Why I fight fascists — and you should too

Antifascist rally, June 10, 2017, Seattle.
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I’ve stood toe-to-toe with white supremacists. More than a few times. It’s about as much fun as you would imagine. But, hey, someone’s got to do it.

I do it because I am able to. Some call that privilege; I see it as responsibility. Should these domestic terrorists go unchallenged? I don’t think so. We tell school children to stand up to bullies in the school yard. And these gangs of right-wing thugs are bullies, plain and simple. So I stand up to them.

Margaret Viggiani

Recently in Auburn, Wash., DaShawn Horne, a young Black man, was jumped from behind by a bat-wielding coward. Weeks later, Horne remains in a coma. The man responsible videotaped himself shouting racist slurs over Horne’s body. This kind of depraved behavior is an initiation rite for some white supremacist groups. Who knows if that’s the case here? Regardless, we have to understand where this ideology comes from and how to fight it.

Whether you call them Nazis, Ku Klux Klan, Aryan Nations, skinheads, Proud Boys or Patriot Prayer — they’re fascists. Their message varies, but their goal remains the same: terrorize immigrants, queers, transgender people, unionists, Jews and Muslims, women who don’t know their place and people whose skin color is different.

The actions of Trump, Pence, and Sessions have egged them on. From Charlottesville, Va., to Portland, Ore., incidents of right-wing violence have been in the headlines. So the question is, what’s the solution? I’m all for tackling the Nazis and the KKK head on. When they gather, we have to counter-organize.

Of course, not everyone agrees with this approach. Many times I’ve been told to just ignore them and they will go away. Seriously, has that ever worked?

Just think of skinheads as a roach infestation. If you ignore them, they get worse. You’ve got to deal with the problem, the sooner the better. When there is large scale community protest, these bullies don’t completely disappear, but they do lose a lot of credibility and ability to recruit.

I don’t know about you, but when I was in school I wasn’t taught that the Nazis came to power in Germany because big business owners and politicians feared a socialist revolution was around the corner; led by communists and other leftists, the working class was becoming rapidly radicalized. Also overlooked in my education was the fact that German industrialists used the Nazis to smash the unions and every other working class organization — while the disunity of the Left paved the way for a fascist victory. I got that from reading Leon Trotsky.

Trotsky wrote about the need for the Left, liberals and just about anyone with a conscience to stand together to confront the storm troopers. He is right. I’ve seen it work. At a recent women’s march in Seattle about a dozen Patriot Prayer members and supporters tried to push through the crowd with their anti-abortion, anti-woman message. They were thwarted by a large group chanting: “No Trump, no KKK, no fascist USA.” In the end, the skinheads turned tail and ran.

All of us on “the other side” need to gather our friends, families and as many individuals as we can to stand together, shouting down the fascist message with our own. It’s loud, and often messy, but it works. It’s what I call a vigorous exercise of my free speech rights. There is no point to engage in conversation. We are never going to change the hard-core racist, anti-Semitic xenophobes. But we can convince those on the fence not to join that cause.

In the end, I suppose I go out because I can’t accept a world where people are denied their humanity, where racism, homophobia, xenophobia and the degradation of women are the norm. Not while there is something that I can do about it. It’s one of the reasons I joined the Freedom Socialist Party many years ago.

Believe me, I’m no super-hero. I’m an average height, roundish, middle-aged, Italian American gal. And I know when you are fighting an ideological war you have to make a stand early and often. So I stand with immigrants, unionists, punks, anarchists, antifa, feminists, queers and a rainbow of others because together we are strong.

I am the granddaughter of immigrants, the daughter of public school teachers, a socialist, a feminist and a unionist. And I stand up to fascists. I hope you do too.

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