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 socialists, anarchists, 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.