The Germans in Wunsiedel discovered that the best way to fight Nazis is to make fun of them. Nazi marches and rallies are a performance, and making fun of them "deflates the puffery" they mistake for heroism.
Wunsiedel had Nazis marching to a grave of one of Hitler's deputies every year. Counterdemonstrations didn't help. Relocating the grave didn't help. In 2014 they tried mockery. They made the march look like a walkathon fundraiser for a program that helps people leave right wing extremism. This deprived the Nazis of their dignity and victimhood story in a way that violent confrontation can not.
So in 2014, the town tried a different tactic: humorous subversion.
The campaign, called Rechts Gegen Rechts — the Right Against the Right — turned the march into Germany’s “most involuntary walkathon.” For every meter the neo-Nazis marched, local residents and businesses pledged to donate 10 euros (then equivalent to about $12.50) to a program that helps people leave right-wing extremist groups, called EXIT Deutschland.
They turned the march into a mock sporting event. Someone stenciled onto the street “start,” a halfway mark and a finish line, as if it were a race. Colorful signs with silly slogans festooned the route. “If only the Führer knew!” read one. “Mein Mampf!” (my munch) read another that hung over a table of bananas. A sign at the end of the route thanked the marchers for their contribution to the anti-Nazi cause — €10,000 (close to $12,000). And someone showered the marchers with rainbow confetti at the finish line.
The approach has spread to several other German towns and one in Sweden (where it was billed as Nazis Against Nazis).
This week, following the violence in Charlottesville, Va., Wunsiedel has come back into the news. Experts in nonviolent protest say it could serve as a model for Americans alarmed by the resurgent white supremacist movement who are looking for an effective way to respond (and who might otherwise be tempted to meet violence with violence).
Violence directed at white nationalists only fuels their narrative of victimhood — of a hounded, soon-to-be-minority who can’t exercise their rights to free speech without getting pummeled. It also probably helps them recruit. And more broadly, if violence against minorities is what you find repugnant in neo-Nazi rhetoric, then “you are using the very force you’re trying to overcome,” ...
But ideally, of course, we’d avoid violence altogether. This is where the sort of planning on display at Wunsiedel is key. Humor is a particularly powerful tool — to avoid escalation, to highlight the absurdity of absurd positions and to deflate the puffery that, to the weak-minded at any rate, might resemble heroic purpose.
But we do have similar examples of humor being used to counteract fascists in the United States. In 2012, a “white power” march in Charlotte, N.C., was met with counterprotesters dressed as clowns. They held signs reading “wife power” and threw “white flour” into the air.
“The message from us is, ‘You look silly,’ ” a coordinator told the local news channel. “We’re dressed like clowns, and you’re the ones that look funny.” By undercutting the gravitas white supremacists are trying to accrue, humorous counterprotests may blunt the events’ usefulness for recruitment. Brawling with bandanna-clad antifas may seem romantic to some disaffected young men, but being mocked by clowns? Probably not so much. [emphasis mine]
Organized mockery seems the most powerful tool in our toolkit!
This week, in Tucson, Arizona: "Man goes viral as #GreenShirtGuy after laughing at Trump supporters protesting Arizona 'sanctuary city' resolution" (The Hill, with autoplaying video)
The Tucson City Council voted Tuesday night to put a sanctuary city measure on the November ballot, prompting outcry from two people, one of them a woman wearing a red “Make America Great Again” (MAGA) hat, according to video of the incident...
Other members of the audience respond to her statements with boos and jeers, while the camera repeatedly pans to a laughing man sporting a mustache and a green shirt...
At one point, the woman accuses the city's mayor of being in direct violation of the oath taken to defend the U.S. Constitution.
Someone else in the audience can be heard stating “You’re in direct violation of being a jackass,” prompting more laughter from the so-called green shirt guy.
The video then shows a police officer directing the protesters to leave as the green-shirted man continues to laugh.
Spirited comments at JoeMyGod: VIRAL VIDEO: Man Gains Fame As #GreenShirtGuy After Laughing Hysterically At Screaming Trump Cultists
Uniting with numerous community groups to create a spectacle, antifascists mocked fascists and prevented their “toxic masculinity riot porn.”
"To create a welcoming space for protesters attending the anti-fascist rally, they developed what they called a “spectacle” to counter the way that groups like the Proud Boys often co-opt protest footage.
“We know that the far right does a lot of their recruiting from protest videos and love to make toxic masculinity riot porn,” said Effie Baum of Pop Mob, “so we decided we wanted to do something so they could not make a single video that would not look ridiculous or be drowned out with noise.”
The coalition planned a massive string of morning events, including an opening interfaith prayer, juggling and clowns, and a great deal of music, noise makers and outrageously themed costumes.
"... at 9:00 AM for the “everyday anti-fascist” rally, a phrase that highlights the range of strategies that people can use to combat the growth of fascist violence. After meditation and prayers, a series of speakers and dance parties used absurdity to mock the far right. A troop of dancers came dressed as bananas or poop emojis, while others tossed baking flour in the air with signs that read “White Flour.”
Great pictures! And I'm noticing the trans pride flag behind the banana band -- that would justifiably annoy folks who'd like to enforce male privilege ("God-given" or otherwise) for the chosen few, and can't handle people changing their gender expression and bodies to be in line with the gender they know they've been all along.
(Seen on a sign at one of the Women's Marches: "SUPPORT YOUR SISTERS, NOT JUST YOUR CIS-TERS.")