Is The Mother Of All Rallies An Alt-Right Protest? It's All About "Making America Great Again"
The nation's capital is going to be a busy place on Saturday, as two major rallies descend upon the National Mall. One of these is the Mother of All Rallies, or MOAR, which says it's bipartisan, despite the white supremacist connections of some of its members and the far-right wing language employed on its website. They welcome anyone, they say, as long as you support their core beliefs:
You are invited to join with us on September 16 at the National Mall in Washington DC. Due to increasing political and social unrest, many believe that core American values, customs and traditions are being sacrificed. Rally participants will demand protection for traditional American culture while they express their love for the United States and the America First agenda.
And though MOAR's website never specifically uses the word "bipartisan," it certainly implies it by inviting "all people regardless of race, religion, sexual orientation, age or political affiliation."
On the section of its website labeled "The MOAR Team," the rally organizers list several names that will be familiar to anyone who's been closely following the resurgent right wing in the United States. The Red Elephants, for example, is a conservative group that showed up for the Charlottesville march that ended in violence. Joe Biggs is a former writer for Infowars, the alt-right conspiracy-filled website. Based Stickman, otherwise known as Kyle Chapman, is best known as the alt-right protester who was arrested for hitting an Antifa protester with a stick. Joey Gibson founded the Patriot Prayer organization, which has already been noticed by the Southern Poverty Law Center for holding rallies that turn violent. You would think an organization that welcomes people from all political affiliations would want to represent sides other than the far right, but MOAR has failed to do that.
MOAR has gained a decently sized following, with over 2,000 Facebook users saying that they will attend the event. If you look through the MOAR Facebook page, you'll find a fairly typical pro-Trump group, with plenty of patriotic American symbols and Trump merchandise. It's not a "left or right rally," they write on the website in all caps, but it is definitely a pro-Trump rally, and some of the language that they use seems to be fairly contradictory.
They begin patriotically, saying that "the only flag that unifies us all is the American red white and blue flag" and insisting that there will be "no Confederate flags, communist flags, or foreign flags allowed." The description then goes on to condemn racism and say that "color shouldn't matter" among Americans. Later, the website lists planned speakers, who include representatives from Gays for Trump and MAGAwoman.com and various Latino Trump supporters.
Despite all of that, however, its description definitely veers into the kind of language that white supremacist groups have used to justify their own gatherings. The idea that "American culture" somehow needs to be protected and preserved (one of their stated goals) implies that something is attacking it, and that usually refers to immigrants and progressive social policies like marriage equality. They aren't at all specific about which "core American values, customs and traditions are being sacrificed" and how they're being sacrificed, so it's not a huge jump to compare their own goals with those of white nationalist groups.
So far, it appears as though MOAR won't really achieve any of its nonpartisan dreams. While perhaps the attendees won't necessarily identify as Republicans, it is very much a pro-Trump march. That's going to make it stand out in Washington, where Trump garnered only 4 percent of the vote.
In contrast to the recent string of alt-right rallies, at least, MOAR does make it clear that they aim for an entirely peaceful event. They also have a defense against any potential protesters:
Anyone who would protest this rally is protesting America and showing themselves to be the very domestic enemies our founding fathers warned us about. Anyone attempting to silence us is committing a direct assault on our constitutional rights of free assembly.
This is also a familiar trope on the far right wing — claiming that anyone counter-protesting or disagreeing is an enemy, bent on impeding their First Amendment rights. If the aim was to draw people from across both parties, it seems as though they won't reach it. Hopefully, though, they will end up reaching the goal of a peaceful protest and, in their own particular way, a celebration of the country.