by Caleb Talley
It’s hard to forget what happened last August in Charlottesville, Va., when a multitude of self-described neo-Nazis gathered for the first Unite the Right rally and clashed with far-left protestors – a group we now refer to as Antifa.
It went about as well as one would expect. There was violence. A life was lost. And we were left with President Trump’s hollow “fine people” remarks.
I wrote in an editorial at the time saying Trump was out of line. After refusing for days to disavow the bigots with pitchforks, one of which drove his car through a crowd of protesters killing a woman, Trump drew a moral equivalence between the two groups. I said he was wrong.
This is the modern-day KKK we’re dealing with, hateful khaki-pant-wearing racists. The protestors, I thought, were only there to stand up to these racists, to knock them off their platform. How were they in any way the same?
Well, I’m big enough to admit when I’m wrong. Trump was right, whether he even knew it at the time or not. Antifa may have been the lesser of two evils a year ago, but they’re just as much a cancer to society as the neo-Nazis they fought.
Fast forward a year to last weekend. While I was lounging by a pool in the middle of nowhere Prairie Grove, neo-Nazis and anti-fascists were making their way back to Charlottesville for Unite the Right 2. And much to the latter’s disappointment, a grand total of 24 white supremacists showed.
And without the torch-toting Nazis there to silence, Antifa packed up, went home and counted the day a victory. After all, they were there to counter-protest, to stand up against an ideology that runs afoul of everything American stands for.
With no Nazis to punch, Antifa decided to punch everyone else instead, including police officers and reporters. Any political capital they may have gained last year by taking on Nazis is long gone. They’ve proven, once again, that they don’t actually stand for anything. Except, perhaps, anarchy.
Protestors didn’t want to be filmed and cut my photographer’s audio cable cord. pic.twitter.com/GBLryCjWZs
— DeJuan Hoggard (@DeJuanABC11) August 12, 2018
A number of protestors attacked reporters, destroying their video equipment and roughing them up. Some who did speak to reporters expressed their desire to drag President Trump into the streets, to “do him like they did Gadhafi” – which is to say, publicly slaughter him. It was ugly, to say the least.
Unacceptable behavior by a protester in C'Ville last night — violently swatting away a journalist's camera — I asked @CalNBC for more info, and he deferred to his tweets, which described the protest as "almost exclusively Antifa at that point." https://t.co/BJ2t5HGceZ
— Brian Stelter (@brianstelter) August 12, 2018
Though it’s a stretch to say they stand for anything, the various groups that make up the Antifa movement purport themselves to be sworn enemies of fascism. But according to them, fascism doesn’t stop at Nazism and white supremacy. They tend to categorize any conservative and all capitalists as fascists, too.
What these masked goons fail to realize, though, is that they actually have a lot in common with the actual neo-Nazis.
Both neo-Nazis and Anti-fascists hate liberal democracy (or Western democracy); they’re ardent supporters of socialism. Neo-Nazis, like those that demonstrated last year and last weekend in Charlottesville, espouse national socialism. Anti-fascists are international socialists (or even collectivist anarchists). Whichever way you slice it, they both support the idea of a massive government dictating nearly all aspects of daily life.
They both despise religion. They both hate the free press and civil liberties. Both use fear and intimidation to get what they want. They both promote abortion. And they both thrive on identity politics.
In fact, Antifa has more in common with Nazis than they do with the American left, just like Nazis have more in common with Antifa than they do with the American right. Both groups are often referred to as extreme or “alt-” left or right counterparts, but in reality, they are nowhere to be found on the traditional American political spectrum. Instead, both are more aligned with the European political spectrum of the 20th Century.
Regardless of this distinction, Republicans were put under a microscope after last year’s Unite the Right rally. Anyone who defined himself as conservative was required to disavow the Nazis who marched in Charlottesville and the bigoted organizations that coordinated the event, despite the fact that the two ideologies have absolutely nothing in common.
Using that logic, shouldn’t we demand Democrats to disavow the violent, anarchist behavior coming from Antifa?
But in reality, both groups make up a tiny, tiny portion of the American population. They’ve existed for decades and neither have any more political foothold in the U.S. now than they had at any time in the past. Another thing Nazis and Anti-fascists have in common, besides being awful: Most of us don’t have a crap about either one of them.
In Cash & Candor, Arkansas Money & Politics / AY Magazine Editor Caleb Talley aims to shoot it straight when it comes to business and politics in and around the Natural State. Talley comes to AMP by way of the Arkansas Delta, where he called balls and strikes at the Forrest City Times-Herald. He can be contacted by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Read more Cash & Candor here.