Atlanta Has an Alt-Right Problem

On September 11th of this year, an alt-right music festival known as Virginfest featured in a predominantly Black neighborhood. Photo by Robert P. Alvarez on

The Black Lives Matter protests of last summer brought a radical shift towards progress, especially in Atlanta. Protestors challenged a city plagued by years of strained relations between the public and the police by setting cars ablaze and marking the CNN logo with anti-imperialist graffiti. 

The City of Atlanta was becoming a progressive center. It seemed as though the tides were permanently shifting towards the left. However, on September 11th of this year, a light was shown upon the dark alt-right underbelly quietly festering in Atlanta’s shadow. 

Late that afternoon, the Atlanta Antifascists Twitter account posted a tweet: “HEADS-UP: Tonight at Toki Tatt2 on McDonough Blvd in ATL, far-Right edgelord hipsters are holding ‘Virginfest.’” 

A small music festival organized by Athena Raven Rapp – a now-former tattoo artist at the Atlanta tattoo studio TokiTat – infamous incel musicians such as Negative XP headlined Virginfest. Also known tastefully as School Shooter, Negative XP writes misogynistic and racist songs popular on websites like 4Chan.

By 3:53 pm, the Twitter account had updated and stated that the festival would start at Chosewood Park, a predominantly Black neighborhood. Those paying attention waited with bated breath for the festival to start, with some of the alt-right’s most prominent members attending. 

As the festival started, images of white supremacist signs and videos of racist shouting matches began pouring onto the internet. After the events of last summer, the event itself was jaw-dropping. 

Fortunately, the public met Virginfest with warranted outrage. The calls for Raven’s firing at TokiTat were heard and upheld, with artists at the studio promising to make reparations for the damage that the festival had done. 

However, this situation is far from resolved. The success of Virginfest begs a disturbing question: How deep does this go? 

The alt-right has made a swift home in the digital age. Their adoption of memes and irony have steadily propelled their extremist viewpoints under the guise of “joking.” 

Much of the response to Virginfest from its supporters echoed similar rhetoric. Many fans claim that the musicians are joking when they include hateful rhetoric in their music. 

The organizers follow alt-right meme accounts because they’re funny. It is all part of the joke. 

Those keeping a close eye on the alt-right’s methods, though, know that irony is inarguably one of the most critical tenets of spreading their message. In April of this year, NPR published an article on this very issue, stating that: “Online extremists have adopted irony because it is, in many ways, the native language of the internet.” 

NPR’s article then quotes Nick Fuentes, one of the alt-right’s most prominent figures. “I’m speaking the language of other zoomers,” said Fuentes in 2020. “If you’re a young person online, I mean, this is the language of our generation.”

Atlanta has an alt-right problem, though addressing it is near impossible because of how entrenched the alt-right is in internet culture. The alt-right cleverly cloaks messages in dark humor and mostly remains anonymous to cover their trail. Unfortunately makes those on the frontlines of hate elusive. 

What you can do, though, is call out fascism when you see it. In a world of irony, that is the greatest weapon we have.