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The Antifascist Fascists in Our Streets

For Antifa, targeting the innocent and the vulnerable is the whole point.

People cheered as the plywood on the door at Wells Fargo went up in flames near the Fifth Precinct. (Photo by Renee Jones Schneider/Star Tribune via Getty Images)

Yesterday, I wrote about the wonderfully diverse array of jackasses who have used George Floyd’s shooting as an excuse to act out. Today, Andy Ngo delves into what’s clearly the largest of those factions, Antifa, the supposedly anti-fascist left-wing front. He writes at Spectator USA:

The US is getting a small preview of the anarchy antifa has been agitating, training and preparing for. Ending law enforcement is a pre-condition for antifa and BLM’s success in monopolizing violence. Those who are harmed first are the weak and vulnerable, the people who cannot protect themselves. Small business owners in Minnesota pleaded for mercy, even putting up signs and messages in support of the rioters, but to no avail.

The destruction of businesses we’re witnessing across the US is not mere opportunism by looters. It plays a critical role in antifa and BLM ideology. Their stated goal is to abolish capitalism. To do that, they have to make economic recovery impossible. Antifa sees a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to exploit an economically weakened America during the coronavirus pandemic.

In other words, all this looting is by design. Antifa’s radical ideology comes with a built-in excuse for cathartic violence. How convenient!

Back in 2018, my friend Zachary Yost suffered his way through Antifa: The Anti-Fascist Handbook, a primer on the group written by (but of course!) Dartmouth lecturer Mark Bray. What he found was a chillingly lucid call to revolution that subordinated all else to the goal of overthrowing capitalism and the “Far Right.” So free speech, for example, is dispensable, valuable only to the extent that it enables the coming flames. Yost writes:

By the time he’s finished, Bray has thrown everything and the kitchen sink into the category of fascist ideologies that must be targeted, ranging from whiteness to “ableism, heteronormativity, patriarchy, nationalism, transphobia, class rule, and many others.” Though cloaked in calls to stop oppression, Bray’s book at its core makes the case for the exercise of raw, unbridled power. Under this revolutionary ideology, no dissent can be tolerated. There can be no live and let live—it is all or nothing.

In fairness, Antifa is a wide and somewhat amorphous umbrella, some of whose members may not subscribe to everything Bray says. But what the more committed among them seem to understand is that, come lawlessness, power will flow naturally to he who has the most muscle, he who’s most willing to pick up a brick and throw it, at the expense of the poor and vulnerable. Remember that tonight when we inevitably see more violence in the streets. Senselessness is the point. Preying on the innocent is the goal.

Remember after Charlottesville when some on social media compared these guys to the American soldiers who fought the Nazis at Normandy? I don’t want to hear another word about that. Antifa may stand for antifascist, but Yost’s piece makes it clear that they’re fascist to their marrow. And as with many latter-day fascists and extremists, Antifa are simultaneously cogent at the manifesto level and utterly delusional as to likely outcomes. They aren’t going to overthrow capitalism or Donald Trump. They may, however, affect the election in five months, with the most likely beneficiary the president they so despise.

These people are self-defeating morons, yes, but they still have the potential to do great damage. Last night, here in Washington, the unrest they helped fuel saw a church lit on fire, LaFayette Park near the White House set ablaze, the AFL-CIO building attacked, and the Lincoln Memorial defaced. This is how a Franco ends up in power: because even churches are being targeted, even the moderate leftists aren’t safe. Bully people long enough and they long for a bully of their own. That Antifa has desecrated the protests over George Floyd’s death this way is appalling and I wish them nothing but the worst.

about the author

Matt Purple is a senior editor at The American Conservative.

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