On July 18, 2019, two U.S. Senators introduced a resolution attempting to designate “antifa” as a domestic terrorist organization. In a week that saw a Trump rally featuring a racist chant for the deportation of a progressive, black Muslim congresswoman, there can be no clearer sign as to where we are at, than this effort to declare anti-fascism itself illegal. The Republican party is explicitly targeting political opposition. There is no definition of “antifa” outlined in the resolution. “Antifa” is used as a warning. It is shorthand for the dissenters who won’t be brought to heel. If passed, this resolution would be a powerful new weapon for silencing leftists and dissent in the U.S.
In this resolution, the Senators specifically mentioned anti-fascists in Portland, targeting our community for defending itself from the fascists, neo-Nazis, and white supremacists who have assaulted our city for the past three years. Portland has been a target for the most violent elements of the right because of its progressive character. The strategy of the far-right has been to attack the left wherever we have the audacity to exist: in higher education, in Berkeley, at Pride events, at union meetings, at Planned Parenthood, and in a symbolic city of progressive values such as Portland. It is not enough for them to have their own conservative communities, the presidency, the Supreme Court, the Senate, the massive right-wing media apparatus and funding base; they also must harass, violently attack, and terrorize anyone anywhere who dares to disagree with their oppressive views.
The rationale for this resolution is a manufactured threat which only exists in the absence of critical thought and inquiry. The greatest domestic political threat in the U.S. today is the far-right. The far-right committed 98% of ideologically-driven murders in 2018. We have seen that death toll here in Portland. Larnell Bruce, a black teenager, was brutally murdered by a white supremacist outside a 7-11 in 2016. In 2017, Jeremy Christian, a Patriot Prayer rally attendee and white supremacist, fatally stabbed two passengers and seriously injured a third passenger on a Portland MAX train after they attempted to stop him from harassing two women of color. Proud Boys have driven around our city streets looking for people to assault. LGBT+ community members have been repeatedly attacked, and they have been called liars when they organize to defend themselves. The Portland Police Bureau has assisted the right at every turn. Stories like this are echoed all over the country. This is the true threat of our times.