Antifa is a foreign imported insurgency devoted to overthrowing the United States Constitution, three Center panelists conclude.
Its organized violence today is along the same formula as insurgent violence has always been, with the only difference being the lack of a physical command-and-control structure.
That’s the consensus of three experts who look at Antifa from different points of view: A counterterrorism analyst, a former member of Antifa, and a former recruit of 1970s radicals who shared thoughts at the Center’s June 4 webinar.
Kyle Shideler, the Center’s Director for Homeland Security and Counterterrorism noted how the Antifa demonstrated both an ideological and organizational continuity with previous leftist militant groups such as Weather Underground and The May 19th Communist Organization, to undermine and overthrow the United States. “The Real History of Antifa” is Shideler’s latest article in The American Mind.
Parallels with 1970s extremism
Former Antifa militant Gabriel Nadales, a Los Angeles activist, described how extremists recruited him to the cause of fighting “fascism” in America under the guise of combating racism. He soon learned that Antifa is a totalitarian movement that permits no real dissent, uses racism as a cynical recruitment tool to build a violent movement to overthrow the American way of life by calling everything “fascist.”
The third participant, the Center’s Director for Strategy J. Michael Waller, described how, as a high school student in the 1970s, communist extremists exploited his concerns for the environment by recruiting and training him to destroy property and fight police and the National Guard. When his recruiters later ridiculed him for being a real environmentalist, they said that their real goal was to overthrow “American capitalism,” at which point the teenage Waller quit and devoted his life to fighting left-wing movements.
One of the biggest takeways from the webinar is that all three guests came to the same conclusions in different times and places. Shideler’s scholarly research of Antifa’s roots as a German Communist movement from the 1930s that attacked all German institutions in the name of fighting fascism did, in the end, intimidate and terrorize mainstream political parties and enable Hitler to take power in the name of bringing order back to the country.
Radicalized teachers are an important recruitment tool
Nadales described how teachers and professors recruited idealistic students like himself in the 2010s to buy their own black uniforms, masks, and protest gear to fight in the streets and destroy property in the struggle against nonexistent “fascism.”
Waller said his own experiences as a 1970s anti-nuclear activist in New England – with a teacher acting as the recruiter – were similar to Nadales’ southern California experiences with Antifa nearly 40 years later. Both quit the movements soon after joining them once they realized that they had been duped into joining a force hostile to the country.
Nadales now works for the Leadership Institute, founded by Morton Blackwell, a veteran conservative organizer and aide to president Ronald Reagan, to promote conservative ideas and political candidates.
Antifa seeks to overthrow the United States Constitution
All three participants agreed that movement organizers, then as now, are ideologically hostile to the American Constitution, with many embracing forms of socialism, including Marxism-Leninism, as well as anarchy, to overthrow our way of life.
They also agreed that Antifa is a foreign import, with foreign organization and ideological inspiration, and should therefore be declared a foreign terrorist organization. Shideler cited a new Center for Security Policy Decision Brief calling for the federal government to declare Antifa as a foreign terrorist organization because of the unusual advantages it gives the US and its allies to combat the network.
Waller pointed out that the daughter of notorious 1970s German terrorist Ulrike Meinhof considers Antifa to be the successor movement to her mother’s Baader-Meinhof Gang, later known as the Red Army Faction.
The Center will soon provide partial transcripts.