By Jakob Stein
Over the past several months of US imperialism’s deepening economic crisis, the COVID-19 pandemic, and the May Uprisings precipitated by the murder of George Floyd, fascist groups of various stripes have once again gained visibility in the public eye.
As Donald Trump continues to denounce the movement for Black lives and threatens to categorize ‘Antifa’ as a terror group, people across the US are confronted with the reality of the deeply racist nature of the US state and its history, as well as the fascists and unorganized reactionaries who have taken up Trump’s call to defend US imperialism and the worst aspects of its culture.
From self-proclaimed ‘western chauvinists’ like the Proud Boys, far-right militias like the Boogaloo Movement and the Three Percenters, to clandestine white nationalists like Patriot Front, these fascists have made headlines around the country for their role in promoting racist propaganda, counterprotesting the vandalism and removal of reactionary monuments, and plotting violence against protesters.
In St. Louis, the Proud Boys and others affiliated with the alt-right joined representatives from the Catholic Church for a rally in front of a statue of French King Louis IX, the city’s namesake. Their goal was to defend it from protesters who want to statue removed for its representation of European colonization, as well as Louis IX’s history of burning Jewish holy books and seizing wealth from Jewish moneylenders to fund two genocidal crusades against Muslims in northern Africa. In other cities like Seattle, Salem, and Denver, Proud Boys have maintained a visible presence at anti-police protests attempting to intimidate and provoke protesters. They also infiltrated the CHAZ/CHOP area in Seattle where they assaulted one visitor.
Across the country, Patriot Front neo-nazis have also been stepping up their propaganda efforts, with numerous cities reporting their flyers, stickers, and graffiti appearing overnight. Due to their open endorsement of white nationalism, Patriot Front tends to prefer clandestine propaganda actions as well as ‘lightning demos’ (very short, unannounced demonstrations) to minimize the possibility of public exposure and confrontation with antifascists. However, over 100 Patriot Front members did march in Washington DC with a police escort earlier this year waving fascist flags, and they do have an established record of inserting their members into larger, pro-Trump demonstrations in the hopes of influencing and recruiting from them.
Assorted fascist militias including the Oath Keepers, Three Percenters, and the Boogaloo Movement have also established a clear presence at the nationwide protests against the police and reactionary monuments. Three Percenters maintained an armed presence at the protest in Albuquerque where a demonstrator attempting to topple a reactionary statue was shot by a member of another far-right militia. A police officer working an anti-police demonstration in Orange County wore a patch with a Three Percenter/Oath Keeper insignia sewn onto it, and the Audobon Police Department in the Louisville metro area was forced to remove a similar symbol from a police cruiser after public outcry (although they have not disciplined the officer responsible, who is also a member of the militia).
The Boogaloo Movement, another fascist militia group, have made the biggest headlines in recent months after several people affiliated with the movement were arrested on various charges from steroid trafficking to possession of explosives and murder.
Aside from the organized groups, there have been many cases of racist individuals taking it upon themselves to tear down ‘Black Lives Matter’ posters and flyers, harass Black people in hysterical tirades, and attack black monuments like on July 5 when a statue of Frederick Douglas was torn down by white supremacists in Rochester or when a statue of Arthur Ashe in Richmond had “white lives matter” painted on it in broad daylight.
Reactionary groups of Trump supporters who have been campaigning for the past several months to ‘reopen the economy’ and more recently against the use of face masks, have been a fertile recruiting ground for these fascist organizations. Massive Facebook groups (reaching over a million people) have slowly transitioned from condemning Democratic politicians for lockdown measures and mask policies to openly advocating for the murder of anti-police protesters. The fascist influences are clear with slogans like ‘white lives matter’ becoming more common among these groups, especially with media outlets like InfoWars and the far-right militia groups that can more easily bridge the gap between the average Trump supporter and hardened fascists.
The civilian fascist movement and the further reactionization of the state are both advancing as complementary parts in the same equation. As Trump makes thinly-veiled gestures toward fascism, the most reactionary sections of his base hear the message loud and clear and have responded accordingly.
The Movement for Black Lives must be developed into a force capable of expanding its scope, one that goes beyond confronting the police with protests. Only then can the resurgence of fascism be checked with revolutionary violence.