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Friday, November 29, 2019

TACOMA REPUBLICAN CLUB HOSTS ANTI-TRANS SPEAKER, PUSHED OUT OF TWO VENUES



By ABNER HAUGE|LEFT COAST RIGHT WATCH



On Monday this week, The 27th District Virginia Taylor Club, a Tacoma-area Republican Party org, hosted an anti-trans speaker who previously harassed a children’s event along with armed militia members.

The talk, titled “Transgenderism and Our Children,” was part of their regular monthly social hour at Knapp’s Restaurant. The speaker, Lynn Meagher, is a member of Mass Resistance, an SPLC-designated anti-LGBT hate group. She calls being trans a “cult” and helped found an anti-trans-youth group called A.S.K. Moms.

“We don’t think it’s hateful to have a discussion about whether life altering medical treatments should be offered to children,” Martin Merterns, president of the Republican club, told the Tacoma News Tribune.

Meagher previously showed up to a trans youth event in Renton on June 23rd. At that event, she and another Mass Resistance member were escorted out of the event by police after refusing to leave. They took pictures of the sign-up sheets and refused to give the officers’ their names. Other Mass Resistance members who were not escorted out filmed inside a bathroom.

A week later, Meagher joined the ranks of armed III% militia members and Proud Boys in protesting a Drag Queen Story Hour event in a Des Moines, WA library. The Proud Boys and III% members were apparently recruited by Mass Resistance as security. Counter-protestors who showed up to oppose Mass Resistance and their affiliates later told me they received death threats from militia members during the event. One of the Proud Boys in attendance, Sean-Michael David Scott, openly endorses James Mason’s Seige, the neo-Nazi book advocating for lone wolf acts of terrorism.

Antifascist and local LGBTQ+ activists acted with a day’s notice to have the event shut down.

“We felt that this speaker was an active threat to our community and believe it was necessary to try to get them de-platformed,” the University of Puget Sound (UPS) Antifa collective said in a report-back published on It’s Going Down.

UPS Antifa started a call-in campaign and flyered the area around Knapp’s the night before.

“This is an excuse to promote hatred and normalize violence against trans people. This is a mockery of real activism and I hope you will do the right thing and cancel this event,” part of the suggested script for the UPS Antifa’s call-in campaign read. “If this event is not canceled we will be forced to boycott your restaurant and show up in protest of this event.”

Knapp’s management told the News Tribune it doesn’t monitor what the Republican club does with the event space, as they had regularly rented it from the restaurant for several years.

“The fallout online led to people making threats against the restaurant, which is kind of terrifying,” Stephanie Anderson, the restaurant coordinator for Knapp’s parent company told the News Tribune. She claimed there were arson threats.

Meagher went to Knapp’s to make her case for continuing the event on Monday. Local LGBTQ+ activist Leah Smillie, planning to meet with the restaurant’s staff herself, happened to walk in during the meeting (archived).

“The actual staff seemed devastated and distraught that this was even potentially in their place of employment to begin with,” Smillie said in her Facebook post about the event. “Corporate would not let any employees be recorded due to fears for their safety and retribution from those who might be angry at the cancellation.”

Knapp’s asked the Republican club to cancel the event. They did. The restaurant then made a public apology. UPS Antifa thought that was the end of it and cancelled their protest.

Then, a couple of hours later, they found out the event was moved to a Round Table Pizza. “With an hour to spare,” UPS Antifa said, they had activists call in and show up in person to protest.

“When several members of our collective and around 5 other non-affiliated activists got to the restaurant at 6:15, there was no sign of the 27th District Republicans. We thought that we had lost them, until one activist went into the pizza place to ask around,” UPS Antifa wrote in their report-back. One of the Republican club members, not knowing who the activist was, tipped him off that the was meeting at a restaurant called Joseppi’s.

The Republican club member also told the activist to be careful because there’s “leftists afoot.”

“We didn’t know this was what was going on until they were eating and protesters showed up,” Mary Bertrand, Joesippi’s general manager told a commenter who complained about the anti-trans meeting in a review on the restaurant’s Facebook.

“But they let them stay and have their meeting even after they knew what was going on. They stated they reserve the right to refuse service to anyone; once they found out what was happening, why didn't they ask them to leave?” the commenter said.

Bertrand replied that the Republican club was asked to leave “when they were done eating.”

UPS Antifa and other activists said they talked to one of the owners, not specifying who, but couldn’t convince him to kick the Republican club out. So they protested outside.

“The 27th District Republicans and anti-trans “activists” could see us through the window, waving trans flags and signs, and singing copyrighted music so that any recordings of their event would be taken down if they were posted online,” UPS Antifa wrote. 
UPS Antifa said “one of the owners” called the cops on them initially, but later came out to apologize to them. They said after he’d heard “what Lynn Meagher was saying, the owner came around to some degree.”

The owner also told them that one of the Republican club attendees offered to call in “private armed security.” UPS Antifa suspects this was an “alt-right militia.” As previously stated, Meagher’s group Mass Resistance has used Proud Boys and III% members as armed security.

Mertens told the News Tribune his group felt intimidated by the protesters.

Stortini later told the News Tribune the protesters were peaceful and “stayed outside the whole time.”

“There was no conflicts between the groups,” Stortini recalled.

But there were.

“We continued to play copyrighted music and wave trans pride flags and signs around until they finished. Then we moved to the entrance and proceeded to shame the people for attending the talk,” UPS Antifa’s report-back said.

“Two walked out looking like they wanted a fight,” they continued, “and when one of them was questioned about the event, he proceeded to shout and push two activists out of his way,”

UPS Antifa members and other activists continued to argue outside the restaurant with the Republican club attendees.

“Sometime in the middle of the debates, a woman got into her car and backed up very fast in an attempt to intimidate us,” UPS Antifa wrote. “Getting no reaction, she drove swiftly away.”

UPS Antifa claims 20 activists in total showed up to protest over the course of the night.

The next day, Joesippi’s issued an apology for the event. It’s since been deleted from their Facebook page for unknown reasons, but it was copied in part on UPS Antifa’s twitter.

“We believe that LGBTQ community should live openly without discrimination and enjoy equal rights, personal autonomy, and freedom of expression and association. Joeseppi’s reserves the right to refuse service to any organizations or groups who demonstrate hate,” the statement read in part. 
According to Smillie, Knapp’s, the Round Table Pizza and Joesippi’s are all receiving backlash for, in Smillie’s words, “choosing their WHOLE community over those who use their platform to hurt parts of it.” 
According to Anderson, Knapp’s will no longer be hosting the Republican club.

Thursday, November 28, 2019

INTERVIEW WITH ‘SUNDAY AFTERNOON AT DENNY’S’ DIRECTOR XAVIER ROTNOFSKY

Sunday Afternoon at Denny's from Xavier Rotnofsky on Vimeo.



By ABNER HAUGE|LEFT COAST RIGHT WATCH



On September 22nd, Harim Uzziel, a minor figure in the Trump/far-right protest scene in Southern California, held a meetup at a Culver City Denny’s. It seemed like it’d be a boring event where a dozen or so Trump supporters ordered chicken tenders, heard speeches and learned how to register voters.



But it wasn’t.



A group including John Turano, a.k.a Based/Cucked Spartan and Charles Brandon Recor, both far-right figures who regularly go to protests to brawl with people, and Antonio Foreman, a Unite the Right attendee with ties to the white nationalist media outlet The Red Elephants, stood outside the Denny’s to confront Uzziel.



Uzziel isn’t just some local Republican booster. He attended the April 15th, 2017 rally in Berkeley that turned into a massive brawl between militiamen, open white nationalists, Proud Boys and antifascists. He’s mingled for years with the extended West Coast right-wing protest scene that includes Proud Boys, conspiracy vloggers, militias and open white nationalists. He’s gone on conspiratorial rants against the Illuminati and was kicked off a flight after an unhinged rant. He later expressed in a since-deleted livestream that he was trying to distance himself from the openly white nationalist strain in the pro-Trump activist scene.



The conflict between Uzziel and his former colleagues is the subject of Sunday Afternoon at Denny’s, a short documentary by Xavier Rotnofsky. The film’s been well-received. Patton Oswalt called it ‘Amazing’ and it became a Vimeo Staff Pick. LCRW reached out to Rotnofsky this week to talk about the film and the art of documentary.



LCRW: Give us some background on you and your career as a filmmaker.



ROTNOFSKY: I wouldn’t say I have a career in filmmaking yet, but I write and produce as much as I can with friends. I’ve always been interested in documentary, and I hope to do more of it.



LCRW: What about documentaries appeals to you?



ROTNOFSKY: There’s so much drama in real life, so I love documentaries that explore that. I love weird, unscripted moments people post online like on Worldstar and Twitter.



LCRW: Any directors you’d cite as influences?



ROTNOFSKY: I’m a big fan of Adam Curtis but he’s not really a slice-of-life director.



LCRW: How did you find Harim Uzziel and this story?



ROTNOFSKY: My friend sent me a screenshot of Harim’s Facebook event. My roommate and I decided to go to Denny’s for lunch and just see what would happen. We didn’t expect what went down.



LCRW: What initially drew you to it?



ROTNOFSKY: The venue. It’s such a strange and surreal setting for a MAGA meeting. The infighting between the MAGA groups made it even more surreal.



LCRW: What were your impressions of the MAGA crowd going in to filming?



ROTNOFSKY: Everyone just seemed so sad, desperate, and empty. Even the people outside.



LCRW: What kind of story did you initially think you’d be doing when you went to film Harim’s meeting that day? What did you expect would happen?



ROTNOFSKY: There weren’t really any expectations. We figured it would just be a MAGA meeting held in a Denny’s. We didn't know there would be so much conflict.



LCRW: Did you expect the people who showed up outside to be there?



ROTNOFSKY: Lol no.



LCRW: What was shooting that conflict like for you?



ROTNOFSKY: It felt a bit risky, but ultimately both groups were so concentrated on bothering each other, we were the least of their worries.



LCRW: The crowd that confronted Harim included Antonio Foreman who was at Unite the Right in Charlottesville and others who have incited violence and brawled with people at protests. Did you know anything about those people beforehand? What’s your reaction to learning more about who they are and what they’ve done now?



ROTNOFSKY: I knew about Antonio beforehand. He once came out in one of my videos from a few years ago. So I’ve had experience with him.



LCRW: What’s the reception to the film been like? Do you find people like antifascist activists who were familiar with the characters in your film beforehand reacted differently than the people who didn’t know who they are?



ROTNOFSKY: The reception has been wild. I did not expect such a positive reaction. I don’t think the reaction has been different between people who are familiar and people who aren’t. Though, antifascist activists understand more of the backstories.



LCRW: What’s next for you? Do you plan to explore right wing extremists further in your work?



ROTNOFSKY: I’m not sure what’s next. I have to figure that out. Yes, I would like to explore them further in my work.



LCRW: Are there any major lessons or messages or broader awareness you hope the audience takes away from your film?



ROTNOFSKY: I hope you get the vibe of what it felt like to be at Denny’s that day.



Rotnofsky’s work can be found here on his Vimeo page. Check out his film Wipe here. You can follow him on Twitter at @xrotnofsky.

Monday, November 18, 2019

GROYPERS IN THE GOLDEN STATE: BEN SHAPIRO SPENDS MOST OF STANFORD SPEECH TRYING TO DIFFERENTIATE HIMSELF FROM ALT-RIGHT

 
By ABNER HAUGE|LEFT COAST RIGHT WATCH

If you’ve only ever been to Stanford’s campus in the dark, it’s a hell of a maze to try to navigate. Luckily, I found the auditorium quickly because of the chanting.

“Say it loud! Say it clear! Ben Shapiro’s not welcome here!” I could hear protestors shouting before I reached the place.

When I turned the corner, there were hundreds of people in line, maybe a tenth of them in MAGA hats. A metal barricade divided the attendees and about 200 protestors–mostly students and a few local activists. Most had signs. One sign read “BEN SHAPIRO AIN’T SHIT.” One just said “Shanda”–a Yiddish word meaning “shame” or “disgrace.” Another read “No more Islamophobic speakers.”

Black and white text-only flyers by protestors advertised a “Silent Rally” that had started at 6pm. I counted six different attendees sneering and saying something about the protest not being silent anymore.

“We are tired of Stanford Administration’s complicity in putting Black, Brown, Trans, Queer and Muslim students at risk by allowing SCR to bring Ben Shapiro to campus,” the flyer said. “We do not protest because we are too sensitive to hear opinions we don’t like. We protest because we are strong enough to defend ourselves.”

One young conservative type in front of me walked out of the line for a second to look at the flyer.

“I guess they got rid of the anti-Semitic flyers,” he said.

Someone had circulated flyers with pictures of Shapiro’s face on a can of bug spray with the same text as the flyer quoted above. The event’s organizers wrote on their Facebook page that “leftist activists at Stanford” were “showing their true colors” as anti-Semites by putting the flyer up. The flyers were apparently put up by Students for the Liberation of All People (SLAP,) a student activist group on the Stanford campus that also created a Facebook event to protest Shapiro.

ABOUT OUR BOY BEN

Ben Shapiro gained fame initially as a conservative pundit wunderkind with a nationally syndicated column by age 17 and two books by age 21. He was an editor at Breitbart from 2012-2016. Breitbart is the alt-right adjacent daily rag with a “black crime” section and article titles like “Birth Control Makes Women Unattractive and Crazy.”

In 2014, Shapiro became a fellow at the David Horowitz Freedom Center (DHFC,) an SPLC-designated anti-immigrant and anti-Muslim hate group. “Colleges and universities have been one of the main targets for Horowitz,” the SPLC page on him says. According to the SPLC, Horowitz’s center “is known for compiling McCarthyite lists of students, professors, and administrators and plastering campuses with posters accusing them of being subversive.”

Shapiro left Breitbart in 2016, a year after he founded another right-wing rag called The Daily Wire where he’s still editor in chief. In March 2019, his Ben Shapiro Show was the second-most popular podcast in the United States according to Westwood One. As of September it was ranked 5th.

Shapiro’s other main public engagement is through speaking mostly at colleges at the invitation of conservative campus groups. In 2016, Shapiro was supposed to give a talk called “When Diversity Becomes a Problem” at CSULA. Shapiro’s talk was essentially repeating the alt-right thesis that minorities are suppressing free speech, implicitly white free speech, by bringing up everyday bigotry (sometimes called ‘microaggressions,’) pointing out structural racism (sometimes framed under ‘white privilege’ discourse,) and trying to make space for themselves in the form of LGBTQ+ centers, etc. (what right wing media often calls ‘safe spaces.’) CSULA officials cancelled the talk, claiming they would reschedule it to include a broader range of speakers on the subject. They later reversed the decision and let it go on as planned. The event saw massive protest and Shapiro was escorted out by police.

In September 2017, Shapiro spoke at UC Berkeley. This was in the aftermath of fellow former Breitbart editor Milo Yiannopolous’s planned speech at UC Berkeley being shut down by antifascist protestors, some of whom broke windows, shot fireworks at police, set a police generator on fire and pepper sprayed would-be attendees. Yiannopoulos, infamous for getting banned from Twitter for directing a massive harassment campaign against actress Leslie Jones, had previously announced he was partnering with the DHFC on an effort to target “Sanctuary Campuses” where policies are undertaken to protect undocumented students from deportation. There was a rumor Yiannopoulos was planning to out undocumented students at the talk that night. Many antifascists I spoke to at the time cited Yiannopoulos targeting a trans student at UW Milwaukee during a speech there three months prior as a precedent for this. However, the rumor was never confirmed.

Shapiro’s speech that year cost the University and City of Berkeley $600,000 in militarized police protection. There were nine arrests. The speech was attended by dozens of members of the Proud Boys and Kyle Chapman, aka Based Stickman, who was in a leadership role with the group at the time. Chapman gained viral internet fame in March 2017 for breaking a stick over an antifascist’s head at a protest in response to Milo’s shutdown. That fame gained him leadership of the now-defunct paramilitary wing of the Proud Boys, the Fraternal Order of Alt-Knights (FOAK.) Current Chairman of the Proud Boys Enrique Tarrio attended Unite the Right as part of FOAK. During the Q&A, Chapman told Shapiro that the Proud Boys “have your back.” Shapiro looked visibly uncomfortable with the group’s endorsement. The Proud Boys’ opinion of Shapiro would later sour as they continued to ally with other far-right extremist groups and movements outside of mainstream conservatism.

Shapiro spoke at length at UC Berkeley about how black people aren’t victims of racism anymore; they’re just lazy. Shapiro cites economist Thomas Sowell as a major influence. Sowell has long lent credence to white nationalists’ anti-black rhetoric because Sowell himself is black and blames black poverty on welfare and what he calls black peoples’ “laziness, promiscuity, violence, bad English.” Nathan Damigo, founder of Identity Evropa, lists Sowell as a major influence on his becoming a white nationalist.

Shapiro denies ties to white supremacy, but his racist rhetoric has influenced at least two acts of white supremacist terror. Alexandre Bisonette, who murdered six people in a Quebec mosque in 2017, checked Shapiro’s twitter 93 times in the month before his murder spree–more than any other account Bisonette visited. Another editor at the Daily Wire, John Nolte, came in second.

This year, the lawyer for a man who burned the yard of a synagogue in Indiana and spray-painted iron crosses and a Nazi flag on it claimed he was radicalized in part by conservative media. Nolan Brewer, according to a memo by his lawyer Samuel Ansell, was radicalized by his wife Kiyomi, who was 17 at the time.

“According to Nolan, she [Kiyomi Brewer] began with rightwing yet mainstream views such as those presented on Fox News,” Ansell’s memo reads. “She then moved on to writings by Ben Shapiro and articles on Breitbart News which bridged the gap to the notorious white supremacist and anti-Semitic propaganda site Stormfront.”

Shapiro responded by saying that his Orthodox Judaism discounted him from any responsibility for the couple’s radicalization into neo-Nazism. Ansell’s description of Kiyomi and Nolan Brewer’s radicalization is fairly common, however. One famous case is former white supremacist Caleb Cain, who described being radicalized on Youtube by videos that started with mainstream right-wing arguments and became increasingly tilted towards more and more extreme beliefs. Given Shapiro’s history of racist rhetoric and associations with outlets like Breitbart, his place in the white supremacist radicalization pipeline shouldn’t come as a surprise.

THE STANFORD COLLEGE REPUBLICANS

The event had run out of tickets and I was on the waitlist. I wasn’t worried about getting in.

“You should 100% plan on attending the event next week because the chances of getting in are very very high. According to Stanford policy, we had to set the number of tickets to be way lower than necessary,” an email from the organizers I got a week before the event read.

Fred R. Allen and the Young America’s Foundation (YAF) fronted the bill for Shapiro’s Stanford speech–as they had two years prior in Berkeley. YAF was founded by National Review helmsman and prominent apartheid supporter William F. Buckley. It’s not exactly clear who Fred Allen actually is. In a 2018 investigation by The Young Turks into who funds Ben Shapiro, YAF didn’t respond to inquiries about Allen’s identity. That same investigation found YAF is funded by “a fleet of billionaire GOP donors from powerful conservative families.” These include the family foundation of Education Secretary Betsy Devos, the Mercers and Charles Koch.

While in line I walked past someone holding a tiny sign that said “Fuck SCR.” SCR stands for the Stanford College Republicans–the campus club that invited Shapiro. Inviting him was the latest in a string of provocative stunts from the group this year, perhaps the most shocking  of which was reprinting anti-Semitic cartoons from the Nazi paper Der Stürmer in order to label Jewish cartoonist Eli Valley an anti-Semite.

In May, Valley was invited to speak by Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP), an organization SCR has repeatedly called anti-Semitic. Valley often uses anti-Semitic tropes to illuminate and critique Jewish right-wing figures and their often exclusionary definitions of Jewish culture and identity. Flyers featuring some of Valley’s artwork were met with complaints of anti-Semitism and SJP and Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP,) another co-sponsor of Valley’s talk, removed them. Both groups apologized in an op-ed for not making sure the full context of Valley’s work was represented in the flyers.

The organizations also pointed in the op-ed to what they felt was a disproportionate response to their flyers:

[W]e also hope that people take these events as an opportunity to critically examine the ways that certain speech and people are surveilled, censored, and punished, while others are empowered and prioritized. After all, while some at Stanford exploited this intra-community disagreement to hang up Nazi art around campus and condemn us online, others — particularly those of us who have already been doxxed by our fellow students and put on blacklisting surveillance websites like Canary Mission — will be made continually vulnerable to threats, harassment, and violence. These are the very political realities Eli Valley’s art is commenting on.” (ed. Note: more on Canary Mission here.)


By contrast, SCR members flyered residence halls with an actual Nazi caricature of the ‘International Jew’ side by side with an arguably tame cartoon by Valley. SCR members’ flyers implored viewers to “spot the difference” between the Nazi caricature and Valley’s stylized but not exaggerated portraits of Theodore Herzl and other prominent Jewish historical figures. The Valley cartoon in question was not one of those featured on the SJP/JVP posters.

Vice Provost for Student Affairs Susie Brubaker-Cole and Dean for Religious Life Tiffany Steinwert wrote on a blog post that “Some of the posters invoked anti-Semitic stereotypes and tropes and undermined values we seek to foster at Stanford University.” They did not specify which images were anti-Semitic, nor did they mention the SCR members’ flyers. Indeed, most of the publicized reaction to the whole controversy seems to have been focused on Valley’s images, not SCR members’ use of Nazi propaganda.

Valley himself didn’t let SCR off as easily, however.

“People who leap immediately to Der Stürmer looking at my art have such a vast stupidity about comic art and Jewish art specifically that they have no right to be talking about culture at all,” Valley said in his talk at Stanford.

“[SCR] is an alt-right group it seems to me,” Valley added. “It’s an anti-Semitic hate group it seems to me. They should not have been able to do what they did without serious repercussions.”

The Stanford Daily reported that SCR leadership claimed their member who posted the flyer “did not consult SCR leadership beforehand.”

Valley has since been a vocal critic of SCR’s public actions.

“Stanford College Republicans—a hate group that in the past year has brought a Holocaust Revisionist and a Jew for Jesus to campus—is now hosting hatemonger Ben Shapiro,” Valley wrote on Twitter about month before Shapiro was set to speak at Stanford.

LCRW reached out to Valley to clarify what he meant by the statement.

In late February, right-wing pundit Dinesh D’Souza spoke on campus at SCR’s invitation.

D'Souza was convicted of a felony for illegal campaign contributions & pardoned by Trump. He has a long history as a hatemonger.

While in charge of the Dartmouth Review, D'Souza published a "light-hearted interview with a former Klan leader" with a cover photo depicting a staged hanging of a black man on Dartmouth's campus. He also published an anti-affirmative action op-ed written in a racist caricature of African-American Vernacular English.

D’Souza also outed gay students in the paper. The New York Times reported at the time that “[o]ne student named, according to his friends, became severely depressed and talked repeatedly of suicide. The grandfather of another who had not found the courage to tell his family of his homosexuality learned about his grandson when he got his copy of The Review in the mail.”

D’Souza also wrote a book called “The Enemy at Home” in 2007 naming virtually the same enemies the alt-right did a decade later and blaming them for 9/11. In the book he wrote “The cultural left and its allies in Congress, the media, Hollywood, the nonprofit sector, and the universities are the primary cause of the volcano of anger toward America that is erupting from the Islamic world.” D’Souza made a list of 22 people in the “cultural left” in the book. 10 of them are Jewish. 

D’Souza also spreads conspiracy theories about billionaire Democratic Party funder George Soros, who’s widely understood as a modern stand-in for the old trope of the ‘International Jew’ in right-wing conspiracies.

D'Souza's grift for the last few years is making propaganda films that clumsily rewrite history to misdirect all the evils of the world onto the current Republican Party's current enemies. In his 2017 propaganda film, "Death of a Nation", D'Souza claimed that Hitler was pro-LGBTQ+ just like the modern Democrats and claimed the DNC’s platform echoed the Nazis' platform. It is these literal historical revisionist claims that Valley cites when he called D’Souza a “Holocaust Revisionist.”

“I should clarify that I was using Holocaust Revisionist in the broadest meaning of altering the facts of Nazi German history, not that D'Souza has denied the Holocaust. I realize afterwards that the term "revisionist" is used by deniers to normalize their denial as just another form of historical review. So maybe a different term would be better to describe his views,” Valley told LCRW in a Twitter DM conversation.

Valley said that the ‘Jew for Jesus’ SCR invited was Andrew Klavan, one of the writers at Shapiro’s Daily Wire. Klavan repeatedly espouses male supremacist views, including saying “the future is always male” and saying “demonizing men causes mass shootings.” He’s also espoused Christian supremacist and white supremacist views, saying on his podcast that “we should thank Christian white men for creating our civilization” and that the Christchurch murderer’s manifesto doesn’t “necessarily condemn anything that he was trying to represent.” He’s also denied that trans women are women.

The ‘Jews for Jesus’ website says they are “are Jewish followers of the Messiah – 100 percent Jewish and 100 percent Christian.” Many Jews consider ‘Jews for Jesus’ a cult. One Jewish organization dedicated to countering them, ‘Jews for Judaism,’ writes that “[Jews for Jesus’s] theology is basically fundamentalist Christianity” and that they practice widely-recognized patterns of destructive cults such as deceptive recruitment, authoritarian behavior inside the group and “hostility to the outside world.”

‘Jews for Jesus’ has faced some national controversy. Current VP and Christian supremacist Mike Pence appeared with someone from Jews for Jesus after the neo-Nazi mass murder at the Tree of Life Synagogue. The attack killed eleven people and was the deadliest act of violence against Jewish people in the history of the United States.

Rabbi Jason Miller of B’nai Israel in Toledo said on Twitter that “There are over 60 rabbis in Michigan & yet the only rabbi the Michigan RNC could find to offer a prayer for the 11 Jewish victims in Pittsburgh at the Mike Pence rally was a local Jews for Jesus rabbi? That's pathetic!”

“I find it pretty shocking that Ben Shapiro works with Klavan, given Judaism's united opposition to Jews for Jesus,” Valley told LCRW. “I know there's a lot about Shapiro that's hypocritical, but this cuts to the core of Jewish attitudes towards missionaries and cults,” he continued. “Every Jewish denomination considers Jews for Jesus an insidious effort to convert Jews in an era when forced conversions are no longer acceptable. It's amazing Shapiro hasn't received pushback for it, as far as I can tell.”

***

The line to get in was poorly organized. SCR members in suits scanned some peoples’ Eventbrite tickets while another forgot what he was doing and wandered off halfway through guiding me to another line for the waitlisted attendees.

“I think we can just go in,” my friend Andy said.

So we bum-rushed it. Nobody seemed to give a shit. As I walked into the building, a young woman in an evening gown welcomed us kindly and pointed us to the auditorium entrance. As we looked around for seats, an SCR member in a MAGA hat and dark blue suit asked me to “please fill up the seating in the front before trying to choose a seat in the back.” There were easily over a thousand people there. SCR later claimed 900 students and 800 others attended.


On the way in, Andy spotted Karissa Healy, who we filmed indiscriminately pepper-spraying people and whipping out a taser at the 3/4/17 so-called “Battle of Berkeley.” Other regulars at Bay Area far-right gatherings, it turns out, were also present that night.

We sat down halfway down stage left. There was a vocal group of SCR members in the row in front of us.

“Are you a neocon? Do you believe in regime change for Bashir Al-Assad?” one kid in front of me said to his friend as they joked around with each other and chatted.

“Fuck yeah! We’re based zoomers!” A kid in a MAGA hat and a full suit shouted.

“You know the good thing about them protesting outside is they’re not protesting in here,” one attendee next to me told his friend.

The event started with an SCR President Stephen Sills recounting how student activists tried to prevent them from publicizing the event. Activists tore down a spraypainted bedsheet SCR put up to advertise the event, replacing it with an admittedly more well-produced hand-drawn meme banner with SCR and Stanford Provost Persis Drell agreeing to “Be tolerant/Accept racism.” Some students tore down flyers for the event, one stabbing the image of Shapiro’s eyes with thumb tacks and writing “my sexuality doesn’t care about your feelings” on it and another drawing a penis over his face with the text “Oops, my hand slipped.” Sills called these protesters and those outside the event “fascists.”

Sills didn't mention that SCR was accused of targeting a Casa Zapata, a Latinx-themed dorm on campus, after staff refused to let them put up posters for the event. One resident of the dorm told the Daily SCR was “trying to antagonize residents.” SCR posted that when they tried to put up flyers in the dorm, “an aggressive mob of students heckled our members and spewed obscenities such as "s*ck my d***", following our members to keep them from entering other campus dorms.”

After hosting a discussion in the dorm, Provost Drell and Vice Provost for Student Affairs Susie Brubaker-Cole sent an email hours before the event saying that “some of the behaviors that have accompanied these practices have crossed a line of respectful treatment.”

Sills told the Stanford Daily in an email that “The idea that we harassed the dorm residents by attempting to film them is false,” and that “We simply returned with a larger group to speak with an RF, after being harassed by a mob of over 10 aggressive and profane students two nights prior.”

THE QUESTIONS, THE GROYPERS, THE ANSWERS

At these kind of events, a speaker usually goes on for half an hour or so. Most people in my experience are on their phones or looking for a disruption or some particularly inflammatory slogan they can cheer about during the speech part of the show.

One major disruption did occur for a few minutes. People on the second floor of the auditorium got up in the middle of Shapiro’s speech and chanted “Hey Hey/Ho Ho/Ben Shapiro’s got to go!” Shapiro called them immature or something. His mic seemed quieter to me during the incident. The protesters were taken outside, the Stanford Daily reports, by the school’s Department of Public Safety. The college Republicans in front of me gleefully filmed the whole thing and eventually started chanting “USA! USA!” The speech resumed.

Shapiro was supposed to give a talk called “No, leftist idiots don’t get to raise my kids.” He managed to keep a few lines from it in the talk he actually delivered. The most notable was him saying “Drag Queen Story Hour borders on child abuse.” This summer saw a slew of protests at Drag Queen Story Hour events, sometimes by armed extremists.

But Shapiro decided to change tack and rewrite his speech because of the Groypers.

Right-wing figures like Shapiro and Turning Point USA’s Charlie Kirk who make the rounds at college campuses have of late been targeted by a coordinated campaign lead by white nationalist and Unite the Right attendee Nick Fuentes along with current president of Identity Evropa Patrick Casey and Vincent James of the white nationalist outlet ‘The Red Elephants.’ Fuentes is the latest ‘entryist’ white nationalist to coordinate a nationwide culture-jamming campaign aimed at pushing white nationalist and anti-Semitic talking points into the mainstream. The whole thing is being heavily cheered on by Milo Yiannopoulos, the Proud Boys and far-right figures associated with them.

Fuentes’s followers call themselves “Groypers” after the far-right meme mascot of the same name. The mascot is kind of a bloated Pepe the Frog 2.0 with a smug look on his face. Groypers have been lining up at the Q&A sections of events around the country to ask questions Fuentes and his associates tailored to provoke billionaire-backed “Conservative, Inc.” speakers like Shapiro. Groypers question “Conservative Inc.” speakers’ loyalty to Trump, how hardline they are about immigration, and otherwise undermine their credibility. The goal is twofold–establish themselves and their views as the legitimate heirs to conservatism to the GOP’s base and, as always, push their white nationalist platform into the mainstream.

At these events, Shapiro and other speakers usually hope for questions from some first-semester liberal-minded student who can’t articulate their points very well and isn’t versed in debate team tactics. If you search for Shapiro once, YouTube is likely to recommend you watch dozens of videos of him bowling over unprepared students with rapid-fire talking points and often dubious logic. “BEN SHAPIRO DESTROYS [fill in the blank]” has become a meme in and of itself in the last few years.

“Shapiro is quick and he will engage directly,” Fuentes told his Telegram followers the night before the Stanford event. “It will be very easy if you are not experienced with public speaking or prepared (mentally or otherwise) for him to frazzle you. He will talk fast and will be prepared for probably anything you throw at him.”

“Charlie Kirk is one thing, but Ben has been doing this his whole life. He’s got a Jew tongue. Be ready,” a Groyper account tweeted two days earlier.

Shapiro spent most of his speech trying to get ahead of the Groypers’ narrative by drawing facile, ahistorical parallels between the alt-right and what Shapiro calls “radical leftists,” who he apparently defines as anyone who advocates against structural racism, for LGBTQ+ rights or any other such causes. Shapiro’s argument was essentially that a group of bigots and a group of anti-bigots are alike because they both focus on “identity.” He and ‘true’ conservatives, he argued, have moved beyond talking about race and other identity issues.

Shapiro attempted to address of some of the specific questions Fuentes and his colleagues suggested for the Groypers. One specific question Fuentes suggested fielding on his Telegram was about why Shapiro “originally came out against the Covington kids.” Shapiro responded by claiming he was he was on the phone “every night” with the Covington kids guiding them on how they should handle the media and said he hadn’t revealed that information publicly before.

“A note about the Ben Shapiro event tomorrow: Shapiro will be anticipating questions about Israel and he will be prepared to field them,” Fuentes wrote on his Telegram channel the night before the event.

Fuentes, an anti-Semite himself, said it’s “bad optics” to ask questions critical of Israel. For another event at UCLA with Donald Trump Jr. and Kirk, Fuentes said “hitting Kirk on foreign aid or “the boat” will only make us look bad in front of Don and push Kirk and him closer together.”

“The boat” refers to an old hobby-horse for anti-Semites–the USS Liberty, a navy research ship which was sunk by Israel during the Six Day War in 1967. Israel’s motives for doing so are still unclear but were easily absorbed into anti-Semitic narratives about Jews tricking the United States into supporting Israel.

On the question of “the boat,” Shapiro said “It happened 50 years ago. Get over it.”

Our seats ended up being a good spot to view the Q&A. It was mostly a letdown–liberal students who said they earnestly listen to Shapiro’s show trying to find a rational argument to trick Shapiro into agreeing with a less reactionary position and conservative fans kissing his ass.

The most eventful thing was when the crowd, Shapiro included, erupted into laughter and cheering when local pro-Trump activist Max Gugliemelli went up to the microphone and said “Epstein didn’t kill himself.” The phrase is a meme referring to wealthy child rapist Jeffrey Epstein who died recently under suspicious circumstances while jailed and awaiting trial in New York for trafficking children to powerful people.

“That will never stop being funny,” Shapiro said.


Gugliemelli also asked Shapiro if he’d been following the trial of Roger Stone, the former Trump campaign advisor and prominent supporter of the Proud Boys. Shapiro said he wasn’t following the trial because he was too focused on Trump’s impeachment hearings.

Shapiro’s last question was essentially “Why is America the best country in the world?” People, right-wingers included, started leaving before he even answered it. The last thing I noted down Shapiro saying was “America is the least racist country on earth.”

Fuentes and those cheerleading him took it as a win that Shapiro had even acknowledged and repeated their talking points.

“What a mistake they made,” Fuentes said on his Telegram channel that night, “I honestly was just up all night yesterday thinking how to propel the Groyper Wars after the next week when the TPUSA tour ends.”

“Ben fucking Shapiro dedicating a 45 minutes talk to explicitly denounce me and read my old facebook posts??? Lmfao thanks retard,” Fuentes continued. “America First just hit the big time.”

“Did Anyone Else Notice That Ben Shapiro Pulled A [sic] 8 Mile at His Stanford Speech?” Mike of the Proud Boys-aligned Weaponized Opinions podcast said on his Telegram,” continuing, “Meaning He Tried To Take The Groypers Power Away By Saying And Trying To Refute All Of Their Questions Before They Asked Them.”

“Like When Eminem Made Fun Of Himself,” Mike concluded.

THE STORY OUTSIDE

But there was another aspect to the Groypers that didn’t receive any attention in the following day’s coverage. Student activists I spoke to said they were intimidated and called slurs by attendees.

“We got there a little bit late, around 7:20,” a student protester who went by the alias ‘Lizard’ told me. Lizard says about ten minutes after they arrived, “most of the counter-protests had dispersed. What remained were largely the fascists who were not inside of the Ben Shapiro event.”

“We think that a lot of the Groypers who were coming to ask Ben Shapiro questions were actually outside,” Lizard said.

One of the SCR members, Lizard said, was talking to a group of 20-30 Groypers about Shapiro. The SCR member talked to them for an hour and Lizard thinks he was apologizing to the group because they couldn’t get in. Online at the time, Fuentes and his followers were complaining that the guests had been vetted.

Lizard recalled men in body armor standing outside all night heckling protesters and chatting with each other. Another activist I spoke to who went by the alias ‘Mustard’ said one person was wearing an armored vest with the logo for the videogame League of Legends on it. This person and two others with him stayed outside the event all night.

“They were also engaging and they looked like they came prepared,” Mustard said.

Lizard recalls two of the right-wingers who stood out to them.

“One of them had a white helmet with insignias on it, a military-style back pack and a chest piece,” Lizard says.

Mustard said this person “seemed to be a flat-Earther” from his comments and talked about how he “disapproves of Abrahamic religions” and instead prescribes to “the oldest religion–the Aryan religion.”

“He was talking about the USS Liberty and he was saying ‘The Israelis have a wall. Why can’t we have a wall?’” Mustard recounted.

“I heard him talking about Jews for at least half an hour very openly with five people next to him” Lizard said. “Police were also there and listening and almost nodding their heads, even when he was saying things that were explicitly violent towards Jews and his wishes to separate Jews.”

Lizard says a legal observer with the National Lawyers’ Guild (NLG) was assaulted by someone dressed as the retired Pepsi mascot “Pepsi Man.” The person in the Pepsi Man costume and another person came up to the NLG observer before counter-protests had dispersed and called him a “dirty commie” and “threw hands at him and pushed him around.”

“Later, [the person dressed as Pepsi Man] said that it was the NLG observer who pushed him first, which was not true,” Lizard recounted.

“Before counter-protests had dispersed, several of my comrades, as well as students who were not affiliated with the protests, just walking by, some of whom were black students, were harassed and verbally assaulted by some of the people participating on the Ben Shapiro/fascist side,” Lizard said

“They were called the n-word, had flashing lights put into their faces and lots of different live-streamers from different groups. [There was] some pushing and shoving,” Lizard recounted. “Our marshals also said there was one physical altercation, but we weren’t there at the time but don’t know what happened there.”

The other person who stood out to Lizard was Jeffrey Perrine, a former Proud Boy and far-right organizer in the Sacramento area. Perrine is on camera assaulting a man laying in the street with a group of other Proud Boys in an infamous June 2018 protest that turned into a riot.

At the same rally, Perrine was on a megaphone calling for violence against undocumented immigrants.

“All the illegals trying to jump over our border, we should be smashing their heads into the concrete, handling business, separating them from their kids, making sure they’re not with pedophiles and child molesters–people like the left,” he said into the megaphone.

Perrine told me that night the comment “wasn’t racist” because he wasn’t talking about a specific race of people–he was talking about “illegal immigrants.” He also said that it was “taken out of context” because out of frame, he claimed, antifascists were beating someone on the ground. Perrine told me “I was just saying we should do to illegals what they’re doing to him.”

Perrine also appeared on former Proud Boy and actual Nazi Jovi Val’s podcast “The Goy Fellas.” Perrine claimed to me that he didn’t know what it was before going on air and claims he denounced Val’s anti-Semitism. On the night of the Shapiro talk, however, Perrine went on a long, racist tirade while talking to me, at one point remarking that he didn’t like how Orthodox Jewish Rabbis suck the tips of babies’ foreskins during circumcision rites. This antiquated practice, Metzitzah B'Peh, does exist but only a few Haredi sects still practice it. Perrine called it “pedophilic.”

My friend Andy called it “blood libel” and got into a shouting match with Perrine before the latter left.

Before I ran into him, Mustard told me “there was talking that almost escalated to an altercation” between Perrine and one of their friends. “[Perrine] was yelling at them and they were joking around and I think they later shared a cigarette.”

“But later on, when we were sitting at a bench, he walked back around and then said that we thought they (Perrine and his friends) were Nazis and we should ‘come to his backyard and fight,’” Mustard recounted. Mustard says there was a “police officer” in between Perrine and “another one of his buddies.”

Lizard says some people came out of the event and went up to the police, first thanking them and then “almost got into an altercation with the cops.”

“[They] asked why they didn’t just shut the protesters down, why they didn’t just arrest them for trespassing, why didn’t they just shove them around, give them a taste of what force feels like,” Lizard said. The police apparently calmed the event attendees down.

ANN COULTER AND THE GROYPERS AT BERKELEY


Fuentes and the Groypers are considering their campaign highly successful. Currently, his banner on Twitter says “Groyper War Total Victory!” and his pinned tweet lists the dates of the stunts he’s claiming were wins.

The last major speaking event of the year for the Groypers may be Ann Coulter’s appearance at UC Berkeley on Wednesday at the invitation of the Berkeley College Republicans (BCR.)

Coulter will speak at 9pm on Wednesday. BCR’s Facebook event page says there’s currently 73 people going. It’s unclear how many tickets were sold at this point. The Wheeler Hall Auditorium where the speech will take place seats 750 people. There’s a call to protest the event at 7:15pm at the Campanile.

Protest organizers who wish to remain anonymous told LCRW many students are traumatized by the events two years ago. Throughout 2017, the university was overrun with violent provocateurs that had protection from a massive police force as they harassed, assaulted and threatened students and the surrounding community.

“UC Berkeley has pledged to commit tens of thousands of our tuition dollars to militarize campus police next week, ACCEPTING the fact that violence will occur, and yet allow this event to happen anyway,” the protest organizers said on their event page.


Coulter has a long history of racist rhetoric and writes for the white nationalist publication VDARE. The last time she was supposed to speak at UC Berkeley in 2017, she pulled out, unhappy with the time place and manner restrictions the University imposed on her talk. UC Berkeley eventually settled with BCR and YAF over the matter after the latter claimed they were discriminated against by the university. Proud Boys founder Gavin McInnes gave her speech in her stead, reading it in the same park that saw the ‘Battles of Berkeley.’ The event attracted Nathan Damigo of Identity Evropa, infamous Patriot Prayer brawler Tusitala ‘Tiny’ Toese and many others in the broader right wing extremist scene.

“We're told as if it's good news immigrants use welfare at only 15 percent above native-born rate, it's like saying only 15 percent of the food has rat feces in it," McInnes said, reading from Coulter’s speech.

BCR has a well-documented history of associations with extremist figures. Former president Troy Worden once told me how excited he was that he got to meet Martin Sellner of Generation Identity, the largest neo-Nazi group in Europe who received over a thousand euros from the Christchurch murderer. Worden’s also the one who got Milo to come to campus originally. Current president Matt Ronnau was in a Red Ice TV livestream with Nathan Damigo on the day of Trump’s inauguration. The club for a time in 2017 regularly let white nationalist media outlet The Red Elephants livestream their meetings. Ronnau seems to be sympathetic with the Groypers–recently retweeting a post by The Columbia Bugle, a blog aligned with Fuentes, where the Bugle complained about Kirk not being "America First" enough.

Fuentes and his colleagues view Coulter as one of them.

“I legitimately told Ann Coulter that she should call Charlie Kirk out on immigration,” Red Elephants’ Vincent James said on his Telegram in October under a photo of him with Coulter. “She gave me a tight-lipped smile and a long slow nod…she knows.”

“Come on, Coulter, we need you!” Fuentes wrote on his Telegram, continuing, “She’s been boosting our stuff but she should fight alongside us–what does she have to lose??? Now’s the time!”

BCR stated there will be a Q&A.

TACOMA REPUBLICAN CLUB HOSTS ANTI-TRANS SPEAKER, PUSHED OUT OF TWO VENUES

🚨 ALERTA 🚨 pic.twitter.com/ANSzFJGj1s — UPSantifa (@UPSantifa) November 25, 2019 By ABNER HAUGE|LEFT COAST RIGHT WATCH ...