What People Mean When They Say AntiFa are Just as Bad as Neo-Nazis
I’ve seen the argument enough times over social media now that it gives me an instinctive eye-roll. People suggesting that being opposed to AntiFa’s antics means they implicitly support white supremacy.
It’s enough to make a person smash their head through a window, so I’m going to lay it out as straight as I can, away from Twitter’s 140-character limit and blocking tools.
First of all, one must accept that AntiFa is a bit of a misnomer. Since its inception, the movement has been chock-full of Communists, Socialists and Anarchists. For what it’s worth, I personally think socialism has certain aspects that are helpful to a society, provided they are tempered with reason. And anarchism… well, unless it’s a temporary, transitory system, it just falls flat on its face. So because few people see anarchists or socialists as a legitimate threat to a functioning society, most of the blame falls upon its proponents who regularly refer to each other as comrades, refer to people as the Bourgeoisie and often carry flags and banners adorned with the hammer and sickle. In their very language and symbolism, it’s clear that it is a primarily communist movement. Or, at the very least, sympathetic to communist ideals.
But too many hear the name Anti-Fascist and assume that’s all it means. Opposed to fascism. Well, I’m deeply opposed to fascism myself, but I cannot bring myself to support the tactics of AntiFa. I don’t think that sucker-punching nazis is a good method of dealing with them. Rather, I think that will only make them more bold, more numerous and a much bigger problem than they’ve been for the past thirty-five years. Furthermore, suggesting that the name implies what they are is simple wrong. The Democratic People’s Republic of North Korea, for instance, is neither democratic, a Republic, or for the people. The Violence Against Women act, for instance, has done plenty to arrest men who are victims of domestic violence rather than perpetrators, and has little, if any impact on violence against women.
Certainly there are those young and naive who hear that a group is bringing the fight to the neo-Nazis and join up, ignorant of the heavily political overtones of the group at large. They may just be hippies or peaceniks. But once in the group, how long until their youthful idealism opens their minds up to the glories of the regime?
The National Socialist German Worker’s Party killed millions during their reign in Germany before and during World War Two. Estimates offered by Information is Beautiful put the number at roughly twenty-one million. This includes war death on top of prisoner and extrajudicial executions. So it stands to reason that any individual thinking with their right mind would rightly, and justly, oppose the very ideology that led to these deaths. They were rounding up people based on the conditions of their birth and executing them. I would never think to criticize a person for disliking Nazis, otherwise I would be criticizing myself.
So why on Earth would people oppose communists?
Because their death count is up to five times higher. Sure, they weren’t rounding people up based on accidents of birth. But they were singling people out for criticizing the regime. They would arrest them, their families, and in some cases their friends and sent them to remote concentration camps, never to be seen or heard from again. The prisoners of these forced labor camps worked under extreme and inhumane conditions, and contained entire families from newborns to the elderly. Prisoners in these camps were often arbitrarily abused or executed on whims.
Then there were the arbitrary starvations such as Holodomor, which saw the deaths of seven-to-ten million Ukrainians. It was brought upon somewhat artificially. There wasn’t a lack of food, rather, an abundance. The problem was that the Ukrainian farmers producing the food were simply too successful at it, which went against the philosophies of the regime. If one person was successful, it obviously came about because they were abusing the less successful. And so, the peasants were encouraged by the regime to turn on the more successful farmers. Arresting them, seizing their assets, and in some cases killing them. The end result? Mass starvation that never had to occur in the first place. Propaganda posters encouraging the people there that eating their own children was wrong, and roadside stalls selling human flesh because that’s all that they could eat.
Then there was Mao’s Great Leap Forward, which killed forty-five million in just four years. Pol Pot killed up to a third of the entire population of Cambodia. Even Che Guevara, who hipsters and regular folks alike to adorn on their t-shirts was not without blood.
Now the argument could be made that capitalism killed more people in its history than communism, but that’s not the argument we’re dealing with today. Perhaps it’s true, or perhaps there are other factors in the story people fail to consider.
Regardless, I’ve seen it far too often that being opposed to AntiFa for its communist roots means that its critics de facto support Nazis. This isn’t just untrue, but it’s an outright lie of the worst sort. The type of thing dreamed up by neo-propagandists to suggest that someone must choose a side.
Several weeks ago, I attended a counter-protest against an anti-Islamist group in Vancouver, BC as a fly on the wall. I wanted to see for myself. There, I saw that most people were jovially protesting white supremacy. Most were friendly with one another. Almost nobody wore masks. A friend of mine, who is admittedly an incorrigible troll, decided to tempt fate by wearing an InfoWars t-shirt and reported that he’d been stalked mercilessly by a small but coordinated group. He left, fearing for his own safety. Even I noticed some suspicious glances in my direction, and some protesters with anti-Nazis signs making sure to shove it directly in my face, likely due to the fact that I’m bald, and rather than walk around through like looking like an overweight Jean-Luc Picard, I opted instead to shave it.
It shouldn’t be controversial to oppose a group that is neo-Nazi. Nor should it be controversial to oppose a group that is heavily influenced by communist ideals. Both are dangerous, and neither have no place in a peaceful society. Instead, I’m going to stand with the peaceful anti-racist protesters. That’s the side I choose. Not AntiFa. Not the neo-Nazis. But the sane people making their voices heard without being provocateurs. You could make the argument that one group is more dangerous than the other, certainly. But it’s an argument without teeth. After all, being opposed to Ted Bundy doesn’t mean you implicitly support Ed Gein.
The biggest mistake people are making is assuming there are only two sides. There are not. There are many, each with differing loyalties, ideologies and philosophies that intermingle. The biggest mistake is assuming that if they do not support a “side,” that it means they implicitly support “the other.”
This is no different than the long-standing clarion call of the tyrant: “If you’re not with us, then you’re an enemy to be destroyed.”
AntiFa claim to oppose fascism. That is a noble aim. But through their glorification of communist ideals, they are simply supporting another sort of fascism. And their extra-judicial punishment of those they deem fascists fall in line with actual fascism. It is not their place to “bash fash,” not matter how noble they believe their aims are. They are not trained or authorized. Their standards for identifying fascists are… flawed at best. What they appear as are little more than idealistic little children in over their heads.
The real people opposing the neo-Nazis are those who make their voices heard amidst a sea of other voices. Who peacefully make their point, and go home at the end of the day. Certainly it doesn’t stop the neo-Nazis. But it doesn’t try to provoke them into hurting innocents, either. The public supports them. The protesters. Not the entitled old guard and young idealists covering their faces and bashing people over the head with U-Locks.
Furthermore, it’s not a measure of who’s worse. It’s a statement that both are varying levels of bad, and we want nothing to do with them.