Back in the eighties, I interviewed a group called the “Backroom Anarchist Center”. They were a bunch of dissipate university students who had a clubhouse in South Minneapolis, and used to roam about demonstrating against stuff – provided it was conservative stuff. I booked several of their leaders on my old KSTP show, which ran from 2-4 AM on weekends. Their phone numbers were all – every last one – from the nicer parts of Edina, Minnehaha Parkway and Woodbury. These “anarchists” were inevitably the children of immense privilege; their parents were professors, non-profiteers, insurance salespeople – *not* hot tar roofers and truck drivers. I never kept track of any of ’em, but I suspect they’re doing just fine socially and financially today.
The President took a lot of flak after his first response to Charlottesville for criticizing all violence at the riot, “right” and left. “Don’t lump Nazis together with “Anti”-Fa”, Big Left bellowed in unison. “They’re good kids, and they mean well, and they’re attacking evil people”.
I didn’t vote for Trump – and I’m going to criticize his false equivalence in this case.
“Anti”-Fa is much worse than the Nazis, is a much greater danger to our society, and deserves far greater condemnation.
There are three reasons:
- “Anti”-Fa has a long history of violence against peaceful demonstrators
- “Fascists” are the fringe of the fringe (rhetoric aside)
- “Anti”-Fa actually has power.
The Road Goes On Forever, And The Party Never Ends: If your entire awareness of the battle between “far-right” lunacy and left-wing violence started with Charlottesville – and for many, it clearly did – you might think that both sides are about the same.
Of course, there’s a long, ugly history of “Anti”-Fa attacks on “fascists”.
Unfortunately, in most of those cases the “Fasicsts”, weren’t, outside the “Everyone we don’t like is a “fascist”” sense of the term. They were Trump supporters (no, not the same thing), Republicans, even left-leaning college professors who made the mistake of standing up for free speech.
The bottom of the barrel – so far – came in Boston over the weekend. About fifty people – bipartisan free-speech advocates who had expressly disinvited all extremists – held a free speech rally at Boston Common. They were by thousands of “counterprotesters”, led by a gang of blackshirted “Anti”-fa screaming “F**k Free Speech”. Violence was had.
The media didn’t care, naturally.
It was similar to the March 4th Trump rally at the Minnesota state Capitol, where “Anti”-Fa blackshirts came to a peaceful, permitted rally with masks, mace and weapons at the ready; they attacked the crowd of middle-aged, workadaddy, hugamommy Trump supporters; they sucker-punched a seventeen year old girl, they hit an older woman in the head with a burning smoke bomb, they bear-sprayed a group of people resisting them in the face.
This, of course, put a lot of people in a mind to either avoid rallies, or to meet fire with fire – both of them goals of all extremists.
There’s been a sold year-long buildup to the idea of fighting back against the Blackshirts.
The Blues Brothers Said It Best: This may be the only time I ever compliment Hollywood. Ever.
In the wake of the 1979 Nazi march through Skokie – home of thousands of concentration camp survivors – Hollywood responded, unintentionally but brilliantly. In the original Blues Brothers movie, the Nazis chasing Jake and Elwood Blues were lampooned to a fine sheen; portrayed as bumbling, deliusional, and just a tad closeted before plunging to ignominious doom.
If you remember the movie, you remember the scene.
They could never make it today.
“Nazis” and “White Supremacists” are, precisely, the hapless losers that Kevin Williamson depicted in NRO last week. They have a fraction of the numbers they had when The Blues Brothers was made (or had a fraction; the lavish publicity the mainstream media has given them this past nine months certainly has to have added a few, even if you filter out the Southern Poverty Law Center’s partisan hysteria).
“But those symbols are themselves weapons, because of what they mean and the history they bring up”. Symbols truly do have meanings. The First Amendment gives you the same power to exhibit your own symbols, and to show them (so far, anyway).
In 1978, the Nazi Party marked in Skokie, Illinois – a town where a sixth of the people had survived concentration camps. After several court battles, the Nazis prevailed with the help, inevitably, of the ACLU.
On the day of the parade, 20 Nazis showed up – and were met by thousands of Jews, who shouted them down (without a punch being thrown) and humilated them, rending them a punch line for the next forty years. They didn’t erase the swastika’s symbolism – but they did take its power away from them. Their symbols – the Star of David, the Stars and Stripes – represented the victors; victorious, prosperous people; the Swastikas, the losers.
My biggest concern is that we’re giving them that power again. Indeed, I think giving them that power is the left’s goal.
Woody – But the biggest reason? “Anti”-Fa is the children of the upper-middle-class snowflakes that I met at the “Backroom Anarchist Center” way back when – maybe literally.
When the police pulled the masks off the Blackshirts that attacked the March 4th State Capitol rally, one of them was Woody Kain, the son of Virginia senator Tim Kain – AKA the man who would have been Vice President of the United States had conventional wisdom held sway.
I’ve seen these “kids”, most notably around the Republican National Convention in Saint Paul in 2008. Everything about them screamed the sort of entitlement that comes from being, if not “the elite”, at least someone who rides “the elite’s” coattails.
Which is what makes “Anti”-Fa much more dangerous than the “Alt-Right”: “Nazis” and “White Supremacists” are not just the fringe, they are the fringe of a part of society that has precisely as much influence as the media and political elite decide to give them.
On the other hand, “Anti”-Fa are the children of those same elites. These are not the children of carpenters, struggling to get jobs after community college; as Dennis Prager says, you need an elite education to be this stupid. These are children who went to Bard and Oberlin and Carlton and Macalester and will, one day, when the lifestyle gets old, will use their class privilege to move seamlessly into positions of power and influence. They will be tomorrow’s college professors, organizers, non-profiteers, teachers, and politicians.
Having people chanting “we must protect the white race” in an echo chamber is bad. Having them chanting “F*** Free Speech” in front of a class of impressionable freshmen ten years from now is incalculably worse.
President Trump was too kind.