Last week’s violent, unhinged white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, which culminated in a terror attack which killed Heather Heyer and wounded dozens of others, seems to have left the digital far-right in a sorry state indeed.
A “Free Speech Rally” in Boston which days ago was making city officials nervous it could be a repeat ended in total embarrassment on Saturday. CNN reported just a few dozen attendees faced off against thousands upon thousands of counter-protesters; the right-wingers found themselves so outnumbered they canceled the rally early and left under police guard.
Participants didn’t realize “how unplanned of an event it was going to be,” congressional candidate Samson Racioppi told WCVB-TV. “I really think it was supposed to be a good event by the organizers but it kinda fell apart.”
As the Anti-Defamation League noted, the organizers behind this particular rally were not quite the horde of “alt-right” Klansmen, Nazis, white supremacists and neo-Confederates that wrecked Charlottesville.
Instead, it was a bevy of crypto-fascist “alt light” social media personalities including Proud Boys “military wing” member Augustus Invictus, “Hip Hop Patriot” Jeremy Herrell and former InfoWars contributor and Pizzagate ringleader Joe Biggs. Also on the list was Kyle Chapman, who became pseudo-famous after a video of him beating an anti-fascist activist with a stick went viral.
These people can no longer show their faces offline anymore without being mobbed—they’re all either too scared of getting doxxed or busy furiously backpedaling now that their entire movement is associated with the naked terrorism on display in Charlottesville. Far-right digital personalities like Tim Gionet (Baked Alaska) and Millennial Matt are no longer able to get away with explaining away shouting neo-Nazi slogans and carrying torches as irony-laden trolling, certainly now that the movement has smashed into reality.
Frankly, it looks like the alt-light people are now also being recognized for what they are: If not racists themselves, a gaggle of yelping fanatics that serve as their de facto collaborators.
At least for today, that means both the hardcore alt-right white supremacists and their alt-light camp followers are being driven back online to 4chan, 8chan, Breitbart-style media knockoffs and the seedier wings of Twitter. Coupled with numerous crackdowns on the far-right movement’s ability to organize and fundraise online, this will also damage the small cottage industry in grifting it’s spawned. It’s not the light at the end of the tunnel yet, but things just got a lot harder for these folks.