The alt-right is organizing further events in nine cities next weekend. But whereas the white nationalist cohort showed up in Charlottesville last weekend, this next wave of events will be a little different.
The so-called “Men’s Rights Activists” and “Redpillers” make up a significant subgroup within the alt-right. But these events represent a shift from racial and ethnic identity issues to gender discrimination.
“The ‘march’ will be directed at Google facilities in Atlanta, Austin, Boston, Los Angeles, New York, Pittsburgh, Seattle, and Washington, D.C., in addition to the company’s headquarters, GooglePlex, in Mountain View, California,” Ed Kilgore says. He notes that the organizers’ new press release “closely tracks the evasive take on Charlottesville of you-know-who in the White House,” but they tend to admire the pussy grabber-in-chief rather than the white nationalist thug.
All of which is precedent to two observations. First, next weekend will really be about equal pay, sexual harassment, feminism, and the men who hate the same, therefore women’s rights organizers and allies must lead the resistance right now. Second, different tactics are necessary in order to punish the patriarchy, because violence and physical confrontation in the streets will not be enough of a spanking for these spoiled boys.
Progressive organizers are incredibly creative people. They can create incredible puppets with drums and a band, make music, and raise giant piles of cash to keep their cause alive. Banners and bugles and Uncle Sam in stilts and giant art displays and stepdancing and Native Americans drumming? I’ve seen them all at one event. So the “resistance” can do far better than to try matching this “alt-right” thing gun for gun, shove for shove. Much, much better.
In 2006, before the term “alt-right” was coined, journalist David Neiwert watched a clowning group totally disarm and destroy a fascist gathering with a parody of their brownshirt cosplay:
Especially noteworthy was the troupe of protesters dressed as clowns — Nazi clowns, who actually goosestepped together better than the inchoate cluster up on the Capitol steps. They pranced and laughed and danced in the front of the crowd, setting the light-hearted mocking tone that prevailed throughout the afternoon.
Neiwert is not easily impressed. He writes for the Southern Poverty Law Center now, but he has covered the extremist right for decades, particularly the “patriot” militias that appeared in force last weekend.
Like me, he resisted calling them “patriots” for years, but that is what they have always called themselves, and they have ended up being called “patriots” instead of Ya’ll Qaeda or any number of creative or impassioned replacements. This is a good lesson for dealing with the alt-right, a label we can resist all we want, but that will probably not change as long as it remains useful.
For those wanting to organize in opposition to fascists, the SPLC advises that the best tactics are to hold a simultaneous event at a different location and raise funds for a cause that drives them crazy. Neiwert notes:
Having covered Aryan Nations events in Coeur d’Alene, I can attest that this is generally good advice. Though community organizers in northern Idaho would often hold counter-rallies elsewhere as an alternative celebration (to good effect, I might add), nonetheless, the parade routes there would still be lined with counter-protesters who just turned ugly, spewing hate right back at the Nazis; this always seemed to me to be counter-productive, a matter of feeding the beast. The Nazis always took sustenance from it.
The response in Olympia, however, was one of the most effective I’ve seen yet. For one thing, by making mockery the theme of the day, it transformed the mood of the crowd from an angry one — and who wouldn’t get angry if they actually listened to what these Nazis were saying? — into a celebratory one. They played music, they danced, and made so much noise having fun that, if you were in the crowd, you couldn’t hear a word the Nazis were spewing.
The best way to confront the alt-right is to offer a progressive alternative that takes away media attention and spreads a positive message. But if we must confront fascists in person next weekend, could we please look to the things that worked last week? Because fisticuffs and homemade flamethrowers are admirable in spirit, but are not really necessary for victory. Their use is a waste of resources and energy that might be better spent in other ways.
First, if you absolutely must bomb the Duck Dynasty Freikorps, do it in a photo. Be ruthless and take no prisoners, but do it in a way that lasts. I get why we want to punch Nazis in the face, but jaws heal and bruises fade, while a picture lasts forever and it speaks volumes:
Regarding the picture below, consider that its power lies in the fact that this woman is not threatening the hooded man. She has no weapon in her hands. She is shorter, smaller, yet unafraid to stand within his personal comfort zone and lock eyes with him. Her face is courage. His face is fear.
— Madison Wilcox (@mjdarling_11) August 13, 2017
I have long argued that the most effective way to answer the forced birth fanatics outside the abortion clinics is to monetize them — to lock in a fundraising system, based on their harassment tactics, that supports free abortions and related assistance programs. If every moment they spent leafleting and picketing and violating the FACE Act resulted in free abortions for anyone, their infuriating activities would be curtailed in a single stroke. Similarly, if every idiotic pseudohistorical pronouncement by a major right wing media blowhard resulted in mass public education about genuine factual history, cranks would keep quieter.
My point is that these enemies of freedom and enlightenment can be outwitted and outflanked decisively in ways that “social justice warriors” are good at, so there’s no reason for a head-on, physical confrontation. If the enemy comes to you, so much the better as long as you have solidarity and moral high ground.
Because next week won’t even be about monuments that can be pulled down, these battles give the resistance a chance to derail the Second Civil War Train into a place where they can defeat the alt-right “army” through non-violent means.
Indeed, a new commitment to non-violence seems rather necessary in this burgeoning counter-movement, howevermuch we enjoy watching Richard Spencer get repeatedly punched in the face.
Nonviolence works by diverting the oppressor into a series of moral confrontations that they cannot win, eventually defeating them in detail. Middle fingers are cathartic, but they aren’t effective tools for social justice or change. Instead, the next wave of oppression is best met with creative strategies for moral confrontation on terms that favor the resistance.
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