“He Will Not Divide Us,” the four-year-long anti-Trump participatory art installation from Shia LaBeouf, Nastja Sade Ronkko, and Luke Turner, was the site of a showdown between actor LaBeouf and an unidentified white supremacist on Sunday, Raw Story reports. The project, at the Museum of the Moving Image in New York, invites visitors to say the words “He will not divide us” into a camera for a 24-hour livestream, which will be broadcast on the web for the entirety of the Trump presidency.
The problem was that not everyone wanted to say “He will not divide us.” To be more specific, a Nazi showed up who wanted to say “1488,” instead. (Calling modern-day white supremacists Nazis may be imprecise in many cases, but this guy was literally wearing a SS M43 field cap, though he at least was ashamed of himself enough to remove the Totenkopf.) “1488,” of course, is a white supremacist code number that combines white supremacy’s 14-word creed with a reference to “Heil Hitler,” H being the eighth letter of the alphabet. It was created by white supremacist murderer David Lane, the same charmer who invented the “white genocide” myth. (Saying “Heil Hitler,” even in code, is another cutoff point where it probably ought to be ok to call someone a Nazi.)
LaBeouf, who was there at the time, sensed that a man wearing the uniform of a long-defeated army of racists might not be in the spirit of the thing, and, as can be seen in a video posted to a fan account for the project, successfully shut him down:*
Rather than engaging in the morally controversial act of Nazi-punching, LaBeouf decided that the answer to hate speech was more speech. He followed the guy around until he returned to the microphone (to tell the world, “We must secure the existence of the white race”) then simply out-yelled him while edging him out of frame. Watching the Nazi try to work his way back to the camera (and fail) is another bittersweet pleasure of the Trump era. Yes, the Nazi looks pathetic, and yes, this is a punch-free Nazi fiasco that we can all enjoy. But a funny web video is a poor consolation for the time—not so long ago!—when fewer Americans thought it was ok to become Nazis to begin with.
*Correction, Jan 24, 2017: This post originally misidentified the @HWNDUS Twitter account as the official Twitter account for the He Will Not Divide Us project. It is a fan account.