Last Saturday in the wake of Donald Trump’s acquittal by cowed Republicans in his Senate trial, a group of roughly 100 young men belonging to the self-described fascist and white nationalist organization Patriot Front marched through parts of Washington D.C. chanting “reclaim America.” I find their march disturbing as my father and three uncles were World War II veterans fighting against fascists, and now these people who adhere to the same kind of ideology as Mussolini and Hitler get police escort through our nation’s capital.
Nearly all wore khaki pants, blue jackets, khaki ball caps and all but their leader wore face masks so they could remain anonymous just like the Ku Klux Klan before them. As I’ve noticed in the past with groups like this one, their manifesto starts out reasonably and I found myself agreeing with the first three paragraphs. As I read on, it became clear that while we agree that our democracy is broken, their diagnosis of the cause is typical white supremacist hogwash. Prominent in the tract are racist quotes from Calvin Coolidge and Charles Lindbergh. According to Patriot Front’s manifesto, you can’t truly be American unless your ancestors were European.
The manifesto reminds me of the writings of a fellow native of Louisiana by the name of David Duke. The former Grand Wizard of the Knights of the Ku Klux Klan, which he founded in 1974, is well versed in sounding reasonable long enough to draw you in before turning to blame everyone else except white men like Donald Trump for the problems of downtrodden white men.
I’m not foolish enough to believe that groups like Patriot Front exist because of Donald Trump’s nativist and white supremacist rhetoric. It isn’t like the Ku Klux Klan ever really went away and anyone watching the news after the election of President Obama saw racist signs and rhetoric spouted by TEA Party demonstrators. Nevertheless, our current president cheers these hateful groups on even as the FBI has finally recognized that right wing hate groups of this sort are every bit as dangerous as followers of ISIS, if not more so.
It’s just so sad that within weeks of marches in honor of Dr. Martin Luther King and the work that continues to bring about racial harmony and justice in this country that a group of young white men look to reverse all the progress.
I should note that not only were the Patriot Front marchers in the capital exclusively male, the rhetoric in their manifesto makes it quite clear their focus isn’t just on supremacy of whites, it is about the supremacy of white males.
Patriot Front was founded by Thomas Ryan Rousseau, now 22 years old. Rousseau participated in the 2017 Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, that resulted in the death of Heather Heyer. Rousseau appears to be well spoken and media savvy, similar to David Duke. I suspect he’ll be around for quite a while, drawing disaffected white men like flies to a rotting carcass. We should all hope that the FBI keeps an eye on him and his followers.