Antifa International – You’d hope that a group going by the name “Jewish Defence League” would be dedicated to fighting anti-Semitism and neo-nazis. Sadly, this ain’t the case. It was founded in 1968 by Rabbi Meir Kahane (aka Martin Kahane) as part of a campaign to incite fear of black and Puerto Rican residents in NYC in the Jewish community. A few years later the JDL switched their focus to committing terrorist acts against Soviet targets. Quickly, they expanded their hit list to anyone they considered to be the enemy of Zionism, Israel, or radical-right Jewish nationalism. This was to include Jews who “weren’t Jewish enough” for the JDL. For example, in the mid-seventies JDL members stormed the San Francisco Jewish Welfare Foundation offices, beating four staff members, including one that was permanently disabled from their stay in a nazi concentration camp.
In 1994 JDL member Baruch Goldstein walked into a mosque in Hebron with a machine gun and murdered 29 Palestinians as they prayed. The JDL praised Goldstein for this, calling his terrorist mass murder “a preventative measure against yet another Arab attack on Jews.”
Anti-Racist Community Members Show Up to Racist Leader’s Court Date – It’s Going Down – Instead of allowing his own security, the Secret Service, or KICC security to remove protesters, now President Trump stopped his half-hour speech five different times to point out protestors and, in most cases, to instruct his large crowd of supporters to “get ‘em out of here!”. Heimbach stepped to Trump’s call and says he felt ‘deputized’ to help provide security.
In his interview on arraignment day in a Louisville, reporter Matt Stone of the Courier-Journal asked Heimbach outside the courthouse ‘Any regrets on things you would have done differently?’ to which Heimbach answered ‘When it comes to the conduct of that day, no regrets.’
Heimbach acknowledged in a blog post that he had “help[ed] the crowd drive out one of the women” who were protesting and videos recorded at the rally captured his actions.
The woman who was assaulted pressed charges and Heimbach was served with the criminal summons by the Pikeville Police Department on April 29 at the white supremacist rally he organized in Pike County, Kentucky. In attendance were about 50 members of white supremacist groups to include the TWP, National Socialist Movement the Nationalist Front, and 25 members of militia style groups to include Oath Keepers and Three Percenters, who are known to protect and stand in solidarity with racist groups. There were also around 100 local community members and regional like-minded anti-racists who showed up with the tactic of directly confronting the hatred espoused by Heimbach and fascist sympathizers.
BobFromBrockley: The ethics of punching fascists, continued – Tom’s first case study for showing the ineffectiveness of violent protest is the defeat of the National Front in 1979, which he attributes (using Chris Husbands in Marxism Today) to Thatcher stealing their thunder and winning right-wing voters. This is undoubtedly true (although the early work of the Anti-Nazi League and Rock Against Racism also buoyed up an anti-racist popular culture that blocked the growth of the NF among the young – see this post by Dave Renton on this debate). We are seeing the same thing now with the collapse of UKIP (not fascist, but hard right) as Theresa May’s Tories revive an authoritarian populist form of Conservatism. Tom notes that the BNP also fell as society became less racist and as its voters switched to the more electable UKIP.
The problem with this analysis is it sees stopping fascism only in terms of stopping fascism rising to power electorally. If that was our only aim, supporting authoritarian populists in mainstream parties would be the best strategy. But actually, fascism is not only dangerous in power; it is dangerous as a movement within liberal democracies. It is dangerous as a movement because it works by inflicting intimidation, terror and violence on the groups it despises (e.g. the Jews of Whitefish, Montana).
If we look at British history, we see two different types of far right strength. Generally, when we have had Labour governments, the far right has attempted to work electorally: the NF in the late 1970s, the BNP in the 2000s. Under Conservative governments, we have seen violent street movements: Combat 18 and the BNP in the 1990s, the (proto-fascist rather than fascist) EDL in the 2010s. These are two different sorts of threats, which need different tactics and strategies.