In the end, the November 4 call to action captured the imagination of the far-Right just as much — if not more — than it did working class people fed up with Trump’s rule (or even other Leftist organizers.) On widely-circulated social media posts, YouTube videos and stories on Right-wing websites, the November 4th protests were portrayed as an “antifa” plot to usher in civil war, with likely mass violence that day. As nonsensical as November 4 conspiracy theories were, many on the far-Right paid attention and believed them. Just as the “Pizzagate” conspiracy theory led to a true believer firing shots in a restaurant, some observers began to worry that “antifa” “civil war” hype could lead to real violence from people determined to play hero against an imaginary threat.
While “Refuse Fascism” and “antifascists” include variants on the same term, “antifa” groups such as our organization were generally not involved in November 4 planning or promotion — a point that seems to have been missed by portions of media, even though a quick glance at our social media could have cleared up any confusion.
In Atlanta on the evening of the 4th, Refuse Fascism rallied in Little Five Points, attracting several dozen to their protest. Large amounts of police staged nearby. A group of counter-protesters waved an American flag catty-corner from the Refuse Fascism event. Other Right-wing individuals moved within in or infiltrated the Refuse Fascism crowd. Heavy rains brought the entire spectacle to an early end. There were no clashes.
The remainder of this article sets out which far-Right forces did and did not show up for the anticlimactic “civil war” in Atlanta.
The Fayette County Board of Education has confirmed that Joshua David Hitson resigned as a teacher at Whitewater High School on Friday, August 18. Hitson had been under investigation after anti-fascists released an extensive dossier on Hitson’s white power agitation and his pro-Nazi statements. Whitewater High School had known of this issue since at least May. Even after begrudgingly launching an investigation, Fayette County Board of Education denied that they had seen “legitimate evidence.” The school and the Board of Education should now apologize. Someone who promotes white nationalism and antisemitism cannot be put in charge of the education of our youth. In the end, it appears public pressure caused Hitson to leave Whitewater. The school and the Board of Education had plenty of time to ensure students were kept safe and treated fairly. Yet they allowed Hitson to leave on his own terms. They have not yet directly addressed that they employed a white nationalist for years.
White supremacist and far-Right nationalist movements are nothing new, especially in the American South. Since Trump’s induction into the oval office, however, the US has seen these movements evolve into something younger and more contemporary.
Far from the stereotype of old, cantankerous Klanners, the “Alt-Right” and its organizations such as Identity Evropa advance their cause with approaches that are modern, polished, and deceptive. They use memes and retro aesthetics to make their hateful message more palatable. Prioritizing anonymity and information security, until recently the “Alt-Right” has relied on its internet presence combined with occasional public speaking events by white-collar “leaders” such as Richard Spencer to advance its cause. (The movement was also helped by the existence of the watered-down “Alt-Lite” and figures such as Milo Yiannopoulos, which helped popularize Alt-Right themes without explicitly signing off on white nationalism.) For most of its existence, what the Alt-Right’s internet trolls and “Identitarian” white nationalists had in terms of propaganda reach, they lacked in street presence and physical interaction. This is where one of the Alt-Right/Alt-Lite’s strangest offshoots comes in–Cue the “Proud Boys.”
For years, Zachary Johnson of Alpharetta has quietly but constantly worked for the white nationalist cause. Zac Johnson is mostly active in writing, social media, and especially graphic design for the racist movement. He also travels to white nationalist conferences and organizes with “Alt-Right” circles regionally. Using an online alias, Johnson is clear that he admires Adolf Hitler, who he refers to as “uncle.” When promoting his custom bird house business or trying to rent his vacation cabin in the North Georgia mountains, Johnson is less upfront about his beliefs. We believe that key players in the white power scene deserve public scrutiny. Zachary Van Johnson is one such figure.