Antifa And The Right

Sometimes, when I was a little girl (eons ago–it may have been the Ice Age) and had done something I knew was forbidden, I would protest innocence: it wasn’t me! It must have been someone else! To which my mother would respond with an old verse:

Last night I saw upon the stair
A little man who wasn’t there
He wasn’t there again today
Oh, how I wish he’d go away…

These days, the “little man who wasn’t there” is likely to be a member of Antifa–currently the favored scapegoat of the Right. “It wasn’t us! It was Antifa!!”

Just who– or what –is Antifa? After an inquiry from a lawyer friend, I decided to do some research.

Is Antifa the the highly organized group of “terrorists” portrayed by Trump Republicans–a source of rioting and looting?  Or is it more accurately described as an idea–a dismissive label for people opposed to fascism and white supremacy?

Actually, according to an investigation by CBS News, it’s something more than a description of people opposed to fascism, but considerably less than an organized movement. (I’ve noticed that the quarrelsome Left has a lot more trouble organizing than the authoritarians on the Right.)

In general, people who identify as Antifa are known not for what they support, but what they oppose: Fascism, nationalism, far-right ideologies, white supremacy, authoritarianism, racism, homophobia and xenophobia. Some antifa activists also denounce capitalism and the government overall.

To the extent they “belong” to anything, Antifa followers tend to be members of small, local cells that sometimes coordinate with other movements, such as Black Lives Matter. Self-described Antifa members have organized to confront Patriot Prayer, the Proud Boys, and other far-right groups during public demonstrations, typically through researching and tracking those organizations, although some confrontations have become violent.

CBS was able to confirm only one instance in which a person self-identifying as Antifa was linked to a deadly attack at a protest. Michael Forest Reinoehl, 48, was considered a prime suspect in the August 2020 killing of a right-wing activist who was shot during demonstrations in Portland. (Reinoehl was later shot to death by federal authorities as they moved to arrest him.)

Given the hysterical accusations from Trump, Cruz and others, it is noteworthy that the Trump administration’s own Department of Homeland Security and FBI didn’t share the view that Antifa poses a significant threat to domestic law and order.

A DHS draft document from September 2020 reportedly named white supremacist groups as the biggest terror threat to America. That same document doesn’t mention Antifa at all.

The FBI also considers far-right groups the “top of the priority list.” FBI director Christopher Wray said in February 2020 that the FBI places the risk of violence from racially-motivated extremist groups “on the same footing” as the threat posed by foreign terrorist organizations such as ISIS and its sympathizers.

Antifa has certainly been involved in sporadic violence, and to the extent that its members have broken the law, they should be punished. But according to the FBI and other government agencies, a number of rumors about Antifa have been spun from whole cloth– sometimes by people later identified as right-wing extremists. According to the CBS report, Twitter shut down multiple “Antifa” accounts in June of 2020 that were later found to be fake. Those fake accounts were advocating violence against white suburbs; subsequent investigations tracked the accounts to Identity Evropa, a white supremacist organization.

In the wake of the Capitol insurrection, Trump and several Republicans insisted that the rioters were really Antifa. Thanks to the behaviors and selfie-documented identities of the participants, that didn’t begin to pass the smell test. As Forbes Magazine reported:

FBI Assistant Director Steven D’Antuono said Friday there is no evidence that Antifa activists were involved in the violent riots in and around the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday, debunking the baseless conspiracy theory propagated by several prominent Republican lawmakers and right-wing pundits that anti-fascist leftists—not a pro-Trump mob—were responsible for death and destruction at the Capitol.

As my mother would have said,

Last night I saw upon the stair
A little man who wasn’t there
He wasn’t there again today
Oh, how I wish he’d go away…


  1. Joy Reid apologized on air last night for repeating details of one of the “theories” QAnon ppl have spread. The apology was because the details were so absurd and she didn’t think such theories should be given publicity. As Abbie Hoffman said, during the jury trial United States v Dellinger, et al – the Chicago Eight, reduced after Bobby Seale’s removal to Chicago Seven – in which the defendants were charged with conspiracy to riot (I could look up the exact charges) at the 1968 Democratic National Convention: Conspire to disrupt the convention? We couldn’t agree on lunch. The nature of progressive movements and the average level of education of those involved reduces the inclination to violence (w/exceptions such as The Weather Underground. (If that makes me sound “elitist,” so be it.)

  2. Mark Small,

    I really don’t remember a whole lot about the riots in 1968 or the reasonings behind them until much later in life because I was only 9 years old then.

    But what did make a big impression on me as a little kid, was the assassination of JFK which I still can remember my mother crying sitting on the couch and wondering why! And I remember the assassinations of RFK and Martin Luther king!

    Me thinks if there isn’t a radical push back on these right-wing nationalists, we’re going to see that raft of assassinations reoccur in this country!

    Let’s face it, after listening to comments from these proud boys and others, the level of intellect is sorely lacking! Therefore, those are the ones you need to keep an eye on as they are much more easily manipulated and susceptible to mind games including the propaganda that goes along with it.

  3. If anything, the right has revealed their cowardly nature!

    They’ve cause riots which end up in death, and then try to blame others! They get caught and arrested for their parts in the insurrection, and they cry about their rights and lie about even being involved to the point of destroying evidence and coordinating massive disinformation campaigns trying to point the finger somewhere else!

    These are the brave patriots, lol! These are the ones who claim to be the 1776ers? A lot of freedom fighters died during the revolutionary war. It really is sad to see this current crop of whining crying juvenile sneaks that deny their own vitriol because someone shined a light upon their ignorant concoctory. And, they wouldn’t have lasted 10 minutes in the revolutionary war! Hence, we would still be wondering when Queen Elizabeth is going to kick the bucket and when the next Royal would be born!

    MTG is a prime example of not being able to tolerate blowback on beliefs that she claims to hold close! So, and her most recent town hall, she threatened to have a reporter arrested for asking her about comments she made concerning assassinations of politicians! It just goes to show, the ignorant and juvenile thought process behind following a leader who is ignorant and juvenile. They can’t handle standing by themselves without the big bully waiting in the wings! That’s why they’re so afraid Trump might be eviscerated eventually.

    Too bad that big bully is just another dyed in the wool coward who cloaked himself in patriotic colors when he had the full weight of America’s vast security system behind him.

    Now, as Sheila has said, he’s just a man on the stairs that wasn’t there!

  4. ” (I’ve noticed that the quarrelsome Left has a lot more trouble organizing than the authoritarians on the Right.)”

    Sheila; your sentence above explains simply and in a few words what I have rambled on about for years, that Trump and his legions have succeeded and will continue to succeed because they are organized. Another word for “organize” is “unify”; which is sorely needed within the Democratic party at this time to save the nation. I hold a strong hope that the Republican party, especially in the House and Senate will begin to openly unravel and fall apart to end Trumpism and any chance he has to hold any public office in the future. Representative Greene then needs to be removed from her Qanon elected position as she is a danger to the lives of all government officials.

    The issue of “protesting innocence” reminded me of my 2nd son, Mark, whose blue eyes got bigger and bigger as he protested his innocence. He would finally admit that he had “told a mistake”. Will those NC attorneys Trump has hired try that defense if and when his 2nd impeachment begins?

  5. The Intercept already exposed the billionaire funders of the right-wing patriots – fascists. As John Sorg said above, they are easily manipulated.

    The pro-democracy funder of BLM is George Soros, the boogey-man of the Fascists. I suspect it is because of his connection to being Jewish.

    However, compare Donors Trust (Koch) with the Open Society Foundation (Soros). Why does the right-wing utilize all the IRS rules concocted to conceal donors? Why aren’t the donors proud of their motives? LOL

    As for Michael Reinhoel, you could say, “he was shot to death by US Marshals.”

    However, an eye witness who happened to be a preacher from across the street called it an “assassination.”

    Seeing that both Bill Barr and Trump bragged about his assassination on TV…Trump said, “The Marshals moved in, and it was over in less than 5 minutes. That’s the way it needs to be done.”

    Michael appeared on Vice to admit to the killing due to the self-defense of a BLM friend who was being threatened with a knife by a “Patriot.” He also said that he feared for his life because of the Trump administration and the fascist police.

    “Reinoehl’s killing is under investigation, with witnesses stating that officers opened fire without warning.[13] President Donald Trump commended the U.S. Marshals for shooting Reinoehl[14] and described his death as “retribution.”[15][16][17]”

  6. Several have commented on the 1960’s events. It is worth remembering that ONLY those on the left were killed. The right wing haters go on and on and on.

  7. There is a healthy dollop of “No True Scotsman” fallacy in the accusations. Republicans see the violence, say “no true Republican would do such a thing,” ergo it must be Antifa.

  8. After dealing with right wing nutters about this, I finally resorted to some well placed sarcasm.
    When they place blame on antifa for every march, protest, riot or insurrection, I correct them.
    Nope, I say, it wasn’t antifa and I would know.
    I’m a charter member of the Silver Seniors Antifa group and we didn’t get a text from George Soros to be there!
    That shuts ’em up, right there.

  9. Every overthrow of governments in history has required someone to blame and hate to incite the citizens to take action against them or say not a word when others do.
    My 1st wife was from Germany her brothers went thru WWII in Germany as children her she was born in Sweden where they lived for several years during the late war years and after the war for several years, her father was an officer in the Luftwaffe in Norway and had to serve 2 years in an American POW Camp after the war then went back to Germany being a citizen and Banker again.
    I would ask them did they know, they swore they didn’t know but also said if they ask or would inquire the SS would visit and threaten them of maybe being spies and threaten to send them to labor camps or worse. It was a way for the powers that took control of their country to keep people in line. Your ether with us or against us, and if your against us them your the problem not us. Not unlike Trump, and his new Republican Party.
    Just remember hate is one of humanities most powerful motivators, it offers so much to those who buy in, but gives back so little to the survivors. Look at the poverty that people of the earths overthrown nations or societies, the leaders gain all the power and money while the active participant’s end up poorer, uneducated and broken, look at the white working South after the Civil War even to this day,
    People like Trump at the top trade on hatred are the real problem, with no solutions to the problems just selling back to the people what their problems are and who is to blame for them, while they rake in the wealth of the discontent in the nation from the seeds of hate they have sown, and the roots of hate go deep and America is having a bumper crop in the age of trump.

  10. Isn’t it great that they all had cell phones and wanted to capture every moment of their insurrection? Now it’s come down to “The President told me to!” Not quite the equivalent of “I was only following orders,” but close enough that I’m certain Justice Jackson is rolling over in his grave.

  11. Peggy,
    I can only think of three reasons that the insurrectionists took selfies and posted them online both during and after the riot. Those reasons are 1. they believed they would never be held accountable, 2. if arrested they would be pardoned, and 3. if they succeeded, “No problem!”
    Now the question is, “Who put those ideas into their tattooed heads?”

  12. As a witness to the OKC terrorist attack by Tim McVeigh I can attest to the right wing/fascist members being able to organize and carry out operations.

  13. The far righters have never, in my experience, accepted their highly vaunted “Personal responsibility” for any action they take. The try to cloak everything they do in secrecy, which does not smell of patriotism, but of their knowledge that their agenda is worse than suspicious. This reminds me of J.K. Galbraith’s “The modern conservative is engaged in one of man’s oldest exercises in moral philosophy; that is, the search for a superior moral justification for selfishness,” as their agenda is all about “ME!” “I’m white. I’m not a *******Jew, and so I’m soooo entitled!”

  14. my own education,of the base of Marks comment, is probably better than most.did you live in newark,n.j, in the 1960s. i could sit with former WW2 amd korean vets at the park,playing checkers and listening to the talk. Kennedy was dead,and the world held its breath.if im over my head here at 8 years old,excuse me. (my granfolks,all from eastern Pa,relocated for the war effort to Jersey.)the news was Cronkite,Brinkly,and others. i was reading the paper my granddad bought home every nite. though i chose to listen,i heard the views of many. Italians,Jews,Hungarins,Pols,in broken english,discribed the war,by the politics and why it started, not who they were in battle with. as i feel,they all volunteered. i didnt miss the boat on education,my grift of how i write,shouldnt be a task,its how one relates. im watching and reading amd commenting on.the varied subjects here. todays was one i was ready for,not to imagine how it was,try standing on the street,and watching the natl guard in uniformed and armed,stand on your street. all those stories i read in the news,and what i seen on t.v. was now in technicolor. the spew of hate was directed at people marginalized by my own skin. no one needed to whisper in my ear,i was sick my friends of diffrent colors cant be like us. i was begining to dislike my own race,and its projected hate. did i need a valued education to understand this? no,i walked the street and lived life,between the black and white,and stand with those who are kicked everyday to live and work here.( unlike many who now have shown that silver spoon is now hanging out ones ass.) i have little fear,and my education is from the very streets we discuss today. the education one mentioned above,could never be made,sitting and listening to someone harp on whats right and wrong,ya gotta live it,ya gotta stand in the street and fight it.. thanks to our goverment,we can all do that,peacefully,and with a vote..

  15. Theresa:
    huffposts has a few interesting articles today on who. as i follow,the latter stories after some dust settles,seems the fbi has begun to act and the social media is being held to account,finally.

  16. Pat,
    In the 1960s, “…ONLY those on the left were killed.”


    I don’t think Lee Harvey Oswald was on the left.

  17. I would agree with Theresa @ 9:21,

    “I can only think of three reasons that the insurrectionists took selfies and posted them online both during and after the riot. Those reasons are 1. they believed they would never be held accountable, 2. if arrested they would be pardoned, and 3. if they succeeded, “No problem!”
    Now the question is, “Who put those ideas into their tattooed heads?””

    From another Web Site I quote, “Trump is not an outlier in the United States but rather its strongest reflection of the flaws within”.

    The Elected GOP shows it’s true idiocy be claiming the Capitol Coup was stage managed by Antifa, etc., to look like Trump Cult. Those that have been rounded up have via their social media postings are the Trump Cult of bible thumper’s and Rambo wanna-bes.

    “If the facts are against you, argue the law. If the law is against you, argue the facts. If the law and the facts are against you, pound the table and yell like hell”

    ― Carl Sandburg

    As usual the GOP is pounding the table and yelling like hell.

  18. In the interests of a better reputation and antidote to false accusations, maybe it’s a good idea when forming an organization to make your purpose as exact, as narrow, and as clear as possible, not to mention choosing a name that clearly reflects the purpose and is open to no diabolical interpretation.

  19. Larry,

    Lee Harvey Oswald traveled to the Soviet Union and tried to become a Soviet citizen. When asked why he would want to do that, he said it was because he was a communist. I’m pretty sure Oswald was on the political left.

  20. I am acquainted with three individuals who work as ‘professional’ grant writers, NGO organizers, and movement fomenters. They often proudly ask me to read their organizational documents. Invariably, in that they display little ability to state their purpose, they strike out in their mission statements — sometimes an amazing 27 times; no hits; no runs; game over — and I can bear to read no more. How any movement successfully becomes formalized and maintains its momentum is a mystery…unless we credit the strange humor of Chaos.

    Movement organizers, in order to be licensed, should be required to pass at least one class at the Army War College — the one that teaches order and mission writing. There they would learn how to write an order that is clear, concise, and operable…and thus less likely to get lost in the woods and more difficult for opponents to assign false motivations.

    Define yourself (your organization) before your opponents do it for you.

  21. Larry Kaiser
    Oswald once renounced his American citizenship to become a Soviet citizen and shot at a general because he thought he was a fascist. People are complex, but I don’t think a good argument can be made that he was right-wing.

  22. I believe that 90% of the parents of the world are better organizers than Trump is.

    His job, like Gohring’s, was simply to fly cover. Empower and excuse. Let others do the work and take the blame. From that perspective, he launched thirty thousand fantasies over his four years in power and let them define for others why he was King of the republic, an oxymoron of the language as well as the reality.

    Mitch Romney said, “if you respect your supporters just tell them the truth”. There you have Trump laid bare. He had no respect for anyone not named Trump and had in fact alienated most of them.

    The far-right is a fantasy. What will the mass hyteria do without Trump inflating it with lies?

  23. Paul,
    It is not news that Oswald sidled up to Communists, but a lot of data indicates he did so as cover, which may be news to you. He also indicated he considered the US government to have become so socialist that Russian and Cuban Communism were the only national antidotes available with the will and means to do anything about it. Therefore, he was against socialism and far from middle of the road, thus he was a right-wing radical, who twistedly saw Communism as a right-wing asset — it was a dictatorship, after all — to be used against US socialism.

  24. Beth,
    Be careful with sarcasm online. I alway put (sarcasm: xxxxxxxxx) because people hear what they want to believe.

    I am now sure your right wing friends have had their worst fears confirmed.

  25. Pete,

    With all due respect, I think your parental percentage figure is way too low. When a man believes his blustering should be accepted as the final word on all topics great and small, organizational skills are of no value to him.

  26. I have been wondering, for months, if the “rioters” embedded in the BLU Protests could not have been from the Far Right. So many today just gave my query about this more steam.

    Often all of us know about actions we accuse others to be undertaking because we have already done them ourselves. The especially of parents. If not, how could we have the insight to recognize them as such?

  27. One of the things Gandalf says in Lord of the Rings is: “Oft evil will mars evil will.” Trump fired many of the people whom he perceived as disloyal simply because they told him the facts which rebutted his pathological lies. In doing so, he undermined his own chance for success.

    The people who invaded the capital thought Trump who cares only for himself would stand up for them. Surprise. Trump is not loyal to anyone especially anyone who sheds a bad light on him. No doubt he is blaming the people who attacked the capital for his impeachment instead of taking responsiblity for his speech that incited them.

    It is my understanding that Goebbel repeatedly lied to Hitler about the success of their air force’s attacks on England. Yeah, that did not help the Nazi’s attempt to defeat the world.

    I hope Rep. Greene contributes to her own defeat. I have serious concerns about those who voted for her. She obviously has paranoid delusions fed by Trumpism. McCarthy needs to grow a backbone and censure her.

    In the meantime, I refuse to let far right extremists undermine my faith that over time our democracy will prevail.

  28. Paul – Oswald was clearly “left”, but also so wacko that the Soviets didn’t want him.

    Ultimate conspiracy theory – do it yourself version –
    Somebody [CIA, Cubans, Mafia, Teamsters, LBJ] to Oswald that killing Kennedy would allow him to return to the USSR as a hero
    That same somebody told Ruby that killing Oswald would make Jews loved by Americans
    This is a you-pick-the-villain conspiracy

    Beth — I LOVE it – can I use that line? 8)>

Comments are closed.