They Might Have Been Normies

Living in fear and unemployable: Far-right extremists are finding themselves doxed and out of work
Screensgrabs, Unidentified far right activists

The Washington Post has an interesting and telling story on left-wing doxing of far-right activists such as Edward Jeremy Dawson and his wife Michelle Dawson.

The Story: While at the “Million Maga” March on Nov. 14, 2020, Edward Dawson stepped on the feet of left activist photographer Laura Jedeed. Their ensuing argument attracted a crowd of far right marchers and the incident escalated to the point where Jedeed was in danger of being violent assaulted. Recognizing that the bullying of Jedeed had gone farther then he wanted, Dawson then led her through the crowd to safety. After Jedeed’s video of the incident went viral, Edward Dawson was fired from his job as an iron worker. His wife Michelle also lost her job with Walmart and believes her activism was the reason for being fired as well.

The Undertow: The Washington Post story was primarily about the doxing on the left which led to the Dawsons getting fired from their jobs. Other than anti-fascist activist Christian Exoo working at my old college St. Lawrence University that was not so interesting. There were other themes though.

Montagues and Capulets: The violence between anti-Nazis and right-wing extremists is taking on Shakespearean dimensions in Portland. That’s especially true on the right where the Dawsons were members of Patriot Prayer, a group dedicated primarily to “”trolling” the Pacific Northwest with the intention of provoking a response from far-left antifascists.” Attending gatherings with the Oathkeepers, Three Percenters, and Proud Boys, the Patriot Prayer group seemed more intendant on brawling with antifa activists than anything else. Far from making them less dangerous, the radicalism of Patriot Prayer members like the Dawsons had a violence for its own sake feel to it. As Edward Dawson said of his bullying and harassment of Jedeen, “I mean, I wasn’t harassing anyone. I just wanted to make her feel just a little bit scared.”

The Non-Elite of the Left Behind: In an interview with Salon’s Chauncey Devega, sociologist Arlie Hochschild calls Jan. 6 Insurrectionists the “Elite of the Left Behind.” The Dawsons are more the working class/lumpen proletariat of the Left Behind. Edward and Michelle Dawson both dropped out of high school and Edward had been a drug addict who served six years in prison for felony possession of a controlled substance. Edward Dawson “got clean” in prison and claims to have cut off ties to the drug life before getting married, buying a house, becoming a father, and holding a job as an iron worker. But it does not appear that living as a “normie” working citizen and wasn’t enough and that Edward and Michelle Dawson found a larger purpose in Trump and extreme right-wing activism. She was emphatic about Patriot Prayer leader Joey Gibson: “He talked a lot about freedom and God . . . I’ve seen his fire and I’ve seen that he had a voice and he wasn’t afraid to use it.” Michelle Dawson can’t bring herself to love a multicultural, socially liberal democracy but loved Trump. “I like everything that Trump stood for . . . I loved how he loved our country.”

Now or Never: Like everyone else, I have no idea of how the present national crisis will work out in the U.S. But there is some anecdotal evidence of the violent extreme right being culturally ephemeral. Jan. 6 insurrectionist Guy Reffitt was reported to the FBI by his own son who not only supported Black Lives Matter but attended at least one BLM rally in the Dallas area. With the Dawson’s, one of their children saw nothing wrong with her father’s bullying and harassment of Laura Jedeed but Michelle Dawson reported that an 18 year old daughter was disgusted with her: “But she’s 18, so she’s all, ‘Orange man is bad. George Floyd shouldn’t have died. Blah, blah, blah.’ She hates what I do.”

If extreme right wingers can’t get their own kids behind them, it may be now or never for them.