The name “Antifa” has a lot of stigmas that surround it. For many people, or at least the people who don’t support it, it conjures the thought of masked thugs violently attacking anyone they view as an “enemy” or target. People associate many negative things with Antifa and Antifa groups, some of the general public and most of the far right even view Anti-Fascists as terrorists, likened to that of Daiesh (So called Islamic state) and the Taliban.
However, this is only the face of Anti-Fascism, one that most people don’t even promote themselves but one that many inexperienced Antifa’s or people new to the scene seem to romanticise and unfortunately, their voices are the loudest. While violent acts do play a major role in Anti-Fascism it is not the only tool that we, as a movement, have and nor is it the only one that we should use.
Around a month ago (February 2017) An article began recircling again, originally from around late 2016, about an African-American male who joined the Ku Klux Klan chapter in his state. Instead of violently attacking the members or reporting them to other violent Anti-Fascists groups – He spoke to them. He befriended them, he listened to them and even visited some of their houses for dinner, becoming very close to a lot of their families. In doing so he managed to reach out to over 200 members of the KKK chapter and convince them to hang up their white robes and hoods.
This article, while incredibly positive and damaging to the far-right, was used against the cause of Anti-Fascism as a way to condemn our violent acts and was also rejected by members of the Antifa community as being too soft of Nazism and Fascism. This is not something that we should reject or belittle or allow to be used against us but something that we should utilise. Of course, there is a time and a place for acts of physical force, especially when defending minority groups, as many Antifa groups pride themselves on, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t attempt to implement some form of diplomacy into our tactics.
Something a lot of Antifa’s seem to forget is that people of the far right are actually people. While to us, their views are disgusting, hateful and twisted, they are still human beings and helping them change their minds should always be the first course of action, if possible. It’s better to have a former fascist fighting for the far-left than an unconscious fascist, lying in the hospital bed with a few broken ribs and a refuelled hatred for Antifa and all this it stands for. As well as this, engaging with the general public will always help the cause – As previously stated, there is a lot of stigmas that surround Antifa and a lot of the public who know of the community view it as hateful and violent – while at times this can be the case, for us that are apart of it, we know it’s not the truth and by talking to people, we can help show them the true meaning of our cause and help them learn to support it.
Even if we couldn’t change the mind of a Nazi or help recruit a member of the public, we could at least take away some of the negative connotations that come with the Antifa name and put the movement as a whole, in a better light, which will definitely benefit us all.
– But remember – “If you cannot convince a fascist, acquaint his head with the pavement” – Leon Trotsky