There are many, of whom I am one, who see a menacing movement toward fascism in this country. (See my 7/20 article “Is the Fear of Fascism Ill-Founded?”) Any vocal opposition to fascism, however, is often met with the rejoinder, “. . . but what about Antifa?”
|The Antifa logo|
Descriptive Words about Antifa
There is much online and in the mass media about Antifa. Some of that material is good and helpful; some is certainly not so good or helpful. I am particularly negative toward what is being said/shown on Fox News and by people such as Sean Hannity and Tucker Carlson.
There is, though, a good and helpful book about Antifa written by a scholar and college professor. That book is Antifa: The Anti-Fascist Handbook (2017) by Mark Bray, who earned his Ph.D. in 2016 at Rutgers University and currently teaches at Dartmouth College.
Early in his Introduction, Bray explains that “anti-fascism is a reasonable, historically informed response to the fascist threat that persisted after 1945 and that has become especially menacing in recent years.”
In particular, Antifa in the U.S. see a real danger in the current presence and support of white supremacists, a movement that seems to be increasing in numbers and influence.
Ten Assumptions about Antifa
In reading/thinking about Antifa, I have come up with the following ten assumptions.
1) Fascism is bad/harmful for any nation and for the world.
2) Opposition to fascism is good/potentially helpful for any nation and for the world.
3) The people most actively opposed to fascism are referred to as Antifa.
4) As in any group/movement, there are “good” and “bad” people in Antifa.
5) Antifa members who use violence and physically harm persons should be denounced.
6) Antifa members who adamantly and peacefully oppose fascism should be applauded.
7) In the 1920s and ’30s Antifa in Italy and Germany were too few and too late.
8) Increasing fascism in the U.S. is a real threat that must be taken seriously.
9) Current criticism of Antifa is often misleading and ill-founded.
10) It is better to err on the side of supporting Antifa than to condone fascism.
What about it, readers? Are any of these assumptions questionable and/or indications of muddled thinking?
Despite Misgivings about Antifa
The proclivity of some Antifa members to use violence is troubling to me. I am more in favor of what they try to do than in how they sometimes do it.
But I think DJT is entirely wrong in suggesting that perhaps Antifa should be branded as a terrorist organization. Just last Saturday he tweeted, “Major consideration is being given to naming ANTIFA an ‘ORGANIZATION OF TERROR.’”
That was just before an expected confrontation between Antifa and Proud Boys in Portland, Oregon. Police intervened and there were no serious clashes, but the leader of the Proud Boys declared their Portland rally a success, saying, "Go Look at President Trump's Twitter."
Suggestions that Antifa is the (im)moral equivalent of white supremacist groups such as the KKK, neo-Nazis, etc. are entirely wrong. The latter are against Blacks, Jews, Latinx immigrants, and other non-whites. The Antifa are against the racism and xenophobia of the groups that have characteristics of fascism.
I agree with what historian Dave Renton says in his book Fascism (1999) and cited by Mark Bray: “. . . one cannot be balanced when writing about fascism, there is nothing positive to be said of it.”
Bray further states, “We should be warier of those who are truly neutral toward fascism than those who honestly espouse their opposition to racism, genocide, and tyranny.”
So, despite some misgivings about Antifa, I fully agree with their opposition to the far-right neo-fascist organizations they actively oppose.