So…I’m reading a lot about “Antifa” which is short for Anti Fascist. I first heard about them in the news reports from Charlottesville a few weeks ago … OK, if I’m being honest, I heard about them on tweets. People were tweeting and the term was trending, so I looked it up.

But … wait. Anti-fascist describes all of us, right? I mean, since World War 2, when Mussolini in Italy and Hitler in Germany defined fascism to the world, has any American been pro-fascist? (Except for the neo-Nazis/) Seriously? Fascists are the bad guys!

We all know that. Why are we suddenly referring to Antifa as if that were bad? As if they were extremists?

I mean, yeah, I extremely hate fascists. I hate Nazi-ism too. And I’m not too crazy about sociopaths, if you want to know the truth. Those are pretty mainstream dislikes, though. When did Antifa get nicknamed and become ominous?

Accoridng to this piece in the Atlantic, it seems that Antifa’s made their presences known around the time Donald J. Trump began running for President. He used  rhetoric and slogans that sounded racist and misogynistic, and it made many love him and others hate him.

The left, whether you refer to them as Democrats, liberals, or progressives, has traditionally veered toward non-violent opposition. Look at Civil Rights protests for many examples. So we cringe and post and march in protest over much of the right-wing rhetoric.

But now, the Antifa movement (which considers itself far-left and counts many anarchists as members) seems to be taking a cue from their ideological opposites. They are comfortable making outrageous claims, calling names, demonizing conservatives, and getting violent. Their rationale seems to be that if a doctrine or philosophy is repugnant enough, they are justified in shutting it down and pummeling its proponents. Free speech be damned!

This puts liberals in a really weird position. Berkeley, a bastion of free speech and expression, cancelled a speech by Milo Yiannopoulos  rather than risk violent confrontations threatened by the Antifa movement. But if you support the Constitution, free speech is guaranteed. Even free speech from loathsome jerks. If Milo Yiannopoulos , the speaker, were threatening or inciting violence, that would be a reason to rescind any invitation to speak. But to bow to threats from from hyped-up insurgents seems spineless.

How can I be in a position of defending a jerk like Milo Yiannopoulos  from left wing nut jobs that feel entitled to punch and kick those they disagree with? The Atlantic article, which is chilling, says “antifascists have granted themselves the authority to decide which Americans may publicly assemble and which may not.”

Do we live in a society where the biggest bullies win? Geez, I hope not. A nation run by thugs is not an answer to the world’s problems.

Sucker punching a Nazi is still sucker punching. This idea of threatening violence, then following through on those threats, grabbing your opponents and beating them up, creating fear and chaos to manipulate a crowd … those ideas were raised to an art form by the brownshirts and German Nazis 80 years ago. How disgustingly ironic that the tactics are being employed to victimize neo-Nazi’s and white supremacists now.

And white supremacists get to be the defenders of free speech in this upside down thinking!

There is no sensible rationale for this. Using violence and fear to get your way is not admirable, and the end does not justify the means. Where does one draw lines? Can we beat up only card-carrying Nazi’s and Klan members? How about those we strongly suspect? Can we beat up their families, their enablers? How about everyone in the area that doesn’t support us? Can we beat up them? Because we’re right, so all who oppose us are in the wrong.

It’s a bad strategy that goes nowhere good.