Director Adam Bhala Lough has documented, in the first year of Trump’s Presidency, Daryle Lamont Jenkins, an ANTIFA activist, combatting the rise of the Alt-Right movement, while Richard Spencer, an Alt-Right leader, fights to gain ground, culminating in a tragic showdown in Charlottesville, Virginia.
Alt-Right: Age of Rage begins with definition of terms: the Alt-Right is white supremacy / Nazism rebranded to seem more palatable. Same assholes, different name. ANTIFA are organized Anti-Fascists who square off in opposition against white supremacy.
“…pursues the goal of establishment of, in Spencer’s words, a ‘post-American ethno-state.’ That is to say a whites-only homeland built on the smoking ruins of the Constitution.“
Daryle Jenkins is a tireless and highly visible ANTIFA leader. He’s also is a doxxer of Alt-Right members, exposing them to the public. He breaks no laws in doing so.
Richard Spencer is a small-minded person. When asked if he knows Jenkins, he comments on Jenkins’ weight, which he finds for some reason amusing. Spencer is never shown with family, friends, or close associates. He sits alone or surrounded by sycophant white male followers. He planned the march in Charlottesville where Heather Meyer was murdered on August 12th, 2017. Lough includes ground level extensive video of the unrest in Charlottesville. White supremacist James Fields drove into a crowd of ANTIFA protesters injuring many people and killing Heather Myer.
Trump defended the Alt-Right after that event, saying there was an “egregious display of hatred, bigotry and violence on many sides.“
Let’s step back and connect an obvious dot: The Alt-Right, according to Richard Spencer and Jared Taylor (leader of American Renaissance, another white supremacy group) pursues the goal of establishment of, in Spencer’s words, a “post-American ethno-state.” That is to say a whites-only homeland built on the smoking ruins of the Constitution. They are both quite clear about this. The only way to get there would be civil war followed by partition of America into multiple geographies, as was done in the British India/Pakistan partition of Hindu and Muslim in 1947, which resulted in an estimated two million deaths.
Consider also, that Russia is in favor with the Alt-Right at the moment. The pervasive whiteness of Putin’s country could explain the Republican, White House, and Alt-Right obsession with Russia. It could also explain why there was no official reaction when Vladimir Putin recently described new Russian nuclear weapons that could decimate American cities with no warning. That cataclysm could lead to the “post-America” conditions the Alt-Right desires. Pure speculation there, but Lough provides the data points that at least put this in the realm of possibility. Spencer says “Maybe we can’t be a nation any more.”
No person of conscience can watch this film without wanting to stand and howl in rage. Daryle Jenkins and others representing the left stay calm and articulate in the face of the absurdity of even the existence of the Alt-Right. Most people can’t be Jenkins but we can be grateful to him for being at the vanguard of the defense of decency. The curtain is pulled back on the Alt-Right and what’s revealed is ugly and shallow. This is the worst of humanity, so bad it almost changes the connotation of the word. If we, as a species, can harbor such willful evil, can we even use the word “human” as a synonym for compassion?
“The curtain is pulled back on the Alt-Right and what’s revealed is ugly and shallow.“
Lough has attempted impartiality by showing both sides without overtly stating a position. Either side could interpret the film as presenting evidence supporting their ideology. This both works and does not. It works because a reasonable person will see the Alt-Right and Spencer for the hateful maladaptive misfits they are, functioning at a lower cognitive level by insisting that skin color is a marker for superiority. The film does a good job of letting white supremacists paint themselves with that damning brush. The murder of Heather Myer is horrific and outrageous.
“Equal time” fails because Spencer and his ilk should never have a voice. We have room in this country and in our hearts for everyone except hate groups like the Alt-Right. This position has been called anti first-amendment “intolerance.” It’s not. Philosopher Karl Popper clarified that: “Unlimited tolerance must lead to the disappearance of tolerance. If we extend unlimited tolerance even to those who are intolerant, if we are not prepared to defend a tolerant society against the onslaught of the intolerant, then the tolerant will be destroyed, and tolerance with them.”
Information may be power, but some information is just overwhelming. How much do you need to know about the Alt-Right? If you can’t make it to the meeting, Lough has put it on film for you. Is that useful?
It is encouraging, however, to learn about ANTIFA and Daryle Jenkins. Perhaps that’s the balance. The question Lough puts before us is what country do we intend to be: inclusive and diverse, or insular and xenophobic? Regardless of your position this is an important film, guaranteed to piss you off.
Alt-Right: Age of Rage (2018). Directed by Adam Bhala Lough. Starring Daryle Lamont Jenkins, Lacy MacAuley, Richard Spencer. World Premiere at SXSW 2018.
9 out of 10