The year in far-right batshittery

They came, they saw, they melted down.

The year in far-right batshittery

They came, they saw, they melted down.

This year was a good one for delighting in the misfortunes of the “new right,” a collection of people with ideologies ranging from outright white nationalism to veiled reactionary conservatism. After a robust 2017, during which the group flourished under the 45th American president, the new right faltered this year, giving the rest of us numerous opportunities to marvel at their self-delusion.

Here, in no particular order, are five times the new right's mishaps brought us joy in 2018.

Gavin McInnes scurries away from Proud Boys

In 2016, Vice co-founder Gavin McInnes, started an all-male, far-right group called the Proud Boys. In its brief life, the Proud Boys have been responsible for a seemingly unending string of evermore violent racist harassment but have suffered few consequences for its actions.

In October, the group finally ran afoul of the law. After an event at the Metropolitan Republican Club in New York celebrating the 58th anniversary of the assassination of Japanese socialist leader Inejiro Asanuma, a number of Boys assaulted and beat anti-fascist protesters who had gathered outside the club.

At first, McInnes blamed the protesters for the violence and said his organization was the real victim. But as police took action against the gang and it became clear that the group was facing legal consequences, McInnes relented and turned on his Boys, urging them to turn themselves in. Nine members were eventually indicted after video of the assault surfaced; McInnes arranged their surrender.

McInnes then resigned from his leadership role with the group, citing vague advice from lawyers who, he claimed, told him his presence at the top of the group could lead to more legal trouble; a continued association with the masturbation-averse army could only lead to escalating legal and financial woes. In the end, this whole sordid story proved that Gavin McInnes will always do what's best for Gavin McInnes.

Milo Yiannopoulos goes broke

Milo Yiannopoulos was, for a very long time, one of the most toxic and effective trolls on social media. The former Breitbart editor, who resigned from the position in February 2017 in the wake of outrage over his comments endorsing pedophilia, was for a time one of the most famous people in the right wing media. So when it was revealed in early December that the former far-right provocateur was effectively broke, many of his former enemies broke into celebration (as of press time, I am unable to find record of anyone tweeting in support of him).

True to form, Milo's reaction to this public roasting was to push back against the delight so many felt at his downfall. Only this time, his efforts were met not with far-right cheerleading but immediate rejection. In response, he took to his Facebook page to pitifully defend himself.

“Bank balances come and go, but Milo will be funny, famous and fabulous and right about everything until the day he dies,” Yiannopoulos wrote. “I am a free speech icon. You can never defeat me. You will never shut me up.”

Two days later, he set up a Patreon account to ask for money. He was banned from the platform within hours.

The implosion of the “intellectual dark web”

The masturbatory debates of the so-called “intellectual” dark web — a clearing house for the alt-right's “smart people,” — were a frequent feature of the insufferable discourse this year, but one colossal fuck-up this year in New York proved that the “IDW” is only interested in one thing: cash.

A Canadian man named Travis Pangburn appeared seemingly out of nowhere in 2017 with an events organization called Pangburn Philosophy that sponsored a number of talks with some of IDW’s most notable voices, like race-science expert Sam Harris; anti-birth control reactionary and psychologist Jordan Peterson, and evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins, among others.

But it was this November's “Day of Reflection” event at the Manhattan Center in New York City — tickets for which went for around $500 — that was anticipated with both excitement and derision. Featuring a cast of characters from Peterson to comedian-YouTuber Dave Rubin to Bret Weinstein, a former professor at Evergreen State College who left the school after he wrote derisively about anti-racist protests on its campus, the “Day of Reflection” promised hours of intellectual stimulation.

But things did not quite play out that way, all because Pangburn was not paying speakers the fees he’d promised for past events and refusing to provide refunds for other canceled events around the country.

In response, just about everyone involved in the event dropped out of it.

“Although Pangburn still owes several speakers (including me) an extraordinary amount of money,” wrote Harris on his eponymous blog, “we were willing to participate in the NYC conference for free as recently as a few days ago, if he would have handed it over to us and stepped away.”

In response, Pangburn folded his company without offering refunds, sent out a statement calling for a new direction for his organization, then said he was leaving social media to write a book.

Kanye West was Kanye West

There were many, many spectacles this year at the White House, but perhaps nothing topped Kanye West and Trump holding a press conference that Kanye completely dominated in October. Here’s a sample of Kanye’s remarks:

“I think it would be cool for them to be Trump factories, because he’s a master of industry. He’s a builder. And I think it would be cool to have Yeezy ideation centers, which would be a mix of education that empowers people and gives them modern information.”

That meeting was the pinnacle of West's turn to the right this year. Before that, the most high-profile moment was when the rapper in April appeared in public with conservative media personalities Candace Owens and Charlie Kirk of the youth right-wing organization Turning Point USA. Kanye’s many social media posts indicating he was allying himself with the right wing, and an approving Trump tweet led the rapper to become temporary right-wing royalty.

The attention lavished on Kanye by the right made one thing crystal clear: conservatives are not keyed into popular culture. Anyone with even passing familiarity with West would have known that almost everything Kanye does is part of a show he’s (likely) performing for himself.

Not three weeks after the press conference, Kanye reversed course and announced on Twitter that he’d “been used to spread messages I don’t believe in.” Heartbroken, angry chuds flooded his mentions, crying about the betrayal. But had they paid attention in the first place, this wouldn't have been a surprise.

Laura gets Loomered at Twitter headquarters

The gold medal in far-right batshittery goes to Laura Loomer, an Islamophobic self-described “journalist” who’s adept at generating attention, usually by putting herself in situations in which she self-owns into oblivion — a phenomenon that has become known as being “Loomered.”

Loomer first saw the consequences of her rhetoric last year, when Twitter deverified her as part of a purge of a number of far-right accounts that were seen as promoting violence and hate speech. This prompted Loomer to compare the removal of a blue checkmark next to her name to the Holocaust.

“Using ‘badge politics,’ censoring those who don’t worship twitter’s liberal dictator, & implementing procedures to annihilate conservatives from the Internet?” Loomer tweeted. “Sounds like twitter is carrying out its own ‘final solution’ for conservatives.”

In September, Loomer disrupted a Congressional hearing on social media with accusations against Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey of silencing the right to ensure Democrats win back the house in the midterm elections.

“Jack Dorsey is trying to influence the election, to sway the election, so that Democrats can steal the election,” said Loomer, who was roundly mocked by the committee and then laughed out of the room.

And then, in November, Twitter removed Loomer from its platform permanently after Loomer attacked Minnesota Congresswoman-elect Ilhan Omar as pro-Sharia law.

Loomer played off her Twitter ban as a minor disturbance and pivoted to Facebook — but without a Twitter platform with more than 260,000 followers from which to spew her hate, Loomer quickly devolved into rage and recrimination. And then, in November, Loomer went to Twitter’s New York headquarters… and handcuffed herself to one of the building’s doors.

Despite the illogical nature of whatever she was trying to prove, a medium-ish crowd gathered within hours to watch her rant into a bullhorn, accusing Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey of allowing certain kinds of hate (Loomer had signs made of the tweets of Louis Farrakhan who, in fairness, is actually a national figure) and not others, like her.

Had Loomer handcuffed herself to both the doors, she most likely would have been arrested, as Splinter pointed out. Instead Loomer, with the help of police, was cut loose from the door (where the key to the handcuffs ended up was never explained, only one of the many mysteries from the whole debacle) and disappeared into the night.

Loomer still uses Facebook, Gab, and Instagram, but her enthusiasm on these platforms is notably lacking. A recent Instagram post sums up the depressing reality of how Loomered Laura is by not being on Twitter.

Here’s to another year!

Eoin Higgins is a writer in western Massachusetts.