I am against an increase of dead bodies on the street. Call it a tick.
The recent killing of a counter-protester in Charlottesville, Virginia, was horrifying. By now everyone has either seen the video or have been given the gory description of what happened. A man who identifies as an admirer of Hitler ran over several people, and was darkly fortunate not to kill more than one person on that street. He was arrested and charged with second-degree murder. The subsequent footage of Heather Heyer's mother and father has been heartbreaking, and the profoundly heinous cackling from some white nationalist groups deplorable.
Meanwhile, U.S. President Donald Trump has been busy, stumbling on a tight wire between dogwhistles and a crumbling administration, unable to thwart the momentum of resignations of highly placed civil servants and appointees. In seven arduous months, Trump has lost his chief of staff, his press secretary, his assistant press secretary, his national security advisor for the Middle East,12 members of his advisory council, two directors of communications, the director of the office of government ethics, an FBI director, another national security advisor, his stable of business councils, his acting attorney general, and most recently, Steve Bannon.
If ever there was an ineffective and incompetent administration, you're looking at it. Trump's self-inflicted scandals — from Twitter rants to jaw-dropping press conferences where he regularly repeats the phrase "fake news" to a gobsmacked White House press corps — seem both bottomless and oddly irrelevant. It also has the all the hallmarks of an administration trying to distract the public from the endless well of buffoonery. The people are fatigued, frustrated, and growing increasingly hostile towards the state and each other. Nazis and Klansmen are now unafraid to show their faces in public, a development directly tied to Trump's inability to muster the courage to speak out against these groups with credibility. Trump's strategy to not alienate his base has reignited the hard left — or set it on fire, depending on your point of view.
We cannot ignore the stated goals of violence coming from left-wing extremists that have increased significantly since Trump was elected.
People in America are now retreating to their own ideological spheres. Activists have organized, seeding the Antifa movement — a small-yet-vocal group of citizens who believe the country itself, including its democratic principles and human rights, are being eroded. Antifa believes Trump's racist and fascistic tendencies will result in a nation catering to a wicked ideology and thus harming virtually every marginalized group. They also have the distinction of throwing molotov cocktails at Berkeley when Milo Yiannoupolous was scheduled to speak. Molotov cocktails for Milo. Let that sink in, then ask what will happen on the streets in Phoenix, or Houston, or Florida if they decide to confront far right-wing groups who are scheduled to demonstrate.
On paper it is hard to argue with Antifa, given their proclivity for taking on self-proclaimed Nazis. But they have a recent history of unprovoked violence within their own ranks, including a consistent knack for using intimidation and violence as a mechanism to stop people from speaking. Their primitive weapons are a far cry from the guns brandished by the far right, but worth noting nonetheless. The threat of a Charlottesville-type incident happening again is a virtual guarantee with both sides vowing to march in cities all over the country in the coming weeks and months. And while it should be pointed out that far-right hate groups have been more violent over the past few decades, we cannot ignore the stated goals of violence coming from left-wing extremists that have increased significantly since Trump was elected.
This makes talking about our polarized society tricky. The conventional wisdom in the mainstream is to side with Antifa against white supremacists. But when you start propping up vigilante justice — from punching suspected random Nazis to attacking them as they march — you contribute to an escalation of violence under the generous cover of fighting against fascism. And it isn't a knock on left wingers. Even Noam Chomsky believes Antifa is a gift to the alt-right, which is telling. This notion of excused vigilante violence, impossible to discuss rationally with otherwise intelligent liberals, is being viewed as the only way to defeat white nationalism.
They [Antifa] become partly responsible for the potential continuation of violence.
Obviously the vast majority of progressives are not members of Antifa, and most left wingers are less prone to violence than their right-wing cousins, but many progressives, including mainstream media outlets, have openly supported Antifa's efforts, a troubling trend leaving little room for sensible moderation of how to navigate the populace away from catastrophe.
In America, a putrid set of beliefs is not illegal, and regular citizens now appear to be comfortable with persecuting and challenging the free speech of a group of citizens who have more guns than any other demographic. This caveat matters. Antifa may have not started the fight, but by attempting to block the constitutional rights of the nation's most despicable people, they become partly responsible for the potential continuation of violence.
Don't try to talk about that, however. In a polarized society, you are either with Antifa, or you are with or enabling white supremacists. You are Neville Chamberlain appeasing Nazi Germany, or accused of remaining neutral or declaring false equivalencies between hatred and freedom fighting. It isn't enough to denounce hatred, now you have to ignore criticizing every other group, all because white nationalists are easily the worst group of hate merchants. And while most clear-thinking people place Nazis at the top of their shit lists, not talking about left-wing anarchists and their supporters is like not being able to talk about aggravated assaults because murders still exist.
There will probably be more dead bodies on those streets.
It would be different if these white nationalists were roaming the streets, pillaging and lynching with impunity. Right now they are saying atrocious things, and one man killed a young girl. Her death is an abomination to peace. Moving forward, if you are allowing yourself to engage in civil disobedience, preempting Nazi atrocities by assaulting or killing those self-proclaimed Nazis, especially after the tragic events in Virginia, you are exactly what Chomsky said — a gift to the far right. That is what is currently being advocated by normally non-violent people, and it is also the building blocks of a sectarian war in America.
I do not recall signing up for this kind of conflict; Nazis versus anarchists. Anarchists are propped up by well-meaning progressives who are holding the line a lot farther to the left than they are used to, while the Nazis are being validated by a sitting president, a president who seems closer to resigning than ever before.
And there will probably be more dead bodies on those streets. All because we hate the horrible people we let march on them.
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