Filed under: Featured, This Week in Fascism
Welcome fellow antifascists!
It’s been a long time since this column has come out, but that’s not because of a lack of activity. In recent months, a new wave of antifascist action and community self-defense has kicked off, largely in the face of attacks by the GOP, Proud Boys, and white nationalists against the LGBTQ+ community during Pride. As the midterm elections draw near, the GOP continues to lurch to the far-Right, pushing baseless conspiracy theories in an effort to feed their base a never ending stream of outrage, fear, and click-bait.
We have put together a list of best practices for exposing fascists based on dozens of conversations with anti-fascists & crews across the country.
— Colorado Springs Anti-Bad Candy Aktion 🚫🍬 (@COSAntiFascists) October 9, 2022
Slinking out of their holes and following the Proud Boys lead, white supremacist and neo-Nazi groups are increasing their level of activity, both in the form of supporting MAGA and Proud Boy led rallies against Pride and LGBTQ+ events, and also by carrying out unannounced flash protests, banner drops, and sticker campaigns.
Cities coordinated banner drops + outreach against far-Right activity. "As forces of reaction grow + liberals place hope in the voting booth, now's the time to increase visibility of community self-defense, mutual aid + solidarity against white supremacy." https://t.co/EmQKBWF2wy
— It's Going Down (@IGD_News) October 16, 2022
As the GOP continues to push for draconian laws against LGBTQ+ people and attack reproductive freedom, we should be working to not only oppose the far-Right on the streets, but also stand in solidarity with students organizing walkouts and protests, and communities coming together to protect themselves from ongoing attacks on all sides. There is much work to be done.
Passed to us from multiple sources: Patriot Front stenciled their logo in the Krog Street tunnel, but local antifascists almost immediately covered it with a "FUCK NAZIS" message. Thanks for helping keep Nazi trash out of our city! pic.twitter.com/v2BVhafRuk
— Atlanta Antifascists (@afainatl) October 18, 2022
There’s also a lot to cover, lots of upcoming actions (see a roundup at the end of this column), so let’s dive right in!
Republicans, Proud Boys, and White Nationalists Continue Attacks on LGBTQ+ Communities
Thanks to the Elm Fork John Brown Gun Club and anti-fascists for defending Drag Brunch in Roanoke Texas from armed fascists who have NO RIGHT to intimidate these entertainers and got a little of their own in return. No tolerance. pic.twitter.com/nWE1lVP4kV
— Reba King (@GrimReeber) August 28, 2022
Over the past month, while the Proud Boys have been rocked by state repression, fights among leadership, and internal divisions between chapters, this hasn’t stopped them in continuing to turn out to oppose LGBTQ+ events and Pride celebrations across the US. Following their lead, a smattering of white supremacist, Groyper, and neo-Nazi groups have rushed to join in, along with the usual collection of MAGA adjacent activists looking to cash in on the next wave. While these demonstrations have remained relatively small, they’re also taking place against a backdrop of a wider “trans-panic,” activated by a flood of online misinformation and bigoted conspiracy theories, which give cover to Republican officials pushing anti-LGBTQ legislation, attacks on gender affirming health care, and targeting transgender and non-binary students.
As Bloomberg wrote:
Republican candidates across the US are engaging in a legislative and messaging barrage against transgender people that they hope will win over voters in November’s midterm elections.
The strategy comes as the GOP finds itself on unfavorable political ground when it comes to certain social issues. On abortion rights, which have emerged as a top voter concern since the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, a majority of US adults align more closely with Democrats.
Meanwhile, same-sex marriage can no longer can be counted on to energize the GOP base as it has gained widespread acceptance among voters, even Republicans. A bill protecting these marriages passed in the House earlier this year with the support of 47 Republicans, and will likely get a vote in the Senate after the elections.
“You can be a Republican who supports marriage equality and equality issues, but not buy into the radical gender theory debates that are going on right now,” said Charles Moran, president of the Log Cabin Republicans, the country’s largest group of LGBT conservatives. The organization has supported bills targeting trans athletes.
At the time of this writing, a right-wing Christian group is working on legislation to ban all drag in public places across Idaho, while a national federal bill, styled after Florida’s “Don’t Say Gay” legislation, is being crafted that “would strip federal funds from institutions that promote ‘any topic’ that involves LGBT+ people and issues,” and is “backed by 33 House Republicans.” The potential impacts of this legislation are chilling, and represent an attempt by the Republicans to push LGBTQ+ people out of public life. As The Independent wrote:
A bill backed by more than 30 House Republicans could be used to strip federal funds from public schools, libraries or hospitals that recognize Pride month, host popular drag queen story hours or make any mention of LGBT+ people.
In this context, a growing ecosystem of Daily Wire grifters like Matt Walsh and social media accounts like LibsofTikTok, have helped form an online cadre ready to go to war with trans youth and gender affirming care, drumming up death threats against hospitals and Pride events and providing targets for groups like the Proud Boys to mobilize against and attack, as Republican officials rush to keep up and add their support. Conspiracy theories pushed by far-Right trolls, even if totally fictional, help build support for GOP legislation and talking points, and create justification for far-Right violence. Over the summer, we’ve seen this reality play out as both far-Right groups and Republican politicians called for protests against Pride celebrations, and waves of misinformation led to literal bomb threats against hospitals.
Hundreds mobilized outside of #BostonChildrensHospital to shout down less 10 anti-LGBTQ bigots led by Canadian Chris "Billboard" Elston, on a "tour of stochastic terror," attacking gender-affirming care. Rally comes after bomb + terror threats targeted same facility. Thread. pic.twitter.com/HaJ4ReQN9W
— It's Going Down (@IGD_News) September 19, 2022
The good news is that resistance to this manufactured “trans-panic” has set the stage for a new round of antifascist activity. Successful mobilizations in Roanoke, Texas, Boston, Massachusetts, Boise, Idaho, and Modesto, California, helped develop positive relationships with antifascist groups and broader communities while also highlighting the need for community self-defense. With increased awareness of the threat posed by the far-Right, antifascists should continue to make connections and build relationships, promoting education and fostering networks which can respond to far-Right activity and threats.
Over 250 people shut down the white nationalist "Straight Pride" rally today in #Modesto in front of Planned Parenthood. Police attacked the crowd with projectile weapons, injuring several, after it successfully repelled an attack by a small group of Proud Boys. pic.twitter.com/1snmjIcq5i
— OFF THE 99 (@Off_The_99) August 28, 2022
In a recent interview with It’s Going Down, Shane Burley stated, “Communities need to think about what it actually takes to protect queer communities and large Pride events,” as “safety depends on mass participation.” Burley went on to argue that such organizing “is going to require a lot of people,” and antifascists must work to reach outside of established political scenes, building broad networks and coalitions with those that want to defend their communities and spaces.
Gender Fascist Matt Walsh Faces Protests as Far-Right Attacks Gender Affirming Health Care; Threatens Hospitals
Daily Wire troll Matt Walsh, who has described himself as a “theocratic fascist,” has built up a name for himself as a far-Right content creator, attacking everything from climate change, to the existence of mass graves at Residential Schools, to crying about how a Black actress portraying the Little Mermaid isn’t “scientific.”
In recent months however, Walsh has been pushed into the spotlight at Fox News, as the culture war around LGBTQ+ people and in particular transgender youth has hit a fever pitch. In recent months, Walsh has been at the center of a far-Right campaign against gender-affirming health-care; working to amplify conspiracy theories about the treatment of trans people at various hospitals, which has led to a wave of death and bombing threats. According to Media Matters:
Walsh, and others targeted Boston Children’s Hospital in August, wielding misinformation about gender-affirming care to falsely claim the hospital was “mutilating children,” the facility was inundated with phone calls harassing clinicians and staff, including threats of violence. Users on far-right online forums threatened to “start executing these ‘doctors.’” Twitter users replying to [LibsofTikTok]’s own posts called for people to “take justice into your own hands.” The threats culminated in a bomb threat against the hospital on August 30.
Some of those responsible for driving harassment against Boston Children’s Hospital promptly attempted to discredit the threat and claim it was a hoax. The morning after the threat was first reported, and then deemed a false alarm, Walsh claimed that there was “plenty of reason to wonder whether false alarm really means a leftist hoax” and that “there was never any threat.”
Despite these claims, the person arrested in connection to the threats, Catherine Leavy, was actually a hardcore Trump supporter and donor to the Republican party and Walsh, while clearly helping to escalate the potential for violence by spreading false information, simply continued his campaign. As NBC News reported:
Conservative podcaster Matt Walsh went after Vanderbilt University Medical Center last month, claiming doctors “mutilate,” “castrate” and “butcher” children. The next day, Walsh appeared as a guest on Tucker Carlson’s show as Carlson projected photos of Vanderbilt University Medical Center’s board of directors, along with their names. The chyrons for Carlson’s segment read, “Vanderbilt ghouls castrate kids for big profit” and “We will show you who is responsible for this.”
Tennessee’s House majority leader, William Lamberth, tweeted in support of Walsh’s report, decrying “child mutilation,” and Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee called for an investigation into Vanderbilt’s pediatric transgender health clinic. Vanderbilt Medical Center responded with a statement saying that Walsh’s claims “misrepresent facts” and that the clinic requires parental consent to treat patients.
While some conservative politicians have echoed Carlson, others have more explicitly nodded toward calls for real-world violence. A day after Carlson’s show, Texas state Rep. Briscoe Cain tweeted, “Prison is too nice of a punishment for those who perform gender surgeries on children.”
Posts from large online accounts and right-wing media coverage often precede threats of violence downstream. Groups and individuals — online and off — have bombarded hospitals and providers with harassment and threats in recent months.
This combination of pushing wild conspiracies about ‘trans’ obsessed doctors mutilating young people and far-Right supporters then flooding hospitals and doctors with real death threats, has led to real world victories for the anti-LGBTQ+ Right:
Vanderbilt University Medical Center has agreed to pause gender-affirming surgery on transgender youth following backlash from conservative commentators and politicians, according to state leaders.
“VUMC has agreed to pause gender transition surgeries on minors, as well as honor religious objectors,” State Representative Jason Zachary tweeted Friday afternoon.
Matt Walsh, a columnist with the Daily Wire, tweeted last month the clinic “chemically castrates minors,” as well as other claims hospital administrators said are false.
Walsh’s latest documentary, What Is A Woman?, directly attacks trans people, and has only helped to further endear him to a mass right-wing audience. Recently, Walsh has hit the college circuit in an effort to promote the film, as the LGBTQ+ community, antifascists, and others have mobilized in opposition.
Protest Against Gavin McInnes Planned at Penn State on Monday, October 24th
Millionaire gang leader Gavin McInnes crying about students protesting his talk at #PennState on Oct 24. Students angry they're forced to foot bill for washed up Alt-Right troll whose career amounts to interviewing + posing with neo-Nazis + then pretending he doesn't know them. https://t.co/3Kgyoki2Xc pic.twitter.com/eIJ83eDqul
— It's Going Down (@IGD_News) October 11, 2022
British-Canadian millionaire and washed-up racist streamer Gavin McInness is planning to speak at Penn State under the banner, “Stand Back and Stand By,” a reference to Trump’s comments about the Proud Boys. Ironically, after McInnes helped found the gang, in 2018 he later abandoned his followers, after members of the group were sentenced to prison time for violent beatings in New York. In recent years, McInnes has again taken on a more public leadership role within the group.
As Hatewatch reported:
McInnes is scheduled to speak at Penn State’s Thomas Building on Oct. 24 at 8 p.m., along with far-right social media performer and provocateur Alex Stein. Stein, who is little-known outside the far-right’s online subculture, achieved fleeting moments of broader prominence through trollish publicity stunts, such as an incident where he filmed himself hurling racist and sexist abuse at Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.
The October speaking event is hosted by UA’s Penn State branch, one of three listed on the organization’s website along with branches at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville (UT), and the University of Wisconsin-Madison. At UT, meanwhile, the group is advertising an event scheduled for Nov. 14 at the university’s Strong Hall in which “John Doyle will be debating Hunter Avallone on Gender Roles and gender politics.”
According to Uncensored America’s website, Sean John Semanko founded the group in 2020. Semanko reportedly served in 2018 and 2019 as the secretary for Penn State’s Bull Moose Party, which members described as an “alt-right club.” Also in 2019, Semanko was reportedly president of Penn State’s branch of the right-wing student group Turning Point USA (TPUSA).
McInnes is also currently attempting to speak at various venues outside of Chicago, but so far, call-in campaigns have alerted local establishments to the nature of the events and they’ve quickly cancelled. There is also a call to protest Gavin’s speech at Penn State on October 24th.
🤯 CANCELED: The Vixen in McHenry has issued a statement regarding the Gavin McInnes event:
"The ownership, through valiant efforts of the community, has become aware of the deplorable views of the “artists” scheduled to perform this evening and chose to cancel the event." pic.twitter.com/B3f24G7Ktf
— 🍁 chicago 🎃 fright 👻 media 💀 (@chifreemedia) October 20, 2022
Evidence Shows that the Security State Ignored far-Right Threat in Lead up to January 6th; Far-Right Political Culture at FBI Exposed
More evidence is shining a light onto the degree in which the security state was aware of the threat of violence from the far-Right, in the lead up to the attempted coup on January 6th. Moreover, newly released emails show that the vast majority of FBI agents were by and large sympathetic to the MAGA rioters.
In the recent past, the FBI has complained about not having enough resources to track online threats, but internal records show that the FBI devoted massive amounts of resources to tracking the George Floyd rebellion online and seemingly ignored reported threats of violence in the lead up to J6. More documents also show that Capitol Police were more concerned with counter-protesters on January 6th than they were with far-Right demonstrators, who only weeks before had attacked and stabbed locals and burned a Black Lives Matter banner belonging to a historic Black DC church, during s “Stop the Steal” rally.
FBI internal records:
-"sizeable percentage" of bureau employees were "sympathetic" to J6 rioters
-Agents & analysts equated J6 to 2020 BLM protests -Black agents wouldn't volunteer for SWAT for fear of other agents not backing them in lethal situations https://t.co/4j3Dr3609e pic.twitter.com/gbbZ72HbKu
— Ali Winston (@awinston) October 13, 2022
According to HuffPost:
“There’s no good way to say it, so I’ll just be direct: from my first-hand and second-hand information from conversations since Jan. 6, there is, at best, a sizable percentage of the employee population that felt sympathetic to the group that stormed the Capitol,” the email reads.
In the message, the sender referred to an unnamed retired senior FBI analyst who had packed his Facebook page with “Stop the Steal” propaganda, referring to former President Donald Trump’s baseless claims that the election he lost was rigged.
The email noted that several agents insisted the violence at the Capitol was little different than Black Lives Matter protests. Still, Capitol rioters were being singled out because of “political correctness.”
The divide on law and order enforcement — often impacted by racism — is so pronounced in the bureau that the email author claimed Black agents were afraid to join SWAT teams for fear their co-workers would not protect them.
Despite Trump’s ongoing attacks on the FBI, the emails paint a picture of a very conservative, far-Right culture at the agency, with many agents holding far-Right views sympathetic to the J6 rioters and consuming far-Right media
Upcoming Antifascist Actions and Community Mobilizations
Friday, October 21st: Nashville, TN. War Memorial Plaza at Tennessee State Capitol, 2pm. Counter-protest against gender fascist Matt Walsh, who is leading a protest against gender-affirming healthcare. More info here.
Sunday, October 23rd: Eugene, OR. Old Nick’s Pub, 211 Washington AVE, 10 AM. “Fascist bullies will attempt to intimidate Drag Queen Story Hour. We will remind them Eugene is no place for them.” More info here.
Monday, October 24th: Penn State, Thomas Building, 6pm. Protest against fascist, millionaire founder of the Proud Boys, Gavin McInnes.
Tuesday, October 25th: Davis, CA. UC Davis, Vanderhoef Quad, 6pm. “Turning Point USA is bringing Stephen Davis (aka “Maga Hulk”) to UCD on Oct. 25th for an event denying systemic racism. Show up and make it clear that these fascists aren’t welcome on our campus.” More info here.
Thursday, October 27th: South Bend, Indiana. Rally begins @ Morris Performing Arts Center, 5pm. “Join local community groups protesting anti-abortion extremist group Right To Life Michiana’s yearly fundraiser where they are paying Ben Shapiro to speak.” More info here.