Fas­cists against free­dom, unite

San Francisco Chronicle - - OPINION - DE­BRA J. SAUN­DERS De­bra J. Saun­ders is a San Fran­cisco Chron­i­cle staff writer. Email: dsaun­ders@ sfchron­i­cle.com Twit­ter: @De­braJSaun­ders

Ev­ery­one ex­pects neo-Nazis to be thug­gish and sim­ple­minded. They’re losers who need a move­ment that tells them they are win­ners, so they troll for griev­ances and bat­tles from which they can emerge as both morally su­pe­rior and vic­tims.

They hate free­dom. Tra­di­tion­al­ist Worker Party leader Matthew He­im­bach even wrote a piece, “I Hate Free­dom,” in which he ex­plained, “free­dom is a word and a con­cept that ev­ery­one loves and en­joys be­cause of the li­cense that it gives us as a so­ci­ety; that is why free­dom failed and that is why free­dom must die.” Like I said, white su­prem­a­cists are losers.

At noon on Sun­day, the Tra­di­tion­al­ist Worker Party had a per­mit to hold a rally on the state Capi­tol grounds in Sacra­mento. Some 30 white na­tion­al­ists showed up. They were met by 400 coun­ter­protesters. Vi­o­lence erupted. Ac­cord­ing to news re­ports, 10 peo­ple were in­jured; two were in crit­i­cal con­di­tion with stab wounds.

“Both sides were stabbed with some­thing,” whether the weapon was a knife or a stick, Cal­i­for­nia High­way Pa­trol pub­lic in­for­ma­tion of­fi­cer Ge­orge Granada told me.

The coun­ter­protesters hailed from such left­ist groups as By Any Means Nec­es­sary and An­tifa Sacra­mento. An­tifa stands for an­tifas­cist, which is amaz­ing be­cause the bul­lies who were protest­ing against fas­cists seemed to have a lot in com­mon — they’re also thug­gish and sim­ple­minded — with fas­cists. “NO ‘FREE SPEECH’ FOR FAS­CISTS!” An­tifa Sacra­mento pro­claimed. Some coun­ter­protesters showed up wear­ing black masks, which made it eas­ier for them to beat peo­ple with wooden sticks and throw chunks of con­crete at po­lice and build­ings with­out fear of pros­e­cu­tion.

As­sem­bly­man Jim Cooper, D-Sacra­mento, was down­town when he heard about the vi­o­lence and went to the Capi­tol to see for him­self. He saw coun­ter­protesters ready for a fight. And for no rea­son. The neo-Nazis, he told me, “were way out­num­bered.” The coun­ter­protesters could have yelled and drowned out the neo-Nazis, who then would have “gone home.” But the coun­ter­protesters had shown up “ready for ac­tion.”

By Any Means Nec­es­sary or­ga­nizer Yvette Fe­larca told CNN that the Tra­di­tional Worker Party has no right to a pub­lic plat­form for its ideas. “They never should have got­ten a per­mit to be­gin with. The po­lice were out here pro­tect­ing them. One of our main chants is, ‘Cops and Klan go hand in hand’ be­cause we know the po­lice are out there to back them up.” Like He­im­bach, Fe­larca con­structed an ar­gu­ment in which peo­ple like her get to de­cide who has the right to free speech.

“They can get a per­mit, too,” Cooper said of the an­ti­ac­tivists. (By the way, Cooper is African Amer­i­can, so I doubt he’s sym­pa­thetic with the Tra­di­tion­al­ist Worker Party’s agenda.)

Get their own per­mit? Not good enough. Coun­ter­protesters want to de­cide who can and can­not speak. “If they trip and fall in the process, good,” Fe­larca said of the Tra­di­tion­al­ist Worker Party folks. “We suc­ceeded in shut­ting them down.” That pretty much sums up why this group calls it­self By Any Means Nec­es­sary.

The South­ern Poverty Law Cen­ter, which tracks ex­trem­ist groups, keeps pro­files on the Tra­di­tion­al­ist Worker Party and He­im­bach. I asked if the cen­ter tracks By Any Means Nec­es­sary, whose lead­ers con­done vi­o­lence, and not just against white na­tion­al­ists. The an­swer is: no. An in­for­mal army of an­ar­chists uses vi­o­lence to muz­zle un­wanted speech. Masked and armed ac­tivists brazenly mobbed the Capi­tol to con­trol who could speak in the pub­lic square. These “an­tifas­cists” are a threat to civil so­ci­ety. Like He­im­bach, they have no idea what free­dom is. I shudder to think what they would have to do to get on the South­ern Poverty Law Cen­ter’s radar.

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