As of now, nearly 40,000 homes and businesses in and around Moore County, NC, are without power after someone deliberately targeted two electric substations, causing millions of dollars in damages using gunfire to destroy equipment, according to reports.
Rumors have been swirling in social media outlets connecting the attacks to efforts by neo-Nazi and far-right extremist groups to shut down a local drag show that was scheduled to start shortly before the attacks on the substations occurred. Organizers of the event had been fielding threats prior to the substation attacks, some of which have been attributed to the so-called far-right Proud Boys organization.
Both local and federal authorities investigating have yet to connect the attacks on the substations with any specific individuals or groups, but that hasn’t stopped like-minded people from celebrating the attacks as a win for their cause.
Meanwhile, several states away in Ohio on Dec. 3, a large group of Proud Boys descended on another holiday-themed drag performance at a church in Columbus. Organizers made the decision to cancel the performance after dealing with what they said was a lack of support from local police as they worked to ensure attendees would be safe at the event.
And all of this comes just a few weeks after a mass shooting at a drag-friendly party at a gay nightclub in Colorado Springs that took the lives of five people and injured 19 more.
The intersectionality of all of this can’t be ignored. As I’ve mentioned before, antisemitism is the “canary in the coal mine” of the descent into fascism and violent hate. And if you recall, the Proud Boys made their big splash amid the “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville, in 2017, where they marched with other far-right and neo-nazi groups, chanting things like, “Jews will not replace us!”
It’s no coincidence that the Proud Boys were founded in 2016 as President Trump was ushered into office, signaling what I’ve previously referred to as the “Great Emboldening.” The years since have seen an unprecedented increase in antisemitic incidents on U.S. soil. Sadly, that has not abated with Trump’s loss in 2020 as it seems the momentum of the previous four years has only picked up speed.
Add to all of this a new wrinkle as Trump invited embattled antisemite Ye (formerly Kanye West) and notoriously outspoken neo-Nazi Nick Fuentes into his Mar-a-Lago home for dinner just before Thanksgiving.
For the uninitiated, Fuentes, who was in attendance at the Charlottesville rally, hosts a popular nationwide livestream called “America First.” He’s also a huge figure in the so-called “Groyper army” — a loose-knit network of white supremacists who think the modern GOP is nowhere near far-right enough. They preach a steady stream of antisemitic hate, accusing Jews of architecting the so-called “great replacement” of white, Christian European-centric Americans through some sort of secret power-brokering conspiracy.
Predictably, Trump claimed to have no idea who Fuentes was and said he was an uninvited guest of Ye’s. Even if that were true, he also stopped short of issuing any sort of apology after the neo-Nazi summit — which also included disgraced former Breitbart personality and apparent pedophilia proponent Milo Yiannopoulos — made headlines and outrage from the Republican establishment poured in.
And then, as if all of this wasn’t enough insanity for the holiday season, Ye himself appeared on Alex Jones’ perennially spurious Infowars show last Thursday for an absolutely insane meltdown while sporting a mask covering his entire head. In the discussion, Ye not only went full Holocaust denier — he professed admiration for Hitler.
“You’re not Hitler, you’re not a Nazi, so you don’t deserve to be demonized,” Jones told Ye in the interview, trying to serve up an obvious softball, which Ye then caught with his teeth and swallowed whole.
“Well, I see good things about Hitler also,” West replied. “Every human being has something of value that they brought to the table. Especially Hitler.” Ye also tried to fit Hitler with the invention of microphones and the highway — both of which long predated the Nazi party founder.
When Alex Jones is the sole voice of reason in the room, we’ve reached an event horizon of complete and total lunacy. Absurdity on a cosmic scale.
Hopefully the ongoing investigation will reveal if the the attack on the substations in NC was in fact a coordinated example of domestic terrorism or simple criminal mischief, but by then it won’t matter to the emboldened white supremacist camp. They are absolutely loving the ever-rising normalization of hate for Jews and the LGTBQ+ community, buoyed by things like the former President of the United States hosting the most publicly virulent hate-slinging celebrities in America for dinner.
And it’s time we act. This is not protected free speech. We’ve already witnessed examples of what can happen here when people with huge platforms spout utterly baseless lies about Jews. Crazed monsters try to blow up synagogues. People are murdered en masse. And the cycle perpetuates. This is hate speech, designed to incite people to violence.
Privately, as I discuss all of this with my Jewish friends and family as well as my friends and family in the LGTBQ+ community, one resounding response is evident: fear. They are scared for their lives and the lives of their families. There is a tsunami of violence roiling against these communities and it’s going to get far worse before it gets better. One need look no further than a history book to see that truth played out time and time again.
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