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After The Coup Attempt, We’re All ANTIFA Now

Posted in Creative Commons, and Journalism

I keep thinking about the guy at the coup attempt who tried to murder a cop in uniform, because he thought the cop was ANTIFA.

The fash imagine that left-wing protests and insurrections consist of nonstop violence and looting. (We actually spend more of our time arguing and cooking meals.) So, when they get the chance, the Right enacts absolute chaos … then points to their fantasy of what we do to justify it.

When I think about the fury that the crowd unleashed on that cop, and the ready justification this guy had at hand, it makes me realize that we are all ANTIFA now.

This isn’t a new thought. It’s easy to say we all need to choose a side when it comes to fascism. You’re either a fascist (fa) or you’re against that (antifascist, an antifa). But there’s something much worse happening here. When Peter Stager beat Metro cop Michael Fanone with an American flag pole (symbolism, y’all), he wasn’t imagining the cop was “antifa.”

That is, he didn’t consider the police officer to be part of a political tendency loosely organized around opposition to white supremacy, genocide, and dictatorial power. No, he thought the cop was all caps ANTIFA, a much more nebulous, and dangerous category. And every one of us that’s even a little left-of-center can end up in that category, at any time, in 2021.

But first a correction & ACAB aside

On Twitter, I confused Michael Fanone with Capitol Police Officer Brian Sicknick. Fanone survived, while Sicknck collapsed and died after fascists hit him in the head with a fire extinguisher.

Fanone infamously and sharply quipped “fuck you” to the people who helped him during the beating.

Being beaten is horrible. It’s a horrific way to contemplate dying. Yet when I think about these incidents, my mind wanders to all the beatings and torture, often fatal, dished out by law enforcement officers over the years. I think of all my friends beaten and brutally arrested during calm, measured protests at the Capitol.

That’s when I remember that these cops are not heroes no matter what they underwent. Police enforce a brutal, racist, murderous system that must be dismantled and replaced with something far more just.

Even so, I regret the error for my readers’ sake, and for the sake of clarity.

Before the coup attempt, we were all ANTIFA too

This isn’t the first time far-right bootlickers decided a cop was “ANTIFA.” The first time I remember that happening was late 2020, from somewhere in the Pacific Northwest.

That’s also where fascist militias set up checkpoints during wildfires, preventing journalists and relief volunteers from reaching the affected areas. This came up in my recent interview with Mutual Aid Disaster Relief.

There was another incident I took note of. I’ll forgive you if you’ve forgotten about it because of the flood of garbage called 2020.

In June 2020, people held a multiracial family hostage during a camping trip in Washington state. Locals decided, without provocation, that the family belonged to ANTIFA. They felled trees to trap the family and menaced them with rifles. High school students with chainsaws came to their rescue before the police could help.

This shit has been going on for years. In 2017, Joe Biggs claimed my comrades and I were organizing a dangerous ANTIFA training camp. It was actually a tiny self-defense class in a park where we punched a punch glove for an hour. But there’s little that’s truly new about what nazis do, and it wasn’t new in 2017 either.

As is so often the case, some white people may just be waking up to what other, more vulnerable or marginalized groups knew for a long time. Anyone deemed an enemy of fascist white supremacy faces deadly force. And there are few boundaries beyond the whims of the moment and the bigotry of those present. Even an ardent white supremacist like the infamous “Q Shaman” can be deemed ANTIFA if it suits a narrative.

Capitalism needs a bogeyman too

The normal capitalist power structure reasserted itself and cleared the U.S. Capitol of its battle-rattle clad keepers. Their fascist dream of American dictatorship is still unborn.

That doesn’t mean it’s going away. While there’s some justified relief in seeing Joe Biden and Kamala Harris inaugurated, it does nothing to eradicate the forces which led to Trump and Trumpism. As Shane Burley told Kelly Hayes on Movement Memos:

Now that Donald Trump is … out of the office, and the narrative is that he is out of office illegitimately, it gives them a defining cause. They now live in a stolen country, a failed state where they’re the renegade truth tellers. And that’s the kind of bonding that can last for years.

Deep down, doesn’t it help capitalism when movements demanding change become all caps bogeymen? Fascists use the movement for Black lives as a scary acronym too (BLM!), and our society readily enabled that.

While cops or Feds might eventually arrest someone, or at least open an investigation … the first line of defense from fascism is always each other. Regular people. Everyday antifascists like some high school kids that picked up some chainsaws to help a family.

After all, dozens of cops from around the country took part in the coup attempt. It’s far more likely the cops where you live will take a fascist’s side if they’re given the chance.

All we have is each other

Fascists can still attack any Leftist event, from the boldest street march to the tamest book club. We”ll need to protect ourselves for the foreseeable future. Whether it’s a friend posted up at the door or a team dedicated to preventing car attacks on marchers. More importantly, we all need to be antifa to prevent the next coup attempt.

No one comes to antifascism as their first choice. From whale watching to racial justice, we saw something we loved threatened by fascism and the shifting power structures that enable it. Now, together, we need to dismantle those power structures, quickly, before Trump 2.0 appears.

We need to be creative, bold and as fearless as we can.

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Creative Commons LicenseAfter The Coup Attempt, We’re All ANTIFA Now by Kit O’Connell is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.
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