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Corey Stewart Argues Democrats Have a Particular Obligation to Condemn “Antifa.” Is He Right?

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Honestly, if it weren’t for the right wingers ranting and raving about “Antifa,” I would probably not have even known who these folks are, let alone what they stood for or anything.

But almost every day, I see the far right (e.g., Corey Stewart, in his latest tweets) attacking “Antifa,” and in this case demanding that unless Senate Democrats, including Sen. Tim Kaine, “condemn the actions of Antifa and label them domestic terrorists you support it (sic).” Also, not even sure what the heck Corey’s talking about when he argues that “left” supports “violent censorship,” but this is not the brightest bulb/sharpest tool we’re talking about, so who knows…

Be that as it may, the question in my mind is whether Democrats like Sen. Tim Kaine, who Corey Stewart lumps in as part of a supposedly monolithic “left” (a laughable thought that the “left” would or could ever be monolithic, or even unified) have some sort of specific obligation, as Democrats, to condemn the actions of “Antifa.” First, who the heck IS “Antifa” anyway? In short, “Antifa” is:

  • “a radical political movement of autonomous, self-styled anti-fascist groups”
  • anti-government and anti-capitalist”
  • “mostly socialistsanarchists, and communists
  • “focuse[d] more on fighting far-right ideology directly than on encouraging pro-left policy”
  • “composed of autonomous groups, and thus has no formal organization”
  • “subjected to smear campaigns orchestrated by elements of the far right and alt-right”

Also, as Vox explains, “these are revolutionary leftists” who “have no allegiance to liberal democracy, which they believe has failed the marginalized communities they’re defending,” and who are “anarchists and communists who are way outside the traditional conservative-liberal spectrum.”

Bottom line: “Antifa” not only has no relationship with the Democratic Party or with Democrats like Sen. Tim Kaine, they are actually HOSTILE to almost everything Democrats believe in (e.g., government, capitalism, liberal democracy, non-violent expression of protected speech…). So why should Democrats, per se, be obligated to condemn “Antifa” every time there’s a news story about them using violence or whatever? Got me, other than the fact that it’s an effective – albeit completely dishonest and cynical – rhetorical device for right wingnuts like Corey Stewart to raise money, rile up his followers, etc.

Now, Corey Stewart would probably argue the “both sides” false equivalency that if Democrats are going to demand Republicans condemn neo-Nazis, fascists, white supremacists and the “alt-right,” then gosh darn it Republicans should demand that Democrats condemn their “equivalent” on the far left (e.g., “Antifa”). You see what Stewart’s doing here? Yep, he’s trying to equate fascists, white supremacists and neo-Nazis to those who fight fascists, white supremacists and neo-Nazis. He’s also de facto trying to use a few anti-fascists who use violence (a tactic which pretty much every Democrat and progressive, myself included, strongly condemns) to tar the 99.9% of people who oppose fascists, white supremacists and neo-Nazis peacefully/non-violently.

So, sure, we should all condemn the use of violence to express political views in this country. That should go without saying. But with regards to violent elements in “Antifa,” I’m not following Corey Stewart’s “argument” (using the word very loosely) that Democrats are under some special obligation to speak out, more so than any other political party or grouping in America today. Because, again, “Antifa” is not part of the Democratic Party. In contrast, the top Republican in the country (Trump) not only has expressed bigoted, “white nationalist” views, he’s also stocked his administration with bigots and “white nationalists,” while drawing a moral equivalence between fascists, neo-Confederates and neo-Nazis on the one hand and peaceful/non-violent anti-fascist protestors (like Heather Heyer) on the other. Perhaps Corey Stewart should be focused on condemning Trump and others in his camp who do THAT, not on drawing false connections and moral equivalencies where none exist.

 

  • Edward N Virginia

    Ooops! …. you have SINNED with hypocrisy! BECAUSE, you are correct that ANTIFA who reject the structures and processes of ‘liberal Constitutional democracy’ are not ‘Democrats’ …. BUT you still call WHITE NATIONALISTS who want to dissolve the nation into various ethno-states ‘Republicans’! SHAME ON YOU YOU SINNER! THIS constant sinning with civil discourse is yet another reason why we are increasing certain that Democrats will NOT gain many seats in the General Assembly. Just watch. We predicted Trump’s election by our ‘walking around’ sociology: a Fall visit to Charlottesville Merchants Tire Store (to see that many could not pay their bills), and watching ‘Farm TV’ rather than CNN on Saturday morning where we learned last Fall that 25% of American farms would not end the year with a profit). Our ‘walking around’ sociology predicts that this constant babble about Trump will not have the power or punch that you want it to have. Get off it! GET in touch with anxiety about what’s happening in workplaces, anxiety about family well being in the face of crime, health decline, etc.

    • old_redneck

      Please cite for me a single instance of “anti-fa” identifying with the Democratic Party. On the other hand, many of the Klansmen and Nazis in Charlottesville were wearing MAGA hats while others were shouting “Heil, Trump.”

      • “Antifa” is simply NOT a part of – or related to – the Dem Party; end of story.

      • Edward N Virginia

        You just proved our point. IF they identify with a Party the Party should – must! – publicly disavow. IF they do not, just call them losers, malcontents, and violent, and charge and arrest them appropriately. SO Republicans need to disavow any MAGA hat people who advocate or do violence calling themselves Republicans. AND Democrats need to disavow any BLM t-shirt people who advocate or do violence calling themselves Democrats. Many BLM t-shirt people in Charlottesville were doing violence. And advocate violence.

  • “Kaine was among “five or six people all dressed in black clothing from head to toe” who entered the State Capitol and set off fireworks and smoke bombs, according to a St. Paul Police Department incident report.”

    https://www.nbcnews.com/news/us-news/sen-tim-kaine-s-son-arrested-during-anti-trump-protest-n730666

  • Andy Schmookler

    I feel for you, Lowell, being called a SINNER and told SHAME ON YOU! for your failure to feel responsible for whatever some group of people who oppose some things you oppose might do.

    The point that needs to be stressed here, it seems to me, i.e. the point that shows the NON-PARALLELISM between the GOP and the white supremacists and neo-Nazis on the one hand, and the Democrats and the antifa on the other, has to do with the GOP in the age of Trump having a relationship with the extreme right while the Democratic Party has no relationship with this antifa crowd.

    One might quibble over the question of whether there was such a relationship between the GOP and the white supremacists during the era of the “dog whistle.” I mean, during the time when the Rs vaguely encouraged, and certainly did not denounce, the birther lie to delegitimize Obama’s presidency. Or one might even go back to the time of Trent Lott toasting Strom Thurmond on his 100th birthday; or even to Reagan’s starting his 1980 campaign in Philadelphia, MS, where the civil rights workers had been murdered, and speaking favorably about “states rights.” Or even all the way back to Nixon’s Southern strategy.

    But in the age of Trump, there’s no need to quibble, no need to draw fine lines. Trump has encouraged the white supremacists. Anyone who doesn’t believe that need only ask the white supremacists, like David Duke, who have told us so.

    No Democrat has said a word, that I know of, to encourage antifa.

    The white supremacists laud Trump. Can anyone point to the antifa folks speaking in similar enthusiastic terms about any Democratic leader.

    The Republicans in the age of Trump are strongly connected with the white supremacists and neo-Nazis. Their connections also involve particular issues– like anti-immigrant, anti-Muslim, anti-Hispanic, etc.

    Whether or not David Duke should be regarded as a Republican is beside the point (he did run for Senate as a Republican a number of years ago). The reality is that Duke and the rest of that gang strongly backed the Republican candidate for President, and that candidate (now president) has gone shockingly far in encouraging and supporting them.

    There is no connection between the Democrats and these anarchists. The fact that they both oppose the fascists does NOT represent a connection between them.

    All the Democrats are called upon to do is to affirm the importance that protests be non-violent, that the First Amendment rights of all should be respected (even people whose views we find abhorrent. That cuts against extremists of various kinds, and it stands for the liberal values that the Democratic Party is committed to.

  • Rick Shaftan

    Even after #Berkeley, you cannot condemn these violent thugs, who should have been condemned when they shot Steve Scalise.

    • Did you read what I wrote? I said very clearly that I condemn any form of political violence, including by “Antifa.” The question is why Democrats particularly should be required to do this, when “Antifa” has nothing to do with Democrats, in fact is opposed to much of what Democrats believe/stand for.

      • Edward N Virginia

        THEY are not ‘required’. But they should. BECAUSE Democrats should stand for ‘rule of law and not of men/women/individuals’.

      • dave schutz

        Whether you think Nancy Pelosi still has it or not, there is no doubt that she has been one of the premiere political practitioners of the last century. She clearly http://www.sfgate.com/politics/article/Pelosi-calls-for-prosecution-of-violent-antifa-12162909.php thinks it is good for Dems to condemn and distinguish themselves from Antifa. Required? Who cares?

    • old_redneck

      Can you read?

  • Kenny Boddye nails it:

    We’re still getting information in on what went down in Charlottesville, so it’s still obviously very early to know everything that happened in Berkeley.

    That said, we undermine our causes when we’re the ones that throw the first punch. The other side WANTS us to be the aggressors; it helps them prop up their distorted sense of reality and helps them recruit. Antifa helped defend faith leaders in Charlottesville which is commendable, but resorting to violence first in Berkeley undermines your purpose and ideals.

    Note: this is not putting Antifa and Neo-Nazis on the same moral plane. Nazis universally want to wipe out non-white, non-Christians from our country, and likely our world.

    Thing is – the white supremacists have already been doctoring enough pictures to spread lies on the internet. Don’t give them real evidence to actually cite for their cause.

    MLK had it right: non-violent protest and civil disobedience is much more powerful and much more effective. The ballot box is also much more powerful than a baseball bat.

  • True Blue

    Condemn planned violence:

    There is increased evidence in online chats and audio recordings of the violence that white supremacists planned for their heinous rally in Charlottesville: http://fortune.com/2017/08/26/charlottesville-violence-leaked-chats/

    Chat room screenshots show discussions about flags, chants, and speech as well as weaponry, tactics, and even this: “Attendees of #UniteTheRight in #Charlottesville discuss legality of plowing into protesters with a vehicle, less than one month before rally”

    Where is the outrage to the sickening response to James Alex Fields’ using his car to kill Heather Heyer and injure more than a dozen others ? “… his act was celebrated and defended by users, including some who edited images of the carnage into memes that were intended to be humorous.”

    “The records could also have implications for future efforts to organize white supremacist events. While the First Amendment protects the right to speech and assembly for even the most heinous groups and ideas, it does not protect speech if it calls for and is likely to lead to “imminent lawless action.” According to legal experts speaking to Wired, signs of “preparation for illegal activity” could make it more likely that future events organized by related groups could be legally restricted.” David Z. Morris