The Alt-Right Fell for a Rumor That a Civil War Is Starting on Saturday
"Alt right” Facebook groups, subreddits and Twitter groups are ablaze with dire warnings of a nationwide uprising of U.S. anti-fascist forces on Saturday — which they believe will kick off a second civil war.
The Guardian‘s Jason Wilson said that conspiracy-mongering conservatives are girding for a national spasm of violence in which anti-fascists are “planning to kill every single Trump voter, Conservative and gun owner.”
Commenters on posts about the supposed uprising are venting their apprehension and anger with responses like, “One more threat against white people and I swear to God I’m going to take a go**amn car and run over every fucking one of them” — a reference to the murder of anti-racist protester Heather Heyer by an white nationalist in Charlottesville, VA.
Wilson said that hundreds of Facebook groups are posting dire warnings to their members — in spite of the fact that no major anti-fascist groups in the country have any plans for Saturday.
“The whole thing rests on some very slender reeds, according to Spencer Sunshine, who recently wrote a report on the theories for the far right-monitoring group Political Research Associates,” Wilson explained. “In the conspiracy underground on YouTube, he explains, there has been talk that ‘there was going to be a civil war’ starting in November for some months.”
Wilson said that the rumors kicked into high gear after a protest by Refuse Fascism, a small group with connections to the Revolutionary Communist Party. Protesters blocked a freeway and waved signs that said, “Nov. 4 it begins.”
A Facebook group called Vets Before Illegals posted a video, announcing, “Antifa sets a date for civil war,” and then said, “On their website, they are calling for an open civil war that will start in November.”
The video went viral on the far-right, priming conspiracy theorists and true believers for an all-out assault on the public, police and the government.
The story made its way to Alex Jones, whose InfoWars website and radio broadcasts reach millions of conspiracy believers around the country.
Sunshine told Wilson that Jones has become a kind of conspiracy clearing-house, where the Texas-based provocateur “harvests other people’s theories” and rebrands them to fit his own narrative, then pushes them out to his eager audience.
Conservative blog Gateway Pundit’s Lucien Wintrich came in for a special drubbing from Wilson. Wintrich based an alarmist article for the website featuring a tweet from a phony account that promised to “behead white parents” on Saturday.
Caught spreading the phony post, Wintrich declined to back off the article’s message, saying, “The radical left is always making jokes about killing white people. What would happen if I made a joke about killing all black parents? That would be a national headline.”
When pressed, Wintrich admitted that he does not expect violent leftists to revolt on Saturday.
His bogus article contained a lengthy screed on “Antifa” and the movement’s values. When Wilson asked Wintrich upon what he based his research, Wintrich snapped, “I did go to school at Bard College. I received my education around people who I’m sure are on terrorist watch lists as socialist or communist extremists.”
Refuse Fascism, for their part, told Sunshine that they’re a nonviolent group whose protests are aimed at the Trump administration, not right-wing activists or local police. They attend some of the same protests as Antifa groups, but share no formal ties.