UNITED STATES. Washington, DC: In the aftermath of the 6 Jan. (J6) insurrection, The President blamed Antifa for the violence and mayhem in a phone call this week with Majority House Leader and Trump loyalist Kevin McCarthy.
"McCarthy would have none of it, telling the president: 'It's not Antifa, it's MAGA. I know. I was there,' according to a White House official and another source familiar with the call" (Axios). More than one week and 100 arrests later, there is no evidence that Antifa was involved in the violence and the destruction.
Antifa's roots in Europe and the US
Antifa is a decentralized movement with roots in Italian anti-fascist activism from the 1930s.
In the 80s and 90s in the United States, Antifa began as the Anti-Racist Action (ARA) movement to prevent recruitment to white supremacist groups within the punk music scene. Antifa, as it's conceived today, formed in 2007 in Oregon and has gained attention for their direct confrontation of white supremacists in the recent Black Lives Matter protests. Many far-right leaders, including Trump himself and former Attorney General Bill Barr, have called for Antifa to be designated as a domestic terrorist organization.
Antifa's social justice activism
The FBI has consistently determined that Antifa is not a terrorist organization. Its mottled reputation has emerged from Antifa's loose cadre of activists who are not expressly nonviolent. Their activities include disaster response, providing antifascist educational opportunities, and monitoring right-wing groups. However, they are not opposed to targeting and vandalizing symbols of white elite capitalism and defying law enforcement as there is evidence of white supremacist infiltration of local, state, and federal police.
Speaking on background to Democracy News Live, a member of Antifa emphasized: "There are more Black men incarcerated now than were slaves. Native Americans are still experiencing genocide via pipelines. Immigrants were in cages before worrying about fascism was popular."
Addressing these injustices is central to Antifa activism.
Central to and among the most potent activities of Antifa include de-platforming and doxing. De-platforming involves interrupting any public expression of hatred toward non-majority groups, overtaking far-right public protests, speaking engagements, and online forums. Doxing outs white supremacists in order to get them fired from their jobs, evicted from their apartments, and pushed to the margins of the culture they want to dominate. White supremacists have found much less need to hide since the election of Trump, and many of their organizations are easily accessible on mainstream social media.
Our source shared, "Fascism easily hides here because it barely has to. This allows its rhetoric to fuse with the conceptions of common sense that fools already held."
Fascism in Trump's America lives in the open
In Charlottesville, South Carolina, Antifa and the "Alt-right" (co-founded by the University of Chicago graduate Richard Spencer) clashed. Rather than hiding in shame behind white hoods like their racist predecessors in the Klu Klux Klan or flashing skinned heads and punk t-shirts, the clean-shaven Alt-right white men donned fresh haircuts, polos and khakis while carrying their inflamed tiki torches.
The Alt-right has adopted the uniform of an elementary school child to portray a "boy-next-door" image. Theirs is a "kinder-gentler" hatred, contorted into the illusion of a "love for whiteness" and a none-too-subtle reanimation of posters of German Nazis.
J6 insurrection stark contrast to Trump inauguration protests in 2017
The events of J6 can be readily compared to what has become known as J20, the inauguration protests of Trump's election in 2017.
"There were swarms of police everywhere. I turned several corners with the march to find police indiscriminately covering everyone with pepper spray out of tanks. We were not left alone at any point." He added, "If I didn't understand how things worked here (in the US), I'd be shocked at the lack of response that the fascist insurrectionists experienced (on J6)."
With DC locked down like a combat zone as a response to thousands of credible right-wing threats to Biden's inauguration in four days, it remains to be seen how effective a potential second insurrection attempt will be. What seems certain as of this moment is that even the most ardent Trump loyalists are unable to blame the destruction of J6 on Antifa.