Supporters of President Trump are due to gather in Washington, DC today for an event they call the Million MAGA March. While the size of the crowd remains to be seen, the nation’s capital is bracing for unrest. Trump signaled his approval of the protest yesterday in a tweet. Hannah Allam of NPR has been following the city’s preparation for the rally and is joining right now. Hello.
SIMON: Do we know who’s coming?
ALLAM: Well, all kinds of groups have said they’re coming, and they’re all more or less driven by their support for President Trump and this baseless idea that the elections were rigged or stolen. So yeah, you’ve got the Stop The Steal activists – it’s kind of an umbrella – and then there’s a mix of conservative Republicans, conspiracy theorists, militia-style groups, and even white nationalists. Basically, we expect the same mix of Trump loyalists and far-right activists that we saw during the summer blockade protests. And in fact, they’re using a lot of those same connections and channels that they established over the summer to get people out this time around.
SIMON: And what kind of reception do you think they’re likely to get in Washington, D.C.?
ALLAM: Yes, it’s D.C. It’s not that easy for them to put on a big show here. It is extremely democratic, it is varied, you cannot openly bear arms. It is the home of a great outspoken leftist activist, and these activists have been out all summer. It was they who were behind the creation of Black Lives Matter Plaza in front of the White House, those who were shot with tear gas by the police. And so on the left, they also organize themselves around today’s event and invite people to come out and cross-test. And, you know, just a reminder, we’re in a pandemic. And so this is one of the many jokers when it comes to participation today.
SIMON: How do the organizers of this event see the success? What is the point?
ALLAM: It depends on the group, but in general it seems like a show of support for Trump, a rejection of the actual election results, and there’s a lot of other fringe and conspiratorial things going on. But still, it’s a well-oiled network now. These same elements came together in this way to protest against the blockade, to, to quote, “fight Antifa” in clashes in various cities. And extremist analysts I spoke to about the rally warn against getting too caught up in the size of the crowd today because they say whatever the turnout is, they find disturbing that so many extremist and marginal groups are involved and try to find a common cause. Brian Levin, a hate and extremism researcher at Cal State San Bernardino, told me, thinks of the protest only as the public face of a deeper and potentially dangerous anger over the elections and other divisions. in the country. Fans react to Harry Styles covering
BRIAN LEVIN: The thing I think we need to do is make sure we’re looking at a wide angle rather than a small angle, because whatever the crowd, the fact that it’s organized shows that the tough right is to fishing for some sort of activity to demonstrate. who have some power.
ALLAM: And so, I mean, once again President Trump has tweeted his support for this event, which, coming from the president’s dominant chair, is validation. And that seems to be another example of how the Trump era opened up space for conspiracy theorists and extremists.
SIMON: NPR’s Hannah Allam will be covering Million MAGA March today. Thank you very much for being with us.