Antifa is anti-America and its values
Many Americans first became aware of Antifa only in 2017, when some of its followers descended on Washington to protest President Donald Trump’s inauguration. They broke store windows, set fire to a limousine, and caused more than $100,000 in property damage.
But Antifa is much older and broader than a mere reactionary movement opposed to President Trump’s administration. It has grown in numbers and strength for decades, united only by its adherents’ commitment to shutting down anyone they disagree with by any means necessary — including intimidation and violence.
It is an inherently anti-American movement and, as Americans, we cannot allow its fascist doctrine to continue to undermine our republic.
Antifa’s goals and tactics are unquestionably antithetical to American values and a direct threat to our system of government built on free speech, individual liberty and a representative government that reflects the will of the people while protecting minorities. Antifa wants to destroy our democratic republic and establish an authoritarian regime where dissent is crushed and beaten into submission.
Purporting to fight fascism — hence the name Antifa, short for “anti-fascist” — the group broadly labels anyone it disagrees with as a fascist. Justified by this zeal, Antifa unleashes the violence we’ve seen rock a number of communities, including Berkeley, Calif., and Portland, Ore. Last month, a 24-year-old man identified by authorities as among Antifa protesters at a June demonstration in Portland was sentenced to prison for attacking a man with a metal baton.
It is not just a West Coast phenomenon, however.
Antifa social-media postings called for protests outside an Oct. 10 Trump campaign rally in Minneapolis, and some Trump supporters were attacked as they left the event. A Nov. 18 speech by conservative economist Arthur Laffer to college Republicans at Binghamton (N.Y.) University was disrupted by protesters described by New York State Federation of College Republicans chairman Bobby Walker as including “members of Antifa.”
This behavior is an unacceptable way to express disagreement, and we should not tolerate it in our communities.
One of the biggest challenges to containing the cancer that is Antifa is its amorphous, disconnected nature. Antifa is not a traditional organization.
Antifa doesn’t stand for anything, only against whatever it decides to define as fascist. It does not have meetings, official members, or even leaders. It is made up of dozens, if not hundreds, of left-wing organizations, both at the local and national levels. Each group has its own goals and aspirations — some advocate for animal rights, environmental rights or socialism. The groups come together behind a unifying black mask whenever there is a call to action, spread through word-of-mouth or social media. At that point, the groups abandon their ethos and become part of the mob-like collective that is Antifa.
Antifa then has two goals: Destroy political opposition, and silence dissenters.
Given their nebulous structure, curtailing Antifa is undoubtedly a challenge for authorities — but designating the group as a domestic terrorist organization, as President Trump suggested last fall, would be a good start that offers many benefits.
The name “Antifa” sounds good and the goal of “fighting fascism” is undoubtedly a draw to many well-intentioned, idealistic people, both young and old.
I know — I fell for it when I was 16 and wanted to change the world.
However, I can honestly say that I would never have become involved with a group that the U.S. government considers to be terrorists.
It sounds simple, but being honest about what Antifa represents would go a long way in terms of informing the public and dissuading potential supporters. I believe this designation also would temper the concerning support for Antifa that we see coming from our college and university campuses. For years, the Leadership Institute’s Campus Reform has reported examples of those who teach the next generation voicing support and admiration for Antifa.
Some professors join Antifa-related groups, while others have helped Antifa to organize nationally on college campuses. In August, an Iowa community college professor resigned after local media reported that he supported Antifa.
Leftist professors who promote Antifa are only furthering the misconception that it is about fighting fascism, and their support effectively condones intimidation and violence as a way to affect change. Labeling Antifa as a terrorist organization would help universities to dampen pro-Antifa movements and defund work that promotes political violence.
Finally, a domestic terrorist label would help federal authorities to thwart Antifa’s plans to commit violence. This plan would take the fight to extremist groups, instead of waiting for a rally in order to arrest Antifa followers after they create havoc on public streets.
America was founded on the idea that Americans can disagree, and we cannot allow Antifa and political violence to become the new normal. The words often attributed to Voltaire — “I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it” — are a basic American and a classical liberal ideal.
Antifa, however, does not fight fascism. They are the fascists. Labeling them as a terrorist organization will help to curb Antifa’s anti-American doctrine of political violence.
Gabriel Nadales is a former Antifa member. He now works as a field coordinator for The Leadership Institute, a nonprofit organization based in Arlington, Va., that recruits, trains and encourages conservatives to serve in education, government, politics and the media.
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