Nazism and white supremacy are forms of violence. Let’s start there.
The constitution does not protect violence, and I’m happy to see that the California chapter of the ACLU has taken a stand against protecting the “free speech” of hate groups.
But with or without marching permits, it is clear that public displays of hatred are a growing trend in the United States. And as much as I don’t want to give these groups more attention, it is also clear that simply ignoring them is not going to make them go away.
So what do we do?
Many communities seem to have embraced the militant tactics of Antifa, so much so that it seems like it’s already an expectation that every alt-right rally will turn into a violent battlefield.
Yet I can’t help but wonder if these tactics are giving the alt-right exactly what they want. Is it possible that we could be winning small battles while losing the war? Is it possible that as we celebrate Nazis getting punched, their numbers are growing as a direct result of it?
I don’t pretend to have all the answers. I would even admit that a portion of the blame for the rise in violence has to go to those of us committed to nonviolence for our failure to come up with the type of assertive response necessary in these urgent times.
And I do give a lot of credit to Antifa activists, for as much as I have major disagreements in strategy, they have had the courage to put their bodies on the line. When the levels of hatred are as extreme as they are, our responses to it — nonviolent or otherwise — has to match its intensity, and Antifa has done that.
But as these battles rage on (the alt-right has planned rallies this weekend in San Francisco and Berkeley), it’s critical that we not get dogmatic and are able to evaluate our strategies.
Violence has a simple dynamic that Rev. James Lawson once described as, “I make you suffer more than I suffer.” If we think that punching Nazis and pepper spraying them will make them suffer so much that they go away, I’m afraid that we are severely underestimating their commitment to their cause.
Right or wrong (spoiler: they’re wrong), they feel like their culture is being threatened and white people are being oppressed. As the adage goes, “when you are used to privilege, equality feels like oppression.” If members of the alt-right already feel like they are being oppressed (and they do), using violence to shut them down may only make them dig down even deeper into their hole and fight back even harder.
As I’ve written before, “we shut their event down” is a poor measure of success if it comes at the expense of growing their base. Is it possible that when we confront these hate groups with violence, that we are actually empowering them?
Over 14 years after President Bush announced “Mission Accomplished” on the deck of an aircraft carrier, the war in Iraq rages on, with one result of the U.S. invasion being the formation of ISIS. And that can be the unintended consequence of violence: when the other side is convinced that they are “right,” and when they feel like they are the ones being oppressed, violence against them is the best recruiting tool they can ask for.
While that is an extreme example, there are countless smaller examples of this dynamic, and it goes both ways. Milo Yiannopoulos’ book became the number one seller on Amazon overnight after his speech was shut down at UC Berkeley. The Birmingham campaign in 1963 exploded when Bull Conner attacked children with fire hoses, giving the movement one of its principal victories within days. After the Alabama state troopers attacked civil rights marchers in Selma, the number of marchers grew ten-fold within two weeks.
While many mocked and celebrated the original “punch-a-Nazi,” I’d never even heard of Richard Spencer until he got punched. Now he’s a national hero to many. If that interview had gone on without incident, almost no one would have seen it. It would have been just one more video of Spencer talking on YouTube. Instead, it became a rallying cry for the alt-right.
When white supremacists gather, I get that our initial impulse is to do everything we can to simply shut them down. But it’s very possible that attempts to do so are giving the alt-right exactly what they want. To feel like they are being victimized, to feel like their way of life is being threatened, to gain media attention to legitimize their movement, to demonize the left and to gain more and more recruits for their cause.
Of all the places in the country where they could go, there is a reason that this coming weekend will mark the third time in six months that the alt-right is coming to the San Francisco Bay Area: Because they know they can count on a fight.
And while there are many involved in Antifa who are as dedicated as anyone to defeating white supremacy, I also wonder sometimes if some others want to fight more than they want to win.
So what do we do?
Part of what we need to do is to keep things in perspective. Part of that perspective is that this is a serious moment in history. Charlottesville escalated to a point where a woman — Heather Heyer — was killed, and many more could have easily died.
And even that is just an outward expression of a system of white supremacy that is killing people every day. So calls for people to “just get along” isn’t going to cut it.
When San Francisco mayor Ed Lee says, “I ask that when they chant of hate, San Francisco chants of love,” I am not sure he understands that. We cannot simply offer free hugs to Nazis and hope they change their minds.
At the same time, we should keep this in mind: We are not the resistance.
All over the country, confederate memorials are coming down. This was beginning to happen even before Charlottesville. Even GOP leaders are distancing themselves from comments made by Trump, something we would not have seen a couple of decades ago.
As slow as progress can feel at times, things are changing. As a nation, we are making progress. And it is the alt-right that is reacting to those changes. Their worldview is being threatened by progress, and they are the ones resisting.
A friend of mine heard Angela Davis speak some time ago, and that was her message to those involved in the “Trump resistance.” We need to remind ourselves that we are the majority, and they are the ones resisting the changes our society is going through. While we need to meet the urgency of this moment, we can also allow ourselves time to breath and not feel like the world is collapsing around us.
Maintain the moral high ground
This is ultimately a battle for the morals of this country. It is about right and wrong.
Most people like to think of themselves as moral people, and while white supremacy runs deeper than the average person realizes, most people would not identify as Nazis or white supremacists.
In a battle for morals, imagery and messaging is everything. If we lose the PR battle, even if we are ultimately on the right side of justice, we may give the alt-right ammunition they desperately need. And if we don’t provide them with that ammunition, their movement will struggle to gain momentum.
When you see images from nonviolent movements confronting forces of injustice, the images are very clear which side is on the right side of justice. When you see images of the alt-right confronting Antifa, that’s not so clear.
And this is not in any way to make a moral equivalency between the two as Trump has repeatedly done. One side are Nazis and white supremacists. The other side is fighting Nazis and white supremacists. There is no moral equivalency there.
What I am suggesting is that rather than meeting violence with violence, we need to expose their violence. Trump is finding himself more and more isolated as he continues to expose his violence. We need to do the same with the alt-right, and fighting them with sticks makes that harder.
Build mass popular movements
I grew up in Massachusetts and am a die-hard Boston sports fan. And I’ve always been a little embarrassed by the long history of racism there. That’s why I was so proud of my home state this past weekend when counter-demonstrators so outnumbered the alt-right that they were completely drowned out.
And that is the best way for us to win — by surrounding these hate groups with so many people that they can’t get their message out. By showing them and the country how isolated they are. By embarrassing them to the point that they don’t want to come out in public again.
If we outnumber them five-to-one, ten-to-one, twenty-to-one, a hundred-to-one, then we won’t need to use violence to stop them. Our mere presence will, like it did in Boston when 40,000 people showed up to counter “a few dozen” alt-right demonstrators. “Boston right-wing ‘free speech’ rally dwarfed by counterprotesters” does not make for an effective recruitment tool for the alt-right.
Violence limits the number of people who are willing to come out to these types of events. We can’t let the alt-right feel like this is anything close to an equal fight. And if those of us on the radical left are the only ones showing up to counter-protests, that’s the sense that they will get. We need the masses to win, and we need to maintain nonviolent discipline to turn the masses out.
While the actions of Antifa are getting support on my social media feed, we know that social media can be an echo chamber of limited political views. The masses do not support violence, and that needs to be part of our calculations.
We also need to stop thinking that going head-to-head is the only option we have. There is so much diversity within nonviolence, and we are doing ourselves a disservice when we don’t fully utilize our creativity.
My favorite example of this is a dilemma action where the German town of Wunsiedel turned a Nazi march into a walk-a-thon for an anti-hate group organization. Residents committed to donating money for every meter that the Nazis marched. When the marchers came to town, the residents welcomed them, celebrated and thanked them for raising money to fight Nazism.
Or when clowns showed up to counter a KKK rally in Knoxville, Tennessee. It’s hard to fight when the other side is dressed like clowns, and the images don’t make for good recruitment either.
Or what if instead of trying to stop them, we mix in with them with signs opposing hate? If our signs outnumber theirs, again their photo-ops would become useless.
What if we hold massive banners and completely surround them, not letting anyone see them?
What if instead of shields and sticks, every person came with instruments, pots, pans, air horns and drums and completely drowned them out without actually trying to stop them?
What if we go to the site of their rally the night before and somehow transform the site itself? Maybe paint the entire ground a bright rainbow?
What if we coordinated the “Yes, You’re Racist” Twitter feed and tried to take pictures of everyone who shows up at the event? Members of the alt-right have already had their businesses boycotted, been fired from work, had their accounts suspended from Airbnb, social media and even the dating site OK Cupid.
Action vs. inaction
At the end of the day, the most important thing for anyone reading this is to be ready to mobilize every time the alt-right gathers. The fewer counter-demonstrators there are, the more likely it will be that violence will erupt. The more counter-demonstrators there are, the more likely that the alt-right will simply run away.
For those of us committed to nonviolence, it is easy to criticize people who have played a role in escalating violence. But if we are not at least in the streets with them, then our criticisms ring hollow. If we believe that we can defeat hate by building a popular movement, then we need to get into the streets and create one.
Violence vs. nonviolence is an important question, and a complicated one. A less complicated one is the question of action vs. inaction. Regardless of where you stand on nonviolence, if you stand for inaction you are helping hatred gain steam.
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I agree that while Antifa have been brave to face the Nazis directly, it would be better to just outnumber them so badly, that their demonstrations are seen for the silly jokes they actually are.
Sing, dance, make noise and drown them out. Make them look like the idiots they are.
Exactly. We need to keep in mind that they are in such a minority, and we need to remind the country of that. Our “target” shouldn’t be the Alt-Right, as much as the general public. We need to wake the public up and mobilize them. Then we will see that the Alt-Right does not have as much power as they think.
While this isn’t until the week following the demonstrations in San Francisco and Berkeley, I will be co-facilitating a three-day workshop over Labor Day weekend that combines the teachings of the Buddha and meditation practice with the teachings of Dr. King and nonviolence practices. I believe that is what we need in these times, the practices of breathing with the practices of action.
https://www.spiritrock.org/calendarDetails?EventID=4670 for more.
Grateful for this analysis and others you’ve posted here–I’ve shared some of your work on a website I co-edit (deceleration.news).
This workshop looks amazing–really wish I could take it, but am located in a different part of the country. I’m wondering if there are particular books or articles it’s based on that I could access?
I will be co-facilitating it with Buddhist teacher Donald Rothberg, who has some books that would be good resources. As far as what I will bring to the workshop, anything written by Dr. King would be a great start. Especially his second book, “Strength to Love.”
Wow! Sounds like an inspiring experience! Seeing this early on the first morning of the workshop. Wish I’d known of it long before! Will you be doing this sort of thing again? Would love to attend something like this in the future.
Thank you for what you are doing!
Very simply – this is the best thing I have read all week.
Generally, I liked this article better than most but the author seems to support the firing of attendees of alt-right rallies for their participation. Everything I know about power politics in the US makes me believe that if firing people for attending a political rally becomes the norm, more people will be fired for attending Black Lives Matter protests than Alt-Right protests. Remeber some people (wrongly) think of Black Lives Matter as violent. It also seems likely that corporations could start defining their minimum wage workers to be representing the company in their off-hours and use that threat to block employee’s speech during their off-hours.
Despite the fact that I wrote this in the article, I have somewhat mixed feelings about getting people fired myself. There needs to be some accountability, and we do need to make it costly for people to support white supremacy. But I’m not 100% sure where I stand on it to be honest.
I don’t believe however, that people will get fired for participating in BLM events. While I understand where your concern is coming from, I still believe that the vast majority of this country sees a difference between supporting white supremacy publicly and supporting BLM. I think if anyone ever lost their job for attending a BLM event, that would be cause for an organizing campaign/boycott to support the fired employee. It would turn into a controversy, while there doesn’t seem to be much controversy over white supremacist and nazis losing their job. I hope I’m not being naive.
Thank you Kazu for your balanced wisdom and willingness to live inside shades of grey versus insisting there is only one right strategy. I have been unsure how to think about the anti facist resistance since it is easy to critique when you are not putting your body and life on the line like many of them are. That said, I appreciate your call for more creative and satirical tactics. These times are so urgent, there really is no room for error. We may not have a chance to look back from sixty years in the future and Monday morning quarterback our decisions and strategy today. Thank you for this very thoughtful, fair and reflective piece.
Hi Alissa! Thanks for your comments. Yes, these are incredibly urgent times. But we can’t let that urgency bring us to hysteria that we are not thinking about strategy. It’s really important that we move through these times mindfully.
My favorite quote I heard recently was from a wise woman named Rene August, who said, “the struggle for justice is a marathon, not a sprint. The difference between a marathon and a sprint is in how you breath. Learn to breath.” We need to keep breathing through the urgency.
One of the best articles I have read this week. I’m glad I found you and will continue to follow your writing.
I think that the point of physically confronting nazis and fascists is not to dissuade the organizers from continuing their politics–i regard them as a lost cause–rather to raise the price for future organizing. If potential recruits see the pain and discomfort that taking such positions in public invites, then perhaps they’ll not be so quick as to want a piece of that. Nazi skins used to be prevalent in SF in the late 80s and early 90s. The last we saw of them was at a White Worker’s Day rally in Union Square in 1990. Hundreds of us showed up with D cell batteries and the moment that calls for genocide passed their lips, the missiles were flying in the air. They left bloodied and we did not see them until Trump’s time. Let’s not forget that the only reason why we’re here is that Obama broke most of his campaign promises, sided with the banks and pentagon over sustainable retirement and health security, and the Democrat voters abandoned the party over six years, costing them 1000 elected seats. People look to blamethrow to scapegoats when their economic circumstance appears to be at a dead end. The Democrats led us down that blind alley and decoded to ram the nomination of a successor who would double down on Obamaism down the electorate’s throat. We broke this in the first instance by doing as we were told, playing nice with the Democrats.
On August 27 in downtown Berkeley the same groups gathered for another of their “free speech” rallies. No masked anti-fa folks showed up. There were a number of peaceful counter protesters. Guess what, no brawling! The Berkeley High principle even brought students over to talk with the armed and “prepared for battle” Trump supporting protesters, some who were no doubt committed white supremacists. I think it’s still possible to meet these folks with strategic opposition and nonviolent militancy. The presence of masked and armed protesters looking to provoke a fight takes up all the space, making it hard for peaceful protest. Since the fighters are mostly male, I think of it as tactical “man spreading”.
Say what? They did indeed show up. I was there, and can say that Antifa were a small part of the story, but they ended up dominating the news reports, because a little bit of violence grabs all the attention, making it harder for nonviolent tactics to get the attention they deserve.
Your comment is dated three days *before* the August 27 event. Strange.
Sorry I meant April 27, not Aug
Oh! Hah, that’s different!
Thank you for this great article. I wish I could come to workshop and will have to make it to the next one.
Thank you so much for clearly articulating a point of view and a style of engagement. I’ve been trying to express these ideas in little chunks on social media but its not a one paragraph conversation and I was too caught up in emotion to lead with curiosity rather than – perhaps- scolding. I am in the Bay Area and would support having and work to organize community forums on this topic. Unfortunately, I work in a hospital every Sunday morning and can’t get the day off to come to the Labor Day workshop, but will look forward to another opportunity.
This is a fabulous article. I especially like “when you are used to privilege, equality feels like oppression” which puts words on something I have understood but been unable to articulate.
The piece is very sensible about the PR aspects of nonviolence vs violence, and I strongly agree about the importance of showing up to demonstrations. Rebecca Solnit points out, in “Hope in the Dark” that progressives tend to show up so they can stop showing up. The notion is that you get the job done. She makes the case that the job is never done.
Thanks for tackling the tough issue here. I generally like what you’re saying, but there’s a few points that I think are worth considering:
In your “creative nonviolence” section, some of the examples are nonviolent, but still combative. I suspect that the cleverness of these actions may elicit clever nonviolent responses from the other side. There’s no law that says they can’t be nonviolent when it suits them, even when they’re “dog whistling” calls for violence.
There’s a deeper issue here. I’m beginning to feel that these neo-Nazis are part of our national shadow, in Jung’s sense. That they’re “arising” now isn’t an accident. Remember that the original Nazis were one of the many movements that arose during the desperate years in Germany after the defeat of WWI, the “reparations” demanded of them by the victorious nations, and the Great Depression. I have the sense that, in the US today, a similar desperation is at work. (I consider Trump a symptom of that desperation.)
I suspect that we’re going to have to recognize, in the alt-right and neo-Nazis, the repressed aspects of ourselves. What do we have to offer to the young, desperate folks who find themselves sympathizing with those who lash out and look for a strong, simplistic leader? What will our desperate folks turn to when the next sharp downturn happens (and it’s becoming more likely every day)?
I recommend Carolyn Baker’s book “Dark Gold: The Human Shadow and the Global Crisis”. In the introduction, she tells the following story:
An old Cherokee was teaching his grandson about life . “A fight is going on inside me,” he said to the boy. ”It is a terrible fight and it is between two wolves. One is evil – he is anger, envy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, and ego. The other is good, the old man continued. “He is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion, and faith. The same fight is going on inside you – and inside every other person, too.” The grandson thought about it for a minute and then asked his grandfather. “Which wolf will win?” You might have heard the story ends like this: The old Cherokee simply replied,“ The one you feed the most, my son.” In the Cherokee world, however, the story ends this way: The old Cherokee simply replied, “If you feed them right, they both win.” And the story goes on: “You see, if I only choose to feed the good wolf, the bad one will be hiding around every corner waiting for me to become distracted or weak and jump to get the attention he craves. He will always be angry and always fighting the good wolf. But if I acknowledge him, he is happy and the good wolf is happy and we all win. For the bad wolf has many qualities – tenacity, courage, fearlessness, and strong-willedness – that I have need of at times and that the good wolf lacks. But the good wolf has compassion, caring, strength and the ability to recognize what is in the best interest of all. You see, son, the good wolf needs the bad wolf at his side. To feed only one would starve the other and they would become uncontrollable. To feed and care for both means they will serve you well and do nothing that is not a part of something greater, something good, something of life. Feed them both and there will be no more internal struggle for your attention. And when there is no battle inside, you can listen to the voices of deeper knowing that will guide you in choosing what is right in every circumstance. Peace, my son, is the Cherokee mission in life. A man or a woman who has peace inside has everything. A man or a woman who is pulled apart by the war inside him or her has nothing. How you choose to interact with the opposing forces within you will determine your life . Starve one or the other or guide them both.”
Perhaps those people who descended on Charlottesville are too far gone, but there are many others who have some sympathy with them, and who might be turned away from that evil, if they can see a better way. As Naomi Klein put it, “No! is not enough”.
I think that’s a great point. Injustice and inequality breed discontent, and discontent can be mobilized by progressive and reactionary forces alike. Fascism is a symptom of the failures of neoliberalism – ultimately, of capitalism – along with a system of militarism, racism, and patriarchy. Democrat (and many Republican) politicians may sincerely deplore and denounce fascists, but they still perpetuate the economic and social inequalities and injustices which provide the necessary foundations for a fascist movement to flourish.
I don’t claim to know the best way to confront white supremacists, but I agree on the need to confront them in some way as a means of community defense. But I have the sense that a lot of people on the left (especially liberals), think the problem can be resolved by voting them out of existence, or reasoning them out of existence, or shaming them out of existence, or fighting them out of existence – and that’s a sure recipe for failure.
Klein often raises excellent points, and here again, she’s nailed it. However we take on the fascists and white supremacists, or even the less extreme but still very damaging Drumpf Administration policies, we also need to mobilize for a more equitable and just society, which while require confronting law-makers on both sides of the aisle.
I hate it when I organize a contingent or gathering and we have tried to create a theme with message and color, only to have provocateurs intermingle with their opposite image, like an Israeli flag at a pro-Palestine demonstration. It is always a challenge to respond to effectively, without seeming provocative ourselves to observers which then can be a source of distraction from our original point of coming out. To see you advocate that tactic gave me pause, but I guess the tactic isn’t the problem.
Today in San Francisco, the white nationalists (and worse) intend to come to the center of town, not sequestered off to the side. They’re trying to provoke a reaction, and some is necessary. They see San Francisco and Berkeley as symbols that they are attacking. I am just considering that they are coming here like that lone, offensive flag in our midst. Classicly, we might try to surround them and slowly all escort them out of where we are, but I don’t know how that could play our on this larger scale. We’re going to find out soon.
I greatly appreciate your thoughtful, nuanced, and deeply respectful analysis of nonviolent and violent responses to white supremacists and other destructive forces in our society. I believe in nonviolence as a strategy and and a worldview, rather than a set of sometimes useful tactics, but my closest friends and comrades do not. Therefore, I have some amount of sympathy with the other side of this debate, and the points that they raise, and I appreciate that – unlike some pacifists I’ve seen – you don’t dismiss these points or their advocates, but give both credit where they’re due.
I heartily agree with your last point. Gandhi famously deemed nonviolent action preferable to violent action, but violent action preferable to inaction. In this light, I have less standing than some of my comrades who are skeptical of nonviolence – they’ve actually confronted fascists and white supremacists many times, whereas I never have. (My own activism so far has mostly comprised the unglamorous, crucial, but also low-risk logistical work of bringing people together, acting through mostly official channels, and the tamer sorts of demonstration.)
In the spirit of giving the other side of the argument their due, however, I invite you to consider more closely the case of Milo’s Berkeley speech. From what I’ve heard, it wasn’t just a matter of shutting down a speaking event by a right wing hatemonger. I’m given to understand that he had promised to out undocumented Berkeley students during the speech – no idle threat, as he’d previously outed and publicly shamed a trans University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee student on tour last year. As the student in question made transparently clear in a lengthy, infuriated, and expletive-riddled e-mail to the UWM Chancellor, what Milo did to her (and planned to do to undocumented Berkeley students) was harassment; it was verbal assault; it was violence. “Milo harasses specific people and incites violence against them,” and though she doesn’t go into details, his speech clearly created an atmosphere where transphobic UWM students would feel more encouraged to and vindicated in physically assaulting her as well, then or in the future. (http://overpasslightbrigade.org/hates-insidious-face-uw-milwaukee-and-the-alt-right/)
Therefore, if Milo did, indeed, plan to out undocumented Berkeley students, then shutting down his speech was an act of community defense. Whether it ultimately undermined or bolstered his platform, it succeeded in preventing him from harassing specific people at Berkeley and inciting violence against them, and that, in my book, is equally crucial to larger questions of strategy for preventing Milo engaging in and inciting similar violence in the future. Therefore, this dimension has to be included in any discussion of the rights or wrongs of preventing his speech at Berkeley.
Thank you so much for this article! This is the article I have been waiting to see. The term “nonviolence” has been badly misconstrued in most of the press and in popular discourse lately. This is exactly what needs to happen.
I’m wondering about the idea that free speech is violent (at least when it can be classified with vague terms like “nazi” or “white supremacy”) whereas some other forms of discourse are nonviolent, like:
“Members of the alt-right have already had their businesses boycotted, been fired from work, had their accounts suspended from Airbnb, social media” etc.
Would you really think that “being fired from your job” is a nonviolent act, if you were yourself the person concerned?
Being a German, I can assure you that we have altright parties for decades and that all “nonviolent” tactics named by you have already tried here in Germany for decades, with restrained success. You simply have to accept the fact that the leftization of the public mind will come to an end somewhere and there will remain people which are thinking differently. And support for them will be sometimes greater and sometimes smaller, according to the objective conditions of life in your country.
So wouldn’t it better to consider how to come to terms with people who think differently? For example, why not granting altrighters a small “homeland” where they can live a separate life?
I’m afraid that trying to appease fascists with a small homeland isn’t going to work. Fascism is not an ideology which is compatible with half-measures, appeasement, or compromise, and its committed adherents won’t be satisfied with anything less than total control over all the territory they consider theirs (which they can never achieve completely, but they can do a lot of damage along the way). Nor is it an ideology which you can simply beat into submission, which many of my colleagues on the left seem to believe. (Indeed, beating people you hold responsible for everything wrong in the world into submission is a core tenet of fascism.)
Fascist movements will continue to spring up, and accrue adherents, as long as the underlying social conditions which breed fascist sentiments remain. The social conditions in question being stuff like white supremacy, economic inequality, militarism, patriarchy, and nationalism (“nationalism” meaning membership a particular State/country as being more important to citizens’ identity than membership in the human race as a whole).
I believe that responding to fascists requires a short-term and long-term approach. In the short term, you prevent them – employing nonviolent tactics – from building powerful movements and isolate the hardliners. You won’t convince the hardliners to see the error of their ways (maybe some, but not all), but if they see they have no real support and no hope of getting traction in the current political climate, they’ll retreat back under their rocks (as they’ve done before), and console themselves with stories about a new White Christian golden age, which with luck will never come.
Part of how you isolate the hardliners is by providing a better alternative – see George Lakey’s articles about the social struggles of Denmark, Iceland, Norway, and Sweden elsewhere on this site for some suggestions of how that could work. This also ties into the long-term strategy: eliminate the inequalities and injustices which give fascism traction. Transform your society into something better. No country currently on earth has completely succeeded at this, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be done. And once it is, you still won’t necessarily convince all the truly committed fascists to abandon their ideology, but you’ll ensure it makes no sense to and gains no traction with the generations that follow. It’s analogous to the way discredited theories and models in the sciences die off along with their committed devotees.
“Charlottesville escalated to a point where a woman — Heather Heyer — was killed, and many more could have easily died.” A white supremacist committed yet another murder.
Great if numbers & humour can beat the racists, but Antifa are likely to be needed to defend Black churches, & synagogues, minority areas & rights, etc., for the foreseeable future.