Antifa – It’s not antifashionable

August 17th 2019

Donald Trump, doubtlessly hoping to further spark unrest between fascists and antifascists, sent out an incendiary tweet July 27th, 2019. “Consideration is being given to declaring ANTIFA, the gutless Radical Left Wack Jobs who go around hitting (only non-fighters) people over the heads with baseball bats, a major Organization of Terror (along with MS-13 & others). Would make it easier for police to do their job!”

In a (vain) hope of escalating the confrontation between such groups in Portland today, he tweeted last night, “Major consideration is being given to naming ANTIFA an “ORGANIZATION OF TERROR.” Portland is being watched very closely. Hopefully the Mayor will be able to properly do his job!”

To that end, GOP legislators have been given marching orders to blame all further incidents of mass murder on “leftists” in general and Antifa in particular, and never, ever admit that racial hatred and xenophobia might drive such attacks—indeed, one Republican today tried to blame El Paso on Antifa.

Well, that’s the nature of propaganda. There’s an image popular on far right sites that shows a flag, remarkably similar to the Nazi German military flag, with the letters “AF” where the swastica would be. It’s photoshopped: the original nazi-style flag was for the National Front in Britain, a far-right group. The ‘N’ was photoshopped to an ‘A’ and the right wing propagandists were off to the races, sobbing over the victims of the thugs wielding the “Antifa” flag. The ‘victims’ in the original photo? Oh, they were Antifa. British Nazis were attacking them. Details, details.

There’s only been one case where a leftist acting on his political philosophy shot some people, and that was that clown who shot up the Congressional baseball game. The bozo who shot Gabby Gifford was described by a classmate who didn’t actually know him as “a liberal” and the right seized on that with glee, but the reality is he was mentally too far gone to have any sort of coherent political philosophy, and furthermore, Gifford is a Democrat. The Dayton shooter did express leftist sympathies on his Facebook page, but he was not Antifa, nothing in his screeds advocated violence. If he was out to make a political statement, killing his sister and her boyfriend seems a strange way to start.

Compare with the hundreds of murders committed by the right for political and racial reasons: El Paso, most of the school shootings, the attacks on mosques and synagogues, black churches shot up and burned. Deaths from far-right killers acting on their Nazi beliefs are in the thousands. Deaths from Antifa: 0.

I’m happy to report that the mayor and Portland Police did do their job, although probably not in the way Trump hoped. They kept protesters and counter-protesters largely separate, with the result that there were 13 arrests and perhaps a half dozen injuries, of which only one required a visit to the hospital.

This is probably much closer to what Trump hoped to see in the immediate future for America:

In the final years of the Weimar Republic, Germany was mired in a grave political and economic crisis that left the society verging on civil war. Street violence by paramilitary organizations on the Left and the Right increased sharply. In the final ten days of the July 1932 parliamentary elections, Prussian authorities reported three hundred acts of politically motivated violence that left twenty-four people dead and almost three hundred injured. In the Nazi campaigns, propaganda and terror were closely linked. In Berlin, Nazi Party leader Joseph Goebbels intentionally provoked Communist and Social Democratic actions by marching SA [Brownshirt] storm troopers into working-class neighborhoods where those parties had strongholds. Then he invoked the heroism of the Nazi “martyrs” who were injured or killed in these battles to garner greater public attention. Nazi newspapers, photographs, films, and later paintings dramatized the exploits of these fighters. The “Horst Wessel Song,” bearing the name of the twenty-three-year-old storm trooper and protege of Goebbels who was killed in 1930, became the Nazi hymn. The well-publicized image of the SA-man with a bandaged head, a stirring reminder of his combat against the “Marxists” (along with other portrayals of muscular, oversized storm troopers), became standard in party propaganda. In the first eight months of 1932, the Nazis claimed that seventy “martyrs” had fallen in battle against the enemy. Such heroic depictions — set against the grim realities of chronic unemployment and underemployment for young people during the Weimar period — no doubt helped increase membership in the SA units, which expanded in Berlin from 450 men in 1926 to some 32,000 by January 1933.

It’s a nightmare scenario that no sane person ever wants to see in America. Not among the scattered groups of people collectively known as “Antifa” and not among a surprising number of people that are pro-Trump. It was interesting to note that Oath Keepers, a Christian Dominionist group often seen as an umbrella organization coordinating Proud Boys and other far right groups, withdrew support and involvement from the Portland demonstrations the day before, explicitly stating that they felt the other groups had not done enough to keep the white nationalists out of the proceedings. It’s a reminder that not everyone in that crowd is a violent Nazi, and that some groups, such as the Oath Keepers, have a moral basement.

While the American 21st century version of Antifa is a loose coalition of groups ranging from librarians to the guys in black with truncheons you see reminding the Nazis that if they start breaking windows of shops belonging to minorities there will be a price to pay, Antifa as a global phenomenon dates back nearly a century, to the rise of Mussolini in Italy, and Hitler in Germany. In Germany it was known as the Antifaschistische Aktion and sad to relate, it wasn’t very effective. While it was originally organized by the second largest party in Germany at that time, the Communists, and supported by some of the moderate Social Democrats (although those two groups were largely antipathetic), the Nazis simply had more hobnailed boots on the ground and truncheons, and the power of propaganda.

Every time some brown shirt got drunk and fell in a ditch and drowned, or got run over by a bus, a howl went up from the Nazis, on the radio and in pamphlets and on posters and stickers everywhere, glorifying the victims of political oppression, and condemning the vicious, ravening hordes of greedy Jews who committed murder most foul against glorious Aryan youth who sought only to protect God and the Fatherland from such contamination.

When Hitler seized total power, he created a law, Reichstrafgesetzbuch which outlawed political dissidents, equated all dissenters to terrorists, and mandated life in prison, twenty years hard labor, or death. The good news for Antifa was that death usually came fairly quickly in Hitler’s prisons.

You have the Nazi propagandists of today, the Faux News opinionators and the radio blowhards, and an endless chorus of how the real threat is from the left, and they are attacking and annoying brave, patriotic Proud Boys whose only crime was defending America. Sounds familiar, doesn’t it?

And the Reichstrafgesetzbuch is quite similar to legislation being pushed by another Nazi born in a neighboring country, Ted Cruz. Imagine how Donald Trump will use legislation like THAT if it’s in place for the campaign next summer! The mere act of condemning white nationalists who murder Hispanics, Moslems or schoolchildren could get you decades in Trump’s prisons, and we’ve already seen what kinds of conditions he wants for little children; imagine what he has in mind for you! And Trump’s corrupt Attorney-General Barr is already compiling lists of “suspected leftist terrorists” for future use. No doubt I’m on that list, even though I’ve never espoused political violence in any form. No doubt you are too, because you’re reading this.

We’ve seen this before—in Europe before WW2, in Europe since the breakup of the USSR, and many times in many other countries. It never ends well.

If we don’t get Trump and his henchmen out of office before the next election through peaceful and legal means, it gives him a ticket to strive for the power and glory that Hitler enjoyed for over a decade before he self-destructed and took his entire nation with him.

Impeach Trump now before he and his brownshirts get us killed.

Addendum:

Where the Brownshirts Came From

by James H. Barnett Washington Examiner

Daniel Siemens’s Stormtroopers: A New History of Hitler’s Brownshirts, a superbly detailed account of the Sturmabteilung (SA), the main paramilitary wing of the Nazi party from its inception in 1920 until the consolidation of Hitler’s power in 1934. Siemens, a professor of European history at Newcastle University, looks beyond the traditional trope of the SA, or “Brownshirts” as they were commonly known, as a group of rowdy young psychopaths looking to brawl. His book paints a far more frightening portrait of a million-member organization that flourished by promising young German men a world of hypermasculinity, camaraderie, and egalitarianism—with genocidal undertones.

[…] Readers well-versed in the history of interwar Europe will appreciate Siemens’s valuable new research on the SA’s role in the Nazis’ rise to power as well as the group’s participation in the German war effort and Holocaust. For the general reader, Stormtroopers sheds light on the terrifying phenomena of political violence trouncing liberalism and of relatively ordinary young men getting swept up in the furor of a genocidal project. Hopefully, it will be read widely.

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