Three Pillars of the Alt Right: White Nationalism, Antisemitism, and Misogyny

Photo credit: Karla Cote, August 11, 2017, Charlottesville, VA https://flic.kr/p/XuUyHe

The new wave of avowed White nationalists who have been energized by Donald Trump—most prominently the Alt Right—have held demonstrations across the United States, most famously in Charlottesville, Virginia in August 2017. Progressive activists have struggled to conceptualize and oppose the movement, and there have been a variety of different responses to it. However, some of these responses show a deep misunderstanding by progressives of what the Alt Right and other White nationalists believe. To misunderstand the multifaceted politics of fascism—and in particular, to ignore antisemitism—is to fail to comprehend the motivations and actions of the Alt Right and other White nationalists. It can also create a situation in which those who are targeted are left to fend off their would-be oppressors without solidarity.

The Alt Right can be understood as a Far Right style and approach, rather than having a single ideological position. It does have two wings, however: one is the so-called Alt Lite, which includes the open participation of people of color, Jews, and gay men, including in leadership roles. This includes figures like Jack Prosobiec, Laura Loomer, Baked Alaska, and Kyle Chapman (“Based Stickman”). They support Donald Trump and espouse a Patriotic ultra-nationalism, oppose immigration, demonize Muslims, and are hostile to the left. The other wing is the explicit White nationalists, who are driven by fascist ideology; they include Richard Spencer, Mike Enoch, and Andrew Anglin. They are like their Alt Lite relations, but also are open proponents of White nationalism. It is this fascist wing—who organized the 2017 demonstrations in Charlottesville, Virginia in August, and Pikeville and Shelbyville, Kentucky in April and October respectively—that will be addressed when the Alt Right is referred to here. (All of this is not to deny that there is a reciprocal interchange between these wings, particularly with Alt Lite figures frequently adopting White nationalist slogans and positions.)

There are three main themes the Alt Right organizes around: White nationalism, antisemitism, and misogyny, with lesser concentrations on Islamophobia, and opposition to LGBTQ people, and “Communists.” This range of targets should be no surprise; the German Nazi Party was no different in the 1930s and ‘40s. One of their first actions upon taking power was to smash the Communist and Socialist parties, as well as the trade unions; the organizations were banned and the leaders imprisoned. In addition to Jews, the Nazis murdered people who were disabled, Sinti and Roma, queer, Jehovah’s Witnesses, and certain prisoners of war. Slavs, Black folks, and others also faced repression and death to varying degrees.

White Nationalism

White nationalists live in a topsy-turvy world where they conceive of White people as being not only oppressed but as victims of a “genocide” that is in motion. For some of them, movements like Black Lives Matter—rather than being attempts at equality—are actually attempts to establish outright Black supremacy. In their view, it will elevate what they see as an already privileged group to an even higher level.

White nationalists assert that race is the central element in society that gives us our identity and a sense of belonging. But White nationalists go much further in their claims and political goals than the mainstream supporters of White supremacy as it exists today. Those in the mainstream deny the differences between how White people and people of color—especially Black folks—are treated in access to housing, equal police treatment, education, income, etc; and often support comparatively subtle techniques, such as voter suppression or removing funding for civil rights enforcement.

White nationalists in the U.S. have been advocating for pure White racial areas since the 1970s. This is where the rhetoric of “White separatism” arises, which differs from earlier forms of U.S. racism from the pre-Civil Rights era. For example, instead of slavery or Jim Crow segregation—where White people would remain in contact with Black people but exploit them economically and remain on a higher social level—the emphasis has shifted to having racially homogenous White communities, without contact with racial others. With the failure to uphold segregation, and coming under the influence of German Nazism, U.S. White nationalists came to see breaking up racial homogeneity as damaging to their interests.

This is why many White nationalists, including those in the Alt Right, want a White ethnostate, and not just a maintenance of the White supremacist status quo as it exists. This is, in fact, the “alternative” that the “Alt” Right seeks—it is opposed to the neoliberal conservatives who want to either maintain the racial status quo, or slowly make it worse for people of color through comparatively subtle techniques of political disempowerment. It is this goal of a White ethnostate that makes the Alt Right not just different than mainstream White supremacists—not just are their politics more aggressive, but they have a fundamentally different vision of the future.

The Alt Right’s opposition to immigration and, to a lesser extent, Islamophobia can be understood as subsets of these White nationalist views. The Alt Right does not oppose European immigration, even when illegal; and Islamophobia’s ostensible emphasis on religion is a way to avoid naming race, while clearly speaking about it.

Antisemitism

A second, and too-often-overlooked, pillar of White nationalism is its reliance on antisemitic conspiracy theories, which frequently act as its central “theory.” These are constantly mutating, although they contain the same basic premises. Jews are seen as a cabal-like group who control the media, banks, and various international institutions. They use this fantastical power to undermine what White nationalists see as their racial interests. (Almost all White nationalists see Jews as non-White, regardless of whether they have European ancestry.) Kevin Macdonald, a former professor at California State University, Long Beach, is the main intellectual influence on the Alt Right in this aspect, and he has given an intellectual gloss to the more crude antisemitic theories.

The Jewish conspiracy is the explanatory mechanism for how Black Americans and Latinos in particular are defeating White nationalists, who see them as lazy and stupid. If they are inferior, how can they be winning? It is the Jewish conspiracy that is claimed to be working to destroy the White race through promoting immigration, civil rights for racial minorities, and globalization. Antisemitic conspiracy theories hold Jews responsible for creating and guiding the Civil Rights Movement for example. A newer permutation of this kind of antisemitic conspiracy theory is that “Cultural Marxism” is to blame for “political correctness” and movements for racial equality.

The Charlottesville rally itself had a strong antisemitic slant to it. Before the event, one of the schedule speakers, Traditionalist Worker Party leader Matthew Heimbach, said a Jewish conspiracy was behind the removal of the Confederate memorials. He opined that, “they want to be able to destroy knowledge of the past so they, the Jewish Power Structure, can try and control the future.”

At the infamous torch-lit rally on, August 11, the eve before the planned rally, marchers chanted “Jews will not replace us!” The next day, one very visible sign said, “The Jewish media is going down.” Calls had been made to burn a local synagogue down. The Washington Post said that White nationalist leader David Duke made an impromptu speech at the end of the gathering, saying:

“The truth is the American media, and the American political system, and the American Federal Reserve, is dominated by a tiny minority: the Jewish Zionist cause.” Addressing another group, Richard Spencer mocked Charlottesville’s Jewish mayor, Mike Signer. “Little Mayor Signer—‘See-ner’—how do you pronounce this little creep’s name?” Spencer asked. The crowd responded by chanting, “Jew, Jew, Jew.”

The antisemitism at the Charlottesville rally was discussed in the mainstream media—but, tellingly, not nearly as widely on the Left. Articles appeared, for example, in the Atlantic, the Washington Post, and the New Republic about the role of antisemitism—but in almost no more left-leaning publications. This, in turn, reflects a longstanding failure of the Left to recognize and confront issues of antisemitism.

Misogyny

The organized White supremacist movement has always been entangled with misogyny. Its vision of a racial hierarchy is intimately tied up with other social hierarchies.

This isn’t just one of a laundry list of social ills that White nationalists embrace, however; for the Alt Right, it is central. This is even more so than for past iterations of white supremacists; as Matthew Lyons points out in “Alt-right: More Misogynistic Than Many Neonazis,” the last generation of U.S. neonazis embraced a semi-feminism that “rejects the idea of male-female equality yet encourages women to become activists and leaders as well as wives and mothers.” But the Alt Right was energized when the Gamergate crowd (including Milo Yiannopoulos, then an editor at Breitbart) affixed itself to the more intellectual elements around Richard Spencer, Counter-Currents, and Arktos Press.

Lyons describes the Alt Right’s views in his Political Research Associates report Ctrl-Alt-Delete: The Origins and Ideology of the Alternative Right:

Going beyond traditionalist claims about the sanctity of the family and natural gender roles, Alt Rightists have embraced an intensely misogynistic ideology, portraying women as irrational, vindictive creatures who need and want men to rule over them and who should be stripped of any political role. The Traditionalist Youth Network claims that “women’s biological drives are contrary to the best interests of civilization and… the past century or so of women’s enfranchisement and liberation has been detrimental to societal stability.” But the group frames this position as relatively moderate because, unlike some rightists, they don’t believe “that women are central to the destruction of Western Civilization”—they are simply being manipulated by the Jews. The Daily Stormer has banned female contributors and called for limiting women’s roles in the movement, sparking criticism from women on the more old school White nationalist discussion site Stormfront. Far-right blogger Matt Forney asserts that “Trying to ‘appeal’ to women is an exercise in pointlessness…. it’s not that women should be unwelcome [in the Alt Right], it’s that they’re unimportant.”

Prior to Charlottesville, there was a discussion in Alt Right circles about if women could attend. (It was finally decided that they could, although they were encouraged to be in support positions, and only a small minority were in the crowd.) A number of attendees espoused the idea of “White sharia”—controversial in their own circles—which holds that in a future White ethnostate, men will be able to control women a super-restrictive manner. One video promoting the concept says:

Under ‘white sharia,’ our women will no longer be permitted to live their lives as sluts…. And you won’t have any career women invading your workplace either. Nope. Under ‘white sharia,’ our women won’t even be able to leave the home without being escorted by a male family member. And they definitely won’t be voting for liberal politicians anymore.

Anglin adds an antisemitic element, saying that, Basically, your only choice in this matter is whether you will choose WHITE SHARIA or Islamic Sharia. Because the Jews are obsessed with destroying the white race, they have weakened us internally to the point of collapse while emboldening and propping up the Islamic hordes.” At Charlottesville, the fascist crowd chanted “White sharia now.”

A Constellation of Other Toxic Views

Circling around their triadic emphasis on White nationalism, antisemitism, and misogyny are plenty of other noxious views held by the Alt Right and other White nationalists.

Islamophobia

Islamophobia has been popular favorite, which has the added element of uniting a broad group of right-wing actors. It is a popular political issue for the Alt Right, which they use to mobilize their base and for publicity. However, underneath the surface, it lacks the theoretical centrality that antisemitism has—they are not using their Islamophobia to think through or guide their politics.

Islamophobia also creates some complex political interactions here that don’t lead to long-term collaboration in the right. Many core Islamophobic organizers claim Zionism, feminism, and pro-LGBTQ positions as part of their politics, conflicting with the views of many more traditional White nationalists.

Homophobia and Transphobia

Homophobic and transphobic sentiments are the norm rather than the exception on the fascist end of the Alt Right. At Charlottesville, fascists chanted repeatedly at anti-racist protestors, “Fuck you faggots!” (The reply chanted back was, “We’re here / we’re gay / we fucked the KKK.”)

This also has some complications. Fascism Today author Shane Burley said in an email, “The hardcore homophobia is actually kind of new for the Alt Right, it wasn’t an area of importance for quite a while. It essentially returned when the less academic voices in the Alt Right came back and the queer voices receded, like Jack Donovan.” For example at the 2016 National Policy Institute (then run by Richard Spencer) conference, the most pro-GLBTQ strain was on display. Donovan spoke, Heimbach was banned from attending due to his aggressive homophobic approach, and longtime White nationalist lawyer Sam Dickson made the amazing statement that “gay people” will be allowed in the new White ethnostate.

Anti-Communism

In addition to these views, to a lesser extent, the Alt Right has a fixation on anti-Communist conspiracy theories. These are classic conspiracy theories in which “Communists” are the agent of the global conspiracy. They have been revived as of late, with “antifa” often taking the place of the Soviet Union or Western Marxist parties as the agent of the conspiracy. As with other questions however, some Alt Right leaders have a more favorable view of Communist nations as they have existed in reality (which tended to be strongly nationalist) rather than how they portrayed themselves in the abstract. For example, Heimbach, among others, praises North Korea as an ethnostate that practices a national socialism.

Theoretical Challenges to Conceptualizing Progressive Resistance

These questions of how the Alt Right thinks—and who it targets—should be kept in mind when shaping resistance strategies. And it is of particular importance to progressive activists who believe that people of certain identities have obligations to oppose oppressive politics aimed at those who have different identities than their own.

First, the kind of White supremacy that the Alt Right and other White nationalists advocate is substantially different—and potentially far more dangerous—than the current daily grind of racism in U.S. society. White nationalists see the status quo as a problem, and desire a far more aggressive form—a program of genocide and expulsions—to be implemented. It creates new arguments, slogans, images, and conceptualizations that, even when out of power, seep into the mainstream. The Alt Right’s ability to influence the Trump administration is a shining example of this, with Trump adopting the style and positions of Alt Right groups, even though their actual members are not in positions of direct contact with him.

Second, fascists and other White nationalists are best countered by a unified opposition of people from different identities. The Civil Rights Movement involved both Black and White people. In this way, it practiced a unity of means and ends in what it sought to create in society—integration. This is in part, alongside sophisticated organizing and bold tactics, what made it inspiring and successful. The anti-racist counter-protestors at Charlottesville attempted to do the same; one chant was, “Strong, united, interracial crew / We have replaced you.” Countering the White nationalist vision of a racially monolithic society with an opposition that intentionally replicates its racial exclusivity seems bound to fail.

Third, as has been shown, most White nationalists seek to oppress not just people of color as such, but also Jews, Muslims, feminists, immigrants, LGBTQ people, leftists, and anti-racists of all racial identities. If the Alt Right is reduced singularly to the issue of race, this leaves all of these other targeted groups out in the cold. But for those who follow a politics guided by doing political work for people of identities different than their own, is it not the obligation of heterosexuals, non-Jews, and non-Muslims to stand up for Jews, Muslims, and queer people? Or do they have to stand up for themselves without solidarity?

Fascism targets a whole range of identities: it is a politics of full-spectrum oppression.

Fascism targets a whole range of identities: it is a politics of full-spectrum oppression. This political movement should not be opposed just because of the future of genocide which it seeks, the violence of the movement as it exists now, and its ability to drive moderate conservatives even further to the right. It deserves an intersectional resistance because our actions should be bound up in a principled and consistent opposition to the many different forms of hierarchy that fascism promotes.

White Warriors on the March

League of the South is an Alabama-based theocratic, neo-confederate group that has long advocated for southern secession.

Among the groups leading the recent Unite the Right march in Charlottesville, Virginia was the League of the South – an Alabama-based theocratic, neo-confederate group that has long advocated for southern secession. League leader Michael Hill was among the scheduled speakers for the planned rally to save a statue of Confederate General Robert E. Lee from removal from a public park. While the rally was cancelled, the League’s presence was well documented by cameras and video. Amidst the televised brawls, some League members were strikingly visible, thanks in part to the white shields with black crosses they carried into the fray. Most notoriously, longtime Florida state chapter leader and League Chief of Staff, Michael Tubbs, a former Green Beret, was ID’d by the Southern Poverty Law Center, based on photos and videos, as on the scene when an African-American counter protester was viciously clubbed, apparently by League members.

Recent events in Charlottesville, Virginia and at the 2017 annual conference of the League of the South held in Wetumpka, Alabama in June, bear out PRA’s warning in 2014 that threats of violence from the League of the South need to be taken seriously. The League’s involvement in Charlottesville, and several other public struggles over the removal of Confederate monuments from public spaces, suggests that these will continue to be symbolic and actual battle grounds of choice – perhaps with escalating levels of violence.

We reported in 2014, that Hill had published an essay titled, “A Bazooka in Every Pot,” that advocated for the deployment of death squads featuring “three-to-five-man” units with a hair-raising mission: “The primary targets will not be enemy soldiers,” Hill wrote.  “Instead, they will be political leaders, members of the hostile media, cultural icons, bureaucrats, and other of the managerial elite without whom the engines of tyranny don’t run.”

Hill followed-up with another essay in which he calls on the young men of “Christendom” to become “citizen-soldiers” in the battles against the tyranny of our time.  He saw himself and his comrades as part of a long line of such men, invoking historic battles with Islamic armies going back to the Battle of Tours in the 8th century.  His role models for warriors for Christendom, however, are the White Westerners who fought against Black liberation movements in Southern Africa in the 1970s.  “So if Western men in past times were willing to fight for their civilization in remote areas of the world,” he asked, “shouldn’t we expect them to be just as willing to fight for that civilization here at its very heart—the South?”

League of the South is a political home for violent, would-be revolutionaries who intend to make their vision a reality.

Unsurprisingly, the League is a political home for violent, would-be revolutionaries who intend to make their vision a reality.  Michael Tubbs, for example, was arrested in 1989 with arms, explosives, and a hit list that included newspapers, television stations, and businesses owned by Jews and Blacks. He served four years in prison, but Hill and other league leaders nevertheless allowed Tubbs to stay on as a League leader in Florida, saying he’d “paid his debt to society.”

Hill and Tubbs formed a secret paramilitary unit in 2014. But by the League’s 2017 annual conference, Hill revealed that they are now openly forming an army. While it is unclear how far along they may be in creating a fighting force of any consequence, Hill spoke convincingly about his intentions in his speech titled, “The War Has Already Begun!”  In it, he declared that we are currently in a period of relative calm before the storm of a race war in the United States. He claimed, to applause, that over the past 40 years, “the number of black on white violent crimes and murders has been astronomical. There is a war against YOU, White men and White woman (sic) in the streets of our cities!”  (Unsurprisingly, keynote speaker David Duke, a longtime leader of far right, white supremacist factions sounded similar themes.)

Hill said that the current war has essentially been going on for two generations and it began with that “accursed thing called the Civil Rights Movement.”  He spoke nostalgically of a time when the South was “White man’s land” and of the need to take it back as a “righteous cause.”

He spoke nostalgically of a time when the South was “White man’s land” and of the need to take it back as a “righteous cause.”

He spoke of how White culture, “stretching back into the mist of antiquity, is that of a warrior.”  Being a warrior is a “calling,” he said, and he wanted the warriors at the conference to emulate confederate Generals Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson and his “favorite,” Gen. Nathan Bedford Forrest. The latter was, of course, a winking reference to the founder of the Ku Klux Klan, and was greeted with knowing laughter and appreciative applause.

He went on to speak of needing to learn to organize, and to train in the necessary skills for the war. To that end, he noted that the present war is not like traditional wars, but that the battlefield is “everywhere” and the enemy is legion and “does not necessarily wear a uniform, and sometimes you can tell the enemy because the skin he is wearing becomes his uniform.”

He insisted that after the Confederate flags and statues currently at issue, “when they finish with the stone and the fabrics… they are coming after you. Don’t ever doubt that.”  He characterized those who will come for them “as the children of the father of lies” and that his audience and allies beyond are the children of “the living God.”  He said that they are living in a biblically prophesized scenario in which God’s people fight it out to the end with the forces of Satan. But they will win.

He spoke openly about how the League has created a body he calls the Southern Defense Force, and that it will be not just a modern Confederate army but will actually be the “Army of the True Living God.”  In closing he offered-up what he calls an Old Testament vision of “destroying the enemies of our land, our people and of our God.”

Images from the Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville continue to circulate social media, including this Twitter post showing League of the South founder Michael Hill assaulting another person.

If the League members on the scene in Charlottesville acted with a wanton aggression, it might be because Michael Hill has long been preparing them for battle with what he sees as “demonic” forces, particularly Black people. Tubbs is featured in cell phone videos taken at the scene of one of the bloodiest incidents of the mob violence at the march. The beating of a young African American and Charlottesville public school employee, Deandre Harris, according to the SPLC, was carried out by members of the Florida chapter of the League of which Tubbs is still chapter president.  “I was chased and beat with metal poles,” Harris wrote on Facebook. “I was knocked unconscious repeatedly. Every time I went to stand up I was knocked back down. If it was not for my friends that I came with I would have been beaten to a pulp.”

One does not have to believe that the small League of the South and their allies are capable of being the military arm of political secession, let alone an effective End Times Army of God, to recognize that they are intent on and capable, as we have seen in Charlottesville, of wreaking havoc in the furtherance of their perceived war with much of the rest of society.

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.

Skin in the Game: How Antisemitism Animates White Nationalism

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

One September weekend in 1995, a few thousand people met at a convention center in Seattle to prepare for an apocalyptic standoff with the federal government. At the expo, you could sign up to defend yourself from the coming “political and economic collapse,” stock up on beef jerky, learn strategies for tax evasion, and browse titles by writers like Eustace Mullins, whose White nationalist classics include The Secrets of the Federal Reserve, published in 1952, and—from 1967—The Biological Jew.

The sixth annual Preparedness Expo made national papers that year because it served as a clearinghouse for the militia movement, a decentralized right-wing movement of armed, local, anti-government paramilitaries that had recently sparked its most notorious act of terror, the bombing of the Oklahoma City federal courthouse by White nationalists Timothy McVeigh and Terry Nichols. A series of speakers told expo attendees the real story: the attack had been perpetrated by the government itself as an excuse to take citizens’ guns away.

Not a lot of Black folks show up at gatherings like the Preparedness Expo, one site in an extensive right-wing counterculture in which White nationalism is a constant, explosive presence. White nationalists argue that Whites are a biologically defined people and that, once the White revolutionary spirit awakens, they will take down the federal government, remove people of color, and build a state (maybe or maybe not still called the United States of America, depending on who you ask) of their own. As a Black man, I am regarded by White nationalists as a subhuman, dangerous beast. In the 1990s, I was the field organizer for the Northwest Coalition Against Malicious Harassment, a six-state coalition working to reduce hate crimes and violence in the Pacific Northwest and Mountain States region. We did a lot of primary research, often undercover. A cardinal rule of organizing is that you can’t ask people to do anything you haven’t done yourself; so I spent that weekend as I spent many—among people plotting to remove me from their ethnostate.

It helped that, despite its blood-curdling anti-Black racism, at least some factions of the White nationalist movement saw me as a potential ally against their true archenemy. At the expo that year, a guy warily asked me about myself. I told him that I had come on behalf of a few brothers in the city. We needed to resist the federal government and we were there to get educated. I said I hoped he wouldn’t take it personally, but I didn’t shake hands with White people. He smiled; he totally understood. “Brother McLamb,” he concurred, “says we have to start building broad coalitions.” Together we went to hear Jack McLamb, a retired Phoenix cop who ran an organization called Police Against the New World Order, make a case for temporary alliances with “the Blacks, the Mexicans, the Orientals” against the real enemy, the federal government controlled by an international conspiracy. He didn’t have to say who ran this conspiracy because it was obvious to all in attendance. And despite the widespread tendency to dismiss antisemitism, notwithstanding its daily presence across the country and the world, it is obvious to you, too.

The bombing of the Oklahoma City federal courthouse by White nationalists Timothy McVeigh and Terry Nichols was painted as a conspiracy by the government itself as an excuse to take citizens’ guns away.

From the time I documented my first White nationalist rally in 1990 until today, the movement has made its way from the margins of American political life to its center, and I’ve moved from doing antiracist organizing in small northwestern communities to fighting for inclusive democracy on a national level, as the Gender, Racial, and Ethnic Justice program officer at the Ford Foundation until recently, and now as a senior fellow at the Southern Poverty Law Center. Yet if I had to give a basic definition of the movement—something I’ve often been asked to do, formally and informally, by folks who’ve spent less time hanging out with Nazis than I have—my response today would not be much different than it was when I began to do this work nearly thirty years ago. American White nationalism, which emerged in the wake of the 1960s civil rights struggle and descends from White supremacism, is a revolutionary social movement committed to building a Whites-only nation, and antisemitism forms its theoretical core.

That last part—antisemitism forms the theoretical core of White nationalism— bears repeating. Let me explain.

Antisemitism forms the theoretical core of White nationalism.

The meteoric rise of White nationalism within national discourse over the course of Donald Trump’s presidential campaign and freshman administration—through Trump’s barely coded speech at fascist-style rallies, his support from the internet-based “Alt Right,” and his placement of White nationalist popularizers in top positions—has produced a shock of revelation for people across a wide swath of the political spectrum. This shock, in turn, has been a source of frustration within communities of color and leftist circles, where White liberals are often accused of having kept their heads in the sand while more vulnerable populations sounded the alarm about the toll of economic crisis, mass incarceration, police violence, deportation, environmental devastation, and—despite and in reaction to the election of Barack Obama—the unending blare of everyday hate. This is an understandable reaction. It’s one I’ve often shared. But the fact that many of us have long recognized that the country we live in is not the one we are told exists doesn’t mean we always understand the one that does. Within social and economic justice movements committed to equality, we have not yet collectively come to terms with the centrality of antisemitism to White nationalist ideology, and until we do we will fail to understand this virulent form of racism rapidly growing in the U.S. today.

To recognize that antisemitism is not a sideshow to racism within White nationalist thought is important for at least two reasons. First, it allows us to identify the fuel that White nationalist ideology uses to power its anti-Black racism, its contempt for other people of color, and its xenophobia—as well as the misogyny and other forms of hatred it holds dear. White nationalists in the United States perceive the country as having plunged into unending crisis since the social ruptures of the 1960s supposedly dispossessed White people of their very nation. The successes of the civil rights movement created a terrible problem for White supremacist ideology. White supremacism—inscribed de jure by the Jim Crow regime and upheld de facto outside the South—had been the law of the land, and a Black-led social movement had toppled the political regime that supported it. How could a race of inferiors have unseated this power structure through organizing alone? For that matter, how could feminists and LGBTQ people have upended traditional gender relations, leftists mounted a challenge to global capitalism, Muslims won billions of converts to Islam? How do you explain the boundary-crossing allure of hip hop? The election of a Black president? Some secret cabal, some mythological power, must be manipulating the social order behind the scenes. This diabolical evil must control television, banking, entertainment, education, and even Washington, D.C. It must be brainwashing White people, rendering them racially unconscious.

“The Protocols of the Learned Elders of Zion,” first circulated by Czarist secret police in Russia in 1903, established the blueprint of antisemitic ideology in its modern form.

What is this arch-nemesis of the White race, whose machinations have prevented the natural and inevitable imposition of white supremacy? It is, of course, the Jews. Jews function for today’s White nationalists as they often have for antisemites through the centuries: as the demons stirring an otherwise changing and heterogeneous pot of lesser evils. At the turn of the twentieth century, “The Protocols of the Learned Elders of Zion”—a forgery, first circulated by Czarist secret police in Russia in 1903, that purports to represent the minutes of a meeting of the international Jewish conspiracy—established the blueprint of antisemitic ideology in its modern form. It did this by recasting the shape-shifting, money-grubbing caricature of the Jew from a religious caricature to a racialized one. Upper-class Jews in Europe might have been assimilating and changing their names, but under the new regime of antisemitic thought, even a Jew who converted to Christianity would still be a Jew.

In 1920, Henry Ford brought the “Protocols” to the United States, printing half a million copies of an adaptation called “The International Jew,” and the text has had a presence in American life ever since. (Walmart stocked copies on its shelves and for a time refused calls to take them down—in 2004.) But it is over the past fifty years, not coincidentally the first period in U.S. history in which most American Jews have regarded themselves as White, that antisemitism has become integral to the architecture of American racism. Because modern antisemitic ideology traffics in fantasies of invisible power, it thrives precisely when its target would seem to be least vulnerable. Thus, in places where Jews were most assimilated—France at the time of the Dreyfus affair, Germany before Hitler came to power—they have functioned as a magic bullet to account for unaccountable contradictions at moments of national crisis. White supremacism through the collapse of Jim Crow was a conservative movement centered on a state-sanctioned anti-Blackness that sought to maintain a racist status quo. The White nationalist movement that evolved from it in the 1970s was a revolutionary movement that saw itself as the vanguard of a new, whites-only state. This latter movement, then and now, positions Jews as the absolute other, the driving force of white dispossession—which means the other channels of its hatred cannot be intercepted without directly taking on antisemitism.

This brings me to the second reason that White nationalist antisemitism must not be dismissed: at the bedrock of the movement is an explicit claim that Jews are a race of their own, and that their ostensible position as White folks in the U.S. represents the greatest trick the devil ever played. The bible for generations of White nationalists is The Turner Diaries, a 1978 dystopian novel by the White supremacist leader William Pierce, published under the pseudonym Andrew Macdonald. The novel takes place in a near-future in which Jews have unleashed Blacks and other undesirables into the center of American public life, and follows the triumph of a clandestine White supremacist organization that snaps into revolutionary action, blowing up both Israel and New York City. Its narrator, a soldier in the White revolutionary army, insists that “trying to distinguish the ‘good’ Jews from the bad ones” is as absurd as the way “some of our thicker-skulled ‘good ol’ boys’ still insist on trying, separating the ‘good niggers’ from the rest of their race.” Contemporary antisemitism, then, does not just enable racism, it also is racism, for in the White nationalist imaginary Jews are a race—the race—that presents an existential threat to Whiteness. Moreover, if antisemitism exists in glaring form at the extreme edge of political discourse, it does not exist in a vacuum; as with every form of hateful ideology, what is explicit on the margins is implicit in the center, in ways we have not yet begun to unpack. This means the notion that Jews long ago and uncontestably became White folks in the U.S.—became, in effect, post-racial—is a myth that we must dispel.

Antisemitism, I discovered, is a particular and potent form of racism so central to White supremacy that Black people would not win our freedom without tearing it down.

I’ve been terrorized by structural racism and White nationalist activism all my life. Contrary to a popular image of White nationalists living exclusively off the grid, far from people of color—who are imagined to live exclusively on it—White nationalists are our neighbors. As a kid in Southern California and as a young adult in Oregon, deep in a West Coast punk scene that in some ways looked a lot like the U.S. in 2017, they were literally mine. Because I grew up Black in a city and a scene where people of color were under attack by White nationalists, the immediacy of the movement’s threat and its hatred of dark-skinned people like my family and friends is something I have always known. I thought I understood what motivated them, and I thought their motivation always looked like me. What I learned when I got to Oregon, as I began to log untold hours trying to understand White nationalists and their ideas, was that antisemitism was the lynchpin of the White nationalist belief system. That within this ideological matrix, Jews—despite and indeed because of the fact that they often read as White—are a different, unassimilable, enemy race that must be exposed, defeated, and ultimately eliminated. Antisemitism, I discovered, is a particular and potent form of racism so central to White supremacy that Black people would not win our freedom without tearing it down.

. . .

Long Beach, California is planted on the line that locals call the Orange Curtain, the border between the working-class and immigrant neighborhoods of southern Los Angeles County and the White conservative suburbs of Orange County. By the time my mom and I moved down from L.A. in 1976, when I was in sixth grade, this endless sprawl of White flight was increasingly interrupted by people of color looking for affordable housing in safe neighborhoods. The civil rights and radical social movements of the 1960s and early Seventies had already been smashed by the state or self-destructed. White nationalism, on the other hand, was part of the scenery. Just down the street from one of our Long Beach apartments was an outpost of the John Birch Society, the foremost right-wing anticommunist organization during the Cold War—now having a Trump-era revival—which officially disavowed White supremacism and antisemitism but fought the civil rights movement and described the communist menace as an international cabal.

I was bussed to school in middle-class suburbs through the fanciest neighborhoods I’d ever seen, where White people rolled down their car windows to call us monkeys or tell us to go back to Africa. At school, White kids initialed SWP on their desks: Supreme White Power. One of our local celebrities was Wally George, a public access television star whose show, “The Hot Seat,” was a forerunner to the hate radio of shock jocks like Rush Limbaugh and Tucker Carson. As teenagers we’d get stoned and watch his show for laughs. But there was fear, too, beneath the laughter. Neonazis, a kid on the bus told us one morning, were marching in a nearby park. I’ve avoided that park to this day.

(Photo courtesy of the author).

The L.A. punk scene of the late 1970s brought me into constant, unavoidable contact with proto-White nationalist youth. The scene was utopian and dystopian, thrilling and violent, gave me friends for life—Black, White, and Filipino, U.S.-born and undocumented—and killed some of them. The scene attracted the brightest minds and the burgeoning sociopaths from across lines of race and class. Chaos broke out at shows and kids formed gangs. There were racist and antiracist skinheads. Someone wearing a swastika armband might be a neonazi or might just be fucking around. The cops stationed outside shows terrorized everyone present. We didn’t expect to make it far into adulthood and we had fun, until the war on drugs intensified and we knew it was a war on us.

When I was twenty-one, working minimum-wage jobs and playing in a garage band called Sloppy 2nds, some friends announced they’d be starting college at the University of Oregon and asked me to come with them. When I imagined anything north of San Francisco and south of Seattle, all I conjured were endless stands of trees. I said no. But working one night shift, pumping gas at the Union 76 station, the Specials song “Do Nothing” came on—“Nothing ever change, oh no/Nothing ever change”—and I knew that if I didn’t leave southern California I would die soon. So I moved with a multiracial group of L.A. punks to the remote college town of Eugene, Oregon and we bunkered down in a house we called Camp Iceberg because we never turned on the heat. Sloppy 2nds disbanded and when it later reformed without me, it became Sublime, the most famous Long Beach band of all time.

(Photos courtesy of the author).

White liberals have long imagined Oregon as a kind of haven. Portland has now largely replaced San Francisco as the destination of choice for White youth with West Coast dreams of alternative living. But it is also where the White liberal imagination becomes a libertarian one: implicitly, it imagines a place free of people of color and therefore pregnant with the possibility of social harmony. But Oregon’s Whiteness—and, particularly, its non-Blackness—was the product of deliberate, violent exclusion; founded by White supremacists before the Civil War, by the 1920s the state boasted the largest Klan membership west of the Mississippi. Klan campaigns often chose Catholics as their immediate targets, because Blacks were not allowed to reside in Oregon until 1926.

The White nationalist movement that emerged in the last decades of the twentieth century grew across the country. But it was Oregon, Washington, Idaho, Montana, and Wyoming that neonazis in the 1980s carved out as the territorial boundaries of their future Whites-only state, a region that self-identified “Aryans” from around the country began to colonize with nothing short of White national sovereignty as their goal. “Ourselves alone willing,” declared White nationalist leader and Aryan Nations organizer Robert Miles, “we shall begin to form the new nation even while in the suffocating embrace of the ZOG.” In White nationalist parlance, the United States is the ZOG, or Zionist Occupied Government. It was in the Northwest that the nascent militia movement—notorious in the 1990s after standoffs between White nationalist compounds and the FBI in Ruby Ridge, Idaho and Waco, Texas—declared war on their country loudly enough they could no longer be ignored.

Ironically, then, if I had moved to Oregon to get away from the unpromising life expectancy for a Black male punk in southern California, the people who had decimated urban life in my home state had gotten there first. In 1978, California’s White conservative voters passed the infamous Proposition 13, which cut taxes and slashed social services, turning the state into a laboratory for the Reagan revolution. Poverty and drug crime increased, and the same White folks who had gutted Californian cities in their flight to the suburbs after World War II now fled up the coast. I arrived in liberal Eugene in 1986, walked into workplace after workplace, and despite my resume, my smile, and my charm—funny, but no one was hiring. I didn’t understand Oregon yet; I thought it was just me.

Meanwhile, the growing clashes between racist and antiracist skinheads in the punk scene that had made life in Long Beach dangerous were a fact of life in Oregon as well, and often took place beyond the reach of the law. As part of their nation-building project in the Pacific Northwest, White supremacists were establishing their own common law courts, their own religions, and their own paramilitaries. They attacked and sometimes killed cops, and the local authorities, cowed, turned a blind eye. So when gangs of neonazi punks terrorized people of color and other vulnerable groups in Portland, it was coalitions of the communities under attack that struck back and eventually beat them off the streets.

I began to fight white nationalism because my world, my scene, my friends, and my music were under neonazi attack.

In the end, I began to fight white nationalism because my world, my scene, my friends, and my music were under neonazi attack. The great postpunk band Fugazi was on a national tour, and an unwanted audience of neonazis had begun turning up at their shows. Fugazi would stop playing, give the neonazis five dollars, and refuse to start up again until they left. A venue in Eugene cancelled a scheduled appearance when rumors spread that skinheads were planning to disrupt the show, and the community erupted in anger. By that time, I was a student and an activist. I had stumbled into student of color politics while attending community college and now co-directed the Black Student Union and Students Against Apartheid at the University of Oregon. I spent a semester in France and while I was away, a 28-year-old Ethiopian international student named Mulugeta Seraw was beaten to death by White supremacists on a Portland street. I returned to a community deeply shaken and in mourning. But it was in the wake of the cancelled show that I founded an organization, Communities Against Hate, in the way these things often happen: no one else wanted to do it. We created a zine called The Race Mixer (“Miscegenation At Its Finest”), reporting on the activity of hate groups in the Northwest; during the standoff at Ruby Ridge, we stood outside the Portland City Hall dressed as Klan members to warn against the spread of the militia movement. Two years later, in Eugene, Communities Against Hate got Fugazi to come back and play.

. . .

The Turner Diaries, a 1978 dystopian novel by the White supremacist leader William Pierce, takes place in a near-future in which Jews have unleashed Blacks and other undesirables into the center of American public life.

When folks ask me, skeptically, where the antisemitism in the White nationalist movement lies, it can feel like being asked to point out a large elephant in a small room. From the outset of my research on White nationalism all those years ago, it was clear that antisemitism in the movement is everywhere, and it is not hidden. “Life is uglier and uglier these days, more and more Jewish,” William Pierce wrote in The Turner Diaries. “No matter how long it takes us and no matter to what lengths we must go, we’ll demand a final settlement of the account between our two races,” the narrator promises at the book’s conclusion. “If the Organization survives this contest, no Jew will—anywhere. We’ll go to the uttermost ends of the earth to hunt down the last of Satan’s spawn.” White nationalism is a fractious countercultural social movement, and its factions often disagree with each other about basic questions of theory and practice. The movement does not take a single, unified position on the Jewish question. But antisemitism has been a throughline from the Posse Comitatus, which set itself against “anti-Christ Jewry”; to David Duke’s refurbished Ku Klux Klan, which abandoned anti-Catholicism in the 1970s in order to focus on “Jewish supremacism”; to the neonazi group The Order, inspired by The Turner Diaries, which in the mid-1980s went on a rampage of robberies and synagogue bombings in Washington state and murdered a Jewish radio talk show host in Denver; to evangelical leaders like Pat Robertson who denounced antisemitism but used its popularity among their followers to promote an implicitly White supremacist “Christian nationalism”; to the contemporary Alt Right named by White nationalist Richard Spencer, which has brought antisemitic thought and imagery to new audiences on the internet—and now at White House press conferences.

Doing primary research on hate groups revealed the contours of the movement’s antisemitism in even more intricate detail. At a time when many larger social justice organizations refused to take White nationalism seriously, regional groups like Communities Against Hate, Coalition for Human Dignity, Montana Human Rights Network, Rural Organizing Project, and dozens of others did much of the groundwork documenting its theories, strategies, and warring currents. That’s why in 1990, for instance, antiracist activists were itching to get our hands on a copy of Vigilantes of Christendom, a self-published book by a writer named Richard Kelly Hoskins influential on the Christian Identity circuit. (I scored a copy by marching into a book vending tent at a White supremacist rally and marketing it to passersby as a life-changing volume I had read at the behest of a White friend.) We learned that Hoskins’s book appropriated the Old Testament story of Phineas, a prominent Israelite who marries outside the faith and is punished for his transgression by a rogue member of the tribe who kills him and his bride with a spear. Historically unpopular within the rabbinic tradition for appearing to endorse this lawless act, Hoskins’s work celebrated the tale. To join the Priesthood, he wrote, an Aryan must act as a latter-day Phineas by perpetrating lone-wolf attacks against inferior races and their White apologists.

The Phineas Priesthood does not, in an organizational sense, appear to actually exist. But for decades, domestic terrorists—like Eric Rudolph, a Christian Identity acolyte who killed people in a string of bombing attacks at Southern gay bars, abortion clinics, and the 1996 summer Olympics in Atlanta—have allegedly seen themselves as Phineas Priests. Like the Phineas Priesthood, one small formation that might stand in for the whole, contemporary White nationalism has no clear center. Yet it does have a deadly commitment to revolutionary violence against racial others, and to the state apparatus perceived to do their bidding. And like the Priesthood, it rests upon a tortuous racial cosmology in which Jews form a monstrous, all-powerful cabal that uses subhuman others, including Blacks and immigrants, as pawns to destroy White nationhood.

Over years of speaking about White nationalism in the 1990s and early 2000s in the Northwest and then the Midwest and South, I found that audiences—whether white or of color, at synagogues or churches, universities or police trainings—generally had a relationship to white nationalism that, at least in one basic sense, was like my own. They knew the scope and seriousness of the movement from personal experience, and—if they didn’t take this for granted to begin with—they were not shocked to discover its antisemitic emphasis. The resistance I have encountered when I address antisemitism has primarily come since I moved to the Northeast seven years ago, and from the most established progressive antiracist leaders, organizations, coalitions, and foundations around the country. It is here that a well-meaning but counterproductive thicket of discourse has grown up insisting that Jews—of Ashkenazi descent, at least—are uncontestably White, and that to challenge this is to deny the workings of White privilege. In other words, when I’m asked, “Where is the antisemitism?,” what I am often really being asked is, “Why should we be talking about antisemitism?”

And indeed—why? Why, when the president of the United States appears bent on removing as many dark-skinned immigrants from the U.S. as he can, and when men who look like me are shot in the street or tortured to death in prison with impunity? Why, when the leadership of some mainstream Jewish communal organizations level false charges of antisemitism in order to silence critique—whether by Jews or non-Jews—of Israeli government policies? Why, after decades of soul-searching by Jewish antiracists has established a seeming consensus that Jews—with Mizrahi and Sephardi Jews posited as an exception—should regard themselves as White allies of people of color, eschewing any identity as a racialized people with their own skins at risk in the fight against White supremacy? Why, when Jews are safe and claims to the contrary serve to justify rather than to challenge racial and other oppressions, like conservative commentator Alan Dershowitz’s cynical recent attempt to discredit antiracist and anticolonial struggles by declaring intersectionality an antisemitic concept? Why, when Jews of European descent are supposedly “White,” have long been, will ever be?

Antisemitism fuels White nationalism, a genocidal movement now enthroned in the highest seats of American power, and fighting antisemitism cuts off that fuel for the sake of all marginalized communities under siege from the Trump regime and the social movement that helped raise it up.

I can answer this question as I have been doing and will continue to do: antisemitism fuels White nationalism, a genocidal movement now enthroned in the highest seats of American power, and fighting antisemitism cuts off that fuel for the sake of all marginalized communities under siege from the Trump regime and the social movement that helped raise it up. To refuse to deal with any ideology of domination, moreover, is to abet it. Contemporary social justice movements are quite clear that to refuse antiracism is an act of racism; to refuse feminism is an act of sexism. To refuse opposition to antisemitism, likewise, is an act of antisemitism. Arguably, not much more should need to be said than that. But I suspect that much more does need to be said. To the hovering question, why should we be talking about antisemitism, I reply, what is it we are afraid we will find out if we do? What historic and contemporary conflicts will be laid bare? And if we recognize that White privilege really is privilege, what will it mean for Jewish antiracists to give up the fantasy that they ever really had it to begin with?

And yet this impasse seems finally to be breaking down. It has long been the case that at moments when the left has suffered another devastating and seemingly inexplicable political loss, my phone rings more often; now that the White nationalist movement has come to national power, it is ringing off the hook. The public and private discussions I’ve had just in the past month suggest a hunger to understand antisemitism—within and outside the Jewish community—the likes of which I have never witnessed before. Certainly many American Jews who regard themselves as White are feeling less so over these recent months as the candidate-turned-president seemed reluctant to disavow his endorsement by David Duke, the most notorious White supremacist in America. Meanwhile, Jewish cemeteries are desecrated even as the administration directs the FBI to double down on the surveillance of Muslims and focus less on the White supremacists who constitute the principal domestic terrorist threat in the United States. Jewish thought leaders and journalists are being harassed on social media. Just last week, White House press secretary Sean Spicer caused a furor by favorably comparing Adolph Hitler to Bashar al-Assad of Syria in remarks that, whether intentionally or not, echoed the apologetics of Holocaust deniers.

We do not yet know where Trump’s coalition will land on the question of White nationalism. That Trump’s son-in-law and adviser Jared Kushner is Jewish should not in itself be of comfort; there were Jews who worked with Hitler, too, and Blacks in the Confederate army. But it is important to note that the White nationalist faction of the administration led by Stephen Bannon—now ousted from his position in the National Security Council—is just one of several warring parties and currently appears to be losing ground. In other words, we do not yet have a fully activated White nationalist administration. (If we did, we’d know.) At the same time, the fact that this remains an open question at all likely invites more than a few ostensibly “White” Jews to contemplate the provisional nature of their Whiteness, their privilege. Privilege, after all, is not the same as power. Privilege can be revoked. And this means too that progressive movements and social change organizations must come to understand that all social movements have influence, including those that seek to construct a society based on exclusion and terror.

Privilege, after all, is not the same as power. Privilege can be revoked. And this means too that progressive movements and social change organizations must come to understand that all social movements have influence, including those that seek to construct a society based on exclusion and terror.

Sometimes I wish I had a better story to tell about how I arrived at this analysis—a story more dramatic or more heartwarming, somehow more about me. If I live and work, as I do, in the kind of daily, intimate Black-Jewish coalitions that were a mainstay of the civil rights movement but are now supposed to be fraught with mutual suspicion, I must have experienced a historically uncanny revelation or been drawn to the Jewish community through some mysterious pull of identification. It’s true that back in Long Beach, on days I opted out of middle school, the man at the corner deli would call me over and give me blueberry blintzes. He was the first person I knew was Jewish. I didn’t know what that meant, but the blintzes were good, and when you don’t have a lot of food, they are even better. But I also remember the delicious sushi a local Japanese restaurant gave me. I still love sushi, and blintzes, but neither helped me to understand racism or social change. There was no kumbaya experience, no light bulb, no moment where I became Paul on the road to Damascus. It was just common sense to study my enemy, White nationalism. And like any worthwhile research project, it has taken time.

A central insistence of antiracist thought over the past several decades is that, as with any social category produced by regimes of power, you don’t choose race, power chooses it for you; it names you. This is why all the well-meaning identification in the world does not make a White person Black. Likewise, as much as I draw inspiration from the Jewish community, and as much as I adore my Jewish partner and friends, it was my organizing against antisemitism as a Black antiracist that first pulled me to the Jewish community, not the other way around. I developed an analysis of antisemitism because I wanted to smash White supremacy; because I wanted to be free. If we acknowledge that White nationalism clearly and forcefully names Jews as non-white, and did so in the very fiber of its emergence as a post-civil rights right-wing revolutionary movement, then we are forced to recognize our own ignorance about the country  we thought we lived in. It is time to have that conversation.

 

 

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.

Trumpism and the Unstable Ground of Whiteness

Click here for a PDF version of this article

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

Trumpism is built on a split-screen image of life for the White middle and working classes: a contemporary view of economic suffering and “loss” to encroaching “others,” while in the background hovers a shimmering past of cultural and economic glory. In reality, of course, the lost economic prosperity has largely flowed upwards to the wealthiest segment of the U.S. population, and the situation of White Trump voters continues to be significantly better than that of African Americans and Latinxs of similar educational levels.

A dangerous aspect of this dual image is that Trumpism describes a real element of White American experience while linking it to racist and xenophobic “alternative facts.” The parts of the country that can variously be described as Trump country, “Red States,” or the older phrase “the heartland,” may be concentrated in the Rust Belt, the South, and the Plains, but can also be found scattered through “Blue” states like New York and California. I find “heartland” useful because it captures the self-understanding of the small cities, towns, rural, sub- and ex-urban areas that have long been the core of a White, largely Protestant, multi-generation U.S. experience and identity that was central to the Trump constituency. These heartland communities are currently experiencing a decline in economic opportunities, a marked increase in opiate addiction, and reduced life expectancy,12 as well as a rise in racist xenophobia most visible as Trumpism. The convergence of economic and demographic change is not unique to our current era, and has previously led to a surge in the power and respectability of the Far Right among Whites living outside of major cities.

A dangerous aspect of this dual image is that Trumpism describes a real element of White American experience while linking it to racist and xenophobic “alternative facts.”

Times of demographic and cultural threat to a core White American identity and experience have historically empowered the Far Right. Post-Civil War reconstruction was obviously one such time, and led to the birth of the Ku Klux Klan in the South. The Civil Rights movement was another such time, and also saw a resurgence of the KKK in the South. In addition, the surge in neonazi and other Far Right organizing in the 1980s could be seen as another such period, following the movements of the 1960s and ‘70s that challenged traditional White male power structures. These three examples, however, were periods in which the Far Right was mobilized in particular areas, not times when its ideology was normalized or widely dispersed throughout the wider U.S. The 1920s and early ‘30s, however, after the last major wave of immigration and economic transformation, were a time of significant right-wing mobilization that spread throughout the U.S. and was largely normalized in White, non-urban areas.3 Significantly, the major threat to White identity in the ‘20s and ‘30s came from Southern and Eastern European immigrants, who were considered neither White nor Black according to the racial classifications of the time. Over time, these European immigrant groups came to be understood as White,4 illustrating both the possibility of shift in racial categories and the power they hold at any given moment in time.

A member of Identity Evropa (a White supremacist college organization) sports a ‘Make America Great Again’ hat at an event last year. (Photo courtesy of thetab.com/)

Demographers have been anticipating for many years the moment the U.S. population ceases to be a majority of European descent, or “White” in the current U.S. understanding of race. The dramatic expansion of inequality in the U.S. taking place at the same time as the economic decline of the “heartland” means that this shift in numerical majority status is occurring in the context of status loss across multiple dimensions for Whites most accustomed to living in homogenous, White-majority contexts. The Obama administration added a symbolic threat of increasing Black power and visibility while continuing the neoliberal policies that have eroded the employment, education, and housing advantages given to Whites, especially men—sometimes called the “wages of Whiteness”—for non-elite Whites relative to both those above and those below.

By contrast, Whites in the large urban areas that consistently voted for Clinton in November have largely become accustomed to contexts that combine White supremacy with numerical minority status. For example, Whites are only 48.7 percent of the population in the Chicago metropolitan area but have a median household income of $71,927, which is more than double the median Black household income.5 Similarly, in the Philadelphia metro area, Whites account for 41.7 percent of the population, and their median household income is 78 percent higher than the median Black household.6 In these and other large cities, Whites experience racial and cultural diversity without significant loss of economic and political power, reducing or eliminating the identity and status threat of racial diversity.  The lived experience of diversity without relative status loss may provide a form of perverse protection against Trumpist xenophobia and racism, particularly in contrast to the experience of economic anxiety without comparative context; the “deaths of despair”7 among White working and middle classes in heartland communities result from existential loss, not direct and objective comparison.

The historical expansion of the category of “White” to include the descendants of devalued European groups updated and maintained the White-Black bifurcation at the core of U.S. racial hierarchies. There is some evidence that a similar process may be underway today with some Asian and Latinx groups, although in ways that currently point to an “off-White” status in which some Latinx and Asian populations look increasingly similar to Whites in income and education.8 An analysis of the expansion of Whiteness addresses the societal level, not the experiences, negotiations, and conflicts that occur as the process unfolds. It also does not consider how the process may affect non-elite Whites who consider themselves the White American norm even as their social ground is shifting culturally and economically. The wave of reformist and right-wing movements of 1920s and ‘30s, particularly Prohibition and the second wave of the KKK, were a White, middle class, Protestant backlash against the growing power and assimilation of Southern and Eastern European immigrants, raising questions about what might be learned from this period in relation to today’s dynamics.

Photo from 1926 of Klansmen on a ferris wheel in Cañon City, CO. (Photo via Flickr CC BY-SA 2.0)

The second wave of the KKK differed from the first, Reconstruction-era Klan, as well as the later Civil Rights-era Klan, in significant ways that are relevant to thinking about the contemporary Far Right. 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.9 They combined racism and xenophobia with a generalized conservative Protestant moralism concerned with opposition to birth control, the teaching of evolution, and drinking alcohol. Of particular relevance, this iteration of the Klan explicitly targeted Catholics and Jews as threatening racial “others,”10 drawing clear and uncompromising boundaries around who counted as a White American. It included a wide range of members who would not have endorsed the violence perpetrated by some within the national network, but who nonetheless embraced a platform of nativism, White Protestant supremacy, and both moral and economic conservatism.11 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.12 There are strong analogies here to the ways conservative movements today, including the Tea Party and conservative Christianity, have normalized and spread a potent combination of racism, sexism, xenophobia, and homophobia with Breitbart News Network and other media outlets serving as bridges to the Alt Right and the Trump campaign.

The historical reality of Prohibition embodied the era’s deep conflicts over national identity, power, and social dominance.

Unlike the KKK, Prohibition is not usually considered in connection with racial boundary enforcement or Far Right movements. Popular history and imagery largely associate Prohibition with flappers, jazz, gangsters, the Women’s Christian Temperance Union, and the desire to “clean up” urban life in the early 20th Century. While those were all elements, the historical reality of Prohibition embodied the era’s deep conflicts over national identity, power, and social dominance.13 The movement for Prohibition was an assertion of traditional White, Protestant dominance over the “degenerate” ways—and growing prominence—of Catholic and Jewish immigrants, and to a lesser extent African Americans. Enforcement of the law reflected this not only in the differential targeting of working class immigrants and African Americans, but in the active role played by organized community vigilante groups, including the KKK. The repeal of Prohibition under President Franklin Delano Roosevelt was part of the realignment of national political processes associated with the New Deal,14 bringing the largely immigrant, urban, industrial working class into a political coalition that implemented progressive social welfare policies in part through the deliberate exclusion of African Americans.15 It took the uprisings of the Civil Rights movement before African Americans were incorporated into the New Deal.

The contemporary concentration of opiate use among native-born, non-urban Whites has discouraged punitive substance control policy, but in other ways the current moment has some sociopolitical analogies to 100 years ago. This is also a time of extreme inequality, a second Gilded Age, and a period of consolidation of changes in the structure of capitalism. The early 20th Century solidified an industrial economy while the current period has seen a shift to financialization; each of these transitions came with significant technological development and change. The early 20th Century was also the last time the U.S. had a high proportion of immigrants concentrated in major cities, with associated demographic and cultural shifts. Importantly, these economic and social changes led to both subjective and objective loss of status among middle class and small-landholder Whites outside of large cities,16 although there does not appear to have been the same depth of social and economic threat experienced in those communities today.

The right-wing resurgence did not begin with the populist nationalism that elected Trump, and is unlikely to end in four years regardless of who wins the 2018 and 2020 elections.

In both eras, the response among native born “heartland” Whites has been a mainstreaming and normalization of explicitly racist, xenophobic, and violent right-wing perspectives. The Far Right has gained more power today than in the past, with Trump’s ascendancy to the White House and the installation of Hard Right movement figures such as Steve Bannon and Mike Pence in the executive branch. The conflation of Muslims and “terrorism” fuses religion, ethnicity and politics at an even deeper level than earlier accusations of Jewish communism, with similar connotations of international “infiltration” and threat. The right-wing resurgence did not begin with the populist nationalism that elected Trump, and is unlikely to end in four years regardless of who wins the 2018 and 2020 elections. The second wave of the KKK went from 1915 until the late ‘20s, and Prohibition lasted from 1920 to ‘33.

One of the important lessons to be learned from the 1920s and ‘30s is to be wary of alternative social contracts that have genuinely progressive elements while maintaining authoritarian structures and White supremacy. The enforcement of Prohibition led to a significant expansion of policing and penal systems in the U.S., creating the core structures of the current federal law enforcement and prison systems.17 The first federal drug-control laws were passed in 1909 (the Opium Exclusion Act) and 1914 (the Harrison Act), but national enforcement accelerated significantly after the repeal of Prohibition when the fundamentally racist institutional enforcement infrastructure reoriented towards drug control.18 The New Deal instituted a set of economically progressive policies but did so through the consolidation of an alliance that brought together the European immigrant, industrial working class with non-urban, native-born Whites, including the southern power structure, while explicitly excluding African Americans.19 The coalitions that in 1933 simultaneously ended Prohibition and brought in the New Deal enacted some progressive change, but only at the expense of African Americans and other non-Whites, who remained marginalized while Catholics and even Jews were increasingly incorporated into Whiteness.

These historical examples suggest the potential for a political response, perhaps by the Democratic Party or a populist movement less racist than Trumpism, which offers some economic relief but re-inscribes White supremacy by bringing together U.S. born Whites and selected immigrant groups. The 2016 exit polls20 show the seeds of this in a right-wing direction, with 29 percent of both Latinxs and Asians voting for Trump. These data fit with the economic and social stratification among immigrants that would enable a re-inscription of the boundaries of both Whiteness and Blackness,21 and could be harnessed even more effectively perhaps by a conservative Democrat positioned as “anyone but Trump” in 2020. For example, Andrew Cuomo, the governor of New York, is a conservative Democrat with a strong neoliberal track record and marked hostility towards both unions and low-income communities in New York City who shows signs of national ambitions.  His highly touted new Excelsior scholarship program offers free tuition at NY public colleges for middle class families, but the actual design of the program does not cover the majority of students’ expenses yet requires a schedule that will make work and family responsibilities difficult to maintain.

If history is a guide, the hallmarks of a re-inscription of Whiteness would benefit the middle class in a significant way while leaving out the urban poor, particularly the non-White poor. Possibilities include a Medicare buy-in or other form of health insurance support that helps the middle class while being too expensive for the working poor; the expansion of a DACA-like program but with elements that enhance criminalization of the undocumented as a whole; or perhaps restrictions on immigration overall that don’t focus on terrorism but enhance the polarization between “valuable” and “criminal” immigrants.

It is vital to remember that the expansion of Whiteness intrinsically involves the simultaneous re-inscription, and perhaps expansion, of Blackness. It will be necessary to break the historical racist alliance between elite and non-elite Whites that lies at the core of the current situation, and to do it before new groups are inducted into the edges of the privileged circle.

Endnotes

1 Naomi Braine, “The Public Health Story Behind Trump’s Rise,” Political Research Associates, December 1, 2016, https://www.politicalresearch.org/2016/12/01/the-public-health-story-behind-trumps-rise/.

2 Sir Angus Deaton and Anne Case, “Mortality and morbidity in the 21st century.” Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Conference Drafts March 23-4 2017.

3 Rory McVeigh, “Structural Incentives for Conservative Mobilization: Power Devaluation and the Rise of the Ku Klux Klan, 1915-25.” Social Forces, June 1999, 77(4).

4 Karen Brodkin, How Jews Became White Folks and What That Says About Race in America. (New Brunswick: Rutgers University Press, 1999).

5 American Community Survey, 2015 http://www.census.gov/data.html

6 American Community Survey, 2015 http://www.census.gov/data.html

7 Sir Angus Deaton and Anne Case, “Mortality and morbidity in the 21st century.” Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Conference Drafts March 23-4 2017.

8 Eduardo Bonilla Silva, “We are all Americans!: the Latin Americanization of racial stratification in the USA,” Race & Society 5 (2002) 3–16.

9 Nancy MacLean, Behind the Mask of Chivalry: the Making of the Second Ku Klux Klan, (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1994); Rory McVeigh, “Structural Incentives for Conservative Mobilization: Power Devaluation and the Rise of the Ku Klux Klan, 1915-25.” Social Forces, June 1999, 77(4).

10 Nancy MacLean, Behind the Mask of Chivalry: the Making of the Second Ku Klux Klan, (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1994).

11 Nancy MacLean, Behind the Mask of Chivalry: the Making of the Second Ku Klux Klan, (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1994).

12 Nancy MacLean, Behind the Mask of Chivalry: the Making of the Second Ku Klux Klan, (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1994); Rory McVeigh, “Structural Incentives for Conservative Mobilization: Power Devaluation and the Rise of the Ku Klux Klan, 1915-25.” Social Forces, June 1999, 77(4).

13 Lisa McGirr, The War on Alcohol: Prohibition and the Rise of the American State, (New York: W. W. Norton and Company, 2015).

14 Lisa McGirr, The War on Alcohol: Prohibition and the Rise of the American State, (New York: W. W. Norton and Company, 2015).

15 Frances Fox Piven and Richard A. Cloward, Regulating the Poor: The Functions of Public Welfare, (Vintage Press, 2nd edition, 1993).

16 Rory McVeigh, “Structural Incentives for Conservative Mobilization: Power Devaluation and the Rise of the Ku Klux Klan, 1915-25.” Social Forces, June 1999, 77(4).

17 Lisa McGirr, The War on Alcohol: Prohibition and the Rise of the American State, (New York: W. W. Norton and Company, 2015).

18 Lisa McGirr, The War on Alcohol: Prohibition and the Rise of the American State, (New York: W. W. Norton and Company, 2015).

19 Frances Fox Piven and Richard A. Cloward, Regulating the Poor: The Functions of Public Welfare, (Vintage Press, 2nd edition, 1993).

20 “Election 2016: Exit Polls,” The New York Times, November 8, 2016, https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2016/11/08/us/politics/election-exit-polls.html.

21 Eduardo Bonilla Silva, “We are all Americans!: the Latin Americanization of racial stratification in the USA,” Race & Society 5 (2002) 3–16.

[Video] Resisting White Supremacy in Kentucky

An online video call discussion on anti-racist resistance with Kentuckians For The Commonwealth, Political Research Associates, and Rural Organizing Project.

Last week, PRA associate fellow Spencer Sunshine joined a discussion on anti-racist resistance in Kentucky alongside Kentuckians For The Commonwealth (KFTC) and Rural Organizing Project (ROP). KFTC convened this webinar after learning that White supremacist groups would be traveling to Kentucky in April for a series of events in Prestonsburg and Pikeville.

Runes, such as this one on the National Socialist Movement flag, have been gaining popularity over swastikas among neonazi groups as part of a recent effort to re-brand.

Sunshine kicked off the session identifying the White supremacist groups that are organizing and recruiting and describing what tactics they use. The groups discussed include the Nationalist Front (an umbrella group), Traditionalist Worker Party, National Socialist Movement (the largest neonazi group in the U.S.), League of the South (a neoconfederate group), and American Vanguard (a university-based student group). Sunshine describes how these groups, along with the White nationalist Alt Right, are mainstreaming old ideas through a new aesthetic.

Sunshine pointed out that there has been a huge spike in the number of White supremacist groups in the past year, according to the latest reports from the Southern Poverty Law Center.

“In general this is happening to communities all over. I think with Trump’s campaign White nationalists felt like their politics had finally come out into the mainstream and they could come out of the shadows. And I think that’s true to some extent. That their politics are at least to some parts of society being fairly normalized. Regardless, they are using this climate to engage in much more aggressive recruiting campaigns and have open public events.”

Sunshine was also joined by Jessica Campbell co-director of ROP, a network of over 50 autonomous all-volunteer group throughout rural Oregon who are doing organizing around democracy and human dignity. Campbell pointed out that in Oregon they are not seeing legislators and politicians coming out to rural areas, which makes those communities feel further disenfranchised and “is creating a real opportunity for Far Right organizing to really take advantage of having an uncontested rural base.”

Sunshine and Campbell were lead authors of Up in Arms: A Guide to Oregon’s Patriot Movement, a report co-published by PRA and ROP in 2016. PRA has since produced a report and several in depth articles on the White nationalist Alt Right movement as well, available on our Alt Right Portal Page.

Additional resources:

#First100Days Crash Course: Week 6

Coinciding with Trump’s first 100 days in Office — a period of time historically used as a benchmark to measure the potential of a new president — PRA will share readings, videos, and tools for organizing to inform our collective resistance based on principles for engaging the regime, defending human rights, and preventing authoritarianism. Daily readings will be posted on our Facebook and Twitter accounts and archived HERE.

Week 6: Racism and White Supremacy

White supremacy is a term is used in various ways to describe a set of beliefs; organized White hate groups; or a system of racial oppression that benefits White people. As an ideology, it is the belief that the socially constructed “White race” is superior to other “races.” As a system, White supremacy in the U.S. is maintained when White people defend, deny, or ignore the reality of the continued systematic subordination and oppression of people of color. White supremacy is the most powerful form of racism in the US, and it has two major forms: racism by Whites used to justify the oppression of people of color; and the racialized construct of antisemitism in which Jews are falsely claimed to be a distinct non-White race, and are then deemed a sinister race. 

Racial inequality remains deeply embedded within U.S. social and economic structures, even as its forms and justifications are in flux. Claims to White racial superiority, though not entirely dead, were largely washed aside by the civil rights struggles of the ’50s and ’60s. Since that time, so-called “colorblind” racism has become the dominant racial ideology in the United States. Opposition to affirmative action, indigenous treaty rights, and other government programs is commonly justified with the claim that equal rights among racial groups have been achieved and that we as a society are, or should be, “beyond race.” This belief in the diminishing importance of race makes it more, not less, likely that stark racial inequalities will persist since they will remain unchallenged.

To bolster their colorblind rhetoric, some sectors of the Right promote spokespeople – and provide patronage to conservative intellectuals and institutions – from communities of color. Growing immigration, especially from Latin America and Asia, threatens Whites’ numerical majority, and, along with the government’s massive post-911 campaign of racial profiling, is inspiring a nativist and White supremacist backlash. Anti-Semitic conspiracy theories have also experienced resurgence since the 911 attacks.

Featured resources:

Additional Readings:

Media (Click to download):

Engage: Transformative Bail Reform

via The Movement for Black Lives: “Almost two years ago, Kalief Browder died after suffering abuse and torture at Rikers Island for three years – all while he was waiting for a court date. This gross injustice happened because many of our towns still rely on money bail, a broken system that keeps Black people in jail even before they are ever convicted of anything.”

Check out the interactive Transformative Bail Curriculum that M4BL co-created with partners across the country HERE.

Profile on the Right: Steve Bannon

Steve Bannon at the Bloggers Briefing in October 2010. Photo: Don Irvine via Creative Commons.

Stephen Bannon is the former CEO of Brietbart News Network—which he promotes as “the platform for the Alt Right”1—and is now Donald Trump’s chief strategist and a key player on national security issues. Bannon has a history of antisemitism and has been called “one of the foremost peddlers of white supremacist themes and rhetoric.”2 He has expressed admiration for anti-Muslim hate groups, ridiculed the Black Lives Matter movement by remarking that “some people … are naturally aggressive and violent,” and likened civil rights advocacy to Communism.3

Bannon is a key player among a team of advisors who helped Trump develop an “action plan” for his first weeks in office, which included weakening Obamacare, putting a freeze on federal hiring, strengthening immigration enforcement, and preventing refugees and visa-holders from seven majority-Muslim countries from entering the U.S.4 The ACLU has called Trump a “one-man constitutional crisis,” and said that his policy proposals—largely developed and backed by Bannon—“blatantly violate the inalienable rights guaranteed by the Constitution.” Taken together, the policies enforced by Trump and Bannon violate the First, Fourth, Fifth, and Eighth Amendments to the Constitution.5

Under Bannon’s leadership, Brietbart News has promoted racist, anti-Muslim, and anti-immigrant ideals, and has published such articles as “The Confederate Flag Proclaims a Glorious Heritage,” “Political Correctness Protects Muslim Rape Culture,”6 and ”Bill Kristol: Republican Spoiler, Renegade Jew,”7 among others. When Bannon was named Trump’s chief strategist, former KKK leader David Duke called it an “excellent selection.”8

During his first week as president, Trump gave Bannon a full seat on the principals committee of the National Security Committee. Trump’s order places Bannon alongside secretaries of state and defense and downgrades the roles of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and director of national intelligence.9 Republican Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) called Bannon’s appointment a “radical departure” and said Trump’s “reorganization” was concerning. CNN national security correspondent Jim Sciutto said it “raises questions about whose voices will be most prominent about key national-security decisions in the country.” 10

In addition to Bannon’s history of racism and xenophobia, he has—unsurprisingly—engaged in misogynistic rhetoric. With Bannon’s guidance, Brietbart News published such pieces as “There’s No Hiring Bias Against Women … They Just Suck at Interviews,” “Does Feminism Make Women Ugly?” and “Birth Control Makes Women Unattractive and Crazy.”11 In 1996, Bannon’s then-wife accused him of domestic violence. In a 2011 radio interview, Bannon likened the women’s movement to “a bunch of dykes,” and in 2015, Brietbart News compared Planned Parenthood to Hitler.12 He was caught on tape calling one of his female employees a “bimbo,” and saying he was going to give her a “reality check,” “kick her ass,” and “ram [her accusations] down her fucking throat.”13

In a 2014 speech to a Christian conservative group, Bannon criticized then praised Russian President Vladimir Putin, saying the “Judeo-Christian West” should take cues from Putin, particularly on issues of nationalism. “Strong nationalist movements in countries make strong neighbors,” Bannon said. These statements came after Bannon claimed the Alt Right is “the voice of the anti-abortion [and] traditional marriage movement [and] we’re winning victory after victory after victory.”14

Is Bannon a White supremacist? Does he seek to infiltrate the administration with White supremacist views and normalize the Alt Right as a patriotic and political movement, rather than a racist, misogynistic, and xenophobic platform? Bannon has gone to great lengths to avoid the “White supremacist” label, and those close to him disavow claims that Bannon has racist and misogynistic attitudes.15 It’s important to note that Bannon refers to White supremacists as “White nationalists,” which fuels the nationalistic beliefs he touted in 2014 while normalizing the ideals of White supremacy.  This is also the man who called for every flagpole in the South to proudly fly the Confederate flag—remarks that came just days after nine African Americans were murdered at an historic Black church in Charleston.16

Bannon, a former investment banker with Goldman Sachs’ New York office, earned a master’s degree from Georgetown University and attended Harvard Business School. After leaving Goldman Sachs, he launched a boutique investment firm, which he eventually sold. Bannon is also a former naval officer. Prior to working with Trump, he had no political experience.17

As Bannon increasingly bends Trump’s ear and shifts national focus toward dangerous and alarming ideologies, it’s critical that the American people—and the global community—understand the man behind Trump’s curtain and the potential and irreparable damage his power has already caused—and will continue to cause—until and unless he is overhauled from his position of influence.

Endnotes

[1] Sarah Posner, “How Donald Trump’s New Campaign Chief Created an Online Haven for White Nationalists,” Mother Jones, August 22, 2016, http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2016/08/stephen-bannon-donald-trump-alt-right-breitbart-news.

[2] “Stephen Bannon: White House Role for Right-Wing Media Chief,” BBC News, November 14, 2016,  http://www.bbc.com/news/election-us-2016-37971742.

[3] Sarah Posner, “How Donald Trump’s New Campaign Chief Created an Online Haven for White Nationalists,” Mother Jones, August 22, 2016, http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2016/08/stephen-bannon-donald-trump-alt-right-breitbart-news.

[4] Josh Dawsey, Eliana Johnson, Annie Karni, “The Man Behind Trump? Still Steve Bannon,” Politico, January 29, 2017, http://www.politico.com/story/2017/01/donald-trump-steve-bannon-234347.

[5] “The Trump Memos: The ACLU’s Constitutional Analysis of the Public Statements and Policy Proposals of Donald Trump,” ACLU, https://www.aclu.org/report/trump-memos.

[6] Milo Yiannopoulos, “Birth Control Makes Women Unattractive and Crazy,” Breitbart, December 8, 2015, http://www.breitbart.com/tech/2015/12/08/birth-control-makes-women-unattractive-and-crazy/.

[7] David Horowitz, “Bill Kristol: Republican Spoiler, Renegade Jew,” Breitbart, May 15, 2016, http://www.breitbart.com/2016-presidential-race/2016/05/15/bill-kristol-republican-spoiler-renegade-jew/.

[8] David Horowitz, “Bill Kristol: Republican Spoiler, Renegade Jew,” Breitbart, May 15, 2016, http://www.breitbart.com/2016-presidential-race/2016/05/15/bill-kristol-republican-spoiler-renegade-jew/

[9] Glenn Thrush and Maggie Haberman, “Bannon is Given Security Role Usually Held for Generals,” January 29, 2017, https://www.nytimes.com/2017/01/29/us/stephen-bannon-donald-trump-national-security-council.html

[10] Natasha Bertrand, “Trump Just Made an Unprecedented, Radical Change to the National Security Council,” Business Insider, January 29, 2017, http://www.businessinsider.com/trump-steve-bannon-national-security-council-2017-1.

[11] Heather Saul, “Steve Bannon: Some of the Worst Breitbart Headlines Published Under Donald Trump’s Chief Strategist,” The Independent, November 14, 2016, http://www.independent.co.uk/news/people/steve-bannon-breitbart-donald-trumps-chief-strategist-a7416606.html.

[12] Kate Storey, “Who is Steve Bannon? 15 Things to Know About Trump’s Chief Strategist,” Cosmopolitan, http://www.cosmopolitan.com/politics/a8288455/who-is-steve-bannon-trump-chief-strategist/

[13] Claire Landsbaum, “Trump Campaign Chief Caught on Tape Calling a Female Employee a ‘Bimbo,’” September 1, 2016, http://nymag.com/thecut/2016/09/steve-bannon-once-called-a-female-employee-a-bimbo.html.

[14] “Business Insider: Bannon’s 2014 Vatican Speech Strikes Fear on Wall Street,” Brietbart, November 16, 2016, http://www.breitbart.com/big-government/2016/11/16/business-insider-bannons-2014-vatican-speech-strikes-fear-wall-street/.

[15] Ian Tuttle, “Steve Bannon is Not a Nazi,” National Review, November 14, 2016, http://www.nationalreview.com/article/442189/steve-bannon-trump-administration-alt-right-breitbart-chief-strategist

[16] Casey Michel, “Steve Bannon’s Dangerous Campaign to Rebrand Racism as American ‘Nationalism,’” Quartz, November 18, 2016, https://qz.com/841036/is-steve-bannon-a-white-supremacist-trumps-advisor-wants-to-rebrand-racism-as-american-nationalism/.

[17] Kate Storey, “Who is Steve Bannon? 15 Things to Know About Trump’s Chief Strategist,” Cosmopolitan, http://www.cosmopolitan.com/politics/a8288455/who-is-steve-bannon-trump-chief-strategist/

Profile on the Right: Milo Yiannopoulos

Milo Yiannopoulos. Photo by Kmeron for LeWeb13 Conference via Flickr.

Milo Yiannopoulos is the technology co-editor for Breitbart News Network, the right-wing media operation that former CEO Steve Bannon—now chief strategist for President Donald Trump—proudly called the platform for the Alt Right.1 But that title does not begin to describe Yiannopoulos’s public persona as Breitbart’s enfant terrible, or, as he described himself in a recent speech on his “Dangerous Faggot Tour” of college campuses, “the supervillain of the Internet.” The Southern Poverty Law Center’s Heidi Beirich says, “Milo is the person who propelled the alt-right movement into the mainstream.”2 Bloomberg’s Joel Stein has called him “the pretty, monstrous face of the alt-right.”3

Yiannopoulos made a name for himself during the gamergate controversy, in which female gamers and journalists were subjected to online abuse by internet trolls who complained that women were trying to ruin video games with feminism and “political correctness.”4 After Gamergate made him an icon, at Breitbart, Yiannopoulos has turned himself into a full-blown media personality thriving, like writer Ann Coulter, on provoking liberal outrage with deliberately offensive comments. The Yiannopoulos brand—Milo to his fans and MILO to his promoters at Breitbart—combines his attacks on political correctness, feminism, transgender people,5 and Islam with a sort of flamboyantly narcissistic performance art.

During the July 2016 Republican National Convention in Cleveland, Yiannopoulos appeared at a rally sponsored by conspiracy theorist Alex Jones and at a “Gays for Trump” party sponsored by Breitbart, the latter of which featured anti-Islam extremist Pamela Geller and Dutch politician Geert Wilders, who believes western societies must “de-Islamize.” Yiannopoulos said that liberals have become “traitors to the gays” by accommodating Islam. At both Cleveland events, Yiannopoulos came to the stage wearing a bulletproof vest and theatrically peeled it off as he began speaking, as if to demonstrate his bravery.6

Yiannopoulos spent much of 2016 promoting the candidacy of Donald Trump, whom he calls “Daddy.” Trump is “an obvious gay icon,” he said in a profile in Out. “He’s brassy, he’s outrageous, his taste in interiors is gaudy and exhibitionist. He’s a heavy-handed caricature of a billionaire. Everything about him is at once fantastic and camp. He’s the drag queen you can vote for.”7

And Yiannopoulos shares Trump’s declared political enemies. “I’m fighting political correctness wherever I find it,” he said at the Alex Jones rally. “I’m fighting hateful third-wave misandrist feminism wherever I find it. I am fighting Black Lives Matter, a hateful, destructive movement, wherever I find it. Donald Trump is going to fight the same things wherever he finds them, too.”8

In a recent speech at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, he said Black Lives Matter is “dedicated to racial hatred” and called it the “last socially acceptable hate group in America.” And he praised Trump for knowing “above all else that making America great and welcoming in Islam are mutually exclusive futures.”9

Yiannopoulos insists that he is not actually part of the Alt Right, even though, he says,  “the press seems determined to crown me the queen of it.”10 He says he’s simply given them a fair hearing as a reporter.11 Yiannopoulos has tried to wave away charges of racism and antisemitism against the Alt Right by saying that essentially the movement is all about trolling for a group of youthful merry pranksters who will say anything to get a rise out of the humorless, politically correct “social justice warriors” they despise.12 Posting antisemitic memes isn’t a sign that the posters are actually antisemitic, argues Yiannopoulos, just that they want to provoke liberal outrage. He has claimed that, “What motivates the left now is anti-white hatred, particularly of straight men.”13 And he says that the sort of “performative racism” he practices is really meant to expose liberals’ double standard when it comes to race.14 Listening to him sounds a bit like hearing Trump apologists explain away his extreme statements by saying he should be taken seriously or symbolically but not literally. Indeed, Yiannopoulos says, “We live in a post-fact era. It’s wonderful.”15

Yiannopoulos acknowledges that there are White nationalists and antisemitic neonazis in the Alt Right but contends they are a small minority. They don’t like him, he says, because he’s “a gay Jew.”16 (He says his maternal grandmother was Jewish.) It is true that some of the movement’s neonazis despise him for downplaying the White nationalism and antisemitism that they believe define the movement.17

Milo talks frequently about how he likes to have sex with Black men, as if that suggests he cannot be a racist, but that didn’t stop him from telling partygoers in Cleveland a racist joke that he said was the one thing he couldn’t get past Breitbart’s editors.18

On the same day as the Gays for Trump party, Yiannopoulos was “permanently suspended” from Twitter for violating “rules prohibiting participating in or inciting targeted abuse of individuals.”19 Twitter charged that he had incited a campaign of racist and misogynist abuse directed at Leslie Jones over her appearance in the Ghostbusters remake. He has since refused to apologize for insulting her and refused to accept responsibility for the actions of followers who targeted her.

In Cleveland, Yiannopoulos seemed to relish the Twitter suspension as a way of bringing more attention to himself as a free speech martyr, suggesting that he would take advantage of his access to the world’s political media to make life hell for Twitter executives. They seem to have done fine without him, and he seems to be doing fine without them: he has accumulated a million fans on Facebook20 and in late December reportedly received a $250,000 advance from Simon & Schuster for a new book.21

Like “Daddy Trump,” Yiannopoulos is given to hyperbole about politics and about himself. At the Gays for Trump party he declared, “Donald Trump is the most pro-gay candidate in American electoral history”—a ridiculous statement given that Trump had spent the campaign promising to make the Religious Right more powerful by doing away with restrictions on churches’ politicking and giving them the Supreme Court of their dreams. In an interview, Yiannopoulos talked up his own cultural significance:

And I am one of the primary engines of change in American culture because I’m demonstrating that someone sassy and silly and gay and flamboyant who loves RuPaul’s Drag Race and sucks black dick doesn’t have to vote Democrat. That matters. That’s really important.22

Talking openly about his sex life is part of Yiannopoulos’s shtick, even, or maybe especially, to audiences he knows will be uncomfortable with it. “I might be a dick-sucking faggot,” he told participants at the Alex Jones rally in Cleveland, “but I fucking hate the left.”23

As one of the world’s most famous trolls, provocation is his stock in trade. At an art show, #DaddyWillSaveUs, Milo bathed in pig’s blood in a bathtub positioned in front of photographs of people he said had been “murdered by illegal aliens who had no right to be in the United States.”24 He says “it’s fun” to be mean to people and that he will continue to be deliberately offensive in the service of smashing political correctness.25

Intellectual consistency is not a priority for Yiannopoulos. He portrays himself as a “free speech fundamentalist”26 but also says he is “dedicated to the destruction of liberal media in this country.”27 He slams Leslie Jones for not being willing to take abusive criticism as a public figure, but he cheered when Peter Thiel funded a lawsuit designed to destroy Gawker in retaliation for a story that outed Thiel as gay.28 He mocks liberals for playing the role of victims, but he complains regarding his banishment from Twitter that, “I am held to a totally arbitrary, unique, hypocritical double standard because people don’t like my politics.”29 While he celebrates his sexual prowess, he declared in a recent speech that Catholics are “right about everything.”30

The Catholic comment came in a speech at Minnesota State University in December 2016 in which he focused on the supposed “war on Christmas” that Religious Right leaders argue is being waged by the Left. The war is real, argued Yiannopoulos, “and Christians are losing.” He added, “Our media, cultural elite, and educators don’t understand Christianity and have no interest in doing so. THAT is why we must fight them.”31

Yiannopoulos’s praise for the Catholic Church’s teachings and his persona as “the world’s most dangerous faggot” suggest some kind of inner conflict. Yiannapoulos shares the Catholic hierarchy’s opposition to gay couples being allowed to get married,32 and when it comes to gay couples being parents, he sounds like National Organization for Marriage President Brian Brown, arguing that children need a mother and father.33 He has said publicly he is not happy being gay.34

In 2015, when confronted by podcast host Joe Rogan about the conflict between his persona and his arguments about Christianity, Yiannapoulos said “I don’t think my sexuality is an important component of my personality,” and said “it would be better if I didn’t behave like this” sexually. “If I could choose,” Yiannopoulos said, “I wouldn’t be a homosexual.”35

It can be difficult to know how much Yiannopoulos believes what he says, and how much is purely about provocation and branding. “It’s like he’s joking: ‘Ha ha, let me popularize the worst ideas that ever existed,” says SPLC’s Beirich.36 But in weighing the impact of his “performative bigotry,” argues writer Laurie Penny, “it doesn’t matter that he doesn’t mean it.”37

It doesn’t matter that he’s secretly quite a sweet, vulnerable person who is gracious to those he considers friends. It doesn’t matter that somewhere in the rhinestone-rimmed hamster wheel of his mind is a conscience. It doesn’t matter because the harm he does is real.38

Endnotes

[1] Sarah Posner, “How Donald Trump’s New Campaign Chief Created an Online Haven for White Nationalists,” Mother Jones, August 22, 2016, http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2016/08/stephen-bannon-donald-trump-alt-right-breitbart-news.

[2] Joel Stein, “Milo Yiannopoulos Is the Pretty, Monstrous Face of the Alt-Right,” Bloomberg Businessweek, September 15, 2016, https://www.bloomberg.com/features/2016-america-divided/milo-yiannopoulos/.

[3] Joel Stein, “Milo Yiannopoulos Is the Pretty, Monstrous Face of the Alt-Right,” Bloomberg Businessweek, September 15, 2016, https://www.bloomberg.com/features/2016-america-divided/milo-yiannopoulos/.

[4] Kristen Brown, “The ultimate troll: The terrifying allure of Gamergate icon Milo Yiannopoulos,” Fusion, October 27, 2015, http://fusion.net/story/220646/the-terrifying-allure-of-gamergate-icon-milo-yiannopoulos/.

[5] “Breitbart’s Milo Yiannopoulos Doubles Down on Harassing Transgender University of Wisconsin Student,” Media Matters, December 16, 2016, http://www.mediamatters.org/blog/2016/12/16/breitbart-s-milo-yiannopoulos-doubles-down-harassing-transgender-university-wisconsin-student/214849.

[6] Peter Montgomery, “’Gays For Trump’ Join Conspiracy Theorists In Bringing Anti-Islam, Anti-PC Message to RNC,” Right Wing Watch, July 20, 2016, http://www.rightwingwatch.org/post/gays-for-trump-join-conspiracy-theorists-in-bringing-anti-islam-anti-pc-message-to-rnc/.

[7] Chadwick Moore, “Send In the Clown: Internet Supervillain Milo Doesn’t Care That You Hate Him,” Out, September 21, 2016, http://www.out.com/out-exclusives/2016/9/21/send-clown-internet-supervillain-milo-doesnt-care-you-hate-him.

[8] Peter Montgomery, “’Gays For Trump’ Join Conspiracy Theorists In Bringing Anti-Islam, Anti-PC Message to RNC,” Right Wing Watch, July 20, 2016, http://www.rightwingwatch.org/post/gays-for-trump-join-conspiracy-theorists-in-bringing-anti-islam-anti-pc-message-to-rnc/.

[9] Ben Kew, “MILO: Black Lives Matter Is ‘The Last Acceptable Hate Group,’” Breitbart, December 13, 2016, http://www.breitbart.com/milo/2016/12/13/milo-black-lives-matter-last-socially-acceptable-hate-group/.

[10] Milo Yiannopoulos, “How To Destroy The Alt-Right,” text of speech delivered in Houston, posted at Breitbart September 19, 2016, http://www.breitbart.com/milo/2016/09/19/milo-destroy-alt-right-speech/.

[11] “Are You Alt-Right? Milo Distances Himself From Controversial Movement,” Heat Street, November 18, 2016, http://heatst.com/culture-wars/no-longer-alt-right-milo-distances-himself-from-the-controversial-movement/.

[12] Allum Bokhari and Milo Yiannopoulos, “An Establishment Conservative’s Guide To  The Alt-Right,” Breitbart, March 29, 2016, http://www.breitbart.com/tech/2016/03/29/an-establishment-conservatives-guide-to-the-alt-right/.

[13] Milo Yiannopoulos, “How To Destroy The Alt-Right,” text of speech delivered in Houston, posted at Breitbart September 19, 2016, http://www.breitbart.com/milo/2016/09/19/milo-destroy-alt-right-speech/.

[14] Milo Yiannopoulos, “How To Destroy The Alt-Right,” text of speech delivered in Houston, posted at Breitbart September 19, 2016, http://www.breitbart.com/milo/2016/09/19/milo-destroy-alt-right-speech/.

[15] Joel Stein, “Milo Yiannopoulos Is the Pretty, Monstrous Face of the Alt-Right,” Bloomberg Businessweek, September 15, 2016, https://www.bloomberg.com/features/2016-america-divided/milo-yiannopoulos/.

[16] Lucas Nolan, “MILO on Channel 4: ‘I am a Gay Jew and Steve Bannon Made Me Into a Star,” Breitbart, November 18, 2016, http://www.breitbart.com/milo/2016/11/18/milo-channel-4-gay-jew-steve-bannon-made-star/.

[17] Jeff Taylor, “Neo-Nazi Site Declares ‘Holy Crusade’ on Homocon Milo Yiannopoulos,” LGBTQ Nation, October 3, 2016, http://www.lgbtqnation.com/2016/10/neo-nazi-site-declares-holy-crusade-gay-homocon-milo-yiannopoulos/.

[18] Peter Montgomery, “’Gays For Trump’ Join Conspiracy Theorists In Bringing Anti-Islam, Anti-PC Message to RNC,” Right Wing Watch, July 20, 2016, http://www.rightwingwatch.org/post/gays-for-trump-join-conspiracy-theorists-in-bringing-anti-islam-anti-pc-message-to-rnc/.

[19] Charlie Warzel, “Twitter Permanently Suspends Conservative Writer Milo Yiannopoulos,” BuzzFeed, July 19, 2016, https://www.buzzfeed.com/charliewarzel/twitter-just-permanently-suspended-conservative-writer-milo.

[20] Mike Ma, “MILO Hits One Million Facebook Fans,” Breitbart, December 10, 2016, http://www.breitbart.com/milo/2016/12/10/milo-hits-one-million-facebook-fans/.

[21] Ruth Ben-Ghiat, “How Trump made hatred profitable for Milo Yiannopoulos,” CNN, January 2, 2017, http://www.cnn.com/2017/01/02/opinions/milo-yiannopoulos-and-trump-profitable-hate-ben-ghiat-opinion/.

[22] Chadwick Moore, “Send In the Clown: Internet Supervillain Milo Doesn’t Care That You Hate Him,” Out, September 21, 2016, http://www.out.com/out-exclusives/2016/9/21/send-clown-internet-supervillain-milo-doesnt-care-you-hate-him.

[23] Peter Montgomery, “’Gays For Trump’ Join Conspiracy Theorists In Bringing Anti-Islam, Anti-PC Message to RNC,” Right Wing Watch, July 20, 2016, http://www.rightwingwatch.org/post/gays-for-trump-join-conspiracy-theorists-in-bringing-anti-islam-anti-pc-message-to-rnc/.

[24] Gaby Del Valle, “Bathing in Pig’s Blood: Inside The Alt-Right’s Pro-Trump Art Show,” Gothamist, October 10, 2016, http://gothamist.com/2016/10/10/pro_trump_art_show.php#photo-1.

[25] Milo Yiannopoulos, “How To Destroy The Alt-Right,” text of speech delivered in Houston, posted at Breitbart September 19, 2016, http://www.breitbart.com/milo/2016/09/19/milo-destroy-alt-right-speech/.

[26] Matthew Breen, “’Milo’ Kicked Off Twitter,” Out, July 20, 2016, http://www.out.com/news-opinion/2016/7/20/milo-kicked-twitter.

[27] Peter Montgomery, “Yeah, About That ‘Gays For Trump’ Party: A Breitbart Editor’s Laughable Defense Of Steve Bannon,” Right Wing Watch, November 17, 2016, http://www.rightwingwatch.org/post/yeah-about-that-gays-for-trump-party-a-breitbart-editors-laughable-defense-of-steve-bannon/.

[28] Chadwick Moore, “Send In the Clown: Internet Supervillain Milo Doesn’t Care That You Hate Him,” Out, September 21, 2016, http://www.out.com/out-exclusives/2016/9/21/send-clown-internet-supervillain-milo-doesnt-care-you-hate-him.

[29] Chadwick Moore, “Send In the Clown: Internet Supervillain Milo Doesn’t Care That You Hate Him,” Out, September 21, 2016, http://www.out.com/out-exclusives/2016/9/21/send-clown-internet-supervillain-milo-doesnt-care-you-hate-him.

[30] Milo Yiannopoulos, “A Merry Milo Christmas,” speech delivered a Minnesota State University, posted at Breitbart, December 15, 2016, http://www.breitbart.com/milo/2016/12/15/full-text-merry-milo-christmas-minnesota-state-university/.

[31] Milo Yiannopoulos, “A Merry Milo Christmas,” speech delivered a Minnesota State University, posted at Breitbart, December 15, 2016, http://www.breitbart.com/milo/2016/12/15/full-text-merry-milo-christmas-minnesota-state-university/.

[32] Televised debate with Boy George and Milo Yiannopoulos, “10 O’Clock Live,” August 6, 2015.

[33] Milo Yiannopoulos, “Kids Need a Mum and a Dad,” Breitbart, May 7,2015, http://www.breitbart.com/london/2015/05/07/kids-need-a-mum-and-a-dad/.

[34] Eric Dolan, “Comedian explodes on ‘self-loathing’ gay conservative who wants to be straight: Face it, ‘you are gay as f*ck!’”Raw Story, October 1, 2015, https://www.rawstory.com/2015/10/comedian-explodes-on-self-loathing-gay-conservative-who-wants-to-be-straight-face-it-you-are-gay-as-fck/.

[35] Eric Dolan, “Comedian explodes on ‘self-loathing’ gay conservative who wants to be straight: Face it, ‘you are gay as f*ck!’”Raw Story, October 1, 2015, https://www.rawstory.com/2015/10/comedian-explodes-on-self-loathing-gay-conservative-who-wants-to-be-straight-face-it-you-are-gay-as-fck/.

[36] Joel Stein, “Milo Yiannopoulos Is the Pretty, Monstrous Face of the Alt-Right,” Bloomberg Businessweek, September 15, 2016, https://www.bloomberg.com/features/2016-america-divided/milo-yiannopoulos/.

[37] Laurie Penny, “I’m With the Banned,” Medium, July 21, 2016, https://medium.com/welcome-to-the-scream-room/im-with-the-banned-8d1b6e0b2932.

[38] Laurie Penny, “I’m With the Banned,” Medium, July 21, 2016, https://medium.com/welcome-to-the-scream-room/im-with-the-banned-8d1b6e0b2932.