Antifa is a far-left, anti-fascism movement that has groups around the United States and Europe. Antifa is still a relatively small movement, but has gained a lot of popularity after Trump was elected. They have often made the news protesting white supremacists and Nazi events.
Nazis and white supremacists are already violent, extremist groups so Antifa coming in and disrupting their events may not generate much more polarization. However, it’s counterproductive when Antifa violently protests non-violent, non-extremist groups. As Antifa becomes more popular, it seems they are seeking out more targets beyond Nazis.
Recently, Antifa violently stormed in a talk organized by the King’s College London Libertarian Society. Yaron Brook and Carl Benjamin (aka Saragon of Akkad) were talking to a few dozen students about libertarianism when a group, later celebrated by Antifa, disrupted the event. As you can see in the video, they pulled the fire alarm, violently stormed in, pushed some people, and unplugged the speaker’s microphones.
I don’t follow Carl Benjamin much, but I’ve seen a few of his YouTube clips and I certainly disagree with many of his stances. However, Antifa busting in here actually helped him. It makes Benjamin seem like the reasonable person who was victimized. Now instead of only the few dozen students hearing Benjamin speak, hundreds of thousands of people are watching the viral clips of him being disrupted.
These college outbursts are not just limited to Antifa. A law student group at Lewis and Clark College stormed in and disrupted a talk by Christina Hoff Sommers shouting “No platform for fascists.” Again, I’m no fan of Sommers and these obnoxious students are making her look like the reasonable one. Another recent example is when protesters at Portland State University disrupted an event while evolutionary biologist Heather Heying was speaking.
I do not understand the logic of the protesters at these college events. What is the goal? That’s an honest question. If they really are against fascism, then do they seriously believe pulling the fire alarm during a small libertarian event with a few dozen attendees will help? Do these protesters not understand that shutting down once speech will inspire many more? I’m open to evidence that these antics reduce inequality somehow, but I’m skeptical. As far as I can tell, such actions directly conflict with their goals!
This cycle keeps happening and it makes it harder for actually achieving social justice. Again, as a liberal myself, I disagree with these speakers on many issues. I do not think their points help reduce inequality. So if I am against these (let’s just call them conservative to make it easier) conservative speakers, wouldn’t I not want their messages to go viral? Yet, these protesters are helping them do just that!
- Far-left protesters obnoxiously disrupt conservative speaker
- YouTube video of disruption goes viral
- Conservative speaker is seen as a victim
- Conservative speaker gains much more support, more popularity, and they end up speaking to more people
So if you honestly believe these conservatives are fascists who must be stopped, wouldn’t you be against acting in ways that ultimately support them?
Trump’s explicit awfulness has certainly riled up a lot of people politically. However, demonizing our political opponents and creating more political polarization is not helping the health of our country. I’ll end his post with a quote from George Orwell that is still relevant today:
“It will be seen that, as used, the word ‘Fascism’ is almost entirely meaningless. In conversation, of course, it is used even more wildly than in print. I have heard it applied to farmers, shopkeepers, Social Credit, corporal punishment, fox-hunting, bull-fighting, the 1922 Committee, the 1941 Committee, Kipling, Gandhi, Chiang Kai-Shek, homosexuality, Priestley’s broadcasts, Youth Hostels, astrology, women, dogs and I do not know what else.”