On Berlin And Anti-Fascism

German authorities are investigating a “presumed terrorist attack” after a large truck plowed through a crowd at a Christmas market on Monday night in the heart of the capital, Berlin, killing at least 12 people and injuring dozens. (via CNN)

Two senior German officials briefed on the matter identified the man as a Pakistani national who arrived in February as an asylum seeker. (via The Washington Post)

First, my prayers are with the families of the dead, both the victims and the perpetrator. This is not, obviously, meant to condone his actions, but to grieve for the mother who lost her son. That is as tragic–no more, but no less–than the deaths of the innocent in this attack. We should mourn every time a life is robbed from us, whether its by violence or by a hateful ideology that pulls the believer away from God’s light.

This attack has naturally led to increased anger and rhetorical violence from–well, not even the far Right. I guess now it’s just the normal Right. I’m seeing tweets like this:

And this:

We must be on guard now, as always–not only from attacks from those who would seek to hurt and kill us, but the more insidious threat, the more dangerous foes, the ones who would seek not to break our bodies but to murder our spirits. It is as vital now as ever to remember that we must not, in the face of this enemy, reject the principles that makes us truly great–even ignoring Christian fundamentals like forgiveness, the foundation of America is formed by tolerance and acceptance of all people and faiths.

But, of course, what if those people are trying to kill you? To put it another way, as I’ve been seeing on Twitter, you can only show someone tolerance if they are prepared to show you the same; Nazis, the argument goes, aren’t prepared to have a good faith discussion, and neither, presumably, are terrorists. Are we responsible for allowing them a platform for their views, when their stated goals are to injure, to silence, and to dominate? If we give them the same rights we would afford “normal” citizens, are we complicit in their crimes?

I truly don’t know. But I do know that articles like this one trouble me. According to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, “Silvia Cotriss, a nearly 20-year veteran of the Roswell Police Department, was terminated for ‘unbecoming’ conduct in July after a complaint about the [Confederate flag she was flying at her home] was made.” We, as Americans, have a choice to make. We can be Americans, and remember that everyone has the right to free speech and expression, or we can be fascists. There’s no middle ground and no way around it–when we decide that universal rights aren’t universal anymore, and that we’re the ones who get to decide who is free, we are being fascists. 

That’s why, when It’s Going Down published its manifesto, “What Anarchists Have Been Saying For Years, and What Liberals Need to Start Hearing,” I was concerned by its conclusion:

But as the far-Right has grown as a reactionary movement in the wake of the Black Lives Matter movement as well as becoming a auxiliary force within the Trump campaign, liberals and some of those within the Left have repeated a flurry of idiotic statements about those who risk everything to confront fascism. Overall, liberals argue that to use violence against fascism, or to shut down fascists and give them no platform, is actually just as bad as what the fascists do – in fact, it’s the ‘real fascism.’ We think that in reality the total opposite is true. Since the election, hundreds of hate crimes have taken place, as Trump’s win has embolden the autonomous far-Right like never before. In the wake of attacks on people across the US, that anti-fascist position that combative and militant action against fascists is in fact community self-defense – has never been stronger. If you don’t want fascism, you’re going to have to fight against it. Period. Those that take on this fight are fighting in self-defense, and those taking risks deserve our support.

A movement that sells out those that fight to defend it are not worthy of the name.

I see what they’re saying, I really do. And I see the danger in, for example, letting the KKK march at Stone Mountain. I don’t want to be in a position of protecting those guys. But Fascists believe that their ideology justifies robbing others of their rights. When Liberals believe the same thing, the lines become too blurred for my taste.

I’m willing to fight for the liberty of everyone. And sometimes, that means I’m going to have to make sure the Fascists have a voice.

The solution is not to silence them. It’s to be louder.

Categories: Dispatch

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