On Saturday, 20-year-old James Alex Fields Jr. of Ohio drove his car through a crowd of protesters picketing against a white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia.
He killed 32-year-old paralegal Heather Heyer – and injured 19 others, five critically.
While the alt-right has been widely condemned for the violent march, those holding the rally designed to ‘Unite the Right’ – are attempting to sue the City of Charlottesville for failing to facilitate free-speech.
They call themselves “Fashys” (short for fascism) and they are polar opposite to the stereotypical image we somehow have come to imagine when we think right-wing, anti-immigration, anti-women’s rights, and white power.
This group of alt rights don’t look like the others. They aren’t old white men from the Klu Klux Klan. They aren’t survivalists in army fatigues. There are no red-neck tattoos and cigars out of the corner of their mouths.
No, these men are clean cut and smooth talking. Their platform for influence usually begins at university. They wear suits. They use legal and scientific jargon to justify the unjustifiable. Most of all, they are capitalising on the ‘identity’ crisis of the 21st century to fight for the rights of white people.
At school, Fields was “a very bright kid but very misguided and disillusioned”, a former teacher Derek Weimer, who taught Fields at Pandall K Cooper High School, told The Cincinnati Enquirer.
His look resembles the ‘Hitler Youth’. He has the same undercut haircut, the same unapologetic stare in his mugshot. He reminds us of what we should have learned with the last US presidential election, and before that Brexit: it’s time to stop thinking we can identify someone from the alt-right just by looking at them.
The sign Fields was carrying at the rally before the attack was that of the organisation Vanguard America (who have denied formal ties with the alleged killer). They are a group “taking a stand” against the “endless tide of incompatible foreigners who flood the nation every year”. Before too long, “white Americans will be a minority in the nation they built,” the Vanguard America website claims.
— Baked Alaska™ (@bakedalaska) August 11, 2017
Nathan Damigo, Founder and Leader of Identity Evropa, was also arrested (later released) at the rally.
He stayed after law enforcement officials asked the Unite the Right party to pack up and leave because of the escalating violence the event was attracting. He’s also the brains behind the efforts to sue the city of Charlottesville.
On Twitter, Damigo goes by the name ‘Fashy Haircut’ and that’s what he’s got.
Blonde hair, blue eyes, a Hitler Youth haircut and a way with words, the social sciences college student is asking for donations so he can continue building “the fastest growing identitarian organisation in North America”.
Click on the Identity Evropa website and you can read hundreds and hundreds of words on genetics and the way white men are genetically predisposed to be more intelligent than indigenous people, who are “better at sprinting”. And that there are “genetic preconditions” for great accomplishment, not just cultural ones.
— Fashy Haircut (@NathanDamigo) June 21, 2017
You can see photographs of the group’s anti-immigration protests.
Break-out quotes from fellow alt-right member, and president of the National Policy Institute, Richard Spencer (who has the same haircut) saying: “What brings us together is that we are white, we are a people, we will not be replaced!”.
But, most terrifying thing of all, you won’t see Identity Evropa claim white superiority outright. No, they’re too clever for that. The group instead claims ‘whites’ are facing an identity crisis – tapping into what seems to be the millennial currency of people trying to find their place in the world.
Then, there are those who aren't so subtle. Take Milo Yiannopoulos, for example, who is an English author and alt-right activist.
He has the same hair cut, the same trendy, dapper style, but his shtick is one of shock and entitlement. "Birth control makes women unattractive and crazy", he tells you boldly through a cleverly-produced, documentary-stye YouTube clip when you enter his website. "Would you rather your child had feminism or cancer?" it continues.
There are fewer big words, and more I-don't-care-what-you-think-of-me one liners, but the end result is the same: He is part of a movement of attractive, for the most part educated, men who are fighting for change.
It's scary how quickly it can catch on.
The twitter feeds of those who were at the Unite the Right Rally deny the violence was caused by their side. They say the violence was started by the 'Antifas' (or 'anti-fascists), calling the cancellation of the event a "tyranny" and an abuse of the first amendment.
"We are not going to stop protesting the replacement of our heritage our people and our culture," Damigo told his followers in a Twitter video shortly after he returned from the police station. In the echo-chamber of the internet, it seems the whole world agrees.
This shows us one thing: It's time to stop underestimating the marketability of the alt-right.
A group of (mostly) men are using stylish aesthetic and clever words to wrap racism and bigotry into one neatly packaged, handsomely groomed, come-find-your-purpose-with-a-Hitler-Youth-haircut message. It is terrifying.