That paving was laid down in California over the last few weeks; first by attendees at a Donald Trump rally in San Jose being harassed and physically attacked after the rally by protestors – and this with the apparent acquiescence (or possibly the tacit encouragement) of the San Jose Police Department, and then again in Sacramento a week ago, when a protest organized on the grounds of the California State Capitol in Sacramento by a group calling themselves the Traditionalist Worker Party – variously described as white supremacists or neo-Nazis – was attacked by a group proudly identifying themselves as anti-fascist. As was reported in the Los Angeles Times, when last Sunday’s rally began, “Waiting for them were counter-protesters, including members of the anti-fascist organization Antifa Sacramento, which had promoted a “Shut Down Nazi Rally” event on its website…”
The Traditionalist Worker Party members, whatever their merits or lack thereof, had a permit for a demonstration, and in the larger understanding of things, a perfect right to make fools of themselves in public, just as it was found in 1978 – that a neo-Nazi organization had the perfect right to march through Skokie, Illinois. No less a luminary than the ACLU defended that as a matter of free speech and the exercise thereof. Personally, I find it ironic that the so-called anti-fascists are acting more like actual, historic fascists than those they loudly accuse of being fascists. This irony is probably lost on the members of the loose federation of so-called anti-fascists who swung into action in Sacramento last weekend, as one of their other charming qualities is breathlessly equating Donald Trump with the KKK. Donald Trump has many lamentable qualities to recommend him, including toe-curlingly vulgar taste in interior decoration – but I don’t believe that he was an active member of the enforcement branch of the militantly anti-Reconstruction Post-Civil-War Democrat Party, the 1960s Bull Connor Birmingham version of the Democrat Party or even the present-day KKK in its shriveled version. YMMV, however. At the rate that shrieking social justice warriors accuse white people of every sort of anti-social-justice crime imaginable, there may be a future in a new iteration of the KKK, even if only out of self-defense.
Back to my main point, though: Essentially, a group of local activists took it upon themselves to judge those whom they had philosophical/political disagreements with as beyond the pale of toleration, enforcing that diktat with violence, overwhelming numbers, and proudly boasting of it all – before, during and afterwards on social media and in statements to the press. At this point, and as near as I can judge from news coverage of the near-riot, none of the perpetrators of violence have been charged, or arrested, in spite of plenty of video documentation of their actions in viciously attacking members of the Traditionalist Workers. Like San Jose – it is likely that the fix is in as regards local law enforcement.
I am certain that the regular contributors and commenters at this blog – history enthusiast all – know very well what an appalling precedent is being established here, and how that ideological short-cut worked out for Weimar-era Germany. Political activity devolved from starchy editorials and passionate discussions in political salons, cafes and beer-halls to political shock troops from opposing sides brawling in the streets, breaking up each other’s rallies, while civil authorities stood by, wringing their hands and tut-tutting fruitlessly. One of the most visible leaders in last weekend’s brouhaha in Sacramento is a teacher in a Berkeley middle school named Yvette Felarca – a woman apparently drunk on social justice and unscathed by any sense of caution or knowledge of 20th century history save the usual Zinnish pieties. She has whined on her Facebook page about threats to the school where she works, to pupils of the school and herself. Which again – is ironic.
She and her political allies have established the precedent that organized violence is an appropriate response to those whose political and social opinions you hold in disapproval. An extremely dangerous can of worms is opened thereby, in that persons who disapprove of your own political sympathies may respond to being targeted in response with perfect justification. Ms Felarca and her allies will have no real basis for complaint, having chosen to overturn a painfully-struggled-for convention in American political life that violence against political opposition ought to be beyond the pale. It is a slippery slope, this business of physically attacking other people, merely for exercising their rights. I do not think that Yvette Felarca and her social-justice friends comprehend fully where this will lead. Those of us with a knowledge of history will see it – quite clearly, I am afraid.