It’s not uncommon for situations stemming from petty causes to escalate into year-long grudges, involving the slinging of profanity and the occasional short bout of violence. Although relationships like this have existed in our past, there is perhaps none more cancerous than the relationship between the alternative right and anti-fascists, both of which thrive on propaganda and manufacture a wide variety of “problematic” situations. The tactics employed by both groups are particularly detrimental to our society, and it is imperative that all American citizens understand how similar these groups are in the ways that they engage in activism.
The alternative right, or Alt-Right, often criticizes the left for creating a culture of victimhood, even though they simultaneously use the same tactics. The anti-fascists, or Antifa, replicate the Alt-Right in this aspect exactly. In a study from 2000, Mitch Berbrier discusses the crafting of a “victim ideology” in the context of white supremacist groups, though the principles the sociologist discusses hold consistently for both the Alt-Right and Antifa.
The first principle that Berbrier discusses is the concept of portraying one’s group as “oppressed victims of discrimination.” Berbrier uses the example of prominent KKK members who claimed that the NAACP’s gains for African American rights were achieved “at the expense of whites.” Berbrier also discusses how one’s political opponents could be threats to the long-term survival of one’s own group. The most prominent, modern example of this lies in Antifa’s portrayal of Trump’s election, as well as the sweeping elections by conservatives in general, as the dawn of a new age of fascism. To propagate a statement like this is pure absurdity, and any reasonable and rational individual would recognize this. It should come as no surprise then, after seeing Antifa’s ability to falsely propagandize situations, that they also have the capability to manufacture and twist incidents to cultivate support for their movement.
The Alt-Right has stooped to using the same tactics, creating incidents ranging from multiple stabbings to fake twitter hate to photoshopped images of violence. Endowed with similar sentiments as Antifa, they are happy to spread the idea that they are the targets of attempted murder, persecution, and victimization. In the rare occurrence that there has been murder or attempted murder, both Antifa and the Alt-Right have been quick to poke fun at the victims.
Overall, the two groups have whipped themselves into a frenzy, swinging fists and flagpoles at the first hint of opposition, while simultaneously being immensely hypocritical. They have abandoned any sense of integrity, encouraging others to use any tactics necessary in order to “restore order”.
Berbrier continues his analysis, and discusses the white supremacist perspective that white people are being denied their rights at the expense of civil rights. A similar battle has been perpetuated among both the Alt-Right and Antifa in regards to freedom of speech. Since the 2016 election, Antifa has become more and more attached to the act of “no-platforming,” defined by Macmillan Dictionary as “[the refusal] to allow people or groups whose views are regarded as unacceptable to speak at a debate or meeting.” This definition manifests itself on college campuses, which have rapidly become the center of discord for a variety of people, predominantly radical leftists and Antifa members. These explosive individuals ardently label anyone who does not agree with their ideology as a fascist, and in extreme circumstances have employed violence to prevent speakers from presenting their perspectives. This has sparked intense outrage from the Conservative community who, unfortunately, have yet to realize that the Alt-Right has promoted much of the same. The Alt-Right may not always be explicitly protesting, but they have taken to the Internet to shut down dissent and share personal details to promote harassment. Despite their attempts to portray themselves differently, the Alt-Right has the potential to be just as bad, if not worse, at protecting the unalienable right of freedom of speech.
Liberals and conservatives, I implore you, please do not allow yourselves to be drawn into this imaginary war. I consistently see more and more moderates falling into the trap of believing that they, or those around them, are falling into a state of victimization. We need to be skeptical of false reports that are meant to propagate fear and to not allow ourselves to be overtaken by this very fear. And we must, if all else fails, refuse to engage in the pettiness and nonconstructive tactics and rhetoric used by Antifa and the Alt-Right.