Last weekend, bands of camo-clad, flag-waving, gun-toting racists descended upon Houston’s Hermann park to protest the removal of a statue of Sam Houston, a 19th-century Texas politician who owned slaves. Never mind the fact that there was never a plan in place to remove the statue itself. The mere threat of similar statue removals in New Orleans and Baltimore, along with a viral rumor that a group of regional antifascists were planning a similar campaign in Houston, was enough to bring out the these-colors-don’t-run set, as well as the sort of military-grade weaponry that is obviously important in a peaceful demonstration. It’s a perfect illustration of the intersection of misinformation-spreading 4chan trolls and classic American racist conservatism that has lead to our present administration.
Accordingly, you’d think these two sects would get along famously. However, while there, the writer Sam Kriss filmed an interaction between a meme-fucking chud and the surly militants with whom he yearned to befriend, and it is a glorious display of Trump’s coalition in all its glory:
“What about the memes?” the bespectacled internet boy yells, clearly hoping someone else out there was a Milo fan, and finding instead only bearded, unyielding militants. “These are good memes!” he shouts after someone tells him, correctly, “Dude, this is not ComicCon.” Finally, the milk-chugging lulz-fascist gets put in a headlock and forcefully escorted as his purported friends chant “hey hey hey, goodbye” and, “get that Nazi out of here!”
It’s initially a little hard to figure out what they’re even fighting over, aside from aesthetics, but it points to a greater ideological disjuncture. One of the favorite talking points of the gang of ironic white supremacists who call themselves the “alt-right” is that they are incorrectly cast as “Nazis,” when in fact they are merely adjacent to and friendly with Nazis. What we have in the video above is not even Nazi-on-Nazi violence but two satellite hate-groups with little in common, one very old and deeply American and the other very new and deeply internetty. One has a consistent nationalist ideology, the other a consistent sense of nihilistic humor. While the groups shave previously aligned to great torch-wielding success, there are few images more distinctly evocative of American discourse in 2017 than a shithead shouting “what about the memes” before getting his ass kicked.