Protesters block and close the Golden Gate Bridge to traffic during a march supporting Black Lives Matter on June 6. (Chris Victorio/Special to S.F. Examiner)

Protesters block and close the Golden Gate Bridge to traffic during a march supporting Black Lives Matter on June 6. (Chris Victorio/Special to S.F. Examiner)

You are an Antifa member, you just don’t know it

Antifa isn’t an organization; there is no president or treasurer, there’s not even a GoFundMe.

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I was fooling around on Twitter last week and came across a ridiculous conversation where a bunch of dummies were earnestly trying to get #DefundAntifa to trend. I howled with glee over this because it was literally one of the stupidest things I’ve ever read.

You can’t defund Antifa because there is no funding. Antifa isn’t an organization; there is no president or treasurer, there’s not even a GoFundMe. In fact, I just googled “Antifa GoFundMe” and the only thing that came up were fundraisers for “Stopping Antifa.”

Saying “Defund Antifa” makes about as much sense as saying “Defund the Easter Bunny” or “Defund the Electric Slide.” I’m about to have a laugh attack again just thinking about it.

Despite this magnificent idiocy, it goes to show how well the white supremacist propaganda machine is working. I bet many of you reading this are misinformed about what Antifa is, which is a real shame because you’re most likely part of it. Let me explain.

Antifa is short for anti-fascist and, just like racism, there are only two options: Fascist or anti-fascist. There is no tepidly fascist. I touched on this a little bit in my last column but I want to dive deeper into it today.

Merriam-Webster defines fascism as a “political philosophy, movement or regime that exalts nation and often race above the individual and that stands for a centralized autocratic government headed by a dictatorial leader, severe economic and social regimentation, and forcible suppression of opposition.” If that sounds like something you’re against, then guess what, you’re an anti-fascist. Welcome to Antifa, you’ll be getting your membership card never.

So why is the media so up in arms over Antifa, and why is Trump trying to get Antifa labeled a terrorist organization? Because actual fascists hate and fear Antifa and have done a great job of weaponizing the internet to smear them. If you rolled your eyes when I mentioned “actual fascists,” who do you think was marching with torches in Charlottesville chanting “Jews will not replace us?”

Part of the reason white nationalists hate Antifa so much is because Antifa is willing to fight back, physically if necessary, to stop them from spreading their hateful messages. One of the things that led to the rise in Nazism in Germany in the 1930s was the fact that the Social Democrats hoped that, if they ignored the Nazis, they’d just go away. Knowing how that turned out, modern anti-fascists have taken “Never Again” at its true meaning and vowed to meet Nazis, white nationalists, the Alt-Right, or whatever they choose to call themselves, in the streets. And there’s nothing bullies hate more than someone fighting back.

The only people who should be afraid of anti-fascists are fascists. Antifa are the ones who step up and protect regular folks at protests when the police (whose members are sometimes part of fascist groups) don’t. Dr. Cornel West even said that Antifa were the only ones who protected him and some clergy members from being “crushed like cockroaches” by white nationalists in Charlottesville.

Think about it like this: Leave fascists alone and they recruit and organize with the hopes of enacting an ethno state. Leave Antifa alone and they go back to playing Pokémon Go.

So, what’s the deal with Antifa protesters wearing all black and covering their faces? I’m so glad you asked! It’s part of a tactic called the “Black Bloc.” The idea is to make everyone indistinguishable so that law enforcement and fascists can’t identify individuals and target them with reprisals once there are no allies to protect them and no media to catch it on film. This has become even more important now that facial recognition technology is becoming more commonplace.

But wait! What about the destruction of property and the looting? I knew you were going to ask that. Yes, some window smashing and spray painting goes down sometimes with Antifa, but honestly, who gives a shit? The people who suit up to battle fascists in the street range from anarchists to socialists to people who just wanna kick some Nazi ass. There is no unifying ideology other than the fact fascists are bad and that capitalism is inherently evil.

The vast majority of the vandalism I’ve seen at protests is by teenagers or early-twentysomething kids just blowing off steam and being punk-asses. When it’s the Black Bloc doing the vandalism, it’s always targeted at big corporations or banks. Regardless, all the businesses impacted have insurance, and if you’re more concerned with a broken Starbucks window than white supremacists marching through your streets, or police killing people of color, you need to review your priorities.

Antifa is just the latest boogieman used by The Right to divide us and take our attention away from the sinister things they are doing to erode our civil liberties. If it’s not Antifa, it’s Black Lives Matter. And if it’s not them, its undocumented immigrants or Muslims. What Donald Trump, his racist supporters and his spineless enablers are doing is consolidating their power while trying to keep us afraid of each other and squabbling amongst ourselves. If you’re not a fascist then you’re an anti-fascist. You’ve been Antifa all this time without even knowing it. It’s an honor to have you on the team. Now let’s kick those fascist scum out of the White House.

Stuart Schuffman is a travel writer, TV host and poet. Follow him at BrokeAssStuart.com and join his mailing list at http://bit.ly/BrokeAssList. His column appears every other Thursday. He is a guest columnist and his point of view is not necessarily that of the Examiner.

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