Two competing rallies were held in Washington, D.C., this past weekend representing the recent schism between the alt right and the alt light.
The alt right held a “free speech” rally at the Lincoln Memorial, with a speaker lineup of unabashed white nationalists like Richard Spencer and Nathan Damigo of Identity Evropa. They ranted and raved about white genocide and immigration invasions, yet somehow their rally was the less viscerally offensive of the two.
The sparsely attended alt light rally, a protest against political violence, seemed to eschew the free speech values that were held up by the right for years. The rally was held to protest the rendition of Julius Caesar in NYC that cast Trump as Caesar, who ultimately meets a violent end. They also took issue with statements by Johnny Depp and Madonna, as well as Kathy Griffin’s Trump decapitation publicity stunt.
The central argument of the alt light is that words and art cause violence, namely the baseball field shooting of Republican House Whip Steve Scalise.
an actual photo from today's "Alt Light" #RallyForPeace
"dude we'll just defeat the left by literally becoming the left, it's brilliant" pic.twitter.com/eMJ5kODaSg
— The Swog Blog (@TheSwogBlog) June 25, 2017
Probably the least self-aware signs at this protest were those that said “Free Speech Ain’t Hate Speech,” held by one of the event’s organizers, Jack Posobiec, below.
this is what useless, controlled opposition looks like pic.twitter.com/H7KaFUnIpv
— CRISPR-YM3812 (@Crisprtek) June 25, 2017
What’s so ironic about the sign is that this exact same argument was used by left-wing protesters to bar conservatives from speaking at college campuses. These signs were held outside “alt light” Milo Yiannopoulos’ event at Berkeley. Alt light leaders like Posobiec are now using the argument to enforce their own brand of right-wing censorship and are being rightly mocked by members of the alt right and mainstream conservatives and libertarians.
The right has been arguing for years that words are not violence, that the left is too eager to police speech. From video games to controversial speakers, censorship was something to be avoided at all costs. Sometime in the past few months the alt light completely lost the plot.
Originally there was only going to be one rally in DC this weekend, the Free Speech rally. Things changed after the “theater incident,” where Rebel Media’s Laura Loomer rushed the stage at Shakespeare in the Park’s Julius Caesar performance, while Posobiec stood up and compared the audience members to Joseph Goebbels. The stunt was denounced by Richard Spencer, who called it an attack on art and free speech.
BREAKING: Julius Ceasar Gets SHUTDOWN pic.twitter.com/ITgfMR0tHE
— Jack Posobiec 🇺🇸 (@JackPosobiec) June 17, 2017
Loomer and Posobiec were scheduled to speak at the free speech rally, but backed out, citing Spencer’s anti-semitism. They quickly organized their own rally on the same day, at the same time, outside the White House. They scheduled popular alt light figures like Mike Cernovich and Cassandra Fairbanks to speak.
The divide between the alt right and light has been growing since the “Deploraball,” an event for Trump supporting new media figures held the day before Trump’s inauguration. Alt right figure Baked Alaska was barred from speaking at the event for talking about the “Jewish Question” on Twitter—i.e. questioning the influence of Jews on government and media. Many on the alt right are open anti-Semites, while the alt light is composed of many Jewish people.
Despite the fact that the “Free Speech” rally was filled mostly with white supremacist bullshit, the Rally Against Political Violence is getting the most condemnation online.
Lauren Souther, an activist who can be described as alt light, put out a video criticizing the Rally Against Political Violence for being against free speech. The aesthetics of the rally were also mocked, like this embarrassing rendition of “Give Peace a Chance.”
god almighty pic.twitter.com/XF26y8p65g
— The Swog Blog (@TheSwogBlog) June 25, 2017
This kind of rhetoric coming from the right erases any kind of moral high ground it has achieved in terms of free speech. All those brownie points the right got from mainstream America for standing up for their right to speak in the face of absurd reactions from the left. All that can be squandered by a bunch of bozos trying to shut down a play they don’t like.