Anti-fascism, A Worthy Cause

By: Tabitha Korol and Kevin O’Neil

We can all fight for a cause, but “The function of wisdom is to discriminate between good and evil. – Marcus Tullius Cicero

They began as idealists, working to save the French-Jewish army Captain Alfred Dreyfus who’d been falsely accused of conspiring with the Prussian army.  The Dreyfus Affair of the mid-1890s and early 1900s was the impulsion for people to unite in support of the rights of the individual before a military authority that was rightly seen to be draconian and dismissive.  A worthy cause, yet the case divided France into the anti-Dreyfusards, fascist, Jew-hating ultranationalists, and the “Dreyfusards,” the anti-fascists who formed associations and humanitarian consensus to gain his exoneration.                               

Today’s anti-fascists, “Antifa,” miss the point if they see themselves as successors to the Dreyfusards.  The latter was inspired by the love of the individual, a positive inspiration, whereas Antifa is motivated by negative hatred for the establishment and the abuse of the individual who happens to disagree with them.

Defining the term fascism has proven notoriously difficult.  There were German anti-fascists in the early 1900s who joined the Jewish working class to fight for dignity and better wages, and Italian anti-fascists who fought against Benito Mussolini’s Fascist Party and Hitler’s growing influence.  There were also Spanish anti-fascists both before and during Spain’s civil war, with writers Orwell and Hemingway among their ranks.

But there are sufficient differences between the various fascist regimes that make it virtually impossible to identify commonality.  However, most leading scholars agree that all fascists support the violent revolutionary overthrow of the state’s entire government to be replaced with a totalitarian system that diminishes the value of the individual to a mere component of the whole.  Any difference of opinion is seen as fair game to be silenced.

Antifa is a burgeoning collection of discontented militant-leftist groups who, convinced that white supremacism was responsible for chattel slavery and the Holocaust, are allied in their attempt to overthrow “white” western government by any means available, including violence.

British political theorist Roger Griffin, the author of “The Nature of Fascism,” wrote, “Fascism is a genus of political ideology whose mythic core in its various permutations is … palingenetic,”  which means that a “rebirth” would follow the demolition of the existing political order.  By this scholarly definition, Antifa’s own methods and goals fulfill the criteria – not of anti-fascism – but of Fascism!

After interviewing 61 current members in 17 countries, Mark Bray, author of “Antifa: The Anti-Fascist Handbook,” asserts that militant antifascism is a “reasonable, historically informed response to the fascist threat that persisted” after World War II and into recent years. They argue that every fascist or white-supremacist group has the potential of being the start of Mussolini’s original hundred or Hitler’s first fifty-four members of the German Workers’ Party.  Hence, they believe they have a righteous obligation to stop what they regard as fascist “violence, incivility, discrimination, and speeches that stimulate further white supremacy, oppression, and genocide.”

And fascism, real fascism, must be opposed.  Edmund Burke’s statement was never more apposite, “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.”

In “The View from My Window:  The Ethics of Using Violence to Fight Fascism,” Elie Wiesel recalled familiar riots while he was watching one play out below his fifth-floor window in Berkeley.  It brought to mind the millions of people who fought fascism throughout Europe and he suitably wondered at what point resistance to fascism may be justifiable.

A very sobering question!  And whatever the “point” is at which action is justified, one thing is certain: we must be able to define fascism and be convinced that the group we oppose is truly fascistic.

Not only had Wiesel witnessed real fascism at work, but had suffered from it, and lost both parents and a sister to the Nazis.  He recalled the brave month-long resistance of the Jews in the Warsaw Ghetto when the Nazis came to liquidate it, April 19, 1943.   Move than fifty-six thousand Jews were killed, very few escaping.  This is the face of real fascism.

America is not Warsaw; neither is it remotely similar.  We are not ruled by authoritarian power, and our laws are not for the subjugation of the individual but for his/her protection.  Antifa must ask themselves if they are even capable of actually recognizing true Fascism.

Columnist Mark Thiessen wrote in The Washington Times (6.30.17) that Antifa was the “moral equivalent of neo-Nazis.”  The statement may or may not be prescient, but it will not be the first time in history that a movement that began as an ideological liberator abandoned reason and descended into violence and incoherent rage.  In the famous words of Goya, “The sleep of reason produces monsters.”

If Antifa truly aspires to be worthy successors to the anti-fascist groups of history, they must urgently learn the meaning and methods of fascism and be prepared to come to some very disturbing conclusions.


Addressing Contrary Strangers

By: T.F. Stern | Self-Educated American

We’re supposed to be kind and loving to everyone; but…

There are some folks who enjoy being insulted, going out of their way to extend or prolong a conversation that should have ended before it ever started. These folks are often found on social media forums such as Facebook or Twitter. I’d have included conversations on elevators; but that in and of itself violates a Cardinal Rule of remaining silent while the doors are closed.

The problem, at least as it has presented itself, arises when you read something which runs contrary to your opinion, an opinion based on a lifetime of experiences, feelings, prejudices with an occasional fact thrown in just for fun. These types of contrary comments beg for a snide reply and, (pausing to inhale) they most often are found in comment threads belonging to someone listed as one of your ‘Friends’.

Of course, (I read somewhere that you’re not supposed to start a sentence with Of course, but I like to live dangerously), where was I… there are others who’ve specialized, even made careers out of insulting others. “ Don Rickles earned the nicknames “The Merchant of Venom” and “Mr. Warmth” for his poking fun at people of all ethnicities and all walks of life.”

But what about the common everyday Smart-Alec who doesn’t make a living insulting their friends, strangers or people who didn’t check with their mothers prior to commenting in an open social media forum? What’s the average Joe/Jane supposed to do when he/she enters a conversation only to find the other individual is never going to ‘get it’, what then?

This is a modern-day challenge. In the past you’d simply shake your head and leave; but in our day of omnipresent communication abilities, there really isn’t a way to exit without appearing cowardly or uninformed. All those years of schooling, indoctrination, and prejudice can’t be ignored or wasted; no, you have to get your Two Cents in.

Of all the folks I know and consider associations, some reaching close enough to be classified as Friend, I try to weed out those who ‘will never get it’. This saves time and energy; but it limits the number of times I’ll have to apologize to the Lord for yet another human frailty, another sinful act on my part…remembering that we’re supposed to be kind and loving to everyone.

I really do try to be open-minded, giving others the opportunity to admit that they are mistaken and could use a healthy dose of my insight. Those who are unable to benefit from my exhaustive library of information; well, it’s their loss and good riddance to bad baggage. Some people have never learned to enjoy sarcasm, considering everything to be on the level.

The Onion and BabalonBee take great pride in killing off these weaklings, often leaving their entrails scattered across the internet as a warning to others. Their message, have fun laughing at the ridiculous because most of the time it can’t compare or compete with what’s really happening.

All of what I’ve written to this point, this nonsense, is a set-up, a way to introduce my latest slam-dunk reply to someone who just won’t let a comment thread die. I have no idea who the individual is and don’t figure on inviting them over for lunch to find out other areas of life on which we don’t see eye to eye.

After a prolonged exchange, (that’s when you never actually exchange ideas or convince anyone of anything), their final ‘insult’ to my intelligence was, “You watch Fox News too much”. I’m sure that must be important to some folks; but is it really an insult?

I sent the following, “I get my most important information from an Ouija Board, but since most of this data comes from dead people I must assume they are Democrats.”

Do you think this individual will request being my Friend any time soon?


GovTrack Data on 2020 Candidates in the Senate

By: Denise Simon | Founders Code

As we go through these primary states, do voters really do the work to determine the backgrounds of the candidates? Likely not, so below is a little cheat sheet that voters must consider for some of these candidates during their time in the Senate. It is a voter’s duty to know.

Who are Democrat's top choices for 2020 presidential ...

Last May, we published an article highlighting differences between the 2020 democratic candidates based on their legislative records in 2017 and 2018. We also published several articles highlighting some of the key legislation that candidates have introduced more recently to give an understanding of their current policy concerns. As we finally reach the 2020 democratic primaries, it’s a good time to revisit what GovTrack data can tell us about the remaining viable candidates who are currently serving in or have served in the US Senate.

Bernie Sanders

Bernie Sanders has secured his position as the most progressive candidate by championing significant reform for popular issues. He has introduced a bill in this session of Congress for almost all of his major talking points, such as his Medicare for All ActRaise the Wage Act and College for All Act. The titles of these bills are more or less self-explanatory, which is fitting of Sanders’ style. Sanders introduces relatively few bills compared to other Senators, but the ones he does introduce tend to propose sweeping changes.

While Sanders’ legislative focus tends to be on health and the economy, he’s also touched on other key progressive issues. He introduced two environmental bills: the Green New Deal for Public Housing Act, which would set energy efficiency standards for all public housing among other things, and the Prevent Future American Sickness Act, which in a break from Sanders’ loftier policy goals would designate per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) as hazardous substances. He also introduced the No War Against Iran Act in response to increased tensions earlier this year.

Only two of the 27 bills Sanders introduced this session were supported by a Republican, and he’s only signed on to 19 Republican bills.

Elizabeth Warren

Elizabeth Warren has a clear focus on financial and economic policy. She introduced several bills to regulate large corporations, like her Accountable Capitalism Act, which would set responsibilities for United States corporations and enforce them with a new federal office, or her Ending Too Big to Jail Act intended to crack down on financial crime.

While not all of the bills she introduces are specific to that focus, most of them are presented from a financial perspective. For example, two of the major educational reforms Warren proposes, the Student Loan Debt Relief Act and the Universal Child Care and Early Learning Act, are centered around the affordability of preschool and higher education. Affordability is a key issue to Warren, appearing in the titles of two of her recent bills, the Affordable Safe Drinking Water Act and the Affordable Drug Manufacturing Act, which show off her approach to environmental and health policy respectively.

Warren and Sanders have both built their campaigns on progressive reforms meant to relieve stress for low-income Americans. However, looking at the legislative records we can find some contrast. While Sanders rarely ever trades cosponsorship with Republicans, Warren is much more likely to have a Republican or two sign on to her bills. In the previous session of Congress over half the bills Warren introduced had a Republican cosponsor and in this session, almost a third were the same. She also has cosponsored 98 Republican bills this session.

Amy Klobuchar

One legislative issue stands out for Amy Klobuchar more so than for the other candidates: campaigns and elections. She has introduced 15 bills such as her Stopping Harmful Interference for a Lasting Democracy Act, which would require Federal campaigns report any foreign assistance offered or given, her Redistricting Reform Act, intended to combat partisan gerrymandering, and her Same Day Registration Act, which would allow voter registration on the same day of an election.

But with 81 bills introduced in this session, Klobuchar has covered a wide range of topics. She has introduced environmental bills such as the Expanding Access to Sustainable Energy Act, which would provide grants and technology assistance to rural electric cooperatives, and finance bills such as the Monopolization Deterrence Act, which would allow monetary penalties against corporations that engage in monopolization offenses.

Klobuchar introduced more bills than the other senators running for President. She tends to focus less on lofty goals like Sanders’ Medicare for All or Warren’s Universal Child Care, opting to legislate for smaller policy adjustments rather than large scale reform. She also is much more likely to get Republican cosponsors. 51 of the 81 bills she introduced this session had at least one Republican cosponsor.

Joe Biden

Although Joe Biden didn’t introduce any bills in this session of Congress, we can look into his record from his last years as a senator. From 2007 to 2009 Biden focused on criminal justice and sentencing reform. He introduced bills such as the Bail Bond Fairness Act which would have required that bail bonds only be forfeited if the defendant fails to appear in court, the Justice Integrity Act, which would have created a program to prevent racial bias in law enforcement and to improve public confidence in the police, and the Drug Sentencing Reform and Cocaine Kingpin Trafficking Act, which would have eliminated mandatory minimums for possession of crack or powder cocaine, among other things. He took an interest in preventing drug abuse through bills like the Recognizing Addiction as a Disease Act and Dextromethorphan Abuse Reduction Act.

Biden also had bills on clean energy and college affordability. His College Affordability and Creating Chances for Educational Success for Students Act would have assisted college students with tax credits and Pell grants, and his International Clean Development Technology Fund Act would have appropriated $2 billion for developing and implementing technologies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions across the globally.

65 of the 89 bills Biden introduced in his last session of Congress had Republican cosponsors. Biden signed on to 71 bills introduced by Republicans.