A Bridge Too Far: A Counterpoint to the Antifa Boogeyman
As we are a platform of varying and informed opinions, it’s only healthy that we also challenge each other as writers for the sake of civil discourse. So in that spirit I offer a counterpoint to a recent article we published; The Antifa Boogeyman.
We are Americans. We decided that the Stamp Act, and the Quartering Act, and taxation without representation by a despot king was too much, so we decided to revolt and give ol’ Liberty and Equality a try. No, it wasn’t perfect—it was after all the late 1700s and we still had some things to work out—but it was an experiment in self-government nonetheless, an experiment that GEN James N. Mattis always believed was worth fighting for and defending.
By definition, that would make the Founders anti-Monarchist, which as we have read is a prong of the anti-Fascist graphic and ideology. I concede that point.
I concede also that anti-Fascists fought in Spain, in Italy, all of Europe, and more recently, in Syria.
I also concede that hordes of antifa are (probably) not descending on most of our serene suburban lives and that the specter of antifa is being weaponized to further polarize our Homeland. (So, too, is the specter of the neo-Nazi, alt-Right being weaponized.)
I even concede that being anti-Fascist is an American value. We mobilized our entire country’s industry and citizenry to bring an end Fascism across the world (except for in Stalin’s Soviet Union because we needed the manpower), so to say that the folks in American cities who proclaim themselves anti-Fascists, are the same as freedom fighters—specifically our grandfathers who killed Nazis in Hitler’s Europe—is a bridge too far.
I think, too, I need to say who I think antifa folks (this horde) are. I am talking about the radicals who advocate for socialism or communism and make no bones about being anti-American because America is a white supremacist nation that should be dismantled. Those radicals do exist, self-identify as antifa, and those are the types of people I take issue with being compared to the WWII generation and here is why.
First, all the protests and “Fascism” present in our Homeland somehow seems to be centered around the president and “Orange Man Bad.” Somehow, years decades—centuries?— of unequal policing, actual racism, and some seriously shady shit have somehow all become the responsibility of the POTUS. Or perhaps not so much the responsibility of POTUS as his fault, even though most policies under protest or labeled as Fascist were in place long before he got into office.
Which brings me to my second point. What do we mean by Fascism? Merriam-Webster says Fascism is: “a political philosophy, movement, or regime (such as that of the Fascisti) that exalts nation and often race above the individual and that stands for a centralized autocratic government headed by a dictatorial leader, severe economic and social regimentation, and forcible suppression of opposition.” The italics are mine.
Has anyone suspended habeas corpus? No. Yes, detention centers exist and people who have come to this country outside our immigration laws are being held in them. Yes, we should have a discussion about detention centers. Absolutely. But Fascism? I can’t get there. When I was in Iraq on a patrol in Baghdad, I met a man with no ears who came to thank us for liberating him. That man told me that Saddam’s secret police crept into his house at night and cut off his ears, then executed his family because he surrendered to the US in the First Gulf War. He also told me that the secret police would just take people and disappear them. There isn’t a lot of that going on here in the Homeland.
Has anyone in America called for severe economic and social regimentation? Not anyone in power, no.
What about social regimentation? Nope.
Has our Congress recently declared by law that a section of citizenry are no longer citizens or less than any other citizen? Have they advocated asset seizure of said no longer citizens? Again, no. Note, I said Congress. Our system is built on checks and balances that prevent one person from making decisions without Congressional approval.
By the definition, then, I ask what part of America is Fascist? When Orange Man tried to say the military would be called in to deal with unrest, the answer from the Joint Chiefs down to the private was no. In a Fascist state that wish would have been law. So, what are antifa fighting against? It seems to me that protests that started over police brutality, an issue we do need to discuss, somehow morphed into a battle against the white supremacist nature of our entire country and most of its populace. Seems a bit of a reach.
Which brings me back to my first point: Orange Man Bad. The folks who proclaim themselves antifa, are generally (though there are exceptions) Orange Man Bad people. Case in point, few of the “issues” Antifa are protesting now were protest worthy during the presidency before this one.
Given that, I am gonna say this next thing slowly.
In the opinion of this low-speed vet, the modern antifa movement, is (mostly) a bunch of privileged, spoiled folks who have never seen totalitarianism in any form, who are at best looking for dragons to slay or who at worst co-opted a just cause because they are [still] mad that “low-information” voters elected DJT because Orange Man Bad, communism or socialism good, and they see a chance to disrupt the rule of law. Those of us who have fought an insurgency know that it does not take many people or any degree of organization to destabilize a country.
Whether the majority of people arrested for violence in cities are antifa-affiliated or not, I think the crux of the matter is the adulation for and desire to replace our republic with oppressive systems of government that have never worked outside of a book or college classroom. Doesn’t seem very WWII generation to me.
The modern antifa folks do, however, remind me of one historical group. The French mob circa 1793. The French Revolution started in 1789 with promise. Egalité, Liberté, Fraternité. Who wouldn’t love those ideals so closely related to our own?
In 1791, the French were content to establish a constitutional monarchy and have amicable relations with everyone in France, but not Robespierre and his crew. A constitutional monarchy was not radical enough for his gang; they wanted all traces of the old French society gone. They wanted it their way or no way and that is how, after some political twists and turns, the Reign of Terror started in 1793. The Jacobins, a radical group, co-opted the cause (stop me if you’ve heard this before), seized power, and commenced to abolishing everything the French appreciated, including religion. The Jacobins also formed a Committee of Public Safety, that monitored the people. If the Committee discovered you weren’t radical enough, if you were even suspected of having Monarchist or moderate ideas, then off with your head.
And that last bit, “if you weren’t radical enough,” if you didn’t think like them…then you got forcibly suppressed…does that sound familiar? That’s where the road to Fascism starts. That road is the one our WWII generation marched down kicking totalitarian ass, so saying the two groups are the same, I just can’t get there.
October 27, 2020