Everyone expects neo-Nazis to be thuggish and simpleminded. They're losers who need a movement that tells them they are winners, so they troll for grievances and battles from which they can emerge as both morally superior and victims.
They hate freedom. Traditionalist Worker Party leader Matthew Heimbach even wrote a piece, "I Hate Freedom," in which he explained, "Freedom is a word and a concept that everyone loves and enjoys because of the license that it gives us as a society; that is why freedom failed and that is why freedom must die." Like I said, white supremacists are losers.
At noon on Sunday, the Traditionalist Worker Party had a permit to hold a rally on the state Capitol grounds in Sacramento. Some 30 white nationalists showed up. They were met by 400 counter-protesters. Violence erupted. According to news reports, 10 people were injured; two were in critical condition with stab wounds.
"Both sides were stabbed with something," whether the weapon was a knife or a stick, California Highway Patrol public information officer George Granada told me.
The counter-protesters hailed from such leftist groups as By Any Means Necessary and Antifa Sacramento. Antifa stands for antifascist, which is amazing because the bullies who were protesting against fascists seemed to have a lot in common -- they're also thuggish and simpleminded -- with fascists. "NO 'FREE SPEECH' FOR FASCISTS!" Antifa Sacramento proclaimed. Some counter-protesters showed up wearing black masks, which made it easier for them to beat people with wooden sticks and throw chunks of concrete at police and buildings without fear of prosecution.
Assemblymember Jim Cooper, D-California, was downtown when he heard about the violence and went to the Capitol to see for himself. He saw counter-protesters ready for a fight. And for no reason. The neo-Nazis, he told me, "were way outnumbered." The counter-protesters could have yelled and drowned out the neo-Nazis, who then would have "gone home." But the counter-protesters had shown up "ready for action."
By Any Means Necessary organizer Yvette Felarca told CNN that the Traditional Worker Party has no right to a public platform for its ideas. "They never should have gotten a permit to begin with. The police were out here protecting them. One of our main chants is, 'Cops and Klan go hand in hand' because we know the police are out there to back them up." Like Heimbach, Felarca constructed an argument in which people like her get to decide who has the right to free speech.
"They can get a permit, too," Cooper said of the anti-activists. (By the way, Cooper is African American, so I doubt he's sympathetic with the Traditionalist Worker Party's agenda.)
Get their own permit? Not good enough. Counter-protesters want to decide who can and cannot speak. "If they trip and fall in the process, good," Felarca said of the Traditionalist Worker Party folks. "We succeeded in shutting them down." That pretty much sums up why this group calls itself By Any Means Necessary.
The Southern Poverty Law Center, which tracks extremist groups, keeps profiles on the Traditionalist Worker Party and Heimbach. I asked if the center tracks By Any Means Necessary, whose leaders condone violence, and not just against white nationalists. The answer is no. An informal army of anarchists uses violence to muzzle unwanted speech. Masked and armed activists brazenly mobbed the Capitol to control who could speak in the public square. These "antifascists" are a threat to civil society. Like Heimbach, they have no idea what freedom is. I shudder to think what they would have to do to get on the Southern Poverty Law Center's radar.