In a sane world, both the racial hatred of white supremacists and the ideological hatred of Antifa would be condemned and combatted.
Shortly after the El Paso massacre, a terrorism expert appeared on my TV screen claiming that white nationalist terrorists were just like Islamic jihadists. Not long after, another expert in another interview said more or less the same thing. An August 5th New York Times article opens by stating, “Many scholars of terrorism see worrying similarities between the rise of the Islamic State and that of white nationalist terrorism…”
Both subscribe to a supremacist ideology, said the experts, and both are willing to die for their beliefs.
That didn’t seem quite right to me because, in many respects, the two groups are polar opposites. The white nationalist are, well, nationalists. And jihadists are, by and large, internationalists. Jihadists fight for Islam—a universal religion that is meant for all people of all races. Moreover, they are much more likely to identify with the ummah—the worldwide community of Muslim believers—than with the particular state or nation in which they live. A radical Muslim living in England typically feels little sense of loyalty to England.
Another obvious difference between the two groups is that jihadists are motivated by religion, and white supremacists, with a few exceptions, are not. The latter may feel a loose association with Christianity, but many are agnostics, atheists, and neo-Nazis. The last words that many jihadist victims hear is “Allahu akbar.” But white nationalists are not in the habit of shouting “Jesus is Lord” when they open fire.
In addition, while white supremacists claim to be fighting for the white race and/or Western Civilization, they are rejected by the majority of whites and also by the representatives of Western Civilization (clergy, elected leaders, educators, etc.) By contrast, polls show that a significant percentage of Muslim believe that jihadists are justified. Muslim leaders may give lip service to condemnations of Islamist terrorists because they know that is what the world expects. But their condemnations often contain built-in loopholes. For example, an Islamic leader may say that “Islam condemns all attacks on innocent people,” knowing full well that in Islamic theology non-Muslim are, by definition, not innocent.
The past masters of this doublespeak are the leaders of the Palestinian Authority. On the one hand, they claim to deplore terrorism. On the other hand, they name streets, squares, parks, and schools in honor of terrorists, and provide families of terrorists with a lifetime income. Westerner’s in the know refer to it as the “pay to slay” program. In the Muslim world, the people that we call terrorists are (if they are killed in the course of jihad) referred to as “martyrs,” and they are highly honored.
Another difference between the two groups is that Islamic terrorists seem to be much better organized and funded than white supremacists. There are hundreds of well-known Islamic terrorist groups worldwide, and some of them possess armies. But in the world of white supremacists there seems to be no equivalent of ISIS, al-Qaeda, or Hezbollah.
Where does the money come from to support these armies and militias? Obviously, several wealthy and not so wealthy Muslim states fund jihadists; but so, in an indirect way, do many ordinary Muslims. Alms-giving or zakat is a religious obligation for all Muslims and is usually paid in the form of a yearly tax. Zakat is used for charitable and religious purposes, but, since one of the main Islamic religious duties is to perform jihad, zakat can be a way of contributing to the jihad without getting your hands dirty. Just as some Irish-American money once flowed to the IRA, Arab-American and Somali-American dollars are now flowing to al-Qaeda, ISIS, and al-Shabaab.
In addition, jihadists receive considerably more moral support than do white terrorists. For one thing, their families often know and approve of their activities, and may even help in the planning. Indeed there are several examples of Palestinian mothers who raise their sons to be jihadists.
What’s more, jihadists receive a form of indirect moral support from Western societies. The latter have proven to be exceedingly protective of the religious ideology that motivates the jihadists. While condemning acts of terror, the leaders of our mainstream institutions heap praise on the “peaceful” faith that inspires the terror.
On the other hand, nobody praises the peaceful nature of white supremacist ideology. There was a time in decades past when local officials and local law enforcement tacitly or even openly supported white supremacists. But that is, thankfully, no longer the case. By contrast, cultural jihad groups such as CAIR and ISNA have no trouble in finding support from government officials at all levels, and from news media, academia, and even the Catholic Church.
Better make that “especially the Catholic Church”. Many Catholic leaders in the U.S. wholeheartedly support CAIR’s anti-Islamophobia campaign, proclaim their “solidarity” with Islam, and hire radical Islamic professors to teach in Catholic universities such as Georgetown. Meanwhile, Pope Francis, seemingly oblivious to the consequences, continues to welcome masses of Muslim migrants into Europe.
There are, in short, a number of problems with the claim that white nationalists and Islamic jihadists are evil twin brothers. There are some similarities between the two groups, but the differences are substantial. The chief difference is that mainstream America disavows the white supremacist agenda, but—through its support of the cultural jihadists—it acts as an enabler of much of the Islamist agenda. More importantly, the intense focus on these two supremacist groups distracts our attention from a third, highly dangerous group.
As it happens, there is a group of mostly white domestic terrorists that does fit the evil twin-brother profile. But it’s not the white nationalists. If you’re looking for a close relative of the jihadists, look no further than the black-clad Antifa.
Antifa? We don’t hear much about them—most probably because the liberal media doesn’t want to call attention to them. Yet there seem to be a great many of them. Antifa is able to mobilize large numbers of protesters, agitators, and street fighters on a moment’s notice in any part of the country. And they usually outnumber whatever group it is they wish to disrupt. But it’s not only groups that they target. In June a large Antifa gang in Portland surrounded reporter Andy Ngo, beat him up, and put him in the hospital with a brain hemorrhage.
Antifa is composed of militant far left groups who believe in taking “direct action” against their opponents. The name “Antifa” is short for “anti-fascist,” but they don’t mind using fascist tactics. They disrupt peaceful meetings and marches, throw punches, bottles, bricks, and even Molotov cocktails.
Although television “experts” tell us that white nationalist resemble jihadists, Antifa is actually much closer to the jihad model. Like jihadists, the Anifa are not nationalists, but internationalist. Although some are anarchists, the majority are socialists and communists, and like socialists everywhere they want to convert the world to their way of thinking. As Karl Marx declared in his Communist Manifesto, “You have a world to win.” Consequently, Antifa pops up all over the world wherever there are racists, sexists, capitalists or anti-immigrationists to be combatted.
Unlike the jihadists, the Antifas aren’t motivated by a religious ideology, but they are motivated by a religious-like ideology. As numerous ex-communists have testified, communism inspires a religious zeal in its adherents. Recruits to communism are told that they can transform the world and, if they die in the process, they will be dying for the sake of oppressed humanity all over the world. Antifas are cast in the same mold. Judging by the statements of Antifa organizers such as Mark Bray and Scott Crow, the Antifa are true believers who are convinced of the righteousness of their cause.
Apparently, many of the representatives of mainstream society also believe in the righteousness of Antifa’s cause. After all, the Antifa want to put a stop to racism, fascism, and hate speech. What could be wrong with that? Consequently, mainstream society turns a blind eye to their tactics of intimidation and violence. The media helps by keeping quiet about Antifa. If you get all your information from the mainstream media, you would hardly know they exist. Politicians, likewise, are happy to pretend that white supremacists are the only domestic terror group around.
Local officials and police also play their part—or, more accurately, decline to play their part. As Mark Steyn puts it, “Antifa. . . perpetrate violence with the support and connivance of powerful Democratic politicians and their hideously politicized police departments.” In reference to the beating of Andy Ngo while the police looked the other way, Steyn writes:
In Democrats’ northern fiefdoms the cops increasingly behave as they did in the party’s old southern fiefdoms—they‘re there not to keep the peace but to ensure that their buddies in the Klan–whoops, sorry, I mean Klantifa–get to give the designated “troublemakers” a bloody good hiding.
In Europe, where Antifa operates with even more impunity than in America, the bias in their favor is more glaring. Take the numerous Antifa attacks on PEGIDA—an anti-mass immigration group that became known initially for their candlelight “evening strolls” in Dresden, Germany. Police in Germany and elsewhere not only failed to intervene to protect the peaceful marchers, they occasionally informed Antifa of the marchers’ route. This despite the fact, that many of the PEGIDA participants were families with children.
The police are not the only enablers of Antifa. European media plays its part by describing PEGIDA as “extreme right-wing,” and by portraying the Antifa attacks as “clashes” between the two parties—just as the world media has long described Boko Haram attacks on Christians in Nigeria as “clashes.”
PEGIDA, by the way, stands for “Patriotic Europeans against the Islamization of the West.” Which brings us to a central point: Antifa not only resembles Islamists, it has taken it upon itself to protect Islamic interests. The Antifa animus against PEGIDA stems mainly from the fact that PEGIDA opposes Islamization. Likewise, as one Antifa supporter helpfully explained, Andy Ngo was not attacked because of his race but because he’s a “Muslim hating fascist.” Unknown to most Americans there has long been a tacit alliance between the left and radical Islam. Numerous examples of the “red-green” alliance can be found in Jamie Glazov’s well-documented exposé United in Hate. Among the most consequential of these “alliances” was the left-leaning Obama administration’s love affair with various radical Islamist states and organizations such as Iran and the Muslim Brotherhood.
One last observation. The media silence about Antifa combined with its condemnation of white nationalists suggests that a certain strategy is now in play which conservatives Americans might not understand until it is too late.
In a sane world, both the racial hatred of white supremacists and the ideological hatred of Antifa would be condemned and combatted. But the media, along with liberal politicians and academics, have no interest in combatting Antifa. Like Antifa, they too lean to the left. Consequently, they sympathize with Antifa’s objectives, and overlook it extremist measures.
One of the main Antifa objectives is to deplatform and silence people they disagree with—the “haters” as they call them. But Antifa’s definition of a “hater” is quite broad. And so also is the definition employed by liberals and leftists in general. About half of the Democrat presidential candidates have already declared that Donald Trump is a “white supremacist.” And from there, it’s just a short leap to the conclusion that all the people who support Trump are haters.
If conservative-minded people rashly sign-on to the left’s silence-all-haters campaign, they will soon discover that they are on the list. They will also find that there is no corresponding call to silence the voices of radical leftists or radical Islamists. The net result is that the hands of the Antifas and the jihadists will be strengthened, while the voices of those who have doubts about mass immigration and Islamization will be silenced.
What about Catholics? What are they to think? Unfortunately, Catholics can’t often rely on Catholic leaders to help them make the necessary distinctions. Bishops are quick on the draw when there is the slightest hint of racism or nationalism, but they have relatively little to say about the thousands of African Christians who are killed in “clashes” with Muslim militia. And, of course, they have no patience with Christians who are critical of immigrants who won’t assimilate. Nationalists are on the bishops’ radar, but Antifa is not. After one of PEGIDA’s peaceful marches, Ludwig Schick ,the Archbishop of Bamberg, said that “Christians must not take part in PEGIDA.” Why? Because:
PEGIDA activists spread racial hatred and stir up irrational anxieties against the people; they are a reservoir of diffuse aggression against people of other cultures and religions.
It’s likely, of course, that the thing about PEGIDA that really annoys Schick is that word “Patriotic.” It’s not just white nationalists but all nationalists that are considered suspect by many bishops—and this despite the Church’s clear teaching about the legitimacy of patriotism.
By contrast, the bishops seem to have great respect for international organizations. It’s telling that Archbishop Schick has also called for “blasphemy laws”—laws which are intended to silence any criticism of Islam. Silencing critics of Islam is also, coincidentally, one of the goals of Antifa.
The left-liberal establishment has basically given cover to Antifa and other similar groups. In the end that may prove to be a greater danger to our society than the threat posed by white supremacists. You have undoubtedly heard of the El-Paso shooter’s “conservative” leanings. It’s less likely that you’ve heard all the details about Connor Betts, the self-described leftist who killed nine people and injured dozens of others in Dayton Ohio a mere fifteen hours after the El-Paso massacre. One “minor” detail is that Betts expressed support for Antifa and was known to wear Antifa masks during on-stage performances with his death metal band.
A good many people who come across that item may well wonder what Antifa is. Given the scanty coverage that the media has provided, it might just as well be some other death metal band.
This article originally appeared in the August 14, 2019 edition of Catholic World Report.
Pictured above: Antifa Protesters
Photo credit: San Antonio Express-News