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Alternative Internet Racism: Alt Right and the New Fascist Branding

In a recent call in show, conservative radio voice Rush Limbaugh got a call from someone named Roy who asked him about a new brand of the right wing that is straying from older conservatism.  “What I’m interested in, is all this stuff about conservatives being older people,” said the caller. “But I think that’s gonna quickly change. I think there’s a group of younger people called ‘the alt right.’ And it started in the last few years in Europe because of the Muslim invasion. And I think it’s… They’re beginning to get people over here, youngsters between 18, 25, 26, to convert to what they call ‘the alt right.’ I think it’s gonna be pretty intense. I think you should keep an eye out for it.”

Many capitalized on Rush’s response, which seemed happy about the caller’s reference to the rise of the cultural right amongst young people.  As the Daily Shoah mentioned in a following show, Rush likely did not know exactly what he was referring to.  Though Rush has started using the Cuckservative meme to discuss conservatives who do not take up racist immigration policies, he certainly is a part of the conservative beltway that is not only not publicly in favor of this white nationalist contingent, it is probably not even much aware of it.

The term “alt right” was then injected into the Twittersphere as a popular hashtag, spreading around the regular reactionary troll dynamic that links together racist blogs and podcasts using labels like “neoreaction” and “Dark Enlightenment.”  This term lead to Buzzfeed doing a story on it where they interview Richard Spencer about the term, leading him to even do a follow up video to discuss the term and how it is evolved.

Though in anti-racist/anti-fascist circles have certainly come across this as they research the new face of white nationalism and the pseudo-intellectual radical right.  Spencer is the right person to be talked to about this since he, for all practical purposes, coined the term.

In 2010 Spencer had finally left a short lived career in paleoconservative publishing to start Alternative Right.  He was plucked out of a Duke University graduate program after writing an article about the “Duke Lacross Case,” where a group of white male students were alleged to have sexually assaulted a black sex worker.  This was eventually picked up by the American Conservative, a publication started by Pat Buchanan, and came on as an Assistant Editor.  It has been alleged that he was eventually fired when his racism came to light, but he could have left on his own accord, and went to the further-right web publication Taki’s Magazine.  In his time there he continued moving further to the right and consorting with groups of people on the fringes of “acceptable” conservatism.  Through this became friends with people like Paul Gottfried, American Renaissance’s Jared Taylor, Human BioDiversity proponent Steve Sailer, and a whole host of other people with “heretical views” who all tried to cram into the creases of CPAC.

He then created the web publication Alternative Right, a term he started using in 2008, to bring together all of these different groups of people who were dissenting from Neoconservatism and the Washington Consensus.  These would include white nationalists, “race realists,” radical traditionalists, folk religionists, right Rothbardians, national anarchists, and so many more, all of which took on radically dissenting views from the conservative movement and the GOP.  The publication became a “go to” spot for a new type of white nationalism, one that took its queues from French and broad European intellectuals, looked towards ideas like Eurasianism and Metagenetics, resurrected philosophers like Oswald Spangler and Ernst Junger, and generally coalesced around a disdain for the “modern world.”  They often opposed the Iraq war, environmental destruction, and were critical of American Christianity.  The publication certainly had name people writing for it, such as VDare founder Peter Brimelow and, later disgraced, Heritage Foundation Fellow Jason Richwine, as well as new, openly racist commentators like Colin Liddell.  He started Vanguard Radio as a regular podcast for the website, which featured people ranging from Pat Buchanan to Jared Taylor.

Greg Johnson, editor of the neo-fascist Counter-Currents Publishing, wrote as then editor of the white nationalist Occidental Quarterly, that the alt right banner is bringing together a wide variety of people who are forced out of the mainstream and could benefit from the comfort of one another.

[Alternative Right] will attract the brightest ‘young’ conservatives and libertarians and expose them to far broader intellectual horizons, including race realism, White Nationalism, the European New Right, the Conservative Revolution, Traditionalism, neo-paganism, agrarianism, Third Positionism, anti-feminism, and right-wing anti-capitalists, ecologists, bioregionalists, and small-is-beautiful types.

Spencer eventually moved over to take the reigns of the National Policy Institute, a white nationalist think tank, and start the website and publication, Radix Journal.  After continuing to do the podcast at Alternative Right for some time, he moved it over to the Radix Journal podcast, and even pulled the domain for the original Alternative Right website.  This create some animosity with between Spencer and the two co-hosts of Vanguard Radio who had taken over editorial duties of Alternative Right, but they went on to create the New Alternative Right to keep their progress going.  Spencer has gone on to make Radix Journal a white nationalist hot spot, as well as the yearly National Policy Institute conferences, one of which caused him to be deported by the Hungarian government when he tried to do a pan-European event.

Spencer has largely walked away from the term alt right simply because his politics, and those he semi-leads, have specified a bit and he feels that the moment that term inhabited is somewhat over.  Instead, the term has taken on a life of its own in that it represents a certain sphere of nationalist politics today.  From the Right Stuff to Counter-Currents, the “alt right” now often means an internet focused string of commentators, blogs, Twitter accounts, podcasters, and Reddit trolls, all of which combine scientific racism, romantic nationalism, and deconstructionist neo-fascist ideas to create a white nationalist movement that has almost no backwards connection with neo-Nazis and the KKK.  As Spencer often said, they had a “different starting point” than conventional conservatism, often coming from their disavowal of human equality.  It is an easy way of differentiating them from older forms of white nationalism that they feel they have no cultural affinity for.

Much of what distinguishes the alt right is aesthetics, education, and language choices, while the core ideas remain the same.  They maintain traditional racism and anti-semitism, a strong sense of gender roles, a traditionalism about behavior, and a necessity towards national identity, though there have been some acceptance of queer members and a move away from strict Christianity and towards Nordic paganism and the Radical Traditionalism of Julius Evola.  This broad sphere is attempting to reclaim an intellectual, spiritual, and social movement for the far-right, and, except for some exceptions, they like to couch their language in intellectual double speak rather than just stacking racial slurs.

In recent weeks the alt right hashtag has started trending mainly because of the concerted effort of many of the disparate trolls forcing it to do so, but it needs to be seen in exactly the context it exists.  This is old-school racism and neo-fascism, except looking to wear a suit and tie rather than a white hood.  As Neoconservative David From said about them, they are
“going to be white nationalists, but, by God, they’re going to be a little fancy about it.”  The attempt here is to rebrand neo-fascism as something new and hip, which has worked in some circles, but it needs to be recognized and treated as exactly what it is.

While the alt right would broadly be opposed to electoral politics, over the last couple weeks the use of the #altright has been to post constant fawning tributes to Donald Trump.  His recent insulting jokes towards a Jewish audience, claims to ban Muslim immigration, and general attack on minorities has mobilized digital reactionaries to broaden their umbrella to include support for Trump.  This is less for his ability to actually win an election and do anything significant politically, but for his ability to generally unleash the subdermal racism in the country that they can then use to mobilize more to join the broader alt right.  This kind of entryism has a real history of success as Trump represents a 2015 version of the 1964 Barry Goldwater campaign, which helped push conservatives to the right and flood in open white nationalist organizations for the next couple decades

The alt right itself is going to stay the mark of the 21st century’s more intellectually minded and diverse neo-fascism, one that is more willing to sacrifice much of the baggage of older white nationalism so that they can create a movement that undermines the basic values of democracy, equality, and the “enlightenment.”  Understanding this new branding gives anti-fascist the tools to confront the new kind of fascist movement that is going to vie for power in times of crisis and turmoil.

Queer Fascism: Why White Nationalists Are Trying to Drop Homophobia

The National Policy Institute’s conference for 2015 just wrapped up, one of the most popular intellectual events for the white nationalist movement in the United States.  NPI is run by youngish nationalist Richard Spencer, who encourages the movement to be hip and youthful.  Out of the almost 175 attendees, a huge portion of them were millennials as they were given significant discounts off of the expensive ticket price.  One person that was disinvited, according to associate Scott Terry and, later, from Richard Spencer himself, was the Traditionalist Youth Network’s Matthew Heimbach.  Matt, who helped to found the Townson University White Student Union before forming Trad Youth, has made statements publicly claiming queer people are purposefully infecting people with AIDs and that they need to be put in “re-education” camps to cure their “mental illness.”  Because of these statements, Spencer decided that he should be banned from the NPI conference.

Matthew Heimbach
Matthew Heimbach

In a statement on his website, Radix Journal, Spencer said about the SPLC outing of the banning of Matthew Heimbach:

Our conferences will include people who hold many different views on religious, social, sexual, historical, and political matters. We do not exclude anyone for, say, being a Buddhist, Pagan, Catholic, or atheist, or for being passionate about gay issues or thinking that they are not important. We hope that such questions can be discussed respectfully at our conferences.

NPI will, however, exclude those who show reckless disregard with the media, or those who’ve made morally indefensible public statements. Such people make our movement look bad. We choose not to grant them a platform.  It’s as simple as that.

This position from Spencer, which sounds more like liberal apologetics than the defenses of someone on the radical right, may seem surprising.  It is less surprising when noticing that queer writer and advocate for “male tribalism,” Jack Donovan, is one of the NPI speakers.  Donovan is well-known for his book Androphilia, where he advocated that “homosexual men” drop the gay identity because it is associated with effeminacy, leftist politics, and feminism.  Today he is celebrated in Men’s Rights circles, talking about reclaiming masculinity and creating a tribalism “against capitalism and the state” and depending on the recreation of hierarchies.  Spencer himself has discussed queer issues with Donovan many times, where he thinks that gay marriage is a “non-issue” and that we should just move on about the conflict.

In a closely allied organization and publishing house, Counter-Currents publishing, they have also celebrated Donovan’s work, as well as publishing queer white nationalist James O’Meara.  His book, “The Homo and the Negro,” celebrates queer “Dandy” culture, and advocates that white nationalists return to supporting the gay male associated with the arts, reclaiming “homosexual warrior” culture, and start rejecting what he says is “Negro behavior.”  Greg Johnson, the editor of Counter-Currents, even writes a chapter about abandoning homophobia in his book “Confessions of a Reluctant Hater.”

This all may seem bizarre to those who understand white nationalism to just existing on the far right of a left-right spectrum, where homophobia seems like it would come before the open racialism.  Inside of the movement, however, this is not the case.  We see a mixing of queer identity with open fascism with bands like Death in June, and all through the “manosphere” there is a deep misogyny and white nationalism expressed by gay authors who have been invited into the fold.  Though the stereotyped “gay culture” is always derided by these groups, they play hard with the idea that queerness is biologically determined.  Spencer himself, in a conversation with the late British nationalist Jonathan Bowden, indulged in pseudo-science about how sexual orientation is chosen by hormonal baths prenatally.  He then notes that eugenics will likely cure this illness, but gay people should not be blamed for their attractions.

There really are a couple of angles here that they attempt to stand on that makes this perspective both growing and unique.  The first is, as Spencer often notes, the “war has been lost.”  A younger generation is completely unwilling to indulge in vigorous homophobia in the way that they will still adopt racial and gendered bigotry.  This may be true in a sense, as liberal queer progressivism has become a cultural shibboleth.  Even queer people on the anti-assimiliationist side of the left are not always allowed in, and people like Donovan often portrays queerness as anti-assimilationist at its core.  No matter who they are, they usually oppose gay marriage(Donovan included), as marriage is a cultural institution used to prop up Western Civiilization.

The second reason that queerness is being reappropriated, as is seen in both Donovan and O’Meara’s work, is that there is s certain “mars/mars” dynamic that they want to celebrate.  In essence this is a male warrior culture that is anti-bourgoeis in its rejection of the traditional family.  Though this is radically different than what many on the “Alt Right” think its socially productive, they do note that society may need these cultural elements and that they are rightist in that they celebrate in-group/out-group distinctions, tribalism, and hierarchy.

While queerness may be a deciding point in many of these circles, it is not uncontested.  Many in the more extreme sects of white nationalism, especially in circles more associated with the KKK or Nazi skinhead groups, Donovan has been a major detractor.  You can go through comments threads and see him demonized in ways similar to their discussion of Jews and people of color.  More often than not, however, there is tacit approval of his inclusion and even a sort of backhanded support.

In the article posted on Radix Journal about Heimbach’s removal, his associate from Trad Youth, Scott Terry, commented to mention that they need to still “work together.”

I’d like it known that, despite being dis-invited from NPI, Heimbach went to DC to hang out with the conference attendees. I tagged along because many of the gentlemen there are my friends. Not once during the entire weekend did Heimbach bad-mouth Spencer or try to foment some sort of rebellion; no “entryist” attempts were made.

While it’s unfortunate Spencer isn’t willing to see the best in Heimbach, there wasn’t any hard feelings (as far as I could tell) and I’m sure Trad Youth intends to continue supporting ethno-nationalist projects (from whatever quarter they arise).

There’s no point in exacerbating divisions, in my opinion. We all know the “big-tent” isn’t monolithic. Pagan, homosexual-supporting alternative rightists are stuck with theonomic Christian ethno-nationalists (like myself). We’re stuck together regardless.

Because of the disparate elements of a fringe movement like white nationalism, people like Terry and Heimbach often are looser with their Christian conservatism than you would find in more generic non-racial Christian churches.  Heimbach has gotten a lot of rejection inside of the movement for his effort to cover all bases and speak in public derision.  He was excommunicated from his Orthodox Christian church after a public fight where he hit an anti-racist with a large wooden cross.  He was kicked out of his much-loved League of the South after attending a National Socialist Movement event, though he was let back in later.

At NPI, Mike Enoch from The Daily Shoah spoke on their Becoming Who We Are podcast panel.  He often makes homophobic jokes, including insulting statements about Donovan, but he was still allowed to participate and celebrated throughout.  This is likely because of the importance that Enoch holds for the movement while Heimbach is more of a traditional reactionary who just happens to organize the youth.  This is a sort of “real politic” from Spencer, but this is the kind of opportunism you can always expect from white nationalists.

It is not that queer people are going to be invited en mass to the white nationalist movement, but there is certainly an effort to invite people in who would normally be left on the fringes.  The question is whether or not this will be a sizable number of people, or if their attempts to stoke racism inside of queer circles will have the disgusting effect they are hoping they will have.

Nationalists on Samhain: The National Policy Institute’s 2015 Conference and the Identitarian Lie

Sam Dickson, in the center, pointing.
Sam Dickson, in the center, pointing. “Anarchist” Keith Preston off to the far-right, as usual.

It may have seen a bit odd to see one of the biggest white nationalist intellectual events in the U.S. happening on Halloween, but there is a certain obviousness about it.  Samhain, as it was originally known, was a traditional holiday in pre-Christian Europe where it was said the fabric between the land of the living and the land of the dead was at its thinnest.  It was then a time to remember the ancestors, a tradition that made its way into the Christian churches that were built on top of the pagan past, and we see it with the establishment of later holidays like Old Hallow’s Eve before All Saints Day and the Dios De La Muertos celebrations in Latin American countries.  With the white nationalist fetishism of paganism under a their self-created concept of “meta-genetics,” there is a certain attraction for them to pontificate about the “threatened” white race in the name of the ancestors on a day like this.

The National Policy Institute’s 2015 conference took place at the Washington Press Club this past October 31st, hosting some of the biggest names in the organized racist community.  Richard Spencer, the President of NPI, celebrated this fact, referencing anti-racist posters featuring them as labeling them the “Superheroes of Hate,” and jokingly saying “Avengers Assemble” about their line-up.  The conference, as we wrote about during the run up to the actual event, featured a rainbow assortment of white nationalist paranoia.  The most featured speaker of the day, so it seemed, was Kevin McDonald, who has been working on a book on the “origins of the white man.”  He recently did a podcast episode for Radix Journal, Richard Spencer’s online publication, where they discussed the origins of the “Aryan” race.  Here they both indulged in elementary understandings of genetics and embarrassing overreaches about the importance of white racial in-groups.  McDonald himself expounded on the idea of developing moral structures, in-group cohesion, and what he calls “pathological altruism” that he alleges is both innate to white people and is destroying them by disallowing them to fight for their ethnic interests.  This essentializes whiteness in a way that is anti-scientific, as if having darker skin tones in a lineage changes that genetic history in any way.  Spencer and McDonald lament about the Goths, who were eventually absorbed into the Roman Empire, and they opine about this being the potential result of the “white man.”  McDonald, now a retired University of California Long Beach psychology professor, is best known for his academic anti-Semitism, where he developed a theory that Judaism is a “group evolutionary strategy” that Jews use to dominate Western societies for access to resources.  No one in evolutionary psychology proper agree with this notion, nor agree that there is some type of biological urge to fight for resources with people of different ethnic origins.  There is no evidence that we have some biological radar for people of similar ethnic origins that drive us towards allegiance.  That is simply not how genetics work, as anyone who has taken a high school science class should be able to discern.

We were also looking at Keith Preston, a former anarchist who likes to parade himself at nationalist gatherings in an effort to find some community as his support for racism has had him ousted from anywhere on the radical left.  At this conference he went on about the “Left’s worship of the State,” though his background should have informed his understanding of the anti-authoritarian and anarchist left’s actual association with the State.  What Keith really references here is the left’s association with anti-racist and egalitarian values, which he sees as being totalitarian in its monolithic nature.  This is an embarrassingly middle school interpretation of authoritarianism, and really lacks even the most basic ideas of where anarchism came from and what the tradition advocates at its core.  It was never anti-authoritarian for anti-authoritarian’s sake, but instead a revolutionary libertarian communist tradition, opposed to hierarchical oppression but never in favor of an “anything goes” politic of “pan-secessionism.”

Sam Dickson returned, a Southern lawyer who enjoys a life both as a Southern Nationalist and as a predatory land merchant who takes gleeful pleasure in making money on evicting black families.  After saying the much quoted line about “giving blacks Manhattan,” he went on to note that he wants a country for ALL white people.  “White people, as we’ve become a minority, will not be able to live in a state of severe repression and discrimination,” he said. “Our ethno-state will not be a meeting of the Tea Party; it’s not going to be the Southern Baptist Convention. It’s going to be a genuine ethno-state with Christians, Catholics, alcoholics, tee-totallers, gay people. It’s not going to be a subset of the right.”

The conference was well covered by a few media outlets, with Huffington Post, the Daily Beast, and Raw Story doing full pieces on it.  For this, Spencer arranged a press period, which was a sort of delusional show since there were only three journalists there.  A big question that was presented to the panel, which included Dickson and Spencer, was if Jews were white.  Spencer responded by saying “I think Jews are Jews.”  This was a good sound bite as people went on to make anti-Semitic remarks and jokes throughout the day with the laughing support of the crowd.  “The Jews exist precisely because they were apart,” said Spencer. “Precisely because they had a sense of apartness—perhaps you could say a little bit of paranoia, about trying to stay away. That’s a clear aspect of Jewish—”  At this point he stopped and realized that he was playing his anti-Semitism too straight, and then begged the reporters not to print his line about Jewish paranoia.  Spencer thinks of himself as having a very nuanced understanding of Jews, and he hates when he is quoted like some kind of vulgar anti-Semite, but his ideas are so in line with traditional anti-Semitic stereotypes that it is a mirage for him to believe he is any different from people like Kevin McDonald or David Duke.

The conference itself also stood apart from the traditional portrayal of the far-right in the United States as mainly Christian.  Instead, there was a strong push towards a kind of racial atheism and paganism, which is expressly noticeable by having the neo-folk band Changes performing in the evening.

One of the real set pieces of the day was the live podcast that they recorded as a discussion and Q&A with Spencer, two hosts from Sweden’s Red Ice Radio, and Mike Enoch from The Right Stuff and The Daily Shoah.  Enoch decided, for some reason, to wear aviators at the microphone as he thought that might confuse the anti-fascists who were in the room.  Though the rest of the information still continues to come out, some east coast antifa organizations have stated that they were still in the room at that point and have photos of the panel.  One person taking photos was forced out of the venue earlier in the day, which was a testament to the paranoia in the room.  Enoch is well-known for turning their “alt right” community into a bouquet of racial slurs, holocaust denial, fantasies about killing minorities and Jews, and generally being one of the more self-congratulation focused disgusting examples of the reality of “ethno-nationalism.”  It was in this podcast, but really across the neo-fascist movement in the U.S. over the last several months, you can see the influence of Enoch and The Daily Shoah.  The panel, who usually tries to couch their rhetoric in academic jargon, instead celebrated the “trolling” nature of their internet presence and state over and over again that this is a sign that “something is happening.”  They repeat this as if it is a mantra they really want to believe, and since they have no concept of organizing or movement building it must seem that using the n-word in a podcast under a pseudonym or creating the #cuckservative hashtag is the same thing as creating a revolutionary political movement.  Spencer himself banks on this idealism, the idea that if we change our minds we can change the world, instead of looking at the material realities of the world, which gives anti-fascists their greatest tool in combating their reactionary lies.

The conference offered a dramatically discounted rate from its original outrageous dollar amount(this is calculated to give it a posh appearance, which is why the conference is such a poor organizing tool) for millennials, which there were quite a few of.  They then used this to say that they are a young movement, but really it is simply that within the racist sphere the young professionals are more likely to attend their event than a Klan rally.  It is less that this is a new turn for millennials and more that any of them attracted to white nationalism are there, and their numbers are being vastly oversold.  Just as on the internet, the reactionaries love to over speak, and therefore appear more numerous than they actually are.  The questions during the Become Who We Are podcast panel were telling as few had any concept of political organizing or even how to communicate their ideas in anything approximating a cogent argument.  They did, however, find unity in making fun of the small protest outside, which, from the sound of it, was underorganized and did not have a good strategy for challenging the conference.  This has been a problem unique to the United States Antifa organizations, that fail to do long-term movement building or, in turn, actually physically confront anybody.  There needs to be choices made about how the action is meant to be effective, whether this means trying to interfere and shut down the event, or, on the other hand, to create a mass coalition to show the power of anti-racist unity in the face of regressive nationalism.

Jack Donovan’s appearance is again a strange addition to the group, but says more about what a fascist movement is really composed of more than anything else.  Donovan is known as a sort of “anti-gay” gay writer, a person who coined the term “andriophile” to identify queer men who do not want to identify with what he see’s as an effeminate gay identity.  In recent years he focuses on “male tribalism,” is a certain radical wing of the Men’s Rights Movement, and writes about tribal bands dissociating themselves with the larger society and State.  In his “Rules for Barbarians,” he focused on things like not caring about the fate of out-group peoples.  This ties into work he has been writing for a long time, including last-year’s article “I Don’t Care” over at Radix Journal.  Donovan, beyond being deeply misogynist and an advocate of brutal hierarchical violence, is much more wishy-washy when it comes to race.  In his article “Why I Support White Nationalism,” he expresses a tacit support for the racialist movement since they are essentially men who want to create their own tribalist society with an in-group and out-group.  In his recent article and podcast on the Wolves of Vinland, a folkish Asatru group modeled on a motorcycle gang, it seemed apparent that he was interested in joining.  He then wrote a review of “What is a Rune?” by white nationalist Heathen Colin Clear for Counter-Currents, which shows a move in favor of identitarian paganism.  Even though his talk did not reference race much, he spoke at the Human BioDiversity obsessed American Renaissance last year.  All of this indicates a drift towards white identity for Donovan, though the movement will likely only take him in at an arm’s length distance because of his homosexuality.  Mike Enoch really enjoys making gay jokes about him, but Enoch really just loves any time when he can use queer sexuality to degrade people.

The conference had a reported 175 attendants, which may seem like a lot except considering that there really are not a huge catalogue of similar events.  For years NPI has lead a faction of the “alt right” that focused on a pseudo-spiritual and academic discourse in favor of ethnic nationalism, but here we are seeing a shift away from neutral coded language and a more open support of traditional racism and Jew-blaming.  Spencer is now calling for the need for a whites-only “European empire,” which he alleges is a part of the white “Faustian nature.”  When discussing his hometown issue when a group of White Fish, Montana residents got together to stand against his racism, he mentioned how he thought to himself, “What would a Jew do?”  The crowd laughed and clapped with glee, and he went on about how he can use his superior logic to turn things around on them.  This is all good rhetoric, but the movement he is a part of is composed mainly of double-speak, angry racist rants about pop culture(the humiliating boycott of the new Star Wars is prime example), and the lack of even basic understanding of how to create a movement that can transform anything is what leaves them behind.

This does not, however, meant that they are no longer a threat.  There is still a huge growth happening here, crossovers in the form of Donald Trump’s campaign and the fringe movements like Neoreaction and the Dark Enlightenment, and their effort to co-opt “radicalism” and “dissent.”  To really confront NPI and the growing faction of pseudo-intellectual revolutionary nationalists, there needs to be an anti-fascist movement that does what the far-right was never able to do: to build a movement.  Anti-fascist and anti-racists will have to destroy the narrative that nationalists are building, which is easy to do since reality and public opinion really are on our side.  Sticking to the Antifa idea of “no platform” is critical, and that does not mean shooting silly-string onto NPI conference attendents, but not allowing them to have a public voice.