Smoke bombs set off during Berkeley protests
Fascism is indefensible. Antifa is also indefensible. Both are antithetical to civil society, and need to be put down decisively.
Street violence in Berkeley last month left several people injured, all in the name of opposing “fascism,” “white supremacy” and “hate.” Even Mayor Jesse Arreguin, who tried to excuse antifa vandalism in the spring when black-clad rioters caused $100,000 in damages to the University of California and surrounding businesses, found it necessary to denounce the self-styled activists.
“I think we should classify them as a gang,” Arreguin told CBS San Francisco. “They come dressed in uniforms. They have weapons, almost like a militia, and I think we need to think about that in terms of our law enforcement approach.”
Democratic legislators are considering doing just that. Good for them. Far-right militants such as the Proud Boys and the Fraternal Order of Alt-Knights would be classified similarly. That’s good, too. When law and order break down, the government has a duty to step in.
Just because they claim to oppose fascism doesn’t make antifa activists liberals in black balaclavas. They’re communists and anarchists. No, those aren’t pejoratives in this context. It isn’t red-baiting when you’re talking about honest-to-goodness reds. Those are facts.
But if you don’t want to take this right-wing maniac’s word for it, just ask them. Or if you’re afraid that asking one of them might earn you a bike-lock across the cranium, then read Mark Bray’s “Antifa: The Anti-Fascist Handbook.”
Bray is a leftist who understands antifa as they understand themselves. “(A)nti-fascism is an illiberal politics of social revolutionism applied to fighting the Far Right, not only literal fascists,” he writes.
As we’ve seen, the “far right” can mean just about anyone to the right of Karl Marx and Ché Guevara. President Donald Trump is supposedly a fascist. (He isn’t.) Provocateurs such as Milo Yiannopoulos and Ann Coulter are allegedly fascists, too. (They aren’t.) Even Jerry Brown could be considered a fascist. (Only Jello Biafra knows for sure.)
Bray, a lecturer at Dartmouth College, has lately come to grief for his coy refusal on “Meet the Press” last month to denounce antifa violence, referring to it instead as “self-defense.” But antifa’s tactics are only shocking to people just now paying attention.
Whenever you hear an antifa member speak of “direct action,” they’re not talking about writing sternly worded letters to the editor, holding a sit-in, or canvassing for Mayor Darrell Steinberg. “Direct action” means disruption, vandalism and violence.
“Direct action,” one Italian antifa told Bray, “is the only argument (fascists) can understand.”
I fear that a great many people accept the basic premises of Antifa without understanding their implications. “No free speech for fascists,” many Antifa say, especially on college campuses. In fact, Bray argues “many people ascribe to a kind of ‘liberal anti-fascism’ whether they know it or not.”
But when your definition of “fascist” includes people – including duly elected officials – well within the mainstream, a breakdown of democratic norms and institutions may not be far behind.
Don’t try to paint them as noble. Fact is, antifa anti-fascists are as anti-American as “fascists.” Whether extremists march under a red banner or a black banner (or both), they march for something quite alien to our country. They’re enemies of the Constitution, republican government and capitalism generally.
And to the extent they use violence to achieve their goals, they’re enemies of law and order. Arrest them and prosecute them to the full extent of the law.