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Nothing but contempt for the anti-fascist movement ANTIFA: Conservatives and Liberals agree

October 28, 2018

In an article posted on the Acton Institute’s webpage on October 22nd, the Rev. Ben Johnson entitles his article, The spiritual core of political hate

The photo that accompanies the article shows cops attempting to stop or block protestors, some of which are holding antifa flags, as you can see from the screen-saved image here.

The content of the article isn’t terribly interesting or well thought out, but one thing is clear, that the only example that Rev. Johnson provides of political hate, is antifa.

First, Johnson refers to an interview that NBC had conducted with Professor Mark Bray about antifa. Bray, who has written an excellent book that traces the history of anti-fascist resistance, entitled, Antifa: The Anti-Fascist Handbook, was quoted in Johnson’s article as saying, “I wouldn’t characterize my political perspective as being ‘violent protests’ so much as community self-defense.”

Right after this quote from Bray, Rev. Johnson adds his own sentence in parenthesis, saying, (Of course, “violent protests” is not a political perspective, since it lacks any intellectual substance.) This is the first clear indication that Rev. Johnson has nothing but contempt for anti-fascist resistance, since he denigrates communities engaging in self-defense as lacking intellectual substance.

Secondly, Johnson further’s his contempt for antifa, in this paragraph:

Over the last year, extremists have reversed the 1964 Civil Rights law by chasing people (including some minorities) out of public accommodations. Public figures who do not share the demonstrators’ commitment to the expropriation and redistribution of wealth, within and between societies, find themselves targeted by menacing protests that threaten to spill over into physical violence.

Johnson is clearly referring to organized resistance to white supremacists who are attempting to speak on campuses or other venues and are met with significant opposition. The communities that are opposing the white supremacists are saying that hate speech is not free speech and providing these white supremacists with a platform to proclaim their hatred of jewish people, communities of color, immigrants and those who identify as LGBTQ has consequences and should not be tolerated.

At the very end of the article, Rev. Johnson cites the keynote speaker at this year’s Acton Institute annual dinner, the Rev. Timothy Keller who says, “Is there a solution” to the problems created by modern identity? “Yes,” he said. “It’s the Christian Gospel.” Rev. Keller, it should be noted, not only embraces the neoliberal free market views of the Acton Institute, he doesn’t believe that women or those who identify as LGBTQ should be allowed to be leaders in the Christian community.

Many people might suggest that an Acton Institute writer equating political hate with antifa is to be expected. While I don’t disagree with the notion, I still believe that it is important to not only acknowledge this reality, but believe it is equally important to understand why those on the right, religious or otherwise, hold these kind of views against anti-fascist resistance.

However, it may not be as evident to those who identify as liberals and progressives that there is also a significant amount of contempt directed at antifa by liberal and progressive organizations.

Take for instance this recent meme that was posted on various social media sources by the group known as Occupy Democrats. The text reads, This is American terrorist Cesar Sayoc, who tried to commit mass murder by sending 12 bombs to Trump critics. He wasn’t radicalized by ISIS. He wasn’t radicalized by Antifa. He was radicalized by Donald Trump.

Now, I get the intention of this meme, but it is highly problematic. First, the Occupy Democrats meme essentially equates ISIS and antifa, which is utterly ridiculous. Second, this meme also equates the violent behavior of Cesar Sayoc, who attempted to murder Trump critics, with antifa activists who have organized in recent years to prevent white supremacists from coming into their communities to promote hate and violence against vulnerable populations.

This meme, while condemning the actions of a Trump supporter, also demonstrates contempt for anti-fascist organizing being done by antifa. In addition, it demonstrates that Occupy Democrats, (which was created during the Occupy movement as an attempt to co-opt the message and energy of that movement by the Democratic Party) also holds the organized resistance work of antifa in contempt and would rather distance themselves from real anti-fascist organizing than be associated with it.

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