On the Patriot Front’s Appearance at the March for Life

On the Patriot Front’s Appearance at the March for Life January 21, 2022

It seems that the March for Life cannot go even one year without a controversy.

As the Washington Post’s Michelle Boorstein reported on Twitter, about forty members of the white supremacist hate group Patriot Front showed up at the March for Life, with their masks and shields, and tried to participate in the protest. They marched with the marchers on Constitution Avenue, chanting “Strong families! Strong nation!” and surrounded by a tight protective ring of police officers the whole time.

Patriot Front seems to have begun at the head of the parade at some point, surely by elbowing their way in and not by anybody’s design. This is what Patriot Front does, after all: they crash other right-wing marches where they think they’ll be welcome and make it all about them.  After a time, they peeled off from the March and ended up standing on the sidelines watching the protesters go by. They were heckled by some counter-protesters and seem to have been ignored by many of the pro-life marchers.

When asked about the group, March for Life organizer Jeanne Mancini reportedly said, “March for Life promotes the beauty, dignity, and worth of every human life by working to end the violence of abortion. We condemn any organization that seeks to exclude a person or group of people based on the color of their skin or any other characteristic. Such exclusion runs counter to our mission which recognizes that all human lives are equal from the moment of conception: equality begins in the womb.” And that’s a start. But it’s curious that she didn’t denounce Patriot Front by name and only chose to speak in general terms. Maybe she eventually will.

Meanwhile, the conspiracy theorists are gaslighting in full force. They are claiming that Patriot Front crashed the March for Life as a false flag; that Patriot Front is not really a right-wing group but a front for Antifa, or even the FBI. I’m seeing all kinds of pro-life troll accounts claiming that the photo and video footage of Patriot Front is actually of “the feds.”

I don’t know how to break it to the conspiracy theorists, but: the March for Life isn’t news. Every year you yourselves complain that the March for Life doesn’t get any press coverage, but that’s because it’s not news. The exact same week every year, the exact same people show up with the exact same signs, stand on the exact same spot listening to speeches, and then march to the exact same end point. It’s not notable. The media doesn’t care. The president doesn’t care. Congress and the Supreme Court don’t care. They may or may not care about abortion, but they absolutely don’t care about the March for Life. The March for Life is an annual inconvenience for DC traffic. The actual politics involved with abortion goes on as it has any other week of the year. The FBI in particular doesn’t care about the March for Life. If they did they wouldn’t pull a ridiculous conspiracy theory like marching around with silly masks and shields pretending to be Patriot Front.

The reason Patriot Front showed up at the March for Life is the same reason they showed up at 1/6 and at Charlottesville: they think they’d be at home there.

And that’s something the March for Life has to take responsibility for.

If you find yourself being followed by dogs, you should ask yourself if you’ve been blowing a dog whistle.

If fascists show up to shout slogans at your rally, you should ask what slogans you’ve been shouting that brought them out of the woodwork.

The pro-life movement got on their knees to Donald Trump and his would-be fascist buddies. They supported him for four years. That’s not a stench that’s going to wear off any time soon.

This is on you.

I can think of no better metaphor for the shambles of the American pro-life movement than Patriot Front showing up to the March for Life and taking the lead for a time, protected all the while by the cops.
It used to be about unborn children, I’ve been told. That was something I could support wholeheartedly, and I still do. It has evolved into something entirely different.
You can make up stories blaming the FBI, but that doesn’t change the truth.

Image via Pixabay

Mary Pezzulo is the author of Meditations on the Way of the Cross and Stumbling into Grace: How We Meet God in Tiny Works of Mercy.
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