WHO ARE THE ANTIFA?
Qui sont les "antifa" ?
Un vaste rassemblement de l’alt-right, une mouvance nativiste, suprémaciste blanche, sexiste, conspirationniste ou encore opposée à l’immigration s’est tenu le 12 août dernier à Charlottesville, dans l’Etat de Virginie. Une manifestante antifasciste a été tuée et des dizaines de personnes blessées lorsqu’un terroriste néonazi a foncé avec sa voiture au coeur de la contre-manifestation organisée par des organisations de gauche. Parmi elles, les « antifa », bien décidés à répondre à la violence par la violence…
OAKLAND, Calif. — Last month, when a 27-year-old bike messenger showed up at the “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, he came ready for battle. He joined a human chain that stretched in front of Emancipation Park and linked his arms with others, blocking waves of white supremacists — some of them in full Nazi regalia — from entering. “As soon as they got close,” said the young man, who declined to give his real name and goes by Frank Sabaté after the famous Spanish anarchist, “they started swinging clubs, fists, 1. bike messenger coursier à vélo / rally rassemblement / to stretch s’étendre, s'étirer / wave vague, afflux / regalia insignes ici, panoplie / to go, went, gone by se faire appeler / to swing, swung, swung agiter / club matraque / fist poing / shields. I’m not embarrassed to say that we were not shy in defending ourselves.”
2. Sabaté is an adherent of a controversial force on the left known as antifa. The term, a contraction of the word “anti-fascist,” describes the loose affiliation of radical activists who have surfaced in recent months at events around the country and have openly scuffled with white supremacists, right-wing extremists and, in some cases, ordinary supporters of President Donald Trump.
3.Energized in part by Trump’s election, they have sparred with their conservative opponents at political rallies and college campus speaking engagements, arguing that one crucial way to combat the far right is to confront its supporters on the streets.
4.Unlike most of the counterdemonstrators in Charlottesville and elsewhere, members of antifa have shown no qualms about using their fists, sticks or canisters of pepper spray to meet an array of right-wing antagonists whom they call a fascist threat to U.S. democracy. As explained last month by a dozen adherents of the movement, the ascendant new right in the country requires a physical response.
5.“People are starting to understand that neo-Nazis don’t care if you’re quiet, you’re peaceful,” said Emily Rose Nauert, a 20-yearold antifa member who became a symbol of the movement in April when a white nationalist leader punched her in the face during a
melee near the University of California, Berkeley. “You need violence in order to protect nonviolence,” Nauert added. “That’s what’s very obviously necessary right now. It’s full-on war, basically.”
6. Others on the left disagree, saying antifa’s methods harm the fight against right-wing extremism and have allowed Trump to argue that the two sides are equivalent. These critics point to the power of peaceful disobedience during the civil rights era, when mass marches and lunch-counter protests in the South slowly eroded the legal enshrinement of discrimination.
7.“We’re against violence, just straight up,” said Heidi Beirich, director of the Southern Poverty Law Center’s Intelligence Project, which tracks hate groups. “If you want to protest racists and anti-Semites, it needs to be peacefully and hopefully somewhere away from where those guys are rallying.”
8.The closest thing antifa may have to a guiding principle is that ideologies it identi- fies as fascistic or based on a belief in genetic inferiority cannot be reasoned with and must be physically resisted. Its adherents express disdain for mainstream liberal politics, seeing it as inadequately muscular, and tend to fight the right through what they call “direct actions” rather than relying on government authorities.
9.“When you look at this grave and dangerous threat — and the violence it has already caused — is it more dangerous to do nothing and tolerate it or should we confront it?” Sabaté said. “Their existence itself is violent and dangerous, so I don’t think using force or violence to oppose them is unethical.”
10.One of antifa’s chief functions, members said, is to monitor right-wing and white supremacist websites like The Daily Stormer and to expose the extremist groups in dispatches on their own websites like ItsGoingDown.org. According to James Anderson, who helps run ItsGoingDown, interest in the site has spiked since the events in Charlottesville, with more than 4,000 followers added for a total of more than 23,000.
11.But antifa is “not some new sexy thing,” Anderson added. He noted that some of those who had scuffled with those on the right at Trump’s inauguration or at more recent events in New Orleans and Portland, Oregon, were veterans of actions at the Republican National Convention in St. Paul, Minnesota, in 2008, where hundreds of people were arrested, and at Occupy encampments in cities across the country.
12. Nonetheless, Anderson said, the far right’s resurgence under Trump has created a fresh
A group who identified themselves as Antifa rests during a rally in Charlottesville, Va., Aug. 12, 2017.