Democracy Now: “We speak to Mark Bray, author of the new book, “Antifa: The Anti-Fascist Handbook.”
MARK BRAY: And then, in the United States, we can look at anti-racist action in the 1980s, 1990s and the early 2000s, which took some of these methods of confronting neo-Nazis and fascists wherever they assemble, shutting down their organizing and, as they said, going where they go. Today, in an article I wrote for The Washington Post called “Who are the antifa?” I explain this and show how today’s antifa in the United States are really picking up the tradition where these groups left off. And their movement has really accelerated with the unfortunate ascendance of the alt-right following President Trump. [snip]
The other minor note I want to make before we continue is that antifa is really only one faction of a larger movement against white supremacy that dates back centuries and includes a whole number—there are a whole number of groups that fight against similar foes, sometimes using the same methods, that aren’t necessarily anti-fascists. So, it’s important not to subsume the entire anti-racist movement within this sort of one category. [snip]
And one of the other lessons of the beginning of the 20th century is that people did not take fascism and Nazism seriously until it was too late. That mistake will never be made again by anti-fascists, who will recognize that any manifestation of these politics is dangerous and needs to be confronted as if it could be the nucleus of some sort of deadly movement or regime of the future.”, etc.
Now the WaPo is behind a paywall for me; guess I’ve used up my ‘free clicks’ already, and wanted to know what Bray had to say that the MSM corporate press encouraged him to…contribute. A non-Wapo search yielded: ‘Author of antifa handbook defends antifascist violence’, ctmirror.org, August 18
“Although most of its members don’t resort to violence, the antifa believes Trump’s presidency has given new life to a white supremacist movement they’ve been fighting for years and say they must be better armed – even with guns – when they show up at future rallies like the one in Charlottesville.
Mark Bray, a visiting history scholar at Dartmouth and the author of “Antifa: The Anti-Fascist Handbook,” sympathizes with the movement and told the Connecticut Mirror its members are justified in using violence, even to the point of arming themselves, to combat “fascist violence.”
That view is rejected by others, including liberal groups fighting the radical right.
Richard Cohen, president of the Southern Poverty Law Center, which tracks hate groups in the U.S, said fighting “fire with fire” is counterproductive, and “emboldens” Neo-Nazi groups.”
A Q and A follows; a few bits:
- Do you personally think it’s okay for antifa members to arm themselves?
- Yes. Self-defense is a legitimate response to fascist violence. I think it’s always best to accomplish a political goal with as little violence as possible. That’s why the kind of moment where an anti-fascist group defends itself is sort the last point on the sequence of the organizing. Often what they do first is write letters and make phone calls to try to cancel an event, to try to mobilize a community to pressure the event not to be held, to occupy a space so there can’t be an assembly…to try all these steps so that violence is a last resort. But as a last resort, I think it’s ethically justifiable, given the history of the holocaust. In the 1920s, 30s and 40s, the great mistake was not taking it seriously until it was too late. I think you have to stop fascism early, and sometimes that requires self defense.
- And that includes the use of guns?
- Well, if the fascist have guns, and they do…there are groups that are recognizing if fascists have guns, maybe antifascists should too.
- Using clubs is one thing, but guns is another. Are you personally okay with guns?
- I think everything should be done to avoid escalating violence. But if you face an armed fascist threat, I think using firearms in self-defense is an acceptable recourse.
- Most of those who demonstrate against the far right are not antifa members. Some liberal groups have a real problem with the violence….
- That is true, but less than it used to be. I think that there is a willingness to have a conversation, post Charlottesville.
Please tell me what agenda the Washington Post has by giving Bray a stage. Of course the papers of record want Trump impeached in the worst sorts of ways. But armed antifa has now been corporatized, legitimized, which is worrisome to me in the extreme. They have not only put big targets on the antifascist movement, but at the same time potentially added to the meme within the petition to ‘Formally recognize AntiFa as a terrorist organization, Created by M.A. on August 17, 2017 already has 241,796 signatures at whitehouse.gov/petitions. 100,000 is supposed to trigger the US president to ‘address’ the issue. (publishing info on Bray’s ‘Handbook’)
Yes, ‘former OWS organizer’ Bray heartily believes that the US is under attack by Nazis and other white supremacists. But then on Mark Bray’s Twitter account, I found this corroborating take as well:
‘A Call for Self-Defense in the Face of White Supremacy’, August 16, 2017 William C. Anderson, Truthout
““Of the many inhuman outrages of this present year, the only case where the proposed lynching did not occur, was where the men armed themselves in Jacksonville, Fla., and Paducah, Ky., and prevented it. The only times an Afro-American who was assaulted got away has been when he had a gun and used it in self-defense.” — Ida B. Wells
“The stranglehold of oppression cannot be loosened by a plea to the oppressor’s conscience.” — Robert F. Williams [snip]
“The status quo is this capitalist white supremacist empire and the violence that it inflicts daily. “Law and order,” the court systems and all of the white supremacist institutions that forgive vigilante white supremacist movements are aided by liberal politics. Not only have these institutions been founded, operated and infiltrated by white supremacists since the moment the US existed, they are further empowered by them. Dr. King, whose legacy is regularly misappropriated by liberal dishonesty, mentioned this in his letter from the Birmingham Jail:
‘I must confess that over the past few years I have been gravely disappointed with the white moderate. I have almost reached the regrettable conclusion that the Negro’s great stumbling block in his stride toward freedom is not the White Citizen’s Counciler or the Ku Klux Klanner, but the white moderate, who is more devoted to “order” than to justice; who prefers a negative peace which is the absence of tension to a positive peace which is the presence of justice….
I had hoped that the white moderate would understand that law and order exist for the purpose of establishing justice and that when they fail in this purpose they become the dangerously structured dams that block the flow of social progress.’ [snip]
“Despite a general reverence among many progressive activists for historical armed rebellions led by Black people, Native people and many other people of color, there’s often a disconnect from arms themselves. The commodification and sterilization of armed Black revolutionary historical leaders like Malcolm X (El-Hajj Malik El-Shabazz), Assata Shakur, Harriet Tubman, Ida B. Wells, W. E. B. Du Bois and countless others disarms them in the public imagination. Sometimes they are even remembered in the context of a false, violent-versus-nonviolent (Malcolm X versus King) binary, which employs liberal and white supremacist myths about what violence is. In all actuality Dr. King and Malcolm X were both nonviolent. Anyone who defends themselves by any means necessary when they are being attacked is not the one bringing violence into the world. There is nothing violent about defending your life or the life of your loved ones. The oppressed are not and have not been the aggressors in this white supremacist society, and we should never allow untruths that label us so.
Those who oppose white supremacy and the violences it distributes out in the world should begin arming themselves if they are not already. Kind words, liberal idealism and the state are not guaranteed to protect you. In an escalating bigoted environment where the president refuses to denounce white supremacists, because he is one of them and encourages their violence, many of us are prepared to protect our lives with the same weapons that aggressors would use to attack us. Those who seek to do us harm (regularly including the police) will do so whether we’re unarmed or armed, even with gun permits. Police and other state enforcers should not cause us to willingly make ourselves more vulnerable for the sake of looking more innocent or less guilty in their eyes. Many of us carry the presumption of guilt merely because of our skin color, so we might as well carry the means to safeguard our lives as well. The question of if passivism and respectability can save us has already been answered by the countless killings of Black people who were following all the supposed rules of perfect victimhood. Abandoning some of these rules doesn’t mean that we’re bad, nor does it mean we’re violent; it means that we’re prepared.” [large snip]
“Ida B. Wells once wrote:
A Winchester rifle should have a place of honor in every black home, and it should be used for that protection which the law refuses to give. When the white man who is always the aggressor knows he runs as great a risk of biting the dust every time his Afro-American victim does, he will have greater respect for Afro-American life. The more the Afro-American yields and cringes and begs, the more he has to do so, the more he is insulted, outraged and lynched.
There’s a rich tradition in many Black families, resistances and communities that embraces armed self-defense. Black defense provides us with a historical handbook. This stretches back to the earliest moments enslaved Africans were brought to this country. Ever since then, many Black Americans have cherished the ability to defend our loved ones from the violences they’ve faced. It’s this history that established the Black American gun clubs and organized movements for self-defense we shouldn’t be pressured to disassociate ourselves from today.”
(Ida B. Wells, July 16, 1862 – March 25, 1931, may she still rest in power.)
No, those affinity groups who join white supremacy/Nazi/Klan/the Vanguard counter-protests certainly can’t count on the police to defend them, but if more come armed, what do you imagine the police will do to them directly? And when the sites that host them get wind of the calls…what happens next? Bigger weapons? More rallies in defense of Confederate monuments?
Will local officials give counter-protestors ‘permits’? Do they care? Likely not, if it’s…a war for their futures against living under indirect white supremacist rule. For most people of color, especially the Rabble classes, it’s been thus for many lifetimes, hasn’t it?
Sadly, Truthout doesn’t seem to enable commenting, at least not on Anderson’s essay; I’d have been really interested to see them.
And while media follows the alleged race wars’, what are they not showing us? A lot, of course, unless it’s more Russiagate, or Trump’s rerun of The Apprentice stuff, which may just lead to rule by military junta in Amerika, some posit, noting the many rats so hypocritically deserting the ship post-Charlottesville .
Yes, I’m sure you’ll let me know your thoughts and musings. ;-) Oh, and mic.com is tracking the Confederate statues that have be ‘removed’ since C’ville, and is crowd-sourcing all that exist in America. May most be ‘preemptively’ removed, even in the dead of night.
Ajamu Baraka, one more time:
@ajamubaraka ‘You are being played. The state is not your friend. All efforts to restrict the right will be used against us a thousand times over.’
@ajamubaraka ‘If you want to remove symbols of white supremacy why are you limiting it to confederacy? Yes Trump, Jefferson & Washington must be next. (wd here: I’d certainly add Andrew Jackson.)
@ajamubaraka ;Does anyone really believe Obama wouldn’t have condemned both sides in C’Ville? I don’t.’