Earlier this week, I appeared on The Newsmakers, a show on TRT World, which is an international version of a Turkish government TV station. A producer from Newsmakers invited me to defend antifascism. They framed the episode around the recent threats by Donald Trump, Ted Cruz and other right wing fascists, to declare “ANTIFA” as terrorists.
After some deliberation and consulting with close comrades, I decided to accept the invitation. Another guest — an ex-skinhead turned anti-racist activist — dropped out at the last minute due to technical difficulties. It ended up being just myself and Brandon Straka, who is very good at yelling Republican talking points.
I do like how the title of the video upholds Betteridge’s Law of Headlines, which Wikipedia accurately defines as follows:
Betteridge’s law of headlines is an adage that states “Any headline that ends in a question mark can be answered by the word no.” It is named after Ian Betteridge, a British technology journalist who wrote about it in 2009, although the principle is much older.
On the other hand, I really wish that the host had brought up the “Daesh” comparison during our actual conversation, because I’d like to have pointed out that American antifa actually fought Daesh.
Thoughts on defending antifa on TV
Overall, I’m happy with how the appearance went. Straka got completely off the rails shouty, while I remained relatively composed.
He also provided an almost incredible example of the Republican victim mentality and their ability to rewrite history in their own minds when he claimed that the Germans called the Jews fascists. The entire segment demonstrates the general inability on the right to define fascism as anything other than “tactics used against me that I don’t like.”
Straka reminded me of Robert Paxton’s definition of fascism, which I learned about through the excellent journalist Kelly Hayes:
Fascism may be defined as a form of political behavior marked by obsessive preoccupation with community decline, humiliation, or victim-hood and by compensatory cults of unity, energy, and purity, in which a mass-based party of committed nationalist militants, working in uneasy but effective collaboration with traditional elites, abandons democratic liberties and pursues with redemptive violence and without ethical or legal restraints goals of internal cleansing and external expansion.
I’ve been on TV and web shows before, but this was my first time using a traditional TV studio to shoot my appearance. In the past, I’ve used Skype which, despite being unreliable, allows you to see the other guests and host. It makes sense in retrospect, but I’d never thought about how you can’t see each other in this kind of studio appearance. You’re just staring at a camera lens and listening on an earpiece.
A few additional facts
I’m not going to take the time to cite every fact I mentioned in this appearance here.
Feel free to ask me directly about anything you’d like to know more about. I’m always open to good faith conversations; I’m less open to debating nazi trolls.
Antifascists have documented Andy Ngo’s ties to Proud Boys, Patriot Prayer and similar violent fascist groups. Quillette, Ngo’s publication, helped put about 16 journalists, including myself, on a hit list put out by a nazi with ties to the terrorist group Atomwaffen Division.
The fascist brawler “Based Stickman,” best known for violent behavior in the Pacific Northwest, recently plead guilty to assault charges in Austin, Texas.
The charge stems from a drunken barfight, after he came to town to attack a liberal anti-Trump march. I recently created a thread on Twitter about the hidden violence of fascists, based on this incident.
Sen. Ted Cruz, who wants “ANTIFA” declared a terrorist organization, likewise has ties to militias and other violent fascists.
Some links about antifascism and fascism
I’ve written quite a bit about fascism and antifascism in the last few years. Here’s a few examples, in case you’d like to learn more:
- Notes from my Oh Shit! What Now? lecture on “Punching Nazis: The History & Tactics of Antifascism.“
- What is black bloc? Why do antifa sometimes wear masks?
- Who are the antifa and what is American fascism?