We have all heard about Antifa. While some maintain the group Antifa is a full-blown domestic terror organization, others believe it is simply and ideology, that there is no organization at all, and it is a way of thinking. Recent protests pretty much say otherwise, but we figured we would dive into Antifa and see what it really is.
So what is Antifa?
Merriam-Webster says, “a person or group actively opposing fascism; an anti-fascist movement”.
Google says, “a political protest movement comprising autonomous groups affiliated by their militant opposition to fascism and other forms of extreme right-wing ideology”. Wikipedia says, “anti-fascist and left-wing political movement in the United States comprising an array of autonomous groups that aim to achieve their objectives through the use of both nonviolent and violent direct action rather than through policy reform”.
And of course President Trump says, “the federal government would designate antifa as a “terrorist organization” and has blamed it for violence at protests against racial injustice and police brutality”.
Suspected members say, “it doesn’t exist”.
Facism has become the most fashionable word of 2020. The people that call themselves Anti-Facist or Antifa have become “all the rage”. Fascism, according to Merriam-Webster, is a tendency toward or actual exercise of strong autocratic or dictatorial control. The beginnings of the original Anti-Facist movement were in Italy in 1920 during the rule of Moussalini. The Fascista was the political organization that supported authoritarian views in Italy post World War I. The subsequent formation of an anti-fascista or anti-fascist movement to fight against this authoritarian regime is where the name was born.
When the words are defined and we understand the origins, being anti-fascist makes sense. History has shown us that totalitarian and authoritarian governments do not work out. The United States is not totalitarian or authoritarian, it is a democratic republic, yet since 1988 hints of anti-fascist movements have come and gone. One of the first was “Anti-Racist Action” which believed racism and fascism were the same. Similar groups have formed over time to combat social justice issues such as LGBTQ+ rights and hate crimes in America..
Most recently, a new trend has emerged from a group that flys the flags of Antifa and claims to be anti-fascist. They dress in black clothing from head to toe (black block) and take special care to conceal their identity. This is the new Antifa. It is real. It is not anti-fascist. It is violent. It is destructive. It is a domestic terror group and there is proof.
A simple search on Facebook for “antifacist” will bring up groups located across the nation. One of these groups, “Antifascist USA”, says, “We are dedicated to exposing the “alt-right”. We stand with people of all ethnicities, races, genders, sexualities, religions, etc. We are all equal.” This sounds wonderful but what is the “alt-right”. According to the group, the “alt-right” is Neo-Nazis, white supremacists, and the Klu Klux Klan. The trouble starts in how they identify members of these extremist groups and what they do when they believe they have “flushed one out”. President Trump has been labeled by most of the mainstream media as a supporter of white supremacists. He has denounced and condemned known white supremacists such as David Duke as well as groups like the KKK and Neo-Nazis.
Still, the media and opponents of the President insist that he is a supporter. This mislabeling by the news media has led members of Antifa to believe that ALL supporters of the President are “alt-right”. One of Antifa’s targets is a group called the Proud Boys, a fraternal group of diverse citizens that support the country and support the President. Even though this group has made multiple statements to the contrary, they are still labeled as “fascists” and “alt-right”.
The death of George Floyd sparked an avalanche of protests and riots across the nation. It also brought about a new and reinvigorated call to end racism in America. WIth the help (again) of the news media, President Trump was labeled a racist for comments taken out of context and some complete fabrications. With the previous association of President Trump with “alt-right” groups and now the media’s insistence on his racist ways, the leader became a target for anti-racism groups such as Black Lives Matter. Antifa joined Black Lives Matter in their fight against the President and those that support him.
Slogans, such as “Make America Great Again”, “MAGA”, and “Trump 2020”, found on hats, t-shirts, and bumper stickers make ordinary Americans that show support for the President, targets for Antifa. The simple image of the American Flag is sometimes misconstrued by members of Antifa as a sign of support for Trump. Thus, these people are racists and white supremecist that must be confronted, questioned, shouted at, assaulted, doxxed, and in the case of Aaron “Jay” Danielson, a member of the group Patriot Prayer, killed.
Patriot Prayer is a pro-Trump group from Vancouver, Washington. Like the Proud Boys, they have been labeled as “alt-right” because of their support for President Trump and their participation in rallies and marches against “left wing” ideologies. This group along with about 1000 other pro-Trump citizens, gathered in Portland, Oregon on August 29, 2020 for a car rally to push back against the riots, violence and unrest that had been taking place at the hands of Antifa. That evening as events were winding down, Aaron “Jay” Danielson and a friend were walking down the street in downtown Portland when a man, Michael Reinoehl, shot Mr. Danielson. In video footage taken at the time, someone can be heard saying “We got a couple, we got a couple Trumpers over here.” followed by gunshots. Mr. Danielson was pronounced dead at the scene. His only crime that day, wearing a Patriot Prayer hat.
In a shocking turn of events, the media outlet Vice aired an interview with Reinoehl on September 3rd, as the police were looking for him for questioning in regard to the shooting of Danielson. In the interview, Reinoehl stated that he was “100% Antifa” and was acting in defense of a friend that he felt was in danger from the Patriot Prayer member. The video shows that this was not true. Reinoehl was killed when the police attempted to execute his arrest and he fired a weapon at officers.
Reinoehl is not alone in his pledge that he is “100% Antifa”. A candidate for mayor in Portland, Sarah Iannarone, has been dubbed the “Antifa Mayor” and tweeted in early September, “I am antifa. I stand proudly beside the good people of this city organizing in countless ways every day to oppose hate in its myriad forms.” This was shortly before Antifa targeted her rival, mayor of Portland Ted Wheeler, and attempted to burn down his apartment building on his birthday,
September 4th. This was also before a crowd of rioters could be seen on live stream video chanting “100% Antifa” on September 26th in Portland.
The main issue with this group is the violence against differing opinions. Free speech is a right given to the American people in the first amendment of the constitution. Members of Antifa have been hosting riots in Portland since May, insisting they are peaceful protests, exploiting the first amendment. They are harshly intolerant of opposing views and opinions but claim to be open and welcoming to all and encourage free thought and speech.
In one example, a black man that calls himself “Black Rebel” was at the Justice Center in downtown Portland on July 26th. He was trying to talk to the angry mob that had gathered and encouraged peaceful demonstrations instead of the fires and destruction Antifa has been participating in. He was identified as a Trump supporter and had a different viewpoint, therefore he was a fascist in the minds of Antifa members. A group of men held Black Rebel down and it is alleged that 43 year old Blake Hempe stabbed the man. All because he had an opinion that was different than the mob and he wanted peace.
Two other live streamers, Portland Andy and Villain Phoenix, had been chronicling the events in Portland and were chased out by Antifa members when they were followed by a group dressed in black block and threatened with physical violence for staying neutral to the cause as journalists and not promoting Antifa. Street preachers have been physically assaulted and physically carried out along with anyone that tries to speak against the violence, promotes peace or shares an opinion that is not a part of their ideology.
Members of independent media and anyone that criticizes or questions the group is doxxed. This is a tactic used to intimidate and terrorize people by posting their personal information (name, address, phone number, employer, names of family members, schools) online. Once published, they are labeled a fascist or racist and people are encouraged to harass, attack and destroy the person’s life by any means necessary.
The ideology of Antifa is perplexing and hard to pinpoint. The main goal appears to be anarchy, a complete dismantling of capitalism, and a rebuilding of a better socialist America. Law enforcement along with every aspect of the state, local and federal governments are fascist. Members believe in “self-policing” of their community family and see possession of private property as oppression.
Fascism was defined as a tendency toward or actual exercise of strong autocratic or dictatorial control. Autocratic and dictatorial control is a governing and leadership style that is characterized by abusively using power, monopolizing decision making, and being dismissive of alternative opinions. A mob of hundreds of people committing arson, destroying property, carrying out physical and brutal verbal assaults, attacking police, murdering people because of a slogan on a hat, violently rejecting differing opinions and viewpoints and demanding allegiance. Does this seem anti-fascist? It does not, but this is Antifa.