The Mother Of All Rallies brought a crowd of under one thousand to the National Mall on Saturday, September 16. The event was planned by people from the Alt-Right who had split from the overtly-white supremacist side of their movement before Charlottesville. There were no Nazi or Confederate flags allowed in their space, and black and Latino attendees and speakers were abundant.
The commonality within the group was support for the President and a belief that he is doing a good job. I heard about of freedom of speech, anti-immigrant moves from the administration, and the donations Trump has made from his salary.
The first person I spoke to was 61-year-old Dave Delp of Pennsylvania. His sign read, “#MAGA, No Antifa, No KKK, No Racist USA, Patriots Unite”. This is a play on a common chant in the anti-Trump left, “No Trump, No KKK, No Fascist USA”.
“We’re here to support the President, and we’re here to continue restoring America,” he said, posing with his family in front of a truck covered in American flags and rightwing propagandistic phrases. He told me that the event was to bring attention to American problems like illegal immigration, the unconstitutional policies of the Obama Administration, and outrageous taxation.
There were many surreal moments throughout the day. At one point the Lee Greenwood song “I’m Proud To Be An American” played and the attendees stood and covered their hearts to sing anthemic lines about knowing that one is free because they are American. Later a speaker encouraged all of the young patriots in attendance to come onto the stage to recite the pledge of allegiance.
Conservatives from communities of color were represented at the event. I met Ingrid Mueller, 33, as she held a Latinos For Trump sign and was flooded with requests for photos. She is the spokesperson for Make California Great Again and she gushes about the wall, referring to Trump as “tough”, “courageous”, and “fierce”.
I also met Cody Hill, a 27-year-old black man from Chicago who co-founded an organization called Helping Our Own Develop (HOOD).
Hill said, “We’re here because we believe in Trump’s vision for a better urban community across America.”
He believes that the African American community needs to know that it is up to them to get out of poverty. HOOD has an institutional focus on encouraging entrepreneurship.
There were minimal counter-protesters at the Mother Of All Rallies, outnumbered even by media personnel. Three of them carried signs; one was in remembrance of Heather Heyer, the woman who was killed opposing the Unite The Right rally in Charlottesville; another demanded that Trump resign; and another insulted his Presidency. There were also people associated with Antifa monitoring the crowd.
Lacy MacAuley, 38, describes herself as a proud antifascist activist. She said, “Right now antifascist activism means documenting the symbols of hate that are present in this crowd.” She stood with a small group of her peers and consistently had journalists approaching her. “The vast majority of people who identify as antifascist are totally just doing research, writing articles, opposing the fascist tides in their neighborhoods, in their communities and workplaces, and this I think is an untold story of antifascism,” she said.
At one point three men in full camouflage approached the group and expressed gratitude that they remained nonviolent. Lacy responded and the two entered a minimally-confrontational discussion about the meaning of the rally. MacAuley criticized the Make America Great Again ethos, saying, “What do you even mean when you say that? What a lot of them actually mean, of course, is that they want to bring back white privilege, they want to bring back that world of inequality.”
There were many flags at the rally. I saw a thirteen-starred colonial flag, an anti-communist action flag, insane banners with Trump riding eagles and shooting lasers or something, Trump-Pence flags, and a green flag from the depths of the internet. It is the flag of a fictional nation called Kekistan.
I spoke with a Kekistani flag-carrier, 19-year-old Jacob Boslet. He called it a “parody flag of left-wing identity politics.” In conversation with Boslet I learned that his conviction in coming to MOAR was related to freedom of speech. He believes in the right to say what you believe, or do not believe but want to annoy people with, no matter how offensive. He said, “Kekistan mostly is just a group of people who want the right to troll people and joke around and say whatever they want, unfortunately people will abuse that, but if it isn’t free speech for all it’s free speech for none.”
The Mother Of All Rallies was a day filled with pro-Trump chants and flag-praising rituals. The group had a small turnout and were forced to compete with an extremely media-friendly rally of Juggalos, fans of the Detroit-based rap group, Insane Clown Posse.
The attendees at the Mother Of All Rallies stayed on the mall from before noon to midnight. They had music, a stack of speakers which allowed attendees to take a slot and speak, and large numbers of militia members minus their guns wandering throughout the crowd looking like security. There were no overtly-racist symbols allowed, but I did take a picture of a group of young men flashing the OK hand-symbol that has been associated with white supremacy. Saturday on the mall was an interesting chance to see Trump supporters en masse.
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