Two months ago, an ostensibly liberal man from Ohio with a history of violence opened fire on a group of Republicans practicing for an upcoming baseball game. Several were injured, one of them, Congressman Steve Scalise, seriously. The reaction from the media was swift and loud.
FACT CHECK: Is Left-Wing Violence Rising? – NPR
Scalise critical as shooting stokes fears of rhetoric-fueled violence – Fox News
Extremism experts are starting to worry about the left – Vice
Terrorism experts say GOP shooting highlights disturbing rise in left-wing violence – Miami Herald
Since then, anti-fascists (“Antifa”) have grown increasingly confrontational with neo-Nazis holding rallies to call for genocide. Again, the press is looking for the closest fainting couch.
Antifa Beats Up Trump Supporters, Fuels Right-Wingers – New York Magazine
Berkeley proves liberals are enabling Antifa violence – Washington Examiner
Violence by far-left protesters in Berkeley sparks alarm – LA Times
Outside of left-leaning media outlets like ThinkProgress, Raw Story and, of course, The Daily Banter, you’d be hard pressed to find this kind of pearl clutching after any of the hundreds of right wing attacks that have occurred just since the election, never mind the hundreds (thousands?) over the 8 years of Obama’s presidency. It’s almost as if ideologically motivated crimes from the right don’t really count.
That’s because, in essence, they don’t.
You know the drill by now. Whenever a right winger commits what is undeniably an act of ideological violence, he’s dismissed as “crazy” or as a “lone wolf.” Sometimes, conservatives manage to even convince themselves the right wing murderer is actually a liberal. The media, unwilling to call out the right, gamely plays along because it’s just bad form to call a right wing killer a right wing killer. It is, however, of paramount importance to highlight the race and/or religion of any killer that is not a white conservative Christian. Also, there’s no such thing as a “lone wolf” jihadist because all of Islam is dangerous, a stigma that is never applied to Christianity no matter how many abortion clinics are firebombed in the name of Jesus.
Keeping with this theme of Immaculate Innocence, the right lost its mind back in 2009 when the Department of Homeland Security put together a report about the growing number of extremist right wing groups and how they would target returning veterans for recruitment. It wasn’t that the veterans were more likely to be extremists but rather that they would be vulnerable during the often difficult transition back to civilian life and their military knowledge was very appealing to people planning to wage war on the government. Just discussing the existence of these groups, never mind their plans to prey upon veterans, sent the entire right wing into high pitched hysterics. But that’s exactly what these groups did and the number of anti-government militias increased by almost 1000% by just 2012. But, hey, don’t get your panties in a twist, snowflake, they’re just patriots that love America unlike liberals that should be shot on sight.
Now that some Republicans were the target of political violence and there is an organized resistance to white nationalism, we’re supposed to panic about the heated rhetoric that’s been the norm for the past decade or so. The right is tripping over itself to demonize the left and tie antifa to the Democratic Party. The House GOP is demanding bodyguards now. They’re growing uneasy and they should. Political violence from the left is a completely different beast from the right wing violence we’re all used to aggressively ignoring.
Here’s the thing: Right wing violence is based on lies. All of it. They claim that the government is coming for their guns or that Obama is secretly working with terrorists to destroy America. They say that liberals want to make everyone’s children into gay atheist baby killers. They say that Latino immigrants are the cause of a massive increase in crime and blacks want to rape their white women. They literally believed that a military exercise in Texas was the prelude to a government takeover of America (you know, the country the government currently runs). They literally believe that liberals are setting up detention centers for conservatives inside of empty Walmarts. They literally believe Hillary Clinton runs a child sex ring out of the basement of a pizza place.
It’s all gibberish but it still inspires them to violence on a daily basis. And since that violence essentially supports the status quo of white supremacy and divisive fear, it’s allowed to continue with little opposition. Allow me to explain how that works.
Republicans have spent decades demonizing the government to the point where most people consider it a separate entity from ourselves. They no longer believe “of the people, by the people, for the people” exists. Many consider the government to be intrusive and oppressive (because they don’t know what oppression really is. Yet). In that atmosphere, hating “the government” is easy so we tend to ignore anti-government violence because it follows the false narrative we’ve been fed. That’s why the Bundys got a slap on the wrist and the Tea Party protests were accepted at face value by the corporate media.
Consider this: When a right winger bombs a federal building or shoots up a church filled with black people, it’s because he believes in one of the myriad fantasies that motivate the right. Whether it be “white genocide” or Walmart concentration camps, right wingers are lashing out at delusions. The consequences for the people they’re attacking are very real but it changes nothing in our system because there was never anything to change.
At the same time, right wing violence against marginalized groups supports our institutionalized discrimination. Harassing, assaulting or murdering blacks, Latinos, women, Muslims and members of the LGBT community does nothing to alter the imbalance of power so, again, it’s “normal” to us. Hell, the police do it as a matter of course and we pay them for the privilege of terrorizing our most vulnerable neighbors!
On the other hand, nonviolent movements like Black Lives Matter, Occupy Wall Street and the protests at Standing Rock trigger an extremely hostile response from the government at all levels. Why? Because unlike the Tea Party and the Bundys, these protests actually threaten progressive change and that is intolerable. This is why BLM is labeled a “terrorist” organization and Occupy and Standing Rock required what was essentially a military response to unarmed protests.
But now we’re seeing an escalation of anti-fascist protest into the realm of actual violence. The Antifa movement has little to no compunction about punching a Nazi in the face or starting a brawl with the KKK. This has the press all abuzz about left wing violence in a way rarely seen when the right goes on one of its numerous murder sprees.
The bottom line is that violence from the left, particularly the Antifa, is a natural response to a very real and very clear threat. I’m not advocating violence but can we really be surprised that people are lashing out at the right? Have you been listening to them, especially for the past 8 years? The American right wing been engaging in nonstop eliminationist rhetoric, promising to wipe out their enemies with “Second Amendment remedies.” They carry guns with them everywhere and pass laws to make it easier for them to legally murder anyone they’re afraid of. They train in the woods for a war they desperately want in order to secure their political power forever. They literally pointed guns at federal agents, occupied a federal building and got a pat on the back from Fox News.
And that was while they were out of power. Now, the ascendant right has openly embraced white nationalism. The NRA’s recent ads are so close to calling for the mass murder of liberals and the press, they might as well be in the original German. The KKK, actual Nazis, and white power militias have an ally in the White House openly supporting them.
Until just a few weeks ago, Steve Bannon had Trump’s ear and his idea of a good read is a book in which the white race is exterminated. Bannon regularly refers to “The Camp of the Saints” as a cautionary tale against immigration. At the same time, Attorney General Jeff Sessions has taken several steps to embolden the police to terrorize minorities again with impunity. And just to make it clear that the United States government is no longer in the business of protecting the civil liberties of minorities, Sessions wants to decimate the Civil Rights Division of the Department of Justice and stop it from enforcing civil rights laws.
All of this is on top of the Trump administration massively increasing raids on immigrant communities and implementing, at long last, a limited Muslim ban. He pardoned America’s most racist sheriff, Joe Arpaio, signalling to his most ardent supporters that they are above the law. These actions feed the white nationalist agenda of keeping the “impure” out and whipping up Trump’s violently racist base into a frenzy.
We know exactly where this ideology and these kinds of steps lead and it ain’t Disneyland. Nazi Germany didn’t elect Hitler and then immediately put all the Jews into concentration camps. It started with small changes that looked an awful lot like America 2017. But unlike 1930s Germans, we have been listening very closely to the rage of the right wing.
When Richard Spencer and his fellow Nazis had their “free speech” rally on the steps on the Lincoln Memorial, they wrung their hands about how they’re the victims and they’re only standing up for their constitutional rights. But when you go to their websites (which is becoming difficult to do as they keep being kicked off the internet) and see what they talk about when they’re not in public, they’re quite clear about their plans. Their “bible” is “The Turner Diaries”, a book that glorifies worldwide genocide of all of the “lesser” races.
These are not the idle threats of arrested development cases living in their mom’s basement. These are promises they have every intention of fulfilling the second they get the power to do so; power they believe is within their grasp. This is why they’re showing up to their rallies in body armor and carrying assault rifles; they want to spill blood; they’re just shocked that someone is fighting back and winning. This was supposed to be their time and Antifa is getting in the way of their glorious race war.
None of this explains why the establishment finds left wing violence so alarming, although that’s actually quite easy to understand. Unlike the right wing fantasies of “white genocide” and the “Global Jewish Conspiracy”, the left is grounded in reality and they know exactly who is responsible for the pollution, propaganda, and poverty that is crushing this country (and the world). Rather than some shadowy made up enemy, they know that the Kochs, the Mercers, Sheldon Adelson, oil companies, Wall Street banks, the pharmaceutical industry, etc. etc. are spending billions to buy politicians, take over country and turn us into modern day serfs. Antifa and other factions of the left don’t “think” or “guess” this is happening because the 21st century robber barons have been very open about their vision of an America run for benefit of the rich and no one else.
An organized resistance to this agenda that is willing to get violent is just as dangerous to the 1% as letting people vote in free and open elections. Being an oligarch with unlimited power and wealth doesn’t do you a lot of good if someone puts a bullet between your eyes or blows up your car with you in it. Left wing violence is a direct threat to the interests of the rich and powerful and you can guarantee the official response to Antifa’s increasing presence will be a massive propaganda push on every possible media platform combined with escalating calls to suspend civil rights “in the name of national security.” And if this allows Trump and Republicans to further consolidate power? What an unexpected bonus that would be!
You don’t have to love Antifa or agree with all of its tactics but as you’re being bombarded with messaging designed to turn you against them, remember what the alternative is. Fascism has never be a peaceful or benevolent form of government and the United States is far more racist than prewar Germany was. In fact, we inspired Germany’s eugenics program that led directly to the Holocaust. Our version of The Final Solution would be orders of magnitude worse than anything dreamt of in Hitler’s darkest moments.
The right is growing afraid but don’t feel bad for them. They’ve sown the seeds of political violence for decades and they’ve always assumed they would be the ones to reap the benefits. It never occurred to them that someone would fight back and fight back hard. It would behoove America’s budding fascists, in the coming days, to remember that while the NRA has pushed millions of guns out on to the streets, not all of them landed in the hands of Fox News viewers and Breitbart readers. When the white nationalists inevitably give in to the urge to start shooting, they’re going to find that a gun fired by the left is just as lethal as one fired by the right.
And there’s a lot more of us than there are of them.
There are 432 days left to the 2018 elections.
– This article kills fascists
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I’m a stay at home dad, father to a special needs son and a special daughter, a donor baby daddy, a militantly pragmatic liberal, the president of the PTA, a hardcore geek and nerd and I’m going to change the world. Or at least my corner of it.