Chelsea Manning spent her Saturday night with white nationalists. Why?

Manning says she "crashed" a party full of white nationalists and far-right conspiracists. Others beg to differ.

Who were the people Chelsea Manning spent Saturday with? (CREDIT:  GETTY/THOS ROBINSON)
Who were the people Chelsea Manning spent Saturday with? (CREDIT: GETTY/THOS ROBINSON)

Over the weekend, as Donald Trump celebrated his first year in office, a gaggle of some of the president’s most outspoken, and most conspiratorial, supporters gathered in New York to ring in the anniversary. Dubbed the “Night for Freedom,” the gala brought together some of the most prominent figures in the “alt-lite,” a spinoff from the white nationalist contingent that helped propel Trump to the presidency.

While the event itself was headlined by individuals like Mike Cernovich and Jack Posobiec, the night also saw an unexpected guest: Chelsea Manning.

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Manning, who recently announced that she’d be running on the Democratic ticket in Maryland for Senate, explained her presence at the party by saying she “crashed the fascist/white supremacist hate brigade party.” She added that she’d “learned in prison that the best way to confront your enemies is face-to-face in their space.”

Manning also told the Observer that she was there to crash the party:

“I fucking crashed!” Manning told Observer when asked whether her appearance at the party contradicted her platform as a leader of the anti-Trump resistance.

“Hell yeah!” Manning enthusiastically added.

That may be true, but for those headlining the event, Manning’s presence was apparently a welcome surprise. BuzzFeed cited one source who said that “while she was not there protesting, she was there in a[n] effort to bridge gaps between left and right.” Cernovich added that he was “[g]lad she stopped by. All are welcome to party with me.” Posobiec noted that Manning was “hanging out by the bar and enjoying a drink chatting with people[.]”

While Manning’s presence at the party surprised – and angered – many, her social ties with some of the individuals behind the event extend beyond simply a night in New York. As reporter Yashar Ali uncovered, a photo shows Manning participating in an “Escape The Room” event with many well-known far-right conspiracists, including Posobiec and Lucian Wintrich.

Even aside from her “Escape The Room” event, however, Manning’s presence at the pro-Trump festivities created new questions about her Senate candidacy. After all, where Cernovich – one of the main proponents of the “Pizzagate” conspiracy – and Posobiec – best-known for reportedly creating a “Rape Melania” sign – have seen their reputations extend beyond their far-right circles, other figures headlining last weekend’s event have their own, distinct histories.

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Fairbanks, for instance, gained a bit of fame in 2016 when she effectively became the face of the American branch of the Russian propaganda outlet Sputnik. Since then, Fairbanks has morphed into one of the foremost Trump apologists, pushing conspiracies about the DNC hack and leading a campaign of support for Julian Assange – the latter of whom Manning looked to in leaking classified documents.

One of last weekend’s main speakers, likewise, was a YouTube personality named Stefan Molyneux. While Molyneux, with some 721,000 subscribers on YouTube, has gained far less mainstream attention than figures like Cernovich or Posobiec, he’s also veered far closer to outright white nationalism than some of the others in attendance.

Over the past two years, Molyneux has led an effort to peddle pseudo-science to his listeners on race relations and “Western Civilization.” To wit, Molyneux has described multi-ethnic societies as a “problem,” noting in one video that “the problem is, among the blacks and the Hispanics, they don’t end up acting the same as the white population or the Asian population.” (The notion that East Asians are superior to whites is, ironically, a common trope among white nationalists.) He’s also said that “‘racism’ is the new ‘n***er,’” and “the most offensive racist name now … is ‘racist.’” He further described Barack Obama as the “racist-in-chief,” and claimed that “freedom has a eugenics component to it inevitably.”

Molyneux denies that he’s a white nationalist. (“I am not a white nationalist. I will confess to being a right rationalist though,” he wrote in 2016.) However, he’s not only conducted unctuous, softball interviews with outright white nationalists like Jared Taylor – Molyneux called it an “honest conversation about race” – but even spent one video ranking races according to the “sweet spot of criminality.”

Stefan Molyneux
Stefan Molyneux has described multi-ethnic societies as a “problem.” (SOURCE: YOUTUBE)

Other far-right figures also in attendance, including James O’Keefe and Gavin McInnes – who, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center, has “devised … the most fertile ‘in-real-life’ recruiting ground for white nationalists and anti-Semites within today’s organized far-right” – have so far refrained from commenting on Manning’s presence at the party. But Fairbanks told the Guardian that she was “very pleased that everyone treated [Manning] respectfully” at the party. And in a video uploaded this week, Molyneux said that Manning “was treated with great respect and deference and happiness.”

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Manning, as it is, appears to have since expressed regret for her attendance at the party, and took to Twitter to say that she stopped by the party to “gather intel” on attendees.

It’s unclear, however, whether Manning also participated in the “Escape The Room” event with Fairbanks and Posobiec in order to “gather intel.”