Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Dueling it Out About Antifa

We continue our series dealing with elements of Antifa - which is not an organized block. It might make sense to some to support beating up Nazi sympathizers but I worry when it extends to whatever some people choose to define as "hate" speech. What if being critical of Antifa methods gets classified that way and suddenly leftists who are critical find themselves under attack as "liberal" free speechers?

Peter Farruggio, my old colleague (1969-70 at PS 16K and in the first caucus I was part of, Another View in District 14) feels Nazis need to be challenged and sent this email:
Peter Farruggio: I reject the argument that such "violence" from the left only makes the nazis look sympathetic, or is bad publicity. Let the mainstream presstitutes babble on about the "extremist left." Their audiences are not the important target. It's everyday people who are in danger of fascist violence and police state terror who need to see how to confront these punks. And of course, the punks themselves must see their fellow bullies getting defeated and demoralized.  I'll stand with Woody Allen on how to deal with nazis:
Here is what Woody supposedly said:

Dealing with nazis, according to Woody Allen (Manhattan)

Woody Allen: Has anybody read that Nazis are gonna march in New Jersey? Ya know? I read it in the newspaper. We should go down there, get some guys together, ya know, get some bricks and baseball bats, and really explain things to 'em.
Victor Truro: There was this devastating satirical piece on that on the op-ed page of the Times – devastating.
Allen: Well, a satirical piece in the Times is one thing, but bricks and baseball bats really gets right to the point of it.
Helen Hanft: Oh, but really biting satire is always better than physical force.
Allen: No, physical force is always better with Nazis.
Here's the clip:

There's also a story floating around about Jewish gangster Meir Lansky having a crew show up with baseball bats to disrupt a Nazi bund rallies in the late 1930s.

Peter continues:
OK, so it was a bad day for the extremist right in the Bay Area this weekend. The fascists punked out and canceled their planned "rally" yesterday in SF, in the face of massive anti-nazi demos. Today, a handful of them showed up in Berkeley and got their butts kicked. Too bad it had to be the adventurist anarchists who did the butt kicking, instead of the organized working class; but at least they sent the message "Don't come back here, cowards!" (It's the anarchists' stupid window-breaking that brings bad publicity, and that's probably the work of police state provocateurs)

So, I am ambivalent and an showing my libertarian tendencies.
I don't totally disagree with the liberal "presstitutes" in the New Yorker, with which I also have some sympathy.

An Intimate History of Antifa | The New Yorker

And the latest piece from The New Yorker:
the images out of Berkeley—outnumbered right-wing protesters being pepper-sprayed by counter-demonstrators, one person lying on the ground while a black-clad group punched his face and torso—will be held up by many on the right as evidence that Trump was correct about the blame falling on “many sides.”... the clear dictate of common sense is that no one should be in the business of providing this President with matches.... The New Yorker, The Antifa Protests Are Helping Donald Trump
Below is the full piece which claims the right is being handed a loaded gun.

The Antifa Protests Are Helping Donald Trump | The New Yorker


During this first tumultuous summer of the Trump Presidency, it has been almost possible to mistake events in America’s cities for a constant loop of scenes from Spike Lee’s 1989 movie, “Do the Right Thing.” The chaotic and deadly events in Charlottesville were followed, a week later, by a largely peaceful anti-racism march in Boston, which both dwarfed a pathetic concurrent gathering of white supremacists and inspired hope that we might make it through the month without more violence in the streets. 

That hope proved sustainable through a shaky d├ętente in Phoenix, where Trump spoke in defense of the former sheriff and convicted racial profiler Joe Arpaio. It endured through last Saturday, when a planned right-wing demonstration in San Francisco was cancelled, and survived most of Sunday, when roughly four thousand anti-racism protesters conducted a peaceful demonstration across the bay, in Berkeley’s Martin Luther King, Jr., Civic Center Park. But it fractured the moment that contingents identified as anarchists and Antifa radicals slipped into the crowd and began attacking right-wing protesters who had assembled there under the banner of free speech. (Six months ago, the University of California campus at Berkeley, the nucleus of the Free Speech Movement of the nineteen-sixties, was thrust into the headlines when a group of protesters smashed windows and set fires in order to prevent the right-wing provocateur Milo Yiannopoulos from speaking there.)
Following Donald Trump’s first, inept remarks on the tragedy in Charlottesville, his false even-handedness regarding the violence there has proven politically disastrous. Republicans who have acceded to Trump’s numerable previous violations of ethics and protocols felt the need to make their strongest, albeit still fairly mild, criticisms of the Administration. Trump’s own Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson, noted on Sunday, in a striking interview with Chris Wallace, on Fox News, that on issues of values Trump “speaks for himself.” For those who are concerned that the moral elasticity of conservatives will continue to abet Trump’s behavior, this was an encouraging sign. But the images out of Berkeley—outnumbered right-wing protesters being pepper-sprayed by counter-demonstrators, one person lying on the ground while a black-clad group punched his face and torso—will be held up by many on the right as evidence that Trump was correct about the blame falling on “many sides.” Where, they will ask, is the equivalent portion of outrage from the media, from the left, from anyone who claims to respect the First Amendment?

These are not equal pursuits. The Antifa demonstrators, unlike the white-supremacist factions that gathered in Virginia, do not represent a tradition of murderous violence in this country; they are not heirs to the most embittered segments of the wrong side of a conflict that ripped the country at its seams during the Civil War, or to groups that orchestrated the lynching of four thousand black people in the decades after that side’s defeat. Nevertheless, there is no escaping the fact that the elements that lashed out in Berkeley were both morally wrong and politically vacuous. And their timing could not have been worse. As Josh Marshall points out, at Talking Points Memo, these situations tend to work to the benefit of reactionaries, not progressives:
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.
This isn’t simply a problem of disparate right-wing groups being able to rationalize their existence more easily. We are in the midst of a Presidency that will manipulate such situations. On Monday, the Attorney General, Jeff Sessions, in keeping with Trump’s primary political objective—the eradication of Barack Obama’s Presidential legacy—formally announced a reversal of restrictions that, following the violence in Ferguson, Missouri, in 2014, the Obama Administration placed on the policy of transferring military-surplus grenade launchers, .50-calibre guns, bayonets, and even armed aircraft to local police departments. This reversal would almost certainly have happened irrespective of the events in Berkeley; just a month ago, Trump, speaking to an audience of law-enforcement officers on Long Island, encouraged them to employ the kinds of tactics that have led to unrest in successive American cities during the past three years. (“Please don’t be too nice,” the President said.) But, in a healthy democracy, or one struggling to remain so, public perception matters. Having ginned up public fear about law and order from his first statements as a candidate, repeatedly citing phantom crime statistics both during the campaign and while in the White House, Trump has been the beneficiary of skewed perceptions.

Trump exudes a malign charisma, and witnessing its appeal and the license that it grants him has been destabilizing for a wide swath of the left. Some of Trump’s opponents have said that they are waiting for a Reichstag fire—a false crisis that will be used to justify the Administration’s worst instincts. We have not yet encountered such a moment, but the clear dictate of common sense is that no one should be in the business of providing this President with matches.


Anonymous said...

...and a degenerate and alleged pedophile, and a murderous gangster, are wheeled out to make the righteous point....LOL!!

Julie W. said...

Wouldn't extra-large loud crowds like in Boston fronted and interlaced by long, multi-person banners announcing clearly who's bringing the violence, hate, and weapons and how much this kind of thing is unwelcome (e.g., "YOU bring the violence," "No place for hate in our town" ) do what armed and warlike Antifa resistance cannot? Apart from the evident moral authority, these would put on show the sheer size of the oppositiion, the breadth of a committed non-violent stance, clear messaging, and bold visuals to outsiders, non-participants and the press as to who actualy is breaking the law.

Michael Fiorillo said...

I never heard the Meyer Lansky story, but there is the story of the Nazi flag being torn off the flagpole of the German ocean liner "Bremen" in 1938, while thousands of anti-fascists demonstrated next to West Side piers. Bill Bailey, a member of the National Maritime Union, whose members on Europe-bound freighter ships had a higher per capita casualty rate than any of the armed services during WWII, and other working class members of the Communist Party raced onto the ship and showed that Nazis weren't welcome in La Guardia-era NYC. Bailey's fascinating tale is recounted in Studs Terkel's oral history of WWII, "The Good War."

Italian neighborhoods in '30's NYC were also the site of battles between pro and anti Mussolini supporters. Anarchist and Communist Italian Americans (represented, respectively by Carlo Tresca and Vito Marcantonio), though fighting over everything else, fought fascism on the streets of NYC.

To me, the major difference between that generation and Antifa, is that those old Commies and anarchists were spending most of their time organizing workers into unions, not getting into street battles.

ed notes online said...

I saw Meyer lasky story on Facebook. Joking him was lucky Lucianno giving credence to the Italian connection to the mob. Fascism was also a threat to them.

Anonymous said...

Read Zionism v Bolshevism by Winston Churchill. A short read easily found online. The true enemies of civilization clearly revealed

Anonymous said...

....and the TRUTH is unpublishable. But the truth will always vanquish the darkness. It is unstoppable.