Luke looked distraught as the police swarmed his friend, took his gun, and arrested him at the Free Speech rally on Boston Common.
“That dude was my only ride home, and I’ve gotta get to my niece’s birthday party.”
I stepped away from a mounting argument between a few free speech enthusiasts hoping to Make America Great Again and a much larger crowd of counter-protesters who had just finished watching (they couldn’t hear it) the pitiful “Free Speech” picnic featuring talks from the likes of US Senate candidate and firebrand Dr. Shiva Ayyadurai.
“He has a security job, and he always has [the gun] on him,” Luke told me. “He literally takes it everywhere he goes. It’s like a little concealed one. Not sure you can have it out in the open.”
Though Luke’s friend is a mindless and potentially dangerous individual, he doesn’t seem like a nazi. Not the white supremacists who I have met at least. My personal views on such rallies are similar to my sentiment for zits. I’d rather not have them, but if we must, let’s make it big enough to pop. Sadly, the “Free Speech” rally turned out to be a day of clear skin lacking a sizable conclave of white pus.
And where were these nazis anyway? Where were they coming from? Did they take Uber? Did they rent lebensraum on AirBnB? Luke didn’t know. He wasn’t a nazi, said that he was all about the First Amendment, and most importantly for him at the time, needed to get back to Worcester for a family affair.
Otherwise, those who surfaced with Make America Great Again hats were mostly chased out of downtown. I searched high and low for groups that could be waiting in the wings to flank the speakers, even loitering around the South Station bus depot, where I found no apparent fascists. The same goes for Chinatown and the alleyways around the Common. According to the gentleman outside of the Centerfolds strip club, no free speech fanatics or people dressed in white sheets were inside.
I felt kind of ripped off, cheated out of my only chance to see one of the modern day Klansmen who had promised to come. Though you never really know who may have been in our midst…
Back in the day, you could spot the neo-nazis at punk, metal, and hardcore shows by their shaved heads and the red laces on their combat boots. These days, it’s wicked difficult to distinguish between the average cul-du-sac bred boat shoe dude and the tiki torch-wielding Bannon-esque preppy brobags seen in Charlottesville, the likes of whom feel threatened by the social advancements of women, LGBTQ people, and minority groups as their beloved American normalcy erodes.
Other than the aforementioned exchange featuring the guy with the gun, the most controversial speech that I heard came from two working guys walking into a 7-Eleven and talking about how “all lives matter.” They didn’t like the scene around them, but agreed that “free speech is free speech.”
The circus came and went, and I saw zero hardcore fascists. Not a single swastika, other than the ones that were crossed out. No stars and bars. No tiki torches. No Proud Boys. No Pepe. Not even any Kekistani garb, like “Free Speech” rally organizer John Medlar wore to a similar event on the Common in May. No Milo Yiannopoulos. No David Duke. No Richard Spencer.
It was like going to Disney World while Mickey Mouse was away on vacation.
But I did spot Wolftits under a tree. Wolftits was in a full werewolf costume, and seemed to be enjoying some mind-altering substances. He wanted everyone to “calm down and respect each other.”
Wolftits had a tough day.
“I hate mean people, man. I didn’t expect people on my side to be so judgemental,” he moaned. “I know I look different, but I’m not a nazi wolf. It’s not right that they would just assume that just because I look different.”
This dispatch was produced in collaboration with DigBoston.