The Whiniest Nazis Could Still Destroy Our Country

Charlottesville, Virginia—Mid-afternoon Friday, just before traveling teenage vigilante Kyle Rittenhouse got off on charges of killing two men and wounding another in Kenosha, Wis., last year, I admit I was laughing at some of the “lulz” and the “bantz” of the 10 or so white supremacists on trial here for inciting the deadly violence of the August 2017 “Unite the Right” rally. Well, I wasn’t laughing, exactly. Just repurposing for my own ends. Rereading their court testimony, waiting for a verdict in the media room, I was writing headlines. “The Trial of the Whiniest Nazis” stood out as a winner.

They really are some whiny fucking Nazis.

Planning for the Unite the Right rally, they worried about whether mayonnaise on sandwiches might spoil in the summer sun. They tried to coordinate the purchase of matching Tiki torches, or at least find the cheapest prices. They planned their uniforms of white polos and khakis. For four weeks, they’ve been bickering among themselves in a courtroom where they might have been expected to support one another’s defenses. Lulz there.

The “lulz” and the “bantz” in their rhetoric, and in their messages to one another, are how they try to fool outsiders: their Nazism, anti-Semitism, and white suprematism are all an ironic pose, they insist; and they mean nothing when they say things like “gas the kikes, race war now.” It was a major lulz—or is it just a lul?—when they got federal District Court Judge Norman Moon to repeat that slogan last week. Of course, they don’t mean anything by it!

Of course they do. Still, it was kind of amusing to see how pathetic they are—how they didn’t understand the laws they broke, the laws that had already sanctioned many of them, or the fact that their current hatred for one another doesn’t mean they couldn’t have conspired to achieve their bloody goals on that awful August weekend more than four years ago.

Then, watching Rittenhouse blubber like a baby as he was acquitted, I realized the idiocy and incompetence of the generation of white-rights vigilantes on display in Charlottesville is neither funny nor terribly relevant. I already knew that this landmark civil trial to hold 10 individuals and 14 organizations responsible for the murder and mayhem of August 2017 was important; that’s why I was here. Suddenly, I wanted a swift, just and decisive verdict. We did not get one; the jury will be back Monday to keep figuring out who should pay for the carnage in Charlottesville, and how much.

And I will be paying attention in a different way. No lulz here today.

Meanwhile, down in Georgia, jurors are also deliberating about what to do with the three white men who murdered Armaud Arbery in cold blood as he jogged around the neighborhood. “This is what a public lynching looks like,” one defense attorney complained to the jury.

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