Wednesday, August 30, 2017


Nancy Pelosi is denouncing violent antifa:
Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi released the following statement denouncing the violent protests carried out this weekend in Berkeley, California:

“Our democracy has no room for inciting violence or endangering the public, no matter the ideology of those who commit such acts. The violent actions of people calling themselves antifa in Berkeley this weekend deserve unequivocal condemnation, and the perpetrators should be arrested and prosecuted.

“In California, as across all of our great nation, we have deep reverence for the Constitutional right to peaceful dissent and free speech. Non-violence is fundamental to that right. Let us use this sad event to reaffirm that we must never fight hate with hate, and to remember the values of peace, openness and justice that represent the best of America.”
Good for her. I know a lot of you will disagree, but I hope there's more of this from liberals and leftists. (Further to her left, Noam Chomsky has said that violent antifa is "a major gift to the right, including the militant right, who are exuberant.")

I'm in favor of anti-fascists. I just don't support violence unless it's strictly for self-defense. As Josh Marshall writes, it's deeply counterproductive in the long run:
I believe that if you look both historically and in practice, when you have widespread street brawling between “good” groups and “bad” groups it almost always ends up being a victory for the fascist groups. This is for a number of reasons. First is that these groups have historically used the presence of civil violence to justify “law and order” crackdowns which usually empower and propagate authoritarian politics. You can already see this, tendentiously, in those hideous NRA video hate screeds. Again, history tells us this and I think it’s close to intuitive: breakdowns of civil peace lead to authoritarian crackdowns, which almost always have a right-wing and often racist valence.
The right carefully archives incidents of left-wing violence and uses them in endless rounds of propaganda in order to discredit progressive ideas. Every Fox viewer thinks Black Lives Matter is a terrorist movement because Fox never stops reminding those viewers that a few BLM supporters once said "Pigs in a blanket, fry 'em like bacon" in order to taunt cops. That was just a chant. Actual left-wing violence is much more useful as propaganda for the right.

The violent antifa argument resembles arguments from the paranoid right. Why does the NRA tell its members they need to be armed? Because society has reached a state of collapse and violent mobs will kill them if they're armed. Because fascist tyranny is imminent unless armed citizens wield deadly force.

Mobs really aren't storming into red America to kill white right-wingers, and the government isn't tossing them into dungeons without trial -- nor was it in the Obama or Clinton years. The gunners just like to think so because it makes their idea of fun -- wielding and shooting firearms -- seem noble and righteous.

Flip that fantasy over and it's violent antifa's fantasy. There are fascist and Nazi mobs, but they're small and they don't have unchecked power. Heather Heyer is dead, but her killer is in custody, charged with murder. The president of the United States, if he'd had the sinister will, could have turned fascist mobs into his storm troopers, but that hasn't happened. Portraying the alt-right as an irregular army of the Trump state is as hyperbolic as portraying a couple of New Black Panthers in front of a polling place as Obama and Soros's enforcers of the Kenyan Muslim socialist order.

I don't want Nazis to be punched. Punched Nazis become Nazi martyrs. I want Nazis to be radioactive. I like it when they're unable to find servers for their hate sites, when they can't attract marchers for their rallies, when they whine about social ostracism. That comes through moral outrage, not adolescent street brawl elevated to the level of a good war in the participants' minds. Concentrate on making Nazis pariahs. Violence doesn't help.

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