The convergence in Charlottesville was planned weeks in advance, with organizations from the crisp collars of the National Policy Institute to the blackshirts of the National Socialist Movement joining forces. After their more mainstream counterparts in the Alt Light, the sphere of Trumpist conservatives that overlap with the Alt Right, betrayed them, the Alt Right wanted a chance to stand on their own. The Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, on August 12th was their chance to bring together everyone to the right of the Alt Light. This was finally an event to see how well white nationalists could fair on their own without the allyship of more mainstream conservatives. Though the Alt Right used the issue of Confederate statue removal as the impetus, the rally was instead a show of strength.
Their “coming out party” turned out to be the moment where they pulled the trigger of collective suicide, letting their own implicit violence become explicit and self-destructive. In the end there were dozens injured and a protester murdered by an associate of Vanguard America, a participating organization in their demonstration. In the weeks that followed, the Alt Right began one of the quickest implosions in the history of political movements, as the country, and their own organizing tools, turned on them, ripping at their foundations and leaving them vulnerable to expulsion.
The Alt Right could not be possible in the earlier era of print publications and physical distribution, it just would not be able to respond to issues quickly and refine talking points through perpetual message revisioning. The world of the Alt Right is founded on social media and web publishing: blogs, podcasts, and Tweets. The fact that the Alt Right uses the same web hosting platforms that major media outlets do is how they gain equal cultural access, and their increased profile has still not impeded their access.
That is, of course, until their behavior, and the opposition, hit a point of critical rupture. In the days after Charlottesville, the Daily Stormer, the ironic-themed neo-Nazi website run by Alt Right blogger Andrew Anglin, was the first to lose their platform. While most of the Alt Right was, at least publically, sympathizing with the family of the murdered protester Heather Heyer, Anglin refused to take the high road. Instead, he published an article celebrating her death, calling her a “fat slut” and saying that the real travesty was the damaged Dodge Challenger that took her life. This rhetoric is standard for Anglin, who labels the Daily Stormer as “pro-Genocide” and gained popularity through his density of racial slurs and commemoration of racist violence. First, the “hacktivist” group Anonymous took over the website, though he wrestled back control quickly. The domain name server company Cloudflare decided to pull the Daily Stormer from its platform, citing a violation to the Terms of Service. “The tipping point for us making this decision was that the team behind the Daily Stormer made the claim that we were secretly supporters of their ideology,” said Cloudflare CEO Matthew Prince in a statement.
While Anglin was working with other companies to re-establish hosting, GoDaddy, who had been running their domain name, canceled Anglin’s account. Google Domains and Tucows refused to help, leaving Anglin with few options. Anglin eventually placed it on a foreign server and to have it only available on the “Darkweb,” meaning it can only be viewed through the controversial Tor browser. The site has re-emerged in various places but is now isolated and marginalized.
The Right Stuff, the popular Alt Right blog that hosts the podcasts The Daily Shoah and Fash the Nation, also got booted from its hosting. Since then the site has been touch and go, stuttering on and offline, a serious problem since they recently switched to a pay-subscription system.
Squarespace, which is known for their easy-create web platforms and for handling online purchases, followed suit and began severing white nationalist accounts. Richard Spencer, one of the prime organizers of the Unite the Right rally, had been relying on Squarespace for his websites. After a 48 hour notice, Squarespace dropped the National Policy Institute (NPI) and Radix Journal websites, two Alt Right centers. NPI is the largest Alt Right specific conference holder, and without their web presence their outreach will be hobbled. At the same times as Unite the Right, Red Ice Media, one of the largest Alt Right media projects in the world, was taken down by hackers, opening up subscriber information and permanently deleting content.
Despite the incredible shunning faced by the Alt Right in the wake of Charlottesville, some of their leaders continue to live in denial. Amid the backlash, cofounder of AltRight.com and editor-in-Chief of Arktos, Jason Reza Jorjani, claimed that his resignation from the alt-right was unrelated to the “great victory at Charlottesville.” With comrades losing jobs, expelled from the internet, and facing legal reprisals, Jorjani released a cryptic statement about reviewing “exotic technology” that a new Iranian political force called the United Front may use in the near future to create a “coming post-Islamic… archeo-futurist Iran.” Recently, Jorjani released a follow-up statement explaining that he left the Alt Right Corporation because his grand geopolitical schemes, which he alleges had high-level backing in the White House including Steve Bannon, went unsupported by Spencer and others. AltRight.com has since been a hub decrying the “censorship” of the left, with Richard Spencer putting out pleas for financial support. Jorjani has now faced campaigns to have him removed from his lecturer position at the New Jersey Institute of Technology, and has tried to say that he was tricking the Alt Right and did not really believe their ideas. This came after the Hope Not Hate hidden camera video surfaced that showed him talking about migrants being put into concentration camps and venerating Hitler. (They also doxxed the image of Counter-Currents publishing editor Greg Johnson)
Since the mid-1990s, Stormfront has been the center of white nationalism, linking up the insurrectionary groups like KKK formations and neo-Nazi gangs into a web-forum that was a catch-all for extreme racism. According to the Southern Poverty Law Center, over the last ten years, Stormfront has been linked to almost 100 acts of white supremacist violence, from bombings to shootings at Jewish community centers. While Stormfront tends to have a different demographic than the Alt Right, more Blue Collar and Nazi-centric, this was still an organizing center for Unite the Right.
In one of the most pronounced consequences of the events in Charlottesville was that Network Solutions, the hosting company for Stormfront, finally took it offline. With more than 300,000 members, this was the largest white nationalist forum internationally, this was a major hit to neo-Nazi networking. Don Black, the founder of Stormfront and former KKK leader, says he is speaking to attorneys to try and get the site back online. The sudden drop of the hosting came without warning, leaving him with few options to temper the fallout.
Hitting Them in the Wallet
One major tactic for antifascists has been attempting to convince funding sources to scrub white nationalists from their sites. The shocking images of fascists in Charlottesville suddenly brought the rationale for this grueling and often frustrating work into sharp relief. Apple cut off ApplePay for sites that pedal white nationalist merchandise, with CEO Tim Cook insisting, “It’s a moral issue – an affront to America. We must all stand against it.”
GoFundMe cut off a number of white nationalist campaigns. Adding insult to injury, a spokesperson admitted that the campaigns “did not raise any money” anyway. Similarly, Kickstarter re-enforced guidelines against hate speech and PayPal set into place a ban on white nationalists. Further, Discover Financial Corporation terminated merchant agreements with the Alt Right, declaring, “The intolerant and racist views of hate groups are inconsistent with our beliefs and practices.” Some speculate that Discover’s move will put pressure on companies like Visa and MasterCard. This came only a couple of weeks after Patreon pulled the plug on a number of accounts, including Alt Light leader Lauren Southern after she publicly supported the blocking of refugee ships.
Social Media Shutdown
“The events in Charlottesville are yet another disturbing example of the many forms that racism and hatred manifest. Prejudice, however, does not always march in the street.” With these words, Twitter banned a number of far-right accounts last year and earlier this year, including Mike “Enoch” Peinovich, Ricky Vaughan, Pax Dickinson, Richard Spencer, and John Rivers. After Charlottesville, Twitter banned The Daily Stormer.
Twitter then updated their Terms of Service, making it unusable for people associated with hate groups. If the accounts in question could be tied to organized racist groups, from Alt Right meet-up organizations to activist projects like Identity Europa or Generation Identity in France, they would be shut down. This led to another mass wave at the end of 2017, clearing out even more accounts.
After the alt-right used the Discord comment service to plan the Charlottesville rally, the company shuttered all alt-right websites. Mail Chimp followed suit by banning AltRight.com and other figures, and SoundCloud dropped a number of alt-right podcasts. Though it is notoriously difficult to prevent the alt-right from creating new sock puppet accounts, the striking of alt-right media platforms shows that companies now connect their speech to the murderous actions of their followers.
As the family of Heather Heyer was mourning her death, cradled by a nationwide community who joined in revering her sacrifice, two people injured in the attack decided to hold the Alt Right ideologues that had radicalized her killer responsible. A lawsuit was filed by sisters Micah and Tadrint Washington in the Circuit Court of Charlottesville naming 28 far-right defendants. This includes former KKK leader David Duke, the Daily Shoah host Mike “Enoch” Peinovich, Matthew Heimbach of the Traditionalist Workers Party, and Richard Spencer.
While figures like Peinovich have declared that this lawsuit is totally baseless, there is a history of these types of suits effectively stifling far-right movements. In 1981, the SPLC took on the United Klans of America after Nineteen-year-old Michael Donald was kidnapped and murdered by UKA members, eventually winning the suit and taking all the assets of the organization. Similarly, after the 1988 murder of Ethiopian immigrant Mulugeta Seraw in Portland by members of Eastside White Pride, the SPLC lawsuit identified Tom Metzger and White Aryan Resistance as responsible for radicalizing the gang to violence. The same model could be used in this case, showing that figures like Peinovich had set up a climate of violence, using revolutionary rhetoric that encouraged James Alex Fields to murder.
While much of the Alt Right treated this as meritless, information continuing to stream into social media shows the case is turning against them. The anti-fascist media outfit Unicorn Riot has released over 1,000 media images of chat rooms, along with audio recordings, that show the white nationalist contingent openly preparing for violence. The conversations were hosted on a private server controlled by Jason Kessler and Alt Right activist Eli Mosley, with many participants arguing for placing screws in poles and attacking protesters with shields. The proposition here is that the organizers prepared the event for terroristic violence, and that’s exactly what happened.
This perception of the Alt Right as the instigators of violence is only exacerbated by the recent video released by a member of the Virginia Civil Liberties union that clearly shows a member of the white nationalist contingent openly shooting at a crowd of black protesters with a handgun. Police later arrested the man, Richard Wilson Preston, but only after the video was released, and the video itself clearly shows them refusing to intervene on the act of targeted violence.
Alt Right Leaders Fall
No Alt Right figure got more attention out of Charlottesville than Christopher Cantwell, the anarcho-capitalist turned white nationalist who decided to perform in front of Vice New Tonight cameras. Cantwell runs a blog and podcast, mixing his virulent meritocratic viciousness with a vulgar hatred of non-whites and Jews, as well as a willingness to openly talk about murdering police and opponents. Shortly after the murders and street fights, Cantwell was told that Charlottesville police were issuing a warrant for his arrest for “illegal use of gases and injury by caustic agent or explosive.” Cantwell then put out a video where he sobs into the camera, talking about how scared he was and repudiating the violence he loudly celebrated just days before.
In the hours after this, things did not get much better for Cantwell. The dating website OKCupid, after pressure from anti-fascists, identified and banned his account, and Tindr quickly followed suit. Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter all did in kind, veritably severing the public persona he has crafted for years. Between his embarrassing performances and his inability to solicit donations, there is little left for Cantwell to continue his mission of stoking racial revolution. Cantwell eventually surrendered to the police, and is now being held in Albemarle County Regional Jail awaiting an October 12 court date.
Johnny “Monoxide” Ramondetta, a prime figure at Unite the Right, did not fare much better afterward. Returning to work in the San Francisco bay area as an IBEW Local 6 electrician at Rosendin Electric, Ramondetta saw that his worksite was covered with flyers identifying him as an active white nationalist and with quotes from his various appearances on The Right Stuff podcasts. As Ramondetta’s co-workers began to ask him if he was a racist, the foreman pulled him into his office and offered him a “layoff.” They admitted they had known about his behavior for several weeks and were waiting for it to become public, and passed him a contract that would disallow him to apply for unemployment. He continues to be a union electrician, however, which means he can be hired onto another union job, a problem that many activists are arguing the union should take a stand on. At the same time his regular podcast, The Paranormies, was banned on SoundCloud, along with a host of other Alt Right shows.
Nathan Damigo, the founder of Identity Europa, returned to school at California University at Stanislaus in Turlock, California, to find that a campaign to have him removed from campus in effect. A demonstration took place at the welcoming address of President Ellen Junn intended to usher in freshmen.
The Alt Right’s pan-European attempts to recruit across the pond have also been hit, especially in AltRight.com’s Nordic counterpart. After this participation in the Unite the Right rally, Christoffer Dulny, the Editor of Nordic.AltRight.com, was notified that his ESTA status was changed to “travel not authorized.” This means he is “effectively banned from entering the United States,” a fate likewise doled out to AltRight.com and Arktos Media co-founder Daniel Frieberg.
The prime organizer of the Charlottesville rally, Jason Kessler, has disappeared from public view entirely, and his organization, Unity and Security for America, looks to be heading to a lightning end. The Facebook page, Twitter account, and website have all been taken down; potentially by his own doing after receiving the kind of public backlash he never could have anticipated on the morning of August 12th. The death threats that Kessler says he received could have been inspired by his own comments, including saying that “[Heather] Heyer was a fat, disgusting Communist.” Richard Spencer, Baked Alaska, and James Allsup publicly disassociated with Kessler after that, yet they have not made public statements about Andrew Anglin or The Right Stuff who made similar comments.
Although founder of the “western chauvinist” Proud Boys, Gavin McInnes, identifies with the Alt Light, the participation of numerous leading Proud Boys in Unite the Right left the group with an inescapable stigma. Organizer Jason Kessler is a Proud Boy, as are the Unite the Right featured speakers and leaders of the “Order of Alt Knights,” Kyle “Based Stickman” Chapman and Augustus Sol Invictus. Since McInnes has found a large audience as a commentator for The Rebel right-wing media site, his attempts to distance himself from the Charlottesville rally fell flat when fellow Rebel contributor Faith Goldy provided favorable on-the-ground coverage of Unite the Right. After conservatives criticized the site, co-founder Brain Lilley resigned and two other commentators followed suit. McInnes’s anti-Semitism had caused contributing conservatives to flee The Rebel before, but after Charlottesville, McInnes, himself, abandoned the site the same day they fired Goldy. As Norwegian Cruise Lines cancelled an upcoming Rebel cruise, editor-in-chief Ezra Levant admitted that he is being blackmailed by a former contributor over accusations of misusing contributions.
The Rest of the Participants
Even more than the Alt Right’s leadership, the fallout from the Charlottesville events showed the Alt Right’s members that inclusion in the movement can lead to major consequences. With the heavy media coverage of the event, participants were widely photographed. This lead to a huge influx of identifications as anti-racist activists revealed who they were, leading to a string of firings and personal troubles. Named Alt Righters like Cole White and Ryan Roy lost their jobs. Peter Teft, whose angry remarks about so-called “white genocide” went viral, found himself disowned by his family.
In the small town of Honeoye Falls, New York, Unite the Right participant and alleged associate of the Daily Stormer Jarrod Kuhn faced a campaign against him upon his return. Eastside Antifascists did a flyering around the village, identifying who he was and what he had done. “There is a long history of white supremacist violence in the US. People have a right to know who their neighbor is and take steps to protect themselves,” said Peter Berkman, organizer with the group. “You don’t get to be a weekend Nazi. You don’t get to participate in deadly neo-Nazi riots and then quietly return to your community like nothing happened.” Kuhn has had his family and friends contacted, and with his new notoriety he is likely unable to remain in his home town. “I’m 21 years old and my life is over in this area,” said Kuhn.
The violence itself was incredibly broad and constant during Charlottesville, with the far-right contingent singling out and attacking protesters. Six white men were photographed beating a black man named DeAndre Harris in a parking garage during the confrontation, flailing metal poles at him as he crawled on the ground. Three of those men were charged with assaulting the man, including Richard W. Preston, who has been identified as an Imperial Wizard in the Confederate White Knights of the Ku Klux Klan out of northern Maryland.
Despite the ostracizing of Alt Righters throughout the US, Donald Trump’s response to their violent rally has been tepid at best. First blaming “violence from many sides,” Trump came out two days later to denounce the KKK. However, he returned to the podium soon after to again claim that the “Alt Left” shares responsibility for the day’s tragic outcomes. Since then, he has offered impassioned support for the Alt Right’s campaign to keep the Confederate monuments in place, calling the movement to take them down “foolish.” As twice as many US Americans disapprove of Trump’s reaction than approve, key politicians from the GOP like Marco Rubio spoke out against him. Others, such as House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, House Speaker Paul Ryan, Senator Jeff Flake of Arizona, Senator Rob Portman of Ohio and Representative Steve Scalise of Louisiana used the opportunity to voice opposition to white supremacy. Given their marginalization, Trump’s apparent support has been celebrated by the Alt Right, which in turn has further alienated Trump from the GOP. As some 10 percent fewer Republicans “strongly support” Trump than did in July, Steve Bannon’s firing signaled attempts to win back moderates and independents while maintaining Alt Right support.
The mass attack on Alt Right’s online platforms has the ability to render them completely invisible. As Richard Spencer lamented months back when he was first shut down on Twitter along with another Alt Right figures like Ricky Vaughn, if you can’t find them on Amazon, Google, or social media, do they even exist? They have acknowledged one complicated truth of the modern communication paradigm: a few companies control the access to speech for the vast majority. This creates an easy channel for activists hoping to limit the ability of far right groups to organize, but this also provides ominous signals for the left as well. Nonetheless, the Alt Right’s attempts to create counter-platforms for donations and social media are negligible since what has given them success is that regular people use services like Twitter and Patreon, not Gab and Hatreon.
The weekend after Charlottesville, more rightwing organizers converged on Boston for another “free speech” rally in the model begun by Lauren Southern in Berkeley. The fifty participants were met by a counter-insurgency of an estimated 40,000 protesters, who forced the early cancellation of the right-wing rally and took to the streets against the rise of insurrectionary white supremacy. Across the country, rallies, vigils, and demonstrations were raging, all in solidarity with the victims of Charlottesville and showing a united front against the rise of the Alt Right. After Boston’s response, the anti-Muslim group Act for America canceled their upcoming string of 67 rallies planned across 36 states. Act for America had been responsible for the recent “March Against Sharia” events where Alt Right groups were heavily represented. Another rally staged by Joey Gibson in the Bay Area attracted even fewer far-right demonstrators and thousands of counter-protesters, followed by dual follow-up rallies in Portland, Oregon, and Vancouver, Washington, during which the far-right’s numbers were again miniscule in comparison to counter-protesters. To cap it off, following Gibson’s rally in Vancouver, a far-right activist sped his car through a group of protesters once again showing the inevitable murderous violence of their side.
The cultural tide shifted away from the Alt Right, birthed out of their own hubris, the belief that the Trump-voting public was actually ready for open and unashamed white nationalism. As John Morgan, the former head of the Alt Right friendly publisher Arktos, said on Counter-Currents Radio, a white nationalist publisher who also got booted from funding platforms after Charlottesville, the Alt Right had spent its short life trying to unseat the specters haunting the public’s image of fascism. “What [The Alt Right] originally stood for when we all started doing this stuff the better part of a decade ago, it was to overcome what we now call ‘Cuckservatism’… and it was also to overcome things like the legacy of the Klan in America and National Socialism,” points out Morgan. “And basically Unite the Right has put us back in that mode, where everybody associates us with those things.”
Spencer decided to embrace the hatred most of the country now feels for him by returning to Charlottesville for an impromptu torchlight march, even though the maker of Tiki Torches has denounced him. After his recent appearance at the University of Florida, where a massive organized resistance mocked him and disallowed his speech, his followers opened fire on protesters. Disqus, the comment conversation plug-in for website, began dropping Alt Right websites like The Right Stuff as well.
The weeks after Unite the Right has shown anything but unity as people like Jason Kessler mock the victims, causing disassociation by figures like Richard Spencer and James Allsup. The rest of the country is turning even more thoroughly against them, they are losing their platforms, and their organizations are disintegrating. This provides opportunities for the left that must use this energy and the reality of the right’s violence to further build a mass movement that will overwhelm the right’s meager abilities. As the Alt Right realizes that it will not be able to plan mass rallies, however, they increasingly endorse “lone wolf” violence as the counterpart to their more attempts at respectability. For this reason, antifascist action remains critical on the grassroots level, not only to respond to larger rallies but to prevent fascist groups from gaining momentum toward violent acts that may leave countless people dead.