Against Fascism and Anti-Fascism
An Appalachian Anti-Fascist's Experience with Disillusonment
A critical perspective of anti-racist and anti-fascist politics in the U.S.
Against Fascism and Anti-Fascism
We consider as definitive that the only real enemy of fascism, or of any other Bonapartist attempt put in place by the bourgeoisie to crush our class, is the revolutionary proletariat. But the revolutionary struggle against fascism cannot be separated from the struggle against all the other fractions of the bourgeoisie, including those claiming to be anti-fascist, who show nothing more than a desire to maintain capitalist exploitation under another form and under the dictatorship of other managers. In this sense, "anti-fascism", proclaimed by these factions, is most of the time only the facade of anti-fascism which only makes use of this terminology from opportunism with the aim of more easily confronting a capitalist competitor.”
-" Capitalism At Work: The Bombing of Dresden", Communism #10 (form the Internationalist Communist Group, 1997)
Several years ago, I participated in a militant confrontation with Neo-Nazis, and was arrested, in a small Appalachian city in that I have lived in all my life. I believe that my name, age, ethnicity, and gender are unimportant details in recounting my story, and also unimportant in regards to the conclusions I have drawn from my experiences.
The story begins on Stormfront, the largest white supremacist community on the Internet. The Nazis who lived in my city, like many political extremists of our generation, pounced on the opportunity of using the Internet to expand their social network, without thinking of the blatant compromises in personal security that can occur in doing so. In other words, they announced the formation of a local group of "patriots" and "nationalists", using a section of the Stormfront message board set aside for such purposes.
But the Internet was not made for Neo-Nazis, or members of any other brand of violent political radicalism. It was designed, and is maintained, for and by the telecommunications sector of capitalist industry, made up of corporations such as Google, a company on the avant-garde of developing newer and more sophisticated ways to monitor, record, and catalogue all aspects of daily life. Thus, the announcement was not limited to those who happen to closely monitor Stormfront.org, but also to anyone who had a Google News alert set for the name of the beloved city of my birth.
Hence how I came to be pulled aside, after leaving an event I had attended at the local anarchist community center, and asked if i wanted to help disrupt a local Neo-Nazi meeting that was going to occur in the near future. The person asking me was a childhood friend, and I was very excited about participating.
In turns out, the local white nationalists at least had the sense not to post the date and location of their first meeting directly on Stormfront. Their (obviously ineffective) gesture at security culture involved having to join, via e-mail inquiry, a separate, members-only discussion forum, this time one of those dinky free ones that Yahoo lets create for free, for local "patriots". An accomplice of my friend had, of course, already succeeded in joining this group and gaining access to all of it's private messages by creating a bogus e-mail and Stormfront account and inquiring to join under the pretense of being a fellow Nazi. Mostly among these private messages, the majority of them made by a single user, were, obviously, disparaging remarks about Jews, New Afrikans, Chicanos, and queers, most of them involving some sort of threat of physical violence, (the one I can still remember very vividly is a cartoon suggesting a new security policy for the U.S.-Mexican border, accompanied by an illustration of a hideous caricature of a Mexicano's severed head impaled on a spike) along with much more flattering, but equally grotesque, descriptions of "Aryan" women. Also topics of frequent conversation were gold, (my father, a right-wing populist in his own eccentric way, loves to joke that the radical right has been giving the gold industry free publicity for 60 years) "peak oil", the then-imminent collapse of the stock market, and venomous resentment towards then-president George W. Bush, who was nicknamed "Jeorge Bush", and his "cabal" of "Jewish neo-cons".
Some contextual information: My city has one of the largest immigrant populations in the Southeast. With a population of only around 25,000 full-time residents, over eighty languages are spoken in our city's schools, including many indigenous languages of Central and South America. Besides Latin American immigrants, my home is host to (relatively) large Kurdish, Ukranian, Russian, and Tibetan communities, as well as many white-collar East-Asians and Africans, who arrive here with student visas to study at a local, Mennonite-run university in hopes of becoming community mediators, social workers, and professional peace activists. Among them was my friend Philip, a devout Jehovah's Witness from Zambia who dreamed of being a social worker in the U.S., but became a homeless and destitute illegal immigrant when his student visa ran out, living in the Salvation Army shelter and wracking up tens of thousands of dollars in hospital bills from visits to the emergency room that were necessary as a consequence of his full-blown AIDS. Philip was certainly not a radical of any kind, but to me he was the embodiment of the oppressed and exploited "working-class person of color" I naively believed myself to be fighting for at the time.
The ethnic majority in my city, and the surrounding country-side, are rural, Appalachian whites of Scotch-Irish and German Anabaptist descent; "rednecks", or as I've also heard them referred to as by middle-class bigots, "white niggers". And of course there's the black people, who, up until the mid-to-late 60s, resided and ran businesses in a neighborhood comprising about a third of our downtown. Then, in the name of downtown revitalization, they were forced out of their homes by the local establishment, first given exorbitantly under-valued offers for their property, and then evicted using eminent domain when they refused. Their homes and businesses (century-old, two- and three-story buildings) were demolished to make room mostly for asphalt parking lots, and, with no other choice, they migrated to cheap, mass-product housing projects on the periphery of my city.
And there's another ethnic group worth mentioning; the "Yankees" or "carpet-baggers". Young people, mostly from Northern Virginia and New Jersey, mostly from wealthy families, who migrate southward to attend a state-run business college, much more expansive than the above-mentioned Mennonite school in terms of both geography and influence in local politics. Around school season, they outnumber the full-time residents. The university is loathed among the city's working-class residents, especially the white "rednecks". Among the most recent controversies involving the school centered around a three-story, concrete parking lot built for a campus expansion. The contention rested on the fact that the parking lot was built on what was once a working-class, white neighborhood, occupied by historic, century-old buildings, including a church and a mom-and-pop funeral home. The city's whites were displaced with eminent domain, as their black brethren had been decades before. However, any appreciation of the similarity of the situations was drowned out by a deafening propaganda campaign conducted by local law enforcement, centering around a "gang" crisis used to justify controversial prison expansions (the newly-built, fortress-like concrete jail seeming disturbingly out of place in our city's downtown) and the creation of a "gang task-force". Black and Hispanic youth were arrested for "gang activity" that included playing basketball in public. One 16-year-old Salvadoran boy was tried on felonious, gang-related charges for carving "SUR-13 on a highschool desk with pencil. All of these efforts were spear-headed by our local prosecutor's office, whose head prosecutor is a charismatic, right-wing matriarch beloved one half of the city's working-class and despised by the other. (And who will become an important player later in this narrative)
Like any student body, our town's Goliath university had its anarchist subculture, which lead to the creation of the city's first and only "Infoshop". Though the dozen-or-so individuals who managed the Infoshop were mostly Yankees, they succeeded in attracting many lifelong residents such as myself to their cause. The Infoshop, located in one of the city's poorer neighborhoods, was very popular among working-class Latinos and blacks, mostly due to its services as a free store for clothing and other commodities. But there was sometimes a large gap between the white, middle-class anarchists and their impoverished, colored counterparts. One black anarchist described the local Infoshop subculture as "all talk, no action". The Infoshop's leadership was also unique among Euro-American anarchists, in that it was predominately female. This was the consequence of a schism that occured within the inner politics of the Infoshop. A prominant local activist, who belonged to the board that functioned as the Infoshop's management organ, sexually abused two female board-members, and was accused of trying to dominate and control the group. He was, luckily, forced out, and with him left much of the standard socialist and anti-imperialist politics that once governed the town's student subculture, replaced by an attitude more governed by traditional spirituality and anti-industrialism. Although I view this as a positive change, I think it accounts for why almost all of the more intelligent and constructive participants in the local anarchist movement chose to abandon activism and metropolitan existence altogether in favor of rural survivalism and studious preparation for small-scale communal self-sufficiency. As the Infoshop began to wind down, many of my comrades felt the (arguably immature) pull to "leave a lasting mark" on my city before they departed.
Our first mistake in trying to organize a covert anti-fascist resistance, at least in my mind, was the length at which we stretched to recruit in planning and executing this intended disruption of a public Nazi gathering. Rather than settling for three or four people who knew each other intimately and trusted each other extensively, (which, ultimately, was all we would have needed) we conscripted new-comers whom we didn't know very well, as well as old-timers with a propensity more for color and eccentricity than competent political organizing.
Immediately a strong tactical disagreement emerged among the party. My childhood friend and I, neither of whom had any plans of leaving the city any time soon, wanted to send one of us in under-cover, to infiltrate the group on a permanent, or at least long-term basis, so that we could monitor their activities, stay one step ahead of them, even sabotage and manipulate the organization from the inside. This first meting, which we knew would be small, was not the appropriate place for any public spectacle. At most, another of us should go and try to discretely photograph the Nazis.
Others disagreed, adamantly. Long-term infiltration of the area's extreme right didn't concern them. They weren't going to be in my town forever and they wanted to uproot the Nazis now. The single most important thing was letting them know that someone in our community was willing to take a public stand against their racist, sexist, homophobic hate.
Rather than standing our ground, we quickly acquiesced, a decision I still regret. The bizarre compromise we came upon, more half-baked than either of the original plans, was to send one of us in to pose as a Nazi and sit in on the meeting. (with a tape recorder in pocket, of course) Then, a group consisting of the rest of us would storm into the building, shout down the Nazis, (photographing them in the process) and loudly announce the formation of our chapter of "Anti-Racist Action". With the intelligence we would collect on the Nazis, we would continue to further pester them and ruin their lives. "Anti-Racist Action" was a title that militant anti-fascists across the U.S. adopted freely and casually, and our decision to use it was rooted mostly in our amusement at how Neo-Nazis on the Internet believed it to be a real, formal network of anti-fascist militants. Somewhat of a Maoist at the time, I shuddered at the website for the national Anti-Racist Action, (which was written by God-knows-whom) which was barren of anything resembling (what I thought at the time were) intelligent anti-imperialist concepts. Instead of articulating that the African diaspora in North America was its own nation, there were merely cheesy, P.C., Social Democrat-friendly aphorisms about "black pride". While most white anarchists got their lesson in racism 1.0.1. from Tim Wise and bell hooks, my friends and I were more interested in two Chicago Maoist intellectuals of the 1980s, J. Sakai and Butch Lee, who saw "white privilege" not as an ethereal state of being forced on whites by "the establishment", but as a material condition that was being slowly revoked by the emergence of a neo-colonial order to be governed over by a multi-ethnic bourgeoisie..
Perhaps we should have first guessed that our adversary was not exactly worthy when they revealed the secret location of their white nationalist rendezvous - A Starbucks coffeeshop inside of a Barnes & Noble bookstore. Perhaps I should have first begun to assume the course of participating in this action to be unwise, considering my mother was friends with the store's assistant manager, who could easily recognize my face. Being recognized wasn't going to be an issue for us because we would protect our faces with bandannas. I was one of two of us at the time who was aware that concealing one's face in public is a felony charge in the state we were in - and I felt guilty later for not pointing out what I assumed was common knowledge. It wasn't an issue for me.
Suffering from mood swings at the time, I had shaved my head in an insomniacal delirium. The individual who planned on being the infiltrator backed down, because he was a social worker who feared his job security. I too, was a social worker, but was less concerned with such matters, and with my new haircut, I was looked on as our group's fortuitous savior. I was John Sampson, a marginalized young skinhead with two Jewish names. I rode my bike to Barnes & Noble and left in the back seat of a cop car.
Myself excluded, there were three present at the first meeting of the Valley Patriots. A young man named Dan, I would guess in his late 20s, married, thin, middle-class, geeky, and with a leather jacket that made him resemble James Dean. Dan was very intelligent and well-spoken. He said he worked for the public school system out in the county, and that he was teaching the children "the real reason Iceland is different from Haiti". Dan's son was Autistic, and he expressed concern for his child's safety in the midst of news that toys imported from China contained lead. He was the one really into the gold standard, the collapse, and peak oil, yet he was obviously only playing at being a survivalist. His primary gift was obviously with computers. He was the one who had organized the meeting, and I was the first to be greeted by him.
Pretending to be from New England, (don't ask me why) I was asked if folks were "waking up" there. He went on to express unadulterated delight with the recent surge in publicity and public support for anti-immigrant groups such as the Minutemen. Remarking on anti-immigrant demonstrations, he said "these people might not consciously realize the problem is racial, but deep down inside, they know. They wouldn't be doing this if it was a bunch of Swedish people coming here."
The second one to arrive had a name I have since forgotten. He was a much older man, and before he arrived, Dan expressed amazement with the man's sexual prowess. Unlike Dan, he was real salt-of-the-Earth, speaking with a thick Southern dialect. Also unlike Dan, he was not a heathen. Dan the Odinist looked upon Christianity as Jewry, whereas this other fellow believed in the principles of Christian Identity: Anglo-Saxons were the real ancient Israelites, all other races are "pre-Adamic" and therefore soulless, Ashkenazim are descended from Turkish mongrels, the Bible had been edited by a masonic conspiracy to say otherwise, and God has chosen the White Race. The Southerner was a local farmer, wore a cowboy hat, and claimed to be friends with a local Republican politician. (A claim I've never really questioned, to be honest) Both he and Dan expressed admiration for the cleverness of their imagined Jewish oppressors.
They gave me several copies of a paper called the "Middle American", to give to my apolitical friends. They were devoid of racialist rhetoric and spoke only in respectable, mainstream conservative populist terms about subjects such as illegal immigration and out-sourcing. Prominently displayed on the front page was a photograph of Republican congressman Ron Paul, wildly popular at that time prior to the electoral primaries, who both Nazis were very thoroughly impressed with. I later found out that during the early 90s, Dr. Paul had a political newsletter filled with diatribes, many ghost-written by Neo-Confederate and anarcho-capitalist Lew Rockell, meant to appeal to the militia movement that was immensely popular at the time:
"our country is being destroyed by a group of actual and potential terrorists -- and they can be identified by the color of their skin. [...] only about 5% of blacks have sensible political opinions [...] I think we can safely assume that 95% of the black males in that city are semi-criminal or entirely criminal."
"If you have ever been robbed by a black teen-aged male, you know how unbelievably fleet-footed they can be."
"Order was only restored in L.A. [during the 1992 riots] when it came time for the blacks to pick up their welfare checks three days after rioting began"
"A mob of black demonstrators, led by the 'Rev.' Al Sharpton, occupied and closed the Statue of Liberty recently, demanding that New York be renamed Martin Luther King City 'to reclaim it for our people.' [...] maybe a name change is in order. Welfaria? Zooville? Rapetown? Dirtburg? Lazyopolis? [...] Next time, hold that demonstration at a food stamp bureau or crack house."
"If you heard a certain behavior of yours caused a deadly disease, wouldn't you immediately cease and desist? Well, gays in San Francisco do not obey the dictates of good sense. [...] these men don't really see a reason to live past their fifties. They are not married, they have no children, and their lives are centered on new sexual partners. [...] they enjoy the attention and pity that comes with being sick. Put it all together, and you've got another wave of AIDS infections that you, dear taxpayer, will be asked to pay for."
"Homosexuals, not to speak of the rest of society, were far better off when social pressure forced them to hide their activities."
""I've been told not to talk, but these stooges don't scare me. Threats or no threats, I've laid bare the coming race war in our big cities. The federal-homosexual cover-up on AIDS (my training as a physician helps me see through this one.) The Bohemian Grove--perverted, pagan playground of the powerful. Skull & Bones: the demonic fraternity that includes George Bush and leftist Senator John Kerry, [...] The Israeli lobby, which plays Congress like a cheap harmonica."
I also learned that, in addition to Rockwell, Dr. Paul had connections to Larry Pratt, Pete Peters, the White Citizens Council, David Duke, the John Birch Society, Internet conspiracy theorist Alex Jones, and "None Dare Call it Conspiracy" author Gary Allen, and that entire sections of Stormfront and other white supremacist message boards were dedicated to discussion of his presidential campaign. I would later wonder what all these Nazis thought when they saw Dr. Paul on television with Cynthia McKinney and Rosa Clemente in a desperate attempt by the third parties to consolidate and compete with Obama's immense popularity.
The gathering's fourth member, was another man whose name my mind has discarded. He was graying, but looked in better physical shape than the other older gentlemen present. Looking back, I now suspect him of being local law enforcement agent. If my suspicions are correct, that would mean that half of this minuscule group was comprised of enemy infiltrators. He wore a shirt that said "World's Best Grandpa", and when my anti-fascist friends began their confrontation, he darted out the door, because that's what the world's best grandpa would have done, and what I should have had the sense to do.
The belligerent swarm of anti-racists emerged from corners of the bookstore, where my accomplices had been masquerading as customers. The small crowd of people around us seemed bored and mildly irritated. They began photographing us and yelling "Nazis leave!", and, convincingly, I covered my face and yelled at my cohorts as if panicked and frustrated. Dan just stood there, smiling, consenting to the photography, and trying to reason with them. With ingenious deliberation, both Dan and the other Nazi insisted they weren't Nazis, but mainstream populist conservatives, interested only in the presidential aspirations of Ron Paul. (The second Nazi even claimed to be Jewish, a statement of partial truth according to his deranged ideology)
The anti-fascists left. An old Jewish woman stood up and told the Nazi to "shut up", and that she "didn't care" who he was or what he was for. The police arrived before I could excuse myself. My mother's friend the store manager ran up to me, calling me by name and referring to my parents. I looked her in the eye and said "M'am, you have me mistaken for someone else", and she apologized embarrassingly. That's when I learned that with marginally competent acting abilities, you can persuade some people to believe anything. I told them I was John Sampson, that I wasn't from here, but from New England, and that I didn't have an I.D. or social security number. If I really was John Sampson, and I really didn't have an I.D. or social security number, I would have still been arrested, because not even existing in their files is itself essentially a crime. I was taken to a police station, where I refused to give my name. Discovering who I was by other means, they charged me with filing a false police report, a misdemeanor. Two of my accomplices were arrested. One had his license plate photographed, the other was a notorious local performance artist whose bandanna completely failed to hide his identity. (Like Clark Kent and Superman, my father would joke) All three of us were interrogated, but the police had no interest in anarchism or the radical left. They only spoke of the Neo-Nazis, and with a sense of urgency, asking us questions about splits among various white nationalist factions.
A wealthy relative paid for my bail, and as a consequence I became imprisoned in her house. She was a Social Democrat, white, but the mother of a half-Chicano son. She believed that my political beliefs were caused by "manic-depression" and that I was "brainwashed" by a family whom I was close with. Her religious creed a syncretism of liberal Christianity and New Age spirituality, she was a devout pacifist, and throughout several fruitless political conversations, I struggled in attempt to explain my position to her. But to her I was an "anti-Christ" whose spirit had been corrupted by immorality, and who was forbidden to leave her house except to go to work. Because I suffered from "manic-depression", in her mind, I was unfit to live alone and was told I would had the police called on me if I tried to escape.
This is where I met Philip, a fellow "prisoner" in my relative's house. After being expelled from the hospital, he wound up under her supervision. She ran an assisted living service for the elderly out of her home. Philip, however, was not elderly, and mentally fit. In spite of this fact, he was lied to and treated as a child, allowed only to leave the house under the supervision members of his church. He was not allowed to prepare his own food. My relative used his AIDS as an excuse to justify that, in the same way she used my alleged mental illness to justify my house arrest
The treatment I received from her was severe, the treatment I received from the courts was anything but. Myself and the two others had all charges dropped. I wasn't expecting much - community service, maybe six months to a year in jail. I certainly wasn't expecting the judge to thank me rather than admonish me for what I had done, warning me with a paraphrase from Edmund Burke that "evil triumphs when good men stand by and do nothing."
It turns out the police department's Gang Task Force didn't exist just to harass black and mestizo adolescents. They had also been monitoring Dan's internet activities just as effortlessly as we had, and had known about the meeting. (The beginning of my suspicions about the World's Best Grandpa) I had known that our city's head prosecutor was a college friend of one of my uncles, but that didn't prepare me for my day in court: standing before the judge, hearing two mens' pleas for my charges to be dropped. The one I knew as my lawyer, the second, whose words so closely mimicked the first's, that I had assumed him to be his assistant, until I was filled with astonishment at the realization that the second man was a prosecutor.
Having been taught, through Leftist indoctrination, that "fascists are tools of the state", a position argued in an essay of the same name written by anarchist celebrity Peter Gelderloos, I had no explanation for the immense favor that had been granted to me by the local law enforcement apparatus. I began to question the foundations of my very worldview. Almost a year later, I saw a flier for a local musical event called "Rock Against Racism". The logo used was a noose, encircled, with a horizontal line through it, and prominently advertised along with the names of various popular local bands set to perform, was the guest of honor: our city's head prosecutor.
There was something so absolutely curious and bizarre about that flier that I stared at it with a sense of mysticism and awe. I was unable to comprehend it, but in the back of my mind I knew it was an immensely important discover. I researched the event and discovered that Mrs. Prosecutor helped organize the event as a publicity stunt for a campaign she was spear-heading to make noose-hanging a felonious hate crime. White poultry workers had gotten into the habit of hanging empty nooses to harass and intimidate their black co-workers, and I was amazed to discover that our prosecutors are just as eager to arrest and incarcerate working-class whites who were racist assholes as they were working-class people of color. Just as the judicial system's prosecution of randomly selected rapists, child molesters, and serial murders in no way threatened the foundations of our patriarchal establishment, the same was true of the persecution of various expressions of fringe, extremist white supremacy. In my situation, at least, Gelderloos was dead wrong. We the anarchists were the tools of the state, used against the fascists, who the state correctly perceived as a more dangerous foe.
Anti-fascist ideology seldom bothers to make a distinction between "fascism" as an observed social phenomenon, groups that consider themselves fascist, and groups that consider themselves specifically national socialist. There was a massive ideological gap between Italian fascism and German nazism, so much so that at one point Hitler was prepared to declare war on Mussolini. And modern-day anti-fascists have fallen into the sloppy habit of correctly correlating similar political tendencies, whose participants have similar economic motivations, without noting the completely dissimilar cultural context; for example, the radical right in the U.S. who are mostly Christians and American patriots and thus look back nostalgically at the American conquest of German fascism, it being such an essential aspect of America's pseudo-mythology. Undoubtedly, Nazism has close ties to the establishment in many European countries, and there are police officers across the U.S. with Nazi sympathies, but I can say with certainty that no movement that proclaims itself to be a form of national socialism, or that uses swastikas, Adolf Hitler, or any other nazi imagery, will never succeed in the U.S. I saw the almost-fanatical devotion given to Neo-Nazis in the U.S. by both liberal and radical anti-fascists for what it was - picking on the easiest target.
Around the time of the 2008 election, I saw American fascism for what it was - fully alive and healthier than ever, and without any signs of connection to the heathenism, socialist hooliganism, anti-Americanism, and anti-Zionism that will forever condemn Nazism to being an unfavored and unpopular expression of right-wing populism in the U.S. I learned that vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin was a member of the "New Apostolic Reformation" religious movement, a mutant off-shoot of the "Latter Rain" movement that was denounced as a heresy by the Assemblies of God in 1946. The leader of this movement's largest organization, the World Prayer Center, is run by C. Peter Wagner, who preaches a theology of "spiritual mapping", in which prayer to God can reveal the cause of an urban area's crime, pollution, political corruptness, and traffic accidents - usually either a "geographical demon" or the hexing presence of certain individuals in the community, who are then targeted as enemies in a ritual of "spiritual warfare". When a Transcendental Meditation center burnt down in Hermet, California, local New Apostolics (who call themselves "spirit-filled Christians" to distinguish from other, false Christians) credited the fire to their prayers. A similarly successful example of "spiritual warfare" occurred in the town of Kiambu, Kenya, when Kenyan World Prayer Center preacher Thomas Muthee, lead a lynchmob that included local police to assault an accused witch known as "Mama Jane". The confrontation ended with the murder of Mama Jane's pet snake by police, and rather than trying to cover this catastrophe up, the World Prayer Center brags about it in their literature.
Yet another "spiritual warfare" mission, involving Wagner's wife, was called "Operation Ice Castle", and took place at the base of the Himilayas, and was an attempt to exorcise "the queen of heaven" from the reigon, a powerful demon that in New Apostolic cosmology is associated with the Greek goddess Diana and the Catholic veneration of the Virgin Mary. When Princess Diana and Mother Theresa both died shortly after, the Apostolics claimed this as proof of the mission's success, given their connections to the blasphemous Anglican and Catholic churches.
Muthee spoke at Sarah Palin's church in 2005, in which he accused the financial and political systems of being controlled by "Israelites" and called upon Christians to drive Islam, Buddhism, and other forms of "witchcraft" out of the American school system, going on to stress the necessity of the infiltration of political and economic institution by Christians - another important aspect of New Apostolic theology. Because we live in a "new apostolic age", God is beginning to grant supernatural powers to certain people, who are "super-apostles" appointed by God to seize control of the government and rule it back towards godliness. Throughout the course of the night, Muthee called Gov. Palin on stage, laying hands upon her to bless her upcoming gubernatorial campaign.
Another concept important to New Apostolics such as Wagner and George Otis Jr. is the "10/40 Window", which is the "a geographical delineation at 10 and 40 degrees North latitude that opens across North Africa, through the Middle East, India and ends in Indonesia." This region of the world is the "primary spiritual battleground in the world today...the Church's final evangelistic frontier." An article in April 2009's issue of Z Magazine, entitled " U.S. Evangelical Christians' Kurdish Crusade", reports on the New Apostolics' extensive missionary efforts in Kurdistan, allying with the pro-U.S. Kurdistan Regional Government in conducting intelligence-gathering operations.
If militant anti-fascists in the U.S. launched a semi-legal campaign of attempted harassment and intimidation against the World Prayer Center, as they have done to Neo-Nazis throughout the years, they would be crushed, utterly. If militant anti-fascists, on the other hand, decided to wipe out the North American Neo-Nazi movement by any available means, they could conceivably succeed. If Neo-Nazis were actually a threat, they could be attacked in their homes, getting out of their cars, etc. by masked gun-men. Their organizations could be infiltrated and squashed. But most anti-fascists in the U.S. seem utterly preoccupied with posting irrelevant and embarrassing personal information about Nazis on the Internet, and organizing to counter public Neo-Nazi demonstrations, with predictable results - 20 screaming Nazis protected by hundreds of their screaming critics with a line of cops. Why? Because the anti-fascists get the same visceral emotional gratification from these meaningless, symbolic confrontations that the fascists do.
Jews, Negroes, South Americans of pure Indian blood are to be found in the highest ranks of the Party, and the administrators of any area are always drawn from the inhabitants of that area. In no part of Oceania do the inhabitants have the feeling that they are a colonial population ruled from a distant capital."
-George Orwell, Nineteen-Eighty-Four
An even more significant thing occurred around that time - a black man was elected president of the U.S. Plenty of political regimes have made appeals to anti-racism in the past; Nixon himself even co-opted the phrase "black power", using it to refer to integration and the success of black businesses rather than the militant pursuit of self-determination. But for the first time, "anti-racism" had become the guiding ideology of the ruling class. Obama's ascension to political power was the ultimate emblem of everyone's freedom to participate in the U.S. political system, and its representation of everyone's interests. Those who insisted on remaining cynical and harboring feelings of disenfranchisement were in fact standing in the way of creating a new, unified America, for "there is no black America [or] white America, only the United States of America". The old school Civil Rights vanguard, such as Jesse Jackson, Al Sharpton, and Jeremiah Wright, were as culpable as racists in their insistence on using racially divisive rhetoric, and in their failure to see America as a place where anyone can succeed.
Starhawk, a prominent self-proclaimed anarchist and "Wiccan" , wrote a piece for the Washington Post entitled "We Have All Earned the Puppy", in which she explains that "Obama's election allows us to believe, not in him, but in the capacity of ourselves and our compatriots to move beyond racism and prejudice and choose a path of hope."
During President Obama's inauguration, there was a "call" for anarchists to "celebrate" this milestone: "instead of breaking things, [...] we should break bread with those [...] who feel moved by Obama’s inauguration [and ] stand with [those] inspired by Obama. [...] The inauguration is neither the time nor the place to critique presidential policy. [...] it’s their day, we need to give it to them." The call was signed by many people, including Howard Zinn and Noam Chomsky. When a scathing criticism of the call was posted on Infoshop.org, an anarchist website, a member of A.P.O.C. (Anarchist People of Color) referred to the anti-Obama diatribe and it's comments of mostly-positive support as a "lynchmob". Prominent "critical race theorist" Tim Wise wrote four articles on his website between the period of November 8th and November 12th, criticizing the "cynicism" of "barbiturate", "more-radical-than-thou" Leftists, ie: all Leftists who criticized Obama in any way.
It didn't seem as if these pro-Obama, "anarchists" necessarily liked Obama (although many of them clearly did) but rather, they were concerned about having to confront or express public disagreement with his mostly-working-class, black supporters. That wasn't an issue several months later, when crowds of mostly-working-class, white opponents gathered in public areas across the country to protest his policies, namely those relating to taxation. Despite the fact that the working-class whites, like the working-class blacks, were oppressed and marginalized by the capitalist system, and despite the fact that they were protesting against taxation, which anarchists naturally view as a form of economic exploitation, and that they probably had the same amount of predisposition towards anarchist ideas as the working-class blacks, anti-racist/anti-fascist militants did not exercise the same degree of caution in dealing with them:
"So we get over there and waded through the crowd, generally mean-mugging people and trying to act hard [...] We end up on the edge of the march when some fool with a god damn American flag dress shirt tucked into his pants comes up talking all kinds of crazy to us, talking about 'ya'll can't be up'air we got a permit we're liable to call the police', all kinds of dumb shit."
I was reminded of a video I once saw on YouTube of a crowd of anti-racist protesters screaming at a Neo-Nazi demonstration, yelling the word "redneck" at the Neo-Nazis over and over. Even though "redneck" was itself a term rooted in the very same class-driven ethnic chauvinism that gave birth to white supremacy, these "anti-racists" had no problem with using it.
I began to see how "anti-racist" ideology was used not only to justify reformist, Social Democratic politics, (and shout down all of its opponents as "racist") but also to apologize for fascist attitudes prevalent among communities of color, such as various chauvinistic "Afrocentric" philosophies. I recall being told a story about an genuinely critical anti-fascist group in the U.S. that decided to classify the Nation of Islam (correctly) as a fascist group and confront it in the same militant fashion as Neo-Nazis and other white supremacists. This was to the shock and disgust of liberal anti-fascist groups that pointed out that the Nation of Islam was too small and irrelevant to go after in such a way. (I guess as opposed to Neo-Nazis and other unpopular fringe groups)
When Islamic Fundamentalists spread havooc recently in Mumbai, the reaction among the left was generally that it was tragic, but should not distract from more important issues, such as the Iraq War. Imagine the reaction if Neo-Nazis or Christian Fundamentalists in Europe or America had committed an act of political violence of similar scale? It is common among the American Left, from Social Democrats to Marxists and "anarchists", to go to great lengths in insisting that neo-conservatives are wrong in characterizing Islamist radicals as fascists, even though many intelligent anti-fascists have observed that the neo-cons happen to be correct. With a similar lack of attention paid to Hindu fascists, Japanese fascists, and so on, Western anti-fascists, especially white American anti-fascists, seem to have a vested interest in painting a false picture of fascism as an exclusively white phenomenon.
"I am a light-skinned non-Arab descended from indigenous North Africans—a Berber. [...] I happily supported APOC [Anarchist People of Color] and eagerly awaited some of them to come to my area. By the time I went to a few workshops, I no longer felt so supportive. hen I sat in the meetings of APOC and listened to their presentations, however, I got the feeling that [...] they had a definition of POC based on racist American assumptions—the One-Drop Rule and the strictly visual cue of skin-tone, which marginalizes or ignores mixed-race people, [and that] they seemed very interested in making white anarchists/activists feel bad about not having POC in their groups and not having their particular POC agenda as a priority, American APOC completely ignore the ways that race is enforced in Canada, Mexico, and the Caribbean—let alone anywhere else in the world. Although they probably won’t like hearing it, this makes them typically American: isolationist, inward-looking, believing their own experiences to be unique but then, ironically, extending those attitudes onto all other cultures, acting as if they are always right. American APOC view their oppression only in terms of white supremacy, and they insist that this is the main enemy of all POC, American or not. In this way American APOC attempt to colonize—that’s right, colonize!—the race-based oppression of all POC internationally, not acknowledging that nothing recognizable as “white supremacy” exists among the majority of the world’s people. White supremacy doesn’t exist anywhere in Africa or Asia (with the exception of Australia and New Zealand—maybe), is barely hanging on in some enclaves in South America (but even there, racial politics don’t take place only in terms of 'whiteness'), and is expressed very differently in Europe than it is in the U.S. The Middle East has its own set of racialized conflicts, because not all residents there are ethnically Arab, not all Arabs are Muslim (most Muslims are Asian), and Muslims are split along religious (not racial) lines. Then there’s the 'Jewish Question,' which makes American APOC really uncomfortable. I voted with my feet, distancing myself from APOC. The American APOC discussions are an example of either/or logic (either white or not), rejecting distinctions (all POC are essentially the same, or at least should have the same agenda, and if they don’t, they aren’t 'real POC'), and a colonizing of other POC experiences to fit in with their own easy answers. Mostly people don’t talk about the logic of capitalism except maybe for the way it influences how race and white supremacy are supposed to operate. Class is off the table—all oppressions are reduced to race (and maybe a combination of race with gender). Racial markers that are not visual are ignored—a particularly American way of looking at race. The American APOC discourse leaves no place for me, an educated, light-skinned Berber; for the majority of American APOC I am invisible—even privileged because of my economic and educational background, but especially due to my light skin. Ironically (I guess?), I am more invisible among them than I am among supposedly racist white anarchists. Not because I can 'pass' as white, but because I don’t have to prove that I am anything other than an anarchist. American APOC demand some kind of “authenticity” from their comrades, some kind of blood quantum. Usually all that takes is a high melanin content, regardless of how anarchist the comrade is." "
-"APOC: Enough is Enough", June 21, 2008
I thought back to when white American Indymedia journalist Brad Will was killed by the Mexican government during civil unrest in Oaxaca. Dozens, entirely Mexicans of predominately American Indian descent, had already lost their lives in confrontation with the state, but their deaths were totally overshadowed by Will's in the English-speaking anarchist media. White anarchists were shocked at being reminded that their much-loathed "white privilege" is ultimately powerless to save them from retaliation by the forces of capitalism.
Observing the white Left's reaction to the recent riots in Oakland - from the Social-Democrats to the so-called "anarchists", I was amazed. Ignoring evidence that young, black rioters had targeted black-owned businesses and smashed up an economy car belonging to a black woman, who was then verbally assaulted by the rioters with the word "cunt", they insisted that the incident was the fault of white Leftists - spoiled suburban anarchist punks, and "authoritarian" R.C.P. Marxist-Leninists present during the demonstrations. For all their fixation on white privilege, they ignored the obvious economic privilege a back business-owner, even the owner of a small store-front, has over a young, black proletariat. Finally, I realized, that like Marxists before them with the word "proletariat", anarchists had succeeded in turning "people of color" from a description of material exploitation to a moral category. Young "men of color" couldn't possibly engage in sexist harassment of a "woman of color", because to be a "person of color" is to posses revolutionary historical agency, and thus ethical righteousness.
I realized that political correctness is not merely ineffectual, it's a necessary aspect of our social order. By changing the publicly accessible terminology from "Negro" to "black" to "African-American", the black establishment had made no fundamental change in a vernacular rooted in derogatory perception of African physiology, only softened the emotional language of the words used to discuss oppression. Terms like "African-American" and "Native American" were consistent with "positive" portrayals of "minorities" in the post-modern era of Western mass-entertainment. It's not one's ethnicity or skin color that makes one American, its one's embracement of the bourgeois cultural values that define "Americanism". Confrontations that occurred around the same time in Tibet, Palestine, Ireland, and Sri Lanka applied the same mold. "We are not Sinhalese or Tamil, we are Sri Lankan", "We are not Protestant or Catholic, we are Irish", and so on. Celebrating and embracing one's ethnic heritage is fine as long as it's done within the confines of allegiance to the bourgeois state.
And most anti-racist radicals in the U.S. are ultimately no better. They live in a world of self-denial where the majority of people of color in the U.S. are destined towards "progressive" political tendencies, unaffected by the profound religious prejudices that are in reality as deeply rooted in most black, Latino, and American Indian communities in the U.S. as they are in any white community. Ethnic groups that are nationally repressed regardless of their "whiteness", such as Basques, Corsicans, Irish Catholics, and Quebecois, are ignored, and American anti-racist dogma is so militant in its refutation of "reverse racism" that it often goes at lengths to insist that it's impossible for "people of color" to have racist ideas. Thus "people of color", as a concept, is an attempt by white "anti-racist" to homogenize their perspective of the world. In their fantasy, blacks will naturally have more affinity for Latinos than whites, because they're both "people of color", even though in reality all three groups have equally strained and distanced relationships with each other. And if a Latino calls a black a "nigger", or a black refers to a Latino as a "spic", this somehow isn't racism because racism is "institutionalized" and not dependent on individual attitudes. (At the same time, white people have to meticulously obsess over and analyze their actions to look for symptoms of "white privilege") As a consequence of this incredibly narrow worldview, the vast majority of the globe's ethnic conflicts, which are far to intricate for these anti-racist pendants to ever comprehend, are ignored, even when they involve attitudes of obvious racial supremacy. And ethnic privilege never goes beyond "white privilege" - a Bantu can't be privileged in comparison to a pygmy or Hottentot, and a ethnic Malaysian or Indonesian can't be privileged in comparison to indigenous "Negroid" inhabitants. "Critical race theory", in turns out, is ultimately entirely uncritical - both the politically incorrect "Indian" and "Aborigine" and the politically correct "American Indian" and "indigenous person" utterly fail in specifying which of the thousands of indigenous ethnic groups one belongs to. Similarly, any black person in the U.S. who takes on the brave and arduous task of researching her or his genealogy is ultimately going to discover their hundreds of distinct African ethnicities that were forcibly amalgamated to create the black race. The same is true of white Americans, who are the descendants of Welsh, Irish, Italian, Polish, Lithuanian, Hungarian, Finnish, Swedish, Danish, and Jewish immigrants once looked upon as racially impure by Anglo-Saxons.
Whereas they should be focused on destroying their "whiteness", uprooting the economic conditions that create white supremacy and white privilege, and ultimately rejecting the bourgeois, American values of "whiteness" and the artificial "white" ethnic identity themselves, white critical race theorists tend to fixate on their whiteness. It is very reminiscent of a black person so ignorant of his or her own African heritage that he or she can never think of his or herself as African, but always as "black". Only in this case, it's ignorance of, or at least uncomfortableness with one's European heritage that is truly the problem. Unwilling to embrace the libertarian and spiritually wholesome elements of their own rich ethnic heritage, they can do nothing more than romanticize the culture of others, and creating fantasies in which an radical organization's "colored" membership is an indication of its quality. All of this is ultimately rooted in quasi-Christian values that equate oppression, exploitation, and victimization with ethical righteousness. In theory, if a radical organization is sincerely radical, in that exists to both disrupt the current social, economic, and political order and build constructive alternatives to that order, it doesn't matter whether or not the organization is entirely made up of "people of color" or "Yankees" from Northern Virginia. Even if the former are predisposed towards resistance, to suggest that the latter are less useful when they do chose to resist (in the sincerest of senses) is to equate that "more oppressed" and "more victimized" is somehow better.
This clownishness is embodied most wonderfully when a certain political position is defended as the position "people of color" prefer, as if a group large enough that it expands the majority of the human race ascribes to this or that politically correct, Leftist dogma. The vast majority of "people of color", globally or in the U.S., don't identify with the term "person of color" and seldom use the term in common speech.
Nathan and Aaron Weaver, as Cascadian anarchists involved in Earth First!, felt a strong resonance with the anti-materialist, anti-industrialist, and traditional Pagan philosophy, as well as the aesthetic sensibilities, of the Scandinavian black metal scene of the early 90s, but not with the racist, anti-Semitic, and male chauvinist political ideologies expressed by many of its members. Thus they were inspired to create "Wolves in the Throne Room", a brilliant, and highly popular anarchist black metal band. However, when they toured in Germany, they were picketed, not by white supremacists, but by anarchist/anti-fascist German crust-punks. Nathan Weaver, in an interview, explains that
"the more and more I talked to these angry people, the more I realized that it was hopeless. These are people that say that Noam Chomsky is a fascist and anti-Semite. You know, Noam Chomsky isn’t allowed to speak in Germany. If he shows up to speak, angry activists will be throwing rocks at him. So when they told me that, I said, well, wait a minute, as far as I’m concerned, Noan Chomsky is a radical, extreme left-wing, anarchist, Jewish, anti-fascist activist for his entire life, and you’re trying to tell me that he’s anti-Semitic and a fascist sympathiser? So really, if that’s the perspective that you’re coming from, then I’m not going to argue with you."
To many among the German Left, to question traditional Marxist dogma regarding materialism, industrial technology, or the feasibility of sustaining current levels of material development, is to be a Nazi. This is the same German Left that has a strong Zionist faction that is highly hostile towards Palestinian anti-colonial resistance and strives to connect anyone who participates in such to the anti-Semitic politics of Islamic fascism. This is no different than American anti-racists lobbing the accusation of racism at radical critics of Social Democracy. It is exploiting the atrocities of one's ascendants in order to make an emotional appeal in lieu of rational argument. The bourgeois anti-racist uses race in the same way the bourgeoisie always has - as a method of psychological manipulation.
I was offended when my rich pacifist relative likened by anti-fascist struggle to a game of Dungeons & Dragons, (a fantasy role-playing game that it turned out Dan and I were both fans of) but she was 100% right. As Russian anarchists are being murdered by Nazi paramilitaries, Neo-Nazis in the U.S. pose as much threaten to their American equivalents as the Moonies, the Church of Scientology, or N.A.M.B.L.A. If a working-class white person isn't given the education that comes with a middle-class, cosmopolitan upbringing, and as a consequence, embraces racist ideas, they are beyond reach and should be harassed rather than reasoned worth. However, someone, such as my friend Philip, who they would consider a person of color because of his African ethnicity, and who, as a Jehovah's Witness, has equally bigoted and foolish ideas around the world, should be placated for his own good. So much of the politically correct attitude towards non-whites in general and blacks in particular seems rooted in stereotyped expectations of behavior - that a black person will get "uppity" if strict standards of politeness are breached, and if they have incorrect ideas or participate in counter-productive political projects, they are in some way more exempt that whites because somehow their expectation to analyze situations critically is more impaired than that of a white person's
Several decades ago, in an over-eagerness to impress potential black allies, members of the Weather Underground publicly declared that "all white babies are pigs", and remarked on how they enjoyed participating in acts of public belligerence towards random "honkies". Unfortunately, Euro-American anti-imperialist politics haven't matured much since then.