The rise of fascists in Orange County has been well-documented in recent years. The OC Weekly itself got a bitter taste of it in 2017, when violent supporters of President Donald Trump attacked three of our reporters in Huntington Beach. Follow-up reporting by Frontline and ProPublica revealed violent right-wing networks and training throughout Orange County.
Which is why it’s nice to see Peter McLaren, a Distinguished Professor of Critical Studies at Chapman University, take on the subject of right-wing violence in a new essay for the journal Educational Philosophy and Theory. It’s barely six pages long, but the piece is quite angry and powerful. Here’s just the first paragraph of McLaren’s essay:
I live in the city of Orange, California, on the border with Anaheim, in a small suburban enclave nested between two foul smelling cement factories. Many of the men in my neighborhood proudly sport Vietnam Veteran caps. The neighborhood is flanked by industrial parks, small businesses encased in paint- flecked strip malls, and big-box superstores. People in the nearby streets can watch the fireworks from Disneyland if they live in a two-story house, provided that at least one of the rooms on the top floor is facing West. You will find a lot of bikers bouncing along the crumbling streets in their Harleys, some visibly displaying pro-Trump paraphernalia and Pepe the Frog logos on their Nazi helmets. The city of Orange is also one of the centers of California car culture, where a visitor is likely to see more retrofitted 1950s “coches Americanos” or “maquinas” than when cruising the streets of Havana. Like many Orange County residents, I frequent the beach communities on weekends. One of the most popular beaches is only a half hour drive from my house, and is called Huntington Beach. Huntington Beach is one of many locations where ethno-nationalists and neo-Nazis in Southern California like to hold demonstrations. During pro-Trump demonstrations you are likely to see members of the Rise Above Movement (RAM) hanging around the cheap beachfront shops. This is a group that is very good at being very bad. RAM is a neo-Nazi, white ethno-nationalist group that is connected to other groups such as Identitarian Identity Evropa, the hate-filled, far-right neo-fascist organization, Proud Boys, and Hammerskin Nation, a neo-Nazi skinhead group. RAM members practice street fighting so that they can attack anti-fascists like myself. They boast about their pugilistic skills, sometimes sporting faux-medieval shields stamped with the Schwarze Sonne, Celtic Cross or Viking runes. They are all too eager to take violent action unbidden. And when they go to battle in the streets they sometimes impress their Antifa opponents with full helmets, shoulder guards and plate limb defenses. I’m surprised they don’t sport leather jerkins in their off hours. Their clarion call is “free speech” but their real rallying cry is meant to foment a vile antipathy towards Muslims, immigrants, and people of color and to support the impious shenanigans of God’s “chosen one,” President Donald Trump.
It’s a rough essay about the rough times–and place–we live in. Click here to read it.
Click here to read why McLaren supports Democratic Presidential candidate Bernie Sanders’s education platform. And click here to read about McLaren’s recent stream-of-consciousness paper on his own life and revolutionary theory.
Anthony Pignataro has been a journalist since 1996. He spent a dozen years as Editor of MauiTime, the last alt weekly in Hawaii. He also wrote three trashy novels about Maui, which were published by Event Horizon Press. But he got his start at OC Weekly, and returned to the paper in 2019 as a Staff Writer.