So. We’re going to have Nazis next week.
They’re rallying in Newnan next Saturday. They have a permit, from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. to stand in Greenville Street Park and sieg heil behind barricades. This follows some dead-of-the-night flyer drops in Gwinnett County neighborhoods and elsewhere by the ethnofascist Patriot Front, an offshoot of Vanguard America.
Most people aren’t following the comings and going of racists. They’re absurd, and stupid, and generally undeserving of the attention. I’ve been following it because I have a morbid fascination with extremist politics of all types, and because people like Steve Bannon held formal policy power in our degraded White House to the detriment of humanity. That, and I would like to see fascism die as a facehugger before it becomes an alien.
I think a little context for the Newnan idiocy is in order.
After a year of extraordinary “successes” culminating in the election of Donald Trump, white supremacist circles broadly view the Charlottesville demonstration as a disaster. Rather than draw white Americans to their cause, the murder of Heather Heyer and mass injuries, along with video of running street battles and arrests, solidified the image of the alt-right as hooligans looking for an excuse to engage in violence.
Charlottesville was followed by industrial-strength doxing of its participants — an effort that continues today. Being identified as a protester at Charlottesville means losing one’s job, professional credentialing, personal relationships and other privileges. Charlottesville equals violent racist. I note in passing that it didn’t take long for Alex Michael Ramos of Georgia to be identified as part of an assault on a counterprotester at Charlottesville. Ramos appeared along with the Georgia III% Security Force in a picture with State Sen. Michael Williams, taken in Atlanta’s Piedmont Park during a “March Against Sharia” rally there. Because, of course, the first place the Islamofascist horde is going to impose sharia is 14th street.
Additionally, the groups that were to be united at the “Unite The Right” rally at Charlottesville last August have instead been fracturing. Last month, Matthew Heimbach, the leader of the Traditionalist Workers Party — a neo-Nazi group prominent at Charlottesville — was arrested for allegedly assaulting his wife and his spokesman after Heimbach was caught cheating on his wife with the spokesman’s wife. The group has disbanded, and its members are now migrating to different groups.
Since Charlottesville, any public demonstration by white supremacists that isn’t two hours from a major urban center has been met with a hail of protest and local law enforcement massed for an invasion, generally resulting in white supremacists being arrested even as other might be arrested too. Richard Spencer has called off his speaking tour because his organization by and large can’t afford the legal fees, bitcoin returns be damned.
Charlottesville began a debate over “optics” within the various alt-right white supremacist groups. Even within the white racist movement, there’s an understanding that many, many of their members are essentially living in their mother’s basement — that people who show up to rallies aren’t regular folks with regular jobs and healthy normal relationships … normies.
Richard Spencer’s crew wants normies. They want white supremacist values to go mainstream. Thus, crew cuts and polo shirts or business suits. College tours. All this done to try to create contrast between themselves and the pierced and tattooed multiracial “degenerate” social justice warriors who shout them down. Spencer’s group is the Identity Evropa crowd, which regularly drops banners around Atlanta and elsewhere. They view the people who stand in the street with shields shouting sieg heil as “spergs” and “autists” — references to Asperger’s Syndrome and autism — and believe that they need people who are not in education, employment or training to stay out of the spotlight.
Others see this effort as pointless, and want to recruit hard-core members regardless of their appearance, putting value on those who will show up. They’re looking for warriors in defense of a white supremacist fascist vision that is so tantelizingly close to fruition in the Age of Trump. Removing race from the image — descriptions of the “dissident right” or “American nationalism” miss the point for them: they want a white supremacist nation, now, and they want people to know its about whiteness. That’s Patriot Front, which split from Vanguard because it wasn’t militant enough.
The “patriot” militia groups have been feeling a bit … used … through all of this. Many of these groups don’t view themselves as explicitly racist, even though the Venn diagram between their membership can often look like a solid circle. Thus, many have decided to stop providing “security” to public “free speech” gatherings of explicitly white supremacist groups. That’s led to further fracturing within these militia movements. This is, perhaps, one reason Christopher “General BloodAgent” Hill decided that he was going to hold a gun-rights rally on the Georgia capitol steps yesterday, permits be damned.
This is the context for the Nazis coming to Newnan. They’re trying to show that they can reclaim the public space after Charlottesville. It’s meant to be a recruiting call for ex-TWP members and other groups that have fractured over the last year. The only reason it’s Newnan is because they know there’s one restaurant there where they know they can drink without being instantly thrown out.
White supremacists from the politically-ambitious alt-right have been very active in and around Atlanta, with a conference last year, book talks, banner drops and regular posting of flyers around Georgia State and Georgia Tech. Richard Spencer’s booker, Cameron Padgett, is a Georgia State University student, following in the footsteps of Patrick Sharp and the “White Student Union.”
The National Socialist Movement coming to Newnan is not alt-right — they don’t give a damn about appearances. They’re actual Nazis: people who have had the benefit of history to look back at World War II and genocide and racist slaughter and fascism and say yeah, I want more of that. They want to look like the bad guys. And I fear that they’ll be looking for a fight as a recruiting tool.
I’m not arguing about their legal right to assemble. Marching Nazis is an age-old test of the 1st Amendment. But if the best argument one have for ones cause is that it meets the lowest Constitutionally-acceptable bar for protected speech, then the actual point is garbage.
I would never recommend punching Nazis (in public). I do like to be someone a Nazi would want to punch, however. I would recommend counter-protest that is creative and nonviolent, but also in their face. The best way to do this, I think, is a massive turnout for counter-protest. They shouldn’t be allowed to hold public space without challenge, but should be denied violence. The more impotent they look, the better.
And bring your cameras. Facial recognition software is improving. At some point in the near future, it will be incredibly easy to identify anyone waving a Nazi flag there. If they don’t want to hide, we don’t need to be nice about it.