One of us recently got into an argument with a liberal that has lots of negative shit to say about the “macho dudes in their 20s who are in antifa because they love violence.” We know those dudes in their 20s; hell, some of us are those dudes in our 20s! So we are in positions of authority on this subject and can say with an extremely high degree of confidence that none of us love violent confrontations with murderous fascists.
We’d love to be like the liberals and pretend that a non-violent, pacifist position when dealing with the violent racist extremists that have so far murdered at least 28 people this year is a superior moral position to take. But we know that it really is a position of privilege. If you don’t look like the sort of person that bigots would shoot while attending your place or worship or stab to death while walking down the street or get beat unconscious while out walking your dog or intentionally drive a truck over, then you can afford to choose whatever moral high horse you want to ride into your ineffectual “resistance” of fascist violence.
But some of us don’t have that kind of privilege. Bigots have been targeting people like us or like our friends and families and neighbors from the jump. And some of us that do have that kind of privilege have voluntarily set it aside to put our bodies on the line to defend the people that fascists intend to victimize. As Logan Rimel said in his essay about his experiences in Charlottesville, “You want to be nonviolent? That is good and noble…But I want you to understand what you’re asking of the people who take this necessary stance against white supremacy, the people who go to look evil in the face. You’re asking them to be beaten with brass knuckles, with bats, with fists. To be pounded into the ground, stomped on, and smashed. You’re asking them to bleed on the pavement and the grass. Some of them are going to die.”
So it was in Portland a week before the racist terrorism of Charlottesville. Only a handful of weeks after a self-proclaimed “free speech activist” and frequently attendee of alt right rallies stabbed two men to death on a Portland train and nearly killed a third, fascists held yet another rally in Portland. And they came equipped with their usual weapons. And like every other time before, some antifa stood up to them and put themselves directly in the line of fire. So other people wouldn’t be in that line of fire.
This selfless act of community self-defense earned our side some lumps. The Pacific Northwest Anti-Fascist Workers’ Collective logged multiple concussions, facial fractures, lacerations, contusions, and one dislocated knee among the community defenders. Which in turn resulted in medical bills. Which the Defence Fund was honored to help pay for.
If antifa weren’t willing to stand between armed genocidal racists and the rest of us, what do you think would happen? If you’re not willing to stand with them, you should at least be willing to help them deal with the consequences that come with that level of courage.