The Daily Caller, a website created by Tucker Carlson, secretly removed articles by contributor Jason Kessler days after neo-Nazi James Fields Jr. murdered anti-racist activist Heather Heyer in a terrible car-ramming incident in Charlottesville, Va.
For the people in the cheap seats, this is how law and order works. Nazis will never get a pass. Her name was #HeatherHeyer.
James Fields Jr. found guilty of first-degree murder after ramming car through Charlottesville crowd and killing Heather Heyer https://t.co/71T1upQHb8
— Shelby Kent-Stewart ™ (@ShelbyKStewart) December 7, 2018
On Aug. 11, 2017, Kessler was the chief organizer of the Unite the Right protest, which saw neo-Nazis carrying torches to the University of Virginia Rotunda and marching through Charlottesville the next day, chanting “Jews will not replace us.”
The principles that sparked the Unite the Right march are no longer deemed overly controversial by mainstream conservative media after more than four years. On his Fox News show in April 2021, Carlson accepted the Great Replacement idea, which was blamed for the killings in Pittsburgh, Christchurch, New Zealand, Poway, California, and El Paso, Texas. He accused Democrats of “seeking to replace the current electorate” in the United States with “new people, more obedient Third-World voters.”
Unite the Right, in which white supremacists used Confederate symbols and neo-Nazi aesthetics to openly promote white nationalism, and the Jan. 6 insurgency, in which Trump supporters filtered similar goals through QAnon, paranoid anticommunism, and a perverted version of patriotism, have distinct messaging differences.
Amy Spitalnick, executive director of Integrity First for America, a charity that is backing a civil lawsuit against Unite the Right’s organizers, is one of those who sees parallels between the two gatherings.
“The four years in between have shown us how much of this extremism has moved into the mainstream,” she said. “If you look at the tools and tactics, there are many, many parallels, from the use of social media to plan the violence to an explicit discussion of the use of free speech instruments like flagpoles as weapons, to the immediate finger-pointing to ‘Antifa, blaming them for the violence that far-right extremists were responsible for to even some of the ideology.
“While Charlottesville was explicitly white nationalist with holocaust imagery, and with KKK and Nazi paraphernalia like the tiki torches that are meant to evoke dark periods of our history, on January 6th when you think about ‘stopping the steal,’ it also speaks at its core to this same idea: There’s a plot to steal the country from largely white Christians,” Spitalnick continued. “That idea that Jews will not replace us is at the core of Unite the Right, but it’s also at the core of Jan. 6. We’ve seen how these ideas have been mainstreamed, from Tucker Carlson giving replacement theory a home on Fox News every night to Republican politicians talking about it.”
Over the last four years, the two dozen leaders and groups on trial in Charlottesville have not been the key drivers of far-right extremism. While the defendants who were the rally’s principal organizers have been financially hampered by continuing litigation, several of the attendees played key roles in arranging support for the Jan. 6 attack on the US Capitol.
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“The rootless transnational elite knows that a tidal wave of white identity is coming. And they know that once the word gets outs, they will not be able to stop us. The fire rises!” Nicholas Fuentes posted on social media in August of 2017.
Fuentes was hired to bring the army of young, white guys known as “Groypers” who follow him into the #StopTheSteal alliance more than three years later. On Nov. 21, 2020, Fuentes scaled a stepladder and addressed Trump supporters outside of the Georgia State Capitol in Atlanta, after being introduced by #StopTheSteal organizer Ali Alexander.
“This is an intergenerational struggle of the real American people that constitute this country over and against the global special interests that have taken it over,” Fuentes said, electrifying the crowd. “If we are unsuccessful in our struggle to secure President Trump another term in office, then that will institute and introduce the rule of global corporations over this country.
“What is at stake is nothing short of our civilizational inheritance,” Fuentes continued, using language strikingly similar to that of Richard Spencer, the marquee leader at Unite the Right. “We Americans have inherited the greatest civilization in the history of the world, and we’re not giving it up without a fight.” Launching into a transphobic rant accusing global elites of harboring “sick plans” for Americans, Fuentes then falsely equated immigration with criminality, claiming that the globalists “want dirt and scum and crime on these streets.” He declared: “This is not a Third World country; this is the United States of America!”
The Proud Boys, who arose from the alt-right movement that rode Trump’s coattails, are closely interwoven with the Unite the Right organizing activities.
Kessler was a member of the Proud Boys as well as a contributor to the Daily Caller. Prior to Unite the Right, Kessler organized a “Proud Boys” event in Charlottesville, where he was inducted into the gang by being thrashed in an alley until he could name five-morning cereals, according to the civil suit’s complaint. The plaintiffs have indicated that they intend to put into evidence an article entitled “Proud Boys are Cordially Invited to Unite the Right,” which was published by the defendant group Traditionalist Worker Party.
“It is still an overwhelming experience to the process, and the men I met that day I consider brothers for life,” Reeves posted on Facebook.
Over the next four years, the Proud Boys would escalate street violence against left-wing opponents, build ties with the GOP, and supply members to the effort to prevent Joe Biden from becoming president, as other far-right groups dealt with the legal fallout and public-relations backlash following Unite the Right. In connection with the assault on the Capitol on January 6, dozens of Proud Boys are facing federal prosecution.
“The clearest winners from Unite the Right were the Proud Boys,” said Alexander Reid Ross, a doctoral fellow at the Center for Analysis of the Radical Right. “They backed out. There’s a part of the alt-right within the Unite the Right coalition that was able to bring that legacy further into fascism. That was the Proud Boys.
“McInnis recognized astutely in a sense that with the National Socialist Movement getting involved, it was going to be a debacle,” Ross continued. “It was always going to be associated with the Nazi movement, and not just the broad right-wing. He disassociated at the last minute. But the Proud Boys are interwoven with Unite the Right. Tarrio was there, as well as the Fraternal Order of the Alt-Knights.”
Carlson has avoided blatant antisemitism so far, according to Ross.
“Tucker Carlson will simply use liberals as a stand-in for the role played by the Jews,” Ross said. “He talks about [liberal financier George] Soros a lot. He promotes conspiracy theories, but he doesn’t make those the obvious center of his politics; it’s more obscure. That might be changing. We’ve seen in the US an increase in attacks on Jews. We’ve seen major sports stars and comedians come out with antisemitic extremism. I think we’re witnessing a frightening increase in antisemitism in the mainstream of the United States. I think they’re preparing the ground for openly antisemitic populism.”
Spitalnick stated the purpose of the lawsuit against the neo-Nazis who planned the Unite the Right demonstration is multifaceted in her concluding remarks at the Sept. 30 fundraiser.
“This case is about making clear the consequences of violent hate, about winning accountability for our plaintiffs, who survived the unthinkable; for the community of Charlottesville, which was violently targeted by the extremists who descended on their city from around the country,” she said. “It’s about setting a precedent serving as an example of how you can bring violent extremists to justice, and deterring others from participating in the next violent act.”
However, Spitalnick wanted to make sure that the final point was not forgotten.
“And it’s about helping to wake up our country to the crisis of white supremacy and hate,” she said.