by Katie Bo Williams, reprinted with permission by The Hill
Anti-fascist activists, or “antifa,” increasingly mobilized in the wake of President Trump’s election, are unapologetic about what they describe as the necessary use of violence to combat authoritarianism.
While both experts on the movement and activists within it emphasize that not everyone who participates in anti-fascist activism engages in violence, they say the use of force is intrinsic to their political philosophy.
“The justification [of the use of violence] is that Nazi ideology at its very core is founded on violence and on wielding power by any means,” said Mike Isaacson, one of the founders of Smash Racism D.C., an antifa organization in Washington.
Isaacson is unequivocal in his defense of violence as a legitimate tool to combat the creeping threat of what he deems authoritarianism.
“There is the question of whether these people should feel safe organizing as Nazis in public, and I don’t think they should,” said Isaacson.
“I don’t think anyone should think that someone who is intent on politically organizing for the sake of creating a state-sponsored genocide—I don’t think is something that we should protect,” he said.
Antifa activists justify their use of violence as self-defense against “the inherent danger of fascists organizing,” according to Mark Bray, a Dartmouth historian and author of a recent book on the movement.
“The argument is that it needs to be stopped immediately, because if you let it grow, that poses a danger to society,” Bray said.
Dubbed the “alt-left” by President Trump, antifa has increasingly been making their presence known after his victory in the 2016 election was openly embraced by white supremacists…
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