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COLUMN: Antifa and neo-Nazis are not moral equivalents



A moral question: Should your life depend on it, would you side with the far-left protesters known as Antifa or the self-identified white nationalists, two groups that often clash in the United States? 

Most might reply: “I demand a third choice; both sides are bad. I read the Washington Post, and it said Antifa is the ‘moral equivalent of neo-Nazis.’”

Even if you dislike Antifa, it is a dangerous appeasement of the far-right racists to morally equate the two. 

The far-right consists chiefly of those who believe in a white ethno-state in the United States, hypothetically achieved through what would not be the country’s first crack at ethnic cleansing. 

Antifa, a group the Federal Bureau of Investigation now considers “domestic terrorists,” opposes this and challenges these modern espousers of genocide in the streets – sometimes violently.

Though Antifa's victims include pepper-sprayed racists, the occasional supporter of President Trump and defenseless Starbucks windows, they pale in comparison to the murders and assaults carried out by the far-right – typically against people of color. 

Racially charged attacks are still sadly part of the national status quo. Not only did the Charlottesville, Virginia, protests have a lethal car attack but also suffered an underreported beating of a black man with pipes.  

Attacks and harassment against Muslims and Sikhs have also ballooned since the presidential election.

If your response to any of this information is to wring your hands over a punched Trump supporter, or, as Trevor Noah did, call Antifa the “vegan ISIS,” I’d call you at best a coward and at worst a Nazi supporter. 

Liberals and conservatives alike point to Antifa and cry that violence has no place in America or its politics.

Yet the U.S. has killed more than 20 million people in 37 countries since World War II. We nuked Japan twice, destroyed Vietnam and Iraq and now have drones with predator missiles patrolling a few subcontinents. 

If I believed in karma, I would view the current racial hatred in our country as punishment for the political violence and terrorism exported by the US throughout the War on Terror. So yes, violence has no place in America or its politics.

Another well-intentioned yet insufficient line of argument is that Antifa acts as a gift to the far-right, giving the Nazis someone to fight and demonize. 

Consider a Nazi gathering at which no Antifa members or protesters arrived. These far-right gangs would likely provoke violence, nonetheless. Moral outrage at Antifa is the real gift to the far-right. If given the keys, these sad creeps would institute an ethno-dictatorship tomorrow. 

Condemning Antifa counterprotests both assaults freedom of assembly and opinion and empowers a far-right with a fractured national image.  

We should question the motives of anyone looking to delegitimize the protesters that confront our country’s burgeoning far-right. 

luwrobin@indiana.edu
@lucas__robinson

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