The right’s hate won’t go unopposed in Boston

August 17, 2017

Ryan Gannon reports on plans for a counterprotest against the white supremacists and neo-Nazis who want to descend for a second time on Boston Common.

BOSTON HAS the opportunity to stand up to the growing threat of fascism in a way that hasn't been possible in years.

Following a wave of hateful rallies around the country, the far right is planning its next mobilization to Boston Common on Saturday, August 19.

The same collection of white supremacists and neo-Nazis who terrorized Charlottesville with their "Unite the Right" rally last weekend are organizing what they call a "free speech" rally in Boston--a name carefully chosen to conceal their true aim of inciting violence against people of color, immigrants and left-wing movements for social justice.

The white supremacists have been planning their rally for weeks, and while some initial efforts to oppose them were underway, the attack on anti-racist protesters in Charlottesville that left Heather Heyer dead and dozens more injured has transformed the political climate--including the organizing against the far right's August 19 demonstration in Boston.

Within hours of the Charlottesville attack, as people across the country erupted in anger and organized vigils and protests in hundreds of cities, support for the demonstration to confront the fascist menace in Boston was also multiplying.

Far-right demonstrators rally on the Boston Common
The far-right bigots who descended on Boston Common in May are planning to return

On Facebook, thousands of people have indicated their intention to attend a march from Roxbury Crossing to Boston Common, where the alt-right rally is scheduled to take place. If the protest in January at Copley Square in support of the occupation at Logan Airport is any indication, the march could be far larger than any event Facebook page could predict.

Socialists, including members of the International Socialist Organization and Socialist Alternative, are also mobilizing a socialist contingent to march as a united front alongside civil rights organizations and activist groups. We invite anyone with a vision of a world without fascism to march with our contingent. Our numbers are our greatest strength in the fight against the right.

With the groundswell of support for the counterdemonstration, several of the speakers slated for the "free speech" rally have already backed out, including Canadian right-wing writer Gavin McInnes, leader of the far-right men's organization Proud Boys. McInnes called on the Proud Boys to disavow the planned demonstration.

This illustrates, in the clearest way possible, how even the threat of mass mobilization serves to counter the growth of the far right. The strength in numbers of people willing to stand up to fascism, racism and xenophobia has the potential to split and demoralize the far right.

THE OUTPOURING of support for the August 19 march against the right is a hopeful sign, considering the relatively small anti-racist protest when the neo-Nazis last mobilized to Boston Common. Emboldened by the words of Donald Trump and the actions of their fellow reactionaries at the University of California-Berkeley, around 300 alt-right goons, including groups such as the Oath Keepers and the Proud Boys, showed up on May 13 to spread their violent, hateful message.

Socialist and left organizations organized a counterdemonstration, but were unable to outnumber the right, which saw the event as a victory for their side. The questions raised by the event still lingered as the bigots issued their call for an August 19 hatefest. At that time, activists and organizers in the city began work on another counterdemonstration, but the outcome was uncertain.

Now, what might have been a demonstration of hundreds will hopefully number in the thousands.

"Unfortunately, racist violence isn't a new thing in Boston," said Khury Petersen-Smith, one of Boston's leading anti-racist activists, in an interview days before the protest. "Some of the worst of this city can be found in the violence against Black children during desegregation in the 70s, the anti-Muslim attacks after the Marathon bombing in 2013, the beating of a Latino man by Trump supporters last year, and there are plenty of other horrible examples."

"But, the best of Boston," he continued, "comes out when we unite and refuse to tolerate racism and bigotry. We need everyone to come out on Saturday. We're going to shut down the fascists and let them know that their hate isn't welcome here or anywhere else."

Now more than ever, building a mass movement of everyone who stands against fascist hate is not only urgently necessary, but possible. Even if the planned "free speech" rally fizzles, bringing together the foundations of a strong left that can confront fascism wherever it rears its ugly head in the future is of the utmost importance--and the process begins on Saturday.

The rally in Boston will be a critical opportunity for socialists to raise their ideas and arguments to a broad audience. It will be a chance for the left to confidently put forward a vision of the solidarity that can defeat the right and to reach out to a new layer of people looking for an alternative to the xenophobic arguments of the far right and an alternative to the system that created it.

Unite the left! Fight the right! All out to Boston on August 19!

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