Antifa - freedom fighters, necessary evil, terrorists?

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ASPartOfMe
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17 Aug 2017, 9:18 am

The Rise of the Violent Left Antifa’s activists say they’re battling burgeoning authoritarianism on the American right. Are they fueling it instead?

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Since 1907, portland, oregon, has hosted an annual Rose Festival. Since 2007, the festival had included a parade down 82nd Avenue. Since 2013, the Republican Party of Multnomah County, which includes Portland, had taken part. This April, all of that changed.

In the days leading up to the planned parade, a group called the Direct Action Alliance declared, “Fascists plan to march through the streets,” and warned, “Nazis will not march through Portland unopposed.” The alliance said it didn’t object to the Multnomah GOP itself, but to “fascists” who planned to infiltrate its ranks. Yet it also denounced marchers with “Trump flags” and “red maga hats” who could “normalize support for an orange man who bragged about sexually harassing women and who is waging a war of hate, racism and prejudice.” A second group, Oregon Students Empowered, created a Facebook page called “Shut down fascism! No nazis in Portland!”

Next, the parade’s organizers received an anonymous email warning that if “Trump supporters” and others who promote “hateful rhetoric” marched, “we will have two hundred or more people rush into the parade … and drag and push those people out.” When Portland police said they lacked the resources to provide adequate security, the organizers canceled the parade. It was a sign of things to come.

Seventy-six percent of Democrats, according to a Suffolk poll from last September, consider him a racist. Last March, according to a YouGov survey, 71 percent of Democrats agreed that his campaign contained “fascist undertones.” All of which raises a question that is likely to bedevil progressives for years to come: If you believe the president of the United States is leading a racist, fascist movement that threatens the rights, if not the lives, of vulnerable minorities, how far are you willing to go to stop it?

In Washington, D.C., the response to that question centers on how members of Congress can oppose Trump’s agenda, on how Democrats can retake the House of Representatives, and on how and when to push for impeachment. But in the country at large, some militant leftists are offering a very different answer. On Inauguration Day, a masked activist punched the white-supremacist leader Richard Spencer. In February, protesters violently disrupted UC Berkeley’s plans to host a speech by Milo Yiannopoulos, a former Breitbart.com editor. In March, protesters pushed and shoved the controversial conservative political scientist Charles Murray when he spoke at Middlebury College, in Vermont.

The movement’s secrecy makes definitively cataloging its activities difficult, but this much is certain: Antifa’s power is growing. And how the rest of the activist left responds will help define its moral character in the Trump age.

Antifa traces its roots to the 1920s and ’30s, when militant leftists battled fascists in the streets of Germany, Italy, and Spain. When fascism withered after World War II, antifa did too. But in the ’70s and ’80s, neo-Nazi skinheads began to infiltrate Britain’s punk scene. After the Berlin Wall fell, neo-Nazism also gained prominence in Germany. In response, a cadre of young leftists, including many anarchists and punk fans, revived the tradition of street-level antifascism.

In the late ’80s, left-wing punk fans in the United States began following suit, though they initially called their groups Anti-Racist Action, on the theory that Americans would be more familiar with fighting racism than fascism. According to Mark Bray, the author of the forthcoming Antifa: The Anti-Fascist Handbook, these activists toured with popular alternative bands in the ’90s, trying to ensure that neo-Nazis did not recruit their fans. In 2002, they disrupted a speech by the head of the World Church of the Creator, a white-supremacist group in Pennsylvania; 25 people were arrested in the resulting brawl.

By the 2000s, as the internet facilitated more transatlantic dialogue, some American activists had adopted the name antifa. But even on the militant left, the movement didn’t occupy the spotlight. To most left-wing activists during the Clinton, Bush, and Obama years, deregulated global capitalism seemed like a greater threat than fascism.

Trump has changed that. For antifa, the result has been explosive growth. According to NYC Antifa, the group’s Twitter following nearly quadrupled in the first three weeks of January alone. (By summer, it exceeded 15,000.) Trump’s rise has also bred a new sympathy for antifa among some on the mainstream left. “Suddenly,” noted the antifa-aligned journal It’s Going Down, “anarchists and antifa, who have been demonized and sidelined by the wider Left have been hearing from liberals and Leftists, ‘you’ve been right all along.’ ” An article in The Nation argued that “to call Trumpism fascist” is to realize that it is “not well combated or contained by standard liberal appeals to reason.” The radical left, it said, offers “practical and serious responses in this political moment.”

Those responses sometimes spill blood. Since antifa is heavily composed of anarchists, its activists place little faith in the state, which they consider complicit in fascism and racism. They prefer direct action: They pressure venues to deny white supremacists space to meet. They pressure employers to fire them and landlords to evict them. And when people they deem racists and fascists manage to assemble, antifa’s partisans try to break up their gatherings, including by force.

Such tactics have elicited substantial support from the mainstream left. When the masked antifa activist was filmed assaulting Spencer on Inauguration Day, another piece in The Nation described his punch as an act of “kinetic beauty.” Slate ran an approving article about a humorous piano ballad that glorified the assault. Twitter was inundated with viral versions of the video set to different songs, prompting the former Obama speechwriter Jon Favreau to tweet, “I don’t care how many different songs you set Richard Spencer being punched to, I’ll laugh at every one.”

Portland offers perhaps the clearest glimpse of where all of this can lead. The Pacific Northwest has long attracted white supremacists, who have seen it as a haven from America’s multiracial East and South. In 1857, Oregon (then a federal territory) banned African Americans from living there. By the 1920s, it boasted the highest Ku Klux Klan membership rate of any state.

In 1988, neo-Nazis in Portland killed an Ethiopian immigrant with a baseball bat. Shortly thereafter, notes Alex Reid Ross, a lecturer at Portland State University and the author of Against the Fascist Creep, anti-Nazi skinheads formed a chapter of Skinheads Against Racial Prejudice. Before long, the city also had an Anti-Racist Action group.

As members of a largely anarchist movement, antifascists don’t want the government to stop white supremacists from gathering. They want to do so themselves, rendering the government impotent. With help from other left-wing activists, they’re already having some success at disrupting government. Demonstrators have interrupted so many city-council meetings that in February, the council met behind locked doors. In February and March, activists protesting police violence and the city’s investments in the Dakota Access Pipeline hounded Mayor Ted Wheeler so persistently at his home that he took refuge in a hotel.


As they are about violence for political reasons the answer to the question posed in the title is Antifa is a terrorist organization. Like the Republicans/conservatives/libertarians who wink at if not support the alt right despite knowing they are because they think he is going to support their legislative agenda liberals who wink at Antifa because they have a common enemy are enabling terrorism.

I am not arguing equivalence. Antifa and their SJW fellow travelers want to be the deciders of what is allowable thought. The Nazis and KKK want to decide what groups of people will be murdered out of existence. That said Antifa is as much opposed to core American values as the Nazis.

If you do not want fascists or any authoritarians to come to power the last thing you should want is what we saw over the weekend to start happening everywhere.


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Last edited by ASPartOfMe on 17 Aug 2017, 10:04 am, edited 3 times in total.

kraftiekortie
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17 Aug 2017, 9:23 am

They certainly don't give "the left" a good reputation.



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17 Aug 2017, 9:48 am

They're armed young men who cover their faces, there's nothing trustworthy about it. True they haven't killed anyone, but they commit assault against people who express obnoxious beliefs, that's nothing to admire.


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techstepgenr8tion
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17 Aug 2017, 9:55 am

I really think both antifa and the alt-right are just steam on a boiling pot.

Our political discourse has been increasingly disgraceful and arrogant on both sides for at least a decade or more, the discourse across the country has gotten dumber and more tribal with only a handful of particularly notable exceptions the other way, and when a whole nation and media slouches and drops its standards most of the barriers for the radicals and wing-nuts on both sides became a thing.

Pretty much both antifa and the alt-right are our fault, everyone's fault, for every time we threw away reasoned debate to go and play games or just have fun with the us vs.them rhetoric thinking that either it would be harmless, *or*, that we were absolutely right anyway and therefore the ends justified the means regarding our own crudeness. All of that pig-headedness had to flow somewhere, it's been there in spades in the media for a long time, and now the consequences of their and our lack of integrity are coming home. We now find ourselves, as a consequence, between Romper Stomper '4th Reich fighting men' on one-side and the post-apocalyptic goons from Mad Max, The Warriors, etc. on the other.

The only way we can get this raunchy fart back in the bottle is make damn sure that reasoned debate retakes national dialog. Otherwise - this thing just keeps spiraling down the drain.


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17 Aug 2017, 10:04 am

I hope people really get tired of this crap, and start protesting, specifically, AGAINST extremism.

If only we had a Martin Luther King-type guy.....



ASPartOfMe
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17 Aug 2017, 10:19 am

techstepgenr8tion wrote:
I really think both antifa and the alt-right are just steam on a boiling pot.

Our political discourse has been increasingly disgraceful and arrogant on both sides for at least a decade or more, the discourse across the country has gotten dumber and more tribal with only a handful of particularly notable exceptions the other way, and when a whole nation and media slouches and drops its standards most of the barriers for the radicals and wing-nuts on both sides became a thing.

Pretty much both antifa and the alt-right are our fault, everyone's fault, for every time we threw away reasoned debate to go and play games or just have fun with the us vs.them rhetoric thinking that either it would be harmless, *or*, that we were absolutely right anyway and therefore the ends justified the means regarding our own crudeness. All of that pig-headedness had to flow somewhere, it's been there in spades in the media for a long time, and now the consequences of their and our lack of integrity are coming home. We now find ourselves, as a consequence, between Romper Stomper '4th Reich fighting men' on one-side and the post-apocalyptic goons from Mad Max, The Warriors, etc. on the other.

The only way we can get this raunchy fart back in the bottle is make damn sure that reasoned debate retakes national dialog. Otherwise - this thing just keeps spiraling down the drain.


The long term solution is that civics need to start being taught again and history needs to be taught more. One can not abide by core American values if one does not know them. One example is that a lot of people still think Trump's removal by impeachment is inevitable. People do not know that Trump has to be impeached by the House of Representatives and convicted by two-thirds of the Senate. People including Trump himself just assumed after Trump was elected America would become an authoritarian state because they do not comprehend the system of checks and balances. Some on the alt right think they are in an oppressive state discriminating against them because they were never taught what true oppressive discriminatory state is.


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18 Aug 2017, 2:17 pm

ASPartOfMe wrote:
techstepgenr8tion wrote:
I really think both antifa and the alt-right are just steam on a boiling pot.

Our political discourse has been increasingly disgraceful and arrogant on both sides for at least a decade or more, the discourse across the country has gotten dumber and more tribal with only a handful of particularly notable exceptions the other way, and when a whole nation and media slouches and drops its standards most of the barriers for the radicals and wing-nuts on both sides became a thing.

Pretty much both antifa and the alt-right are our fault, everyone's fault, for every time we threw away reasoned debate to go and play games or just have fun with the us vs.them rhetoric thinking that either it would be harmless, *or*, that we were absolutely right anyway and therefore the ends justified the means regarding our own crudeness. All of that pig-headedness had to flow somewhere, it's been there in spades in the media for a long time, and now the consequences of their and our lack of integrity are coming home. We now find ourselves, as a consequence, between Romper Stomper '4th Reich fighting men' on one-side and the post-apocalyptic goons from Mad Max, The Warriors, etc. on the other.

The only way we can get this raunchy fart back in the bottle is make damn sure that reasoned debate retakes national dialog. Otherwise - this thing just keeps spiraling down the drain.


The long term solution is that civics need to start being taught again and history needs to be taught more. One can not abide by core American values if one does not know them. One example is that a lot of people still think Trump's removal by impeachment is inevitable. People do not know that Trump has to be impeached by the House of Representatives and convicted by two-thirds of the Senate. People including Trump himself just assumed after Trump was elected America would become an authoritarian state because they do not comprehend the system of checks and balances. Some on the alt right think they are in an oppressive state discriminating against them because they were never taught what true oppressive discriminatory state is.

I wouldn't be surprised either way if Trump is removed from office before his term is up. The mainstream establishment seems to be stints him. I personally prefer him over Pence. I don't like him though, I was a Bernie supporter. I think Antifa and the alt right are just a reaction to where both sides are extremely isolated from each other and their views.
Anyone familiar with the term alt left?



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18 Aug 2017, 3:43 pm

None of the above.



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18 Aug 2017, 4:27 pm

Well if we are to apply the label terrorist consistently there they are terrorists.

The irony is they claim to be fighting fascism, yet they remind me of popular fascist/nationalist groups in their tactics.



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18 Aug 2017, 4:42 pm

I would say that regressives are fueling the far right for sure. For one they don't want to deal with reasonable cynics, of their ideas. Everyone is a bigot except them. Of course the actual bigots with take centre stage becuase this is the opposition they want

If you call everyone you disagree with a white nationalist or rascist, it is hardly surprising white nationalists are going to take advantage.

If you really think about it SJWs are just another form of identitarian group, not nationalist but in every other way.

Antifa type groups have always existed, but the regressives have tacitly or overtly supported them, and at the same time raising the profile of supremacists.

Internsectionality is by far the biggest culprit, that has been behind the popular regressive ideas.



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18 Aug 2017, 4:44 pm

BettaPonic wrote:
I wouldn't be surprised either way if Trump is removed from office before his term is up. The mainstream establishment seems to be stints him. I personally prefer him over Pence. I don't like him though, I was a Bernie supporter. I think Antifa and the alt right are just a reaction to where both sides are extremely isolated from each other and their views.
Anyone familiar with the term alt left?


Terms like alt left/right are silly. There are existing movements with long established ideas just trying sound more reasonable than they are.



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20 Aug 2017, 2:39 pm

They are commies and anarcho-communists who believe in political violence.

Even leftist darling Noam Chomsky opposes them:
http://www.washingtonexaminer.com/noam- ... le/2631786


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20 Aug 2017, 4:02 pm

BaronHarkonnen85 wrote:
They are commies and anarcho-communists who believe in political violence.

Even leftist darling Noam Chomsky opposes them:
http://www.washingtonexaminer.com/noam- ... le/2631786


I agree with Chomsky that they are a gift to the right. They further put the spotlight on the less radical left looking the other way in the cause of greater good and the larger regressive left that seeks to censor certain thought and speech.

The Nazis were a gift to the left in that conservatism and libertarianism or just advocating for a lack of censorship of "hate speech" has been tied to white supremism. Anybody defending "free speech" or certain political views will be suspected or assumed to be dog whistling to cover for their racism by many people.


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20 Aug 2017, 4:04 pm

Terrorists in hoods.

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20 Aug 2017, 7:57 pm

A lesser evil is still evil.


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