The low-hanging fruit of activism

Enrique Bonilla

In an ongoing struggle between the state and the people during the current Trump presidency, both fascist and anti-fascist groups have taken their views to the streets. Early Feb., a small group of anti-fascist (antifa) members helped break down barricades, set off fires and help a crowd in the thousands shut down a speech by right-wing extremist Milo Yiannopoulos at UC Berkeley.

This perfectly exemplifies two opposing ideologies in Trump’s America. As resistance to fascism is taking on an important role in disassembling organizations that wish to supplant the progress people of color, women, immigrants, indigenous folx and the LGBTQ community have spent decades fighting for, there seems to be a straying away from the progressive narrative.

Antifa networks seek to remove fascism. Fascism is an oppressive ideology that opposes socialism, empowers nationalists and is responsible for some of the most insidious crimes of the 20th century (e.g. the Holocaust). Antifa also extends its strength to the communities most at risk of being oppressed (LGBTQ, POC, women, religious minorities, etc.). While these goals deserve support, antifa seems to have grown a lazy and ignorant tentacle in some recent scenarios of its activism in our state’s capitol this past weekend.

In an attempt to eradicate far-right ideologies this past weekend, Austin’s Grizzly Hall was the scene for an antifa attack on concert goers at a Marduk concert. German-based black metal band Marduk has been at the forefront of metal for years now. While I do not care about Marduk and find their brand of black metal boring and plebeian, they have a large fanbase in the realm of heavy metal. Marduk, who write about WWII in a historical context, have often been incorrectly labeled as a Nazi band.

Marduk and those who attended the show were harassed by about 15 masked antifa members who shouted “Nazis!” whilst wielding weapons outside the venue. APD then arrived to mediate the situation and protect those in attendance of the show, which include POC and queer folx. Unfortunately, this type of retaliation has led to promoters dropping some of the band’s events, such as UC Berkeley, where the previously mentioned Milo Yiannopoulos/antifa clash occurred earlier in Feb. out of fear of similar riots.

While antifa does hold ideals a society should strive for, situations such as this Marduk incident and the similar situation surrounding the cancellation of Blastfest in Norway (due to similar circumstances) take away credibility from the organization. To be fair, masked antifa vigilantes do not care about credibility or accountability because it is an organization that must work in secrecy in order to destroy fascism. If antifa intends to protect public spaces from far right-wing ideologies, the least they could do is protest an actual Nazi act. I urge these specific antifa members to redirect their energy to smashing true fascism such as the rise of ICE-related deportation cases that have been happening around the nation. Attacking systemic oppression instead of censoring art is more respectable than reaching for the low hanging fruit of activism.