Antifa is a group that is supposed to be “anti-fascist” but actually shows the very characteristics of some fascist groups as well as anarchist groups. As a recent editorial in the Washington Examiner explained, Russians used a similar tactic many years ago.
The Soviets coined the term “anti-fascism” as a way to distinguish themselves from Bolshevism. That way they could gain the approval of many credulous Western democracies. It conveyed the idea that Stalinism was not opposed to the needs and values of the people in free societies. It gave cover to the communist ideals especially when it was offered as a false choice to Nazism.
Both then and now, it provides powerful propaganda value. Implicit is the idea that if you don’t sympathize with an “anti-fascist,” then you must be a fascist. And when they take to the streets to fight racism, greed, or corruption, you must be on their side. But the riots over the last few weeks have shown Americans the dark side of the group. The totalitarian mask is slipping.
President Trump has been criticized for defining Antifa as a domestic terrorist group. But I ask you to tell me what you call a group that uses violence to intimidate others in order to advance its political cause? If you don’t like the term “terrorist,” then perhaps the term “violent activist group” might be your choice.
Either way, the designation of Antifa as a terrorist group is more rhetoric than precise definition. Antifa is a loose affiliation of activists willing to wear black hoods or masks in order to use shared tactics and targets.
Police and local governments have often been unable to quell the violence Antifa can bring to a protest or riot. That’s why President Trump and the federal government felt they had to step in.