Friday the 20th marked the second time in about a year in which I nearly went to a political event, and got diverted by some personal obligation… only to find that violence of some sort erupted at the event.
The first instance was a casual meet-up in Portland arranged for the Florida Libertarian senatorial candidate Augustus Invictus. Invictus, and a number of people at the event, were physically attacked by AntiFa (“anti-fascist”) members, and several bars understandably kicked Augustus and the people who traveled to meet him out. They don’t want violence on their business premises, and so if violence follows a certain kind of person, regardless of whether or not they are responsible, it makes sense to bar them from entry.
The second instance–Friday–was the Milo meet-up at the University of Washington, a final leg of his “Dangerous Faggot” tour. A number of acquaintances of mine knew, as I did, that we could expect violence, and that people would be afraid to come to a political gathering for fear of it. We didn’t have tickets, but we wanted to go and hang around the outside, mostly to be intimidating to protect people traveling to or from the event. As previously mentioned, I was unable to go, due to family obligations.
And someone got shot, right next to the group I had been planning on going with.
Further investigation also concluded that it was, so to speak, black on black crime: a fellow Antifa member had misunderstood a comment, or perhaps misidentified their fellow marcher’s allegiance.
[UPDATE: The shooting turned out to actually be a Trump supporter shooting an Antifa member. The case was clearly self-defense, and the police are not pressing any charges.]
The fact that the shooting came from a misunderstanding, however, does not allay my concerns about these people. Far from it: they act as though they were waiting for an excuse to use violence, to smash windows and break things and shoot people. Shoot someone from our own side? Oops… well, it’s the emotional expression that’s important. If there’s some collateral damage, well, that’s just too bad.
In fact, my history with Black Bloc anarcho-communists goes back further than 2016. They’ve struck me as simultaneously childish and sinister since 2013, when I first learned that higher education sponsored and supported kids dressing like terrorists and ominously demanding money, or else. But with the election of Donald Trump–and the bizarre projection of their own divisive, violent behavior onto their own victims–the entitlement, and the violence, bullying, and destruction justified in the minds of its perpetrators has been escalating.
I’ve heard a number of people expecting the division and the violence to decline as the fever of election season wears off. I don’t think this will be the case.
Backing down from violence would mean admitting that maybe the left was exaggerating when they called Trump “literally Hitler,” something which he is self-evidently not. It would mean coming to terms with their method of political interaction, which is to push so hard, and so wildly and dishonestly far to the left, that the reasonable middle moves leftward with it. It would mean coming to terms with the fact that they have behaved dishonestly, viciously, immorally, and all at the expense of honest and decent people, though they might differ in political opinions.
But this was all done to be virtuous, good people, to oppose Nazis and racism, and homophobia. To end apartheid, to slow down the nuclear arms race, to stop terrorism, and world hunger. If there is one thing people cannot face–and these people, of all people–it is that they have acted immorally, that they are what they want to fight against. They won’t back down. The opposite; they must double down.
It’s already happening. As I observed in my predictions for the coming years, Democrats are already believing that they lost because they weren’t progressive enough. I’m only glad that Hillary lost, or else they would have believed that their progressive tactics were what won them the election (this would have been slightly more sound logic), and they would have continued with even more certainty. At least now, a few of them might be able to see and face the paradox they’ve found themselves in, which is the paradox of fascism.
First of all, no one really knows what fascism means, as George Orwell discovered, in his exploration of the question:
It will be seen that, as used, the word ‘Fascism’ is almost entirely meaningless. In conversation, of course, it is used even more wildly than in print. I have heard it applied to farmers, shopkeepers, Social Credit, corporal punishment, fox-hunting, bull-fighting, the 1922 Committee, the 1941 Committee, Kipling, Gandhi, Chiang Kai-Shek, homosexuality, Priestley’s broadcasts, Youth Hostels, astrology, women, dogs and I do not know what else.
It does seem to carry a sort of universal connotation, however, which is simultaneously authoritarian, bullying, and broadly accepting of the old observation that “might makes right” as a moral axiom.
To us fascists (I say this because I’m not a fan of communism, and am apparently therefore a fascist), it is transparently obvious who the bullies and the authoritarians are. We look at the black-shirts in masks, intimidating event-attendees in the streets with hammers, bricks, even guns, who smash windows, and who lie and slander anyone who disagrees with their political ideology. And we think “if these are anti-fascists, then call me Mussolini.” Whether or not the anti-fascists are “the real fascists” or not is unimportant. They’ve demonstrated that they do not care about accuracy in labels or terms. Like the fascists they despise, they are tribal. They speak the language of force and authority, and actual language is only useful insofar as it can be used as a proxy for force, not to persuade, but to browbeat.
Make no mistake, they are at war with you. Andrew Breitbart saw it, since at least 2012, and it’s been in the works since long before then. These people are enemies, not fellow countrymen. They deserve neither sympathy, nor respect, nor mercy, because they have not, and will not give you any, and are happy to weaponize shame and berate you for not giving enough, even if you give some. They do not respond to reason, only emotion.
If you thought things would calm down after Trump got elected, I hope the past month has demonstrated that hypothesis to be false. If it hasn’t, the political conflicts of the coming year will continue to baffle you, and you will be perpetually wondering how these people can believe this or that, or why they resort to violence.
I would also advise against making the mistake of differentiating between the Antifa thugs from Friday, and the “peaceful” women’s march on Saturday, as I would advise against falling for a motte-and-bailey argument during a debate. They are not acting in the same way, of course, but they are motivated by opposition to the same things, are loyal to the same ideals, and will vouch for each other; or at the very least equivocate and mitigate for each other when the more extreme crimes of one are brought to public judgment. Ultimately, the results of both are the same.
These people deserve as much scorn, hatred, and merciless mockery as can be heaped upon them without ruining your own life (it may sound noble to sacrifice yourself for a cause, but persuasion is led by congruity; if your life sucks, you won’t persuade others that your values are better). If the socially dysgenic forces are not stopped emotionally, than their need to double down, to preserve their constantly cracking narrative, will escalate until they will need to be stopped physically.
Cover image credit Seattle Times