In the wake of the Jan. 6th attack on the Capitol Building in D.C., right-wing militia groups and allied Trump supporters are planning something bigger for the week of Jan. 17th, in the lead-up to the inauguration of Joe Biden. A widely disseminated online poster calls for an “armed march on Capitol Hill and all state capitols.”
What might unfold is anyone’s guess. Even prior to the Jan. 6th insurrection, the FBI, as early as Dec. 29th, had been apprised by confidential informants that, starting on the 17th, a “militant antigovernment movement” called the Boogaloo promised “armed, anti-government actions leading to a civil war.” The National Counterterrorism Center and Department of Homeland Security this week issued a bulletin that “domestic violent extremists” and “boogaloo adherents” intending to trigger a race war “may exploit the aftermath of the Capitol breach by conducting attacks to destabilize and force a climactic conflict in the United States.” Then again, the Boogaloo organizers of the nationwide rallies set to begin on the 17th are publicly trying to distance themselves from the Jan. 6th crowd, playing up obscure ideological differences and trying to save face, as The Daily Beast has reported.
If you haven’t heard of the Boogaloo and their “accelerationist” intentions for the destruction and rebirth of this country in the crucible of civil war, you’re not alone. When in 2019 my friend Jeff Schwilk, a photographer and investigative journalist, approached me to edit a book about neofascists, Nazis, white supremacists, rightwing militias and how Trumpism had served to unite them, I laughed my head off when he described the trappings of the Boogaloo Boys: that they wore Hawaiian shirts under their body armor as a mark of solidarity at protests and marches; that they flew a variant of a Nazi war flag that symbolized a mythic nation called Kekistan; that they had taken on as mascot, maybe sort of as a joke, an Internet meme called Pépe the Frog in honor of the Egyptian god of chaos and darkness, the frog-humanoid Kek. This is a movement that deliberately makes itself look comical in order to attract meme-poisoned teenagers with an “aesthetic of violence,” while outwardly downplaying the threat it poses.