.

The three-day conference costs $150 to attend—not something the abject poor could afford, but something working- and middle-class folks could save up for. (Students got a discount.) The park hotel costs $89 a night, but AmRen also provides a list of cheaper motels in the area, and it’s possible to camp onsite in the park for less still.

While the White supremacist movement is partly about protecting privilege, that is not its only draw—for many, it’s also aspirational.

When AmRen attendees spoke about an imagined future White ethnostate, they were fantasizing about a world where “their talents” would be richly rewarded—something they see impeded by the improper advancement of people of color over themselves, and not an economic system where only the top five percent can be sure of getting the health care, housing, and social supports they need. Meeting baseline economic needs weren’t their only goals, though. In essays, tweets, and conversations, White nationalists also imagine that cultural expression, important work, lovely surroundings, and deep social ties will be provided in the White ethnostate of the future.

When AmRen attendees spoke about an imagined future White ethnostate, they were fantasizing about a world where “their talents” would be richly rewarded.

There’s a reason beautiful art and architecture from ancient Greece and Rome has become a vital visual motif for White nationalism—the flip side of Pepe and his deliberate, vicious crudeness. American Renaissance sports an Ionian column as its logo; Counter-Currents has used a carved, bearded male head from ancient Greek statuary. The National Policy Institute has employed other august, ancient Greek heads along with Doric columns, and Identity Evropa has a fake Latin name. These groups project the beauty and meaningfulness of a part of our collective past7 onto an imagined future in which they envision White people being able to realize their humanity in a way not currently available to anyone under capitalist society.

Creating a Belief in “White Intelligence”

Underlining this “unique” ability of White people to suffer and experience beauty, four of the six major conference talks were about White people’s inherent “high IQ” and creativity (or as Damigo tweeted, their “cognitive privilege,” which is “where White privilege originates”). Both rank-and-file conference-goers I interviewed, like Minnesota nurse Joan Harris, and AmRen speakers like John Derbyshire, from the virulently anti-Black, anti-immigrant group VDare, were passionate about this notion. They concluded that the reason even White Americans don’t have all their needs met is that “low-IQ” African Americans, Latinos, and immigrants are “given” the perquisites that should be theirs “by right.”

Retired Danish academic psychologist Helmuth Nyborg supplied “data” to support this notion in the first presentation of the conference: a 45-minute PowerPoint about his “Thermodynamic Solar Irradiance Selection (TSIS) Hypothesis,” which postulates that, for evolutionary reasons, “high intelligence” and the potential for “high civilization” are found only in those human beings whose ancestors were born in cold climates. Nyborg, who’s been getting White supremacist work published in academic journals for 30 years, showed charts depicting the relative brain sizes and IQs of people whose genes are alleged to have developed in “very cold, cold, average, warm, and very warm climates.” Nyborg argued that “Northern brains” had given birth to most positive traits in society, including “altruistic sociability” and “potential for democracy.” Explaining away an obvious challenge to this theory, he suggested, “The ancient Egyptian, Greek and Roman empires may have been started by central European immigrants from very cold climates, who moved south!”

Charles Murray, author of the notorious book The Bell Curve, claimed a connection between racial difference and intelligence.

In fact, all human ancestry can be traced to Africa, and it’s hard to say where any individual’s genes “developed,” given the long history of human migration and mixing. But as he spoke, young White people in the audience listened raptly. Nyborg showed a map borrowed from Charles Murray, author of the notorious book The Bell Curve, to illustrate that “almost all the major advancements in science and the arts since the 14th century” came from White males whose ancestors were born in a tiny, circumscribed chunk of Europe that excluded, among other nations, Ireland, Southern Italy, Greece, and Spain.8

That pointed to another way AmRen’s White supremacy was aspirational: the idea that some White groups—primarily Irish and Southern Europeans—are inherently less intelligent and civilized than other White people; in effect, less White. Derbyshire, who is British-born, joked about Irish stupidity and licentiousness.9 Taylor said he opposed Polish immigration to Western Europe. Meanwhile, Nyborg declared that the further south one went in Europe, “the lower the IQ, the smaller the brains… the… lower quality of societies.” As historians have noted, in the U.S. prior to the 1940s, the Irish, most Southern and Eastern Europeans, as well as Jews, were frequently identified as non-White.10 But it demonstrates how, for many at AmRen, Whiteness is a quality that must be constantly striven for and “proven,” one that can be granted or taken away.

So why do White people need a movement, if they had so many genetic gifts? Starting in 1870, Nyborg revealed, “high civilization” began to “decay.” The reason: due to “improvement in food sanitation, medication, and care for the feeble…the unfit began to have more surviving children than the fit.” Nowadays, he continued, “Welfare states lead to an increase in low-IQ mothers and unfit children.” As he said this, he pointed to two words on his screen: “Black mothers.” The slide accompanying his talk alleged that the rate of Black mothers bearing “illegitimate children” had risen 67 percent because of income supports given to the poor.

Nyborg went on to bemoan high fertility rates among Muslims and the “fact” that “the fit also use contraceptive means more effectively than the others.” All across the world, he cried, growing progressively more emotional, “low-IQ winners will double in number,” and will only be capable of taking “very slow, simple, supervised jobs” of the sort “disappearing in the very cold eco-type, high-tech societies!”

He ended his talk with an elegiac slide that said, “We are watching a brilliant sun being replaced by a dim half-moon.” The only way to avoid “a new Dark Era” dominated by “the unfit,” he told the group, was to enact the “honorable repatriation of warm eco-types”—that is, to expel all non-White people from Europe, the United States, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand.

Appealing to Left Economic Interests

The previous evening, I’d interviewed Steve, a 32-year-old from Milwaukee who worked in retail and was attending the conference with his mother, Kris. Steve said his extended family had always held “implicitly” racist views, but they hadn’t been coherently “articulated as politics,” the way White nationalism makes them clear. Kris, a bank employee who described herself as an “Identitarian,” told me, “I think White nationalism makes a lot of sense.” She attributed the economic problems she’d seen in the U.S. over the last 10 years to “illegal immigrants who take jobs away from the people.” I also met a 60-ish man from Cleveland who said he’d donated to Bernie Sanders, but who, when Sanders failed to get the Democratic nomination, consciously went on to “vote for the biggest ass in the history of this country,” Donald Trump.

According to a massive study of 2016 election voters,11 12 percent of those who voted for Sanders in the primary voted for Trump in the general election. There are several ways to interpret this. Some pro-Clinton Democrats have ascribed it almost entirely to unwillingness to vote for a female candidate or one embraced by African-Americans. But it’s likely that, for some of these voters, certain Left economic positions (such as free college tuition and higher taxes on the rich) exist alongside racist positions on issues like immigration and police murders of African-Americans12 along with sexist reflexes in voting.

To Klan lawyer Sam Dickson, a close friend of American Renaissance who has spoken at each of its conferences since its inception in 1990, that represents an opportunity. Dickson brought up Sanders in his speech closing the event on Sunday. “In the primaries, Hillary Clinton got the Black vote, and Bernie Sanders got the White vote… It shows a racial subconscious going on, and it also shows a fundamental fissure line within the Left. There’s a rich field of Bernie Sanders leftists for us to work.” Even if you interpret Sanders’ and Clinton’s candidacies differently than Dickson does, his desire to outreach to the White Left should give us pause. As Naomi Klein recently noted, Sanders “could have won if he’d been able to win the support of just half of Black voters. But to do that, he would have needed to clearly and compellingly connect the dots between the country’s deepest economic inequalities and the persistent legacy of slavery, Jim Crow laws, and housing and financial discrimination.”13 Yet his willingness to confront economic inequities was greater than any other successful politician’s since the 1930s.

Dickson declared, “We must get away from the Left/Right dichotomy. We are racialists, not conservatives.” Others in the White supremacist movement have occasionally found Left economic issues to support: Richard Spencer came out for single-payer healthcare last March,14 and in a long interview at the conference, Greg Johnson, the virulently antisemitic publisher of Counter-Currents, told me that “the labor movement in America was one of the most heroic chapters in American history” and that he supported a guaranteed minimum income. Of course, one of the reasons he loved the (White) labor movement so much was that, as he said, most of it had championed the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882. Although he has called himself a “man of the Right,” Johnson said, “I want to go back to that trajectory of having a large middle class [and] a strong labor movement”—though in the long run, he means one for White workers only—and large-scale research and development projects “like the war on cancer and the war on AIDS.” Johnson added, “There has been a nationalist Left, and a nationalist Center, and nationalist Right. We will not win if our ideas are entirely confined to the ghetto of the Right.”

Hiding Neonazism in Plain Sight

Though Johnson has expressed great enthusiasm for Nazi and pro-Nazi writers like Savitri Devi, Julius Evola, Miguel Serrano, and Francis Parker Yockey—in fact, he’s republishing them all through Counter-Currents—he chose to claim, in our interview, that the biggest current problem with the White nationalist movement was people “LARPing [live action role-playing] as Nazis,” “those advocating genocide,” and racist skinheads who follow the ideas of William Pierce, the author of The Turner Diaries.

Those ideas are “simply repulsive,” Johnson told me. But just two weeks later, after the march in Charlottesville, he’d engage in a radio debate with White supremacist, antifeminist activist Vox Day15 (the pen name of Theodore Beale), in which Johnson endorsed the idea that National Socialists are a “legitimate element of the Alt-Right.”16 (Additionally, long before Charlottesville, Johnson published dozens of pieces praising Hitler, including several odes to his birthday.)

There’s an easy answer to this seeming contradiction: Johnson likes real Nazis—both the historical ones and present-day “National Socialists” who write for his magazine. He just doesn’t like people dressing up as Nazis at public rallies and embarrassing the movement. Those sorts, he told me, “embrace self-marginalization” at a time when “normal American people are more receptive to this movement than ever.” (After Charlottesville, many White nationalists have been debating, like Johnson and Day, how openly to support Nazism. The argument is actually moot; both sides champion an aggressively antisemitic and openly fascist movement and only differ on how publicly to align themselves with Hitler’s historical followers.)

The attempt to hide philo-Nazism in plain sight was like AmRen’s entire project: to make White supremacist views look as moderate as possible.

Johnson’s attempt to hide his philo-Nazism in plain sight was like Jared Taylor’s entire project with AmRen: to make White supremacist views look as moderate as possible. In this light, it makes sense that for decades he’s been one of the leaders of the Council of Conservative Citizens, the reincarnation of the old White Citizens Councils that, until recent years, was openly supported by Republicans like Trent Lott, Bob Barr, and Haley Barbour, as well as a few Democrats like Bill Lord, a county chairman in Mississippi.17 Within the world of White supremacism, American Renaissance serves as a deliberately milquetoast branding device intended strictly for outreach to those yet to join the movement.

Dialectic of White Nationalism and Antisemitism

Civil rights activist Eric K. Ward has correctly noted that antisemitism “forms the theoretical core of White nationalism,”18 because White nationalists assume that people of color are too dimwitted and ineffective to fight for civil rights on their own, and thus require the secretive direction of Jews. Therefore it might seem like a contradiction that antisemitism was so carefully kept away from the AmRen stage. But if you think of AmRen’s purpose—making White nationalism palatable for the mainstream—there’s no contradiction.

If you looked, antisemitism was hiding in plain sight all over the conference, from book vendors selling The Turner Diaries, which calls for the extermination of Jews, to the neonazi Stormfront activists (like moderator Jamie Kelso) who peopled the aisles. It was even at the podium, grinning at the audience with a finger on its lips. Four prominent speakers this year had previously expressed virulent hatred of Jews: Richard Spencer, Nathan Damigo, VDare’s Peter Brimelow, and Sam Dickson. (Dickson, who closes the conference every year, has edited and written for the Holocaust-denial journals The Barnes Review19 and the Journal of Historical Review.20) Many attendees posted antisemitic tweets from the conference floor.21

AmRen and Taylor actually have an ambiguous history with antisemitism. In the past, Taylor occasionally invited light-skinned Jews who believe in White people’s genetic superiority to speak.22 But he’s also invited speakers who castigate Jews, like Holocaust denier Joseph Sobran, who gave a talk on Jewish power at AmRen 2004.23 After AmRen attendee David Duke was criticized for making anti-Jewish remarks during an audience Q&A in 2006, Taylor wrote on the conference’s website, “Jews have a valuable role in the work of American Renaissance… Anyone who thinks otherwise has the choice of staying home or keeping his views to himself.” But in a display of “both sides” equivocation that’s become familiar after Charlottesville, he also denounced the behavior of a Jewish attendee, who called Duke a “fucking Nazi,” as “disgraceful.” Making clear that he wanted to keep attracting the antisemites who constitute his base and presenters, he said he supported AmRen speakers and participants “who believe Jews play no useful role in a movement that supports white interests.” He simply wanted antisemites and Jews to agree to disagree at his conferences. “By taking no position,” Taylor said, “AR has served readers who may be sharply opposed on these questions.”24 Taylor has regularly gone on his close friend Don Black’s Stormfront radio show,25 and often hosted another good friend, Holocaust denier Mark Weber, at his home in Virginia.26

So why does it matter whether such a profoundly racist conference is also antisemitic? Ethically speaking, it makes little difference. It’s horrifying either way. But for the American political center, unfortunately, antisemitism is much worse than White supremacy. One reason is that most White Americans read light-skinned Jews as White and thus views attacks on them as more deserving of attention than attacks on people of color.27 Also, White supremacy is fundamental to America’s political economy in a way that antisemitism is not. This makes it easier for Whites to react against antisemitism than against the racism that still underpins our society. Finally, the history of Nazi Germany and the U.S. role in defeating it is widely taught in schools, making attacks on Jews highly suspect to a broad range of people.28

Yet despite the implicit racism in the view that antisemitism is worse or more morally disturbing, progressives still need to call out White nationalist attacks on Jews as much as attacks on people of color; the movement constitutes a profound danger to both groups.

Jews also function as White nationalism’s cipher for the one percent. during the heyday of Occupy, George Hocking stated baldly in Counter-Currents that Jews “are the one percent” and “America’s new ruling class.”29 More recently, antisemitic flyers posted at the University of Illinois at Chicago postulated that “the one percent” are not “straight white men” but “Jews,” and therefore that the nation’s most pressing need is “ending Jewish privilege.” On the poster, “the 99 percent” are identified as “goyim.”30

Jews also function as White nationalism’s cipher for the one percent.

For mainstream White nationalist organs today—such as NPI, Identity Evropa, the Traditionalist Worker Party, and The Occidental Observer—Jews are the energy behind banks, the finance industry, and multinational corporations, and thus the driving force behind the displacement of “working people,” whom they envision as being White. Often, these ideas dispersed by the Right have borne fruit in Left spaces. Sonia Lundy, a longtime New York activist and member of Nurses United who staffed the medical tent at the Occupy encampment in Zuccotti Park, remembers her surprise at the many young and older Occupiers who spoke to her about “the Rothschilds” controlling society and “the Jews running everything.”31

Courting the Media through Obfuscation

Paradoxically, Taylor’s patrician signaling and others’ use of Left ideas reflect a similar desire to court the media and all potential audiences not currently aligned with their movement. Indeed, outreach to journalists is one of AmRen’s most important functions. The group actively works to place its spokespeople in the media throughout the year. For AmRen 2016, Taylor personally invited a writer from Buzzfeed,32 and also scored a reporter from Talking Points Memo.33 In 2017, AmRen solicited journalists from the Guardian, Slate, and Truthout, as well as authors of progressive books on the Alt Right.34

Before he was well known, Taylor regularly appeared as a “race relations expert” on mainstream radio outlets that did not identify him as a White-supremacist activist.35 Even today, Taylor is regularly sought-after for lengthy interviews in venues like CNN, ABC News, and NPR, joking politely with a host of color about how, individually, she is probably “smarter than most White people,”36 and claiming to be offended when he’s called “White supremacist” or “racist.”

But the actual content of his yearly meetup is anything but polite, making for a schizophrenic experience for those who’ve heard him talk to different audiences. At this year’s conference, Taylor told the crowd that when African refugees try to cross the Mediterranean, people “should make it clear that the minute they get in those boats, they’re gonna get a shell below the waterline. You would only have to sink one boat, and everyone would stay home.” The same thing—immediate execution—he said should also happen “the minute” Mexicans “step across that border” into the United States.

In one breath, Taylor claimed to get hundreds of fan letters from people of color. In the next, he described the Black Lives Matter movement as “all that howling and gibbering.” In condemning Yale’s recent $50 million faculty diversity initiative,37 he said it made sense that the project cost so much, since, “Every university is looking for that same black lady physicist. It’s such hard work looking for unicorns!”

Indeed, despite its framing, openly racist talk suffused the conference. Derbyshire said he was a pessimist and believed “the gorillas”—the slur he used for African Americans—”will gain in strength and power.” Brimelow said, “Hispanics… specialize in rape, particularly of children.” And Johnson, framing his White nationalism in ecological terms during our interview, said “what is now happening to the European peoples” was “habitat loss” similar to what had previously happened to other “species” when they were “forced to compete with similar creatures.” In other words, Johnson said people of color are a nonhuman species that threaten the “habitat” of White people—the only true Homo sapiens.

Gender and Power in the White Ethnostate

AmRen offers free printable posters like this one on their website.

On the last day of the conference, Dickson—an Atlanta real estate mogul whom the Southern Poverty Law Center says earned most of his fortune by “bullying” low-income, Black homeowners out of the deeds to their homes38—unveiled plans for the “future White ethnostate” that most in attendance hoped to achieve. “Democracy is something that is so preposterous,” Dickson said. “If some welfare recipient with an IQ of 80 has a right to vote…” (At the back of the hall, Dickson was selling a 1966 video, Africa Addio, about the savagery and stupidity of Africans,39 which was also playing on a continuous silent loop.) Instead, Dickson said the only people who would be able to vote in his imagined ethnostate would be “intelligent,” heterosexually “married men” with “legitimate children,” who had never been divorced. Men who weren’t heterosexually married, or had no children, but didn’t “suffer from personality defects,” could still run for public office. Women could neither vote nor hold office.

The women in the room—mostly young, totaling around 30 in all (about a tenth of those in attendance) and seeming to be true believers in White nationalism—said nothing.

Then Dickson went on to the issue of “how to deal with the fertility rates,” suggesting that 1930s Germany, which instituted eugenic breeding programs, might provide a model. He proposed that the state should give White men “financial incentives” to have many White children, but speculated that those wouldn’t work with women. “With women, I think there has to be emotional incentives to have children…Women with children would be allowed to wear different clothing“ that would “give them greater status than women who didn’t have children,” he announced. “They would get perks,” the more White children they bear.

At this point, the 60-something nurse, Joan Harris, turned to a young woman seated near her. “Do you think this would work with you?” she whispered. “No,” the woman replied.

Men in attendance imagined they would not only accrue rich economic rewards and decision-making power in the White ethnostate, but that women in that world would be pressured to date, have sex with, and perhaps love them. Hearing these plans sketched out, it’s unsurprising that the White nationalist movement has blended so seamlessly with the manosphere; it is offering White men a vision of the future in which everyone recognizes them as the best and the brightest, and they have guaranteed economic, social, and even sexual success.

Johnson said, “The position I favor on abortion in a White Nationalist society is that some abortions should be forbidden, others should be mandatory, but under no circumstances should they simply be a matter of a woman’s choice.”

So-called “White sharia”40—the idea that the sexuality, reproduction, daily life, and right to consent of White women should be controlled by White men in the White supremacist state—has become a controversial topic in White nationalist circles this year, and Dickson appeared to support it at least in part. Though Johnson criticized “White sharia” as anti-women in our interview, he has published articles by others defending the idea.41 And in an essay on abortion, Johnson said, “The position I favor on abortion in a White Nationalist society is that some abortions should be forbidden, others should be mandatory, but under no circumstances should they simply be a matter of a woman’s choice.”42 Richard Spencer recently made similar comments: “Contraception has been terribly dysgenic…We want to be eugenic…We want smart people to have more children. I don’t think we should, as the Alt-Right, be uncritically pro-life.”43

In other words, they believe in mandatory births, in some cases, for White women, and mandatory abortions for women of color. “The idea that every being that is human has a right to life…that’s not how we think as identitarians!” Spencer said. “We should be genuinely suspicious of people who think in terms of human rights.”44

After Charlottesville

Beyond AmRen’s functions as an orientation for newbies and a kind of media postcard, it also presents a rare opportunity for different sectors of the movement to meet and strategize. For the near term, presenters and attendees pushed electoral politics (the American Freedom Party, of which Taylor is a member, had a strong showing at AmRen and is encouraging candidates to run on the local level45); campus organizing; and their main toolkit of the past two years, combining the proliferation of websites, forums, and videos with trolling, meme dispersal, and demonstrations.

Violent and revolutionary tactics are rarely discussed from AmRen’s podium, except in allusive ways, such as this statement by Dickson in his closing talk: “The breach could come from military overreach, or the collapse of the economy… Hopefully, it will be as bloodless as possible.” But of course, other White nationalist groups do incorporate such strategies.

Charlottesville knocked the movement on its posterior. In the wake of openly neonazi chants, the battery of counter-protesters and the murder of Heather Heyer, organizations like NPI, Stormfront, and The Daily Stormer lost their web domains, and in some cases, their access to PayPal, Facebook, and YouTube. Some activists whose identities were uncovered lost jobs or the support of their families; others left the movement out of fear. This has resulted in a renewed, urgent discussion in White nationalism about tactics going forward. Recently, Eli Mosley, the new head of Identity Evropa, tweeted, “There is no possible way we can shitpost our way to victory and we must move from an online movement to the real world.” Evan McLaren, the young, new executive director Spencer has hired to help him manage NPI, engaged in an illuminating Twitter conversation with @AndreasDonner, a White nationalist who had criticized NPI and the Alt-Right for “fail[ing] to produce any plan at all to secure an ethnostate.” McLaren responded, “The ethnostate is now a more widely-contemplated idea because of Spencer and the Alt Right. We do all the things that are preconditions to the ethnostate. But preparing people for this task requires a broader kulturkampf.”

Charlottesville knocked the movement on its posterior, resulting in an urgent discussion about tactics going forward.

Spencer himself is focusing on highly publicized attempts to book talks on college campuses, with the intention of generating media coverage when universities push back. Meanwhile, at AmRen, a leader of the German and Austrian Identitäre Bewegung (“Identity Movement”), Martin Lichtmesz, urged Americans to adopt strategies he’s found effective in Europe: nonviolent direct action reminiscent of ACT UP, the radical U.S. AIDS activist group that succeeded in changing the national conversation in the ‘80s and ‘90s, albeit to a wildly different, far more ethical end. Lichtmesz’s movement has generated enormous publicity by scaling the Brandenburg Gate with mountaineering equipment and hanging a banner reading “Secure Borders, Secure Future”; covering the famous Vienna statue of 18th Century empress Maria Theresia with a burqa; and disrupting a pro-refugee theater performance with fake blood.

These theatrical, “audacious” protests, Lichtmesz said, were “designed to gain public sympathy.” By using forms of protest pioneered by the Left and employing the “progressive” language of Identitarianism (the idea “that every people has a right to their homeland, and to defend its own culture, identity, and heritage,” as Lichtmesz put it), while steering clear of explicitly racist and neonazi rhetoric, American White nationalists might win new converts, too. (Then again, Lichtmesz donned a Confederate flag lapel pin at the conference; it’s unlikely the U.S. movement has the discipline to suppress overt racism in pursuit of their agenda, either.)

What should the Left’s response be? In this case, the opposite of one-off theatrical actions and Instagram-able protests: a long-haul, multiracial, grassroots effort to educate the country on the profound connections between race and class (and the connections of both to gender).

If we are to learn anything from the eruption of fascist, White supremacist organizing on both sides of the Atlantic, it should be that economic crisis and class conflict can accrue to the benefit of the Right as easily as the Left.

It’s a tall order, I know. But if we are to learn anything from the eruption of fascist, White supremacist organizing on both sides of the Atlantic, it should be that economic crisis and class conflict can accrue to the benefit of the Right as easily as the Left. It should be that, as labor historian Jefferson Cowie recently put it, “real world” working-class politics in America “is a messy stew of populist, communitarian, reactionary, progressive, racist, patriarchal, and nativist ingredients.”46 It should be that no group or class in America is inherently progressive, and no division lifted above others as essential.

Candid, self-supporting but nonjudgmental solidarity is the only way forward: a true integration of issues (gender, race, class, sexuality, and others) with multi-issue education. A fight that targets systems, not “elites” who can turn into amorphous scapegoats, and radical coalition-building that combines assertiveness and humility are needed. It’s a daunting task, but nothing less is required.

Endnotes

1 Greg Johnson, interview with author, July 29, 2017.

2 Some declined to follow this directive. Less than a dozen AmRen attendees got in shouting matches with protesters, and an attendee and a demonstrator were involved in a violent scuffle that resulted in arrests for both.

3 Except the antisemitic ban, which is not intended to signal wealth, but moderation and respectability.

4Jared Taylor, “Income Inequality: The Debate Ignores Race,” Amren.com, https://www.amren.com/features/2014/01/income-inequality-the-debate-ignores-race/.

5 Following his arrest in Charlottesville, Damigo (one of the organizers of the Charlottesville Unite the Right demonstrations) stepped down as CEO of Identity Evropa, but he remains committed to White nationalism.

6 Documentary Storm, “Warton: In Every War, There are Invisible Wounds,” Documentarystorm.com, https://documentarystorm.com/wartorn/. HBO, “Interview with Charilyn Damigo,” HBO, http://www.hbo.com/documentaries/wartorn-1861-2010/interview/interview-with-charilyn-damigo.html.

7 It’s worth noting that ancient Greece and Rome were multicultural societies, and that the modern category of race did not exist there. The only ethnic group ancient Greeks were likely to condemn as inferior was Persians (after the Persian war); for ancient Romans, it was Germans, Britons, and Gauls.

8 Charles Murray, Human Accomplishment in the Arts and Sciences: The Pursuit of Excellence, 800 BC to 1950 (New York: Harper, 2003).

9 In the context of mocking a human genome research project in Ireland, Derbyshire said in a heavy Irish accent, “‘Hold there, Bridget, I just want to take down your genes (jeans)!’ ‘Michael! Away with your filthy talk!’” Then he said, “What, I can’t tell an ethnic joke at American Renaissance?”

10 See, for example, David B. Roediger, Working toward Whiteness: How America’s Immigrants Became White (New York: Basic Books, 2005).

11Stephen Ansolabehere and Brian Schaffner. “CCES Common Content, 2016.” Dataverse.harvard.com, https://dataverse.harvard.edu/dataset.xhtml?persistentId=doi%3A10.7910/DVN/GDF6Z0.

12 For an excellent analysis of political contradictions in the white working class, see: Jefferson Cowie. “How Labor Scholars Missed the Trump Revolt,” chronicle.com, http://www.chronicle.com/article/How-Labor-Scholars-Missed-the/241049.

13 Naomi Klein, No Is Not Enough: Resisting Trump’s Shock Policies and Winning the World We Need, (Chicago: Haymarket, 2017),124-125.

14 Richard Spencer, “Why Trump Must Champion National Healthcare.” Altright.com, https://altright.com/2017/03/23/why-trump-must-champion-universal-healthcare/.

15 Jay Hathaway, “How Gamgergate Radicals Seized Sci-Fi’s Most Prestigious Awards”. Gawker, http://gawker.com/how-gamergate-radicals-seized-sci-fis-most-prestigious-1696731611. See also: Jeet Heer. “Science Fiction’s White Boys’ Club Strikes Back.” Newrepublic.com, https://newrepublic.com/article/121554/2015-hugo-awards-and-history-science-fiction-culture-wars.

16 Tara McCarthy. “Vox Day vs Greg Johnson DEBATE: Are Nazis Alt Right?”. YouTube video, 1:04:50. Posted August 2017, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j72M9wHvEzw.

17 Amber Phillips, “The Political Success of the Council of Conservative Citizens, Explained,” Washington Post, June 22, 2015.

18 Eric K. Ward, “Skin in the Game: How Antisemitism Animates White Nationalism,” The Public Eye, Summer 2017.

19 E.g. Sam Dickson, “Shattering the Icon of Lincoln,” The Barnes Review, Volume XII, Number 1, January/February 2006, http://barnesreview.org/shattering-the-icon-of-lincoln/; Sam Dickson, “Willis Carto: An Obituary,” The Barnes Review, October 30, 2015, http://barnesreview.org/willis-carto-an-obituary/. See also: Alexander Zaitchik, “How Klan Lawyer Sam Dickson Got Rich,” SPLC Intelligence Report, 2006 Fall Issue, October 19, 2006.

20 http://www.sam-dickson.com/.

21 For example, see @FashyHaircut (Nathan Damigo): https://twitter.com/fatherlandradio/status/890804669030649857?refsrc=email&s=11 Also, https://twitter.com/nathandamigo/status/894314789446467584?refsrc=email&s=11 and https://twitter.com/nathandamigo/status/896037155440480256?refsrc=email&s=11.

22 Heidi Beirich and Mark Potok, “Schism Over Antisemitism Divides Key White Nationalist Group, American Renaissance,” SPLC Intelligence Report, August 11, 2006. Also, Jared Taylor, “Jews and American Renaissance,” American Renaissance, May 2006, https://www.amren.com/news/2006/04/jews_and_americ/. Additionally, see this list of the 15 American Renaissance conferences and their speakers: https://www.amren.com/archives/conferences/.

23 Beirich and Potok, op. cit.

24 Ibid. See also, Taylor, op. cit., and “One-Time American Renaissance Writer Ian Jobling Repudiates Racist Editor Jared Taylor,” SPLC Intelligence Report, 2012 Winter Issue, November 11th, 2012.

25 Many of these appearances can no longer be found on YouTube. But see, for example, Taylor with Derek Black on Don Black’s show, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sJi4AbEoMVA.

26 “One Time American Renaissance Writer Ian Jobling…,” op. cit.
Hunter Wallace (Brad Griffin), “Jared Taylor: Friend or Foe?”, Occidental Dissent, July 26, 2009, http://www.occidentaldissent.com/2009/07/26/jared-taylor-friend-or-foe/. “American Renaissance’s Jared Taylor Goes Full Anti-Semite,” Anti-Fascist News, August 26, 2016, https://antifascistnews.net/2016/08/26/american-renaissances-jared-taylor-goes-full-anti-semite/.

27 For example, in a 2017 study by the ADL 14 percent of American survey respondents expressed antisemitic attitudes. (https://www.adl.org/sites/default/files/documents/ADL_MS_Survey_Pres_1_25_17.pdf ) In comparable 2012 data from the General Social Survey by the National Opinion Research Center at the University of Chicago, 21-45 percent of White Americans gave racist responses to a variety of questions about African-Americans, such as whether it is okay to discriminate against them in housing and whether African-Americans are less hard-working than White people. (https://www.nytimes.com/2014/04/30/upshot/dont-be-surprised-that-people-still-say-racist-things.html?partner=rss&emc=rss&smid=tw-upshot&_r=0).

28 Nearly absent in the political debate is the fact that there are Jews of color, and still other Jews—including many Sephardim and Mizrahi—to whom the prevailing social apparatus has not yet conclusively assigned a race. And of course, nearly all White nationalists have already consigned all Jews to the category of non-White.

29 George Hocking, “Who Are the One Percent?” Counter-Currents, December 16, 2011.

30 Daniel J. Solomon, “End Jewish Privilege Poster Circulates on Chicago College Campus,” The Forward, March 16th, 2017.

31 Phone interview with Sonia Lundy, September 26, 2017.

32 Rosie Gray, “Inside a White Nationalist Conference Energized by Trump’s Rise,” Buzzfeed, May 26, 2016, https://www.buzzfeed.com/rosiegray/inside-a-white-nationalist-conference-energized-by-trumps-ri?utm_term=.fa7kdAVo#.hqokRNKr.

33 Allegra Kirkland, “Great White Hope: Trump Unites Generations of White Nationalists,” Talking Points Memo, May 24, 2016, http://talkingpointsmemo.com/muckraker/trump-american-renaissance-2016-conference.

34 Personal communications with the invited reporters.

35 Dennis Roddy, “Jared Taylor: A Racist in the Guise of ‘Expert,’” Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, January 23, 2005. American Renaissance gets more than one benefit from this aspect of its branding; the group files with the IRS as a tax-exempt “charitable organization” on “intergroup/race relations” and “civil rights.” guidestar.org/profile/61-6212159.

36Sara Sidner interview with Jared Taylor, “Concerns Grow Over Racist Incidents on Campus,” CNN, May 15, 2017, http://www.cnn.com/videos/us/2017/05/15/racist-incidents-college-campuses-dnt-sidner-lead.cnn/video/playlists/racist-incidents/.\

37 “Initiative for Faculty Excellence and Diversity: Update,” Yale University, August 31, 2016.

38 Zaitchik, op. cit.

39Roger Ebert, “Africa Addio” rogerebert.com, http://www.rogerebert.com/reviews/africa-addio-1967.

40 Andrew Anglin, “Revealing the Esoteric Nature of the White Sharia Meme”, dailystormer.com; archived version http://archive.is/jHbvJ.

41Sacco Vandal, “In Defense of White Sharia”, Counter-Currents, https://www.counter-currents.com/2017/06/in-defense-of-white-sharia/.

42 Greg Johnson, “Abortion and White Nationalism”, Counter-Currents, https://www.counter-currents.com/2016/04/abortion-and-white-nationalism/.

43 Richard Spencer, “Why Tomi Lahren is Right on Abortion”, filmed March 20, 2017, video, 20:19, https://altright.com/2017/03/20/why-tomi-lahren-is-rights-on-abortion/.

44 Ibid. On other occasions, Johnson has echoed Spencer, calling contraception “dysgenic” because it allegedly leads to fewer births by the “fit.” Greg Johnson, “To a Reluctant Bridegroom”, Counter-currents, https://www.counter-currents.com/2015/11/to-a-reluctant-bridegroom/.

45 Originally founded by racist skinheads in California, the AFP’s leadership also includes Kevin MacDonald, the leading antisemitic speaker and writer in the United States, and Jamie Kelso of Stormfront. See http://american3rdposition.com/speakers-bureau/; http://american3rdposition.com/category/leadership/ ; and https://www.splcenter.org/fighting-hate/extremist-files/group/american-freedom-party.

46 Cowie, op. cit.

Disunite the Right: The Growing Divides in the Pepe Coalition

White nationalist “Alt Right” demonstrators gathered in front of the Lincoln Memorial on June 25, 2017. Photo: Susan Melkisethian via Flickr.

By the time Richard Spencer, the man responsible for coining and popularizing the term Alt Right, made his way to the front of the crowd on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial and took the microphone, anger was already brimming among his supporters. While barely 100 Alt Right acolytes amassed for this June 25 “free speech” rally in Washington, D.C., they represented the hardcore adherents of a movement demanding a White “ethnostate”—a nation for Whites only. Standing in front of banners for White nationalist organizations like Vanguard America, the Traditionalist Workers Party, and Identity Evropa, Spencer issued the sort of romantic call for struggle that had once made him a leader:

We are fundamentally fighting to be part of something that is bigger than ourselves. We are fighting to be part of a family together. We are fighting to be strong again. To be beautiful again. We are fighting to be powerful again in a sea of weakness and hopelessness. That is our battle. Our greatest enemies will tell us that there is nothing to fight for, that it is all over. All you have to do is go to the voting booth or go purchase some cute new product or watch some cute new video. We are going to fight for meaning. We are going to make history all over again.1

Spencer’s passionate appeal came after a falling out with Jack Posobiec and Laura Loomer, who had denounced Spencer’s presence at the rally and opted to hold their own competing event across town.2 As Spencer became the focal point of broader divisions, the Far Right was sent into a tailspin, with Spencer leading his explicitly White nationalist faction of the Alt Right against the more moderate “Alt Light.”

“We need to attack the Alt Light in the most ruthless manner possible,” Spencer declared in a rant on the podcast “Alt Right Politics” on the eve of what were now two rallies. “They are objectively the immediate enemy, they must be destroyed.”3

Spencer was declaring war against the Alt Light—a group peripheral to the core Alt Right, which Spencer appeared to see as his access point to mainstream conservatism.

What might have appeared to outsiders as simple subcultural rivalry had more definitive consequences: Spencer was declaring war against the Alt Light—a group peripheral to the core Alt Right, which Spencer appeared to see as his access point to mainstream conservatism. As the man who developed staple Alt Right institutions such as the National Policy Institute, the Radix Journal, and AltRight.com, Spencer has spent approximately the last two years scrambling to capitalize on the increased exposure the Trump campaign brought to his rebranded White nationalist movement. The Alt Light, which served as the next ring around Spencer’s core movement organs, weren’t committed to the harder-edged ideology of the Alt Right, but as a collective of right-wing provocateurs, they had helped popularize Spencer’s talking points.

Now, Spencer’s “Free Speech” rally became purer but far smaller: a parade of White nationalist celebrities, who came at the cost of the rally’s potential to influence more mainstream conservatives.

A Fragile Coalition

Richard Spencer. Photo: v@s/ Wikkimedia commons.

In 2008, the Alternative Right was born, as a concept that triggered a movement, after Richard Spencer’s time working among paleoconservatives led him into the “dissident right”: those who reject liberal values of human equality and multiculturalism. The Alternative Right, and the eponymous web journal Spencer would launch in 2010, brought together a range of Rightists loosely defined by racial identitarianism and their belief in human inequality. While the GOP still rhetorically rejects racism and inequality, the Alternative Right embraced these ideas, redefining fascism for a 21st Century U.S. context. When their nascent movement collided with internet troll culture, their name was shortened to Alt Right and their flag-bearers adopted the racially abusive personality we know today.

The Alt Light came later—an outer layer of supporters mobilized largely around the celebrity of former Breitbart Tech Editor Milo Yiannopoulos, and also including former Rebel Media star Lauren Southern, online “manosphere” leader Mike Cernovich, and Infowars conspiracy baron Alex Jones. Though their agendas weren’t identical, they served a purpose for the Alt Right. Fascists who have difficulty entering the public stage have always required crossover figures and institutions that can help pave the way for more ideologically pure leaders to come—a “stopover” point on the road to authoritarianism. In earlier generations this included figures like Pat Buchanan and the paleoconservative movement, but as public trust in party politics has waned, that role has fallen to online cultural leaders who sway social networks. In the age of the Alt Right, it was the less radical representatives who loaned the movement broader popular appeal.

To the Alt Right, compromise on core principles threatens the ideological purity they were founded to uphold.

But the relationship between the Alt Right and the Alt Light, as well as “patriot” organizations like the Oath Keepers, has often been more pragmatic than comfortable. And maintaining this coalition has not been easy, requiring compromises on language, targets, and allies. To the Alt Right, compromise on core principles threatens the ideological purity they were founded to uphold.4 The Alt Right already constituted a coalition, linking together the “race realist” pseudoscientists, racial pagans, European New Rightists, male tribalists, classic White nationalists, paleoconservatives, and others who defined themselves by essentialized identity and inequality. This point of agreement was enough to initially bring them together, but disagreements over issues like Ukrainian independence, Brexit, and culture led to splits, which were papered over when Trump ran, demonstrating to them again that they could be stronger if they suppressed their differences and rode the wave.

It was the need to find a more palatable vessel for their politics that led the Alt Right to embrace the Alt Light in the first place, although both camps had different intentions from the start. To Alt Light figures hoping to parlay movement celebrity into lasting careers, the Alt Right’s overt White nationalism threatened to become a toxic association. In both camps, strong personalities combined with murky ideological boundaries became a recipe for explosive fractures, undermining the potential of a unified front. That disintegration provides insights into the organizing process of the Alt Right, and how the Left can challenge their growth before it becomes a populist wave.

Free Speech Light

A 19-year-old student named Colton Merwin began planning the June 25 “free speech” rally in Washington, D.C., weeks in advance. It was the latest in a series of rallies, hosted by Alt Right and Alt Light figures alike, in response to public clashes between the Far Right and anti-racist organizers that had started in December 2016 and escalated in early February 2017, after an appearance by Milo Yiannopoulos at the University of California, Berkeley was canceled amid mass protests. The later cancellation of Ann Coulter at Berkeley prompted Lauren Southern to host the inaugural “free speech” rally in the city of Berkeley in April.5

While Yiannopoulos and Southern were both Alt Lightists, Southern opened her rally to Alt Right speakers as well, inviting Brittany Pettibone, a contributor to websites like AltRight.com and Red Ice Creations. After Southern’s Berkeley event descended into violent attacks on counter-protesters—a media spectacle that played heavily in the news cycle, leading to greatly increased media exposure for both the Alt Light and Alt Right—“free speech” protests spread across the country. The rallies became popular enough that Spencer and the Alt Right had the opportunity to use them as recruitment opportunities.

Spencer and the Alt Right saw the free speech rallies as recruitment opportunities.

Later in the spring, the movement continued to make headlines, as Alt Light leaders Jack Posobiec and Laura Loomer gained notoriety for derailing multiple Shakespeare in the Park performances in New York City. Colton Merwin invited both as speakers, alongside Mike Cernovich, author of The MAGA Mindset.

But when Richard Spencer’s name was floated as a fellow speaker, Posobiec and Loomer declared that they wouldn’t share a stage with him, instead announcing a simultaneous rally across town, targeting the “political violence” of the shooting attack on a congressional baseball team that left House Majority Whip Steve Scalise in critical condition. (This rally focused on blaming the broad Left, suggesting that the shooter’s brief support of Bernie Sanders was evidence that the shooting amounted to political terrorism.6)

After the Alt Light abandoned the Lincoln Memorial rally—splitting the crowd and depriving Spencer of the big platform he sought—Alt Right trolls swarmed, with one prominent commentator, Baked Alaska, harassing Loomer with violent antisemitic images. While Spencer had long sought to present an above-the-fray tone for his new brand of White nationalism, he quickly joined in, tweeting, “The Alt Light is a collection of outright liars (Posobiec and Cerno), perverts (Milo, Wintrich), and Zionist fanatics (Loomer).”7

Tensions had been growing for months. The Alt Right had bristled at Milo Yiannopoulos’ refusal to fully adapt to the Alt Right through his rejection of “identity politics”8; at Trump’s Syrian intervention, which struck the Alt Right as capitulation to GOP “globalism”9; and Spencer’s earlier ostracism from Alt Light events like the Deploraball.10 But after D.C., it appeared that the face of the Alt Right had tired of his moderate counterparts.

Alt Identities

While the break in Washington stemmed from particular complaints—denying the Alt Right a recruitment platform at crossover events—the underlying issues were deeper conflicts over rhetoric and ideology. The Alt Right is an “identitarian” movement that can accurately be described as fascist and White nationalist: they seek to create a “traditionalist” society in the form of a pan-European ethnostate. That is specific and concrete. The Alt Light, on the other hand, seeks to create a bigger tent, including a range of “Independent Trumpists” who generally ally themselves with a looser type of nationalism—“American” or “Civic Nationalism,” which tempers its ideas about race yet still utilizes national chauvinism, protectionism, and isolationism. (To be sure, in effect Civic Nationalism manifests many of the same bigotries as its more explicit counterpart.)

Similar movements outside the U.S., like Nigel Farage’s UK Independence Party (UKIP) and the Brexit vote, are in vein with this Civic Nationalism, as is Donald Trump’s brand of populism. Stephen Bannon, the Breitbart alumnus and former Trump’s chief strategist, has defined his role in Trump’s campaign and administration as an expression of Civic Nationalism, viewing Trump’s “us-versus-them” language as a means to overturn establishment politics.11 (Unlike leftist expressions of populism, Civic Nationalism seeks to reestablish a mythic version of a stable and hierarchical America.)

The Alt Right has often identified Trump and the Alt Light, as well as older figures like Pat Buchanan, as Civic Nationalists. As “free speech” events proliferated, and organizations like the Proud Boys—a “Western chauvinist” group associated with the Alt Light—rose to prominence within them, some coalition members broke with the Alt Right in favor of vocal expressions of Civic Nationalism. At a June 4 rally in Portland, Oregon, Kyle “Based Stickman” Chapman, a movement celebrity allied with the Proud Boys, did just that. Although Chapman had become famous within the Alt Right for attacking anti-racist protesters with a large wooden rod, he distanced himself from the Alt Right’s racial politics, noting his Asian-American girlfriend and biracial child. Speaking to a line of news cameras, he declared himself a patriot, not a racist:

I consider myself an American nationalist… It’s a type of nationalism specifically applied to America, where we come together under Americana, 1776, the embrace of our beautiful country…Western Civilization. Regardless of race, regardless of sexual identity, we all come together to embrace America, American values, and put Americans first in all the dealings of this country.12

Chapman had already been condemned by Nathan Damigo, who recently resigned as head of the White nationalist group Identity Evropa, for his social media posts “denouncing racism” and suggesting that the “founding fathers” had created the U.S. as a country centered on ideals rather than ethnicity.13 But what appeared as Damigo and the Alt Right’s larger complaint was that Chapman had legitimized the accusations of racism in the first place, by calling “for a rejection of white interests”14 and, effectively, denouncing White nationalism. The Alt Light’s separate rally later that month in Washington, D.C., reinforced this rejection: that the Alt Right’s “White identitarianism” was so toxic that they had to hold their own nationalist rally somewhere else.

The Alt Right’s “White identitarianism” was so toxic that the Alt Light had to hold their own nationalist rally somewhere else.

The Alt Light wasn’t motivated by conscience alone; there were financial considerations at stake. Mike Cernovich has made a career on his books and videos, and with the growth of crowdfunding websites and donation appeals, Alt Light organizing against the Left has become a money-making prospect for many movement leaders. Kyle Chapman, for example, has parlayed his “Based Stick Man” persona into a clothing line alluding to the Fraternal Order of the Alt-Knights, using incendiary language to promote his brand and create a financial base for himself. (Chapman, who has served 10 years in prison for a litany of crimes including grand theft, was able to make a reported $87,000 for his legal defense and $40,000 for a graphic novel that he is pitching at Comic Con through crowd source websites.) Websites like WeSearchr are also cashing in, raising money through crowd-sourcing to deliver “bounties” for different right-wing causes, like paying money to people who successfully doxxed anti-fascists.

But while edgy language and fighting postures have helped bring Alt Light leaders some acclaim, they seem to rightly suspect that open White nationalism is still a bridge too far for anyone seeking to build a lucrative career. Leading Alt Light website The Rebel has raised over a $1 million in its three years, almost entirely in crowd-sourced small donations. And while sites like GoFundMe are often off-limits to the Alt Right, since openly racist appeals violate their Terms of Service, the coded language of the Alt Light—using Civic Nationalist rather than “identitarian” talking points—can and does pass the bar. 15

The Alt Right has also taken hits when it comes to movement branding. In the heyday of the big Alt Right tent in 2015 and 2016, Gateway Pundit’s Lucian Wintrich told The New Yorker, the movement name “was adopted by libertarians, anti-globalists, classical conservatives, and pretty much everyone else who was sick of what had become of establishment conservatism.” But after “Richard Spencer came along, throwing up Nazi salutes and claiming that he was the leader of the alt-right,” Wintrich continued, “He effectively made the term toxic…We all abandoned using it in droves.”16 Wintrich’s summary was ahistorical: the broader use of the term Alt Right during the long election season was ideologically inconsistent with how it had been used for years by Spencer and his crew of “identitarians,” and Spencer’s efforts to reclaim the term, as explicitly signifying White nationalism, were really what the Alt Right had always been about. But the larger point remained—the bigger coalition Spencer had sought was falling apart.

There was further splintering within the Alt Light. Lauren Southern released a video message, “The Alt-Lite vs Free Speech,” arguing that blocking Spencer’s participation was capitulation to Leftist suppression of free speech. But despite this show of support for Spencer and the Alt Right, other Alt Right figures criticized her. In a long post at AltRight.com in late June, writer Michael Driscoll took Southern to task for what he saw as her lackluster opposition to immigration, arguing that “Something more is needed. That something is identity.”17

While further alienating their depleting number of allies may be a tactical misstep for the Alt Right, many, like Driscoll, see the popularity of more moderate voices like Southern as an impediment to the Alt Right’s goal of mobilizing anti-immigrant sentiment into support for open White identitarianism. As Driscoll wrote:

Southern is the focal point between the “Alt-Lite” and the Alt-Right and is one of the few new media figures aware that “classical liberalism” is not synonymous with Western Civilization, nor is it sufficient to defend that civilization’s existence. For that reason, where she goes from here is important.18

Taking the Oath

The tensions arose on other fronts as well, sometimes spilling over into violent confrontations between Alt Right White nationalists and Alt Light “Patriot” groups. On June 10, far-right groups including the Oath Keepers, a prominent Patriot movement organization, protested the removal of a Houston statue depicting former Texas President Sam Houston. The Oath Keepers, seeking to disassociate themselves from the White nationalist element of the Alt coalition, openly tried to keep the Alt Right from attending. But they came anyway, including an associate of the neonazi website the Daily Stormer, who arrived bearing a Nordic “Black Sun” flag and shouting antisemitic slogans. After event organizers asked protesters affiliated with the Daily Stormer and Vanguard America to leave, a scuffle broke out. When the man brandishing the flag was confronted, he began to repeat a line that would have seemed nonsensical before 2016—“What about the memes?”—until a rally attendant placed him in a chokehold. It was an absurdist image of a movement disconnected from most people’s political experiences, but within the fractious Alt coalition, it signaled another marked break.

A Patriot movement member stands guard during the Malheur Wildlife Refuge Occupation in Oregon in January. Photo: Shawn Records.

The various Patriot militia organizations, headed primarily by the Oath Keepers and the more decentralized 3%ers, can mobilize a large base for public events like the “free speech” rallies. While much of the Alt Right, and even the Alt Light, have little experience with public protest, the militia movement has frequently relied on displays of community pressure and intimidation. Starting with the first Bundy siege in 2014 and the Malheur Wildlife Refuge in Southeastern Oregon in January 2016, Patriot groups’ visible presence has led to an increase in membership numbers not seen since their 2008 surge in response to the election of President Obama.19 But while often lumped together with other players on the Far Right, Patriot groups’ stated ideology often excludes open White nationalism. Instead, they could easily be seen as the hard edge of the Republican Party, mixing extreme libertarian economics with anti-federal conspiracy theories, opposition to environmentalism, and a disbelief in the reality of racism, sexism, and other forms of oppression.

Due to their experience and numbers, Patriot groups have assumed a deciding role in strategizing some “free speech” events, as at the June 4 rally in Portland, Oregon, where militia organizations planned the entire security and structure of the event, outlining their efforts with local police and the Department of Homeland Security.20 But Patriot groups also represent the most consistent right-wing voice against the ideological platform of the Alt Right. While the Alt Right attempts to destigmatize “White racial consciousness,” the militias hope to avoid accusations of racism entirely. During the Portland rally, Patriot Prayer organizer Joey Gibson appealed to attendees “to make this day positive, with no hate and no violence,”21 and the speaker lineup included a trans woman and a security team member with Pacific Island heritage who performed a traditional “warrior dance.”

These gestures towards diversity may seem surprising. Patriot groups’ rhetoric is well known for racialist dog whistles, decrying everything from communism to “illegals,” but the image the organizers of the Portland rally sought to create was of a united Right unburdened by “identity politics.”

While major racialist groups like Identity Evropa have participated in the “free speech” rallies, there has been increasing pressure for the militia movement to take a stand against their presence. In June, Oath Keepers founder and president, Stewart Rhodes, distanced his organization, saying:

We’re not white nationalists. We’re not racists of any kind. And if they show up [at our rally], I am going to personally, physically remove them. Because they are trying to co-opt what we’re trying to do.22

The subsequent Alt Right backlash to Stewart trended the hashtag #OathCuckers, recalling the popular Alt Right #Cuckservative hashtag used to denigrate Republicans perceived as weak on immigration during the 2016 campaign season. When the Oath Keepers then condemned the Alt Right organizations that came to the Houston rally, seemingly hoping to exploit conservative anger over the destruction of Confederate monuments to drum up recruits, the divide deepened.

AltRight.com immediately ran a story that the Oath Keepers “showed their true colors.” The Daily Stormer published a series of articles denouncing them that focused heavily on the age of their membership and the fact that they allow non-White members, and suggesting that the attack on the flagbearing “Nazi” was an affront to free speech.23 Robert Ray, an Alt Right attendee at the Houston rally who goes by the handle “Azzmador,” scolded the Oath Keepers for their treatment of the flagbearer and their “color blind” politics; he would later appear on the White nationalist podcast The Daily Shoah, using antisemitic slurs as he said, “I had been predicting before we went to this thing that Antifa was not going to be our main problem there, it was going to be these ‘Cucks.’”24

Unite the Right?

In August, some of these divisions appeared to begin healing, as the various factions of the Alt Right coalesced around planning for an August 12 rally in Charlottesville, Virginia. The rally, “Unite the Right,” sought to bring together all organizations to the right of the Alt Light in protest of the planned removal of Confederate monuments. Organizer Jason Kessler saw the rally as a formal break with movement moderates and an effort to start harvesting the energy of the last two years. Among the invited groups were the National Socialist Movement, the Traditionalist Workers Party and other street-level organizations associated with skinheads or explicit neonazism that Spencer had avoided in the past.25 It was a decisive move for the Alt Right: associating with openly violent Nazi and KKK organizations, but not with those who cite Civic Nationalism and acknowledge the concept of racism. They anticipated high attendance—anywhere from 400 to more than 1,000 protesters—since the annual American Renaissance conference in Tennessee had sold out just two weeks before. And while counter-protests at American Renaissance were larger than in years past, the event went on largely uninterrupted, demonstrating that even at an explicitly White nationalist event the Alt Right could draw a crowd without the aid of the Alt Light or Patriot groups.26

It was a decisive move for the Alt Right: associating with openly violent Nazi and KKK organizations, but not with those who cite Civic Nationalism and acknowledge the concept of racism.

The movement converged on Charlottesville on the evening of August 11. Alt Right protesters, including figures like Christopher Cantwell and Richard Spencer, marched from the University of Virginia to surround a church hosting Union Theological Seminary professor Dr. Cornel West, kicking off a two-day frenzy of violence. When the Alt Right came upon people chanting and holding signs with Black Lives Matter slogans, they started punching the counter-protestors, spraying mace, and hitting them with torches in full view of the press.27 The next day, a Black counter-protester, Deandre Harris, was beaten with metal poles in a parking garage,28 and dozens of others were pepper sprayed or beaten.29 Just after 1:00 pm,30 a man who had been seen protesting alongside Vanguard America, and carrying a shield bearing its logo, drove a Dodge Challenger into the counter-protesters, killing one woman, Heather Heyer, and injuring 19 more.31

Across the political spectrum, the melee was roundly repudiated, along with the movement itself32 (though not by President Trump, who refused for two days to condemn White nationalism by name, and suggested that “many sides” shared blame for the violence33). At a subsequent press conference intended to “disavow” the violence, Unite the Right organizer Jason Kessler was chased off by protesters.34 And while The Daily Stormer published a ghoulish celebration of Heather Heyer’s death,35 many other Rightists, such as Alt Light leader Laura Loomer spent the weekend tweeting about the Alt Right’s connection to neonazis.

Aside from constituting a national tragedy, the moment could mark a decisive turn in the Alt Right’s position: granting them credibility with the further reaches of the Nazi Right, but also severing any access they had to the more moderate Trumpian Right, and likely other militia and Alt Light organizations.

What Next?

There have been massive social shifts on the Right following Trump’s election, including a mainstreaming of nativism. And yet, despite this cultural change, the social toxicity of open White supremacy has prevented the Alt Right from finding mainstream support for explicit White nationalism.

To overcome this, the Alt Right would need to find critical wedge issues—problems that appear insurmountable to those feeling them—that provide communities in crises with systemic answers. That has been, until recently, the Alt Right’s remaining avenue for growth: to present themselves as the answer to “problems” like crime, immigration, terrorism, and a range of perceived social ills like political correctness. But to gain access to those crowds they need more accepted factions of the Right to give them access to a stage (that they will use for their own reasons). The Civic Nationalists of the Alt Light seemed to offer this opportunity, but to keep this coalition intact, it has to be a mutually beneficial relationship, offering something that the Alt Light doesn’t already have.

This task is even harder in the wake of Charlottesville. In the days immediately following the Charlottesville riot, a number of Alt Right participants had their identities made public, and were subsequently arrested, fired or denounced by embarrassed family members. The Daily Stormer’s web hosts at GoDaddy cancelled their contract and forced the website offline (although they soon reemerged on a website only available through the Tor web browser).36 They, along with multiple other Alt Right accounts, have been banned on Twitter, and PayPal is cleaning out many profiles used by White nationalist projects, denying AltRight.com a major funding channel.37 Within days of the tragedy in Charlottesville, two of Richard Spencer’s planned events—a “White lives matter” rally at Texas A&M University38 and a speaking engagement at the University of Florida—were unceremoniously canceled.39

AltRight.com has claimed that the showdown in Charlottesville will prove to be the “beginning of the White Civil Rights movement.” But facing nearly universal condemnation by the public, it’s likely that the existing divisions between the Alt Right and the Alt Light will only grow.

While the Trumpist moment was too advantageous for them to ignore, the avenue for growth it offered also exposed a key disconnect between the Alt Right’s ambitions and its reason for being—that is, its radicalism, and its reduction of politics to identity. The rest of conservatism, including Civic Nationalists, argues for ideological principles, semi-universal policy positions that outline a worldview. The Alt Right’s principles, by contrast, all form downstream from identity—a politics that are ordered entirely around their perceived “White interests.” While they’ve battled over tone and optics, the divide between the Alt Right and Alt Light is not just a disagreement about intensity, but about their core understanding of the world. And while they may find these partners useful in attacking the Left or targeting mass immigration, when it comes time for the Alt Right to define its perspective, it must finally alienate its crossover supporters, who simply will not agree on the fundamentals.

While the rest of conservatism argues for semi-universal policy positions that outline a worldview, the Alt Right’s principles all form downstream from White identity.

Trump’s populist banner gave the Alt Right access to the broader culture, but they’ve reached the end of their ability to compromise to grow. The increased violence at events like Unite the Right further widen the divide, as their radicalism is shown to have bloody consequences, and it will force even the revolutionary side of their movement to take sides. In a post-Charlottesville world, they may be too toxic for the Alt Light to touch, making the benefits of their earlier coalition moot.

For anti-racist organizations looking to stem the rise of the Alt Right, these divides offer an opportunity to pressure the crossover organizations, from Rebel Media to the Oath Keepers, to draw a line between themselves and open White nationalists. The Alt Right needs some hold on mainstream cultural institutions if they are ever to see critical mass that can result in effective, self-sustaining organizing. Ensuring further breaks in the coalition they seek can help put a break in their momentum.

Endnotes

 

1 Richard Spencer, “The Alt-Right Triumphant,” AltRight.com, June 30, 2017, https://altright.com/2017/06/30/the-alt-right-triumphant/.

2 Andrew Marantz, “The Alt-Right Branding War Has Torn the Movement in Two,” The New Yorker, July 6, 2017, https://www.newyorker.com/news/news-desk/the-alt-right-branding-war-has-torn-the-movement-in-two.

3 Richard Spencer, “Alt-Right Politics – June 24, 2017 – This Means War!,” AltRight.com, June 24, 2017, https://altright.com/2017/06/24/alt-right-politics-june-24-2017-this-means-war/.

4 While the Alt Right is a “big tent” in its own right, the coalition has defined values of inequality and ethnic identity. Richard Spencer, “What is the Alt Right?” NPI/Radix, YouTube, December 17, 2015, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GBHck8mIylo.

5 Bradford Richardson, “Trump supporters headline free speech rally at University of California, Berkeley,” The Washington Times, April 27, 2017, http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2017/apr/27/gavin-mcinnes-lauren-southern-headline-free-speech/.

6 David Neiwart, “Competing Alt-Right ‘Free-Speech’ Rallies Reveals Infighting Over White Nationalism,” Southern Poverty Law Center, June 21, 2017, https://www.splcenter.org/hatewatch/2017/06/21/competing-alt-right-free-speech-rallies-reveal-infighting-over-white-nationalism.

7 Richard Spencer (RichardBSpencer) “The Alt Light is a collection of outright liars (Posobiec and Cerno), perverts (Milo, Wintrich), and Zionist fanatics (Loomer).” June 16, 2017, 11:11 PM, Tweet.

8 Richard Spencer, “Milo and His Enemies,” AltRight.com, March 2, 2017, https://altright.com/2017/03/02/milo-and-his-enemies/.

9 Shane Burley, “As the alt-right breaks with Trump, so goes its moment in the sun,” Waging Nonviolence, April 17, 2017, https://wagingnonviolence.org/2017/04/alt-right-trump-break/.

10 Brakkton Booker, “Alt-Right Infighting Simmers Around Inaugeral ‘DeploraBall,” NPR, January 1, 2017, http://www.npr.org/2017/01/01/507395282/alt-right-infighting-simmers-around-inaugural-deploraball.

11 Joshua Green, Devil’s Bargain: Steve Bannon, Donald Trump, and the Storming of the Presidency (New York: Penguin Press, 2017): 5-6.

12 Kyle Chapman, Interview With Author, June 4, 2017.

13 Nathan Damigo, “Is Based Stick Man Not So Based?” AltRight.com, March 28, 2017, https://altright.com/2017/03/28/is-based-stick-man-not-so-based/.

14 Ibid.

15 Josh Harkinson, “Cashing in on the Rise of the Alt-Right,” Mother Jones, June 16, 2017, http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2017/06/kyle-chapman-based-stickman-alt-right/.

16 Lucian Wintrich as quoted by Andrew Maratz, “The Alt-Right Branding War Has Torn the Movement in Two,” The New Yorker, July 6, 2017, http://www.newyorker.com/news/news-desk/the-alt-right-branding-war-has-torn-the-movement-in-two.

17 Michael Driscoll, “Lauren Southern, Generation Identity, and the Quest for Meaning,” AltRight.com, June 29, 2017, https://altright.com/2017/06/29/lauren-southern-generation-identity-and-the-quest-for-meaning/.

18 Michael Driscoll, “Lauren Southern, Generation Identity, and the Quest for Meaning,” AltRight.com, June 29, 2017, https://altright.com/2017/06/29/lauren-southern-generation-identity-and-the-quest-for-meaning/.

19 “Antigovernment militia groups grew by more than one-third in last year,” Southern Poverty Law Center, January 4, 2016, https://www.splcenter.org/news/2016/01/04/antigovernment-militia-groups-grew-more-one-third-last-year.

20 Arun Gupta, “Playing Cops: Militia Member Aids Police in Arresting Protester at Portland Alt-Right Rally,” The Intercept, June 8, 2017, https://theintercept.com/2017/06/08/portland-alt-right-milita-police-dhs-arrest-protester/.

21 Joey Gibson, “Speech at ‘Free Speech’ Rally,” Speech, Patriot Prayer “Free Speech” Rally, Portland, Oregon, June 4, 2017.
22 Steward Rhodes, “Oath Keepers say IDENTITY EVROPA is not Welcome: ‘If they come in today we going to whoop their ass,’” Very Fake News, YouTube, April 29, 2017, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=14J1dCwXh5w.
23 In mid-August, The Daily Stormer was denied domain registration from Google and GoDaddy and these webpages were no longer live.

24 Azzmador, Mike Enoch, and Seventh Son, “The Daily Shoah 164: Vanned in the UK,” The Right Stuff, June 20, 2016, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v0lU2WtUKxc.

25 Sarah Viets, “Neo-Nazi Misfits Join Unite the Right,” Southern Poverty Law Center, July 26, 2017, https://www.splcenter.org/hatewatch/2017/07/26/neo-nazi-misfits-join-unite-right.

26 Jason Wilson, “’Young white guys are hopping mad’: confidence grows at far-right gathering,” The Guardian, July 31, 2017, https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2017/jul/31/american-renaissance-conference-white-identity.

27 Jason Wilson, “Charlottesville: far-right crowd with torches encircles counter-protester group,” The Guardian, August 12, 2017, https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/aug/12/charlottesville-far-right-crowd-with-torches-encircles-counter-protest-group.

28 Yesha Callahan, “White Supremacists Beat Black Man With Poles in Charlottesville, Va., Parking Garage, The Root, August 12, 2017, http://www.theroot.com/white-supremacists-beat-black-man-with-poles-in-charlot-1797790092?rev=1502591812341.

29 Brendan King, “Protesters pepper spray, beat each other during Charlottesville rally,” WTVR, August 12, 2017, http://wtvr.com/2017/08/12/protesters-pepper-spray-beat-each-other-during-charlottesville-unit-the-right-rally/.

30 Joe Heim, “Recounting a day of rage, hate, violence and death,” The Washington Post, August 14, 2017, https://www.washingtonpost.com/graphics/2017/local/charlottesville-timeline/?utm_term=.1225c1019e5c.

31 “Alleged Charlottesville Driver Who Killed One Rallied With Alt-Right Vanguard America,” Southern Poverty Law Center, August 12, 2017, https://www.splcenter.org/hatewatch/2017/08/12/alleged-charlottesville-driver-who-killed-one-rallied-alt-right-vanguard-america-group.

32 Jeniffer Calfas, “Virginia Governor Delivers Defiant Speech Against White Supremacists ‘We Are Stronger Than Them,’” TIME, August 13, 2017, http://time.com/4898560/virginia-governor-terry-mcauliffe-church-speech-transcript/.

33 Glenn Thrush and Rebecca R. Ruiz, “White House Acts to Stem Fallout From Trump’s First Charlottesville Remarks,” The New York Times, August 13, 2017, https://www.nytimes.com/2017/08/13/us/charlottesville-protests-white-nationalists-trump.html.

34 “USA: Unite the Right organiser shutdown after blaming Charlottesville chaos on ‘anti-white hate,’” Ruptly TV, Youtube, August 13, 2017, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4X4qeu5zLVI.

35 “After praising Trump’s statement on Charlottesville, a neo-Nazi website celebrates murder of counterprotester Heather Heyer,” Media Matters for America, August 13, 2017, https://www.mediamatters.org/blog/2017/08/13/after-praising-trumps-statement-charlottesville-neo-nazi-website-celebrates-murder-counterprotester/217610.

36 Justin Ling, “Neo-nazi site The Daily Stormer moves to the Darkweb, but promises a comeback,” Vice News, August 15, 2017, https://www.cbsnews.com/news/paypal-suspends-dozens-of-racist-groups-sites-altright-com/.

37 Jonathan Berr, “PayPal cuts off payments to right-wing extremists,” CBS News, August 16, 2017, https://www.cbsnews.com/news/paypal-suspends-dozens-of-racist-groups-sites-altright-com/.

38 Doug Criss, “Texas A&M cancels white nationalist rally set for 9/11,” CNN, August 15, 2017, http://www.cnn.com/2017/08/14/us/texas-white-nationalist-protest-trnd/index.html.

39 Colin Dwyer, “University of Florida Denies Richard Spencer Event, Citing ‘Likelihood of Violence,” NPR, August 16, 2017, http://www.npr.org/2017/08/16/543874400/university-of-florida-denies-richard-spencer-event-citing-likelihood-of-violence.

A Guide to Who’s Coming to the Largest White Nationalist Rally in a Decade

A poster for Unite the Right combines imagery of Confederate flags and monuments, Pepe the Frog, as well as the Roman Eagle–reminiscent of Nazi Germany.

The Unite the Right rally, which will take place in Charlottesville, Virginia on August 12, 2017, looks like it will be the largest White Nationalist rally in the United States in more than a decade. Between 500 and 1,000 people are expected to participate, while up to 4,000 counter-protestors may come.

While there have been numerous Far Right rallies since Donald Trump’s inauguration in January 2017, this is the first major one that is led by fascists and other White Nationalists, which include Richard Spencer, Matthew Heimbach, Mike Enoch, and Michael Hill. It is also the third rally to be held in Charlottesville this year; the first one, in May, was marked by a torchlight rally at night, and was followed by a KKK march in July.

I have identified over thirty groups and prominent individuals who will be speaking at or attending the event, or have provided support for or endorsed it. This list includes Alt Right and Alt Lite members, neoconfederates, neonazis, racist pagans, Patriot movement paramilitaries, and even a European neonazi party. What follows is a scorecard of the Far Right groups that have announced they will attend the event, although undoubtedly many more will come.

ORGANIZER

Jason Kessler (Unity and Security for America)

Jason Kessler writes on Twitter, “#UniteTheRight opposes the demonization of white people & their history. We oppose the globalist plan to replace us w/ 3rd world immigration.”

As Unite the Right’s main organizer, Kessler has filed for the rally permits and has held several press conferences. He is the president of the Far Right group Unity and Security for America, and has written for the White nationalist anti-immigration VDARE website. He had written a Daily Caller story praising the May Charlottesville rally. However, after it was revealed that Kessler had also given a speech to the protestors the same day, the website suspended their relationship. Kessler promotes antisemitic and “White genocide” conspiracy theories, and supports calls for a White ethnostate.

On the Political Cesspool radio show, Kessler said about Unite the Right: “the number one thing is I want to destigmatize Pro-White advocacy…. I want a huge, huge crowd, and that’s what we’re going to have, to come out and support, not just the Lee Monument, but also white people in general, because it is our race which is under attack.”1

SPEAKERS

Richard Spencer (AltRight.com, National Policy Institute)
Spencer is the most visible Alt Right figure and is usually credited with coining the term. The leader of the intellectual wing of the movement, he has been pivotal in remaking the image of White nationalism. An advocate of “peaceful ethnic cleansing” and a White ethnostate, Spencer is influenced by European unorthodox fascist trends like the New Right and Identitarian movement. Despite being firmly on the fascist wing of the movement, his untraditional influences show, for example, in his toleration of openly gay and lesbian participants. In 2011 Spencer took over the National Policy Institute (NPI) think tank and has held several conferences in Washington. A supporter of Trump at the time, at the NPI conference before the inauguration Spencer gave a speech that ended with, “Hail Trump, hail our people, hail victory!” Audience members sieg-heiled in response. In 2017, Spencer founded a new website, AltRight.com, along with others including Jason Jorjani and Swedish fascist Daniel Friberg, both of whom work with Arktos press.

AltRight.com wrote about the rally, saying “People will talk about Charlottesville as a turning point. There will be a before Charlottesville and an after Charlottesville. Will you stand up for your history, your race and your way of life?”2

Matthew Heimbach (Traditionalist Worker Party)


Matthew Heimbach and his Traditionalist Worker Party have been promoting the event; he is depicted here during his time in the White Student Union he founded while attending Towson University. Photo: Flickr via cool revolution.

Heimbach has founded and led several groups in succession: a Youth for Western Civilization chapter and a White Students Union (both at Towson University in Maryland), and then the Traditionalist Youth Network and its outgrowth, the Traditionalist Worker Party. He is one of the three leaders of the racist umbrella group the Nationalist Front, and is a member of the neoconfederate League of the South. Now twenty-six, Heimbach was the bright young thing of the White Nationalist movement before the Alt Right, and despite his orientation towards more traditional neonazi and KKK groups, he portrays himself as a prominent figure in the Alt Right. He is a tireless networker, with links to groups like Greece’s neonazi Golden Dawn party, but is also a controversial figure. He had been feuding with Richard Spencer, but this apparently ended in April 2017 when Heimbach came to Alabama’s Auburn University to help protect a talk Spencer gave. In July 2017 Heimbach plead guilty to disorderly conduct for attacking a black woman at a March 2016 Trump campaign rally in Louisville, Kentucky.3

Mike Enoch (The Right Stuff)

Enoch (real name: Mike Peinovich) runs The Right Stuff, a podcast platform which includes the Daily Shoah show. The Right Stuff acts as middle-ground between the intellectual and juvenile trolling wings of the Alt Right. Enoch appeared with Nationalist Front groups at the April 2017 rally in Pikeville, Kentucky, and was at the May rally in Charlottesville. He is also on the Board of Directors of the Foundation for the Marketplace of Ideas. Enoch is credited with popularizing the racist neologism “dindus” as well as the antisemitic “echoes” symbol (where three parentheses are placed around names of people thought to be Jewish). Vehemently antisemitic, when he was doxed in January 2017 it was revealed he lived in New York’s wealthy Upper East Side neighborhood—with his Jewish wife.4

Michael Hill (League of the South)

Hill is the founder and leader of the neoconfederate League of the South. A former professor, he has the led the group from having a base of support from pro-Southern academics into a racist group with paramilitary elements. Hill is also one of the three leaders of the Nationalist Front. He will be the only person speaking at Unite the Right with a PhD.5

Augustus Invictus (Fraternal Order of Alt-Knights, American Guard)

Invictus is a Florida lawyer who ran in the 2016 Libertarian Party primary for senate, hoping to take Marco Rubio’s seat. Invictus is a Thelemite (occultists in the tradition of Aleister Crowley), and the press has a had a field day with that fact that he admits to sacrificing a goat and drinking its blood. As a lawyer, Invictus defended Marcus Faella of the American Front, a Third Positionist skinhead group whose Florida chapter was arrested and charged with illegal paramilitary training; American Front members have hosted and attended Invictus’s talks in the Pacific Northwest. He has floated into Alt Right circles and, although he denies being a white supremacist, he is unusually open about his willingness to work with fascists. He is a member of the American Guard, a Midwest-based Alt Right group that accepts open White nationalists while claiming the group itself are “constitutional nationalists.” He also helped Based Stickman form the Fraternal Order of the Alt Knights—a group designed to engage in fights at demonstrations, and who are affiliated with the Proud Boys.6

Baked Alaska

Baked Alaska takes to Twitter to promote the rally.

Tim “Treadstone” Gionet, aka “Baked Alaska,” is a former Buzzfeed social media strategist who has moved towards antisemitism, Islamophobia, and White nationalism. He was Milo Yiannopoulos’s tour manager in 2016, but was uninvited to the Alt Lite “Deploraball”—held in Washington, DC the night before Trump’s inauguration—for his antisemitic tweets. Baked Alaska apologized, but has since attacked Alt Lite livestreamer Laura Loomer using blatant antisemitism, and now promotes White supremacist ideas such as “the 14 words” and “White genocide” on Twitter.7

Pax Dickinson

The most commercially successful of the crowd, Dickinson worked at Business Insider until his misogynistic tweets forced his departure. He later worked at Wesearchr, a Far Right funding platform. After a fallout there, he announced that he is starting Counter.Fund, a new Far Right crowdfunding site. However, the revelation that Peter Belau, the site’s “first High Council appointee” is Jewish, has caused neonazi stalwart Billy Roper to denounce the Unite the Right gathering.8

Christopher Cantwell

One of the minor league speakers tapped early on, Cantwell hosts the Radical Agenda podcast. He had worked with the Cop Block project, before he—like an number of Alt Right members—moved from libertarianism and anarcho-capitalism into the Alt Right and sympathy with fascists. In a recent interview, Cantwell said “let’s fucking gas the kikes and have a race war.”9

Johnny Monoxide

The least-known of the speakers, Monoxide (aka Johnny Ramondetta) is a White nationalist livestreamer who has run different podcasts. Living in Berkeley, California, Monoxide has livestreamed Identity Evropa events.10

LEGAL SUPPORT

Foundation for the Marketplace of Ideas, Inc.

Led by Kyle Bristow, this Michigan-based legal non-profit was formed in 2016. He claims it is “quickly becoming the legal muscle behind the alt-right movement.” In April, Bristow successfully forced Auburn University to host Richard Spencer’s talk. More recently, Bristow has tried to block the Charlottesville city government from moving the location of Unite the Right out of a small park in the downtown area. The group’s board of directors include Alt Right activist Mike Enoch; William Johnson, the chairman of the White nationalist American Freedom Party; and James Edwards, who runs the White nationalist Political Cesspool radio show.11

Memes such as this one have been circulating social media in anticipation for the rally.

ATTENDEES

Daily Stormer

Founded by Andrew Anglin, by July 2016 the site, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center, “had become the most popular English-language website of the radical right, eclipsing the Stormfront site that had held that position since the early days of the Internet.” Daily Stormer (a pun on the 1930s German Nazi party newspaper Der Stürmer) is the most prominent representative of the openly neonazi wing of the Alt Right. In 2016, the Southern Poverty Law Center said they have established thirty-one on-the-ground groups, called “book clubs.” Staffers Lee Rogers, “Azzmador,” “Zeiger,” and Ben Garland announced they are going to Unite the Right. Rogers writes, “Daily Stormer Book Clubs should do everything they can to get their people out to this event. All readers of the Daily Stormer should do the same.”

Another article Daily Stormer says, “this will clearly be an earth-shaking day that will go down in the history books. It can really only be explained as a perfect storm. That everything has been leading up to this. That our time has come. … It will be a monumental turning point in the progression of our movement. Everything will be different afterwards. … Next stop: Charlottesville, VA. Final stop: Auschwitz.”12

Fraternal Order of Alt-Knights (FOAK)

The “military wing of the Proud Boys,” this group was founded in April 2017 by Based Stickman, with help from Augustus Invictus. (Based Stickman was originally slated as appearing at the rally, but it does not appear that he will make an appearance.) On August 7 the FOAK announced that will be come to Unite the Right.13

Brad Griffin (Occidental Dissent)
Griffin’s Occidental Dissent blog has been heavily promoting Unite the Right. Griffin, who writes as “Hunter Wallace,” is a member of the neoconfederate League of the South. He also has been a board member of the Council of Conservative Citizens, the group who was the inspiration to Dylann Roof, the murderer of nine black worshippers at a Charleston, South Carolina church in 2015. Despite his neoconfederate views, Griffin has come around to supporting the Alt Right.

In July, Griffin wrote:I think Charlottesville has the potential to be a breakthrough moment in our activism. There is so much energy which has been bottled up online over the past 15 years that the dam is close to breaking. It is only a matter of time before it finally spills over into the real world and we are getting very close to that point.”14

Identity Dixie

A media outlet with a webpage and podcast called Rebel Yell. It was started by The Right Stuff in order to appeal to neoconfederates, and mixes confederate and Nazi imagery.15

Identity Evropa’s advertisement for the rally.

Identity Evropa

Founded in March 2016, Identity Evropa is one of two fascist Alt Right groups who are oriented toward recruiting men in their teens and early twenties. They copy European Identitarian politics and are known for sporting Richard Spencer-like “fashy” haircuts and recruiting on campuses. They have been present at many of the combative Far Right-organized street demonstrations since the inauguration. Their leader, Nathan Damigo, achieved internet notoriety for punching a counter-protestor at a Berkeley rally in April 2017. Damigo has previously led the Nationalist Youth Front, the youth branch of the White nationalist American Freedom Party. Identity Evropa also participated in the May 2017 Charlottesville rally.

Damigo plans to be at Unite the Right; he says the removal of Confederate monuments is part of a plan “to sever us from our identity so that we will have nothing left to gain strength and inspiration from to resist their mass colonization. Join us, and push back against the cultural Marxists their war on Whites.”16

League of the South

The League is a highly visible neoconfederate organization, and promote an explicitly White nationalist version of the Confederacy’s goal—southern secession. Founded in 1994, they have been able to attract thousands of members over the years, and have created paramilitary elements. Their current popular issue is their support for Confederate memorials and flags. In April 2017 they joined the Nationalist Front, and attended the Pikeville, Kentucky rally alongside the Traditionalist Worker Party, National Socialist Movement, and others.

The League’s founder and leader, Michael Hill, will speak at Unite the Right. The group says, “This is an event which seeks to unify the right-wing against a totalitarian Communist crackdown, to speak out against displacement level immigration policies in the United States and Europe, and to affirm the right of Southerners and White people to organize for their interests just like any other group is able to do, free of persecution.”17

National Socialist Movement

The NSM is the prominent U.S. neonazi party. After American Nazi Party leader George Lincoln Rockwell was assassinated in 1967, some of his followers latter founded a group that eventually became the National Socialist Movement. Lead by Jeff Schoep, they came into prominence in 2004 and are known primarily for staging high-profile public rallies. This included a 2005 Toledo, Ohio march that ended in rioting. In April 2016 they helped found the racist umbrella group Aryan Nationalist Alliance (now the Nationalist Front), and Schoep is one the group’s three leaders. Attempting to mainstream itself in the atmosphere created by Trump, in November 2016 the National Socialist Movement removed the swastika from their flag, replacing it with an Odal rune. In April 2017 they attended a large rally in Pikeville, Kentucky, led by Heimbach. In July 2017, they announced they would come to Unite the Right, saying “This is a call to all NSM Members to be in Charlottesville, and show our support for White History and Heritage.” However, as of press time Schoep is not listed as a speaker.18

Nationalist Front
A national umbrella organization of various neonazi, fascist, Klan, and other groups. Founded in April 2016 as the Aryan Nationalist Alliance, soon after it changed its name and now has three leaders: Matthew Heimbach (Traditionalist Worker Party), Jeff Schoep (National Socialist Movement), and Michael Hill (League of the South). Heimbach and Hill are speaking and all three groups will attend the rally, along with Vanguard America, a new member group who are Alt Right neonazis. Especially with the addition of the National Socialist Movement, Unite the Right has gained the aura of being a Nationalist Front event.19

Stephen McNallen (Wotan Network)

McNallen is the founder of the Asatru Folk Assembly, a White nationalist Heathen group. (Heathens are pagans who worship the traditional Norse and Germanic gods; this religious tradition is favored by many White nationalists, although many other Heathens are anti-racist.) Recently McNallen has formed the openly White nationalist Wotan Network, which is focused on disseminating White nationalist Heathen memes. He said he wants his appearance at Unite the Right to have a large public impact.20

Patriot Movement and the Militias

The role of the Patriot movement and its paramilitaries—which have appeared at numerous other Trumpist street rallies—has been a hotly discussed topic on social media. In the end, the optics of the rally have become too neonazi looking for most to attend. However, there are some exceptions.

The American Freedom Keepers are mobilizing people to come. This group seems to be based in Portland, Oregon; its members have participated in different street actions. They are a split from another group, the Warriors for Freedom. At an ultra-nationalist demonstration in June 2017 in Portland Oregon, an American Freedom Keeper made the news after he was photographed assisting law enforcement in arresting a counter-demonstrator. 21 When contacted via their website, the group did not deny it was organizing its members to come.

The leader of the Pennsylvania Light Foot Militia has also said he will bring his group. He claims that they are “going to try to coordinate with law enforcement.”22

Additionally, the social media posts of various individual Patriot movement members, including III%ers and members of APIII%, have said they will attend.

Proud Boys
An Alt Right group founded by Gavin McInnes, who co-founded Vice media, but left in 2008. McInnes is deeply misogynistic and Islamophobic, and has called transgender people “gender niggers.” McInnes denies being a White supremacist, and the group describes itself as “western chauvinist.” The Proud Boys allow people of color, Jews and gay men in their group.

McInnes has contributed to White nationalist publications like American Renaissance and VDARE, used White nationalist rhetoric like “White genocide,” and has had White nationalist leaders on his show. White supremacists like Mike Enoch brag about how close the Proud Boys are to neonazism, going so far as to say that those who won’t become White Nationalists are “Jewish, they’re half-white, they’re mixed race or they have a non-White girlfriend of [sic] wife.”

The Proud Boys are an international organization that is explicitly violent; part of advancing in rank in their organization requires members to fight with their political opponents. They have been frequently seen at the clashes over the last six months. In April 2017 the formation of the Fraternal Order of Alt-Knights was announced; it is described as the “military division of the Proud Boys.” Proud Boys in the Canadian armed forces were investigated after they disrupted a First Nations ceremony.

Originally the Proud Boys website ran an article denouncing “Unite the Right,” but it was taken down and replaced with one saying “if a chapter or an individual Proud Boy feels compelled to go, we encourage him to do so.”23

Red Elephants

A new Alt Right media platform known for their livestreaming. They have promoted the violent DIY Division, are alleged to have illegally livestreamed inside of a courtroom, and were part of a July pro-Trump provocation in downtown Berkeley. They have promoted Unite the Right and are fundraising to send members there.24

Traditionalist Worker Party

Led by Matthew Heimbach, the Traditionalist Worker Party is an outgrowth of his Traditionalist Youth Network. The group is both a predecessor to the Alt Right as well as a participant in it, despite Heimbach’s own orientation towards more traditional White Supremacist organizing. The group is a founding member of the Nationalist Front, and technically they are Third Positionist: they seek a separate White ethno-state and portray themselves as anti-capitalist. In April 2017 they organized a large rally in Pikeville, Kentucky, which was attended by the National Socialist Movement, the League of the South, Mike Enoch, and Vanguard America. Traditionalist Worker Party member Matt Parrot (who is Heimbach’s father-in-law), says the Traditionalist Worker Party will be “welcoming and supporting non-identitarian and non-White allies” at Unite the Right. Elsewhere he says:

“There’s this impression that Unite the Right is a White Nationalist event. This is false. Unite the Right is a broad unity event for every single faction of the right with the balls to stand and fight for our heritage against a nightmare swarm of Marxist degenerates. It just happens that only White Nationalists got the balls to hold the line when the media tries to divide and conquer.”

Meanwhile, in a video promoting Unite the Right, Heimbach claims a Jewish conspiracy is behind the removal of the Confederate memorials, because “they want to be able to destroy knowledge of the past so they, the Jewish Power Structure, can try and control the future.”25

Unity and Security for America

Founded by Unite the Right organizer Jason Kessler, the goal of this group “is to defend Western Civilization including its history, culture and peoples while utterly dismantling Cultural Marxism.” In addition to limiting immigration (they want to require that “most immigrants come from Western nations”), Unity and Security for America advocate a strongly isolationist foreign policy.26

Vanguard America

An Alt Right neonazi group formed in 2016 and led by Dillon Irizarry, they focus on recruiting men in their teens and early twenties. They have been present at many of the street rallies and clashes this year, and have concentrated on campus-based recruiting. Originally named the American Vanguard, after participating in the April 2017 Pikeville, Kentucky rally, they joined the Nationalist Front.27

“Wife With a Purpose” ministry
Richard Spencer announced that the blogger Ayla Stewart, who runs “Wife With a Purpose” ministry, will be attending the rally. Her brand of openly White nationalist Mormonism has gained her over 30,000 Twitter followers and media notoriety.29

Endorsements


David Duke advertises the Unite the Right rally on his Twitter. The list of featured speakers includes many notable white nationalists and fascists.

American Renaissance

Jared Taylor leads American Renaissance, which is both a White nationalist publication and annual conference with an intellectual approach. Matthew Lyons describes it asone of the movement’s central institutions” which “pioneered a version of White nationalism that avoided antisemitism.” Taylor has been called the “father of the alt right” because of his promotion of the notion of “race realism.”

In June 2017, antiracist activists claimed Taylor attended a meeting with Kessler and others at a Charlottesville restaurant, where Taylor disguised himself in a wig and spoke in a fake French accent. While no Unite the Right speakers were on the official program of the July 2017 American Renaissance conference in Tennessee, shortly thereafter Taylor made a Periscope video promoting the rally. In it, he says the desire to remove Confederate monuments is an “attack an all Americans who think differently than the way we are obliged today” and was an attempt to destroy “White heritage.”30

David Duke

Since so many White nationalists who lead the 1980s and ‘90s movement have died, Duke is moving into a position as the movement’s preeminent elder statesman. Duke was a neonazi in the 1970s and later the founder and leader of the influential Knights of the Ku Klux Klan in the 1980s. Part of the faction that wished to mainstream the Klan, he was elected as a Louisiana State Representative in 1989. Duke is promoting Unite the Right on his radio show and Twitter.31

Matthew Heimbach announced Golden Dawn’s endorsement of the rally on Facebook.

Golden Dawn

Matthew Heimbach announced on Facebook that Golden Dawn sent him a message to read at Unite the Right. This Greek neonazi party holds seventeen seats in the national parliament, and has chapters in the United States and other countries.32

Endnotes

1 A.C. Thompson, “A Few Things Got Left Out of The Daily Caller’s Report on Confederate Monument Rally,” ProPublica, May 31, 2017, https://www.propublica.org/article/things-got-left-out-of-the-daily-callers-report-confederate-monument-rally; Hatewatch Staff, “Dueling Alt-Right Rallies, Separated by Anti-Semitism, Face Off in DC Despite Calls to ‘Unite the Right’,” Southern Poverty Law Center, June 26, 2017, https://www.splcenter.org/hatewatch/2017/06/26/dueling-alt-right-rallies-separated-anti-semitism-face-dc-despite-calls-unite-right; “Jason Kessler tells white nationalist radio host that he hopes to destigmatize white nationalism with the Unite The Right rally…,” Restoring the Honor, July 31, 2017, http://restoringthehonor.blogspot.com/2017/07/jason-kessler-tells-white-nationalist_31.html.

2 “Richard Bertrand Spencer,” Southern Poverty Law Center, accessed August 7, 2017, https://www.splcenter.org/fighting-hate/extremist-files/individual/richard-bertrand-spencer-0; Daniel Lombroso and Yoni Appelbaum, “‘Hail Trump!’: White Nationalists Salute the President Elect.” Atlantic, November 21, 2016, http://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2016/11/richard-spencer-speech-npi/508379; Vincent Law, “The ‘Unite The Right’ Rally Is Going To Be A Turning Point For White Identity In America,” AltRight.com, August 5, 2017, https://altright.com/2017/08/05/the-unite-the-right-rally-is-going-to-be-a-turning-point-for-white-identity-in-america.
3 “Matthew Heimbach,” Southern Poverty Law Center, accessed August 7, 2017,
https://www.splcenter.org/fighting-hate/extremist-files/individual/matthew-heimbach; Lois Beckett, “Neo-Nazi pleads guilty after shoving black protester at Trump rally,” Guardian, July 19, 2017, https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2017/jul/19/matthew-heimbach-neo-nazi-trump-rally-guilty-plea; Vegas Tenold, “When the White Nationalists Came to Washington,” New Republic, January 23, 2017, https://newrepublic.com/article/140053/white-nationalists-came-washington; “Auburn, AL: Students Chase off Richard Spencer and Matthew Heimbach’s Alt-Right Trolls,” It’s Going Down, April 19, 2017, https://itsgoingdown.org/auburn-al-students-chase-off-richard-spencer-matthew-heimbachs-alt-right-trolls.

4 Matthew Sheffield, “The alt-right eats its own: Neo-Nazi podcaster ‘Mike Enoch’ quits after doxxers reveal his wife is Jewish Bad day for the Fourth Reich,” Salon, January 16, 2017, http://www.salon.com/2017/01/16/cat-fight-on-the-alt-right-neo-nazi-podcaster-mike-enoch-quits-after-doxxers-reveal-his-wife-is-jewish; “Michael ‘Enoch’ Peinovich,” Southern Poverty Law Center, accessed August 7, 2017, https://www.splcenter.org/fighting-hate/extremist-files/individual/michael-“enoch”-peinovich.

5 “Michael Hill,” Southern Poverty Law Center, accessed August 7, 2017, https://www.splcenter.org/fighting-hate/extremist-files/individual/michael-hill.

6 Shane Burley, “Imperium and the Sun: The Strange Case of Augustus Sol Invictus and the New Right,” Hampton Institute, January 11, 2016, http://www.hamptoninstitution.org/augustus-sol-invictus.html; Augustus Invictus, “On Left-Wing Terrorism & Right-Wing Counterterrorism,” The Revolutionary Conservative, April 25, 2017, http://therevolutionaryconservative.com/articles/2017-04-25-on-left-wing-terrorism-right-wing-counterterrorism; “Augustus Invictus Meet & Greet Report Back,” Rose City Antifa, March 5, 2016, http://rosecityantifa.org/articles/augustus-invictus-meet-greet-report-back; “The American Guard,” YouTube, posted by The Revolutionary Conservative on May 11, 2017, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8CM35ZyGWHw.

7 Oliver Darcy, “The untold story of Baked Alaska, a rapper turned BuzzFeed personality turned alt-right troll,” Business Insider, April 30, 2017, http://www.businessinsider.com/who-is-baked-alaska-milo-mike-cernovich-alt-right-trump-2017-4; Taly Krupkin, “The Jewish Provocateur Caught in the Turf War as the ‘Alt-right’ Battles the ‘Alt-light’,” Haaretz, June 22, 2017, http://www.haaretz.com/us-news/.premium-1.797372; Tim Gionet (@bakedalaska), Twitter post, May 7, 2017, https://twitter.com/bakedalaska/status/861399464271073280; Tim Gionet (@bakedalaska), Twitter post, June 28, 2017, https://twitter.com/bakedalaska/status/880239704758599680.

8 Nitasha Tiku, “Business Insider’s CTO Is Your New Tech Bro Nightmare,” Valleywag, September 9, 2013, http://valleywag.gawker.com/business-insider-ctos-is-your-new-tech-bro-nightmare-1280336916; Pax Dickinson, “A Gentle Introduction to Counter.Fund,” Medium, June 13, 2017, https://medium.com/@paxdickinson/a-gentle-introduction-to-counter-fund-bb0c9d6dd444; Jesse Singal, “The WeSearchr Meltdown Is a Reminder That Some Very Rich People Are Funding the Alt-Right,” New York (Select/All), May 16, 2017, http://nymag.com/selectall/2017/05/chuck-johnsons-wesearchr-is-having-a-bit-of-a-meltdown.html; Billy Roper, “UniteTheRight…with Jews?,” The Roper Report, July 2, 2017, https://theroperreportsite.wordpress.com/2017/07/02/unitetheright-with-jews; Peter B, “Introducing the Counter.Fund High Councilors: Peter Belau,” Medium, June 27, 2017, https://medium.com/@PissAndVinegar/introducing-the-counter-fund-high-councilors-peter-belau-b7ccf37fc060.

9 “Capitalists Against Cops: Cop Block, Christopher Cantwell, and the Libertarian Paradox,” Anti-Fascist News, December 15, 2015, https://antifascistnews.net/2015/12/15/capitalists-against-cops-cop-block-christopher-cantwell-and-the-libertarian-paradox; “Christopher Cantwell Claims He’s ‘Not Even a Hitlerite’ But Wants to ‘Gas’ the Jews,” Angry White Men, June 26, 2017, https://angrywhitemen.org/2017/06/26/christopher-cantwell-claims-hes-not-even-a-hitlerite-but-wants-to-gas-the-jews.

10 “Identity Evropa: Mapping the Alt-Right Cadre,” Northern California Anti-Racist Action (NoCARA), December 9, 2016, https://nocara.blackblogs.org/2016/12/09/identity-evropa-mapping-the-alt-right-cadre.

“John Ramondetta Exposed to Berkeley Community as Neo-Nazi Organizer,” Indybay, June 29, 2017, https://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2017/06/29/18800525.php.

11 “Foundation for the Marketplace of Ideas, Inc.,” GuideStar, accessed August 8, 2017, https://www.guidestar.org/profile/81-1969574; Chris Suarez, “Unite the Right rally sparks First Amendment questions,” Roanaoke Times, July 29, 2017, http://www.roanoke.com/news/virginia/unite-the-right-rally-sparks-first-amendment-questions/article_595b06b8-6d57-507f-9827-ff3419af8ff6.html; Bill Morlin, “Extremists’ ‘Unite the Right’ Rally: A Possible Historic Alt-Right Showcase?,” Southern Poverty Law Center, August 7, 2017, https://www.splcenter.org/hatewatch/2017/08/07/extremists-unite-right-rally-possible-historic-alt-right-showcase.

“Kyle Bristow,” Southern Poverty Law Center, accessed August 8, 2017, https://www.splcenter.org/fighting-hate/extremist-files/individual/kyle-bristow; “FMI’s Board of Directors,” Foundation for the Marketplace of Ideas, accessed August 7, 2017, http://www.freedomfront.org/board-of-directors; “Kyle Bristow: The Alt-Right Has Its Own Political Party That Will ‘Make America White’ Again,” Angry White Men, September 11, 2016, https://angrywhitemen.org/2016/09/11/kyle-bristow-the-alt-right-has-its-own-political-party-that-will-make-america-white-again; “Leadership,” American Freedom Party, accessed August 8, 2017, http://theamericanfreedomparty.us/leadership.

12 “Andrew Anglin,” Southern Poverty Law Center, accessed August 8, 2017,
https://www.splcenter.org/fighting-hate/extremist-files/individual/andrew-anglin; Lee Rogers, “Join Daily Stormer Staff at the ‘Unite the Right’ Rally in Charlottesville, Virginia!,” Daily Stormer, July 30, 2017, https://www.dailystormer.com/join-daily-stormer-staff-at-the-unite-the-right-rally-in-charlottesville-virginia; Keegan Hankes, “Eye of the Stormer,” Southern Poverty Law Center, February 9, 2017, https://www.splcenter.org/fighting-hate/intelligence-report/2017/eye-stormer; Benjamin Garland, “Charlottesville 2.0: Be There or Be Square,” Daily Stormer, August 5, 2017, https://www.dailystormer.com/charlottesville-2-0-be-there-or-be-square.

13 Tracie Chiles, Facebook post, August 7, 2017, https://www.facebook.com/events/137857813439031/permalink/163175937573885.

14 “Bradley Dean Griffin,” Southern Poverty Law Center, accessed August 8, 2017, https://www.splcenter.org/fighting-hate/extremist-files/individual/bradley-dean-griffin; Hunter Wallace, “Unite The Right Rally,” Occidental Dissent, July 3, 2017, http://www.occidentaldissent.com/2017/07/03/unite-the-right-rally.

15 Hunter Wallace (@occdissent), Twitter post, July 30, 2017, https://twitter.com/occdissent/status/891727405840203777; Hatewatch Staff, “Neo-Confederates Breaking From The Right Stuff After Doxxing Scandal,” Southern Poverty Law Center, January 26, 2017, https://www.splcenter.org/hatewatch/2017/01/26/neo-confederates-breaking-right-stuff-after-doxxing-scandal.

16 Gabriel Joffe, “Identity Evropa and the Fraternity of White Supremacy,” Political Research Associates, June 15, 2017, https://www.politicalresearch.org/2017/06/15/identity-evropa-and-the-fraternity-of-white-supremacy; “White Nationalists Work to Make Inroads at U.S. Colleges,” Southern Poverty Law Center, February 15, 2017, https://www.splcenter.org/fighting-hate/intelligence-report/2017/white-nationalists-work-make-inroads-us-colleges; Vincent Law, “The ‘Unite The Right’ Rally Is Going To Be A Turning Point For White Identity In America,” AltRight.com, August 5, 2017, https://altright.com/2017/08/05/the-unite-the-right-rally-is-going-to-be-a-turning-point-for-white-identity-in-america; Nathan Damigo, Facebook post, July 18, 2017, https://www.facebook.com/nathan.damigo/photos/a.1002986733057881.1073741828.979683198721568/1478779288811954; Jason Kessler, “Richard Spencer Leads White Nationalist Demonstration In Front Of Virginia Robert E. Lee Monument,” Daily Caller, May 14, 2017, http://dailycaller.com/2017/05/14/richard-spencer-leads-pro-white-demonstration-in-front-of-virginia-robert-e-lee-monument.

17 “League of the South,” Southern Poverty Law Center, accessed August 8, 2017, https://www.splcenter.org/fighting-hate/extremist-files/group/league-south; Michael Hill, “League will be at Unite the Right rally, 12 August, Charlottesville, VA,” June 9, 2017, League of the South, http://leagueofthesouth.com/league-will-be-at-unite-the-right-rally-12-august-charlottesville-va.

18 “National Socialist Movement,” Southern Poverty Law Center, accessed August 8, 2017, https://www.splcenter.org/fighting-hate/extremist-files/group/national-socialist-movement; Rohan Smith, “America’s white supremacists ban swastika in bold attempt to ‘go mainstream’,” News.com.au, November 16, 2016, http://www.news.com.au/world/north-america/americas-white-supremacists-ban-swastika-in-bold-attempt-to-go-mainstream/news-story/53f68100ba52a1e33b13cf25b794d028; Sarah Viets, “Neo-Nazi Misfits Join Unite the Right,” Southern Poverty Law Center, July 26, 2017, https://www.splcenter.org/hatewatch/2017/07/26/neo-nazi-misfits-join-unite-right.

19 James King, “Rival White Supremacist Groups Unite To Fight ‘Race War’,” Vocativ, April 28, 2016, http://www.vocativ.com/313543/rival-white-supremacist-groups-unite-to-fight-race-war; Sarah Viets, “Nationalist Front Chumming up to Klan Members Once Again May 30, 2017,” Southern Poverty Law Center, https://www.splcenter.org/hatewatch/2017/05/30/nationalist-front-chumming-klan-members-once-again.

20 “Stephen McNallen and Racialist Asatru Part 1: Metagenetics and the South Africa Connection,” Circle Ansuz, August 19, 2013, https://circleansuz.wordpress.com/2013/08/19/stephen-mcnallen-part-one.

21 “Meet Warriors for Freedom: Racist Rage Revival Club,” Rose City Antifa, June 3, 2017, http://rosecityantifa.org/articles/warriors-for-freedom; Jason Wilson, “Member of Portland militia-style group helps police arrest anti-fascist protester,” Guardian, June 8, 2017, https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2017/jun/08/portland-alt-right-rally-militia-member-police-arrest.

22 “Exclusive: Commander of the PA Light Foot Militia, Christian Yingling, says they are gearing up to help maintain order with potential police support at Unite The Right rally…,” July 31, 2017 Restoring the Honor, http://restoringthehonor.blogspot.com/2017/07/exclusive-commander-of-pa-light-foot.html.

23 Gavin McInnes (@Gavin­_McInnes), Twitter post, June 26, 2017, https://twitter.com/Gavin_McInnes/status/879318997845626880; Gavin McInnes, “America in 2034,” American Renaissance, June 17, 2014, https://www.amren.com/news/2014/06/america-in-2034-7; “Gavin McInnes,” VDARE, accessed August 8, 2017, http://www.vdare.com/users/gavin-mcinnes; “Gavin McInnes’ ‘Alt-Right’ Fan Club Drifts Towards Neo-Nazi Violence,” May 18, 2017 Idavox, http://idavox.com/index.php/2017/05/18/gavin-mcinnes-alt-right-fan-club-drifts-towards-neo-nazi-violence; Taly Krupkin, “Meet the Proud Boys, the Chauvinists Providing ‘Security’ at a Right-wing Event Near You,” Haaretz, June 19, 2017, http://www.haaretz.com/us-news/.premium-1.796302; Tom Porter, “Canadian Armed Forces Members Face Expulsion Over ‘Alt-Right’ Protest,” Newsweek, July 5, 2017, http://www.newsweek.com/canada-armed-forces-first-nations-proud-boys-alt-right-631936.; Based In Colorado, “Proud Boys Official Statement on the ‘Unite the Right’ Rally,” Proud Boy Magazine, June 2017, http://officialproudboys.com/news/gavin-mcinnes-virginia-unite-the-right-rally-disavowed.

24 “DIY Division: The Violent neo-Nazi Group Central to the California Alt-Right and Alt-Light Protest Movements,” Northern California Anti-Racist Action (NoCARA), July 6, 2017, https://nocara.blackblogs.org/2017/07/06/diy-division; “Meet the Bay Area’s 4chan Kangaroo Court,” June 5, 2017, Northern California Anti-Racist Action (NoCARA), https://nocara.blackblogs.org/2017/06/05/meet-the-bay-areas-4chan-kangaroo-court; Natalie Orenstein, “Trump supporters’ ‘experiment’ meant to provoke Berkeleyans on Saturday,” Berkeleyside, July 10, 2017, http://www.berkeleyside.com/2017/07/10/trump-supporters-experiment-meant-provoke-berkeleyans-saturday; Vincent James, “‘Unite The Right’ Rally Set To Take Place Next Month,” The Red Elephants, July 2017, http://theredelephants.com/unite-right-rally-set-take-place-next-month; “Support the Red Elephants,” Back the Right, July 14, 2017, https://www.backtheright.com/campaign/18/support-the-red-elephants

25 Matt Parrott, Facebook, August 1, 2017, https://www.facebook.com/parrott.matt/posts/10154801841131918; Matt Parrott, “Proud Boys Are Cordially Invited to Unite The Right,” TradYouth, June 2017,
http://www.tradyouth.org/2017/06/proudboys-are-cordially-invited-to-unite-the-right; “Unite The Right! August 12 – Charlottesville, VA at Lee Park” (video), YouTube, posted by Traditionalist Worker Party on July 8, 2017, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8i19GxzCcm4; around 2:50.

26 Unity and Security for America, Facebook post, January 29, 2017, https://www.facebook.com/UniSecAmerica/posts/781161652035898; “We Are Unity and Security for America,” Unity and Security for America, accessed August 8, 2017, http://www.unityandsecurity.org/protect-the-west.html.

27 “White Nationalists Work to Make Inroads at U.S. Colleges,” Southern Poverty Law Center, February 15, 2017, https://www.splcenter.org/fighting-hate/intelligence-report/2017/white-nationalists-work-make-inroads-us-colleges; “Vanguard America,” Anti-Defamation League, accessed August 8, 2017, https://www.adl.org/education/resources/backgrounders/vanguard-america; “Unite The Right! August 12 – Charlottesville, VA at Lee Park” (video), YouTube, posted by Traditionalist Worker Party on July 8, 2017, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8i19GxzCcm4; around 4:28.

29 Richard Spencer (@RichardBSpencer), Twitter post, June 24, 2017, https://twitter.com/RichardBSpencer/status/878713947339321347; Wife With A Purpose (@apurposefulwife), Twitter post, accessed August 8, 2017; Jim Dalrymple II, “Meet The (Alt-Right) Mormons: Inside The Church’s Vocal White Nationalist Wing,” BuzzFeed News, March 27, 2017, https://www.buzzfeed.com/jimdalrympleii/meet-the-alt-right-mormons-inside-the-churchs-vocal-white; Joshua Rhett Miller, “This young mom is the face of Mormonism’s hateful alt-right,” New York Post, March 31, 2017, http://nypost.com/2017/03/31/this-young-mom-is-the-face-of-mormonisms-hateful-alt-right.

30 Matthew N. Lyons, “Ctrl-Alt-Delete: The origins and ideology of the Alternative Right,” Political Research Associates, January 20, 2017, https://www.politicalresearch.org/2017/01/20/ctrl-alt-delete-report-on-the-alternative-right; “Jared Taylor,” Southern Poverty Law Center, accessed August 7, 2017, https://www.splcenter.org/fighting-hate/extremist-files/individual/jared-taylor; “Ivy-League Racist Jared Taylor Disguised as Frenchman: Clandestinement dans Charlottesville,” It’s Going Down, June 6, 2017, https://itsgoingdown.org/ivy-league-racist-jared-taylor-disguised-as-frenchman-clandestinement-dans-charlottesville; Hatewatch Staff, “Infinite DramaQuest 2.0: American Renaissance Edition,” Southern Poverty Law Center, July 27, 2017, https://www.splcenter.org/hatewatch/2017/07/27/infinite-dramaquest-20-american-renaissance-edition; “Defense of Southern heritage is defense of American heritage. #UniteTheRight,” Perioscope, August 4, 2017, https://www.pscp.tv/AmRenaissance/1eaKbmynnYexX; see around 4:00.

31 “David Duke,” Southern Poverty Law Center, accessed August 8, 2017, https://www.splcenter.org/fighting-hate/extremist-files/individual/david-duke; “David Duke urges followers to attend rally in Charlottesville,” Daily Progress, July 6, 2017, http://www.richmond.com/news/virginia/david-duke-urges-followers-to-attend-rally-in-charlottesville/article_4f25085a-da7f-5449-bf7f-ca091f59a5b3.html;

32 It’s Going Down News (@IGD_News), Twitter post, August 6, 2017, https://twitter.com/IGD_News/status/894284361133989888.

An Alt Right Update

These notes are based on a talk I gave in Seattle on July 22, 2017 and the discussions that followed. Thanks to the organizers of that event, my fellow presenters, and everyone who attended. Special thanks also to the members of Q-Patrol who provided security.

My January report, “Ctrl-Alt-Delete,” was published at the beginning of Donald Trump’s administration. It dealt with the Alt Right’s ideological roots, major players, multiple internal currents, and complex relationships with both conservatives and the Trump campaign.

A lot has happened since then. The terrain on which the Alt Right operates, and the character of the movement itself, have shifted in some important and disturbing ways. The situation is very much in flux, but the half-year mark seems like a good moment for a snapshot of where things stand today. The notes that follow are my attempt to give a brief overview of five major changes related to the Alt Right that have taken place in that time.

Photo: Mark Dixon via Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

1. Trump’s election has encouraged supremacist violence by vigilantes and local police.

In the days and weeks immediately after the November elections, the Southern Poverty Law Center reported a sharp increase in “bias-related harassment and intimidation” across the country—threats and attacks against immigrants, Muslims, African Americans, trans people, and other oppressed groups.1 “Many harassers invoked Trump’s name during assaults,” the SPLC noted, and many of those targeted said the incidents were like nothing they had experienced before.2 A logical, horrifying intensification of these attacks took place in May, when a White nationalist in Portland, Oregon, screamed racist and anti-Muslim abuse at two women on a light rail train, then stabbed three passengers who intervened, killing two of them.3

Meanwhile, the first two months of 2017 each saw police officers kill more people than any month in 2016, according to the website KilledByPolice.net.4 While there isn’t yet a breakdown of those specific numbers, among young men overall, Blacks are more than three times more likely than Whites to be killed by cops, according to Washington Post statistics.5

Whether it’s carried out by cops, right-wing activists, or unaffiliated individuals, supremacist violence didn’t start with Trump. It’s been going on for a long time, and it’s deeply rooted in the structure of U.S. society. But the climate has changed. Where President Obama defended Black Lives Matter and sang “Amazing Grace” at a memorial to victims of the Charleston, North Carolina, racist mass shooting,6 we now have a president who calls police “the thin blue line between civilization and chaos,” claims they are subjected to “unfair defamation and vilification,” and urges them to handle suspects more brutally. He’s also a president who, before taking office, encouraged his followers to assault political opponents, called Mexican immigrants rapists and drug dealers, and bragged about sexually assaulting women.7 In Jeff Sessions we now have an attorney general who, reversing previous policy, dismisses the idea that police brutality could be systemic and says that it’s bad for “morale” for his department to investigate abuse by local police departments.8 The same day that he appointed Sessions, Trump signed three executive orders intended to give police more authority.9

The Alt Right has contributed to this change in political climate through its supremacist propaganda and its role in helping Trump get elected. (For a full discussion of this, see “Ctrl-Alt-Delete.”) It also benefits from these changes, which serve as a public validation of its message; help grow its pool of potential recruits; and sharpen the atmosphere of tension, fear, and crisis that helps Far Right politics thrive.

2. Despite Trump’s volatility, in policy terms his administration has largely been coopted by conventional conservatism.

As a candidate, Donald Trump didn’t just run against the Republican establishment, but ridiculed and vilified it, in ways that helped endear him to most Alt Rightists. He touted a populist nationalism that defied conservative orthodoxy on multiple fronts, rejecting free trade and repeatedly praising Russian President Vladimir Putin, while pledging to protect Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid and rebuild infrastructure on a large scale. His anti-immigrant rhetoric and proposals went much further than most conservative politicians were willing to go.10

But because he lacked an organizational base of his own, Trump was immediately forced to bring other constituencies into his administration. He appointed some nationalists, such as Attorney General Sessions, National Security Advisor Michael Flynn, and Chief Strategist Stephen Bannon, but he also put together a patchwork of establishment politicians, social conservatives, and people recruited from big business or the military. So, from the beginning, Trump’s presidency has rested on an unstable coalition of “America First” nationalists and people more or less aligned with conventional conservatism.11

Initially, the nationalists seemed to be on top, seeing their agenda supported or enacted in Trump’s inaugural speech, the Muslim ban that brought protesters to the airports in January, the withdrawal from the Trans Pacific Partnership, and moves to expand the roundup of undocumented immigrants. But over time the balance shifted largely away from them. Flynn was forced out of his role; Sessions recused himself on the Russia investigation; former Goldman Sachs President Gary Cohn gained ground on economic policy; and Bannon was kicked off the National Security Council.12

The nationalist faction is still there and still making itself felt, but it’s far from leading a full-scale charge. As president, Trump has abandoned many of the populist-nationalist positions he took as a candidate, such as declaring NATO to be obsolete, advocating an alliance with Russia, denouncing NAFTA and the Export-Import Bank, and his call to make health care accessible to all. Even his policy on undocumented immigrants, writes columnist Doyle McManus, isn’t much harsher than the plan Mitt Romney proposed four years earlier.13 On the other hand, the recent White House-announced proposal to cut legal immigration in half indicates that the America Firsters have gained some ground again.14 This struggle is likely to continue.

Donald Trump is just as belligerent, impulsive, and self-aggrandizing as ever, which tends to put him at odds with conventional politics but also makes it more difficult for him to effect substantive, lasting change. In policy terms, what we’re left with so far is a harsher, more repressive, more chaotic version of neoliberalism with some America First elements. The Trump administration is dismantling environmental regulations and other kinds of business regulation, and (together with Congress) may eventually succeed in repealing Obamacare and cutting business taxes. All of this will further enrich the wealthy at the expense of our wallets, our future, and, in some cases, our lives. The administration will tinker with trade deals, deport Latin Americans and Haitians more indiscriminately than Obama, and make life harder for Middle Easterners and LGBTQ people—particularly trans people. It will probably do its best to speed up the growth of the national security state (which has been expanded by all recent presidents, Republican and Democratic alike). But barring some unforeseen crisis that could shift the balance again, the Trump administration is not going to withdraw from NAFTA, is not going to abandon NATO and align with Russia, and is not going to close the borders. The administration’s proposal to cut legal immigration will shift the terms of debate but is unlikely to pass since most Republican leaders, and probably most capitalists, oppose it. The neoliberal consensus is starting to break down, and will face more challenges in the coming years, but populist right-wing nationalism doesn’t seem strong enough or developed enough to supplant it yet.

3. The Alt Right has largely abandoned its support for Trump.

After the election, Alt Rightists saw themselves as the vanguard of the Trump coalition—the ones who would stake out forward positions and then pull other people along with them part of the way. They were excited about Trump appointing Bannon, Sessions, Flynn, and some others they saw as allies.15

But as the political balance inside the administration shifted, Alt Rightists got frustrated. The key turning point came in early April, when Trump launched a missile strike against Syria in response to a chemical weapons attack. Most Alt Rightists saw this as a shocking capitulation to the neocons and the foreign policy establishment.16 The fact that many conventional politicians and mainstream media organs praised the missile strike underscored Alt Rightists’ sense of betrayal.17 Many in the movement portrayed Jared Kushner, Gary Cohn, and other Jews in the administration as evil wire-pullers who had manipulated or blackmailed Trump into changing course.18

Since then, some Alt Rightists have argued their movement should “remain demanding but supportive” of Trump,19 but generally they have become cool or even hostile to the administration in a way that’s markedly different from six months ago. The Alt Right blog Occidental Dissent, which has been particularly outspoken in repudiating Trump, re-emphasized the movement’s revolutionary condemnation of the U.S. political order: “No elected official can salvage this nation. There is no reforming the system—it is beyond repair. We can only rebuild from the ashes.”20 Very recently, some Alt Rightist praised Trump’s moves to reduce legal immigration and attack affirmative action, but Richard Spencer warned that the immigration plan would bring in too many highly skilled non-Europeans and be “devastating” for White middle-class professionals.21

4. Alt Rightists have taken to the streets alongside other right-wing forces.

Even as it’s become alienated from the Trump administration, the Alt Right has been working to strengthen its influence in other ways, and strengthen its grassroots ties with organized Trump supporters. Even six months ago, the Alt Right still existed mostly online, excepting a few small conferences. Since then, some Alt Right groups, such as Identity Evropa and the Traditionalist Worker Party, have focused more on building actual organizations and holding public rallies. Many of these rallies have been joint events with other rightists, including Alt Lite groups (who identify with Alt Right ideology to an extent but don’t call for abandoning the U.S. political system) and even Patriot movement groups such as the Oath Keepers and Three Percenters.22 That’s a big change, because before this spring the Alt Right and Patriot groups didn’t have much visible contact with each other. Now they’re showing up at the same rallies—such as at Berkeley in April or Pikeville, Kentucky, that same month.23 There have been tensions and even some physical altercations between the two camps, because Patriot groups, like Alt Lite activists, generally disavow White nationalism, but the convergence of rightist forces in the streets is definitely an ominous development.24

Some of these joint events have been held under the banner of “free speech,” protecting political space against Antifa activists (militant anti-fascists), who are portrayed as “the real fascists.” Islamophobia has been another major point of unity, as in last month’s national “March Against Sharia,” which brought together Alt Rightists, racist skinhead groups, Patriot groups, right-wing Zionists, and even some LGBTQ activists. As PRA research fellow Spencer Sunshine argues, Islamophobia “is more socially acceptable than anti-Semitism while still demonizing a minority group. Plus, its ostensible emphasis on religion is a way to avoid specifically naming race.”25

5. Alt Rightists and their allies have been turning toward physical violence and creating a street-fighting presence

As part of their new focus on public demonstrations over the past several months, both Alt Right groups such as Nathan Damigo’s Identity Evropa as well as Alt Lite formations including Gavin McInnes’s Proud Boys and Kyle Chapman’s Fraternal Order of Alt-Knights have been organizing and training for combat and taking their skills to the streets. This has developed largely in the context of confrontations with Antifa activists, as in Berkeley, but has much bigger implications in terms of the Right’s ability to target oppressed communities and shape political space.26

To make the situation even more disturbing, neonazi skinheads from groups such as Hammerskin Nation have, at least in California, also been involved in these street clashes. As Northern California Anti-Racist Action (NoCARA) reports, the southern California-based DIY Division, also known as the Rise Above Movement, is a violent neonazi group that brings together Alt Right and Alt Lite activists along with Hammerskin members. “DIY Division as a political collective is working hard to bridge the gap between the more internet-based Alt-Right brand of white nationalism which is targeted to appeal to younger, generally more educated and upper-class white men and the more traditional boots on the ground and street violence which has characterized neo-Nazi skinhead politics.” NoCARA also highlights “the close relationships that exist between McInnes’s Proud Boys and…DIY Division…. The Proud Boys need the numbers and the muscle of the neo-Nazis, while the neo-Nazis need the cover of pro-Trump groups.”27

*                      *                      *

These developments are extremely serious. Despite its disenchantment with the Trump administration, the Alt Right appears to be simultaneously building a real capacity for organized physical violence and strengthening its grassroots connections with other rightist currents, including Trump supporters. Their focus on a shared enemy, whether Muslims or the black bloc, is helping to draw different rightist forces closer, and shared street fighting is deepening those ties. This type of activism is a direct physical threat to both oppressed communities and the Left, and can fuel authoritarian and supremacist tendencies within the state at all levels. To assume that breaking with Trump will leave the Alt Right weakened and marginalized would be a dangerous mistake.

At the same time, we shouldn’t exaggerate either the unity or the competence of this new wave of militant right-wing forces. Rightists are just as vulnerable as leftists to infighting, personality conflicts, and sectarian ideological squabbles. As journalist Shane Burley points out, Alt Rightists “are not politically savvy organizers; they are angry white men taking their rage out on everyone they think eroded their meager privilege.”28 So far, thankfully, their movement has failed to produce a skilled, charismatic leader who can unify them and provide strategic direction. (Richard Spencer may look dapper and sound polished in interviews, but he has never inspired devotion from the Alt Right as a movement.) And even a strong leader wouldn’t necessarily overcome the basic political differences separating Alt Rightists from their conservative fellow travelers. In the long run, if the Alt Right wants to coalesce with system-loyal rightists, it either has to win more people to its dream of right-wing revolution, or abandon it.

End notes

1 “Update: 1,094 Bias-Related Incidents in the Month Following the Election,” Hatewatch (Southern Poverty Law Center), 16 December 2016, https://www.splcenter.org/hatewatch/2016/12/16/update-1094-bias-related-incidents-month-following-election

2 “Ten Days After: Harassment and Intimidation in the Aftermath of the Election,” Hatewatch (Southern Poverty Law Center), 29 November 2016, https://www.splcenter.org/20161129/ten-days-after-harassment-and-intimidation-aftermath-election

3 Jason Wilson, “Suspect in Portland double murder posted white supremacist material online,” Guardian, 28 May 2017, https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2017/may/27/portland-double-murder-white-supremacist-muslim-hate-speech

4 Angela Helm, “More Americans Killed by Police in 2017, but Trump Dominates Headlines,” The Root, 4 March 2017, http://www.theroot.com/more-americans-killed-by-police-in-2017-but-trump-domi-1792969338

5 Will Greenberg, “Here’s How Badly Police Violence Has Divided America,” Mother Jones, 19 March 2017, http://www.motherjones.com/media/2017/03/police-shootings-black-lives-matter-history-timeline/

6 Dave Boyer, “Obama defends Black Lives Matter protests at police memorial in Dallas,” Washington Times, 12 July 2016, http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2016/jul/12/obama-defends-black-lives-matter-protests-police-m/; “Obama Delivers Eulogy in Charleston” (video), New York Times, 27 June 2015, https://www.nytimes.com/video/us/100000003767801/obama-delivers-eulogy-in-charleston.html?mcubz=2

7 Celia Caracal, “America Is Suffering from a Plague of Deadly, Unaccountable and Racist Police Violence,” AlternNet, 5 July 2017, http://www.alternet.org/human-rights/look-police-violence-one-year-after-philando-castile-and-alton-sterling-were-killed; Mark Chicano, “Donald Trump’s speech was made more disturbing as Suffolk County cops cheered the idea of police brutality,” Newsday, 28 July 2017, http://www.newsday.com/opinion/columnists/mark-chiusano/donald-trump-s-speech-was-made-more-disturbing-as-suffolk-county-cops-cheered-the-idea-of-police-brutality-1.13864824; Michael Finnegan and Noah Bierman, “Trump’s endorsement of violence reaches new level: He may pay legal fees for assault suspect,” Los Angeles Times, 13 March 2016, http://www.latimes.com/politics/la-na-trump-campaign-protests-20160313-story.html; Tal Kopan, “What Donald Trump has said about Mexico and vice versa,” CNN, 31 August 2016, http://www.cnn.com/2016/08/31/politics/donald-trump-mexico-statements/index.html; Ben Jacobs, Sabrina Siddiqui, and Scott Bixby, “‘You can do anything’: Trump brags on tape about using fame to get women,” Guardian, 8 October 2016, https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2016/oct/07/donald-trump-leaked-recording-women

8 Adam Serwer, “Jeff Sessions’s Blind Eye,” The Atlantic, 5 April 2017, https://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2017/04/jeff-sessions-blind-eye/521946/

9 Rachael Revesz, “Donald Trump signs executive order giving police more powers,” Independent, 9 February 2017, http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/donald-trump-sign-executive-order-police-more-authority-murder-shooting-us-president-jeff-sessions-a7572001.html

10 Benjamin Studebaker, “Why Bernie Sanders is More Electable Than People Think,” Huffington Post, 12 February 2016, http://www.huffingtonpost.com/benjamin-studebaker/why-bernie-sanders-is-more-electable_b_9219882.html; “Morbid Symptoms: The Downward Spiral,” Unity and Struggle, 19 December 2016, http://unityandstruggle.org/2016/12/19/morbid-symptoms-the-downward-spiral/

11 Robert Cavooris, “One Step Back, Two Steps Forward: Trump and the Revolutionary Scenario,” Viewpoint Magazine, 21 February 2017, https://www.viewpointmag.com/2017/02/21/one-step-back-two-steps-forward-trump-and-the-revolutionary-scenario/

12 Donald J. Trump, “Transcript of President Trump’s inauguration speech,” USA Today, 20 January 2017, https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2017/01/20/his-own-words-president-trumps-inaugural-address/96836330/; Philip Rucker and Robert Costa, “Trump’s hard-line actions have an intellectual godfather: Jeff Sessions,” Washington Post, 30 January 2017, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/trumps-hard-line-actions-have-an-intellectual-godfather-jeff-sessions/2017/01/30/ac393f66-e4d4-11e6-ba11-63c4b4fb5a63_story.html?utm_term=.25b61b5ac6ed; “Wall Street banker Cohn moving Trump toward moderate policies,” Reuters, 17 April 2017, http://www.cnbc.com/2017/04/17/wall-street-banker-cohn-moving-trump-toward-moderate-policies.html; Steve Holland and John Walcott, “Trump drops Steve Bannon from National Security Council,” Reuters, 5 April 2017, http://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-trump-security-idUSKBN17724S

13 Doyle McManus, “Trump’s populist revolution is already over—for now,” Los Angeles Times, 16 April 2017, http://www.latimes.com/opinion/op-ed/la-oe-mcmanus-trump-flip-flops-20170416-story.html

14 Peter Baker, “Trump Supports Plan to Cut Legal Immigration by Half,” New York Times, 2 August 2017, https://www.nytimes.com/2017/08/02/us/politics/trump-immigration.html

15 Richard B. Spencer, “We the Vanguard Now,” Radix Journal, 9 November 2016, https://web.archive.org/web/20170105065744/http://www.radixjournal.com/blog/2016/11/9/we-the-vanguard-now

16 Shane Burley, “As the ‘alt-right’ breaks from Trump, so goes its moment in the sun,” Waging Nonviolence, 17 April 2017, https://wagingnonviolence.org/2017/04/alt-right-trump-break/; Vegas Tenold, “The Alt-Right and Donald Trump Get a Divorce,” New Republic, 26 April 2017, https://newrepublic.com/article/142276/alt-right-donald-trump-get-divorce

17 Hunter Wallace [Brad Griffin], “Donald Trump is Now ‘The Leader of the Free World,’” Occidental Dissent, 8 April 2017, https://web.archive.org/web/20170622213726/http://www.occidentaldissent.com/2017/04/08/donald-trump-is-now-the-leader-of-the-free-world/

18 Andrew Anglin, “An Extremely Unfortunate Turn of Events,” Daily Stormer, 7 April 2017, https://web.archive.org/web/20170619172920/http://www.dailystormer.com/an-extremely-unfortunate-turn-of-events/

19 Pseudo-Laurentius, “Deploying Tactical Blackpills: The Alt Right Versus Trump,” The Right Stuff, 14 April 2017, https://blog.therightstuff.biz/2017/04/14/deploying-tactical-blackpills-the-alt-right-versus-trump/.

20 Meinrad Gaertner, “A Reflection and Foreshadowing,” Occidental Dissent, 17 April 2017, https://web.archive.org/web/20170428104016/http://www.occidentaldissent.com/2017/04/17/a-reflection-and-foreshadowing/

21 Marcus Cicero, “MAGA: Trump Proposes Bill Vastly Cutting Legal Immigration, Imposition Of YUGE Hurdles For New Arrivals,” Occidental Dissent, 2 August 2017, http://webcache.googleusercontent.com/search?q=cache:wvakoofdlr4J:www.occidentaldissent.com/2017/08/02/maga-trump-proposes-bill-vastly-cutting-legal-immigration-imposition-of-yuge-hurdles-for-new-arrivals/+&cd=1&hl=en&ct=clnk&gl=us; Colin Liddell, “Trump Fires First Salvo Against Anti-White ‘Affirmative Action’ Policy,” AltRight.com, 2 August 2017, https://web.archive.org/web/20170802132555/https://altright.com/2017/08/02/trump-fires-first-salvo-against-anti-white-affirmative-action-policy/; Richard Spencer, “Why I Oppose the RAISE Act,” AltRight.com, 3 August 2017, https://webcache.googleusercontent.com/search?q=cache:58G1fdYUSFYJ:https://altright.com/2017/08/03/why-i-oppose-the-raise-act/+&cd=1&hl=en&ct=clnk&gl=us

22 “Based Reserve Army: How the Right is Changing Its Strategy,” It’s Going Down, 25 April 2017, https://itsgoingdown.org/based-reserve-army-how-the-right-changing-strategy/; Spencer Sunshine, “The Growing Alliance Between Neo-Nazis, Right Wing Paramilitaries and Trumpist Republicans,” ColorLines, 9 June 2017, https://www.colorlines.com/articles/growing-alliance-between-neo-nazis-right-wing-paramilitaries-and-trumpist-republicans

23 “Oath Keepers Call to Action: Stand and Defend Free Speech at Berkeley Patriots Rally, April 15, 2017,” Oath Keepers, 1 April 2017, https://web.archive.org/web/20170402184553/https://www.oathkeepers.org/oath-keepers-call-action-stand-defend-free-speech-berkeley-patriots-rally-april-15-2017/; Eminence Grise, “Reflections on the Revolution in Berkeley,” The Right Stuff, 16 April 2017, https://webcache.googleusercontent.com/search?q=cache:sNKoo5E9CgIJ:https://blog.therightstuff.biz/2017/04/16/reflections-on-the-revolution-in-berkeley/+&cd=1&hl=en&ct=clnk&gl=us&client=safari; Lois Beckett, “Armed neo-Nazis prepare for potential clash in small Kentucky town,” Guardian, 29 April 2017, https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2017/apr/29/neo-nazi-rally-pikeville-kentucky-anti-fascist

24 “‘Alt-Right’ declares flame war on Oath Keepers,” Southern Poverty Law Center, 15 June 2017. https://www.splcenter.org/hatewatch/2017/06/15/alt-right-declares-flame-war-oath-keepers; Taly Krupkin, “The Jewish Provocateur Caught in the Turf War as the ‘Alt-right’ Battles the ‘Alt-light,’” Ha’aretz, 22 June 2017, http://www.haaretz.com/us-news/.premium-1.797372

25 Spencer Sunshine, “Islamophobia is the Glue that Unites Diverse Factions of the Far Right,” Truthout, 14 July 2017, http://www.truth-out.org/news/item/41265-islamophobia-is-the-glue-that-unites-diverse-factions-of-the-far-right

26 Antifascist Front, “The Alt Right Has Taken the Public Step Towards Violence,” Anti-Fascist News, 28 April 2017, https://antifascistnews.net/2017/04/28/the-alt-right-has-taken-the-public-step-towards-violence/; David Neiwert, “Far Right Descends on Berkeley for ‘Free Speech’ and Planned Violence,” Hatewatch (Southern Poverty Law Center), 17 April 2017, https://www.splcenter.org/hatewatch/2017/04/17/far-right-descends-berkeley-free-speech-and-planned-violence; Emma Grey Ellis, “Don’t Look Now, But Extremists’ Meme Armies are Turning Into Militias,” Wired, 20 April 2017, https://www.wired.com/2017/04/meme-army-now-militia/; “Gavin McInnes’ ‘Alt-Right’ Fan Club Drifts Toward Neo-Nazi Violence,” IdaVox, 18 May 2017, http://idavox.com/index.php/2017/05/18/gavin-mcinnes-alt-right-fan-club-drifts-towards-neo-nazi-violence/

27 Northern California Anti-Racist Action, “How ‘Based Stickman’ & Proud Boys are Working with Neo-Nazis in So-Cal,” It’s Going Down, 8 July 2017, https://itsgoingdown.org/based-stickman-proud-boys-working-neo-nazis-cal/

28 Shane Burley, “Alt-Right 2.0,” Salvage, 6 July 2017. http://salvage.zone/online-exclusive/alt-right-2-0/

Identity Evropa and the Fraternity of White Supremacy

Writing for The Public Eye this spring, author Naomi Braine delves into the history of the 2nd wave Klan:

The Klan of the 1920s was a mainstream, national fraternal organization which openly espoused White supremacy and engaged in racist terrorism but whose primary activities involved a range of community projects of interest to its middle class membership, from social events (e.g. pageants and baseball teams) to support for Prohibition…The KKK functioned in many ways as an ordinary fraternal order, with special social events and women’s and children’s auxiliaries. This effectively normalized the expression of White supremacy combined with conservative moralism as no different than any other social organization.

The origins and progression of the Klan being permitted to function in society as a social club or “ordinary fraternal order” is striking when you see images and messaging coming from the White nationalist groups that have coalesced in recent years.

“Become part of the fraternity”: Screenshot from the Identity Evropa website.

The media often portrays clean-cut individuals such as Alt Right leader Richard Spencer or members of Identity Evropa as proof of a re-branding of White nationalism and indeed, there is a long history of White supremacist groups re-inventing their image to become more mainstream and palatable. Along with the shifting aesthetic, the messaging coming out of the Alt Right movement also is reminiscent of the allure of early Klan in giving young White men identity and purpose.

The initial formation of the KKK in the 19th century has been described as a social club using trolling tactics not unlike the Alt Right. In a review of historian Elaine Frantz Parsons’ book Ku-Klux: The Birth of the Klan During Reconstruction, Malcolm Harris points out that the earliest Klan members were college boys looking for someone to be and something to do while being “forced to confront a rapidly changing social, cultural, and economic environment.”

Founder, Nathan Damigo is pictured on Twitter with the caption, “Get this look!”

Perhaps at similar crossroads is the recent White nationalist formulation called Identity Evropa. As the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) reported in February, Identity Evropa is among a constellation of White nationalist groups that have popped up in the last couple years and are actively recruiting among young people. SPLC calls the group a “reimagining” of the now defunct National Youth Front, the young adult contingent of the White nationalist American Freedom Party. National Youth Front member, Nathan Damigo (a Cal State Stanislaus student and former Marine corporal), founded Identity Evropa in 2016. The group cloaks their White nationalist message in language of identitarian pride in European heritage and softens it with a polished look.

Identity Evropa intentionally recruits to maintain this particular image. Members are allegedly not allowed to have facial or neck tattoos, piercings, or even be overweight. Their website features a carousel of photos of sharply dressed members with fresh haircuts at events in D.C., New York City, San Francisco, and Charlottesville.

As Damigo described to The Daily Beast, Identity Evropa serves to “attract high-quality individuals from doctors to lawyers to economists to our fraternity” to ultimately “create an alternative social network that will act as a fifth column, over time shifting the edifice of our political establishment to encompass our interests.” He anticipates that the threat of negative repercussions when being “outed” as pro-White will diminish as their network grows. Recruiting efforts have included #ProjectSiege, a national poster campaign across college campuses.

While the tone of Identity Evropa reads social club or fraternity, that is not an indication of innocuousness as history has proved. In May, the group co-sponsored a protest along with an Alt Right coalition against the removal of a Confederate monument in Charlottesville, VA.

Identity Evropa took to Facebook to report back from the protest in Charlottesville, Va.

White nationalist Richard Spencer led the group bearing flaming torches to protest. He defended the May protest by stating that statues like that of Robert E. Lee are “symbols of our European heritage” and “represent gods” and that tearing them down represents a “symbolic genocide of the White race.”

The Loyal White Knights of the Ku Klux Klan have since applied to host a rally near the same statue on July 8. Richard Spencer responded to this news by saying, “KKK is not my scene.” Spencer and Alt Right formations such as Identity Evropa might continue to distance themselves from groups such as the KKK, but the lens of history may reveal more similarity than difference between the two.