In the midst of some of the worst social unrest in generations, media organizations are moving heaven and earth in order to obscure one of the most obvious culprits behind it: A loose association of anarchist hellions known as Antifascist Action, better known as Antifa. While these vandals wantonly destroy property and assault bystanders and police, the press has buried its head in the sands in order to deny the involvement of Antifa or even the existence of it as an organization. It is noteworthy that in the 1950s, as Italo-American gangsters infiltrated organized labour and gambling concerns while running vice and extortion rackets the existence of a Mafia was denied by J. Edgar Hoover, and one researcher alleged it had to do with compromising information on his sex life that mobsters Meyer Lansky and Frank Costello had obtained. By now many have already noticed that CNN and other media groups have taken the same attitude toward Antifa whilst their own buildings are being trashed by BLM marchers.
First it would be interesting to understand why media organizations are so dead set on denying that Antifa is a real thing. Many sources such as Business Insider have cited an article by Ken Klippenstein of The Nation that claimed to have obtained a leaked FBI memo asserting that there was no intelligence suggesting Antifa involvement in the rioting in Washington, DC. Firstly no “intelligence” is needed to suggest involvement apart from basic observation and common sense. These both suggest Antifa presence, and it is not limited to Washington, DC. A photograph shared within Klippenstein’s own article as the title image used by the Boston Globe shows that in Boston on May 31 there was a masked man clad in black with an Antifa flag as a cape. On June 1 Boston Magazine published an article showing looted shops and businesses in the area, and CBS 4 Boston featured an image (captured below) of a black clad rioter that it captioned by saying that they were clashing with police in Boston.
In 2019 in Boston 36 rioters were arrested at the “Straight Pride Parade” and according to the Boston Herald Antifa stated that it was supporting their legal costs through the anarchist bookstore Lucy Parsons Center. Like with many criminal organizations, it is only logical that Antifa would use front groups to establish plausible deniability. New York City’s Spectrum News reports the NYPD announcing that “Anarchist Groups [are] Intentionally Instigating Violence”. The report featured a video of two anarchists being expelled by other protesters (see screenshot below).
Similarly, in Washington DC sites such as the Lincoln Memorial have been tagged with spray painted Antifa slogans like “ACAB” (All Cops are Bastards) and “Fuck12” referring to narcotics police. So despite what Klippenstein and others are saying, no one needs the FBI in order to establish the basis for suspecting that Antifa members are heavily involved in the violence.
The Russian Diversion
As if by magic, much of the same media and its Democratic colleagues have come up with familiar scapegoats for the civil strife: the Alt Right and Russia. That’s right, on May 31 former Obama National Security Adviser Susan Rice commented on the decision to designate Antifa a terror organization by telling Wolf Blitzer “let’s also focus on the righ-wing terrorist organazions” and later “this is right out of the Russian playbook as well”. Even Marxist academic Gerald Horne asked in derision whether Rice thinks that officer Derek Chauvin (the cop that killed George Floyd) was an agent of Moscow.
The implication behind Rice’s accusation is simply impossible to verify: if you are a good protester then you must be just boldly asserting your civil rights, but anyone who is a bad actor must of course be some sort of Russian or white power extremist.
Playing dumb on TV is easy so long as the audience is apathetic and has a short memory. The record of even mainstream media organizations shows that, far from needing Russian incitement to explain it, acts of wanton destruction are the bread and butter of . . . anarchist groups like Antifa. In August 2017 Chuck Todd even hosted Dartmouth Prof. Mark Bray, author of Antifa: The Antifascist Handbook an Richard Cohen, President of the Southern Poverty Law Center to comment on the violence of Charlottesville in which Antifa activists had taken part. The subject was explicitly whether deliberate violent acts against hate organizations are legitimate activist strategies in democracy. For those that need it spelled out, Mark Bray argued for the “Pro” position in order to justify silencing others for bigoted speech. Cohen had argued that this option of giving one side the privilege of using violence to silence the other was “contrary to our values embodied in the First Amendment”. Fast forward to 2020 and the SPLC has declared that “Designating Antifa as domestic terrorist organization is dangerous, threatens civil liberties”, despite all of the eerie visions of its former chief being fulfilled during the current reign of terror. Bray argued that “fascism cannot be defeated through speech”, but the main takeaway from the current crisis is that anarchism cannot be defeated through self delusion.
The White Russian Diversion
The second branch of the media campaign to distort the role of Antifa hinges on convincing the audience that it actually being framed by white power activists. Indeed, Twitter discovered that one viral tweet by an account called @Antifa_US talking about bringing urban violence to the suburbs was actually the work of a sock account operated by the Identity Evropa. This group’s original founder Nathan Damigo ironically enough had gained notoriety in 2017 from “falcon punching” a female Antifa rioter who had been handling Molotov cocktails. In that case the media portrayal focused on Damigo’s bigoted views, when the simple situation as it unfolded was that he was responding to the rioter’s violence. This distinction is consistently blurred by the media: A person’s socially unacceptable opinions do not constitute guilt for an unrelated crime.
Apart from the sock account, there is being circulated an article by Courthouse News titled “Minnesota officials link arrested looters to ‘white supremacist groups'”. But apart from that title, the article itself has no reference to the tendency of arrested looters within its body. No names are given of the accused nor with which group they are affiliated. Who has been arrested whose name has been released?
- Colinford Mattis and Urooj Rahman of Fort Green, Brooklyn. A pair of lawyers who are respectively black and Pakistani, Mattis and Rahman were arrested on June 1 for handing out Molotov cocktails from their minivan and inciting rioters to use them.
- CBS 4 Denver released a gallery of those arrested for rioting on May 28. The faces include a healthy helping of black and Hispanic persons among white leftists.
- Vice has hyped an article called “A White Man From Illinois Allegedly Brought Bombs to Start a Riot at the Minneapolis George Floyd Protest“, referring to Matthew Lee Rupert. While his race is featured prominently in the title, the article establishes no connection to any white power movements, nor in fact to any motive whatsoever.
- Alexandria Lyons was arrested on June 3 in Michigan for inciting riots in Grand Rapids, Michigan. No evidence has been submitted that she had white supremacist or Russian connections.
- Samantha Shader, a resident of Catskill, NY was arrested on Eastern Parkway in Brooklyn for a Molotov cocktail attack. Despite her record of 11 prior arrests in just as many states, acquaintances told NBC News that she was just a “regular girl”. No white supremacist history to report though.
- Richmond, VA police announced over 233 arrests including Antifa. Antifascists Seven Hills, the account of local antifascists in the area, posted numerous updates concerning events in the area and declared “this isn’t a protest, this is a rebellion”.
The white power movement has always been around and its supporters will naturally attempt to use events in order to advance their agenda. But this does not negate in any way the overwhelming evidence of Antifa anarchists being involved in some of the worst violence of the past week. White power racists also are overwhelmingly shunned in mainstream society (certainly far more than Antifa) and are subject to much tougher social media censorship and law enforcement attention. In Contra Costa County, California this Wednesday one white supremacist offender Ross Farca was released on $125,000 bail for an illegal firearms offense and making threats online. This may worry some, but compare that to the instant release of 36 rioters released within the same week in St. Louis by District Attorney Kim Gardner notwithstanding the murder of David Dorn. Massachusetts resident John Michael Rathbun, also a white power believer, was released in April to home confinement after an attempted arson of a Jewish nursing home. The judge that has released him is Katherine Robertson, appointed by President Obama in 2015. But there has been no news of these individuals or their cohorts directly taking part in the violence.
An Uprising Of and By the People?
The socioeconomic agenda of Antifa is secondary to any discussion of them, since within the movement many different shades of the leftist orbit coalesce together. However, their claimed legitimacy is typically derived from the notion that they are the vanguard in defending the victimized masses from the abuses of a cold and vindictive system and reactionary extremists. But the truth is that they are often more dependent on the trough of government tyranny than they are against it. During the chaos of the weekend in New York City, Mayor Bill de Blasio’s daughter Chiara was arrested for pelting police officers with objects from within a crowd. While his daughter openly attacks the police force that protects her, de Blasio is having the NYPD threaten to arrest Orthodox Jews in Williamsburg that attend evening prayers. It is unknown whether Chiara de Blasio was involved with Antifa, but the group has many bonafide allies in the halls of power.
- In Berkeley, California in 2017 Mayor Jesse Arreguin was revealed to have been a follower of By Any Means Necessary (BAMN), a local group similar to Antifa that had violently forced conservative speakers like Ann Coulter and Milo Yiannopoulis to cancel speaking engagements.
- Arreguin was also a Facebook friend of BAMN lead organizer Yvette Felarca whose violent response to a skinhead march in 2016 caused World Socialist Website (WSW) writer Genevieve Leigh to warn: “Violent confrontations between small groups cannot address the fundamental social antagonisms in capitalist society and ultimately play into the hands of the state”. Leigh identified Sacramento Antifa as an accomplice of BAMN during that violent confrontation.
- In Portland, Oregon current Mayor Ted Wheeler has long turned a blind eye to Antifa violence including refusing to directly address their attack on Andy Ngo (see video above). A leading candidate to succeed him is Sarah Iannarone, who has declared publicly “I am antifa”.
- Virginia Democratic Sen. Tim Kaine is the former running mate to Hillary Clinton in 2017. His son Woody Kaine was arrested in Minnesota for violently disrupting a Trump rally with members of Antifa. He was sentenced to one year of probation and time served.
Antifa activists have exploited the current crisis not just in the USA but abroad in order to further their own goals for insurrection. A friend notified me that in his hometown of Montreal, Québéc a landmark store Steve’s Music had been looted of guitars and other music equipment. The facades of buildings were once again tagged with slogans like “ACAB” after their windows were broken with sledgehammers and other objects.
When government connections are not enough, academia will do. One of the most prominent Antifa members in Montreal is Jaggi Singh. As demonstrated in the tweet above, he openly identifies as an Antifa member and has incited Trump supporters to commit acts of self harm in violation of Twitter rules. Singh was for nine years paid $37,000 annually by Concordia University to be the “Programming and Working Groups Coordinator” for the Quebec Public Interest Research Group. It is conspicuous that an anarchist arrested numerous times at violent confrontations in would be paid by student tuition fees to perform activism for “social justice” in a non-educational role.
Philadelphia’s Drexel University even proudly highlighted the interviews of one of its pro-Antifa faculty, George Ciccariello-Maher on its website in 2017. Ciccariello-Maher was interviewed by the Philadelphia Inquirer as an Antifa supporter to explain the group’s violent attacks on the marches of right-wing groups. Late that year he was forced to resign from Drexel, but quickly was picked up as a “visiting scholar” at NYU. He is currently a professor at the College of William and Mary, with its Decolonizing Humanities Project. Drexel, NYU, and W&M are all private elite schools.
The public must disabuse itself of the notion that Antifa is just a gathering of random activists that spontaneously come together to fight racism and intolerance. They are a full-fledged movement that trains its members on ways to harm police officers and others that it considers the enemy in order to further their goal of anarchy and revolution. Media organizations will not do that. In fact, they will cover up the blood spilled, hide bodies in the closet, and lay new carpet rather than actually address this very real threat.