The KKK plans to come to my town (Is it time to join Antifa?)

My adopted hometown of Huntington Beach, CA was trending on Twitter today and so naturally I was curious why. The answer is that the LA Times published a story yesterday about plans for a “white lives matter” march on Sunday. This comes just a week after a bunch of KKK flyers were found downtown last Sunday. Those fliers specifically mentioned plans for a rally this Sunday near the pier in Huntington Beach.

Huntington Beach residents received an unwelcome surprise on Easter morning: Fliers featuring Ku Klux Klan propaganda peppered a block of 18th Street in downtown.

“White Lives Do Matter,” one flier said above an image of the Klan’s emblem. “Say no to cultural genocide.”

A resident filed a report with the Huntington Beach Police Department about 7 a.m. Sunday, Lt. Brian Smith said. But it wasn’t just the words and images that alarmed locals — it’s what the pamphlets were promoting: a “White Lives Matter” rally scheduled in Huntington Beach for April 11.

“It is unnerving to find something like this deliberately placed on your driveway or doorstep,” Huntington Beach resident Mary Adams Urashima said Monday. “It is very disheartening to me as a resident to see the Klan try to recruit here and any group trying to organize a ‘White Lives Matter’ rally here.”

There’s not much the city can do about this. If a group of racists want to march around waving confederate flags the first amendment protects their right to assemble and to speak. Police can be there to make sure they don’t become violent but they can’t arrest them for being idiots. As a supporter of those rights I don’t want to see them violated even if I don’t support the speech in question. That’s the liberal bargain, right? I support your right to speak even if I hate what you’re saying.

According to the LA Times, the city is planning an online “Day of Unity” as a way to protest without encouraging direct confrontation. It also passed some resolutions condemning white supremacist movements.

On Sunday, the city is hosting a virtual “Day of Unity” at the same time as the White Lives Matter rally.

“We can’t stop people from coming to the pier, and we’re not going to be able to stop people from hiding behind the 1st Amendment to spew hateful rhetoric that’s really divisive in our community,” [Mayor Kim] Carr said, “but what we can do is counter it with these types of events.”…

In an attempt to address the swirl of extremism, the Huntington Beach City Council on Monday passed three resolutions reaffirming the city’s commitment to inclusivity and denouncing hate speech — including one item denouncing white supremacy.

Councilman Dan Kalmick, who authored the item, said the move was prompted by the KKK fliers. He acknowledged that formal denunciations, while important, are far from the final solution.

Some people are planning more direct protest tomorrow, including the local chapter of BLM. There’s no local chapter of Antifa that I’m aware of, but it wouldn’t shock me if some protesters showed up dressed in black bloc tomorrow to make a point.

As I was reading all of this I found myself wondering what I should do. Yes, I absolutely support free speech, so that’s not hard. I don’t think the police should run them off at gunpoint. But historically the Klan is a group which embraced not only white supremacy but violence and terrorism in support of that viewpoint. I don’t have any reason to think that has changed. Therefore, I don’t want the KKK to decide my town is their public stomping ground.

Does that mean that after writing 100 posts critical of Antifa I’m about to join them? In a word no. Antifa embraces violence, vandalism and destruction as a means to an end, exactly like the Klan. They are just a mirror image of one another. I don’t want them here either.

Fortunately, there’s a huge expanse of middle ground between those two extremes. Contrary to what Antifa members claim, you can oppose them without being a fascist. And in the same way, you can oppose the actual Klan without joining Antifa. In fact, I’d bet 95%+ of the people who live here are not sympathetic to either fringe.

So I’m not sure what I’m going to do. Part of me is tempted to put on a reporter’s hat and go down there tomorrow and try to talk to people I think are badly misguided. And part of me is tempted to bring my phone and a portable speaker and play some Dead Kennedy’s for as long as they hang around.

But maybe that’s more attention than they deserve. Turning downtown into a circus is probably exactly what they want. They want to appear dangerous and therefore significant when they are actually just a pretty pathetic fringe. It’s hard to know how to respond to people like this without giving them exactly the attention they clearly crave. I would never support violence to silence them, but I still sincerely wish these Nazi punks would f**k off.