Kim Kelly: Stop blaming everything bad on anarchists

They’re at the protests because being an anarchist means dreaming of a kinder, more equitable society

The Washington Post, June 4, 2020

As protests continue to sweep the nation, a narrative has emerged blaming alleged “anarchists” for stirring the pot. They are, the story goes, materializing out of nowhere to sow chaos, put marginalized people at risk and generally make more peaceful protesters look bad. On June 1, President Trump retweeted a video implying that a man who later explained that he was helping other protesters buy medical supplies was instead paying them to incite violence. In his tweet, Trump added, “Anarchists, we see you!” After surveying damage to city property, Dallas County Commissioner John Wiley Price declared, “It’s not protest, it’s anarchy.” The next day, Post opinions contributor Helaine Olen wrote that Trump is “the real anarchist.” Her only basis for making this claim appeared to be the common use of “anarchy” as a flawed synonym for “chaos.”

This reflexive tic to associate anarchism with thoughtless discord betrays a profound ignorance of leftist ideology. The problem is that no one seems to understand what anarchism is or what its adherents are seeking to accomplish — and that lack of understanding is going to end up endangering a lot of people. We’re rapidly approaching a point in which dissent is further criminalized, the justified rage and pain fueling these protests is further delegitimized, and anyone who engages in any form of protest outside the preapproved liberal template becomes a target for surveillance, or worse. On June 3, with zero evidence backing its claim, the White House Twitter account trumpeted: “Antifa and professional anarchists are invading our communities, staging bricks and weapons to instigate violence. These are acts of domestic terror.” At least one of the supposed weapons caches appears to have been part of a security barricade in front of a Jewish community center.

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