TOP STORIES Far-right groups are turning their attention to LBGTQ events....

Far-right groups are turning their attention to LBGTQ events. Their hated purpose has not changed


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Members of the white supremacist group Patriot Front were seen marching outside the National Archives in Washington, D.C. in January.

Jose Luis Magana / AP

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Jose Luis Magana / AP

Members of the white supremacist group Patriot Front were seen marching outside the National Archives in Washington, D.C. in January.

Jose Luis Magana / AP

Two incidents of far-right extremists harassing LGBT events earlier this month marked what appeared to be a shift in focus for white supremacist activists.

A group of men associated with the white nationalist patriotic front were arrested outside a Pride event in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho. On the same day, alleged members of the far-right Proud Boys crashed. drag queen storytelling event for kids and yelled homophobic and transphobic slurs what Alameda California sheriffs are in now investigation as a possible hate crime.

Early versions of the Patriot Front and Proud Boys were among the neo-Nazi factions that sought to intimidate the Charlottesville, Virginia community at the 2017 Unite the Right rally.

So why did members of the white supremacist group – many of whom, in the case of the Idaho event, come from out of state – decide to target a local Pride event?

Extremism scholars say far-right activists are seizing the opportunity to focus on cultures they have always viewed as a threat to their hateful interests. And the specific events the extremists chose to target that Saturday have drawn negative attention in recent weeks from far-right online networks that fuel their active hatred.

“Groups like Patriot Front and Proud Boys have relied on misogyny and homophobia as the foundation of their brands,” said Devin Burghart, president of the Institute for Human Rights Research and Education. “So it’s not surprising that they’re taking the lead at the current moment.”

The far right’s latest goal is in line with the same old, hateful agenda

What may appear to be disparate goals of white supremacists and other far-right extremists, hate group trackers say, are all part of one goal: dismantling democracy to create a white ethno-state.

“These groups are very, very willing and eager to change their goals.” — Kathleen Belew, professor of history at Northwestern University and author Bring the War Home: The White Power Movement and Paramilitary America, said NPR’s Ayesha Rasko in an interview with Weekend Edition. “But it’s all for the same general purpose.”

This goal, she says, stems from a common racist rationale.

“They consider gay rights, immigration, interracial contact — and especially interracial childbearing, feminism and some other social movements — a problem because they believe that all this will reduce white births,” she said. “They see them as apocalyptic threats that are somewhat interchangeable in a larger project to protect and preserve whiteness itself.”

Time also played a key role in the plans of extremists in Idaho and California.

“All of this was happening in the context of the movement’s declining interest in COVID denial and anti-CRT racism to mobilize members,” Burghart said.

Recent riots from the far right have prompted LGBT event organizers and law enforcement to be on high alert during Pride Month.

Far-right incidents are not isolated events, according to a study released last week by the Armed Conflict Location and Event Data Project. As conservative politicians and the media have ramped up anti-LGBTQ rhetoric and anti-trans legislation in recent months, anti-LGBTQ demonstrations have become more frequent and more violent. ACLED data show.

Right-wing internet influencers have been targeting the Idaho Pride event for weeks.

According to Burghart, the Patriot Front has no members from Coeur d’Alene, but has links to far-right activists in the area.

The Pride in the Park event in Coeur d’Alene was highlighted by the far right as early as April 13, he said. That’s when he said that the national leader of the white nationalist group The Groipers, Vincent James Fox, a relatively new resident of Northern Idaho, had set his sights on the Telegram parade.

“From here, thanks to the extensive network that Fox established in far-right circles, the counter-demonstration was taken up by several other groups, from the Anti-Groomers of Northern Idaho to the Panhandling Patriots,” said Burghart, president of the IREHR. . “It spread like wildfire through far-right social media.”

The Patriotic Front fighters probably viewed the event as an easy target, Burghart added.

“It’s clear that the Patriot Front saw what the leaders saw as a relatively safe opportunity to achieve the publicity that is the oxygen of the organization.”

Although white supremacists have long vilified a number of groups, including blacks, Jews and LGBTQ people, white nationalist groups such as Patriot Front have historically overlooked Pride events, according to John Lewis, a violent extremism researcher at George Washington University.

The far-right’s targets have changed “depending on what local events are covered and gaining momentum in the national right-wing mainstream media network” that they feed on, he said, such as “like Fox News, members of Congress like Marjorie Taylor Green and right-wing influencers.

Earlier this month Rep. Green said “it must be illegal” take kids to drag shows, Florida picked up the words Governor Ron DeSantis, who proposed he considers punishing families who take their children to drag shows. In Idaho itself pastor in Boise told his flock last month that LGBT people “deserve to die.” This month, authorities said the city’s pride flags were being vandalized for the second year in a row.

And far-right influencers and publications have been actively using their platforms in recent weeks to agitate against LGBTQ culture, the Southern Poverty Law Center said.

In the days leading up to the Idaho and California incidents, Libs of TikTok, a social media account that aggregates and pokes fun at LGBTQ causes, repeatedly posted posts about both the Coeur D’Alene event and transvestite storytelling events, including in Alameda. .

Libs of TikTok, which has over 1 million Twitter followers and is often promoted by right-wing influencers, is run by a woman from Brooklyn. Washington Post informed in April.

“We live in hell” Libs from TikTok wrotecriticizing a recently deleted tweet promoting a “family dance party”.

Less than a week earlier, Dave Reilly, who had been identified by the SPLC as a white supremacist, tried to get tiktok libraries draw attention to the event.

It’s unclear if Libs of TikTok was aware of white supremacist interest in Pride in the Park, the Hatewatch Center blog notes. The person who maintains the account did not immediately respond to NPR’s questions about how they found out about the planned event.

Hate group’s attempt to renew their brand

As for the Proud Boys, the disruption at Story Hour in Alameda County was a return to the group’s violent street activism a year ago, IREHR’s Burghart said, as they participated in a wave of similar anti-LGBTQ efforts.

After a series of high-profile arrests of group members, the latest breach was the Proud Boy’s attempt to change his optics after his role in the January 6 uprising, he said.

Historian Belew said it’s easy to get caught up in the individual missions and messages that support various far-right groups.

“Scholars and journalists have devoted too much time to the differences between these groups … when in fact all these groups are part of the same social movement, the same far-right movement,” she said.

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