The Anti-Defamation League attracted criticism and ridicule in 2017 when it famously denounced Pewdiepie, a YouTuber who had many of his actions and past statements badly mischaracterized by the Wall Street Journal in such a way as to portray him as anti-Semitic. (The worst of these, arguably, was saying that he wore a Nazi uniform when he really was wearing a recreation WW2 British Royal Airforce Uniform, which is about as far as you can get from the Nazis. However, the ADL has done a lot of good work in the past combating real anti-Semitism, which we should not forget.
However, I recently stumbled across their page on AntiFa, and wanted to write here about how accurate it is. Honestly I am rather impressed and glad to find another left-learning group that sees the clear problems with AntiFa. Here are some key, spot on, quotes from their website (https://www.adl.org/resources/backgrounders/who-are-antifa):
"These violent counter-protesters are often part of “antifa” (short for “antifascist”), a loose collection of groups, networks and individuals who believe in active, aggressive opposition to far right-wing movements... Most antifa come from the anarchist movement or from the far left."
This does a good job of starting to explain that AntiFa are not just "anyone who doesn't like Trump" or anyone on the political left. They are specifically Far Left, like Anarchists and actual Communists. Those I have met do not even like Democratic Socialism, since they don't like Democracy.
"Most people who show up to counter or oppose white supremacist public events are peaceful demonstrators, but when antifa show up, as they frequently do, they can increase the chances that an event may turn violent. "
It's nice to see a left-leaning group acknowledge that Antifa can *cause* violence, not just that events happen to sometimes get violent when they are around, which is how a lot of outlets portray Antifa.
"Their presence at a protest is intended to intimidate and dissuade racists, but the use of violent measures by some antifa against their adversaries can create a vicious, self-defeating cycle of attacks, counter-attacks and blame. This is why most established civil rights organizations criticize antifa tactics as dangerous and counterproductive."
I added the bold font there because I think this may be the best quote from the whole page. This is so important to tell people who are liberal or more moderate who think Antifa is alright. I'm going to go ahead and trust the real Civil Rights groups that have experienced leaders who have been fighting for equality for decades over a bunch of mostly white, upper-class college kids who read some Facebook posts about Marxism.
"Antifa have expanded their definition of fascist/fascism to include not just white supremacists and other extremists, but also many conservatives and supporters of President Trump. In Berkeley, for example, some antifa were captured on video harassing Trump supporters with no known extremist connections. Antifa have also falsely characterized some recent right wing rallies as “Nazi” events, even though they were not actually white supremacist in nature. "
I don't have much to add here except to say this is an important point. Not everybody you dislike is a Nazi. As soon as you begin to believe that you have given up on Democracy, the ability of people to talk to each other, and the fundamental idea that people can change their beliefs.
"Another concern is the misapplication of the label “antifa” to include all counter-protesters, rather than limiting it to those who proactively seek physical confrontations with their perceived fascist adversaries."
Yep, this is one reason I make a point of denouncing AntiFa. They provide an easy scapegoat for the genuine racists out there to dismiss all counter protesters. Basically AntiFa make the rest of the Left look bad.
"Additionally, violence plays into the “victimhood” narrative of white supremacists and other right-wing extremists and can even be used for recruiting purposes. Images of these “free speech” protesters being beaten by black-clad and bandana-masked antifa provide right wing extremists with a powerful propaganda tool."
On the same note, AntiFa is counterproductive for the Left in other ways. They are an embarrassment who push people away from anything left of center. Imagine if your introduction to politics was some dumbass privileged white kid beating up a mainstream conservative and calling them a Nazi. You would think the whole Left was was a bunch of misinformed psychos!
Finally, "That said, it is important to reject attempts to claim equivalence between the antifa and the white supremacist groups they oppose. Antifa reject racism but use unacceptable tactics. White supremacists use even more extreme violence to spread their ideologies of hate, to intimidate ethnic minorities, and undermine democratic norms."
I generally agree with this - at this point there is no AntiFa equivalent to the KKK's lynchings or racist skinheads assaulting black people for sport. Historically, there is certainly no AntiFa equivalent to the Holocaust. Still, AntiFa ultimately does more to help fascists than hurt them.