White nationalist Richard Spencer’s speech at Auburn University (AU) on April 18 sparked a firestorm of angry protests, but one Auburn student showed up in an orange suit to take the edge off the moment. His antics have since earned him the title of “Carrot Man.”
The Daily Caller News Foundation caught up with 20-year-old AU student Ivan Phillips-Schmidt for an interview about his appearance at the protest, where he dressed in an orange costume and held a sign that read, “I don’t carrot all about your outrage.”
Phillips-Schmidt, who was born and raised in Alabama, told TheDCNF he’s a junior at Auburn and studying at the nursing school. In the future, he’d like to spend his time volunteering for Doctors Without Borders or engaging in other activist movements. He notes that he was a supporter of the Dakota Access Pipeline protests.
In the video below, Carrot Man faces off against one of the more outspoken anti-fascist protesters at AU, which earned him his notoriety.
TheDCNF: What prompted you to attend the protest, and where did you get the idea for the Carrot Man costume, the sign, the dancing, the music? How did you hear of the Richard Spencer event?
Phillips-Schmidt: I decided to attend the protest when I realized that Antifa and Spencer were both recruiting people to travel hundreds of miles to converge on my campus. I was aware of the havoc that both radical groups caused at Berkeley — over $100,000 of property damage. I didn’t want to see the same thing happen here.
I started brainstorming ideas of something stupid and hilarious I could do to mock both groups of non-local extremists, bring some humor to the situation, and prevent fights and riots. I pitched the idea to some of my friends, they helped develop the pun on the sign, and Carrot Man was born.
TheDCNF: Every figure who captures the public’s imagination immediately ends up being assigned a memorable name. Yours is Carrot Man. How does this make you feel?
Phillips-Schmidt: I think it’s hilarious. Pretty self-explanatory title. Makes me want to join a boxing gym and go fight crime. They’ll be laughing so hard at my awful dancing they’ll never see the right hook coming.
TheDCNF: Everyone wants to know your politics. Do you describe yourself as conservative, liberal, progressive, libertarian, alt-right, communist, ecofascist, or esoteric Linkola-Kaczynski fusionist?
Phillips-Schmidt: I would label myself as a progressive, but I’m convinced that the current obsession with party politics is doing massive damage to our country. Civility and compromise are desperately needed. I voted for Gary Johnson in the general election.
TheDCNF: Much of the footage from Auburn features you in a battle for the audience’s attention with the antifascist drummer protesting Richard Spencer. The drummer didn’t seem to care for your Carrot Man antics. Do you have anything to say to him?
Phillips-Schmidt: You’re on the right side, but you’re doing it COMPLETELY wrong. You don’t bring neutral people to your side by calling them “motherfuckers.” Fight smarter, not harder.
TheDCNF: What was the crowd like? How many supporters of Spencer, how many antifascists, how many regular students just along for the ride?
Phillips-Schmidt: At its biggest, the crowd was composed of probably 1,000 people, mostly neutral students. It was hard to get a good estimate of the total number of Spencer supporters and anti-fascists because not all of them were decked out with gear/weapons. They were in the vast minority. Most students were neutral and just wanted the whole ordeal to be over with.
TheDCNF: What kind of response have you gotten so far from friends, students, and random people on social media and in person?
Phillips-Schmidt: I have had complete strangers tell me I’m a celebrity or a superhero. I guess that would make my superpower bad dancing? I’ve had suggestions to fly to Berkeley, wear the suit for Auburn football games, or start a stripper business. A local DJ photoshopped Carrot Man onto a flier for a 4/20 bar event last week. I was kissing a girl at a party on Saturday, and someone in the crowd yelled, “GET IT, CARROT MAN.” That was annoying.
I have had some angry people contact me asking why I would make fun of anti-fascist protesters. They usually calm down when I explain that I mocked both groups equally because I think they are both equally stupid.
TheDCNF: Have you received any threats since? Did you receive any threats while at the protest?
Phillips-Schmidt: I have not received any threats, yet. Both Spencer’s goons and Antifa both absolutely hated me at the protests (which is how I knew my strategy was working), but if either group had touched me the crowd of onlookers would have murdered them. That’s what I told myself at least. Lots of them screamed insults; I was called a “disgrace to America,” etc. Occasionally, the Nazis would purposefully bump into me, trying to provoke me, but I just laughed and kept on dancing.
TheDCNF: Did you accomplish what you wanted to, or was there anything left undone?
Phillips-Schmidt: I DEFINITELY prevented fights, and probably much worse. The critical moment not captured on video (that I know of), occurred after Spencer’s speech was over, and the Nazis were leaving campus. An Antifa member singled out an Alt-Right guy, grabbed him, and just started screaming in his face, hands raised, ready to throw fists. The big group of Nazis with shields and weaponized flag poles turned around, started marching. I stepped in between the two groups and just stood there playing “Why Can’t We Be Friends.” The police came through the crowd fairly quickly, and their presence deterred any further escalation.
Only one fight, zero students arrested.
Overall, I’d call it an amaize-ing success.
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