Alt-Right Clowns Show up to Support White-Supremacist Richard Spencer
Protestors make no distinction between clowns and neo-nazis during “Stop Spencer at Michigan State University” protest
Last Monday I traveled to Michigan State University (MSU) to join others in standing up against Richard Spencer’s message of white-supremacy. The protest, organized by Stop Spencer MSU, was attended by people from all walks of life, from teenagers to individuals in their 70s. Spencer, a white-nationalist organizer, was granted the right to speak at Michigan State following a lawsuit brought forward by his attorney, Kyle Bristow, an alt-right activist in his own right who has espoused anti-semitic and racist beliefs. The University and Spencer reached a settlement permitting him to speak on the outskirts of campus during spring break on the condition that he never return to campus again in the future. His talk was the culmination of an “alt-right,” conference which turned out to be a disaster after all of his venues cancelled and Bristow, the event organizer, resigned.
Free speech doesn’t guarantee you an audience
Free speech was at the center of the debate surrounding Spencer’s appearance at MSU. Legally, hate speech is protected under the United States Constitution, but that doesn’t mean that an individual’s speech is protected from ridicule or protest, or that it will be heard. Anti-fascist protesters were extremely successful at preventing people from attending the event with less than 30 in attendance. Spencer loves to wear the cloak of victimhood, but, despite his cries for justice, preventing people from attending his appearances is not a violation of his speech. Ironically, he uses the muscle of the Constitution to protect himself while simultaneously calling for “peaceful ethnic cleansing,” achieved through the elimination and displacement of all people of color from North America, both an act of treason and a violation of the country’s founding documents.
Hypocrisy and Fantasies of White Victimhood
For a group of people who love to throw around “snowflake” as an insult, members of the alt-right sure seem to meltdown when faced with the most minute deviation from their fragile white fantasy. Lashing out at any suggestion that they might have to coexist with people different than themselves, their entire “movement” is built on the concept of isolating themselves from divergent ideas and experiences. The “oppression” they experience is, comically, nearly non-existent compared to those of people of color, women, immigrants, or the LGBTQ community.
Perhaps the most flagrant hypocrisy displayed on Monday was Spencer’s dramatic performance masquerading as a peaceful advocate for change. An act that was regurgitated in the press multiple times, despite being patently false. Pointing his finger at the anti-fascist group known as Antifa, Spencer categorized the outside protest as “worrisome and heinous,” and an “attempt to use violence to prevent people from attending a speech that was peaceful.” While a small fraction of protestors certainly engaged in violence, such as throwing rocks and fist-fighting, his group was far from innocent.
Laughably, Spencer paraded around as a peaceful victim while simultaneously hiring a violent white-nationalist organization called the Traditionalist Worker Party (TWP), led by Matthew Heimbach and Johan Carollo, as his personal security force. Heimbach, who was the organizer of the deadly “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville last year, is pictured below standing in front of a flaming swastika.
According to Heimbach, all “sexual-deviants, race-mixers, feminists, and commies” should get a “swift drop from a tight rope.” His co-organizer, Carollo, who was handing out tickets to Spencer’s event, regularly sports the emblem of the Waffen-SS, the armed wing of the Nazi Party’s SS organization who was in charge of Hitler’s concentration camp system. Heimbach and Carollo were offered police escorts into Spencer’s talk along with the dozen or so members of TWP they brought with them from out of state, but chose instead to march in formation through protesters while throwing up nazi salutes. Not only is this a clear provocation, it’s Heimbach who throws the first punch, not a protestor. Additionally, a member of their organization is filmed saying that he attended the event to “smash commie skulls,” hardly an exemplar of peaceful organizing as Spencer claimed.
Send in the Clowns
Shortly after the fight between TWP and protesters, the militant white-nationalist group began to withdraw from the protest area to head back toward the parking lot across the street, but were joined by some curious members of the alt-right — clowns. In full clown makeup, wigs, khaki pants, and tiki-torches, two clowns, sporting pins identifying themselves as members of the “Klumsy Klown Kompany,” began marching with TWP, and even assisted Heimbach and Carollo in protecting the group from protesters. Whether or not this was a prank, it was certainly fitting. In the video below, you’ll hear one of the clowns identify themselves as supporters and interested in providing entertainment for “alt-right families.”
Following a second scuffle resulting in several arrests of TWP members (in which a member of Spencer’s team also throws the first punch), the clowns headed back to the demonstration with tickets to Spencer’s talk in hand. Protestors outside of the MSU pavilion surrounded the clowns, who were brandishing tiki-torches as part of a slapstick routine, as they attempted to enter the venue to attend the event. Activists, dressed in black, spit at, and strong-armed the jesters, preventing them from accessing the venue, seemingly underscoring the perception that alt-right clowns are no different than the alt-right themselves. This was apparent when a text-alert was sent out from the notification system managed by protest organizers to notify demonstrators about police and counter-protest activity. It simply read “Fascists with tiki torches trying to get back to pavilion,” with zero mention of their absurd outfits.
Despite how they were received by protesters, and regardless of their potential sincerity, the thought of dozens of alt-right clowns attending every Spencer event in full costume is certainly tantalizing. Spencer has worked very hard to present a facade of professionalism, and has made requests that his followers do the same, stating that a requirement for a “radical-traditionalist” style of dress is to “project a certain sense of seriousness, archaism and traditionalism.” Imagine if dozens of people showed up to his events dressed as clowns, outfitted with slide whistles and horns. Rather than inflating his ego through impassioned protest, he would be classified as the joke that his is. With an auditorium full of noisy clowns, his ideas would be contextualized as absurd and the headlines would focus on the clowns, rather than Antifa, making his platform a pathetic farce.
The Klumsy Klown Kompany appears to have a facebook page, albeit with no followers, but I’m curious to see if they will show up again at one of his events in the future. Clown costume or not, the alt-right “identitarians” are certainly a commiserable parody of America’s dark history, with laughable goals and a hilarious sense of self-importance. While racism and hate speech are certainly serious topics, we don’t have to legitimize those promoting their sectarian agenda. Let’s laugh at them until they go back into hiding, ashamed and embarrassed, as they should be.