Fending Off The Elephant

Sometimes, if a threat doesn’t exist, you just have to invent it. Case in point: antifa, which stands for “anti-fascist.”

According to reputable sources, antifa refers to a point of view, not a formal group of any kind–there doesn’t appear to be an anti-fascist counterpart to Boogaloo Bois, or other far-right organizations, and no one identified as antifa has been arrested during the protests. (One Twitter account claiming to be antifa turned out to be run by white supremacists, and a report from rightwing extremist Cassandra Fairbanks alleging an assault by antifa also turned out to be bogus.)

But reality hasn’t kept race-baiting extremists from trying to manipulate public fears.  The inconvenient fact that there is no “there” there hasn’t stopped Trump and his merry band of propagandists from warning about the dire threat antifa poses to the American Way of Life. 

Nicholas Kristof recently reported on credulous responses to that “threat” in small towns around America, including Coquille, Oregon.

Coquille is a sleepy logging community of 3,800 people, almost all of them white. It is miles and miles from nowhere. Portland is 250 miles to the north. San Francisco is 500 miles to the south.

But Fox News is in a frenzy about rioters and looters, and President Trump warns about the anti-fascist movement known as antifa. So early this month as a small group of local residents planned a peaceful “Black Lives Matter” protest in Coquille, word raced around that three busloads of antifa activists were headed to Coquille to bust up the town.

The sheriff and his deputies donned bulletproof vests, prepared their MRAP armored vehicle and took up positions to fight off the invasion. Almost 200 local people, some shouldering rifles and others holding flags, gathered to protect their town (overshadowing the handful of people who had come to wave Black Lives Matter signs).

As Kristof goes on to report, Coquille was one of a number of small towns where deluded “patriots” armed themselves and prepared to fight the invaders. When the hordes of antifa toughs failed to materialize, the armed “patriot defenders” mostly refused to believe they’d been duped; several took to Facebook to boast that antifa had been repelled by their show of force.

The delusional response reminds me of that old joke about the guy who was constantly doing something weird (I’ve forgotten what), and was asked why he kept doing it. He replied that he was keeping the elephants away. When the questioner expressed skepticism, he pointed out that there weren’t any elephants in the room, so clearly whatever it was that he was doing, worked. (I’m not a good joke-teller in person, either.)

The antifa threat may be fanciful, but the Neo-Nazis and “race warriors” are all too real–and Trump’s “dog whistles” have become far louder and so thinly veiled that even notoriously cowardly FaceBook removed the most recent example.

In its online salvo against antifa and “far-left mobs,” President Trump’s reelection campaign displayed a marking the Nazis once used to designate political prisoners in concentration camps….

In response to queries from The Washington Post, Facebook on Thursday afternoon deactivated the ads that included the inverted red triangle.

The red symbol appeared in Facebook ads run by Trump and Vice President Pence, as well as the “Team Trump” page. It was featured alongside text warning of “Dangerous MOBS of far-left groups” and asking users to sign a petition about antifa, a loose collection of anti-fascist activists whom the Trump administration has sought to link to recent violence, despite arrest records that show their involvement is trivial.

When the triangle first appeared on the official Trump site, my son sent me a screen-shot, together with a photograph he’d taken last year when he took his children to Dachau. The photo was of a placard showing the different colored triangles the Nazis had used to identify different types of prisoners: Jews, gays, etc.

As if the triangle wasn’t explicit enough, the campaign placed exactly 88 ads using the symbol–88 is a white supremacist numerical code for “Heil Hitler.” 

Deborah E. Lipstadt, a leading American scholar of the Holocaust, compared inclusion of the symbol to the campaign’s initial decision to hold a rally in Tulsa on Juneteenth. (Trump delayed the rally by a day following an outcry, but the message had already reached its intended audience– as had the triangle.)

Antifa may not be a genuine threat to public peace, or even a real organization. But as America prepares for a general election,  the Trumpers are proving to be right about one thing: anyone opposed to them is antifa.

The elephant in the room is the elephant.


  1. In a town of 3,800 people, the sheriff’s department has an armored vehicle? It’s like kids playing cowboys and Indians. These guys have never grown up.

  2. it looks like Coquille had their Don Quixote moment! Ignorance can even make a windmill your enemy, especially if you tend to to be Willfully Ignorant! The desire to accept a paper Messiah espousing box cars full of lies everyday, shows how much they desire to be deluded into a fake panacea of their own phobias and paranoias!

  3. And while our attention has been diverted, the US Attorney for the Southern District of New York has been quietly replaced by a handpicked temp, who will serve for 6 months. That’s after the election, in case you’re wondering. Did Mr. Berman appear to be too independent for 45 and Bill Barr?

  4. And now we find that the Tulsa rally was to be nothing more than a distraction from the attempted firing of the US Atty for SDNY and that has blown up in his face. Does anyone remember The Soupy Sales Show?? That’s what this administration reminds me of every day, but without the humor.

  5. But wait! There’s more. How about the hostile takeover of our Global Broadcasting Network by a Bannon devotee? Can it get more Nazi-like? Oh yes.

    Many of us on this blog have predicted things to get much crazier as the election approaches and rational people – now paying attention (at last) – start showing up in the polls. Trump’s campaign is circling the drain with ever-increasing speed. Since he’s been screaming at his campaign operatives (I can’t imagine what sort of wretch actually works to try to get this monster re-elected), they’ve dutifully become more like Trump’s ID, a raving, hateful, foam-at-the-mouth lunatic who will stop at nothing to “win”. Except he’s not winning. All he has is a diminishing base that is become more densely hard-core. He and his idiotic campaign are, therefore, compelled to feed that core.

    Watch for many more Nazi-like moves by Trump and his Hermann Goering, Barr. Aren’t you glad you have a front-row seat?

  6. During civil unrest in Marion in 1969, some male cousins in Van Buren were bragging about how they were ‘ready’ for the ‘n****s’. I laughed and told them there was nothing anybody wanted in Van Buren so they sure weren’t going to see any strangers – black or white. People are immature and self-centered.

  7. I am sure there are many small towns like Van Buren, Bill, where Trump lunacy reigns. I just saw the same thing in Portland, IN which is the seat of Jay County. A supposed “news and info” site posted the faux report about a BLM protest in Portland and the racists posted furiously.

    Once a few of us started pointing out their blatant racism and fear-mongering, the managers of the page deleted everything. It was obvious that they are still racist assholes, but they’ve deleted all the evidence. I guess they’ll stay in the closet.

    The divide and conquer strategy has worked for millennia but it relied on separating an equally divided population. As many on this blog have pointed out over the years is we are becoming less and less divided on issues such as race. Only the hardcore racists respond to it and most of them are older rural Americans.

    It’s a dying breed with no future which is why they are so energetic and determined. The primary distraction over race is to prevent Americans from seeing the inequality of our class structure. While the protests linger, the stock market keeps going higher and the Fed has already signaled they will be buying back corporate debt soon.

    No credit card debt or student loan debt, BUT corporate debt. Think about that for a minute…

  8. talking with the workers at a plant,, they said some group,was going to invade CHAZ is Seattle,on july 4.. bikers,and a gang.. i usually dont here the fake stuff, unless its spread by to someone im having a conversation with…looked this up, wapo, some fake site,inciting disharmony,, prntly.com seems this site owner makes money from ads,so he like,alex jones spreads his natl enquirer style, er, fake news… im on the web and into journalists around the world at times. the fake stuff seldom seen by me… i have a few years in the seventies on the west coast, and partied abit.. the people i had associated with in the fraternal orgs of bikerdoom.dont like talk that mentions their club name,or any associate,if they are not a full patch memeber…i hope this guy has a personal discussion with the said club…it may led to his site,,,being abandoned. as far as antifa, in Germany, duetch-welle.com they had a piece recently.seems it is a org,but, its people who believe in never seeing the likes of fascism again..i hope the CHAZ works and sets a movement to a neighborhood goverment, and one that recieves accountability from the civics… this hoepfully will spill over to accountability,from all civil service memebers,in any city.. the police who walk out, spelled thier name correctly,corrupt.. the issue is also in germanys armed forces,especially in the elite army. see AFD in Germany,and you see that rightwing slant,in its goverment seated in their congress..they are visible,and accountable. unlike our DC rightwing influence,from mitches gang and the,,, white,house,,,who act as though,facists dont sleep there. the antifa,vote too..

  9. Pascal:
    Yes. Police Departments all over this Country, large and small, urban and rural have been given surplus military gear by the U.S. government to fight the “war against drugs and crime” for years. No police department is too small not to have received its share of bullet proof vests, M4 and M16 rifles, flash bang grenades and armored vehicles. President Obama ended the program, but one of the first things Jeff Sessions did in office was to resurrect it. Our police departments are now equipped to fight the citizens on the battlefield.

  10. We are in a war of words with this antifa distraction. I don’t know of anyone who is not against fascism except (and this via projection as cover) fascists themselves. I spent some time during WW II in the South Pacific defending democracy against fascism and am still against fascism though I don’t know of any organzed group Trump has ginned up in his narcissistic Otherworld to distract from his continuing attempt to install fascist dictatorship here, and the reason I don’t know of any such organization is because it doesn’t exist, but even if it did – so? Is anyone trying to tell me that being against dictatorship is anti-American, unpatriotic etc.?

    We once had a revolution aimed at a royal dictatorship. Are we now to experience a revolution against the aims and purposes of that revolution by reinstalling another dictator at our helm with the help of mobs, motorcycle gangs etc. (the new Redcoats)? Not with my blessing.

  11. It seems that from my experience right wing extremists have been in a race for several decades to see who could become most extreme and that has led to the goal line becoming fascism. In order to soften that blow to Americans who were backing away from that race someone in the race coined the term “Antifa” to demonstrate that fascism really is so OK that what we should really worry about is anti fascism.

    That’s brand management in action.

    Now what started as merely high profit entertainment has become problematic to the degree it threatens Constitutional order.

  12. I saw a good quote today.

    “If conservatives can’t win in a democracy, they don’t abandon conservatism, they abandon democracy.”

    It seems like everything fair if you are Republican conservative.

  13. What was done would be bad enough if a third-party group had done it, but coming from the official campaign itself it is indefensible. I can only assume that the silence coming from Republicans in the House and Senate is a result of their absolute shock at the complete offensiveness of it. I know I’ll certainly check with Senators Braun and Young to see if that’s not the case.

    Meanwhile, Nuremberg rally in Tulsa (no doubt counting on confrontation), and expect the Reichstag to burn between now and October.

  14. The tiny woman in the “I Can’t Breathe” t-shirt who was arrested in Tulsa is Sheila Buck. Two officers took her by the arms and escorted her away. She had a ticket to the event.

  15. I am just hoping that Boogaloo Bois and their ilk don’t show up in Tulsa and stir up violence between Juneteeth demonstrators and Trumpers waiting outside in the heat. Trump has already threatened that he won’t treat demonstrators”nicely” and it is the perfect storm for such a situation to devolve.

  16. Trump’s use of Tulsa as his staging ground and Juneteenth may have been ignorance (but I suspect his “people” knew) – The inverted triangle is without a doubt well planned

    Still, who remembers that Reagan started his campaign in Philadelphia, Mississippi, a town of no great importance, except as the site of the murder and burial of three civil rights workers. I have heard no mention nor comparison.

    Racism and fear (the Commies are coming, Antifa is coming) are sadly long staples of the Republican playbook since at least Nixon. It just gets worse with each iteration, until we have the embrace of fascism by the Trump Party. We’ve dismissed things too long. As Sheila has pointed out numerous times, this man and his supporters are a threat to our tradition of governance, however imperfect it may be.

    Gerald – yes, a “royal dictatorship”, complete with the Princess and her consort. (The queen might be locked in the tower, but Trump Tower probably isn’t a bad place to be locked up if you’re the queen).

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