The Lies about Antifa


Until Charlottesville, one thing conservatives and moderate liberals could agree on was criticizing Antifa. The best thing I read about Antifa after Charlottesville was a non-violent protester who said he disagreed with their tactics, but after witnessing Antifa defend non-violent protesters, decided to stop criticizing Antifa. Cornell West said without Antifa intervention, his group of non-violent protesters would have been crushed. The internet is full of similar reports.

Fascists promote violence, discrimination, totalitarianism, and murder – on a national or global scale. That isn’t a judgement, an exaggeration, or an attempt to insult them – it is what fascists support. People who doubt what fascism stands for need only to look at the fascist countries of the twentieth century. All were totalitarian and murderous. No neo-Nazi has every claimed to reject to historic evils of fascism. There are no “reform fascists”. Instead neo-Nazis proudly wear the swastika and reference Hitler.

Antifa groups do not support discrimination, totalitarianism, or murder. The oppose these things, but they are willing to engage in violence as part of that fight. Neo-Nazi rhetoric regularly includes reference to killing Jews, Muslims, people of color, and liberals. Antifa rhetoric just promotes punching Nazis.

Fascists and white supremacists target people based upon color, nationality, orientation, and religion. Antifa opposes people based upon behavior.

A common accusation against Antifa is that they cause and encourage violence. That is sometimes true, but Charlottesville proved that violence from the right occurred without instigation from Antifa. The first night, right-wing protesters trapped clergy in a church and beat non-violent protesters with their fists and torches. The next day, they charged and hit unarmed protesters, nearly beat an unarmed man to death, and rammed a speeding vehicle into a group of counter-protesters. They would have done the same if Antifa was not there. Likely, they would have preyed upon the unarmed and peaceful protesters more.

I have been at marches where Antifa was present. When they show up, I have two main reactions. I feel that it is a bit more likely that someone will be arrested, because Antifa does push the boundaries of a protests; and I feel safer, because I know that if neo-Nazis show up to cause problems, Antifa will intervene. I have not seen Antifa be violent at any march I have attended. I have seen them cautiously escort a troublemaker away from a rally.

Gun toting conservatives started going to intimidate non-violent liberal protesters over a decade ago. Neo-Nazi protests are usually heavily armed. The NRA is encouraging gun owners to go after liberal protesters. Right-wing extremists and racists have been murdering people of color and anti-racist protesters since the civil war. Antifa does not drop to any of these levels. Having a group actively stand up to right-wing violence may reduce the intimidation and violence. Charlottesville certainly showed that we can’t count on the police.

Neo-Nazis are bullies. Sometimes the last hope to stop bullying is to punch the bully in the face. I don’t support violence, but mainstream liberals need to consider that in an era where police stand by while fascists beat non-violent protesters, and The President justifies neo-Nazi violence, maybe we need Antifa. While I believe that we will push back the rising tide of neo-fascism, what if we don’t? These are fascists we are opposing. Were there German liberals complaining about the tactics of anti-fascist groups in the thirties, right until Hitler seized power? Like the Charlottesville protester said, we don’t need to support their tactics, but maybe we should stop criticizing Antifa.