Profile picture
David Neiwert @DavidNeiwert
, 27 tweets, 7 min read Read on Twitter
1) OK, let's try to keep 'antifa' and their violence in perspective, can we? And I say this as someone who’s been assaulted by Black Bloc activists on various occasions for the sin of being a journalist carrying a camera, mostly while covering alt-right ‘free speech’ events.
2) I can't say I am even remotely a fan of the antifascists' _tactics_. I also happen to believe that giving the fascists violence is what they want, and that any violence at all should be purely defensive. I believe mockery is infinitely more effective and more persuasive.
3) Moreover, their open antipathy to democracy will always be a dividing line for me from them – when they burn flags or chant ‘America was never great,’ they can always count me out.
4) The very point over which I’ve been assaulted – their attempt to keep people from taking photos at a public rally, because they believe it will lead to their being doxxed – is ultimately every bit as authoritarian or totalitarian as the radical right they oppose.
5) That is, it’s an attempt to control the information that flows around such an event. When this is happening in a place where literally everyone has their phones out and is recording what’s transpiring, that’s not just ineffective, it’s insane.
6) I was especially frustrated during the events of Inauguration Day 2017, at the Milo event on the UW campus. I was quite literally standing next to the antifascist who was shot by an alt-righter 45 seconds before the trigger was pulled when I got hit from behind.
7) The camera/phone went flying across the bricks (in a good hardcase, fortunately). As I was retrieving it, the shot rang out and the square cleared. If I had been there and caught it on camera, it wouldn’t have taken police two months to file charges.…
8) As it was, the footage I captured that night turned out to play a critical role in the evidence needed to charge the couple behind the shooting when things finally were cleared up.…
9) So yeah, not a fan. But all that said, as you can tell from the work I do, I consider myself fundamentally antifascist as well – however, as a believer in democracy and its institutions (another thing that separates me from anarchists and radical leftists).
10) I understand the underlying dynamics of both sides at these events too, and am not fooled into believing there is any kind of moral equivalency. One side wants to create a white male ethnostate and maybe gin up some genocide along the way. The other side wants to stop them.
11) The difference is manifest in the way the violence often plays out. The antifa kids are often all jacked up and run at their opponents, but they usually are terrible fighters and even worse strategists, and thus always are shortly overwhelmed by more organized rightists.
12) Scenes like this have been more common when the two sides have actually engaged:

13) Perhaps more to the point, "antifa" is a tiny movement concentrated at a handful of urban university campuses that numbers in the low thousands. The alt-right numbers in the hundreds of thousands, perhaps millions, and it's everywhere.…
14) And that doesn't even count the Patriot/militia folks, who are a distinct phenomenon that slowly has come to dominate rural white American political culture. They are literally ubiquitous in the heartland, and certainly number in the hundreds of thousands as well.
15) So there's a huge difference in scale and thus in the actual threat. All these folks, right and left, are authoritarians who hate democracy. But the drive to destroy our democratic institutions is all coming from the right.
16) Oh, and the violence? We always are hearing now about “the violent left” in relation to antifa, especially from the @DineshDSouza types. Please. Let’s get real. There’s no comparison.
17) Murders committed by “antifa” in the past decade or more: 0.

Murders committed by the radical alt-right the past four years: At least 43. (This count does not include recent cases such as those in Toronto and Annapolis, MD, in recent months):…
18) In comparison to the radical right, a handful of unpleasant college-campus ideologues seem almost benign. Certainly they do not pose the kind of existential threat to our democratic institutions freedoms that the radical right clearly does in its drive to authoritarianism.
19) Indeed, I don’t think it’s a stretch to argue that this current tide of left authoritarianism is a product of the rise of authoritarianism more generally in our culture, one that has been acute on the right since the early 2000s, though this tide is ignored in the media.
20) In the end, it's very simple, really, to remember which side you are on. The right is now openly hostile to democracy. The sane left, the liberals and neoliberals for whom the rest hold so much contempt, are the only people talking about saving it.
21) Ironically, however, those same liberals and neoliberals have a share of the blame in all this. Because they have created the vacuum into which the antifascists have made their stand by their absence, by their ongoing refusal to see the radical right as the threat they are.
22) They haven't been coming out and making a stand in defense of democracy against the radical right in the streets. They've given that over to the radical left.
23) When mainstream liberals finally recognize that they've been missing from this fight, and need to be making their very large presence known at radical right events by registering their peaceful (and disciplined) disapproval, then they will have earned the right to complain.
24) Yes, antifascist tactics suck. But mainstream liberals better look hard in the mirror when they second-guess the only people who are showing up to fight the war that has been declared on their democracy.
@threadreaderapp please unroll
I really did mean to include democratic socialists in this list. In fact, they are the only people talking about democracy pointedly right now. Big mea culpa on my part.
Missing some Tweet in this thread?
You can try to force a refresh.

Like this thread? Get email updates or save it to PDF!

Subscribe to David Neiwert
Profile picture

Get real-time email alerts when new unrolls are available from this author!

This content may be removed anytime!

Twitter may remove this content at anytime, convert it as a PDF, save and print for later use!

Try unrolling a thread yourself!

how to unroll video

1) Follow Thread Reader App on Twitter so you can easily mention us!

2) Go to a Twitter thread (series of Tweets by the same owner) and mention us with a keyword "unroll" @threadreaderapp unroll

You can practice here first or read more on our help page!

Did Thread Reader help you today?

Support us! We are indie developers!

This site is made by just three indie developers on a laptop doing marketing, support and development! Read more about the story.

Become a Premium Member and get exclusive features!

Premium member ($3.00/month or $30.00/year)

Too expensive? Make a small donation by buying us coffee ($5) or help with server cost ($10)

Donate via Paypal Become our Patreon

Thank you for your support!