The Antifa Myth

Nicholas Kristof’s column in the New York Times yesterday caught my eye, and the more I read, the more convinced I was that a portion of the people of this nation have completely lost any sense of perspective, of balance.  Say “Boo!”, and you’re likely as not to get shot by the gun totin’ fools.  As if we needed another problem to deal with, now we have people making up stories about a non-existent threat, and in response, people are taking up arms.  Sigh.  Here is Mr. Kristof’s column … take a look for yourself.


When Antifa Hysteria Sweeps America

The panic is a measure of how deluded public discourse has become.

nicholas-kristof-thumblargeNicholas Kristof

Opinion Columnist

 

What can we possibly make of the crisis that unfolded in the remote Oregon seaside town of Coquille?

Coquille is a sleepy logging community of 3,800 people, almost all of them white. It is miles and miles from nowhere. Portland is 250 miles to the north. San Francisco is 500 miles to the south.

But Fox News is in a frenzy about rioters and looters, and President Trump warns about the anti-fascist movement known as antifa. So early this month as a small group of local residents planned a peaceful “Black Lives Matter” protest in Coquille, word raced around that three busloads of antifa activists were headed to Coquille to bust up the town.

The sheriff and his deputies donned bulletproof vests, prepared their MRAP armored vehicle and took up positions to fight off the invasion. Almost 200 local people, some shouldering rifles and others holding flags, gathered to protect their town (overshadowing the handful of people who had come to wave Black Lives Matter signs).

“I feel defensive and want to protect my home,” one man, Timothy Robinette, told the local newspaper, The World.

A sheriff from a nearby county, John Ward, warned citizens in a public Facebook post of rumors that the anti-fascists could rampage into his area as well.

“I was told they are looking for a fight,” he explained. Ward added that he had no problem with peaceful protests — a Black Lives Matter protest had been held peacefully in the local town of Brookings — but he hinted that citizens might want to help the police fend off any antifa attack.

“Without asking,” he said, “I am sure we have a lot of local boys, too, with guns that will protect our citizens.”

Of course, no rampaging anarchists ever showed up. The Battle of Coquille ended without beginning.

Similar hysteria about antifa invasions has erupted across the countryI asked my followers on Facebook how earnest citizens could fall prey to such panics, and I was stunned by how many reported similar anxieties in their own towns — sometimes creating dangerous situations.

In Forks, Wash., which is overwhelmingly white, a mixed-race family from Spokane that was camping in the area was assumed to be part of a rumored antifa protest. The local newspaper, The Peninsula Daily News, reported that local people aggressively confronted the family — a mom, dad, 16-year-old daughter and grandmother — and accused the visitors of being part of antifa.

The family’s vehicle was tailed by four cars of vigilantes, some armed, and then trees were felled across the road to keep the visitors from leaving their campsite. (Four high school students rescued them by cutting the logs with a chain saw, and sheriff’s deputies escorted them to safety.)

Folks, this is insane. It’s a measure of how deluded public discourse has become, how untethered from reality, that a mob of gunmen can terrify campers apparently because of the color of their skin — and think themselves heroes who are defending their communities.

All this ugliness may also be a window into the unrest that could unfold this winter if Trump is defeated but claims that the election was stolen from him by immigrants who voted illegally.

I’ve occasionally encountered mass hysteria in other countries. In rural Indonesia, I once reported on a mob that was beheading people believed to be sorcerers, then carrying their heads on pikes. But I never imagined that the United States could plunge into such delirium.

Antifa, short for anti-fascists, hasn’t killed anyone and appears to have been only a marginal presence in Black Lives Matter protests. None of those arrested on serious federal charges related to the unrest have been linked to antifa.

Still, the movement has a mythic status in some right-wing narratives, and Trump and Fox News have hyped the threat. (The Seattle Times caught Fox faking photos to exaggerate unrest in Seattle.)

Race-baiting extremists have also tried to manipulate public fears. One Twitter account purportedly run by an antifa group, @Antifa_US, announced on May 31 that “tonight’s the night … we move into the residential areas … the white hoods … and we take what’s ours.” But Twitter said that the account was actually run by white supremacists posing as antifa.

These antifa panics are where racism and hysteria intersect, in a nation that has more guns than people. They arise when a lying president takes every opportunity not to heal our national divisions but to stoke them, when people live in a news ecosystem that provides no reality check but inflames prejudices and feeds fears.

You might think that this kind of hysteria would be self-correcting: Citizens would see that no antifa people show up and then realize that they had been manipulated by people who treat them as dummies. But the narrative actually gaining traction in some quarters is that guns forced the antifa to back off.

NBC News, which has published excellent accounts of this hysteria, quoted one armed “defender” of the remote town of Klamath Falls, Ore., as initially saying that antifa warriors were on the way “to burn everything and to kill white people.”

After none showed up, a local bar owner said on Facebook that he was proud of the armed turnout and boasted that antifa activists had been repelled because they “walked into a hornet’s nest.”

43 thoughts on “The Antifa Myth

  1. I don’t know about the USA but in Ireland and the UK ANTIFA protest free speech rally’s and just last month protested an anti-paedophillia rally. They are also involved in the student movement within Ireland and the UK – doxing outspoken youth they don’t agree with. Far left and far right are no better then each other, they are both bad. Don’t be encouraging people in your country to go down the ANTIFA route. You guys are lucky to have free speech, the UK don’t even have that anymore because of groups like ANTIFA and Ireland are not far behind with their proposed ‘hate speech’ law.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Antifa here in the U.S. largely doesn’t actually exist. Oh sure, there is such a group, but they are small and loosely organized. What happens here, though, is where there are Black Lives Matter protests, members of white supremacist groups come in and instigate violence during otherwise peaceful protests, and claim they are Antifa, giving Trump and his cronies fuel for the fire against the group.

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  2. Jill, now you know how I feel. This is my neck of the woods, has been since 2016. Brookings, my home town, is awash with this kind of hysteria. I feel very alone here with my views although even Brookings had a nice peaceful protest of about 30-50 people on Highway 101 a few weeks ago, pledging their allegiance to BLM. Almost everyone of the protestors were white, btw. So us liberals are here, but are drowned out by the MAGA hats and crazies. Yes, these are the same people who look at you weird if you have a mask on. The same ones who are calling for our Governor Kate Brown to be recalled for….for what? Not allowing haircuts and pedicures?
    Yes, and the great Sheriff Ward of Curry County(my county), with his comment about the locals being ready to ‘protect our citizens?’ What a jerk and idiot. Totally reckless and dangerous comment. He kind of walked it back later…but he said what he said and I’m sure the majority here think he was spot on.
    I keep waiting, Jill, for one of these yahoos to confront me about my mask. I’m not sure yet how I would handle it. Unfortunately it may depend on my mood at that very time. The way I’m feeling these days, and I know you know what I mean, I will not take kindly to it. I shall cross that bridge when or if I come to it. Kristoff’s piece is awesome….and 100% correct.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Naturally, I thought of you when I first read Kristof’s piece. I was encouraged to read about the peaceful protest in Brookings, especially knowing that was your town. But the rest of this … aaaaarrrggghh. If I lived there, I would have Obama stickers on my vehicles, front and back, and Black Lives Matter stickers on my windows, as well as a Biden sigh in my yard! Yeah, I know … asking for trouble. Sigh. Oh yes, my friend, I know exactly what you mean about it depending on your mood of the moment. ‘Tis why I dread even going to the grocery store … I fear that one of these days I’m going to hear the wrong thing at the wrong time and find myself either in a hospital bed or jail cell. These times are beyond ulcer-inducing! Hang in there, my friend … we’ve still got a lot of work to do before November!

      Liked by 1 person

    • Don’t feel alone. I live in Central Fl. And I am surrounded by trump supporters and redneck conspiracy believing nut cases.
      Luckily I do have liberal friends here. There are a few of us. Florida is a lot of older people, myself included, and that explains some of it, but not all.
      I have stopped trying to figure out why anyone with any sense of decency and morality could support trump. I really believe it boils down to racism.

      Liked by 2 people

      • Racism and religion. The evangelicals have tied their wagon to his in hopes of getting such things as Roe v Wade (a woman’s right to choose abortion) and Obergefell v Hodges (federal law allowing same sex marriage) overturned, for it goes against their religion. Never mind that the other 65% of us don’t share their views, but they believe Trump will turn this nation into a “Christian” nation, whatever the heck that means, since the ‘Christians’ don’t even practice what they preach.

        Liked by 1 person

      • I said this the other day to one of my Trump loving friends: Not all people who like Trump are racists. But most of the people who do like him are. Is that too harsh Mary? I don’t think so, but my friend didn’t like the accusation. I told him I only go by what I observe. We see it every day.

        Liked by 2 people

  3. “All this ugliness may also be a window into the unrest that could unfold this winter if Trump is defeated but claims that the election was stolen from him by immigrants who voted illegally.”

    Yes, the U.S. is going to be thrown into a second Civil War if Trump loses the election and he, along with Fox News, will be fanning the flames of insurrection. I’m very afraid for my country.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Trump has twisted American opinion into a damned if you do, damned if you don’t scenario. Stoke up tensions over non-existent threats and then crow how he’s defeated them because they don’t show. Whatever you might say to argue with that point of view he has those ‘facts’ to shout you down with.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Jill, Nicholas Kristof has won at least two Pulitzer Prizes, so his words carry gravitas. In order to defend the indefensible, the Fox crowd has a history of “false equivalency” sensationalism. Some call it the “what about them?’ story. Antifa being blown out of proportion is one of those stories. There are many others, which is one of the reasons I left the GOP around 2007 – a tendency to make things up, moreso than the other side. Both sides embellish and lie, but it is not an even distribution being heavily weighted to the conservative side.

    We have a president who routinely lies and shares false consipracy stories. We have a president who his five biographers long ago said he has a problem with the truth. We have a president who parrots that everyone is against him, the media, deep state, people that just don’t like him.

    Yet, there have been several reputable books and sources who define a corrupt and deceitful president, including the one he does not want you to read. Trump is running an Antifa commercial, as we speak. He is running a China is Biden’s fault commercial as we speak.

    The truth is what Kristof wrote. The truth is this president has further greased the skids for an American demise hastening China’s ascent into being the number on economic power. Do you know why China has those jobs that Trump said Biden gave away? CEOs chasing cheap labor. This dates to the 1980’s, but that doesn’t work to Trump’s advantage.

    Taking Donald Trump at his word is a fool’s errand. Taking Trump sycophants at their word is abetting the corruption and deceit. With that said, people who civilly protest must condemn those who take violence in their hands. Violence is not the answer. Keith

    Liked by 2 people

    • Agreed on all counts. As re the cheap labor and export of jobs to China … isn’t it interesting that the Ivanka Trump product line was all manufactured outside the U.S. in sweatshops? And I agree wholeheartedly about your statement on violence … it solves nothing, only exacerbates an already bad situation.

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      • Thanks. Plus, many of Trump’s products, including the MAGA caps, were not made in the US. The latter may be now, as he took a lot of crap for it. The chasing of cheap labor is old as the hills. The textile industry manufacturing started in England, moved to New England, moved to the South, moved to China, moved to Vietnam, Bangladesh and the Philippines.

        One of my favorite lines from “The Rich and the Rest of Us,” comes from a CFO. He said employers would get by with no employees if they could. Between the above chase and technology gains, that is where many US jobs went.

        Liked by 1 person

  6. Our countries are fracturing apart due to a complete lack of effective government. It’s only going to get worse without change. Today our Foreign Secretary and supposed Deputy PM said he won’t be taking the knee as he only does that for his wife and The Queen – he thinks it’s all too Game of Thrones for him. Words fail me….

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes, both our countries are coming apart at the seams, but I don’t think yours is in danger of truly becoming a dictatorship within a year, as ours is. At least I certainly hope not for all my UK friends’ sake. I saw that about Dominic Raab this morning and I shook my head, rolled my eyes, and said, “Asshole”. Sigh.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Is Antifa an actual thing? If it is, what’s wrong with being anti-fascist? I’m anti-fascist. I don’t like right-wing extremists who want to force their views on everyone else. Fascism means racism, Naziism, extremist dictatorship, and many other such things. I may not like democracy, but I like fascism way less. Anti-fascists do not carry guns, threaten those not like them, or thrive on feeling superior to those not like them. That is what the fascists do. Those are the people Donald J. Trump wants on his side. Is that who you want to be?

    I’ll gladly join Antifa, except I think it is a figment of Trump’s pearanoia. TRUMP IS A FASCIST. Hitler was a fascist. Bolsonaro is a fascist. Who needs them?

    Liked by 4 people

    • My thoughts also – what’s wrong with being a peace loving anti-fascist? If I am not anti-fascist than I am everything that supports trump. These conspiracy theories on both sides must be evaluated with a degree of intelligence. Perhaps therein lies the problem – intelligence?

      Liked by 1 person

    • Antifa is a very small, poorly organized group that earned themselves a bad name by engaging in violent acts. I would be surprised if they have 250 members, yet they sure do seem to worry Trump. Like you, I am anti-fascism, but I am also against using violence, for it sends the wrong message. I’d like to see someone organize a large group of anti-fascists that engage in peaceful protests and rallies to shine a light on the horrors of the Trump administration and show how very similar they are to what happened in Germany in the 1930s … that, I would join.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. If you read up on German history you’ll see thats exactly the mechanisms that worked in 1930’s Germany. It also proves my belief that so-called “civilised” nations fall into babarism in the blink of an eye. Yugoslawia, Syria and other countries prove that that is not a thing of the past. And I am gobsmacked how a country proud of its antifa fight in WW2 can be so against antifa. We truly live in crazy times. And I thought the 80s were bad….

    Liked by 2 people

    • You’re so right, my friend. I’ve been seeing parallels to 1930s Germany since Trump was elected, and even before, listening to his campaign speeches. I have no doubt that we are standing on a precipice right now. While Trump is only a symptom of a much wider problem, his power is such that if he is re-elected, we are doomed. The thing that started the ball rolling, I believe, was the election of an African-American for president in 2008, and again in 2012. Racism seems to be the driving factor here … a false sense of white, Christian superiority. I am against fascism in any form, but the group Antifa has earned themselves a bad name by promoting violence. However, they are a small, loosely organized group and really have little effect anywhere. I’d like to see a real organization of anti-fascists, anti-violence, take a stand, but at this point, with the election less than 5 months away, I’m not sure there’s time. And, since the republicans are taking massive steps to ensure that the election is skewed, that poor and minorities have little opportunity to vote … sigh. Yes, these are crazy times … times where good people seem to be “the enemy”. Hugs, my friend. ❤

      Liked by 1 person

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