There was a haze over F street in Washington this evening, a mixture of pepper-spray and the smoke from small fires in the street and in a sidewalk garbage can. Outside the National Press Club, a big inflatable white elephant named “Racism” loomed over a crowd of several hundred chanting, dancing protesters.
Periodically, men in tuxedos or women in ballgowns would enter or leave the press club building, and be greeted with chants of “Fuck You, Nazi scum!” Organizers of the DeploraBall party have insisted that they are not, in fact Nazi scum — they requested that attendees refrain from making Nazi salutes, and they disinvited a prominent guest after he published anti-Semitic tweets — but even so the party was anticipated as the high-profile victory celebration of a newly prominent far-right force in American politics. For anti-fascists gearing up to protest Trump’s inauguration, it made the party an obvious target.
The resulting scene was remarkable: Inside the National Press Club, alleged fascists danced the night away and dined on crudities. Outside, city police in riot gear attempted to protect the party-goers from projectiles hurled by masked-up antifascists, periodically dousing them with pepper-spray guns.
Sometimes, the live-streamers, photographers, TV crews and other journalists also swarming the block took it in the face as well.
So, here we go: There are still a few short hours before Trump officially takes office, but it already feels like we are in a whole new world.