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Hullabaloo


Monday, June 05, 2017

 

Patriot-plus

By Tom Sullivan


Photo by Beth Nakamura via Twitter.

The Korova milkbar sold milk-plus, milk plus vellocet or synthemesc or drencrom, which is what we were drinking. This would sharpen you up and make you ready for a bit of the old ultra-violence. – from A Clockwork Orange

On the heels of the London Bridge attacks Saturday night came the "free speech" rally in Portland Sunday afternoon organized by Joey Gibson, 33, of Patriot Prayer. The rally comes two weeks after a white supremacist stabbed three men on a light rail train when they intervened in his tirade against a young black woman and another woman wearing a hijab. Two of the men died.

As tragic as the recent murders were, writes Keegan Staphan in the Washington Post, "they should shock no one. In a state that sought to exclude black people entirely, and that openly discriminated as long as the Jim Crow South, no one should be surprised that violent, white-supremacist ideologies still flourish."

The suspect, Jeremy Joseph Christian, shouted at his arraignment, "Get out if you don't like free speech!" and "You call it terrorism; I call it patriotism. You hear me? Die."

Heather "Digby" Parton commented, "Evidently the stabbing of three men who were standing up against a right wing fanatic is seen as a threat to right wing fanatics." Thus the need to hold a rally to defend white men's right to scream anti-black and anti-Muslim slurs.

Gibson cautioned on his Facebook page that "NAZI, KKK, IDENTITY europa, or ANY OTHER White Nationalists" would not be allowed at his rally held "under the banner of American nationalism." His post drew pushback from supporters for "attacking people in the Alt right." Gibson nonetheless invited Kyle “Based Stick Man” Chapman to speak, as well as other alt-right celebrities:

Baked Alaska
Tim “Baked Alaska” Gionet, 29, is proof that it’s possible to be too offensive even to remain in certain circles of the “alt-right”.

His disinvitation last December from the movement’s “deploraball” celebrating Trump’s inauguration was a sure sign that the movement had split. His antisemitic remarks and Nazi salutes brought too much bad PR for the movement’s “alt-light” faction, and they cut him loose. He now claims he “misspoke” when he sent out repeated antisemitic tweets, and even disavows the “alt-right” label

However, his presence at the rally indicates that organizers have no serious objection to public antisemitism.

Based Stick Man
Kyle “Based Stick Man” Chapman, 41, became an “alt-right” icon after he attacked anti-fascists at a Berkeley protest in March. He was armed with a gas mask, a shield made from a table top, and a stick. Not long after the Richard Spencer filmed being punched during a live interview, the “alt-right” had found their own meme-worthy hero. He says his political views are those of an average Trump supporter, but he has been elevated within the movement because of acts of public violence. That’s a sign of its growing militancy.

Based Spartan Pat “Based Trojan” Washington appeared at a rally in Berkeley on 15 April. His get-up – bare-chested and wearing a Trojan helmet – made for some dramatic photos, which were more than enough to tickle the “alt-right’s” Larp-y sensibilities.

Video he has made since suggest that he may not be the most cunning adversary that the left has encountered. Watch a few minutes of this one and you’ll see that he struggles to hold up his end of a basic conversation.
The Oregonian's Eder Campuzano provided live-streams of the event and some of the counter-protests. I claim no intimate knowledge of this culture, but there were an awful lot of helmets at the free speech rally: football helmets, baseball helmets, army and aviator helmets, hard hats, and one replica Trojan helmet. Plus fatigues and flak jackets. As Jeremy Joseph Christian's shouting suggests, free speech is a rough business in this crowd.

Oh, and lots and lots of Trump 2016 gear.

The Merced Sun-Star reports that police arrested 14 people confiscated some knives, bricks, sticks and improvised weapons. A couple of those arrests at Terry Schrunk Plaza were captured on video by Campuzano.

There was a pro-labor rally reported outside a nearby federal building, “antifa” activists at nearby Chapman Square, and counter-protesters from Portland United Against Hate at city hall, just across the street from the Patriot Prayer event. To Gibson's credit, his rally-goers appeared more peaceful than their counterparts. Police in riot gear had to push the black-clad and masked “antifa” activists (anti-fascist) from the park after reports they were hurling objects at police. Campuzano estimated there were four to five times more counter-protesters than attended Gibson's rally.

The Guardian's reports:
Another focus of anger was Brian Fife, an “alt-right” activist who walked up to Chapman Square in an attempt to speak. He was surrounded and drowned out with air horns. Earlier, on the grass at Schrunk Plaza, Fife, who said he ran a small business in Salem, Oregon, said Jeremy Christian “did everything right up until the point he started killing people”.

“I do not support killing people,” he said, “I don’t think anyone does. But calling out the changing elements of our culture, I think that’s something I wish more of us would do.” (emphasis mine)
While one speaker claimed the assembled group represented all of America, it was a pretty white crowd except perhaps for Marco Gutierrez, wearing a red USA hat and a Trump tee shirt. Gutierrez made headlines during the election campaign as founder of Latinos for Trump. He warned that without Donald Trump in the White House to address Mexican immigration, "you’re going to have taco trucks on every corner.”

To his credit, Gibson urged his supporters to to be peaceful, but in a tone that belied that message. His voice and manner was that of a professional wrestler taunting a packed arena. In fact, the rally drew only a couple of hundred.

From the Los Angeles Times:
“I am here for freedom, and I am here for God,” said Gibson, who lives across the state line in Washington. He said his goal was to show conservatives that there was “hope to take back these states.”

“To accept the West Coast is blue is to accept defeat,” he said.

Some of those who assembled in and around a federal plaza for the rally wore clothing or carried posters with racist and militia-related insignia. They included a pair of men holding signs saying, “Diversity is a code word for white genocide.” Rally organizers tried to persuade them to leave.
Willamette Weekly came in for criticism for spreading "fake news." The phrase may not have been uttered from the stage, but it's tattooed across Baked Alaska's knuckles. In March, Willamette Weekly carried news from Pro Publica and BuzzFeed that Oregon leads the nation in reports of hate crimes, many no more serious than graffiti, but disturbing nonetheless. Nazi stickers appeared on a federal courthouse wall during a protest of Trump's proposed travel ban; a large swastika drawn in the snow of a house with a mezuzah on its doorpost; white supremacy flyers at a school board meeting in Beaverton; “Anne Frank’s oven” on a utility box near an Ashland synagogue.

Police kept the groups separated until the rally ended. As Gibson and Chapman returned to their cars, yellow-shirted Oath Keepers and other private "security" members urged them to keep moving and stay on the sidewalks as counter-protesters followed behind, some cursing and chanting "Go Home, Nazi scum!"

Tensions ran high. One counter-protester from Rose City Antifa told the Guardian, “These guys are mostly not interested in free speech, they’re interested in fighting us. If they come over here, we’re going to respond in self-defense, but our plan is not to take that path. Our main goal is the defense of the community, and to reveal their actions for what they are: fascist street violence.” Uh-huh.

These affairs have a predictable script. Fringe right and fringe left talk about peace but come dressed like extras from a Mad Max film. They are essentially gang turf battles with few actual combatants. It is male display. Each side claims the moral high ground mostly because high ground is defensible.

But groups become mobs too easily. The inflamed, unbalanced, and armed too easily behave like cornered animals. When challenged they lash out as is alleged Jeremy Christian did. It may seem looney that these helmeted he-men with pretensions of chivalry are so easily threatened by changing demographics, by black teenage girls, and by women in hijabs, but here we are. The lynchings of Jim Crow have not yet faded into history. All the role playing and male display set the stage for the real thing. Two Samaritans died in Portland defending the right of two young women to be left alone. Ironically, that is just what white nationalists want for themselves in a country that is a melting pot.