Can Mike Cernovich Be Steve Bannon's Mini-Me? - 2018-01-23
The thing about the movement formerly known as the alt right—a far-right subculture whose anarchic ideology is inseparable from the Internet—is that its inhabitants are, by and large, painfully, haltingly awkward. They could be neo-Nazis, gleeful that Donald Trump disparages immigrants and minorities; they could be Internet trolls who while away their evenings making anti-Semitic Pepe the Frog memes in MS Paint. They could spend their time angrily fighting with Black Lives Matter on Twitter or flooding a woman's DMs with rape threats that they've rebranded as jokes (irony, after all, is a useful tool in the proto-fascist playbook). But for the most part, they're computer-dependent outcasts who find social satisfaction in watching far-right celebrities rant on the Internet. With very few exceptions, many of the attendees at Mike Cernovich's party last weekend would never have made it past the door on a normal Saturday at FREQ, a Hell's Kitchen nightclub regularly reserved for electronica parties.
But they did last Saturday night, courtesy of the man known as Cerno. The former club child and lifestyle guru, whose strident views on masculinity (and Pizza-gate) inadvertently led him into the Trump-era political-media complex, now commands a following of Internet trolls who excuse his conspiracy-minded leanings as long as he picks vicious Twitter fights with mainstream celebrities and journalists. And though the Night for Freedom party had been planned long before Fire and Fury's release, Cernovich's MAGA-sphere was all too eager to fill the power vacuum left by Steve Bannon. Seven hundred troll-army members showed up to do so; middle-aged libertarian intellectuals, dressed in suits and spangled dresses, mingled with neckbeards in uncomfortable formal jackets; drunken Proud Boys screamed behind Gavin McInnes about the virtues of straight white men; and Gateway Pundit writer Lucian Wintrich's spiffy metrosexual posse bitchily dished on people they considered traitors to the movement. Stefan Molyneux, the men's-rights radio host, decided to come out for the bash—an event in itself, given his years as a recluse—and spent the entire evening being bombarded by the young white men who worship him. College Republicans were manning the door, and Michael Flynn Jr., Twitter's favorite conspiracy theorist, whose alleged misdeeds might have facilitated his father's decision to cooperate with the Robert Mueller probe, stood in awe of the talent by the stage (surrounded by other far-right types who in turn stared in awe at him).
Sprinkled throughout the crowd were several paranoid, newly minted bitcoin millionaires who had been invited to party with the troll army for the first time. "There's a lot of crypto here, people who are really influential and deep in the game," said a middle-aged man standing next to the speakers, who refused to give me his name but offered his opinion that the financial industry is full of crooks. "This is about trolling the establishment and breaking it up," he explained of the disparate crowd. "This is about triggering people, and social engineering, and stuff."