The Realm of the Alt.’s

When I heard about the latest peace rally turned to devastation in Berkeley last Sunday, all I could think of was the contempt I had for the Alt-left. For those who haven’t heard, there was a “Rally Against Hate” protest down the San Franciscan streets that broke into a brawl at Martin Luther King Jr. Civic Center Park; the alt-left faced their archnemesis, the alt-right *gasp*! That same day, a rally called “No to Marxism in Berkeley”, promoted by the alt-right, involved the two sides meeting for the old schoolyard fight. Pepper spray rained down, blocking out the sun, and homemade riot shields were thrusted with all the maker’s 100 pounds of pure vegan muscle. A word of advice when fighting in a park center named after an important someone who knew a thing or two about protests: try knowing a thing or two about protests. To those thinking, “there couldn’t possibly be an alt-left, there is only an alt-right, right?” There is a term surfacing quite frequently in the news lately called Antifa, or Anti Fascism. When I first heard this term I thought: what could possibly be wrong with being against fascism? But, Antifa comes from liberals disappointed and angry at the current political atmosphere. As they see all the violence that the alt-right uses to persecute minorities, Antifa sees violence as the way to protect themselves and their ideas.

Antifa reminds me of Malcolm X and his followers; they used violence to fight the powers that oppressed them for centuries. Yet given African-Americans’ abhorrent situation, violence rendered their infallible points less credible. It marginally validated white supremacist claims and that’s all they needed. Violence can make even the most legitimate people resemble their worst adversaries. Members of the Antifa movement think liberalism has its back up against the wall, and believe violence is the way to push back; the movement combats the alt-right with tactics that coincidentally mirror the alt-right. One Antifa member put it, “we need violence, in order to protect nonviolence.” I thought smart people from UC Berkeley could come up with a better quote than that; it sounds like Through the Looking Glass. Contrast that rhetoric with something more reasonable: “Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that.” Martin Luther King’s words are the “thing or two” Antifa could have learned. The reality is that these attacks and protests don’t bolster liberalism, they weaken it. All they do is give Fox News another talking point to show the country how evil the left is. If you “punch a Nazi”, you simply make a white-supremacist sympathizer more prone to sympathy.

Thinking of the dreadful events in Charlottesville last week, I hoped the debate of, “are Nazi’s bad, or just misunderstood?” could be resolved in agreeing on one thing. Yet rallies, like the one on Sunday, lead us back to the same predicament. Antifa just enables more ill-informed people to exclaim, “the REAL fascists are the alt-left!” as I just saw in a Washington Post comment section. Either way you look at it, the alt-left and alt-right are just two sides of the same coin.

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