Antifascists Are Not The Problem

Wow, has it really been almost a year since last I posted? Ugh, life has been hectic. I’ll finish up the hanging fiction at a later date, and there will be no defined update schedule for now.

The immediate issue that needs to be discussed is current events, politics stuff. If you are feeling burnt out, or not ready to be annoyed/enraged, come back later. This is going to get ranty.

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Time once again for me to offer me two cents. The topic: Antifascists and the bad publicity they are currently receiving.

First off: What are the Antifascists, exactly?

At their core, the name says it all: People in opposition of Fascism. Short, sweet, to the point. So why is there such an issue with them recently?

Point 1: What Antifa are not.

The Antifascist movement is comprised of a wild smattering of people of different backgrounds, but many dress in all black and wear face/head coverings to protests, in the fashion of Black Bloc groups. Some Antifa are Anarchists, yes, and some do adopt Black Bloc personas, but that just comes with the diverse backgrounds. Applying a general label to the group is falsehood.

(For those of you not in the know, Black Bloc refers to a protest tactic of anonymously causing mayhem and property damage while wearing concealing black clothing, partially to protect against riot control weapons, partially to maintain a front of anonymity. Black Bloc is not a group in and of itself, although many groups claim the name or the tactics and have done so for literally decades worldwide. Their motives range from targeted protests, to pro-anarchy statements, to causing general mayhem, and everything in between.)

However, Antifascists do not generally adopt Black Bloc tactics. Their function is more often to counter-protest pro-Fascist rallies, defend the nonviolent protesters and bystanders, and yes, fight literal Nazis. Because we have those in America. It is 20-Fucking-17, and the United States has a Nazi problem.

In their counter protesting, the Antifa’s purpose is not to cause property damage, but to defend vulnerable members of their community, as well as making a statement that Fascism is absolutely unacceptable.

Antifascists are also in no way Fascists themselves, despite what people posting anonymously on the internet love to spout. Antifa are not Nazis, nor are they Hitler, nor are they whatever demonizing term that gets attached to them sans context.

Point 1a: But what about free speech?

Fun lesson! Free speech is not absolute. The parable that everyone likes to use is that you are not allowed to scream “fire” in a crowded theater. Speech that is deliberately designed to cause violent action or panic is called “Incitement,” which is not a protected form of speech. Relevant cases: Brandenburg vs. Ohio, Whitney vs. California

Intimidation is also a crime, bearing various definitions in various states, but is generally not something people are brought to court for, due to numerous court decisions that make it extremely difficult to charge. Which, in many cases, is fucked up beyond all belief. See Virginia vs. Black

Point 1b: Ok, so their actions were illegal. Why weren’t they charged? Also, free speech!

Another fun lesson to be had! Free Speech protects people from government intervention. The idea is that undesirable speech is policed within the community by individual citizens letting each other know what is unacceptable. People tend to misconstrue this, as they so often do with the “Free Country” excuse, as carte blanche, complete freedom to do and say what they want without fear of consequence.

The Antifascist movement is literally communities responding to unacceptable ideas. This is how it is intended to work.

As for why the Nazis were not charged, there we have the core of the problem, which will be discussed in:

Point 2: The system is on the side of the Nazis.

There. I said it.

Why do I use the term “system?” Because it is a multi-level problem. I’ll focus on three of those levels, those being 45, the legal system, and the police.

Point 2a: Donald Trump is offering legitimacy to Nazis.

This one feels self explanatory for anyone that has access to a reliable news source. It brings no small amount of bile to discuss this, but let’s walk it out.

Down the rabbit hole we go. To start out, Trump is and always has been a racist bigot. Worse, he has the money to make public statements. Consider the Central Park Jogger case of 1989, where he reportedly spent $85,000 dollars to take out ads in support of the Death Penalty. This is the same case where it was proven that the defendants were not only innocent, but had been coerced into providing false testimony. (Relevant reading: Prisoner’s Dilemma) He has repeatedly denounced the settlement (Important wording, we will return to this) that came about on the case, even when DNA evidence exonerated the defendants.

There’s the wall he keeps trying to push for between Mexico and the US. There’s his repeated asinine attempts to ban people from Muslim countries (except the ones he does business with. Conflict of interest much?). So we can move on from the racism bit for now.

He is notorious for speech that jumps the edge of incitement, but no one can/will bring it up against him. (See Point 2b) He played off an encouragement towards literal assassination as a comment on voting. He said that he would pay the legal fees of people who committed violence in his name, and then lied about it.

And Charlottesville? Well, he speaks for himself.

The lies, false accusations, and subliminal support that no one can contest him on are part and parcel of his playbook that we’ve seen so far. As for how he gets away with it, we move on to:

Point 2b: The Legal System is weighted towards those with money.

And no, I’m not talking about corruption, bribes, or bought witnesses. Beyond the actual crimes one can commit in the legal system with money, there is a far more insidious method by which the wealthy manipulate the legal system.

We return to the Central Park Jogger case, in which I emphasized the word settlement. The original defendants in the case, after serving their wrongfully assigned jail sentences, sued the city of New York for malicious prosecution, racial discrimination, and emotional distress. This case went on for a literal decade before the city quietly settled for $41 million spread among the defendants.

What exactly does settlement mean? The accused agrees to pay the defendants in exchange for them dropping the charges. Notice, that nowhere in this does the accused admit to any wrongdoing, or really, pay any penalty. They offer the money themselves through attorney, and socially any crimes that they may have committed disappear.

In this way, the wealthy can pay people off to have their problems disappear. All perfectly clean and legal. For defendants that use this method, the amount of money given might be dazzling to their opponent, but a drop in a very deep bucket for them. Which goes hand in hand with the second method in which the legal system supports the wealthy. To properly envision it, we must jump back in time and examine medieval siege warfare.

Taking a castle sucks. An army has to throw themselves against stone walls while the people above drop rocks, burning fluids, and all sorts of nasty on their heads. Siege weapons are expensive, hard to transport, and often super dangerous to your own troops if something is miscalibrated. So instead, you circle the castle, sit on a hoard of supplies that would make the most dedicated apocalypse prepper’s eyes bug out, and let the inhabitants of the castle starve until they surrender rather than eat their dead.

Lawsuits are expensive, and they can drag on for ages. They are disruptive to every aspect of normal life. Any sensation or support behind the initial declaration vanishes fairly quickly if the resolution isn’t reached in a matter of months. All of which is not a problem if you have the money to support it.

If a person of standard means brings a suit that is anything but airtight against a person or entity of wealth, then the wealthy party does not need to win. They can pay to send a legal representative instead of personally attending hearings that cut into the workday, further blocking income flow to the besieged party. They have a legal retainer on staff rather than having to go shopping for a lawyer wiling to take the case.

Years down the line, the media has forgotten about the case. Other than a few individuals personally invested, the donations have stopped coming as interest has waned. Legal fees pile up, and the missed shifts start looking worse and worse to disaffected bosses who ran out of understanding within the first 6 months, if they still have a job in the first place. The wealthy entity offers to settle for paying the legal fees, and a few thousand for the trouble. Resigned, the person of standard means is forced to accept or starve. It is not justice, but it is better than nothing, so the castle surrenders.

And if it is a criminal case, as in the Central Park Joggers case? They lost most of their formative years in prison (they were 13-14 going in), then spent an additional 10 years to get the settlement they did. They came out having their lives stolen from them, and were given no assistance in reintegrating into a society where the man in the White House still thinks them guilty and publicly decried them getting anything.

Moreover, convictions are hard to come by in less-than-airtight cases. In the majority of cases, two things are required to convict: Intent and Action. Many statements that could be construed as incitement go unremarked simply because no action was taken. Other times, entire murders get downplayed as accidents due to it being impossible to prove intent.

The policies of the Right go to support these wealthy figures that enjoy such legal immunity, often to the detriment of the impoverished Republican who ends up being recruited as a Nazi. The wealthy GOP makes sure to point their radicalized lower members at scapegoats, then manipulates the legal system so that they themselves suffer no ill effects.

Point 2c: The Police are an arm of the State.

Like it or not, the police are Law Enforcement. When those in charge lend bias to the law, the police automatically are complicit. Furthermore, the way the police are trained encourages insular culture that can often include biases that end up supporting Fascist practices. There’s way too much to be said here, so I’m going to start by dropping some reading.

On the difficulties of quantifying racial bias in policing (2012)

Implicit Bias (multiple readings)

On the FBI investigation of White Supremacy in Law Enforcement

Chemical Weapons Legal for Use in Riot Control, but Not Warfare (The Geneva Protocol)

All of this is long and tiresome to read, but it boils down to this: The police are Law Enforcement. Functionally, they are the facet of the law that most will interact with face to face. If the law or the agents thereof are hostile to traditional targets of White Supremacists and Nazis, as well as being bound by oath to protect and defend those same Nazis, then they are collaborators.

To unwrap it, the police enjoy tremendous protection from the law, the media, and the public. Except that those protections are racially motivated. As far as the media and the public are concerned, the police are a weapon to be used in political statement, but the extent to which they care is the effectiveness of that weapon.

As far as the police themselves, several of the articles above speak to how several factors (The potential danger, the perception of having to work around a system that protects criminals, a culture of toxic masculinity) drive the police to some level of tribalism, suspicious and judgmental of outsiders and “Others.” Taken with the implicit bias that has worked its way through all levels of modern society as well as the culture of white supremacy that encourages members to pursue careers in Law Enforcement, the police end up being allies to the Nazis they defend on their marches. There was, not too long ago, a picture circulating of an “Oath Keeper,” (Second-amendment advocates with a dangerous habit of open-carrying automatic weapons due to self-proclaimed “concerns about the violent left.” Again, intimidation is nigh impossible to try for, and so long as they are not caught brandishing the weapon, they are legal.) aiding the police in arresting a protester. Implicit bias can be far more insidious that open bigotry.

Point 3: Ok, let’s bring it back to the Antifascists. Isn’t violence wrong?

As a tool of change, violence is most often reprehensible. However, as a tool of self defense, it can be necessary. The Nazis are literally murdering people, and far from being discouraged about being arrested for it, their supporters are planning more and more rallies. (Don’t expect links here. Faith in humanity dropped just looking at some of their sites. I’m not connecting my blog to them.)

Point 3a: But they want us to respond with violence! We’re playing into their hands!

Yes, actually. However, that’s just one part of a larger playbook. The next step they want is for us to disavow and break ties with the Antifa, leaving them without support and us without protection.

And trust me, protection is needed. I give you the thoughts of people who were on the ground at Charlottesville, seeing the Anarchists and Antifa at work. Dr. Cornel West was quoted as saying “The Anti-Fascists saved my life.” And what methods they chose to accomplish that? Self Defense, in legal terminology, allows for the use of force if the defender has reason to believe they are in danger. Standing side by side with counter protesters and various clergy staring down a literal torch wielding mob certainly counts in my book.

Point 3b: But that one town in Germany, Wunsiedel, that turns Nazi marches into a fundraiser for Anti-Nazi causes! Nonviolent is better!

Sure, but Germany has an advantage we don’t. The government in Germany is vocally Antifascist. Ours is soft-spokenly Pro-Fascist.

Nonviolent means of resistance are great! Really! If you are in San Francisco and have a dog, go poop on a Nazi’s parade!

But ultimately, there are areas of the country where the Nazis will be violent and the government/agents thereof will not be defending the people at risk. From reading the accounts in Charlottesville, they will be needed.

What is absolutely unhelpful is trying to alienate those willing to put up a physical front of resistance against the encroaching Fascists. Even less so is inaction. Inaction is defaulting to giving permission for what is happening to happen.

Point 3c: But I don’t know what I can do!

Something. Anyone and everyone can do something. Doing nothing is not only supporting the Nazis, but a sign of privilege. A lot of people’s very existences are politicized and endangered by the current political/societal climate, so they don’t have a choice whether or not they are involved. You should be too.

You don’t have to mask up and march with the Antifa. You can give money, if you are able. Southern Poverty Law Center does good work, for example. You can hold a sign at a demonstration. You can tell your story to people and talk about why it is important that the Nazis not get more of a foothold than they already have. If nothing else, you can share a fucking meme and unfriend that racist prick you’ve been tolerating on Facebook because you are related.

Me, I worked during all the demonstrations near me and am far from rich, so I make small donations where I can and I write. I get my thoughts out there. I talk to my friends, family, and coworkers about the things that matter. And the Antifa do matter. They really do.

Conclusion: The Antifa are a needed force for community protection.

Where the police can’t/won’t help, where peaceful lives are met with violent force, wherever there are Nazis to oppose, the Antifa are on our side. Treat them as your own rather than alienating them. Embrace those with the guts to stand up and fight against the domestic terrorists that have taken to our streets.

Together we stand. We will not allow ourselves to be divided in order to fall.

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