Has the White Nationalist Movement Lost Steam?
White nationalists gathered in Washington D.C. on Sunday to mark the anniversary of last year’s rally in Charlottesville, Va. The “Unite the Right” rally, at which white nationalists were greatly outnumbered by counter-protesters, was seen by many as a chance to evaluate the progression of the white nationalist movement since Trump’s infamous remarks after Charlottesville were criticized for legitimizing white supremacy and bolstering the movement’s visibility and growth.
White nationalists win by activating white panic, by frightening a sufficient number of white people into believing that their safety and livelihoods can only be protected by defining American citizenship in racial terms, and by convincing them that American politics is a zero-sum game in which white people win when only people of color lose. While this dynamic has always been present in American politics, it has been decades since the White House has been occupied by a president who so visibly delights in exploiting it…
In a movement that is largely disintegrating, many of the biggest names in the alt-right and white supremacist far-right are staying far away from Unite the Right 2. That’s both because of the aftermath of last year’s rally and because of a debate embroiling the alt-right about whether or not “optics” — like chanting “Jews will not replace us” before marching under a Nazi flag — matter, and whether they should even be rallying in public in the first place.
…if you lived through Charlottesville, 2017, you realized that it wasn’t the end of anything. It was the start of something. It was the start of peeling off the scales about what a seemingly perfect, sleepy Southern college town had obscured… It was the start of a clear-eyed view of what America has been built on and where it might go… where America still sees Nazis and flaming torches, I see the first stirrings of the thing that comes after.