After a deadly Unite the Right rally in VA, Americans are saying Good Night Alt Right by doxxing neo-Nazis whose actions are costing them jobs and families.
Last weekend, a basket of deplorables held a “Unite the Right” rally and march through the summer-empty campus of the University of Virginia in Charlottesville. Several media outlets reported on the violent events as a “clash of protesters” or as a “march that turned deadly,” but other witnesses say that the violence seemed calculated, intentional. Now, our country has had time to pick up some of the pieces and the consequences are starting to roll in. As they say on Twitter, Good Night Alt Right.
After someone finishes walking through a town, pepper-spraying counter-protesters and yelling slogans like “Jews will not replace us” and “The heat here is nothing compared to what you’re going to get in the ovens” while telling women on the other side, “I hope you get raped by a n****r,” how does one put all that rage back in a box, fly home, go back to work or school and rejoin your family as if being a neo-Nazi is just a part-time gig? This may hard for some to imagine, but it’s pretty normal for folks whose white supremacist notions are a full-time part of their identity. These are the same people who chafed all along at having to be “politically correct,” but who feel empowered by Trump’s election to wave their swastikas in public. The only people who are surprised are the ones who haven’t been listening – or personally affected.
However, it’s not OK with a lot of people. After Twitter user @YesYoureRacist began sharing images of identifiable marchers, asking the public to help identify them, naming names has resulted in real-world consequences.
The first to be identified was Cole White, who traveled to the neo-Nazi march all the way from Berkeley, CA, where he worked at Top Dog, a popular restaurant chain. As of Sunday afternoon, after his picture went viral, Cole no longer worked at Top Dog. A sign was posted on the door of the restaurant that disassociated the chain from Cole White and the actions of the white supremacists.
Not long after, Peter Tefft, from Fargo, ND, was outed as a Charlottesville marcher. Tefft, a self-described pro-white activist, was rejected by his family after his identification on Twitter resulted in threats. His nephew released a statement that said, in part, “Peter is a maniac, who has turned away from all of us and gone down some insane internet rabbit-hole, and turned into a crazy nazi. He scares us all, we don’t feel safe around him, and we don’t know how he came to be this way.” His father is also deeply heartbroken.
When the University of Nevada became aware that student Peter Cvjetanovic attended the rally in Charlottesville, they too issued a denouncement of the movement. Cvjetanovic, who also works for the university, said he would probably wouldn’t be welcome there much longer. Oddly enough, despite attending a white supremacist brawl, Cvjetanovic wants people to know that he’s really a nice guy. “As a white nationalist, I care for all people,” he said. “We all deserve a future for our children and for our culture. White nationalists aren’t all hateful; we just want to preserve what we have.” That’s why they go around wishing for women to be raped and threatening the heat of the ovens.
Other neo-Nazi organizations and Confederate sympathizers experienced rejection more generally. The Illinois Senate passed a resolution deeming white nationalist and neo-Nazi groups to be terror organizations. The mayor of Lexington, KY, is saying Good Night Alt Right by prioritizing the removal of Confederate statues from the city’s historic courthouse. And GoDaddy, the host of the neo-Nazi website Daily Stormer, said Good Night Alt Right by kicking them to the curb.
The more reflective among us may question the morality of so much virtual Nazi punching. After all, generations of black, brown, gay, transgender, non-Christian, and liberal people have experienced exactly this reaction from the likes of those who spat hate and ended the life of a woman this weekend. People have been ostracized by their families for loving the same gender and fired from their jobs for the wrong political bumper stickers (and now and then, American trees and streets still bear strange fruit). Shame has long been a traditional tool that communities use to keep their members within socially acceptable bounds. We know it’s not the answer, but sometimes it’s the only way to get through to someone who perceives the refusal to fight back as the weakness of a cuck.
While comparing an adversary to Hitler or the Nazis is the famous endpoint that has rendered countless internet arguments invalid, even Godwin himself is giving us a pass on this one. Another thing to remember is to refuse to let anyone weaponize your compassion. In the coming days (and, heaven help us, years), many people will try to point out that even the Nazis and white nationalists have a “right to their opinions” and deserve “tolerance” just as much as your minority neighbor. While the Bill of Rights forbids Congress from infringing on the rights to free speech and association, that doesn’t mean we have to listen respectfully, tugging our forelocks, nor does it mean that businesses and private citizens can’t react. Tolerance is, after all, a peace treaty, and those who do not hold the peace need not receive the benefits of those who do.
So, good night alt right! However, as we dropkick white supremacists out of the Overton window, let us not forget about the millions more who sympathize but would never march in a neo-Nazi parade, and those who are “nice people” yet still complicit in oppression. At least the marchers are easier to spot.