The Washington Post – September 11, 2020
Short for “anti-fascist,” the label “antifa” gained notoriety in 2017 over the course of several high-profile conflicts between left-wing protesters and the far right in Berkeley, Calif.; Portland, Ore.; Charlottesville; and elsewhere. But antifa has been a staple of radical politics across Europe, Latin America and beyond for decades. Even in the United States, this tradition of militant antifascism has a long history under the banner of the Anti-Racist Action network. Despite this history, and a litany of journalistic “explainers” over the past three years, antifa remains largely misunderstood. Here are some of the most popular myths.
Myth No. 1
Antifa is a single organization.
On May 31, President Trump tweeted, “The United States of America will be designating ANTIFA as a Terrorist Organization.” Attorney General William P. Barr echoed his sentiments by arguing that antifa is “a revolutionary group that is interested in some form of socialism.” Right-wing figure Chuck Callesto even claimed that Sen. Rand Paul intended to “SUBPOENA ANTIFA plane records, hotel records, all travel records & all funding.”AD
But Trump cannot designate “ANTIFA” as a terrorist organization because antifa is not an organization. Rather, it is a politics of revolutionary opposition to the far right. There are antifa groups, such as Rose City Antifa in Portland and NYC Antifa, just as there are feminist groups, such as Code Pink. But neither antifa nor feminism is itself an organization. You cannot subpoena an idea or a movement. That’s not to say that antifa doesn’t exist, of course. Antifa is “very real,” as Rep. Jim Jordan has argued, but not in the monolithic, hierarchical way in which he and many other Americans are accustomed to thinking of political associations.