White Nationalism is making a comeback.
The Hard Right rally in Shelbyville, TN was the second largest White Nationalist rally in the last decade. The previous rally in Pikeville, KY in April was the third largest rally. The biggest rally was Unite the Right in Charlottesville and that was due to our participation:
“Despite canceling their second protest Saturday and fighting within over public image, the “White Lives Matter” rally in Tennessee last weekend was the largest public white nationalist gathering in years, outside of Unite the Right in Charlottesville.
The crowd of roughly 200 far-right demonstrators — representing white and southern nationalist, neo-Nazi and white supremacist groups — is the first large gathering the movement has assembled since the rally in August, according to the Anti-Defamation League. …
“The big question after Charlottesville was whether all this had been shut down,” Griffin said of the large rallies. “There was this narrative developing that the alt-right was finished, and we were not doing any events.”
Griffin said he didn’t expect the Shelbyville rally to draw quite as many participants as it did.
“This was just supposed to be like a rebound rally for us, and it was a lot bigger than I thought it would be,” Griffin said. …”
It was a good rebound too.
The headline of the event was “White Lives Matter Rally Ends Peacefully.” That’s what we wanted to accomplish more than anything else. We wanted to prove that the Nationalist Front wasn’t responsible for the outbreak of violence in Charlottesville. This was due to the failure of the Charlottesville Police Department to keep both sides separated on August 12th.
We can go elsewhere and hold public rallies and not have these issues. That’s why we specifically chose to hold our event in Tennessee. There has never been any issues at our events in Tennessee. We have a high opinion of Tennessee law enforcement which has done a good job preventing Antifa violence. There was none of the chaos that we saw in Charlottesville in Shelbyville.
We also wanted to draw attention to the Emanuel Samson church shooting in Antioch which we felt had been neglected by the national media.
“Consecrate my sword and strengthen the arm that wields it,” began the prayer of Michael Hill, the founder of the League of the South. The rally was, belatedly, set to begin.
“Render me a willing implement of justice and mercy to my people and one of terror to your enemies, O Lord,” he continued, as men and women in Confederate flag capes, Wehrmacht helmets and eye goggles, SS-insignia collar pins and black Make America Great Again caps, knelt or stood silently in the parking lot behind city hall.
“Give us the victory for your honor and glory’s sake. In the name of Christ Jesus our savior we pray, amen!”
And with a cry of “Amen!” the 150 or so white nationalists began to march. …
The evening’s plan was then announced — a vigil at Burnette Chapel Church of Christ, which sits on a wooded corner in the quiet southeast Nashville community of Antioch. On Sept. 24, the police said, Emanuel K. Samson, 25, showed up there as a Sunday service let out and shot eight people, one of whom died. The victims were all white. Mr. Samson was black, brought here as a refugee from Sudan when he was a child. At the church, the plan went, they would stand with candles and the second white nationalist prayer of the day would be delivered …”
Antioch was our real target.
The plan was to go to Shelbyville and Murfreesboro, put a spotlight on refugee resettlement and express righteous anger at the federal government. In the evening, the plan was to go to Antioch and have a candlelight vigil at the Burnette Chapel Church of Christ to show our grief and love for our own people. The plan was foiled though when Louisville Antifa caught wind it.
In Shelbyville, we accomplished what we had set out to do in Charlottesville. In the months before Unite the Right, I started to call it The Cultural Vanguard Strategy:
“3.) White Nationalism was focused on politics. It split into two camps. The mainstreamers wanted to moderate their rhetoric to appeal to normies and win elections at the ballot box. The vanguardists wanted to remain extreme and wait for the inevitable collapse of the system.
4.) In contrast, the Alt-Right is focused on culture. It believes in changing the cultural terrain which underlies “mainstream” politics which opens up new possibilities. This isn’t really a mainstreamer or vanguardist strategy because the Alt-Right isn’t trying to flatter normies or disengage from politics. The only thing that matters is breaking the “mainstream” cultural consensus.
5.) In order to do this, the Alt-Right only needs to build a supercharged, highly active dissenting cultural vanguard. The vast majority of human beings are naturally passive conformists. As the movement grows in size and strength, it will psychologically become more attractive to different personality types. We’re also telling the truth and giving White people their sense of identity back. The system we have now is due to unnatural repression and the resentment that breeds will work in our favor.
6.) In the real world, the goal of Alt-Right activism should be to summon the culture war that is going on online and channel it to the surface. We want it to explode like a volcano. …
9.) It is fun to engage in troll storms, swarms and raids online. We should aim to demonstate how much more fun it is to break taboos as a real world movement with likeminded people. I can’t emphasize enough the importance of practicing your beliefs in public space.
10.) I’ve already explained numerous times over the years how these events – think of Berkeley, which was transformative – undermine taboos, normalize our ideas, position our groups at the leading edge of this cultural angst, define our image, create trust and social capital, build real world social networks, isolate malcontents, generate publicity, draw talented new people into the fold and spark imitators. These events are small steps but they have a cumulative impact over time.
11.) The Alt-Right is transforming into a real world movement. It will never go back into the closet after it starts to gain cohesion and overcomes the fear of being out in public. As the movement rolls from place to place beyond Charlottesville, it will absorb new people who will come out and act on the beliefs they already hold in private. We’re seeing stable organizations sprout up now like Traditionalist Worker Party, Vanguard America, Identity Evropa and Anti-Communist Action.”
On a final note, I will observe that Unite the Right will be another step forward toward normalizing this style of activism in the South, which has become increasingly commonplace in recent months. The South is already the epicenter of this movement and the networking that will go on around this event will be particularly helpful in strengthening our presence in the Maryland/Virginia region.
I made one big mistake.
I’ve been doing this for years, observing the White Nationalist movement, thinking about social change, mulling over the merits of mainstreaming and vanguardism. The Alt-Right is new to real world activism. In the aftermath of Charlottesville, the Alt-Right lost cohesion and was scared out of public space. It stalled and lost nerve and was unable to move beyond Charlottesville.
The Alt-Right has since been consumed by the optics debate. It is a version of the old mainstreaming theory which focuses on Taking Back America through electoral politics. In order to Take Back America, we have to “appeal to the normies,” and the way to do that is through “optics.” By dressing as normal as possible, we will win over the normies and succeed in mainstreaming racism. Whereas people used to believe this could be done by wearing suits and ties, they now believe in the efficacy of polos and khakis and American flags. It is a strategy based on aesthetics, not ethics.
Ultimately, the goal is to look like Mormon missionaries and for the movement as a whole to look like it is ready to come over for tea at Mitt Romney’s house. When that is achieved, the hope is that we will be accepted as “mainstream” by conservatism which will never happen.
We shouldn’t have public rallies.
If the #UniteTheRight rally had been held in Lynchburg, VA instead of Charlottesville, VA, it would have been fine. There would have been no violence. The police would have done their jobs. Everything that happened in Charlottesville flowed from the fact that it is the most leftwing city in Virginia which is why the police stood down and allowed #UniteTheRight to descend into anarchy.
We’re not going to stop holding public rallies. This is an overreaction. The truth is that we aren’t safe in leftwing strongholds where police stand down like in Berkeley or Charlottesville. That’s the real problem. There’s no reason why we can’t just avoid those places and continue to hold public events. Also, if we want to hold rallies in leftwing cities like Charlottesville, flash rallies are safer and preferable.
You’re appealing to the most extreme elements.
First, we have to understand who we are. We are alienated, disaffected, disillusioned White Americans. Second, we have to understand who normies are, which is to say, middle class people who are comfortable and satisfied and who don’t want to make waves for financial reasons or fear of loss of status.
In order to grow, we want more people to adopt our views. We want the normies to become angry, alienated, disaffected and disillusioned like the rest of us. The audience then really isn’t normies who are being converted. It is the disaffected who we should be organizing.
We’ve got to win over the normies.
Victory for us is by definition normies ceasing to be normies. It means overcoming these economic and social status concerns and embracing romantic nationalism. It means being carried away by righteous anger and shattering all politically correct taboos. Cultural change happens when an idea reaches a critical mass. Then it rapidly sweeps through the rest of the population. In other words, the goal has to be to create a cultural vanguard which can initiate this transformative process.
It sounds like you are rejecting mainstreaming.
I’m rejecting naive mainstreaming.
In a sense, I want our ideas to be “mainstream,” or more socially acceptable. The only way you do that is through amassing power. What is power? It is numbers, organization, money, will power, etc. We become powerful by smashing taboos and demonstrating we won’t observe them anymore.
This sounds like vanguardism.
I’m rejecting stupid vanguardism which is, say, retreating to a rural area to await the demise of civilization or taking up arms and attempting to overthrow the US government. I’m not advocating violence or purity spiraling. Instead, I am saying a cultural vanguard is needed to violate norms.
What is optics cucking?
It is more accurately optics spiraling. I see it as a source of unnecessary division. We’ve dealt with it before. All it does is create polarization and reduce our numbers. Normies will drive by and honk their horns. They might even think you are a wholesome, good looking bunch of guys on television. The visual impression, however, isn’t going to change normie incentives and behavior though.
What do you propose?
We should continue to hold real world events: conferences, public rallies, private social events, cultural events, flash rallies, speaking engagements.
Flags are inappropriate and unnecessary at speaking engagements. These speaking engagements are also in gun free zones on college campuses, anyway. So much of this debate is making mountains out of molehills. The goal is to create a polarizing social media spectacle. Again, we want to attract the angry, alienated, disaffected and disillusioned and organize them into a cultural vanguard.
Shelbyville taught us a number of things:
1.) First, the Alt-Right is incapable of doing this. It is going to be hamstrung by the optics question. It will eat away at its solidarity. The splintering that will result will keep the Alt-Right out of the public square and choke its growth. The result will be small flash rallies which will focus on projecting an aesthetic that appeals to upper middle class normies in the suburbs. This is the milieu that many of these people come from and their attitudes are already making it a class movement. The racial message will be lost and the focus will be entirely on things like clothes and haircuts.
2.) Second, White Nationalists don’t have these class anxieties, seem poised to become more active and have a potentially larger populist base in the South and Midwest, but they have some issues that need to be ironed out with archaic imagery. Even if it was wildly exaggerated, there was a lot of truth in the criticism about the optics of Shelbyville. In the long run, these are distractions which can be eliminated. It will be easier to screen our rallies than to change an elitist mindset. We need something more along the lines of a populist Southern Marsh/Carthartt-style of nationalism.
3.) Third, the Pikeville and Shelbyville model can easily be extended to other locations in the South and Midwest. Antifa will be separated after this proven success. This will be the end of “no platforming.” As we move from region to region, we will gather new supporters and snowball. It cost $10,000 to book an event at the University of Florida. It cost nothing to stand on a sidewalk.
4.) Fourth, it remains to be seen how large this movement can grow. We had 125 people in Pikeville. We had at least 200 in Shelbyville. The whole point of White Lives Matter was to rebound from Charlottesville. The feeling of being so shellshocked after Charlottesville will subside. The transition of White Nationalism from the internet to the real world is a surprising development.
5.) Fifth, as the Hard Right moves forward, moving from place to place, gathering disaffected supporters in the South and Midwest and snowballing, this is going to generate resentment because it is not what many people expected. They are accustomed to having the spotlight all to themselves. They dislike being overshadowed which the sheer number of people who come to our public events is going to do. Their goal is to appeal to upper middle class normies in the suburbs who are unresponsive to their appeals and their retreat from the public square will only exacerbate this.
Admittedly, we were unprepared for the wave of criticism, which was much worse than what we saw in the mainstream media. In Shelbyville, we thought we were trying to turn the page on Charlottesville, create trust and solidarity within our groups and draw attention to a gruesome crime that had been covered up by the national media. If we can’t speak out about something as terrible as the anti-White church shooting Antioch, what is the point of even having a movement?
Is it the White Nationalist movement or the optics movement?
Note: As Billy Roper notes, we also raised $1,800 for Jacob Goodwin who is awaiting extradition to Charlottesville for the DeAndre Harris incident.