Vehement Trump supporters and other right-leaning conservatives have come out to disavow violent leftist radicals and the racial tension that took place at the “Unite The Right” rally on Saturday.
Re-branded Nazis and passionate white nationalists combined forces to “Unite the Right.” Other groups such as Anti-Racist Action, Showing Up for Racial Justice, and Black Lives Matter arrived in Charlottesville. In addition to this, open-carrying, camo-wearing militia members were in attendance to keep the peace and “yet not a shot was fired,” Governor Terry McAuliffe noted.
However, a particular group of counter-protesters at the event were rumored to be linked to a “violent anti-racist” movement called “Antifa,” which is short for anti-fascist or Anti-Fascist Action.
Many conservatives across social media were perplexed by the political street warfare and hatred that took place at the rally and asserted that the counter-protesters were connected to “Antifa.”
President Trump was criticized for failing to condemn the white supremacists and not calling the rioters by that name, after saying there was violence on “many sides.” Unapologetic Trump supporters, Diamond and Silk, shared some choice words against both white nationalist groups and leftist radicals on Sunday during Fox & Friends.
“The president cannot be one-sided. He has to look at everything that’s going on… I didn’t like the white nationalists, the KKK, the neo-Nazis, David Duke, but I also didn’t like Black Lives Matter and Antifa.”
“Neo-Nazi groups, the KKK, which was created by the Democrats, all of these other groups, they were all spewing hate and they were all creating violence, and all of them should be condemned and denounced. Period.”
As for the Confederate statues, Diamond says to put them in a museum, and noted that the Democrat party founded the Ku Klux Klan.
Antifa argues that actions such as hate speech against minorities can also lead to violence against vulnerable minorities.
However, Richard Spencer, who coined the term, “alt-right” sees Antifa’s attacks as an assault on their right to freely assemble.
— Los Angeles Times (@latimes) August 12, 2017
It has been reported that Antifa showed up at Berkeley to deter a “free speech” event hosted by provocateur Milo Yiannopoulos. Again, many asserted that it was Antifa who left property damage, started fires, and assaulted victims in their wake. It has also been presumed that Antifa violently disrupted a “March 4 Trump” event in March.
Many have even asserted that Antifa role-played as Nazis during the Charlottesville rally.
— Paul Nehlen (@pnehlen) August 13, 2017
The “Unite The Right” rally transformed into a violent scene with passionate protesters wielding combat shields and wooden sticks from broken flags, and participating in massive scuffles that left people injured and bloodied. There have been several reports of urine being tossed at reporters and the air was said to be filled with pepper spray, mace, and tear gas.
It’s unclear who or how many people are organizing the Antifa movement
After Virginia Governor McAuliffe declared a state of emergency, a speeding Dodge Challenger accelerated and slammed into dozens of counter-protesters. A 32-year-old woman, who has been identified as Heather Heyer, was killed and 19 others were reported to be injured.
The weekend’s events have left the nation reeling from witnessing such hatred and violence.
Antifa, A Friend Of The Left?
The movement’s secrecy makes cataloging its activities difficult. However, since Trump was elected, Antifa has had explosive growth. According to NYC Antifa, the group’s Twitter following nearly quadrupled in the first three weeks of January alone, and by the summer, their following exceeded 15,000.
Antifa is heavily composed of anarchists who place little faith in the state. According to the Atlantic, they consider the state to be complicit in fascism and racism.
According to the Atlantic, if those who Antifa deems as racists and fascists manage to assemble, Antifa’s members try to break up their gatherings, including by force.
The movement prefers direct action, including placing pressure on venues to deny white supremacists a space to meet, in addition to pressuring employers to fire them and landlords to evict them.
Such tactics have elicited substantial support from many of those in the mainstream left. When the masked Antifa activist was filmed assaulting Spencer on Inauguration Day, an article published in The Nation described his punch as an act of “kinetic beauty.”
The Roots Of Antifa
Antifa traces its roots back to the 1920s and 1930s, when militant leftists battled fascists in the streets of Germany, Italy, and Spain. When fascism withered after World War II, technically, Antifa did as well, according to the Atlantic.
However, in the ’70s and ’80s, neo-Nazi skinheads began to infiltrate Britain’s punk scene. After the Berlin Wall fell, neo-Nazism also gained prominence in Germany. In response, a cadre of young leftists, including many anarchists and punk fans, revived the tradition of street-level anti-fascism.
— It's Going Down (@IGD_News) July 28, 2017
In the 1980s, left-wing punk fans in the United States began following the movement. They initially called their groups Anti-Racist Action, on the theory that Americans would be more familiar with fighting racism than fascism.
These activists toured with popular rock and punk bands during the ’90s, trying to ensure that neo-Nazis did not recruit their fans, according to Mark Bray, the author of the forthcoming book, Antifa: The Anti-Fascist Handbook.
— New York City Antifa (@NYCAntifa) July 31, 2017
By the 2000s, as the internet facilitated dialogue across the world, many American activists had adopted the name Antifa. Though the movement leaned towards the militant left, the movement didn’t occupy the spotlight. To most left-wing activists during the Clinton, Bush, and Obama administrations, deregulated global capitalism appeared to be a much greater threat than fascism.
Following the horrific events of the “Unite The Right” rally that left three people dead, more protests took place in New York City and Atlanta on Sunday. As the Atlantic stated, there is a politicized fight culture emerging, and it has been fueled by cheerleaders on both sides.
[Featured Image by Scott Olson/Getty Images]