This weekend, the Denier Roundup had a rare chance to observe a concentrated group of people steadfastly refusing to acknowledge reality in the real world, instead of online. We didn’t go looking for the circus, but — when some thousands of them decided to come to DC, during another surge of the pandemic many of them refuse to even really acknowledge, with the express purpose of claiming their candidate won an election he very much lost — we couldn’t resist the call of duty.
The impetus for this somewhat impromptu gathering were the celebrations around the world as people spontaneously hit the streets to revel in Trump’s loss and President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris’s win. In response, a smattering of publicity-seekers glommed on to an existing event permit in DC. It brought in the likes of racist Trump-orbiting speakers like Sebastian “I swore a lifelong oath to the Nazi-collaborating Hungarian nationalist group Vitézi Rend, as indicated by my taking of v. as a middle initial and wearing its medal to Trump’s Inauguration” L v. Gorka. There was also a speaker who led the crowd in a chant of a Q-Anon slogan, and presumably some very fine (mostly) white people — and of course Trump flags.
And that’s the problem with this loser festival. They’re not just pathetically incapable of accepting that Trump lost the 2020 election by both the popular vote and the electoral college; they’re also actively trying to delegitimize President-elect Biden, force their way into a second Trump term, and dismantle the entire notion of democracy.
Gorka, for example, was actively encouraging the assembled crowd of a few thousand maskless faces in front of the Supreme Court to lobby their local electoral college electors to disregard the legitimate election results, which they are told was rigged and manipulated by Democrats (despite key portions of multiple swing states' election infrastructure being controlled by Republicans) and instead cast electoral ballots for Trump so that he could remain in power.
This wasn’t just one last hit of the ol’ Trump Rally high, it was an incitement to overthrow the election, to ignore its results, and keep fighting for Trump. And while that may mean, for many of the attendees, simply continuing to feed his email marketing machine their social security checks, for some it was a much more literal message, and the mixing of those groups is what mainstreams fascism.
Because, along with the families and the alt-right “media” personalities that consider Fox News part of the lamestream media (because even Fox won’t have them on), were groups like the Proud Boys, for whom political violence is a prerequisite for advancement within their organization. And they weren’t there to be nice, and celebrate four great years of owning the libs, they were there to intimidate the predominantly Black residents of DC, and to then pick fights with their perceived enemies: people who oppose fascism. This is not exaggeration or hyperbole. One Proud Boy leader, Kyle Chapman, actually resigned last week because he thought the group that embraces “western chauvanism” as a euphemism for its age-old bigotry wasn't sufficiently homophobic, racist, and anti-semitic. Chapman is known by followers as Based Stickman because of a picture that went viral of him attacking a Trump protestor with a leaded stick in 2017.
So, this wasn’t just a bunch of Fox-fried Boomers throwing a politically impotent meme-fest, (though it was also definitely that). It was an attempt to radicalize the audience to do anything they could to overthrow the election — an audience that included people for whom political violence is a proud rite of passage.
This was plain from the very start. The rally’s visitors to DC, a (far from perfect) liberal, multicultural, multiracial city, made for Black Lives Matter Plaza as soon as they arrived on Friday night. Their first order of business? Ripping down the memorial posters for Breonna Taylor and other victims of racist policing that had been adorned to the fence Trump had erected around the White House.
Nevertheless, many called for the people of DC to stay home, ignore the influx of fascists into the streets of our nation’s capital, to humor their little show and let them rally in peace. We should cede the public square, they implicitly advised their millions of Twitter followers, to let these fascists lick their wounds in peace, in public, by dominating the streets of DC.
But on Saturday morning, local organizations put out the call for those who could to show up, so that the people who fought for Black lives to matter could at least hold on to that space. Otherwise it would be bastardized by the very politically-cultivated racism and hatred that required the words BLACK LIVES MATTER to be written in 35-foot letters down 16th Street, as a reminder to the man currently occupying the People’s House, in the first place.
Ceding public spaces to election-denying fascists would do nothing to dissuade them from coming back, and preemptive surrender would only embolden them further to believe their violence is condoned by those who don’t actively oppose it.
This big, white, cis-straight, able-bodied, right-down-the-street, masculine-presenting, Denier Roundup writer, got that call for help protecting BLM Plaza, so he masked up, and headed out…
Tune in tomorrow for the thrilling conclusion!