The far right returns to middle Tennessee

The neo-Confederate League of the South (LOS) and its Nationalist Front (NF) allies are preparing to descend on Shelbyville, Tennessee, on the morning of October 28. 

The event, billed as a “White Lives Matter” rally will be the NF’s first public appearance since the coalition orchestrated some of the worst acts of violence during the “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, on August 12.

NF coalition members, hoping to reclaim some dignity following months of public scorn and online bickering in the wake of the deadly rally, have been forewarned: attendance isn’t optional.

“As this tumultuous year draws to a close and winter approaches, it’s imperative that we close out with a show of strength, a show of resolve, and a show of clarity,” Matthew Parrott of the Traditionalist Worker Party (TWP) wrote on October 10, 2017.

Middle Tennessee is a favorite location for the LOS, who held two similar rallies in the region in 2013. Newly minted LOS “propaganda chief,” Brad Griffin — who writes under the pseudonym “Hunter Wallace” on his blog Occidental Dissent — qualified the LOS’s return in the event announcement, “We don’t want another Charlottesville.”

Griffin blamed the massive public reaction against Unite the Right on Charlottesville’s demographics and leadership, citing, “a Democrat governor, a Jewish mayor, a black city manager and a black police chief in a place that had proclaimed itself the ‘Capitol of the Resistance,’” as reasons for its failure.

Griffin’s retrospective conspicuously refuses to address the death of counter-protester Heather Heyer, allegedly at the hands of James Alex Fields, who rallied with Vanguard America — a NF coalition organization.

In a recent episode of “Southern Nationalist Radio,” the League of the South’s North Carolina state chairman, Harold Crews, and president Michael Hill, discussed a recent rally with NF in Pikeville, Kentucky, as having a preferable outcome due to, “cops doing their jobs … [and] keeping both sides separate.”

Hill and Crews also laid out their vision for why LOS “operations in small white southern towns” would be the model going forward. Referencing the two 2013 LOS rallies in Shelbyville and Murfreesboro, Tennessee, Hill stated his belief that the League predicted a recent shooting at a church in Antioch, Tennessee, by a Somali immigrant who was allegedly motivated by Dylann Roof’s tragic 2015 massacre in Charleston.

The rally is personal for the LOS — pioneers of the return to street level activism by the racist right — and comes at the end of a summer of simmering rage and a renewed campaign to remove confederate memorials and symbols from public spaces that began after the Charleston massacre.

Shelbyville looks to be a departure from this week’s toxic attempt at image rehabilitation by Richard Spencer at the University of Florida (UF), a famously liberal southern campus, where he and a handful of supporters were met with enormous crowds of counter protesters.

After his scheduled appearance at UF was cancelled following Hurricane Irma’s devastating landfall in Florida, the event was hastily rescheduled to the chagrin of university administrators and students — ultimately costing UF an estimated $600,000 and prompting Governor Rick Scott to declare a state of emergency out of fear of violence like what was seen in Charlottesville.

Like Griffin, who attended the UF event, Spencer cast doubt on Heyer’s death at Charlottesville, and instead demanded justice for her alleged murderer.

The intentions of the LOS and NF are clear in Shelbyville. Rehabilitation, narrative reconstruction and the perennial quest for new recruits. As Griffin wrote in an October 1 piece titled “Optics and Tactics” on Occidental Dissent, “The easiest way to turn someone from a convert to a committed supporter of your cause … is to give them activities to participate in. It’s really that simple. That’s why you give them a revolutionary fantasy of social change and channel their anger into public spaces.”

Hill laid out his own rationale, stating: “We’re going back there to say ‘Look, you do need to do something about this [immigrant population]. Your lives as white people, the lives of your children and grandchildren matter. You need to get these people out of here. They’re not civilization creators, they’re civilization destroyers, and they’re bringing in an alien religion that eventually when it gets strong enough will push you out and your people.’”

While the LOS and the larger NF have broken with Spencer on the question of image rehabilitation, all parties involved seem to agree on the use of chaotic “flash mob” tactics to gain an element of surprise on would-be protesters.

While the Shelbyville “White Lives Matter” rally is the group’s only scheduled protest, the event’s Facebook page alludes to plans for at least one subsequent flash mob in the region later that day.