Monday, August 28, 2017

Antifa

Todd Gitlin published an op-ed in the New York Times today (8/28/17) entitled "Who’s Afraid of Antifa?". As is everything he writes it's worth reading and considering.

Antifa — anti-fascist — is, as Gitlin sees it, "a particular strand of aggressive left-wing activism." It consists, in a sense, of lefty daredevils willing to put their bodies on the line against the surge of "white supremacists."

In describing the diverse lineage of antifa adherents he says: "They are aware of, or unimpressed by, the fact that when Hitler came to power, he crushed the left-wing militias. . . " [It would be nice, wouldn't it, if the Times retained enough proofreaders to change "aware of" to "unaware of" which would permit the argument to make some sense. But such proofreading is a thing of the past, even at the Times.]

Gitlin emphasizes that the impetus of antifa is originally defensive in nature; it is a push-back
against the violence of the white supremacist right.

No doubt.
But not only.

There's another way of looking at antifa, namely that it is the hard-edged component of something more general that is happening on the left, something less justifiable or uplifting, something innately censorious.

In the same issue of the Times I read that, "Memphis Theater Cancels ‘Gone With the Wind’ Screening."

Why? Because some thought the film "insensitive to a large segment of its local population.”

But GWTW is not Griffith's famously prejudiced "Birth of a Nation", is it, or Leni Riefenstahl’s odious ode to Hitler, "Triumph of the Will."

And even if it were, both the above films should be shown, if only to be debated and to serve as markers. How do we know who we are if we don't know where we were?

I'm not making the ludicrous claim that antifa had anything directly to do with the shutdown of GWTW.

I am saying, clearly as I can, that left censorship and suppression is not always a reaction to the right: it has its own awful lineage and impetus.



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