Dissent: Violence in recent protest did not provide long-term solution

CITY AFFAIRS: Antifa's actions at recent rally did not provide long-term solution to country's divisions

Willow Yang/Senior Staff

This week, a portion of the Editorial Board dissented with the majority opinion. Read the majority editorial here.

The country enters a dangerous territory when it overlooks the intricate facets of Saturday’s Free Speech Rally (or any protest) and its causes, as well as its ramifications for progression past the nation’s most precarious ideological divides.

White supremacists flocked to Berkeley, a sanctuary city famous for its liberal values. The fact that the supremacist ideology exists at all is repulsive, and the use of violence to defend such beliefs is even more vile. But the most visible resistance to such an abhorrent philosophy often manifests in counter-violence, further ingraining a stubborn righteousness into every point of view in the muddled equation.

Supremacists at the rally instigated the same kinds of over-the-top vicious tactics the alt-right criticizes Antifa for using, in turn demonstrating the hypocrisy that’s become normalized in American political polarization. The seemingly irreconcilable “sides” of the spectrum fail to understand that violence inflicted under the radicalized guise of “protecting free speech” or “protecting citizens from fascism” doesn’t just reflect poorly on their political platforms — it also perpetuates a cycle of fight after fight. Violence at such protests has become the immediate tactic to which opponents default, though it does little to produce long-term, net-positive change.

The violence that erupted Saturday is not novel in Berkeley — we saw it on campus when Milo Yiannopoulos came to speak, and we saw it March 4 when Trump supporters organized a rally. But all that the clashes have managed to promote is media sensationalism and widespread generalities about who “liberals” and “conservatives” ostensibly are. No one shifted their ideology after the clashes Saturday, no matter how many rocks were hurled. Instead, people continued to deny their complicity in the nation’s tumult.

But pointing fingers — at Antifa, at Republicans, at any of the other forces present at the Saturday rally — isn’t working. It makes it harder to fight against supremacists like the ones who showed up Saturday and the systems of oppression they openly tout. It makes it harder for voices from all parts of the political spectrum to truly exercise free speech. And peaceful protests, think pieces, votes and legislation have all largely failed to permanently remedy the impenetrable disconnect in this country as well, or we wouldn’t have neo-Nazis in our park.

When fists become a substitute for rational dialogue, though, we need to reflect on the productivity of stagnant hatred in lieu of intellectualism. While history shows that violence is not morally wrong or ineffective in every social movement, it proved a fruitless tool Saturday for promoting the enduring change that anti-fascists desire.

Please keep our community civil. Comments should remain on topic and be respectful.
Read our full comment policy
  • Craig_Hubley

    Essentially, the dilemma is this: Bona fide fascists and especially those with racialized hate missions should not be able to use the public square to practice or organize for violent harm. But an undiscerning public with only for-profit capitalist media to report on events, will never hear the whole story. It will be systematically suppressed and slanted against the left. Any message will be muddied to remote third parties, even if it’s clear on the ground.

    So far no one has identified any discouragement other than fear of violent suppression to keep fascists away from that public square with their symbols & code phrases to trigger genocide, and their lethal weapons (including vehicles and torches). When they are successfully discouraged from meeting at all, they appear to be cowards, so #Antifa parties in victory – as happened in several cities in August. There is no sign at these no-show events that anyone wants a fight. Those are clear victories for civilization, and they happen often. We should not forget that when we look at the events that have been more painful.

    When fascists call the raise, and appear in significant numbers, racialized fascists (Nazis in particular) must pay some price for appearing. They must realize that the public is ready to defend itself, and the majority will stand with minorities rather than see them harmed. And randomness plays some role in this realization: It must not be entirely safe to stand with a mob and cheer a leader calling blame and revenge down on a whole race of innocent folks.

    We’ve all seen schoolyard rings cheering on bullies and containing their victims. How are those rings most permanently broken? One method is to pick well-liked inoffensive dupes along for the ride, and tear them out of the ring to isolate them for utterly unfair humiliation. Make no one safe to hate. This was used effectively against Kim Davis, a hate cultist who refused to do her job issuing marriage licenses. We don’t expect to see many more of her.

    Now consider the street & its risks. The US constitution rather uniquely empowers “well ordered militias” such as Antifa to be ready with armed force. For what? It also reserves to the public the right of defense of itself if the state (police) are not acting or will not act. In the absence of any criminal curbs on #hatespeech, such as in other countries with a less pronounced vigilante bent & more trust in its police, some means of containment becomes the public’s own duty: It must be clear that racial hate crimes cannot be so much as encouraged or incited in a public square. Even if the SCOTUS leans very permissively, it can only delegate the duty to the public. We cannot abrogate it or leave it on the targetted. Beyond the US constitution, international law obligates us to respond to nascent genocide.

    It can’t be free to hate. Because it isn’t free for the targets, especially not those targetted for involuntary characteristics like race. The US cannot become a real society until it forces each and every fascist to pay a price for hate. We debate only whether it must be paid in blood, or if refusing to pay it in blood will eventually cost much more, of ours & of others.

    Past generations certainly did pay that way. And regretted not stopping this tide earlier.

  • TaiFood

    I find if disingenuous to promote superiority of attendees, or not, as the lever to violently censor Patriots.

    I thought profiling was a social evil? Isn’t it the basis for all racism/bigotry?

    Will you review your allegiance to the United States of America?

    My guess is no one on the editorial board is patriotic.

    E Pluribus Unum

    • Craig_Hubley

      Get on Twitter and review #NaziChats snapshots.

      You will find that Nazi – not just “neo-” but actual Jew-hating goose-stepping NAZI groups – explicitly planned to wear #MAGA caps to events to get hit on camera.

      Police also stood back as they do at large scale protests, often knowing there are provocateurs working for them (#provocop) in the crowd to frame up the ‘radicals’.

      Re patriotic the Founders were well aware that the 2A was required to check the 1A, having seen in their lifetimes such horrors as the campaign of genocide against the Scots.

  • ESPM360

    I challenge the editorial board to list acceptable conservative speakers who could deliver a speech in Berkeley.

    • Craig_Hubley

      Perhaps the US definition of “conservative” has simply shifted rightwards to “fascist”?

      And thus there would be none.

      No, of course that’s not true. Would anyone stop oh the Pope from speaking? Nigel Farage? Even Rebekah Mercer? Each of those is “conservative” by some meaning.

  • David Bach

    I was hoping that perhaps more visioned heads would hold sway, and this editorial would call out Antifa for the boot-jacks that they are.

    Silly me.

  • Anax of Rhodes

    Berkeley police, this past weekend and early last month, were ordered to stand down from containing the violence erupting in front of them. Citizens fed up with everything joined the side against antifa, because police officers were ordered to not do their jobs.

    If no opposition arrived to the free speech rally on April 15th, the day would only be news as Tax Day like every year before it. Of course violence isn’t a long-term solution; long-term violence only leads to misery and ruin. Berkeley will become that ruin if it doesn’t clamp down on this violence soon.

  • skeptical1776

    So this part of the “editorial board” is supposed to be the rational one…. not really, a bunch of sniveling cowards you are, all of you. Both editorials – the “majority” one and this presumably more “moderate” minority one – are beyond contemptible. You must all come from absolutely horrible families and your education is unbelievably deficient.

    • Craig_Hubley

      Look up 1763 and 1772.

  • FreedomFan

    So was the majority of the editorial board in favor of political violence or opposed?
    You would think these people could write a little better.

    • Tricia

      Yes, the majority editorial seemed to support the political violence when conducted by Antifa.

  • Leonidas

    Dissent is not tolerated in Berkeley California.
    If you dissent against the majority it could cost you your life.

  • Nunya Beeswax

    Division on the editorial board?!

  • Julia Babcock

    : )

Tags No tags yet