19 August 2017     home | subject timeline

Counter-demonstrations and Antifa Violence

In the news on the 18th are comments on the anti-fascist (Antifa) counter-demonstrators. About Charlottesville an Antifa from California is quoted by the New York Times) as saying that as soon as the white supremacists and neo-Nazis got close they started swinging clubs, fists, shields. He said he was not embarrassed to say that "we were not shy in defending ourselves."

Defending oneself is one thing. Aggression, of course, something else. Comment on the "Antifa" article often described the issue as simple violence versus nonviolence. Some against Antifa violence were inclined to write about the success of non-violence with the Civil Rights Movement. But back in those days was the success by at least one Black community in Mississippi that scared away a KKK invasion by making it know that it had armed itself (ready to resort to violence. (See http://atlantablackstar.com/tag/griffin-mclaurin.) This was a defensive strategy that didn't really contradict Gandhi or harm King's strategy. It's not that simple. Gandhi has been described as having advocated the right to bear arms, to employ violence to defend innocents against bullying and oppression.

Defensive violence versus offensive violence can be tricky. There is the idea that the offense is the best defense. In August 1914 Germany would have fared better if it had fought the French and Russians invasions without launching offenses.

Someone writes that "to meet Nazi violence with violence is to play right into their hands." Someone else described Antifa as a fascist group that is much scarier and more dangerous. They complained that Antifa was making Trump look right.

Someone wrote: "So Trump was right." Another wrote of "Lenin's Children — i.e., masked Berkeley free speech street-thugs." He wrote that the "Cultural Marxists" managing the 'news' out of New York will be promoting and protecting Lenin's Children for sure.

Someone complained that Antifa wants to deny 1st amendment rights to those they disagree with and do so with violence. Another described them as authoritarian.

First they go after the neo-Nazis and KKK. Then they go after conservative authors and commentators. Then they go after the mainstream Trump supporters. Then they go after the police. Then they go after capitalists. Then they go after moderate Democrats.

Another faulted Antifa for giving traction to the false equivalency employed by Trump and the alt right.

One described himself as Jewish and asked whether we should think that punching a neo-nazi is really going to dissuade other neo-nazi's from demonstrating. He wrote: "Get real people!"

My two points: (1) If people want to counter-demonstrate and the police do not protect them from violence, they have a right to defend themselves. (2) Offensive aggressions against neo-Nazis, the KKK and other white supremacists doesn't accomplish anything.

Copyright © 2017 by Frank E. Smitha. All rights reserved.