The Extremists on the Left –
The Anti-Fascists (ANTIFA)
Although the anti-fascist movement has existed since the rise of 20th century Fascist governments, the “ANTIFA” you hear of in 21st century America started as a response to the “Alt-Right”, a group comprised of far-right conservatives who self-identify as members of White Supremacist groups such as the KKK and Neo-Nazis (see the section entitled “Extremists on the Right” for more information). And unlike the Black Lives Matter movement, ANTIFA started as a radical movement and continues to act outside the political system.
ANTIFA members, and their supporters, believe the official political system has failed and in order to achieve their goals they must take the fight to the streets and actively disrupt the Alt-Right. ANTIFA groups claim to fight for principles of anti-racism, anti-capitalism, and anti-authoritarianism. One article on a major ANTIFA website, entitled “itsgoingdown.org“, states their belief as follows, “…we need a dynamic, fighting, and combative movement. We need a network of defense, support, and offensive capacity that can not only fight in the struggles that lay all around us but can begin to build new worlds.”
The current ANTIFA is estimated to contain tens of thousands of decentralized members. These members operate mainly independent of one another with no formal leadership, keeping in touch via forums and social media and using Facebook and Twitter to organize their rallies. At these rallies, they use “black bloc” tactics in which protesters march wearing all black. These “black bloc” groups wear face concealing headgear in an attempt to protect themselves from official counter-protest measures such as tear gas and in order to make criminal prosecution very difficult. These marches often involve the destruction and vandalization of property and can sometimes turn violent.
They have no official support from public officials and/or celebrities, but this doesn’t mean they haven’t been effective. They’ve scored a few “victories” using their protests to get right-wing speakers shut down, such as when Milo Yiannopolous had to cancel a speech at the University of California – Berkley.
The Anti-Fascist movement can be most accurately categorized as a response to the Neo-Nazi and White Supremacy movements from the opposite side of the political spectrum. They are also in the same genre of organizations – that of an apolitical force that is willing to use, and has used, violence to achieve their goals.
Fragmented Individuals and Groups Who Inappropriately Identify Themselves as Black Lives Matter (BLM) –
Before you pull up your email and pen us some hate, please read the piece in its entirety. We are not calling the Black Lives Matter movement an extremist organization. We are simply, and truthfully, identifying the fact that fragmented individuals and groups of people, who use the phrase “Black Lives Matter” during protest or in their titles, have used extreme actions and operate outside of the official political system. We understand these fragments make their own decisions to act this way, aligned, and incorrectly so, with the Black Lives Matter movement in name only.
Before we discuss the radicalized fragments, we want to ensure that our audience has a good understanding of the legitimate movement; something that is not common knowledge. If you’re unfamiliar with the legitimate Black Lives Matter, please read our post about them here or visit their website here.
Unfortunately, with a grassroots movement comes grassroots problems. As the Black Lives Matter movement rapidly grew in size, fragmented individuals and groups in certain parts of the country became frustrated with the slow-moving progress the official political system makes. This frustration boiled into a radical identity with extremist actions for some individuals. These extremists now use radical acts to promote their message, sometimes using the “Black Lives Matter” name and/or slogan in vain.
These extreme fragments have made some headlines in recent years. One such case was the fatal shooting of five Dallas police officers during a Black Lives Matter protest march. The shooter was not aligned with Black Lives Matter, he merely used their protest march as an opportunity to commit extremist violence. The march itself was peaceful and BLM leadership were quick to condemn the act.
The Extremists on the Right –
The Ku Klux Klan (KKK)
The Ku Klux Klan (KKK) is a white supremacist group formed in the 1860s. The group went dormant by the 1870s, then became prominent once again in 1915. They have been a plague to the American public, particularly minority groups, by inciting violence and preaching a message of purification to all who will listen. They are still relevant today, at least in numbers, as US News article1 notes that the group still inhabits 22 states across the nation, with an estimated headcount of 3,000 active Klansmen. The former leader of the KKK, David Duke, has been extremely vocal since the 2016 election, claiming that President Trump’s beliefs coincide with that of the KKK’s. Recently, President Trump has condemned the KKK for an incident in Charlottesville in which one woman was killed, but later blamed both ANTIFA and the KKK once again. David Duke responded:
I posted this to you yesterday — Thank You Mr. President & God Bless You for setting the record straight for ALL AMERICANS. https://t.co/YTthmaSS0I
— David Duke (@DrDavidDuke) August 15, 2017
Former White House Chief Strategist Steve Bannon has also been linked to the group through his hard-nose conservative news source, Breitbart, which pushes a rhetoric that interacts well with members of the KKK and other subgroups with similar ideologies.
As stated before, the KKK has certain subgroups, if you would, that hold similar ideologies and mandates. Amongst those groups, the Alt-Right/Alt-Knights and neo-Nazi movement has activated and become prominent in America. Led by Richard Spencer, a white nationalist that sees no appeal in holding his tongue, the Alt-Right/Alt-Knights have created a call-to-action for all who seek this so-called race purification. The Alt-Right is known for spreading the message that members must preserve Western civilization. As Americans witnessed in Charlottesville, members of these groups can cause significant harm, as we saw when Heather D. Heyer was brutally murdered by 20-year-old James Alex Fields. Groups that stem from the KKK maintain a digressive way of thought clinging to the “glory years” of their ancestors.