As I was browsing far right media while writing about the arrest of Mitchell Adkins, the alt-righter who stabbed two women in a terrorist incident, I began to notice a trend. Perhaps unsurprisingly, the far right quickly moved to distance itself from Adkins. This might seem obvious: distance yourself from terrorism. But I’m not saying the far right tried to distance itself from the machete attack itself. No, by and large there was approval of that act. “Liberals being attacked with knives?! It’s happening!”, to paraphrase The Daily Stormer’s take. What I’m saying is that they immediately moved to distance themselves from the person, Mitchell Adkins.
Perhaps this was due in large part to the fact that Adkins is a sad case. And I mean this sincerely. This is someone who was most likely raised to be hateful. If not by his immediate family, by his environment. We aren’t born hating, after all. He probably was bullied as a child and a young teenager, there’s no reason to doubt his accounts of that. He was isolated, out of shape and – as much as I hate to go there – physically unattractive.
In short, he could be the poster child of the far right.
Had Adkins been an anti-war protester who poured blood on a nuclear installation he could have had support from the entire anti-war and anti-nuclear movement. Had he been an anarchist or a communist he could have relied upon multiple solidarity and prison support networks. However, because he was a far-right extremist he can only expect to be ridiculed and mocked by the very people he identified with.
There is no solidarity within the far-right. It’s extremely unlikely that you will be rendered aid or considered a hero. In fact, the more successful the attack the less likely you are to be supported. While the far-right would love for right-wingers to go out and massacre homosexuals, communists and people of color in the streets, in practice the people who try and do this will be shown no support whatsoever. The right eats itself. “You go first, bro,” is the motto. And it’s a fitting motto for a movement whose base consists largely of isolated trolls on the Internet. This is the same mindset we expect from people who think watching you jump off of a bridge would be awesome but would never do it themselves.
This is worth keeping in mind if you’re a fan of helicopter ride memes. You can circle-jerk to those all day, but when push comes to shove if you think you’re going to spark the race war or anti-communist cleansing then you’ve got another thing coming. You will be hung out to dry by the very people who you thought would support you.
There is no doubt that Adkins, playing on far-right meme boards and Facebook groups, thought that he finally found some niche that accepted him. Now he is in jail facing multiple felonies. His life will be more or less ruined. And when he is eventually released he’ll find that the response to his fifteen minutes of fame by the people he thought were on his side is overwhelmingly negative.