Opinion: The alt-right isn’t all right

A Whatcom Community College safety alert sent Tuesday, Oct.1 described the finding of 13 stickers promoting white nationalist group Patriot Front throughout campus. The stickers were promptly removed after reported.

In the alert, Whatcom President Kathi Hiyane-Brown condemned the white nationalist group and urged the community to report any signage promoting Patriot Front or any similar groups to campus security.

On the same day, KOMO-TV and Western Today reported Western Washington University was also the target of the alt-right group. At least four stickers promoting Patriot Front propaganda were reported, three were scratched off anonymously, and Western staff removed the fourth.

Western security similarly sent a campuswide email condemning racism. Police are investigating the incident at Western.

This is not the first time Patriot Front have made themselves known in Bellingham. This August, the Bellingham Herald reported a Patriot Front poster outside of the Haggen supermarket in Fairhaven. The poster was removed by the pedestrian who reported the poster to police. This poster appeared three weeks after leaflets of the same nature were seen in Ferndale.

Who is the Patriot Front? And why should you care?

The Patriot Front is white nationalist group and a quick skim, through its website manifesto is quite alarming. Here are some excerpts:

“Our mission is a hard reset on the nation we see today; a return to the traditions and virtues of our forefathers.”

Oh, wait, there’s more:

“Our national way of life faces complete annihilation as our culture and heritage are attacked from all sides.”

And the coup de grace:

“Nationhood cannot be bestowed upon those who are not of the founding stock of our people, and those who do not share the common spirit that permeates our greater civilization, and the European diaspora.”

The Southern Poverty Law Center reports that the Patriot Front was founded by Texas native Thomas Ryan Rousseau. Rousseau was once a leading member of the alt-right group known as Vanguard America. He led members of Vanguard America during the Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, Virginia — the same rally that Vanguard America member James Alex Fields Jr. rammed a car through a crowd of counter-protesters, killing one and injuring 19 others.

According to SPLC, on August 30, 2017, Rousseau announced his new organization in a post to Southern Front, formerly Vanguard America’s southern region chat server, Patriot Front. Records obtained by the Texas Observer show the FBI has been monitoring Rousseau since at least May 2017, while he was still a student at Coppell High School, for his own flyer distribution on Dallas area campuses.

Aside from placing stickers on school campuses, the group also promotes itself through social media. The About description for the Patriot Front closed Facebook group states, lone wolf activists and members of political or militia groups are all welcome.
Patriot Front has declined supporting larger affiliations and protests, opting to target smaller towns, seemingly to control their image.

The Anti-Defamation League describes the Patriot Front graphics as typically featuring an upright bundle of rods with arrow points or axe blades, often surrounded by a circle of 13 stars or placed on the breast of an eagle, similar to bald eagle imagery associated with the U.S. government. Patriot Front members frequently post flyers and handbills in public, featuring various anti-immigrant or other themes. These flyers also feature the Patriot Front logo.

By self-identifying as white nationalists or alt-right, they tip-toe around identifying as racist, likely because Rousseau acknowledges the importance of public image.

This type of covert racism should not be overlooked by the community.

Richard Spencer coined the term “alt-right” since he rejected the terms “white supremacist” and “neo-Nazi.” Yet, for someone who rejects the terms, he certainly doesn’t seem to reject neo-Nazi ideals. A YouTube video released in November 2016 shows Spencer giving a speech after Trump was elected president. Attendees chanted “heil Trump” and waved Nazi salutes. Spencer did not discourage this.

In a speech given in 2013 at a white supremist conference called American Renaissance, Spencer said he wants a “white racial empire” that would be achieved through “peaceful ethnic cleansing.”

The man is a walking contradiction. This is the same man Rousseau takes after. The two may not be in the same factions, but their messages are the same

These are the same people who chanted “blood and soil” and “they will not replace us” at Charlottesville. The scary thing is, by slapping the word “patriot” in their name, they’ll attract the more dim-witted and impressionable follower. They are dangerous. This group hides its racism with patriotism. Those involved in white nationalist groups have demonstrated a will to engage in violence for their ideals.

Just as their Facebook page says, they’re looking for the lone-wolf activists. The same lone wolf willing to plow their car through a crowd of people, or worse.

Plainly, the community should not be silent or complacent while Patriot Front, and their ilk, promote themselves.

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