People on the left are all worked up about a new rise of fascism. People on the right are just as agitated about the dangers represented by antifa. Consequently, the whole country is engaged in shadow boxing. Are these groups dangerous? Yes, but mostly to each other.

ADL says (Find a link to their full article below) that antifa believes “…. in active, aggressive opposition to far right-wing movements. Their ideology is rooted in the assumption that the Nazi party would never have been able to come to power in Germany if people had more aggressively fought them in the streets in the 1920s and 30s.”

Assuming that ADL is correctly characterizing antifa’s beliefs, and assuming that antifa is correct about its speculative and theoretical re-writing of history in the 1920s and 30s, let us hope the human race has learned a few things about non-violence from Gandhi and Reverend King since then. Violence begets violence, and aggression begets only aggression.

The Anti-Defamation League also described antifa as follows: “These violent counter-protesters are …. a loose collection of groups, networks and individuals…”.  

The fact that antifa is described as unorganized leads to another important fact. White power advocates and neo-facists are also described as loose conglomerations. The amorphous nature of both social movements, antifa and white power, are always noted by all social movement bloviators. In the ADL article, every reference to antifa could be replaced with the phrase white power until you get to paragraph 8, where the author or authors correctly point out that white power sympathizers resort more often to violent behavior sometimes ending in death.

Both sides are not unified. They are loose collections of local/regional groups and individuals.

We are over-simplifying an important discussion. Both antifa and white supremacists are small groups within the context of very large and amorphous crowds. Why waste so much time talking about antifa and/or white supremacy? We legitimize these groups and empower them when we focus so much attention on them.  

The left fears that President Trump’s rhetorical tropes signal a new rise of Nazism. It doesn’t. The right fears that Alexandra Ocasio Cortez will destroy law and order in America. She won’t.

We hear lamentations about “the rise” of fascist ideologies and plans to curtail and prevent it, but those who lament fascist rhetoric and excessively forceful police methodology are not violent members of antifa. Three quarters of every softball team in America could be described as white power sympathizers, and they will be happy to tell you about it; but they are all pretty good guys tendering no particular harm to anyone. Antifa and white supremacists are insignificant aberrations within much larger pockets of discontent. Until we learn more about the nature of human discontentedness, we can do little about the occasional social disruptions that they cause.  

People who express a legitimate desire for social change are not the enemy. Free speech in the service of peaceful change should be our highest value, not our biggest complaint.

Proposed: Send the hard-core members of the left and the right to a remote island or out into the desert, same place and time. Then forget them. We will be no worse off, but we will still have a lot of work to do to heal the gigantic social divide.

Link to the full ADL article reference above: Click here.