As a journalist masking QAnon and fascism in Los Angeles, I’ve seen so much prior to now couple years. I’ve seen hazard and violence, heard loopy conspiracies and offended confrontations, and tracked a motion because it spirals deeper and deeper into madness. It has worn on me, and there are issues I’ve seen that I’d wish to neglect, like individuals yelling “save our youngsters,” a chant that drones on and on like an limitless scream inside your thoughts.
I went to see all of it once more final Sunday, April tenth, at a mass anti-vaxx rally in downtown L.A., the place the motion trustworthy gathered for a “Defeat the Mandates” rally at Grand Park close to Metropolis Corridor. The rally, at the very least in its acknowledged function, was a protest towards metropolis and county necessities that require most public employees to both get vaccinated towards a illness that has killed 987,000 Individuals.
The rally had a full 6 hours price of audio system — a mixture of native anti-vaxxers with a couple of nationwide figures — and I believed I used to be prepared for it. However what I witnessed throughout these hours was one of many scariest issues I’ve ever seen.
I noticed an unholy, darkish alliance finest described as “pageant fascism” — the place QAnon, the Individuals’s Convoy, and Dr. Robert Malone can fuse collectively in methods which make them extra highly effective than they’ve ever been.
Whereas practically everybody mocked this rally on-line, and most of the information protection was pretty mundane, what I noticed was a slickly packaged fascist telethon with ominous warnings of what lies forward. I imagine I noticed the way forward for conspiracy actions, the place the disparate outliers be part of forces to attain parallel objectives.
On a stupendous California afternoon, individuals screamed, “Lock (Fauci) up!”, danced to weird QAnon pop anthems, having fun with a stupendous California afternoon. Political candidates manned cubicles, whereas people performed carnival video games. Somebody dressed as Batman posed for images, and the director of “Plandemic” was praised as a hero. The “Individuals’s Convoy” — the motorists who did slow laps around Washington D.C. to protest covid insurance policies — rolled in and arrange store, blaring their horns till my ears had been bleeding. All the pieces felt surprisingly… boring, an absolute mismatch with the violent froth of extremist ideology, conspiracy, and aggression blaring from the stage.
Lastly — halfway by means of the rally — the reality emerged.
Certainly one of Southern California’s most notorious Neo Nazis walked as much as me, mentioned, “Hey Eric”, and photographed me.
And there it was.
That is the longer term: Pageant fascism, the place the assorted strains of right-wing extremism and conspiracy idea madness fuse right into a motion you by no means wished to see — however can’t get away from.
Don’t say you haven’t been warned.