At Occupy Wall Street, there were two very distinct groups. On one side of the park were the peaceful intellectuals. They ran the library and the general assembly, and organized services in the park. On the other side was the black bloc, a collection of black-clad punks, often with bandanas ready to serve as masks, who mostly engaged in drug use and drum circles. The latter group is directly related to the movement we now know as Antifa.
One thing that both of these groups had—and continue to have—in common is that they are mostly young white people. This is not surprising; poll after poll shows us that the vast majority of far-left progressives are white. The intellectuals at Occupy understood and tried to address this, giving special treatment to the speech and ideas of their small cadre of non-white participants. The Black Bloc and Antifa take a different approach; they just cover their faces.
But when members of Antifa are arrested, the masks come off. And, as recent mugshots of Portland Antifa members show, these people are about as diverse as the Washington Generals.
At a time when many on the left are rightfully concerned about far-right white violence, why do so many seemed so nonplussed by far-left white violence, in most cases even refusing to acknowledge that that’s exactly what Antifa is?
One sociologist writing in the Israeli newspaper Haaretz attempts to prove fanciful claims that Antifa is a rainbow coalition of the oppressed desperately fighting in their own immediate self defense. Stanislav Vustotsky writes:
“Many militant anti-fascists become involved in this form of activism because aspects of their identity are directly targeted by fascist violence; they are queer, transgender, gender non-conforming, people of color, Jews, Muslims, Sikhs, and certainly identified in ways that intersected across these categories.
For them, anti-fascism was a means of ensuring their safety from a movement that threatens their very existence and venerates violence as the highest form of action. Even the Antifa activists who identify as cis heterosexual white males are the targets of fascist violence as ‘race’ and ‘gender’ traitors.”
Vusotsky claims to have formally studied Antifa—interviewing them, attending meetings, and “engaging in the culture of anti fascism.” Needless to say he doesn’t exactly come off as a neutral party to all this. But what is stunning is what is not in his piece. He claims to have conducted “ethnographic research,” on the group. If so, where are the numbers that back up his assertion that Antifa is wildly diverse?
Anyone with even a passing knowledge of Antifa has seen videos of their violent antics and can see for himself or herself that almost all of them are white dudes. Anyone who has ever been in their presence knows this too. I would be very interested to see this ethnographic research, and I am curious if Haaretz looked at it before publishing the author’s bizarre claim. It strains credulity to believe that if Vusotsky had hard numbers to back up his assertion he would have simply left them out of his article.
The reason this point is so important is that it betrays a double standard that many in our media use regarding violent white activists. On the right, their whiteness is front and center; part of the toxic brew that stews their hate. But this is equally true of Antifa, which has its roots in the far left of the English punk scene in the 1980s.
Antifa’s goals are not those of most non-white Americans. Most non-white Americans don’t want to destroy the systems of government, abolish the police, end capitalism, or cripple corporations. The group is absolutely trying to impose a style of anarchy that is steeped in (and almost unique to) whiteness.
When cowards wear masks to engage in violence, we must remove the masks to see who we are actually dealing with—not the fairy tale of diversity version. When Andy Ngo, a minority gay man, is mercilessly beaten up by white activists, the fact that the activists are white is a big part of the story in today’s landscape. Don’t believe the progressive narrative: Antifa is mostly a bunch of privileged white dudes.