April 17, 2017

Right Richter: Street Fighting Men

 
 
Forget the White House press briefing — the hottest place for aspiring conservative media personalities these days is in the thick of a riot between antifascists and Trump supporters. Welcome to RIGHT RICHTER!
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"Free speech" advocates get violent: All sorts of alt right brawlers and Trump hard-liners on Saturday headed to Berkeley, which has for some reason become our national proving ground for battles between Trump supporters and antifascist "antifa" protesters.
 
Two previous fights there — attempts to shut down a Milo Yiannopoulos speech and the Trump rally fight that spawned "Based Stick Man" — turned into big media events, and this weekend's violence was no different. This time, the Trump forces, including a large contingent of Proud Boys, managed to hold the area they were fighting over.
 
A host of right-wing media personalities were on hand for the event's viral social media potential, including the "Based Stick Man" who had made his name in previous Berkeley fighting (and got arrested again after punching a protester) and Lauren Southern, the Canadian conservative who arrived in fighting gear with a Proud Boy escort.
 
 
The pro-Trump groups themselves looks to be both racially and ideologically diverse, at least as far as they all like Trump. Mother Jones's Shane Bauer took a bunch of striking photos, including this one of the Trump forces victorious.

A lot going
 on here: 
 
 
 
What it Means: A certain vocal subset of Trump supporters and their media avatars are growing more violent, which they see as a response to violent attacks from antifa protesters.
 
And while the footage from Berkeley is genuinely violent  all around — and the apparent lack of police intervention concerning — the pro-Trump brawlers and their supporters see themselves as standing up for free speech and against antifascists who would seek to shut down their event. 
 
Not Everyone Can Get in Fights at Protests...: Rising alt right star Mike Cernovich tried to find his attention-boosting assault at an Austin tax day event.
 
According to videos from Cernovich wading into the middle of the event, he was at worst gently hustled through the crowd as he yelled "Bill Clinton's a rapist!" But that didn't stop Cernovich from yelling that he was being assaulted, all while he livestreamed on his phone.
 
Video of the "assault" shot from another angle shows no such thing. Still, it's one of the most jarring Black Mirror-style videos to emerge this week, with Cernovich livestreaming his "attack" while everyone around him films it as well. 
 
 
 
 
The Proud Boys Get a New Degree: Saturday's brawling should be a boon for Proud Boy recruitment, with their Phoenix affiliate already advertising today that anyone looking to "crack commie skulls" should join up.
Intriguingly, they've added a new, fourth degree to club membership since I wrote about them in February. And get this — it has nothing to do with their famously strict rules on self-pleasure!
 
Instead, one earns a fourth degree by beating up antifascists or getting arrested in a scuffle. I added some paragraphs on the fourth degree development to my original Proud Boys Medium story, including a video of a Proud Boy getting arrested as his friend cheers that he's earned his fourth-degree. 
 
Alex Jones's Legal Defense: It's All an Act!: Chief InfoWars conspiracist Alex Jones is embroiled in a custody battle with his ex-wife, and it turns out that constantly yelling about beating up congressmen and deep state pedophiles might not play well in court vis-a-vis his ability to be a responsible parent.
 
Jones's lawyer has hit on an intriguing defense, saying that Jones is just faking it when he gets red and mad on his show. 
 
“He’s playing a character,” the Austin-American Statesman reports Jones's lawyer saying in court. “He is a performance artist.”
  
Trump's Syria Strikes as "the Black Pill": With Trump's online supporters alienated by his sidelining of Bannon and the Syrian strikes, alt right Trump supporters found themselves struggling with whether to take "the black pill" — internet code for a turn to nihilism or going on a spree shooting.
 
 
 
While the alt right adores The Matrix metaphor of taking the red pill and "waking up" from the illusions of modern life, people who have taken the "black pill" accept that even Trump won't save them. Far-right journal Radix describes taking the "black pill" as  "nihilistic egoism, pointless struggle, suicide and death," with woman-hating murderer Elliott Rodgers among its leading affiliates.
 
No More 4-D Chess: Growing alt right alienation from Trump has also killed an enduring right-wing trope: that Trump is playing "4-D chess."
 
For years, Trump's supporters have comforted themselves after each bizarre Trumpian moment by assuring themselves that he's playing "4-D Chess" — deploying a complicated strategy on a playing field we can't even see, much less understand. 
 
And Yet: While Trump's most vocal supporters online are struggling to deal with his sidelining of Bannon and the Syrian air strikes, it's hard not to suspect that rank-and-file Republican voters who haven't been poisoned by memes are willing to accept his policy shifts.
 
In the endless series of interviews with heartland Trump voters published after the election, many of them commented that they expected him to learn on the job. That's what these ostensible flip-flops — from changing his stance on military intervention to bailing on calling China a currency manipulator — look like! 
 
Charges for Shooter Outside Milo Rally: One of the stranger storylines lately has been the investigation into the non-fatal shooting of an antifascist protester outside a January speech by Yiannopoulos in Seattle. Originally, a man who appears to be a Yiannopoulos fan in the attack was suspected, but now police want felony charges against the man's wife instead.
Breitbart Makes Nice with Kushner: I mentioned last week how, with Steve Bannon on the ropes in his fight with presidential son-in-law Jared Kushner, Breitbart came to Bannon's rescue with a string of stories slamming Kushner. 
 
On Monday, though, Breitbart suddenly stopped its crusade, dropping any mention of Kushner from its front page. That decision came as the White House insiders were reportedly blaming Bannon for the Breitbart stories.
 
Now Business Insider's Oliver Darcy reports that Breitbart management told their writers to stop attacking Kushner. 
 
That sudden switch in the site's stance on Kushner prompted former Breitbart writer Lee Stranahan to accuse "Boylebart" — a jab at Breitbart Washington chief and Stranahan nemesis Matthew Boyle — of abandoning Bannon, their former boss. 
 
 
 
Leak Hunt at Breitbart: Breitbart is trying to figure out who leaked the "no Kushner attacks" directive to Business Insider
 
This is complicated both because Breitbart is filled with a bunch of big personalities who likely wouldn't take kindly by being toned to tone down their stories, and because the order was reportedly given on a conference call with more than a dozen people listening. 
 
Given the sheer number of ears on the call, whomever spoke to Darcy is unlikely to be outed anytime soon. But Breitbart insiders have a few prime suspects: editors Amanda HouseNeil Munro and White House reporter Charlie Spiering. Breitbart Texas Bureau Chief Brandon Darby and Breitbart London Bureau Chief Raheem Kassam are also on the which-one-of-my-colleagues-leaked shortlist. 
 
Trumpism versus Conservatism: Historian Rick Perlstein considers how he and other historians of the American right missed how the Trump phenomenon fits into that history. 
 
Breitbart Advertiser Pressure: Breitbart's advertiser woes continue, now with hundreds of Amazon employees asking the company to stop advertising on Breitbart.  
  
Duke Lacrosse and the Alt-RightNY Mag has an interesting story on the Duke lacrosse rape case as a foundational event for the alt right, both because it sowed a general distrust of campus identity politics and by launching the careers of white nationalist Richard Spencer and White House staffer Stephen Miller
 
Ex-Breitbart Writer Launches His Own Site: Certified conservative media young gun Patrick Howley split from Breitbart shortly after the election, complaining that the site no longer let him get as wild as he wanted to.
 
Now he's live with his Breitbart alternative, Big League Politics. His interview with the Daily Caller about his editorial plans is really something. 
 
Howley aims to have an email list of readers which he doesn’t want to describe as a “community,” as that is a “politically correct Obama word.” Rather, Howley hopes to establish a “peaceful militia” of readers.
...
Howley has never been one to embrace the establishment and told TheDC that despite this new job he is not a “suit.”
Alt Right Furries: There's a growing split in the furry community over the alt right. If you're not up to speed on "furries," they're people who dress as animals and identify with a "fursona."
 
Yes, it's a sex thing.
 
Just as we've seen communities around politics and even science fiction novels riven by the alt right, furries are having their own schism. The head of the alt right furries styles himself as "Foxler" — as in Hitler, but a fox.  
 
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