Since late September, alt-right members have advanced the idea that anti-fascist groups will begin a violent uprising on 4 November. But no antifa groups are planning to protest so what devotes?
If you are inside the ” alt-right ” information bubble, you might be preparing yourself for a civil war to commence this Saturday.
Since late September, the idea has been circulating on Facebook groups, subreddit message boards, Twitter, and resulting conspiracy media outlets that on 4 November, anti-fascist groups will begin a violent insurrection.
Some websites are telling their readers that antifa groups are” planning to kill every single Trump voter, Conservative and firearm owned” this weekend. Hundreds of Facebook posts show how seriously customers of such media are taking the news, and comments like” One more menace against white people and I swear to God I’m going to take a goddamn automobile and run over every fucking one of them” are not unrepresentative of the response.
But antifa groups have no plans to protest that day, and the small leftist groups who are planning protests have just been dubious connections to the antifa movement. So what gives?
The whole thing rests on some very slender reeds, according to Spencer Sunshine, who recently wrote a report on the hypothesis for the far right-monitoring group Political Research Associates. In the conspiracy underground on YouTube, he explains, there has been talk that “there was going to be a civil war” starting in November for some months.
Beginning in late September, three things kicked it a into higher gear. First, Refuse Fascism, a small group connected with the Revolutionary Communist party, staged a visually spectacular protest in Los Angeles. They blocked the 101 superhighway and held up signs that enigmatically spelled out” Nov 4 it begins “. This is the same group that is organizing a series of protests around the country against the” Trump-Pence regime” this weekend.
Second, a video positioned on a Facebook page called Vets Before Illegals went viral. The video, entitled” Antifa sets a date for civil war”, claimed that” on their website, they are calling for an open civil war that will start in November”, and set out alleged plans for assaulting police officers, then citizens and the government.
Last, but by no means least, the rumor was picked up and amplified by Alex Jones, the radio starring with an audience of millions. As Sunshine explains, Jones” is a kind of meta-conspiracy theorist now” who” harvests other people’s hypothesis” and repackages them to fit his narrations and his audience.
Once Jones had mentioned it, Sunshine explains, the rumor mill explosion:” Once Jones says something, even more people pick up on it and put their own spin on it .” Jones’s website was still running the story on Wednesday morning.
An absurd turn
In recent days, the tale took an absurd turning, and had its closest brush with more mainstream conservative media, when Gateway Pundit, a longtime conservative blog that has recently expanded into news coverage, published a story by its White House correspondent, Lucian Wintrich, claiming that an” antifa leader” had promised to” beheaded white parents” on 4 November.
The tweet the narrative was based on, however, was a gag from an account that had no apparent ties to any antifa groups.
In a telephone interview, Wintrich conceded that the tweet his reporting was based on was not serious, and that it was unlikely that there would be a revolution on Saturday. But he did not back away from the narrative, presenting it as a criticism of leftist rhetoric.
” The radical left is always inducing gags about killing white people. What would happen if I made a joke about killing all black mothers? That would be a national headline.
” If it’s appropriate for them to demonize[ conservatives] over quite innocent jokes, why would we just roll over when they make inappropriate gags? What’s good for the goose is good for the gander .”
The piece included a detailed account of antifa ideology, which included the claim that the activists” are larpers (‘ live action role-play ‘) attempting to find someone/ thing to sexually interact with “.
When asked what sources he drew on in reporting on their ideology, Wintrich said:” I did go to school at Bard College. I received my education around people who I’m sure are on terrorist watchlists as socialist or communist extremists .”
As Sunshine says, Refuse Fascism activists have been supportive of antifa groups in the past, and often show up to the same demonstrations, but there is” no formal connect” between them and antifa. They are also small, he says, and their protest is explicitly nonviolent and specifically directed against the administration , not rightwing activists or police.
Mark Bray, historian and author of Antifa: The Antifascist Handbook, agrees.” Prior to 2017, the far right didn’t really know what antifa was ,” he says, adding that the focus on these groups has a number of causes. It is an extension of the demonization of anarchists in general, but it is also a route to smear mainstream liberals who have no links to antifascist groups.
And to some extent, this particular panic has enabled us to energizing a specific slice of the right. As Sunshine sets it:” It motivates the base, it’s part of the apocalyptic narrative they use- there’s always a dangerous event just over the horizon .” Also, he says:” It’s a call for vigilante activity. There are currently tons of threats against leftwing activists .”
And unless there is a confrontation as a result of rightwing counter-protesters turning out to shut down the “revolution”, it’s all likely to come to nothing.
” There is no revolution or civil war planned for 4 November ,” says Bray.” You can quote me on that .”
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