Trump's antifa tweet is right-wing catnip — with potentially troubling consequences
By Shane Burley, author of "Fascism Today: What It Is and How to End It"
As aggressive protests sweep the country, President Donald Trump answered calls for action with, rather predictably, a tweet: "The United States of America will be designating ANTIFA as a Terrorist Organization," he wrote Sunday.
The word "antifa" refers to a loose collective of militant anti-fascist protesters. You find them often at far-right rallies or standing in solidarity with those protesting the death of George Floyd. But among Trump's base, antifa inspires a great deal of fear and revulsion.
Put those two things together and you get a declaration that legally means little but politically means a lot — and, ultimately, will likely put some people in danger, all while inflaming existing political and cultural divides at a pivotal moment. Already, we are seeing some of this, with rumors about fake antifa activity proliferating on social media, with no evidence. In at least one case, a fake post was actually created by a white nationalist group for the express purpose of sowing discord and paranoia.
Militant anti-fascist protesters have been around for nearly a century, but only recently have they become such a target of rage for conservatives. As white nationalists began to engage in the same political spaces as the larger Republican Party, so did anti-fascist protesters. Anti-fascist organizations and marches increased as the far right grew, becoming a large and visible force on the political far left. As the 2020 campaign ramps up and Trump pivots back toward his ...
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