This unintentional hilarity and lack of meme awareness of this headline has cracked me up all day:
I presume most people are like me in that I’m back and forth on Antifa. On one side, I hate crowds and political violence, and I think what these guys are doing to reporters is infuriating and wrong. I have some people I really trust like Lindsay Beyerstein who have really pointed me to a bunch of articles about some of the truly shitty and criminal things they are doing. I’d wager most of them are cut from the same cloth as the idiots in earlier generations who felt violence was the way to end the Vietnam war, and I guarantee if there were not neonazis for them to fight, a large number of them would be smashing the windows of Starbucks during G7 Summits.
On the other hand, Nazis. So while I certainly don’t condone their misbehavior, which I bet is limited to a few members, well, you know, Nazis. What I do think is weird though, is a corollary to this:
It says a lot that the GOP and many in the modern media are more worked up about antifascists than they are the Klan and Nazis. And while Nazis have never done anything good, here is a report that shows what a lot of antifa did at Charlottesville (and this is Dahlia Lithwick, whose word is as good as Lindsay’s):
It was basically impossible to miss the antifa for the group of us who were on the steps of Emancipation Park in an effort to block the Nazis and alt-righters from entering. Soon after we got to the steps and linked arms, a group of white supremacists—I’m guessing somewhere between 20-45 of them—came up with their shields and batons and bats and shoved through us. We tried not to break the line, but they got through some of us—it was terrifying, to say the least—shoving forcefully with their shields and knocking a few folks over. We strengthened our resolve and committed to not break the line again. Some of the anarchists and anti-fascist folks came up to us and asked why we let them through and asked what they could do to help. Rev. Osagyefo Sekou talked with them for a bit, explaining what we were doing and our stance and asking them to not provoke the Nazis. They agreed quickly and stood right in front of us, offering their help and protection.
Less than 10 minutes later, a much larger group of the Nazi alt-righters come barreling up. My memory is again murky on the details. (I was frankly focused on not bolting from the scene and/or not soiling myself—I know hyperbole is common in recounting stories like these, but I was legitimately very worried for my well-being and safety, so I was trying to remember the training I had acquired as well as, for resolve, to remember why I was standing there.) But it had to have been at least 100 of them this go around. I recall feeling like I was going to pass out and was thankful that I was locked arms with folks so that I wouldn’t fall to the ground before getting beaten. I knew that the five anarchists and antifa in front of us and the 20 or so of us were no match for the 100-plus of them, but at this point I wasn’t letting go.
“Cornel West said that he felt that the antifa saved his life. I didn’t roll my eyes at that statement or see it as an exaggeration.”
At that point, more of the anarchists and antifa milling nearby saw the huge mob of the Nazis approach and stepped in. They were about 200-300 feet away from us and stepped between us (the clergy and faith leaders) and the Nazis. This enraged the Nazis, who indeed quickly responded violently. At this point, Sekou made a call that it was unsafe—it had gotten very violent very fast—and told us to disperse quickly.
While one obviously can’t objectively say what a kind of alternate reality or “sliding doors”–type situation would have been, one can hypothesize or theorize. Based on what was happening all around, the looks on their faces, the sheer number of them, and the weapons they were wielding, my hypothesis or theory is that had the antifa not stepped in, those of us standing on the steps would definitely have been injured, very likely gravely so. On Democracy Now, Cornel West, who was also in the line with us, said that he felt that the antifa saved his life. I didn’t roll my eyes at that statement or see it as an exaggeration—I saw it as a very reasonable hypothesis based on the facts we had.
So yeah, there are bad elements of Antifa, but there are no good nazis. That doesn’t seem like a radical position to hold.