This form of aggression is something researchers say they have not seen on such a scale before on the far right, where the chosen method of provocation for groups like neo-Nazis and the Ku Klux Klan is to demand the use of public space for rallies where they can spew racist and offensive language that is nonetheless protected as free speech.
“These are new people to us,” said Heidi Beirich, the Intelligence Project director for the Southern Poverty Law Center, which tracks extremist movements.
Typically, the far-right groups they study will demonstrate but avoid confrontation, acting in a “defensive crouch,” she added.
“But saying, ‘We’re going to show up and we’re intending to get in fights,’ that’s a new thing,” Ms. Beirich said.
Some groups like the Proud Boys have initiation rituals that include violent hazing and require an oath of fealty to Western culture. Their followers thrive on hyper-masculinity and celebrate when one of their brethren hits a leftist agitator. They mock Islam and purport to be soldiers against a “war on Whites,” while being mindful not to embrace overt white supremacy. Roger J. Stone Jr., a longtime associate of Mr. Trump’s, has taken the Proud Boy oath.
Things quickly turned boozy and bizarre. After a few remarks, Mr. McInnes initiated a new group of Proud Boys, some wearing “Make America Great Again” hats. The first ritual, as captured on video and explained by a member, was to “announce yourself as a white, proud Western chauvinist, make sure everyone knows it, and don’t be ashamed.” In a second ritual, the recruits were punched repeatedly until they recited the names of five breakfast cereals.
The use of ironic, juvenile antics is something commonly seen on the fringes of the right because it allows a veneer of deniability, experts said. “It gives them an out, a gray area where they can make this safe space to say what they want,” said Carla Hill, a researcher for the Anti-Defamation League’s Center on Extremism.
Mr. Chapman remained fight-free last week at the Shariah law protest. He mostly roamed the crowd, snapping selfies with his fans, followed by a flock of acolytes, some of whom, in homage to him, were dressed in pads and helmets, and carried heavy sticks.
Later that day, Mr. McInnes gave a party in an unmarked bar on Lexington Avenue. There were Alt-Knights, Proud Boys, bikers in leather vests and young guys with the American flag around their necks. Though the crowd was mostly white men, there were women, a few black people and Latinos. After three or four hours, a rowdy mood set in.
“I have a question!” Mr. Chapman shouted at one point, commanding the attention of the room. “What do we stand for?”
“Freedom!” people yelled.
“And what do we bleed for?” Mr. Chapman shouted.
“Freedom!” they yelled again.
He suddenly grabbed the man beside him.
“Are you ready to bleed?” Mr. Chapman shouted at the man.
“I’m ready to bleed!” he yelled.
Saturday, June 3, 2017
It Does Begin
by M. Bouffant at 04:32
Make America (1930s) Germany Again: Several Street-Fightin' Wanna-Bees profiled by The N.Y.T.
Y'ain 't seen nuthin' yet.