Anti-Fascism is What We Need
“A nation does not announce they have become fascists, they simply declare anti-fascists the enemy.”
The news happens rapidly, and I’m writing this on Election Day, 2020. It was not so long ago that heavily armed right-wing protesters stormed the Michigan Capitol to protest Stay-At-Home orders. It was even more recent that right-wing domestic terrorists plotted to kidnap Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, a plot in which 14 people (so far) have been arrested. A tragedy we have also apparently forgotten is Kyle Rittenhouse’s (a Blue Lives Matter fan) murder of protestors in Kenosha. Less than a week ago, Trump supporters in Texas harassed a Biden/Harris bus filled with campaign staffers and ran one of their cars off the road; staffers had to call 911 out of fear for their lives, and Biden cancelled all Texas rallies due to the danger. President Trump retweeted a video of the incident on Twitter with the caption, “I LOVE TEXAS!” There is a lot of talk of “violent leftists,” but the Department of Homeland Security has only released an in-depth document outlining the dynamics of far-right hate groups.
ABC News has documented a minimum of 54 criminal cases where Trump’s rhetoric was invoked in direct connection with violent threats, assault allegations, or violent acts. Three Kansas men on trial for plotting to bomb a largely Muslim apartment complex. Their lawyer said the men “were concerned about what President Trump had to say about the concept of Islamic terrorism.”
Frankly, I don’t know why I’m writing this; everyone’s minds are already made up. But, just to put it in perspective, the Southern Poverty Law Center mapped the following groups in 2020 in the U.S.:
- 20 anti-immigrant groups.
- 70 anti-LGBTQ+ groups.
- 84 anti-Muslim groups.
- 47 KKK groups.
- 26 neo-confederate groups.
- 59 neo-nazi groups.
- 48 racist skinhead groups.
- 155 white nationalist groups.
Would you care to know how many leftist hate groups it tracked? 0.
Even the director about the FBI, Chris Wray says “antifa is an ideology, not an organization.” The concept of anti-fascism has been around since 1921, in Italy, where fascism first showed up. Known as the Arditi del Popolo, “The People’s Daring Ones” brought together unionists, socialists, communists, anarchists, and others to combat Mussolini’s shock troops. When Mussolini declared cultural genocide of the Slovenes and Croats, they aligned themselves with the anti-fascists to escape and survive against the Organizzazione per la Vigilanza e la Repressione dell’Antifascismo, or, the Organization for Vigilance & Repression of Anti-Fascism (OVRA). For 18 years anti-fascists and the OVRA faced off, until an anti-fascist using the alias Colonnello Valeria shot Mussolini and his mistress with a submachine gun in 1945.
The leftist group Roter Frontkämpferbund (RFB) used the clenched fist salute in their fight against hate until 1932, when they became Antifaschistische Aktion, or “antifa.” They actively fought Nazi anti-Semitism and homophobia under the red & black flag that still waves above antifa members today. The same fist originally used by the RFB was then used by the Black Panthers.
In Spain, fascist attempted a coup to destabilize anti-fascist working & middle class people. Anti-fascists stood strong and against the oppression. They voted for important policy, such as allowing women to serve alongside men. 40,000 volunteers from Europe, Africa, China, and the Americas joined the anti-fascists in Spain to stand against the military coup. Black Americans were still segregated in the military, but three black U.S. pilots volunteered to fight fascists in the Spanish sky.
One black American mechanic, Canute Frankson, wrote the following home while fighting against fascism in Spain:
We are no longer an isolated minority group fighting hopelessly against an immense giant. Because, my dear, we have joined with, and become an active part of, a great progressive force on whose shoulders rests the responsibility of saving human civilization from the planned destruction of a small group of degenerates gone mad in their lust for power. Because if we crush Fascism here, we’ll save our people in America, and in other parts of the world from the vicious persecution, wholesale imprisonment, and slaughter which the Jewish people suffered and are suffering under Hitler’s Fascist heels.
Even today, anti-fascist volunteers are fighting against Isis and Turkish conscripts. In the U.S., anti-fascism has made a resurgence. In 1988, the Anti-Racist Action was formed on the basis that anti-racism and anti-fascism are on and the same. In 2017, clergy in Virginia relied on anti-fascists to keep people safe during the “Untie the Right” rally. With President Trump’s attempt to smear the anti-fascist ideology as violent, data and facts paint a much different picture. An intelligence bulletin by the FBI, Department of Homeland Security, and National Counter-terrorism Center reported that “the greatest threat of lethal violence continues to emanate from lone offenders with racially or ethnically motivated extremist ideologies and [domestic violent extremists] with personalized ideologies.” Anti-fascists are violent because fascists are violent; the difference is that their violence is used to protect, rather than harm, and that has been shown time and time again throughout history.
Anti-fascism emerges to protect when fascism is already alive and well. Anti-fascism emerged as a natural human impulse when Mussolini rose to power, and it is a curious thing that it appears once again during the Trump presidency.
I cannot remember where I have seen this quote, but here it is: “A nation does not announce they have become fascists, they simply declare anti-fascists the enemy.”