Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Where To Now Least Supreme Alt-Whites?

theatlantic  |  The rally in Charlottesville illustrated that the umbrella of the alt-right is an effective means to mobilize a highly visible mix of old-school white supremacists and neo-Nazis. Offline, at least, this isn’t the new white nationalism; it’s the old white nationalism as the primary beneficiary of the activity generated by a looser collection of people online.  

Third, the composition of the crowd in Charlottesville shows that there are more potential fracture lines in the alt-right than the optics of white supremacy. Since the 1970s, white nationalism in the United States has been a sectarian affair. White nationalists all generally agree white people should be in charge, but they have many different competing beliefs about why that is the case, and how white rule should be implemented. These differences are not trivial, and for decades they have prevented a broadly concerted campaign of action by white nationalists in America. Charlottesville was an example of how the alt-right umbrella community can muster numbers that Odinists or the KKK alone cannot.

The events scheduled for this coming Saturday—a “free speech” rally in Boston and marches scheduled in nine cities to protest Google’s firing of an employee who wrote a screed against diversity—will help clarify where all the chaotic elements that comprise the alt-right are headed in the near-term future. (The anti-Google protests are slated for Atlanta, Los Angeles, Pittsburgh, Seattle, New York, Washington, Austin, Boston, and Mountain View, California. On Sunday, organizers released a statement condemning violence and insisting that they are “in no way associated with any group who organized” in Charlottesville.)

Prior to Fields’s attack, Charlottesville was on track to be a clear victory for the alt-right. While attendance of 500 people is a pittance compared to most mainstream political events, it represents a marked upswing from 2016. Simply turning out that many people in one place was an unqualified win.
The fact that few participants sought to conceal their identities was a bold statement about the mainstreaming of white nationalism, which did not go unnoticed during an ominous torch-wielding event the night before the formal rally. Even after the “Unite the Right” rally itself was shut down by authorities as an unlawful assembly in the face of escalating violence, the event was seen as a show of strength.

But the terrorist attack by Fields, who attended the rally alongside a neo-Nazi group known as Vanguard America, was a game-changer. Videos posted online depicted his car accelerating down a street to target a group of pedestrians with devastating effect. The horrifying attack, recorded in graphic detail, sparked a massive national outpouring of outrage and condemnation. When “Unite the Right” organizer Jason Kessler attempted to hold a press conference on Sunday in Charlottesville, he was chased away by a crowd of people shouting “murderer” and “shame.”

The question now is how the alt-right will process the backlash, and an early indicator will be seen in Saturday’s marches and rallies.