APTOPIX Portland Protest (copy)

After a confrontation between authorities and protestors, police use pepper spray as multiple groups, including Rose City Antifa, the Proud Boys and others protest in downtown Portland, Ore. last year

The term “anti-fascist” began as a lie. It remains a lie today.

Clueless commentators, ignorant of its history, have been known to refer to the “antifa” movement as “strictly principled anti-fascists” or a group that “protests fascism.” In fact, this is a movement of violent extremists whose philosophy traces back to the early 20th century.

The riots raging in U.S. cities are not about police misconduct. They haven’t been for many days. The senseless and callous police killing of George Floyd inspired peaceful protests at first, but now, it has become an excuse for a troupe of professional revolutionaries and marauders. They use these incidents to flex their muscle and test how far their impressionable recruits are willing to go in breaking the law, as Jared Monroe discovered upon infiltrating one such group in Utah.

The Soviets coined “anti-fascism” as a propaganda term about nine decades ago. The Soviet regime needed to develop a message that would mollify Western democracies and get them to stop viewing Bolshevism as a threat.

“Anti-fascism” suited this vision perfectly. It conveyed the impression that Stalinism was not diametrically opposed to the ideals of normal, decent people in free societies. It was a brilliant rhetorical device — a living, practical application of the false choice fallacy: “You’re against Nazis? Well then, you must be with us — or at least, we deserve the benefit of the doubt.”

Implicit is the idea that if you don’t sympathize, you must be a fascist, so you deserve whatever violence adherents inflict upon you.

On these terms, “antifa” demands that when its black-hooded actors take to the streets to wound and maim passersby in the name of some nice-sounding stated cause — anti-racism, anti-sexism, anti-greed, anti-corruption — they deserve the sympathy of their countrymen. They would get less sympathy if more people understood their goals: the violent overthrow of the U.S. government, the abolition of private enterprise, and the violent suppression of the speech of anyone who disagrees with their ends or violent means.

But every now and then, so-called anti-fascism is exposed for the lie that it is. We are experiencing one of those moments. Amid the riots, the totalitarian mask is slipping.

There is a word for people who use violence to silence and intimidate others to advance a political cause, who try to make people afraid in their cities and towns. That word is “terrorist.” We cannot speak in detail of every wannabe group that embraces the “antifa” label. But those specific groups and networks involved in organizing and conducting violent street actions are domestic terrorists. Those throwing rocks and beating innocent passersby as badly as the worst cop or klansman in America — they are terrorists. And these are the things the antifa movement is rightly known for.

Government exists to protect human life and to prevent violence. Part of these directives involves suppressing movements that use street violence and intimidation tactics as a means of infringing the rights of others. It is time for the various states to fulfill their responsibility as guarantors of law and order by arresting and prosecuting rioters to the maximum extent the law allows.

As for President Donald Trump’s suggestion that he will designate such actors and groups as terrorists for the purposes of federal law, he should do just that.

This is not about condemning viewpoints, left or right — not even the most extreme ones. This is not about preventing controversial speech. Rather, it is about stopping violence, threats, and intimidation, which antifa and other terrorists use as a first resort. It is about stopping those who would infringe others’ freedom to speak. Antifa has managed to do this, administering violent beatings and violating laws in cities such as Berkeley and Portland, sometimes with a wink and a nod from local authorities. Such toleration of violence cannot coexist with freedom.

Historian Norman Davies wrote of the term “anti-fascism” that it “gave the false impression that principled democrats believing in the rule of law and freedom of speech could rub along fine with the dictators of the proletariat.”

That is the same lie that sustains the antifa movement today, and it is betrayed by the violence of its adherents.

The Washington Examiner

The Washington Examiner

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