Civil Rights

Ocean State Against Hate: Join us in ensuring that there is no platform for fascists in Providence

To all Southern New Englanders concerned about the rise of the far-right and fascism in contemporary America: the hate group “Resist Marxism” is planning to hold a rally at the Rhode Island State House on August 4th. This group is connected to several violent fascist groups, including the American Guard, Anti-Communist Action, Patriot Prayer, and the Proud Boys. They have

Rhode Island News: Ocean State Against Hate: Join us in ensuring that there is no platform for fascists in Providence

July 27, 2018, 12:33 pm

By Ocean State Against Hate

To all Southern New Englanders concerned about the rise of the far-right and fascism in contemporary America: the hate group “Resist Marxism” is planning to hold a rally at the Rhode Island State House on August 4th.

This group is connected to several violent fascist groups, including the American Guard, Anti-Communist Action, Patriot Prayer, and the Proud Boys. They have been harassing left-wing events and meetings in Boston under the guise of “free speech.” And now they want to come and recruit in our community.

They say that liberal elites and left-wing extremists are working to undermine the American government and way of life, and they are the ones to stop the grand conspiracy. By presenting themselves as suppressed and conspired against, the far-right tries to play the victim and distract from their hateful and destructive ideology of white nationalism and global destruction.

“Resist Marxism” represent themselves as your run-of-the-mill conservative, patriot movement rather than goose-stepping Nazis. But when dealing with American nationalism, the line between more normative conservatism and all-out fascism has become blurry. Their direct connection to known violent groups and their white-nationalist brand of American patriotism gives up the game. Do not mistake this group for your normal, Republican-connected activist group (think Turning Points USA); beneath their mask of light-nationalism lays the 21st century incarnation of white-nationalism. For more on exactly what “Resist Marxism” is hiding, consult this article.

We refuse to be fooled, and we will oppose them. In response, a coalition of anti-racist, anti-sexist, pro-LGBTQ, anti-fascist, socialist, labor, and community organizers has formed, calling ourselves “Ocean State Against Hate.” Our purpose is simple and clear: to shut down their event and make it clear that this community defend themselves from hate.

Who are “Resist Marxism”?

Almost a year ago, hundreds of far-right thugs gathered in Charlottesville, Virginia, purportedly to protest plans to remove a statue of the traitor Robert E Lee. This so called Unite the Right rally brought together the various elements of the resurgent far-right after the election of Donald Trump: neo-Nazis, white nationalists, far-right militia members, and MAGA nationalists alike. Although hundreds of brave community members and antifascist activists answered the call and disrupted the rally, the day ended with the death of Heather Heyer and 14 injured antifascists after a member of the white nationalist group Vanguard America (a group which has had a presence in Rhode Island and could be a part of the August 4th rally) drove his car into a crowd of antifascist protesters.

One week later, 45,000 people took to the streets of Boston to shut down a so-called “Free Speech Rally” organized by white nationalists and far-right nationalists. They succeeded, as many of the planned attendees of the rally failed to show and those who did were forced to evacuate Boston Common and be taken to safety in the back of Boston Police Department transport trucks.

Following this failure, far-right forces in the Boston area united under the name “Resist Marxism” and teamed up with well-known alt-right figure Kyle Chapman. Chapman, a Texas native, is known by the moniker “Based Stickman” which was given to him after a picture of Chapman striking an antifascist protester with a stick at a protest in Berkeley, California went viral. Chapman hasn’t hidden his preference for violence, founding the Fraternal Order of Alt-Knights, described as “a ‘fight club’ ready for street violence.” He was the keynote speaker at Resist Marxism’s ‘Rally for the Republic’ on Boston Common back in November 2017.

One other prominent speaker at that event was Pacific-Northwest based Joey Gibson, founder of the far-right Christian Nationalist group Patriot Prayer. Gibson is a West Coast based alt-right figure who generally acts as a “reasonable front” of traditional far-right conservatism in order to organize events, and then allowing explicit white nationalists to take part (including the man who killed 2 people on the Portland light rail). On June 30th of this year,  Gibson organized and led a march in Portland, Oregon, at which he bussed in dozens of Proud Boys (self-proclaimed “western chauvinists” with a proclivity for violence) and other alt-right protesters. Antifascist protesters were able to halt their march and the alt-rightists charged in an attempt to break the line, resulting in a large brawl which led to several injuries. Gibson will be holding a sister rally with Resist Marxism’s in Portland on August 4th.

As for the rank-and-file of Resist Marxism, North Shore Antifa has done this fantastic write up. To summarize, they range from the more common MAGA nationalists to those with direct connections to more overt white-nationalist groups such as the American Guard and Anti-Communist Action.

As previously mentioned, the first event organized under the banner of “Resist Marxism” was the “Rally for the Republic” on November 18th of 2017. What is notable about this event is the high level of police protection the alt-right protesters were given, despite their lack of a permit for their gathering. Police set up extensive barricades around a large gazebo which would host the rally and gave the alt-rightists a full police escort in and out of the Common. While the police ensured that the un-permitted gathering would go ahead, the fascists were still prevented from spreading their message due to both their isolation due to the extensive barricading, as well as the noise of the much larger counter-protest.

Although Resist Marxism held a smaller gathering outside of the Massachusetts State House on June 2nd, 2018, they have also begun attempting to disrupt liberal protests such as the Boston Women’s March, the Boston March For Our Lives, and the Boston Keep Families Together protest. They have also harassed leftist organizing events, including a book signing by Dartmouth Professor Mark Bray and a recent meeting of the Boston chapter of the Democratic Socialists of America.

Why Here? Why “Resist Marxism”?

Now, Resist Marxism is attempting to expand into Rhode Island by holding a “Freedom Rally.” Unfortunately, Rhode Island may be a more fertile recruiting ground for far-right groups than one might think. We have not been immune from the national resurgence of nationalist and far-right thinking, despite the state’s supposed liberal reputation. In the 2016 election, Donald Trump won a majority of votes in 14 of 39 Rhode Island towns (notably Coventry, West Warwick, and Johnston), while running close in places like Warwick and Woonsocket.

Towns like Coventry, Lincoln, Smithfield, and Johnston are full of angry young men, especially angry young white men, who have found that the life that was promised to them isn’t materializing. They hold resentments which make them easy prey for fascist ideas and analysis.

Like many before them, they have bought into the easy narrative that fascism and white-nationalism sells: a two pronged narrative of past racial glory and contemporary oppression. They are told that they are the modern incarnation of a proud and noble legacy which forces are now attempting to suppress (part of the Proud Boys ridiculous initiation ritual includes the candidate pledging that they are “a Western chauvinist” who “won’t apologize for creating the modern world”).

They are told that they are being held back, that privileges that once allowed them easier access to a decent life aren’t as effective anymore. They are told that illegal immigrants are suppressing the economy and making streets unsafe, that affirmative action took their college spot or their next promotion. It is a narrative of victimhood and resentment which breeds hate for racial, gender, and sexual minorities.

Branding themselves as “Resist Marxism” is a sad attempt to deflect from their hateful rhetoric and paint themselves as the victim. In their story, they are mere patriots attempting to declare the glory of America who are being silenced by liberal elites, biased media, and a Marxist college education system. In their minds, they are the simultaneously the victim of a vast conspiracy yet powerful due to the legacy of greatness which they have attached themselves to.

It has long been a tactic of fascists to hide their hate behind a veil of “free speech,” arguing that their supposed right to say whatever they want should distract us from the impact of their speech. Even the nation’s most punchable Nazi, Richard Spencer, has said that the alt-right is lying about their belief in free speech.

“Resist Marxism” drape themselves in wholesome patriotism and nationalism, as if that inoculates them from fascist ideas rather than breeds them. Their assertion is nonsensical, as if American fascism wouldn’t be draped in the flag, the Constitution, and love for the Founding Fathers. As the now unattributed phrase goes, “When fascism comes to America, it will be wrapped in the flag and carrying a cross.”

Their ethos of hiding behind normative patriotism is encapsulated in one of their featured speaker for the Providence rally, leader of the New York Light Foot Militia George Curbelo. Curbelo was at the Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, serving as second-in-command to Christian Yingling in a militia force which had organized to “ensure free speech” was upheld at the rally (aka, ensuring that the Nazi rally was not disturbed).

When it became clear that the rally would be a PR disaster for the far-right, Curbelo and Yingling went into full damage control mode. They condemned the overt white-nationalists, telling everyone who would listen that they weren’t fascist or racist, just patriots who take the Constitution and free speech very seriously. Anyone who calls them a Nazi, they say, is lying and erasing any true meaning from the word.

But even if we assume that they aren’t just lying about their beliefs (which we shouldn’t), their personal feelings are irrelevant next to their material support for neo-Nazis and other white-nationalists. All the work they do is to ensure that neo-Nazi and white-nationalist groups are freely able to recruit and disseminate their hateful ideology. They have turned into a private security force for fascism, whatever they may say to the press or the public.

We must remember that even if these groups claim to disavow violence and the hateful politics of overt neo-Nazis, they do the work that normalizes their rhetoric and ensure that overt neo-Nazis can freely recruit and spread their ideas. Even if we assume that “Resist Marxism” poses no substantive threat to at-risk communities in its current form, we must still be vigilant in our community self-defense against fascists and their hate. We must treat every instance of fascist organizing as if that group could be the next Nazi Party or Falangist movement, because by the time that most people would recognize the fascist threat, it might be too late.

A commitment to antifascism means providing no platform, allowing no recruitment or dissemination of ideas. It means completely preventing their ability to recruit and spread their hateful ideology. There can be no free speech for Nazis because they cannot be debated, they cannot be ignored and allowed to fester. They must be rooted out so that they cannot grow, cannot recruit, and cannot make targeted communities feel unsafe and under threat.

So we are asking the community to join us in ensuring that there is no platform for fascists in Providence or anywhere else. We ask that on Saturday, August 4th, at 11 AM, you join us on the Rhode Island State House steps in a display of people power and community self-defense.

We will shut them down and show that hate does not belong in the Ocean State.