“We have the potential to reach truly millions of people with our message of European culture of faith, family, and folk—and solidarity—that the Republicans could never reach. We have the potential to be able to work with so many of these millions of families to be able to then move them in our direction. Donald Trump is a gateway drug…we can then move them from civic nationalism and populism to nationalism for us—and these people are ready for our message.” – Matthew Heimbach, 2016
This is the message that the “Little Fuhrer,” leader of the Traditionalist Workers Party Matthew Heimbach will bring to the campus of University of Tennessee Knoxville on February 17th, 2018. What America will witness for the most recent of dozens of rallies and speeches led by white nationalist in the last two years is a small group of twenty something to middle aged white men dressed in black work uniforms, sporting nazi-esque arm bands and helmets, carrying home-made shields.
If business is as usual, they will pull into a parking structure where they are greeted by their police escort. They will discuss the minutes of previous meetings between them and the local police department where plans for security and details of the day will be laid out. They will leave the parking structure under the protection of law enforcement and proceed to their destination. They will be guarded as they safely park and leave their vehicles and make their way to their pre-arranged location with police and sheriffs watching for antifascists who will likely show up to do whatever is necessary to make it as hard for them to speak as possible. The question we have to ask ourselves is not why are they protecting nazis and not us, but how far will law enforcement go in their dedication to protect white supremacy.
The “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottsville, VA set a precedent we had not seen before. The order from local law enforcement to stand down set the stage for what would prove to be not only an overwhelming victory for antifascists in the streets, but also a clear indicator that the urgency and response to the rise of the Alt-Right by antifascists was both validated and highlighted by the death of Heather Heyer. It is of the utmost importance to note that Heather Heyer was not the first or even most recent death of an activist during an event like this. She was the first white woman to die in recent memory at the hands of the racist right.
— It's Going Down (@IGD_News) January 21, 2018
What is equally if not more disturbing is the collective response from the Alt-Right to her death. Websites like The Daily Stormer published articles mocking and shaming Heather and her family. Comment sections on social media of articles about Charlottsville and her murderer James Fields, jr. were filled with hate on a level that was hard for me to read. James was praised as a hero and martyr for the Alt-Right movement, while Heather was belittled in every possible way. Since Charlottsville there has been no effort by any branch of government or law enforcement to defend any community whatsoever from hate groups of any kind. In fact, they have been given more protection and cooperation from the police under the guise of free speech. But we have seen as recently as the Super Bowl XXXIX just how far that same protection of free speech goes when the people speaking are saying “Black Lives Matter.”
Students at UT are taking charge and making it clear that hate is not welcome on their campus. While UT President Joe DiPietro has shown that free speech is more important than the safety and well being of minority lives and voices under his leadership, the students have stepped up and taken action to show the university and the country that nazis are not welcome in Knoxville.
What we need, what our communities need is support and solidarity. The message of the TWP is targeted at the white youth and rural white working class. What we need is folx to step out of their comfort zone and make these racists afraid to speak. Afraid to organize and promote hate. Afraid to leave their homes. It doesn’t have to be through violence. antifascism is self defense and we go where they go. February 17th 2018 is a call to action to all who oppose racism, sexism, transphobia, homophobia, anti-semitism and islamophobia.