What the hell is happening in Charlottesville? It seems like there is an endless parade of white nationalist events, including the torch-lit rally led by “Alt-Right” poster child Richard Spencer in May, a scheduled Ku Klux Klan rally in July, and a follow on ‘Unite the Right’ rally in August.
The emergence of these supremacist groups in Charlottesville should come as no real surprise to anyone following the current conversation. White nationalist groups are using the removal of a statue celebrating Confederate General Robert E. Lee as a platform to push their agenda. There is also little doubt the debate over these symbols will continue to be a flashpoint for everyone in Virginia for the foreseeable future.
But there is more to this story with the uncovering of a Periscope channel titled, “Alt-Right VA”, which looks to be linked to the Trump loving Proud Boys. All five of their most recent videos were filmed on the streets of Charlottesville, with the last few posted this past week.
So, who are the Proud Boys?
The Proud Boys claim to be a fraternal group of young white men who believe western civilization is greater than all others, antifascists and progressives are the enemy, and that masturbation should be avoided (true story). Started by Gavin McInnes, one of the original creators of VICE, he has risen in prominence in the world of alt-right provocateurs by offering what he claims is “alt-right lite”, which is just another way of articulating the core ideas prevalent in white nationalism.
Nonetheless, this Proud Boys Periscope channel offers a glimpse into what white nationalists in Virginia – each of whom are wearing matching Fred Perry shirts – considers to be an initiation. Amongst the bravado of this moment, the video participants can be heard yelling: “Are you a proud western chauvinist? Do you refuse to apologize for creating the modern world?” The group halts only when the men being “jumped-in” name five breakfast cereals.
Check out the Periscope of white nationalist bros in Charlottesville HERE.
While this Periscope channel has not been widely shared or disseminated, it remains important for two reasons: White nationalist groups are becoming increasingly visible and the kinds of rhetoric they use (“do you support western civilization?”) to push their agenda is highly deceptive and dangerous. It creates a false narrative that is highly consumable for people not aware of the context in which these conversations exist. And finally, Charlottesville is only an hour up the road from Richmond, if Confederate symbols are the flashpoint attracting white nationalists there, how long before that comes crashing home here in Richmond?