Letter to the editor: Why are you not antifa?

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Antifa demonstrate in Portland, Oregon on Nov. 4, 2017. — Old White Truck via Flickr

By Kent Williams, Iowa City

The recent resignation of adjunct professor Jeff Klinzman from Kirkwood Community College has focused attention on the activist group antifa. On Aug. 22, KCRG’s Jeff Scheinblum aired an investigative report, digging up comments by Klinzman on Facebook that some people might find offensive, but the headline was Klinzman’s claim that he was antifa.

Antifa (short for anti-fascist) is a leaderless collection of people who communicate via social media and show up to oppose demonstrations by white supremacists and neo-Nazi groups. There is no organization and no manifesto except that they oppose fascism. There have been highly publicized incidents where antifa has had charged encounters with the groups they oppose, and more humorous incidents where public figures associated with racist and fascist groups are doused with milkshakes.

There is also a curious anti-antifa movement fueled by stories from Fox News and Breitbart. Even the president has said he’s thinking of designating antifa as a terrorist organization.

Scheinblum’s KCRG piece seizes on antifa as bogeymen, and used the term as a way to call Klinzman’s opinions into question.

After the story ran, and was picked up by Fox News, the Chronicle of Higher Education and other national media outlets, Kirkwood took away Klinzman’s fall class and he resigned. Kirkwood President Lori Sundberg said removing Klinzman from the classroom was due to safety concerns for students, faculty and staff. What she didn’t say was where the threat to safety was coming from. In a recent Gazette article, Klinzman says the Kirkwood administrators told him, “they were getting thousands of complaints. They were getting threats. People were threatening to burn down the college.”

Why are so many people so upset about antifa? Antifa has never been a threat to the general public, unlike the people they oppose. The overwhelming majority of domestic terrorism attacks in the United States are committed by neo-Nazis and white supremacists. One can certainly question antifa’s tactics, but making the argument that there is a moral equivalence between throwing a milkshake at someone and committing mass murder in a church is just crazy.

Opposing fascism isn’t something you need to do with baseball bats or milkshakes in the streets, but it is essential to the survival of democracy in the United States. It has never been as important as it is now. The president of the United States has encouraged white supremacists and neo-Nazis. He will deny it and claim that he is “the least racist person anywhere in the world.” But if you ask white supremacists and Nazis, they’ll tell you openly that he is encouraging them with what he says and what he does as president.

“Is Jeff Klinzman antifa?” is the wrong question to ask. The right question is “Why am I not antifa?” Do you support the Ku Klux Klan, the Proud Boys and the Aryan Nation, or do you oppose them? In 1770, philosopher Edmund Burke wrote, “When bad men combine, the good must associate; else they will fall, one by one, an unpitied sacrifice in a contemptible struggle.”

Burke’s words were relevant in his time, during the Second World War, and are still today. The difference between 1938 and today is that we live in a world where the news media and popular conservative figures are quicker to vilify those who oppose fascists than they are to condemn the fascists themselves. So let me ask again: Why are you not antifa?

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  1. Thank you so much for airing what should be a common sense response to the recent situation at Kirkwood and recent events nationwide. I was hoping that LV would have some choice words on the matter and you did not disappoint. Cheers to the author and to LV for standing up for what is right and also for being the best print/online publication in Iowa!❤️

  2. Well said!
    Antifa should be default for anyone who values equality, freedom and human life and dignity.
    I hope the authorities are investigating the terrorist threats made against Kirkwood in response to the KCRG story.

  3. Thank you Kent! I agree. We have to pick sides. Desmond Tutu: “If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor. If an elephant has its foot on the tail of a mouse, and you say that you are neutral, the mouse will not appreciate your neutrality.”

  4. This is dead on. I’ve always been in favor of saying the whole phrase instead of just antifa, to make people actually say the words to underline just how silly it is to be against anti-fascism. Fascism should be stomped out all across America wherever it rears its ugly head.

  5. I’m not Antifa because “Antifa” is a contradiction in term. Antifa is rooted in fascism and essentially strives for socialist/communist rule. These little snowflake punk kids who are still whining like bitches that the election didn’t go their way ARE the reason the country is headed in the toilet. Antifa tries to suppress free speech, is against property ownership, and fights with anyone who disagrees with their view. How is that NOT fascism? The evaporation of civil discourse is a dangerous path to tread… one of the founding principles of THE REPUBLIC (not a Democracy) of these United States. And it’s sad yet laughable that Democrats forget how their savior O-bam-bam stoked the racial divide to proportions never seen since the civil rights movement. You insult the men and women who put their lives on the line to not only maintain order in our cities and neighborhoods, but those who defend this nation so that you have the freedom to whine like little bitches. Yet members of Antifa tell cops to go kill themselves and brandish signs reading “A good cop is a dead cop”. Antifa doesn’t have the numbers nor THE BALLS to actually try and take on the cops or pull their pity party parades in conservative states, all while hiding their faces like yellow spineless cowards. I would actually have more respect for Antifa and the fags who support them if they would just come out publicly with no masks and declare that they want communist rule in my country. But of course they won’t, because they all know that red-blooded AMERICANS will stomp the shit out of the movement and flush you away. Fuck Antifa!

    1. Geez, uh bud. Deep breath. Perhaps you should take a cold shower or go for a jog. A lot of hostility here. I hope you feel better after you got that out of your system. Certainly everyone has a right to their opinion, no matter how “wild” (see what i did there?!) it may be. Perhaps consider your audience—something people don’t often do when they go on tangents in social media posts. Iowa City is about love. Sending you a hug.

    2. Why did you choose to be stupid?

      You have no excuse for not knowing the difference between fascism and socialism, let alone the difference between Anarchists and Democrats. It’s all too easy to use Google, but you chose to be a dumbass instead. I just want to know why that is.

      You could have chosen to do some light reading on your spare time. Instead, you just tell the world that you’re a dumbass.

  6. Painting Antifa is this innocent light and suggesting there are tens of thousands of neo-nazis/white supremacists that need to be dealt is grossly misleading. I live in the south, and I have traveled the south. I have lived in Iowa City and Chicago. So, I have been around in my short 55 years of life, and what I find (or at least perceive) is that 99% of the people I meet simply what to live life in peace and they wish no harm on their fellow man. Sure, there are plenty selfish people out there, but I have yet to meet or see anyone who simply wants to destroy a race, religion, or nationality. Are there neo-nazis? Yes, there are. But good gosh, who the hell listens to them? They’re seriously nuts in the head, and their numbers are so few.
    Now Antifa. I see masked people marching in the street. Throwing rocks. Burning flags. Spewing vile language and insults. Fighting. Apparently anyone who is offended by this behavior and publicly says so… well, they must be a white supremacist. No, they are not.
    Personally, when I see a person hiding behind a mask or bandanna, I see a coward. They want to be convicted in their beliefs, but the masks suggests otherwise. My unsolicited advice to Antifa, and simply stop wearing masks. Burn your flags, hurl insults, get into screaming matches or fights… but do it unmasked. The Anitfa mask is too similar to a KKK hood. They are only there to strike terror, when in fact they simply hide the face of a hick or kid living in their parents basement.

    1. There are thousands of people that participate in right wing websites and 8chan discussions. Many of them are not active in the streets, but some are.

      The actual occurrences of Antifa violence have been amplified by right wing media into something more than it is. Most of the violence comes from getting into fights with fascist demonstrators who have no qualms about getting violent either.

      What it is not: 1) Shooting up churches 2) Killing people in Walmart 3) Driving a car into a crowd of people.

      Also what Antifa is not: Promoting white supremacy, anti-semitism, misogyny, racism and homophobia.

      What Antifa is: opposing people who are white supremacists and neo-nazis. If you want to focus on violence check out what the Justice Department has to say about it:

      1. Kent, while it may seem that there are simply thousands of white supremacists on their specific websites or the super-nova of websites, 8chan (really?), there really are not that many out there. But, if you consider anyone who voted for a GOP Candidate to be a white supremacist, then… yeah, there are thousand of them. In fact, millions. However, at this point I would challenge your definition of a white supremacist.

        And while I am sure the assault on journalist, Andy Ngo, is not representative of all Antifa members, it does provide an example that none of the extreme groups have clean hands. And though they ‘officially’ do not promote violence except in the case of self defense, they sure have a knack of creating an excellent environment for violence to occur. I imagine when a terribly dangerous right-wing group, such as a group that simply wants Voter ID’s for elections (Oooo scary), is spit upon, called nasty insults, milk shakes thrown at them, pushed, etc.. I can see one of them throwing the first punch. I do not believe anyone has the right to punch anyone else, but given a collection of hundreds of people, not everyone has the same level of patience.

        Anyway, I made my point in the previous post. I do not expect to change anyone’s mind, especially yours. But it sure would be nice if Antifa, while expressing their First Amendment rights, would do it unmasked. It just seems KKK-ish… and nobody likes the KKK.

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