Originally Published in Socialist Resurgence.
Across the U.S., hard-right groups including the Klan and Nazis planned rallies on April 11 to proclaim “White Lives Matter.” This was another attempt to attack Black Lives Matter. Their idea is that white rights are somehow under attack in this country.
The U.S. was founded on white supremacy, including kidnapping and enslaving Africans and expelling and killing off the Native population. This legacy continues today. Blacks and other people of color continue to suffer oppression in every area of U.S. life: poverty, imprisonment, unemployment, health conditions, access to COVID vaccinations, home ownership, and of course police brutality. On the other side of the coin, white people, mostly men, control politics, the economy, media, etc.
But these facts don’t get in the way of right-wing ideology. Delusion is a basis of extreme right politics. Many of the same people organizing these rallies refuse to believe COVID is real, disbelieve in the climate crisis, think Trump won the 2020 election, and even accept QAnon.
The same day as these rallies, the police proved again that it is Black people who are under attack. Just north of Minneapolis, police shot and killed Duante Wright, an unarmed 20-year-old Black man in a traffic stop. Overall, police kill Black people in the U.S. at over three times the rate of whites. In Minneapolis, Blacks are 13% of the population; but over 60% of the arrests are of Black people (https://news.yale.edu/2020/10/27/racial-disparity-police-shootings-unchanged-over-5-years).
The hard right is still suffering from their attack on the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6. Even the U.S. government at this point wants to rein them in a bit. The U.S. ruling class has little problem with the far right attacking people of color and left activists. On the other hand, they take a dim view of a direct physical attack on the “Citadel of Democracy,” the government that the rich own and control. They have so far indicted 379 Capitol attackers.
The right wing called these rallies across the country to try to rehabilitate itself. For the most part, the attempts totally flopped. Activists on the left organized counter rallies larger than the right-wing rallies. In many cases, the right wing failed to show up. Here is a partial round up:
Huntington Beach, Calif. (near Los Angeles): Over 500 protesters with Black Lives Matter and anti-Klan signs outnumbered the few dozen rightists. The police arrested several people in physical clashes provoked by the racists . This seems to have been the largest White Lives Matter rally and it was vastly outnumbered by Black Lives Matter supporters. Tory Johnson, founder of Blacks Lives Matter Huntington Beach told the press, “We are here to let the community know we will not be a reflection of hate. We are not here for war, but to protect ourselves.”
New York City: Over a dozen anti-racists rallied across from Trump Tower, where there was supposed to be a White Lives Matter rally. There was no right-wing presence.
Philadelphia: Activists held a counter-protest picnic near City Hall, with no opposition from the racists.
Seattle: Nearly 100 protesters organized by Stand Against White Supremacy rallied in the downtown area. After nearly two hours of picketing, chanting, and leafleting passersby, they held a speak out and declared victory as no right wingers had showed up. The coalition noted that the right-wing rallies were aimed at taking attention away from the trial of Derek Chauvin, the cop who murdered George Floyd.
Denver: The Denver Communists report, “We came to counterprotest against the White Lives Matter rallies that the far right called for nationally, but they were too scared to bring that nonsense to Denver! The left showed up 35-strong but we did [not see] … the right anywhere!
“It was a literal walk in the park. We marched from Cheesman to the Capitol, sunbathed and socialized on the granite steps for awhile, then marched back, completely unopposed. Cops held traffic for us and kept their distance. A replay of the local J20 anti-fascist mobilization.
“It was great to flex on the Proud Boys and the literal swastika-flying Nazi scum and show them white pride rallies aren’t welcome here! Nazi scum off our streets! Black Lives Matter!”
Raleigh, N.C.: Very similar to Denver, a small group of anti-racist protesters gathered where the “White Lives Matter” march was planned. They marched around downtown behind a large white sign that read, “WE ACCEPT YOUR SURRENDER.”
Albuquerque, N.M.: One lone racist was protected by the police when confronted by a large crowd of anti-racists.
Fort Worth, Texas: Three racists held up a “White Lives Matter” banner near City Hall but were drowned out by over two-dozen anti-racists.
The failure of these racist rallies is a good sign. It shows the hard right is on its back foot right now. However, there is no room for complacency! Just two months ago, the right mobilized thousands to attack the U.S. Capitol. There was also a lull in right-wing activity after the “Unite the Right” rally in August 2017, especially after Boston mobilized ten of thousands against a small Nazi gathering a couple months later. Yet the far right came back up.
During the Trump years the racist far right has grown. When public rallies fall off, the right often resorts to smaller terrorist attacks. As long as capitalism exists, racism and sexism with divide people. As Stand Against White Supremacy in Seattle said: “In times of economic crisis and uncertainty, ultra-right bigots exploit fear to grow their ranks. They use scapegoating of marginalized communities to exacerbate divisions in order to prevent working folks from coming together to fight corporate greed and exploitation. … It is time to organize a mass, multiracial movement to stand up to the bigots.”
The attempt of the far right this time was a failure. But to be honest, the response of anti-racists was rather weak as well. It is time that all anti-racists, and indeed everyone committed to social progress, understand the importance of this threat and organize against it in a much larger way.
Steve Leigh is a member of the Seattle Revolutionary Socialists and of the Revolutionary Socialist Network.