“I feel like I’ve just met the real life Bellatrix Lestrange,” I declared on Friday night, with a bit of a chill down my back. I had just spent the evening protesting the National Policy Institute’s white supremacist dinner at a Maggiano’s in Friendship Heights. The protest was relatively small, but buoyant and effective.
Organized by the DC Antifascist coalition, it involved following the NPI members as stealthily as possible from the nearby metro station and to the restaurant they had chosen after their original pick, the Hamilton, had cancelled their reservation under public pressure. Then, our little unit entered the restaurant chanting “No Nazis, No KKK No Fascist USA!”
Like some kind of Bellatrix Lestrange in full sociopathic glory, but with considerably less panache
We climbed the stairs toward the private dining room where Richard Spencer and his alt-right’ co-conspirators were hiding. We were stopped before we reached the top, of course, but stayed chanting in their general direction for a good quarter of an hour. A few NPI members came out and looked down from the banister, pointing their phones’ cameras towards us, wearing satisfied smiles.
One in particular looked particularly delighted: a stout, frigid looking woman was laughing at us, taunting and calling us ‘dirty commies’ in a state of demented glee. Like some kind of Bellatrix Lestrange in full sociopathic glory, but with considerably less panache.
I wouldn’t have paid her- or her death-eater friends, much attention if it had just been for that incident. It’s a good day when the worst thing anybody can think of calling me is “dirty commie”.
Inside the Ronald Reagan building, white supremacists heiled Trump with unabashed Nazi salutes
Besides, the protest was an absolute success. The majority of guests and staff at Maggiano’s cheered us on as we passed – some even joined our ranks. The fabulous flash-mob dance party that we set up in front of the restaurant for the rest of the evening was beautiful in all its unapologetic defiance.
And we succeeded: NPI members had to exit through a back door, like cowards, incapable of facing a couple dozen dancers chanting “Who runs the world?” (Girls.) And to top it all, the following Monday Maggiano’s issued a formal apology for hosting them and vowed to donate the evening’s proceeds to the DC Anti-Defamation League.
A disrupted dinner, a wimpy exit. Not so ubermensch. And with the knowledge that they’d all made a generous donation to a Jewish human rights organization – a pretty bad night, all in all, for the Sturmabteilung hopefuls.
But it was what happened the next day that convinced me these people can’t be dismissed as mere repugnant aberrations, but as genuine threats to be vigilant of. As a crowd of protesters relentlessly marched and chanted anti-fascist slogans in unison, a couple hundred white supremacists inside the Ronald Reagan building in downtown DC heiled Trump with unabashed Nazi salutes and strategized about their empowerment.
For a theory of unabashed alpha masculinity and impenitent dominance, it’s actually pretty whiny
To them, a Trump presidency is not the reward of their efforts but merely the beginning. A sign that the wind has changed, and it’s blowing right into their sails. The appointment of Steve Bannon is a “wonderful thing” to Spencer, but he’s still merely Alt-Light. They believe they are the real vanguard.
And they might just be, as atrocious as it might be to consider, if only for the fact that their white nationalism is so intricately theorized. Richard Spencer’s speech, which can (and should) be read here, may be much too steeped in vulgar ineptitudes to qualify as scholarly, but it is savvy and shrewdly crafted. Its narrative is a mix of old-school White-Man’s Burden and more contemporary fear of the great takeover, a theory that finds echo in France in the “Grand Remplacement” doctrine: white people’s fear of losing their supremacy by sheer demographic force.
For a theory of unabashed alpha masculinity and impenitent dominance, it’s actually pretty whiny. ‘Boo-hoo’, they cry (while denigrating colleges for allowing wimpy safe spaces), ‘nothing is normal anymore!’ They list all of the manifestations of human existence which escape their own experience (and, more importantly, their control) as so many degeneracies.
While they posit their inherent genetic superiority, the supposed incomparable genius of the white race, their argument is, in the end, nothing more than a victim’s wail, like a spoiled, bratty baby who can’t bear the realization that he’s no longer the center of the universe and demands that things go back to the way they were before Object Permanence.
“Because for us, Europeans, it’s only normal again when we are great again,” Spencer concluded on Saturday. And then he threw his rattle on the floor (just kidding).
Richard Spencer is not Voldemort. He is not powerful enough to stand this analogy- and neither is Trump- who’ll never be smart enough to be a Tom Riddle. Rather, Voldemort is Fascism itself, never completely defeated, always ready to grow stronger and rise again at the first opportunity. Spencer, Trump, Bannon, are its horcruxes, and they’ll require all of us to destroy.
It is untenable for anyone to hold the stance that we mustn’t enter immediately into a state of resistance, organizing to fight the Trump horror show in all of its manifestations, every step of the way. It is not just denial, it is irresponsibly immoral- whether it’s from naïve Cornelius Fudges or complicit Dolores Umbridges. There’s no time to lose: they are already on the march.