I still need Pride in 2017… but this year it’s complicated

Last year I continued my annual “Why I Need Pride” essay series on FreethoughtBlogs–it was one of the works I submitted as a writing sample when I first applied to FTB, an ongoing project that started in 2012. A lot has changed since last year and my approach of Edmonton’s Pride festival has changed accordingly.

My opinions have shifted quite drastically in that time, a process which excites me greatly, but a process which also forces me to confront my relationship to the things around me. Since last year, I’ve become increasingly disenchanted with representative democracy as a system of government. I ended up immersed in Robert Wolff’s In Defense of Anarchy, in which I walked away conceding his points about the tension between the moral autonomy of the individual and the authority of the state. The stock-fare response to the question, “is there any rational justification for the authority of the state?” is “the consent of the governed”–and yet, not a single neoliberal democracy has enjoyed even a basic majority consensus from its voters in decades, in some cases even centuries; to say nothing of how the minority by definition does not consent to the decisions of the majority. It seems to me that the governed have only “consented” if you’re willing to stretch the definition of consent on a rack for a few hours. (If you need convincing on this point, I might consider doing that in another post, just not here).

From there the actions of law enforcement in our various democracies starts to be painted in a much less favourable light. I went down the rabbithole that was the prosecution of Canada’s anarchist organizers during the G20 protests–a mass arrest in which some ~1,100 Canadians were indiscriminately rounded up in Toronto at the 2010 G20 Summit. Following this, organizers from various networks found themselves in court over conspiracy to commit mischief charges because some of the protesters damaged property. The Crown’s argument was that the organizers ought to have plausibly known that some of the people were going to damage property because they had expressed frustration during (what were supposed to be private) meetings, and so they were party to the crime. This “evidence” was acquired through surveillance and police infiltration of activist groups.

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So the brownshirts are here

What strikes me immediately is that they’re being organized by people who have been caught on film, rather unambiguously, assaulting people.

I mean the police were more than happy to arrest and charge 230 people on inauguration day with felony rioting for the actions of 4 identified vandals but they can’t pursue assault charges on the most open and closed case that could possibly be served on their desk?

A new fight-club “fraternity” of young white, pro-Trump men is being formed, its organizers claim, to defend free-speech rights by “Alt-Right” leaders and engage in street fighting.

Kyle Chapman, a California activist arrested earlier this month in a clash in Berkeley between anti-fascist protesters and pro-Trump demonstrators, announced this week he is forming the Fraternal Order of Alt Knights (cleverly called “FOAK).

Chapman, who uses the Internet meme “Based Stick Man,” says his new militant, highly-masculine group will be the “tactical defensive arm” of the Proud Boys, another group that shows up at pro-Trump rallies looking to rumble with counter-protesters.

“We don’t fear the fight. We are the fight,” Chapman said in a recent social media post announcing FOAK’s formation.

“I’m proud to announce that my newly created Fraternal Order of Alt-Knights will be partnering with Proud Boys,” Chapman said, with the “full-approval” of its founder, Gavin McInnes.

McInnes is a co-founder of Vice (although he and the magazine severed ties 10 years ago) and more recently has been a frequent guest on FOX News and a contributor for the racist site VDARE where he denigrated Muslims and called Asian Americans “slopes” and “riceballs.”

Now described as a “neo-masculine reactionary,” McInnes calls his Proud Boys a “pro-West fraternal organization.”

Others describe it as the military arm of the Alt-Right.

I’m sure law enforcement is on the case with just as much enthusiasm as the antifa crackdown, right? [Edit April 28, 2017: Scratch that. Those same defendants have all had an additional 7 felonies added to their charges. All 210 of them. Just a reminder–they connected 4 people to the actual acts of vandalism.]

-Shiv