Updated: Oct 29, 2021
Antifa became a media sensation during the Charlotte, NC, protests and has become a fixture in the paranoid fantasies of the right. As we follow the media trends shaping our discourse, I’d like to reflect on the Antifa phenomenon.
The actual Antifa movement is European and reflects the European style of activism. Over
there, they have actual Nazis who come out in full Nazi regalia and sing praises of Hitler. This has awakened deep memories of the WWII fascist regime and inspired a number of counter movements collectively known as Antifa. This has nothing to do with what’s happening in America.
Antifa: Paper tiger?
Since the alt-right fringe in the US lives in an alternate reality where (they believe) sinister forces are configured against them, the idea of Antifa was a welcome addition to their paranoid landscape. What’s the point of getting all dressed up in your mail-order combat gear if there’s no one to fight? Every “hero” needs a villain, and though the alt-right had tried to turn ordinary Black Lives Matter protesters into threats throwing cans of tuna and concrete milkshakes, they couldn’t make the image stick.
Antifa was a much easier target: These folks came armed with clubs and dressed all in black, hiding their identities.
So, who are these people who resemble ninjas? At first, they were the Black Bloc, people determined to protect protestors from alt-right violence. In Charlotte, they tried to rescue a group of protestors who came under attack.
In actuality, there is no Black Bloc organization. Black Bloc participants are associated with anarchy, antifascism and anti-globalization, but they aren’t an organized group; if you want to throw down against the alt-right, you just dress in black and show up. (USA Today wrote, “Black Bloc is a tactic, not a group. Those who practice it often wear black and cover their face with masks. Typically, they leave a wake of destruction.” – ed.)
Since the alt-right boys were already looking for a fight, they weren’t in a mindset to see the Black Bloc’s posture as defensive or protective. They saw only a threat.
At the same time, the Black Bloc squad was a media sensation. They looked super cool in their ninja garb, and whenever they showed up, there was going to be a-c-t-i-o-n. But Antifa sounded even cooler than Black Bloc. It’s fun to say (like Benghazi), and you can play the “Who’s not against fascism?” game. The Antifa brand starting showing up everywhere. And when these far-left anarchists realized they could get more attention as Antifa, they adopted the label for themselves.
BLM protestors are not Antifa
But are BLM protestors really Antifa? They’re not dressed in black or sporting any Antifa emblems or signs. They never declare they are Antifa or publicize their actions. But the alt-right likes narrow labels, and the media has gone along. For both, Antifa sells.
The huge irony here is that until the alt-right got all het up about Antifa, it hardly existed – at least in the US, according to the FBI. But now that Antifa is the go-to brand for attention-seeking rioters on the left, we see and hear ‘Antifa’ everywhere. The alt-right fanatics have actually created their own enemy!
The surge of publicity has encouraged the organized formation of some anarchist cells. There may now be a dozen of these groups scattered around, though still without national leadership. (After all, anarchists by definition aren’t big on organization structure.)
Meanwhile, the alt-right sees Antifa plots everywhere:
Antifa vans prowling the back roads of Idaho.
Antifa bringing busloads of rioters to the Illinois suburbs.
Antifa delivering stacks of bricks to protestors in Kansas City.
That 75-year-old guy the cops brained in Buffalo, NY, was Antifa.
Antifa caused the wildfires in California.
And then they claimed the atrocities on January 6 were actually perpetrated by Antifa dressed up as Trumpies. Odd, then, that of all the rioters who were photographed and investigated by the FBI, none of them turned out to be Antifa.
It’s tough when truth gets in the way of your narrative.
Learn more: “What is Antifa, the Movement Trump Wants to Declare a Terrorist Group?” The New York Times, 9/28/2020.