Politico published a story and an accompanying photo essay Tuesday looking at the rise of Antifa and what to expect from the group in 2018. Of the two, the photo essay is more interesting both because the images are good and because the tone is not sympathetic to the group.
While most opponents of white nationalists are part of progressive movements that contrast their peacefulness and inclusiveness with the racism of neo-Nazis and other extremists, the anti-fascist militia known as Antifa adopts some of the same styles and attitudes of extreme far-right movements.
Its aim, according to Dartmouth professor Mark [B]ray, who has studied it, is to forcibly repress all forms of hate speech, denying a platform to white nationalist groups. But its own belligerence alarms the FBI and other law enforcement officials.
At two separate rallies in Berkeley, California, Antifa members engaged in violence while seeking to counter “free speech” rallies organized by far-right groups.
Politico has really been ahead of the crowd on this story. In September, Josh Meyer reported that the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security had classified the group’s activities as “domestic terrorist violence.” That article came at a time when some media personalities were still suggesting Antifa might have been created by the right as a distraction.
Also somewhat surprising is the response to the photo essay in the comments section. There are many people criticizing Antifa and only a few offering pro-Antifa pushback. A sample:
They’re not fighting against fascism, it’s simply an excuse for violence and thuggery. No different that football hooligans or gangs of skinheads. Very few of them could articulate the main tenents of fascism and their idea of rational thought consists of:
– speech I don’t like is violence
– it’s ok to meet violence with violence
– ergo, it’s ok to physically attack speakers I disagree with, particulaly in a mob where the speaker is outnumbered.
Small, peaceful rallies and protests here in Ohio are always disrupted by these folks. As a result, fewer people are attending such events.
What is their aim?
Are they truly anti-fascist, or are they the true fascists?
You get the impression that the more people see of Antifa, the less they like them. The group is following in the footsteps of Occupy Wall Street, another far-left, anti-capitalist organization that pushed civic boundaries to make a political point. In a short number of months, people and police got sick of OWS and the group was run out of parks around the country. The same is likely to happen here. Antifa’s embrace of violence and vandalism will gradually lead to their downfall. Based on the reaction to this photo essay, that process has already begun.