WASHINGTON, D.C. — Police across the United States are being forced to deal with a new hard-Left, communist-derived movement organized under the code word “Antifa,” standing for “Anti-Fascist.”
The violent, confrontational nature of Antifa anarchists presents a challenge to U.S. law enforcement that is unprecedented; they reject the free speech principles upon which civil discourse depends, while seeking to achieve the demise of the U.S. Constitution, as it holds as illegitimate any compromise with their communist worldview.
The Antifa movement roots in Weimar Republic Germany
While the Antifa movement is anarchic in nature, it owes its birth to the Communist Party’s opposition to the Nazi fascist movement in post-World War I Germany.
1930s fascism is best explained by Jonah Goldberg. In his 2008 book Liberal Fascism, he points out that fascism is a phenomenon of the political Left, in that communists and fascists were “closely related, historical competitors for the same constituents.” In a key paragraph applying these principles to American fascism, Goldberg wrote:
Much like the Nazi movement, liberal fascism had two faces: the street radicals and the establishment radicals. In Germany, the two groups worked in tandem to weaken middle-class resistance to the Nazis’ agenda. In the previous chapter we saw how the liberal fascists of the SDS and the Black Panther movements rose up to terrorize the American middle class. In the remainder of this chapter — and the next — we will explain how the “suit-and-tie radicals” of the 1960s, people like Hillary Clinton and her friends, use this terror to expand the power and scope of the state and above all to change the public attitude toward the state as the agent of social progress and universal caring and compassion.
The Antifa movement in the U.S. is a return to the communist paramilitary riot tactics developed to fight the Brownshirts of the Weimar Republic. The goal was to terrorize middle-class Germans into rejecting the Nazis who had embraced the social-welfare programs of prior regimes. Today, few except professional historians realize Germany was the first country in the world to introduce government-funded universal healthcare. This was part of Chancellor Otto von Bismarck’s “anti-socialist” legislation, adopted under the theory that a little socialism would prevent the German people from embracing a more virulent form of socialism.
On June 12, 2017, the New Jersey Department of Homeland Security and Preparedness officially declared Antifa to be a terrorist group, explaining the following: “Anti-fascist groups, or ‘Antifa,’ are a subset of the anarchist movement and focus on issues involving racism, sexism, and anti-Semitism, as well as other perceived injustices.” The New Jersey DHS stressed that the Antifa movement is opposed to “fascism, racism, and law enforcement,” while targeting in particular far-right extremists, including perceived white supremacists.
Today, the Antifa movement that originally formed in Germany in the 1930s has taken root in the United States, with the goal of rubbing raw social and racial class tensions in order to delegitimize the U.S. Constitution, bring down the Trump administration, and cause the political chaos the Antifa movement believes will lead to the creation of a communist state here in the U.S.A.
Antifa Street-thug Insurrection Tactics
On January 20, Antifa thugs — most dressed in black from head to toe and wearing masks or bandannas hiding their faces -- launched violent street protests in Washington, D.C., in an attempt to “shut down” Donald Trump’s inauguration.
In what was branded as a “DisruptJ20” protest, some 1,000 Antifa thugs broke windows at Starbucks, McDonald’s, and Bank of America, as well as in commercial buildings in downtown Washington. Antifa rioters flooded streets, blocked traffic, burned trash in the streets, and broke windshields of passing cars. They threatened to attack inauguration attendees on the streets, while shouting a continuous flow of angry, vulgar, and confrontational in-your-face insults.
Washington D.C., police, armed in riot gear, responded by using tear gas and pepper spray to clear the streets of protesters. Despite this, a violent rampage started two blocks from the White House, and a stretch limousine was set on fire after protesters threw a flare through its shattered windows.
Six police were injured, and around 230 rioters were arrested. Those arrested were charged with felonious rioting — an offense that carries a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison plus $25,000 in fines.
The Antifa movement claimed success in Berkeley when protesters shut down conservative LGBT activist Milo Yiannopoulos from speaking on February 2, 2017.
Two months later, Antifa groups staged a violent protest in Portland, Oregon, that caused the city to cancel the annual Rose Festival — another success, given that the Antifa protesters were upset the Multnomah County Republican Party planned to participate.
Undercover videos made by James O’Keefe’s Project Veritas during Inaugural Day revealed the Antifa protesters were not university students, as was the case in the 1960s protests at universities against the Vietnam War, but professional agitators willing to plot criminal activity to create the chaos from the Left they believe will lead to an insurrection overthrowing the U.S. government.
Antifa Also Anti-liberal
In an article published in the left-leaning Nation on January 19, 2017, British-born, Brooklyn-based activist Natasha Lennard explained why the Antifa movement disregards traditional liberals as well as conservatives deemed to be “fascists”:
Anti-fascist, or Antifa, doesn’t only delineate that which opposes fascism. It is a set of tactics and practices that have developed since the early 20th century (and the rise of fascism in Italy) as a confrontational response to fascist groups, rooted in militant left-wing and anarchist politics.
The militant or radical Left as described by Lennard has little — if anything — in common with the traditional liberal politics of Democrats such as John F. Kennedy and Hubert H. Humphrey in the 1960s. She continued:
As organizers from anti-fascist research and news site Antifa NYC told The Nation: “Antifa combines radical left-wing and anarchist politics, revulsion at racists, sexists, homophobes, anti-Semites, and Islamophobes, with the international anti-fascist culture of taking to the streets and physically confronting the brownshirts of white supremacy, whoever they may be.” As with fascisms, not all anti-fascisms are the same, but the essential feature is that anti-fascism does not tolerate fascism; it would give it no platform for debate.
In the 1950s, the McCarthy attacks on Democrats in the U.S. government did not stick precisely because Democrats of that era were not communists.
Lennard made it clear that Antifa radicals are not traditionally liberal when she insisted that, “in sharp contrast with many liberals, Antifa activists refuse any dialogue with Trumpism.”
Today, law enforcement needs to be aware that Antifa-led anarchist violence is certain to plague the mid-term national elections in 2018 as well as the upcoming presidential election in 2020, precisely because the Democratic Party is moving in a decidedly hard-left direction, as politicians like Bernie Sanders remain the champion of millions of Millennial voters.
Currently, the Democratic Party chair is Tom Perez, a radical La Raza lawyer from Maryland, who used his time in Obama’s Justice Department to launch a series of challenges to law enforcement officers who sought to enforce immigration laws.
Number two to Perez is House Representative Keith Ellison, the first Muslim elected to the House of Representatives and a former member of the Louis Farrakhan-led Nation of Islam.
In the 1930s, the German group Antifaschistische Aktion (Antifascist Action) led to the rise of the Nazi state; the communists destabilized the Weimar Republic; and Nazi Brownshirts won the street battle due to their larger numbers, superior financing, and better organization.
Today, there are no Brownshirts on the Left opposing Antifa communists with a socialist-fascist agenda. The opposition to Antifa this time is the political Right, as witnessed by the coalition of “fly-over state” middle-class Americans that rejected Hillary Clinton’s presidential candidacy.
The Antifa movement would like nothing better than an uprising of white-supremacist, far-right extremists to oppose them in fist fights.
But the truth is that in the United States, the majority of conservatives and libertarians voting for Trump are not white supremacists any more than they are far-Right extremists. The numbers of actual far-right extremists remain so relatively small that Antifa radicals are unlikely to destabilize or delegitimize the Trump presidency, regardless of how hopeful the far-Left remains. Sean Hannity and Rush Limbaugh are not Joseph Goebbels, regardless of how Tom Perez and Bernie Sanders characterize the voices on the political Right supporting Trump.
But the numbers of Antifa criminal protesters will grow, championed by leftist politicians that 1960s voters would fail to recognize as true supporters of the Constitution.
For the near-term future, we should expect the Antifa movement to remain a street-thug problem for riot-trained law enforcement units; it will continue to grow in numbers and in violent intensity as the Democratic Party further radicalizes and embraces communist ideals, and as the 2018 mid-term elections draw near.
Photo of Antifa protesters in Portland, Oregon: AP Images
This article was originally published by the Law Enforcement Charitable Foundation, Inc, and is reprinted here with permission.