White supremacists have been fighting among themselves ever since the violent Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, Virginia. That infighting escalated following last weekend’s White Lives Matter (WLM) rally in Shelbyville, Tennessee.
About 200 white supremacists around the country attended the WLM rally. The main organization behind the rally was the Nationalist Front, which includes groups such as League of the South, a Southern nationalist group, the neo-Nazi National Socialist Movement and two other neo-Nazi groups, Matt Heimbach and Matt Parrott's Traditionalist Worker Party (TWP), and Vanguard America. A number of Klan groups were also represented at the rally, including the Global Crusader Knights and the International Keystone Knights.
There is a major point of contention among various white supremacist factions: divergent opinions about acceptable ways to act and dress – and how to best promote their cause. In one camp, are white supremacists who promote “American Nationalism” and advocate for a racist ideology that appeals to conservatives with the use of ostensibly unifying symbols like the American flag, They also use more subtle language to promote their white supremacist ideas and events. They are in conflict with those whom Occidental Dissent’s Brad Griffin, aka Hunter Wallace, identifies as the “hard right” who prefer to highlight their racist and anti-Semitic ideology through their militant dress, explicit language, and hardcore beliefs such as National Socialism.
A number of the attendees in Tennessee openly displayed neo-Nazi symbols such as SS bolts and Klan patches. Some also gave Nazi salutes and wore black helmets reminiscent of fascist forces during World War II. Griffin, one of the organizers of the event, stressed in his “post-mortem” analysis of the event that “there were no swastika flags in Shelbyville.” The Nationalist Front was trying to contain the display of the most blatant Nazi imagery at the rally so that the attendees could appear less hardcore than they actually are, but the effort fell flat. The “optics” of neo-Nazis giving “Sieg heil” salutes and Klan members wearing Klan symbols on their jackets irked a number of activists on the alt right.
A number of alt right activists had harsh words for the WLM rally, including Andrew Anglin, who runs The Daily Stormer, a neo-Nazi site. Nathan Damigo, the former head of Identity Evropa, a white supremacist group active in the campaign to post fliers on campuses, and Nicholas Fuentes and Jack Allsup, two college students who present themselves as “conservatives” but have their feet planted firmly in the worlds of white nationalism and the alt right, were angry at the WLM rally attendees for displaying signs and symbols associated with the hardcore white supremacist movement.
In a column for The Daily Stormer, Anglin, who recently disavowed his neo-Nazi persona, disparaged the “1980s style neo-Nazism” on display in Tennessee, and wrote that the rally was “not at all close to the vision I have for the movement I have contributed to.” He went on to encourage fellow white supremacists to make an attempt to look like “something normal people can get behind.”
Damigo, Fuentes and Allsup also attacked the rally on Twitter, with Damigo saying it was “cringe” and “self-indulgent extremism.” Allsup made fun of the march in a tweet, telling Griffin that he “can go celebrate ‘victory’ with your twenty KKK buddies,” and adding, “RAHOWA [Racial Holy War, a common white supremacist refrain] is definitely coming any day now, buddy!” In his tweet, Fuentes disparaged the “card carrying KKK & Nazis, Roman salutes, not a single decent recording and underwhelming attendance.”
Both Griffin and TWP’s Matt Parrott (who did not attend the rally in Shelbyville) reacted with anger to the attacks from alt right figures. Griffin called them “a bunch of childless homosexuals” and wrote on his blog, Occidental Dissent, that the rally was a “success” because it changed the narrative around Charlottesville by demonstrating that white supremacists could hold an event without violence.
Parrott was likewise on the defensive, saying he believed the WLM rally was a success. He chided the white supremacists who want to dress up “like frat boys with American flags” and described members of his own group as “street nationalists” who put themselves in the line of fire against groups like antifa. He attacked American Nationalism, saying, “Identifying ourselves with this prolapsing empire is a bad idea that we will not sign off on.” He also said that he and his cohorts “realize that the American federal government can’t be and won’t be a vehicle for White Nationalism.”
Ultimately, the alt right and white supremacists like Parrott share the same ideology. Both groups promote racism and anti-Semitism and want whites to live separately from non-whites, but they disagree on how to achieve that goal. It seems unlikely that they will reconcile their differences anytime soon.