The Fayetteville (N.C.) Observer reported last week on a QAnon “Save the Children” march in the city that drew support from far-right militia groups. “Members of far-right group the Proud Boys expected to be at Fayetteville march” Michael Futch reported before the event Saturday:
Members of a far-right group with a reputation for violence are expected to be in attendance in Fayetteville on Saturday during a march protesting human trafficking and pedophilia.
Members of the Proud Boys plan to join a QAnon-inspired march largely organized by online apparel designer Emily Dean and Heather Holmes, the Republican candidate for state House District 44 in Fayetteville.
QAnon is a far-right U.S. conspiracy theory popular among supporters of President Donald Trump. It centers on the baseless belief that Trump is waging a secret campaign against enemies in the “deep state” and a child sex trafficking ring run by satanic pedophiles and cannibals.
White nationalists from the Proud Boys and the anti-government extremist Three Percenters were at the march. The militia members claimed they were there to protect the event from rumored “threats” against organizers (this was a rumor they spread, but could not confirm) and from the violent pro-pedophilia human trafficking supporters they anticipated would show up.
As it turns out, there was no “DON’T Save the Children” faction of counter-protesters, just a small crowd that would’ve been a lot smaller if not for the militia members:
Approximately 150 people, including roughly one-third of those members of the Triangle chapter of the Proud Boys, marched together in downtown Fayetteville late Saturday afternoon in protest against human sex trafficking and pedophilia. …
Following a half-hour of speechmaking from the steps of the Cumberland County Courthouse, the march got underway.
But not before Sev Palacios, another organizer and a Republican running for election to the N.C. Senate to represent District 21, told the crowd to applause, “We’re here to make a difference, and we’re going to make a difference.”
“While the rest of the country and … politicians talk about preserving resources, they forget our most vital resource — our children.”
Participants then marched several blocks to the local courthouse:
In unison, the marchers chanted such things as “Save our kids,” “Be their voice” and “Sex trafficking is real.” …
Some carried homemade signs, which were made for the occasion. Among them were poster boards that read: “Pedophilia is Not a Sexual Orientation,” “I am not for Sale,” “Child Lives Matter … Protecting Our Kids … Save the Children … End Human Trafficking” and “Make Hanging Pedophiles Great Again.” …
Heather Holmes, one of the march organizers and the Republican candidate running for election to the N.C. House of Representatives to represent District 44, said afterward she had hoped to see more people in attendance.
“I wish more would have come out,” Holmes said. “I hope more come out the next time. We’re not going to stop.”
“If you knew everything I have learned,” she added, “a child should grow up safe and warm. And they should not be sold for sex and drugs.”
So, to review, participants in this event believe that children are Good and that hurting children is Bad. Children, as Ms. Holmes said, “should not be sold for sex and drugs.”
I concur, wholeheartedly. I also believe that children are good and that they should not be sold for sex and drugs. I hope you agree as well.
Actually, no, that’s not quite right. I do not need to “hope” that you agree. I know that you agree. I know this because everyone agrees. Which is why you and I don’t get any brownie points or cookies or special commendation for agreeing with such a self-evident, bare-minimum moral stance.
Why, then, does Holmes seem to think that she deserves extra credit for this? Why was she convinced — or hopeful — that her event was sure to encounter angry opposition from loud crowds of pro-pedophilia, pro-human-trafficking counter-protesters? Why did Palacios and his audience savor the thought that “the rest of the country” might not like hearing his innocuous affirmations of the goodness of children?
Because this is the Anti-Kitten-Burning Coalition, and despite that name, opposition to kitten-burning is never what drives them. What drives them — the source of their passion, their purpose, and their identity — is opposition to the Pro-Kitten-Burning Coalition, which they are sure includes nearly all of their neighbors, every stranger, and, well, the vast majority of people who are not them.
The fact that there is no such Pro-Kitten-Burning Coalition and that no one, anywhere, has expressed any opposition to their anti-kitten-burning views does nothing to diminish their passionate opposition to those people — those awful, awful people who, unlike them, don’t see anything wrong with burning kittens or with selling children for sex and drugs.
This is why events like this march in Fayetteville don’t do anything. We can’t refer to this as a “protest,” because the opposition they are protesting exists only in their imagination. And it can’t even be justified under the vague heading of “raising consciousness” because, again, everyone already agrees with the vague impulse cited — “Save the Children From Bad Things!” — and the event offers no more concrete steps, no agenda, other than repeating that and hoping to convince the already universally convinced world to agree with it.
Despite what Palacios says, that cannot “make a difference.” It doesn’t need to make a difference because it is not different and because the Anti-Kitten-Burning Coalition is no different than anyone else.
That fact terrifies the members of the AKBC. What they want and need more than anything else is to be able to reassure themselves that they are different from everyone else — better, smarter, worthier.
If we took a poll to measure support for the proposition that “Children should not be sold for sex and drugs,” I would expect it to show that something close to 100% of respondents would agree. This would be terribly disappointing for those folks marching in Fayetteville. It’s no fun being the righteous remnant if everybody else turns out to be just as righteous as you are.
NOTE: Reporters discussing QAnon-driven “Save the Children” events like this one often seem to feel obliged to praise the good intentions of organizers and participants. Yes, this is a QAnon rally largely composed of white nationalist militias, but shouldn’t we at least give them credit for opposition to the sexual trafficking of children?
No. When you’re playing a note-for-note cover version of the early 20th-century “White Slavery” panic, which resulted in the aggressively racist enforcement of the Mann Act, and when you enlist the Proud Boys as the backing band for this tribute song, then, No, you will not be praised for “good intentions.”