A call to condemn Antifa
Eddie Damstra | Thursday, August 31, 2017
President Trump’s response to the Charlottesville events was, to say the very least, not good. His now infamous “both sides” remark was at best recklessly irresponsible and at worst a source of inspiration for the alt-right. And while a couple of days later he explicitly condemned neo-Nazis, white nationalists and similarly disgusting groups of people, he still later retreated to his initial response of seemingly equating the actions of protestors, one of which killed an innocent person and injured many others, with the actions of the counter protestors.
With that said, however, not everything the President stated was inherently incorrect. His comments were inappropriate and not accurate to the situation in Charlottesville, but he is not wrong about there being an “alt-left” of sorts.
The far-left group Antifa is undoubtedly the figurehead of this radical left movement. And while their stated goals may be less reprehensible than that of white supremacists, in many parts of the country the group is behaving rather similarly to those racists in Virginia on that fateful summer day.
Antifa is a self-described violent group composed of radical socialists, communists and anarchists united in the aim to eradicate fascism. The group does this through what they call “direct action,” which almost entirely means beating people up and hurling Molotov cocktails. It is not uncommon for Antifa, often donning black masks and sporting shields or clubs, to attack peaceful demonstrators. Just this weekend, in Berkeley, peaceful Trump supporters and conservative advocates were brutally attacked. In addition to their attacks on innocent civilians, Antifa also has a history of targeting police officers with violence.
Antifa claims the origin of their name is rooted in an aim to destroy fascism, but I tend to believe that their name more accurately depicts their seemingly anti-first amendment affinities. The truth is, for the most part, Antifa is not even attacking fascists. Unfortunately, due to the laxity with which the word “fascist” is thrown around today, Antifa essentially assumes the word simply applies to anyone who disagrees with them. The irony, of course, is that attempting to silence and violently attack anyone who dissents from you is definitive fascist behavior. As a result, the group attempting to rid the world of fascism is not only failing to attack actual fascists, but is actively engaging in fascism themselves.
To be clear, by criticizing Antifa I am not attempting to justify President Trump’s response to Charlottesville. Nor is this piece an attempt to draw a perfect moral equivalence between white supremacists and Antifa. I would argue that while both groups are ethically repulsive, the goals of the white supremacists are the more morally perverse. However, we should not force ourselves into a binary corner where we must choose between Antifa and neo-Nazis. Rather, and this is my point, we must be able to condemn both groups and strip any semblance of power or influence away from these violent, hate-filled and irrational human beings. Antifa is a problem, and, just as we need to talk about violent groups such as neo-Nazis, Antifa should also be included as condemned subjects in public discourse.
Antifa needs to be called out as evil and violent. More specifically, people on the left need to condemn Antifa. Just as I believe those on the right, including myself, have a responsibility to unequivocally condemn the alt-right, those on the left must carry the same responsibility for calling out groups that carry out atrocities under the name of progressivism. Unfortunately, many Democratic leaders have been reluctant to condemn Antifa, perhaps out of fear of upsetting the increasingly radical political left.
The lack of courage to condemn Antifa is not true of all Democratic politicians, however. Nancy Pelosi recently released a statement condemning the group. As strange as it is for me to say, I wholeheartedly agree with Pelosi’s statement and hope other politicians and people within the media follow suit in condemning this violent and dangerous group.
Even with the President’s mistakes, by and large, the nation’s response to Charlottesville was pretty good. The media, politicians and the general citizenry unified in condemning evil, racist groups. I hope in the near future condemnation will also be pointed towards Antifa, because the United States should not, and cannot, stand for unwarranted violence against those simply utilizing their God-given, first amendment rights.
The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.