Alt-right members preparing to enter Emancipation Park holding Nazi, Confederate, and Gadsden “Don’t Tread on Me” flags.
A generation from now, we’ll call it the Million Moron March.
For now, I guess we’ll have to call today’s, uh, event in Washington, D. C., a right-wing Woodstock, with the music of malevolence heard on the streets. The only question is: How many of the peculiar folks who show up for this sleazy shindig will be embarrassed to have done so years from now—especially if another counterprotester gets killed?
Last August, hundreds of white supremacists, neo-Nazis, and members of the alt-right descended on Charlottesville, Virginia, for “Unite the Right,” a rally to put the power of white nationalists on full display. A year after that event resulted in chaos and violence, groups plan to hold another “white civil rights rally” in Washington, DC.
But a broad coalition of organizers representing anti-racist, anti-fascist, and socialist groups say that when Unite the Right 2 participants arrive in DC, they will be met with significant resistance throughout the weekend.
On the morning of August 12, Shut It Down DC, a coalition of local organizations working to plan counterprotests and other events against Unite the Right, will hold a “Still Here, Still Strong” Rally in DC’s Freedom Plaza. Counterprotesters also plan to be present at the actual Unite the Right event, which takes place later that afternoon in Lafayette Square. Two days before these events, organizers will hold a six-hour “action camp” to train those planning to protest on Sunday.
After the death of Heather Heyer, who was killed as she protested against the first Unite the Right; the brutal assault of DeAndre Harris, who was beaten by white supremacists in Charlottesville and faced criminal charges for defending a counterprotester; and other incidents of violence in the year since, organizers say the impacts of the first Unite the Right rally are still being felt today.
“Last year, our lives were changed,” says Makia Green, an organizer with Black Lives Matter DC, one of the groups in the Shut It Down DC coalition. During the August 12 rally, “we want to make sure that we stand against that hate,” she adds.
If things get nasty—or fatal—today between the “Unite the Right” crowd and the counterprotesters, will the white-nationalist-in-chief say anything this time around? Will he once again promote the idea that there are “very fine people on both sides,” and complain about the alleged aggression of the “alt-left”? If he does, what impact will it have on the 2018 midterm elections?
In an interview with CBS Sunday Morning last month, Billy Joel spoke to the fundamental perfidy of Trump’s post-Charlottesville remarks:
The president said, you know, ‘There’s some good people who did that [rally]. No, Nazis aren’t good people. It really enraged me, actually. My old man, his family got wiped out. They were slaughtered in Auschwitz. Him and his parents were able to get out. But then he was in the U.S. Army during the war and fought with Patton and was shot at by Nazis. My family suffered.
Twenty-five years ago, in the song “All About Soul,” Joel declared, “There are people who have lost / every trace of human kindness.” You’ll be seeing those people at the racist rally today, embarrassing themselves, and this country, in the process.