Trump & Charlottesville: Just Because Nazis Are Wrong Doesn’t Make Antifa Right

On Saturday, August 12th, 2017, a large, permitted right-wing rally dubbed “Unite the Right” took place in Charlottesville, Virginia.  This rally was organized as a result of numerous incidents and events that had occurred in Charlottesville over the course of several months prior.  In February – after a few years of being pressured by Vice Mayor Wes Bellamy and other local and state politicians and leftists, and in reaction to Black Lives Matter activism – the city council voted to remove a statue of Confederate General Robert E. Lee that stood in Lee Park, and to rename the park.  The major reasoning behind the changes was that Lee and the Confederacy are seen by some as deplorable monuments to slavery, racism, and white nationalism.  Presently, the statue remains due to a court injunction halting its removal for six months, but the park was renamed to Emancipation Park.

In acts of resistance against the city council’s decision, multiple right-wing rallies were organized to occur in Charlottesville, including two alt-right rallies in May led by their poster boy Richard Spencer (who went to college there) and a Ku Klux Klan rally in July.  These groups believe that the statue and similar Confederate monuments throughout the country should be left untouched.  Though there are somewhat valid reasons for keeping or modifying these monuments – including remembering history, not erasing it – it is clear that these people in particular are fighting for the monuments because they are white nationalists and white supremacists.

Local and non-local counterprotesters showed up to these numerous right-wing rallies in Charlottesville.  Notably, the counterprotesters vastly outnumbered the KKK during their permitted July rally, with all reports saying that a few dozen KKK activists faced over 1,000 of them.  23 counterprotesters were arrested throughout the day, mostly when they were blocking the overmatched and fleeing KKK members from leaving Charlottesville.  (This of course drew backlash from the radical left, who claimed police brutality and complicity with the KKK and an oppressive government.)

All of this culminated on August 12th, the date of Charlottesville resident and alt-right proponent Jason Kessler’s “Unite the Right” rally – which largely drew the presence of the alt-right and more traditional neo-Nazi and white supremacist groups rather than uniting the right in general.  It also drew the presence of an equally large (if not bigger) amount of counterprotesters; they ranged from moderates and Democrats and liberals and clergy to Black Lives Matter activists and radical left anarchists and socialists and communists.  On both the left and right, activists came not only from all over Virginia, but certainly from states hundreds of miles away as well.

The radical leftists who showed up fancied themselves “anti-fascists” or “antifas.”  As such, they came into the counterprotest with a predetermination to utilize black bloc tactics meant to mask their identities while engaging in the typical violent and destructive behavior they exhibit against anyone or anything they dislike.  Some of their typical targets include any Republican politician, police, corporations and other “evil” capitalist institutions, the government, the military, and even the “state” in general – basically, anything to do with sustaining the Western way of life.  Today, however, antifa rage was aimed at actual neo-Nazis and white supremacists.

The result was a monumental disaster.  The right was violent.  The radical left was violent.  Non-radical counterprotesters and the police were caught in the middle as the two sides clashed near Emancipation Park, forcing the police to declare an unlawful assembly and ordering a dispersal.  Nearly two hours later, James Alex Fields Jr. – a 20-year-old alleged white supremacist who apparently espoused pro-Hitler views in high school – drove his 2010 Dodge Challenger into a crowd of leftists marching throughout the streets.  He killed 32-year-old Heather Heyer and wounded 19 others before fleeing the scene and being apprehended by police.  (Two Virginia State Troopers also died later that day after the helicopter they were using to monitor the day’s events malfunctioned and crashed.)

The world awaited what President Donald Trump had to say regarding the day’s conflict and tragedy.  Shortly before Fields crashed his car into the protesters, Trump condemned what he saw in Charlottesville as an “egregious display of hatred, bigotry, and violence on many sides” and said “that the hate and the division must stop.”  Two days after the chaos in Charlottesville, Trump stated that the Department of Justice opened a civil rights investigation into Fields, and that neo-Nazis, white supremacists, the KKK, and all hate groups that commit racist violence are repugnant criminals and thugs.  His responses were fair and accurate, yet they underwhelmed the mainstream media and at least half of the country that pays attention to politics; they all believed that the counterprotesters had a moral high ground compared to the right-wing activists – so nothing bad should have been said about them – and that Trump enjoys the support he receives from the alt-right.

However, what Trump had to say the next day about Charlottesville during an “off-script” press conference at Trump Tower gave the mainstream media and many others the fight they were looking for.  At this point, Orderly Conduct must make it clear that we do not necessarily consider ourselves as either Trump supporters or detractors – there are plenty of things we find disagreeable with Trump’s character and politics and there are some areas in which we find him reasonable.  While we do not necessarily believe there is a massive mainstream media conspiracy against the President as he likes to claim, it is clear that they have a largely antagonistic relationship.  We believe that some aspects of a lot of reports and reactions stemming from this particular press conference are unfair in certain regards and gloss over important details.  Further complicating this issue is that when the President speaks without having a prepared statement, he sometimes doesn’t always clearly express himself and adequately make his points.  We believe that there are some parts of this particular press conference that many have misinterpreted – deliberately or not – and Orderly Conduct feels obligated to offer some clarity here.

It must be noted that during this press conference, Trump stated that Fields Jr. is a “disgrace to himself, his family, and his country” and reiterated that neo-Nazis and white supremacists “should be condemned totally.”  Nonetheless, the mainstream media rather unfairly suggested that Trump was essentially walking back the negative things he said about the right-wing bigots since he also went on to defend the less extreme right-wingers.  Firstly, he told all of those present that the “Unite the Right” rally were legally protesting since they had a permit – which is true.  In fact, the American Civil Liberties Union helped ensure that “Unite the Right” was able to keep their permit for rallying in Emancipation Park after law enforcement sought to rescind it.  Secondly, Trump stated that not all of the right-wingers present at the rally (and at the rally the night before) were neo-Nazis and white supremacists; that some present simply wanted to protest the removal of the Robert E. Lee statue.  Whether this is true or not remains to be seen, yet it is absolutely true that some people do not want the statue removed for non-bigoted reasons.  For example, Esther Lee, the president of the Bethlehem, Pennsylvania chapter of the N.A.A.C.P., doesn’t see a problem with confederate statues.  She, historians, and others appreciate those monuments for their perceived historical value and significance.  There truly is nothing in these remarks to suggest that Trump walked back his condemnation of neo-Nazis and white supremacy.

One of the more unclear parts of his comments during this press conference, however, came when he offered criticisms against the counterprotesters.  It was they, after all, who were victimized by Fields Jr.; it was 19 of them who were run over by a car driven by a white supremacist; it was counterprotester Heather Heyer who was murdered.  This clearly was the single most violent act of the day, committed by someone who stands for what is largely considered the greatest evil in the history of our species: racism, slavery, and fascism.  The clear and easy narrative to take is to simply condemn Fields Jr. and all of the other violent right-wingers while offering sympathy to the other side.  This is what Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, and Bernie Sanders would have done as President.  It is what the mainstream media and all of the Democrats and liberals and many others want to hear.

The problem with that narrative, however, is that it is a half-truth at best.  The criticism Trump made against the counterprotesters is the other half of that truth that seemingly nobody wants to acknowledge; namely how the radical left is as destructive to Western civilization as their radical right counterparts are.  What Trump didn’t make crystal clear was that his criticism of the counterprotesters was not about the vast majority of them who showed up – that is, his criticism was not against the peaceful, nonviolent clergy members, liberals, Democrats, and just generally decent human beings who showed up to say “no” to bigotry; human beings who really don’t need to be leftists to understand that white supremacy and neo-Nazis are evil.  No, when Trump criticized the counterprotesters, he was referring specifically to the relatively minor contingent of radical left antifa anarchists, socialists, and communists who came looking for a fight, who he dubbed the guilty “alt-left.”  He accurately described that specific set of counterprotesters as troublemakers “with black outfits and with the helmets and with the baseball bats” who came to Charlottesville with the express intent of violently engaging the alt-right.  “And nobody wants to say it, but I’ll say it right now…they came charging in without a permit and they were very, very violent.”

He’s right, and this is a truth that, again, a President Obama, Clinton, or Sanders – any Democrat, really – never would have admitted.  All of them, for example, did little to nothing to challenge the most radical elements of Black Lives Matter who claim that all police departments and the criminal justice system were totally systemically racist.  All of them instead chose to take the side of those activists – who they perceive to be their base – while occasionally offering an obviously fake, half-hearted defense of police.  There is no way that those people would have spoken the whole truth about Charlottesville as President.  Even Republicans wouldn’t need to speak this whole truth because when a politician must offer a reaction to something and there is an uncontroversial, easy way out that leaves most of everyone happy – say, blaming neo-Nazis – then it is a political rule of thumb that one must take that way out, the whole truth be damned.  After all, Nazis are totally wrong and everyone hates them, so why not just focus on them in this situation?  It is what every other politician has done (and it is indicative of why politics is one of the most disgusting and dirtiest businesses one could get into).  President Trump was right in this situation to buck that trend and it honestly is something for which he should have been appreciated.  It is one of his unique strengths.  Instead, he has faced significant backlash for speaking this truth; his approval rating hit a new low, the media has torn him apart, people claim he is walking back his condemnation against neo-Nazis and white supremacists, American business leaders abandoned his advisory councils – and the destructive antifa walk away looking better than ever, lending them an air of legitimacy and even moral superiority that they do not deserve.

You don’t just say the word “Nazi” and the argument is finished, and just because the Nazis are wrong doesn’t make their anarchist enemies right.  No, the anarchists still want all of the world to resemble one big Occupy Wall Street encampment.  Instead of being able to buy and own your own private home and not be bothered with politics and the outside world, they still want you to become focused entirely on being politically involved in a “directly democratic” world.  You don’t get to make that choice anymore – every single thing you do, think, or say needs to be radically politicized.  They still want all stock exchanges to collapse, eradicating your 401k and your family’s wealth.  They still want to abolish all prisons and jails and the rest of the criminal justice system and destroy all police departments – and they offer no realistic replacements.  They still want you to live in a utopia they have absolutely no way of creating or sustaining.  And yes, if you disagree with them, if you resist them, they’ll still bomb you in your capitalist restaurants and condos and office buildings – because they feel they are absolutely correct and have a deeper understanding of the world and you are simply part of the problem.  And if you survive the bombing, maybe they’ll hand you off to one of their communist comrades who will send you off to die in a Soviet-style gulag.

Remember all of this when you want to applaud radical leftists for fighting neo-Nazis.  They’re not defending anyone.  They’re not saving anyone’s life.  The violence and destruction they aim at the neo-Nazis could easily be aimed at you.  Applauding them in this case is an ignorant act of inadvertently endorsing their ideology of violence and destruction.

Please don’t support them just because you don’t like Donald Trump.  In many ways, they’re worse than he is.

Editor’s note: to see a partial list of the sources used to make the arguments in this article, please click here.

Anti-Fascists Rising: Exposing their Propaganda War

Fascism is always on the minds of radical leftists, but as of late they have been more active than usual in speaking out against it.  A number of factors have caused this, including: President Trump’s hardline rhetoric against illegal immigration, terrorism, and other crimes; the mainstream’s newfound awareness of the radical “alt-right”; and the recent significant increase in hate crimes against immigrants, blacks, Muslims, Jews, and the LGBTQ community.

Let’s make no mistake about this: the increase in hate crimes is real.  The alt-right’s white supremacy is real.  Some of the people committing these crimes really are emboldened by Trump’s hardline rhetoric.  Orderly Conduct is obligated to acknowledge all of this and to let it be known that we condemn white supremacy and all other forms of intolerance and hatred.

Radical and non-radical leftists alike find a common ground in their shared disdain for Trump, white supremacy and hate crimes.  What must come to be understood, however, is that the radical left is exploiting this common ground in an attempt to make their politics and their destructive, often violent protest tactics more appealing to non-radical leftists – and if any of their reports are accurate, they appear to be gaining some ground.  Ordinarily, most people would dismiss or condemn the radicals, but since (mostly young) liberals and progressives are increasingly becoming discontent with the Democratic Party’s shortcomings – including the inability to stop Trump, the inability to win elections, and the sabotaging of Bernie Sanders in favor of embracing establishment politicians – the radical left appears to be having a modest degree of success in converting some of these people.  This is in no small part due to the propaganda campaign they have been waging.

Through an innumerable amount of recent blog posts, online articles, television appearances, and other forays into the media, the “us-and-them” narrative the radical left has been spinning goes like this: Trump, his administration, his followers, the alt-right, the people committing the hate crimes – they are fascists.  The anarchists and other radical leftists who wish to stop them by any means necessary, they are the “anti-fascists,” or “antifas” for short.  According to antifas, Democrats cannot do anything meaningful to combat these ever-growing fascists.  While liberals organized the January 21st Women’s March on D.C. and similar peaceful rallies, the antifas organized the militant and confrontational DisruptJ20 black bloc (click here to view our must-read in-depth article on it).  Their message is clear: if you want to resist Trump and you want to stop the recent hate crimes – if you want to combat this fascism – liberals’ ineffective peaceful protests will get you nowhere, and the only real chance you have is to become a radical leftist who isn’t afraid to engage in destructive and violent behavior.  That antifas are smarter, faster, better, and way more effective, this is the propaganda they have been spinning.

Emboldening radical leftists historically has had disastrous consequences, and this is why Orderly Conduct is writing about what they have been doing ever since Donald Trump was inaugurated.  We have a moral obligation to stop the radical leftists’ propaganda campaign from growing even further, and to expose it for what it is: a campaign rife with false promises, irrationality, lies, and an infectious sense of hysteria.

It all start with Donald Trump.

TRUMP, FASCISM, & POLITICAL IDEOLOGUES

All of the radical left (and certainly some non-radicals as well) believe 100% without a doubt that President Trump is a fascist.  Let’s make something clear, however: this has also been said about every Republican U.S. President since Dwight Eisenhower, maybe even of Presidents before Ike.  Though they consider themselves experts, radical leftists absolutely aren’t the go-to authority in determining who is and who is not a fascist.  In fact, a lot of radical leftists are quick to call almost anyone of a right-wing persuasion a fascist, and at times they’ve even given other leftists that label.

The most concrete and obvious historical examples of real fascists – namely the fascist leaders of the mid-20th century, including Germany’s Hitler and Italy’s Mussolini – are probably who one should look towards in order to determine if Trump truly is a fascist.  Sure, there are some parallels between Trump’s populist and nationalist sentiments and Hitler’s and Mussolini’s.  Realistically though, that is where the similarities end.  Did Trump at times during his campaign make unfair generalizations about refugees, Muslims, and immigrants?  Sure.  Did his populism, nationalism, and hardline stance against terrorists and illegal immigrants inadvertently inspire white supremacists to commit the recent spate of hate crimes?  Absolutely.  To consider this to be proof that Trump is a fascist or a white supremacist, however, is inadequate.  Trump’s concerns regarding terrorist Muslims and illegal immigrants are by no means the same as, say, Hitler’s bigotry against Jews.  Trump’s “Protecting the Nation from Foreign Terrorist Entry into the United States” executive orders – though they may be flawed and overreaching – realistically are not precursors to concentration camps.

Undoubtedly President Trump has many faults and shortcomings, but rather than focusing on the reality of those shortcomings, the left (and the media) instead chooses to jump to conclusions about him.  Trump probably isn’t bigoted against Muslims, he is just fearful (and rightfully so) of Islamic terrorists.  He probably doesn’t hate Mexicans, he just understands that illegal immigration can potentially harm our economy and take resources away from actual citizens.  He doesn’t want to isolate the United States from the rest of the world, he just wants fair trade deals and wants to secure our borders from foreign drugs and criminals.  He isn’t a white supremacist, but he may just be a United States supremacist.

Yet nobody on the left – whether it be Democrats or antifas – can allow themselves to acknowledge those nuanced details, because those details do not fall in line with their political narratives.  Since their politics mandate that they must depict Trump as a monster, they therefore will hold convenient misperceptions against who he is and what he means, and they will contort reality into perfectly fitting their narratives.  Democratic politicians do this primarily to pander to their political base, while radical leftists do this because they are rigid ideologues.  It’s not as big a deal that the Democrats believe all of these Trump misperceptions, however, as it is that the antifas do – because the antifas will use them to justify their destructive and violent behavior while growing their numbers.

ANTIFA DELUSIONS OF GRANDEUR, CENSORSHIP OF THE ALT-RIGHT

So far it has been proponents of the alt-right who have been the target of the latest wave of antifa violence.  While in D.C. during Trump’s inauguration, Richard Spencer was sucker-punched in the head by an antifa who was taking part in the DisruptJ20 black bloc.  On February 1st, a black bloc of about 150 antifas caused an appearance by Milo Yiannopoulos at the UC Berkeley campus to be canceled, resulting in over $100,000 in property damage and numerous assaults against members of the crowd and police.  The next day, more black bloc antifas caused a fistfight at New York University because Gavin McInnes (who they pepper sprayed) was scheduled to speak at an event there.

Whereas realistically it is easy to argue that Trump is not actually a fascist, it isn’t nearly as easy to make that argument with regards to these and other proponents of the alt-right.  It is no secret that many of the alt-right profess to love Hitler.  Regardless, does that necessarily justify censoring them, or committing acts of violence against them?  After all, leftists of all varieties (along with some right-wingers) consider these people to be mere trolls, or people who shouldn’t be taken seriously.  During an interview, VICE News Tonight correspondent Elle Reeve even said so much to Richard Spencer’s face, calling him a fraud who exploits hatred that always has been and will be around, and that alt-right proponents are just teenagers who are too committed to a joke.  Though the alt-right ideology is hateful and the spread of it certainly can be problematic and ultimately be very dangerous (it remains to be seen how much the alt-right is to blame with regards to the recent increase in hate crimes), it certainly hasn’t brought the United States to the same place that Germany got to in the 1930s.  Violence really can’t be justified against these people, no matter how repulsive the left finds them to be.  As far as censoring the alt-right goes, well, there’s a reason why Mein Kampf can still be bought today, and that has less to do with promoting its message of hatred and more to do with laying bare its ugliness for all to see.  The truth is there for us to learn and to experience, to put together like pieces of a puzzle; it can hardly ever be wholly appreciated or understood if others who claim to have solved the puzzle simply dictate their terms to us.  That is one way to view censorship and it is why Orderly Conduct chooses to acknowledge and challenge antifa propaganda – to display how it collapses in on itself – rather than argue that antifas should be ignored or violently repressed.  It would serve antifas well to approach fascism and the alt-right in a similar manner.

Nonetheless, antifas completely disagree.  Not only do they believe that violence against the alt-right (and anyone else they consider to be a fascist) is a necessity, but they also believe that alt-right proponents shouldn’t even so much as be allowed to speak in public – antifas refer to this as denying these people a “platform,” denying them mainstream attention.  Bizarrely, they feel that in censoring these so-called fascists, they are literally defending and saving people’s lives; that they are preventing genocide.  That is why they feel it is their duty to censor these people – and yes, the fact that they constantly cite the First Amendment to justify their right to do or say virtually anything they want, the hypocrisy of denying this right to their political opposites is lost on them.  They have no problem throwing the First Amendment out the window when someone they don’t like or disagree with tries to have his own voice heard, only then rationalizing that the First Amendment guarantees protections only against government repression.

Of course, this plays into the antifas’ narrative that the state and police have been on the wrong side of history before (true) and have at times illegally investigated radical leftists (also true), so there really isn’t anyone trustworthy and capable left besides them to practically resist fascism.  This, however, is unequivocally false – radical leftists always play up how it was their antifas who were the first to combat Franco, Hitler, Mussolini, and other 20th century fascists, but obviously their efforts weren’t good enough.  The Allied Powers were the ones who defeated fascism, and the most brutal of nations then proved to be those governed by radical leftists, not fascists.  Communist nations ultimately succumbed to a capitalist federal republic, and it was the United States that went on to shape the world after World War II, not the radical left.  Given the world we have come to live in, it should be clear that antifas are absolutely delusional about their role in history, past, present, and future.

THE ENLIGHTENED ONES?  HARDLY

The radical left is also delusional with regards to what constitutes violence, which leads into another big part of the antifa propaganda campaign; namely, how they understand that they will not be able to adequately grow their cause if they are seen by the mainstream as violent thugs.  This is why they rationalize that since nobody is really “hurt,” the property damage they cause during black blocs is not actually an act of violence.  However, juxtapose this rationalization with how radical leftists view Gavin McInnes merely speaking at NYU as literally being violence, and this only further exposes these radical leftists.  They are farces who truly do not have the ability to reason, nonetheless offer any feasible solution to the political conundrums our country face today.

This uncritical and irrational line of reasoning is deeply ingrained within the radical leftist, and it perhaps is best exposed within the context of their overwhelming acceptance and approval of criminal actions committed by impoverished black people, especially lootings during times of racial tension.  Radical leftists purport that such lootings are not criminal acts, but rather are a kind of extension of the civil rights movement; that they are acts of social justice.  The radical leftist argues that slaves who freed themselves in the 19th century are a kind of social predecessor to looters in the 20th and 21st centuries.  Looting is therefore a righteous, political act against white supremacy; it is a modern day form of liberation and self-determination for black people, who the radical left believe have continued to be completely and totally oppressed despite the abolition of slavery and Jim Crow.  Looting is therefore a kind of reparation that blacks force upon business owners and capitalists, who are viewed as the 20th and 21st centuries’ successors to 19th century slave owners.  According to the radical leftist, if you at all disagree with their view and see these looters in a negative light, that 100% makes you a racist white supremacist and a fascist.

Again, Orderly Conduct acknowledges that racism is real and that some blacks in this country have been over-sentenced for their crimes, or unjustly criminalized.  Nonetheless, the radical leftist’s view on black looting and “oppression” is extensively flawed and ignorant, to put it mildly.  Take for instance the rioting and looting that occurred on March 11, 2013, in Flatbush, Brooklyn, after black teen Kimani Gray was killed by two NYPD officers after he pointed a gun at them.  One victim of the looting was small business owner Suk Bak – a minority – whose Church Farm Market suffered tens of thousands of dollars in property damages.  A Rite Aid was also looted and the Hispanic manager Lorenzo Evans was assaulted.  Days later, when another riotous protest was scheduled to occur, minority-owned small businesses in Flatbush preemptively closed down for the day, losing hundreds of thousands of dollars in business.

Similarly, the limousine that was destroyed by the antifa black bloc during DisruptJ20 was owned by Muhammad Ashraf, a Muslim immigrant – the very type of person who the radical left purport to be protecting against President Trump.  Ashraf estimated that he stood to lose up to $100,000 in business due to the black bloc’s destruction.

CHOOSE TO RESIST BLIND LEADERS, NOT TO FOLLOW THEM

Unmistakably, this country is far from perfect.  There are too many people out there who are ignorantly intolerant and hateful of people of color, Muslims, immigrants, Jews, and the LGBTQ community.  We do give the radical left credit for understanding that fact and for wanting to directly do something they believe would make this world a better place.  However, what this article should have made clear is that, despite their best intentions, antifas and radical leftists do not see the whole picture and absolutely are not the ones we should be listening to if we indeed do want to improve things.  We cannot allow gullible people with good intentions to be fooled into accepting antifa propaganda that portrays radical leftist politics as the solution instead of a smart, pragmatic, diplomatic, and moderate politics.

What we have illustrated today is a realistic portrait of the antifas, exposing them as ideologues who are uncompromising, undiplomatic, destructive, delusional, ignorant, arrogant, violent, irrational, ironically authoritarian, and prone to censorship.  We have illustrated a realistic portrait of a people who lack the ability to think critically and who abide by numerous sets of hypocritical double standards.  These are not at all the people we should ever listen to or let make the rules.  We’ve seen how disastrous that can be: from Occupy Wall Street’s chaotic Zuccotti Park encampment all the way to the Khmer Rouge Killing Fields; from the Black Liberation Army and Black Lives Matters sympathizers murdering police officers in the streets to the murderous FALN setting off a bomb in NYC’s Fraunces Tavern; from the Symbionese Liberation Army’s kidnapping of Patty Hearst to radical attorney Lynne Stewart going to prison for aiding a terrorist imprisoned for the 1993 World Trade Center bombing – there are an innumerable amount of instances that have proven over and over that radical leftists clearly shouldn’t be emboldened, cannot be trusted, and should not be making decisions for anyone who does not hold their same politics.

There is no glory in becoming an antifa, and anyone who thinks otherwise is foolish.

Editor’s note: click here to view a partial list of the sources that helped develop the arguments contained within this article.

Law & Order Be Damned: Trump’s Inauguration, #DisruptJ20, Black Bloc & its Political Conspiracy

Leftists of all varieties from all over the country – a significant portion of which were from New York City – decided that on January 20th, 2017, they would find their ways to Washington, D.C., the day of Donald Trump’s inauguration as the 45th President of the United States of America.  Instead of celebrating his inauguration, however, they planned to protest it.  Their reasons for protest were as wide and varied as their nuanced politics: feminists were upset that an individual they consider to be a misogynist was being sworn in; women were fearful that their reproductive rights would be eroded by the Republican-controlled federal government; Democrats were distraught over Hillary Clinton’s loss of the election despite winning the popular vote, and felt that the country they loved was going down the wrong track; and, of course, the most radical of the left – the anti-capitalist anarchists, communists, and socialists – were angered by what they saw as fascism’s return to power.

Not to be outdone by the others – that is, to control the narrative of the protests in general, to increase the donations their groups could receive, to increase the memberships within their groups, and to be the recipient of any forthcoming press – all the groups involved ensured that the protests were promoted under their unique branding.  For example, liberals and Democrats organized under the “Women’s March on Washington”, the Iran- and North Korea-loving Workers World Party organized under the banner of “#J20 Resist”, and Bob Avakian’s Revolutionary Communist Party organized under a new front group called “Refuse Fascism” (click here for another Orderly Conduct article regarding Avakian’s RCP).  The most notorious of all these campaigns, however, indeed was the anarchists’ “#DisruptJ20”, which most likely was initiated by anarchists local to the D.C. area.  Shortly after Trump’s election victory, organizers operating under the banner of #DisruptJ20 put out a call for a black bloc to form in Logan Circle in Washington, D.C., on the morning of the inauguration.

BLACK BLOC & #DISRUPTJ20

Black bloc is the most notorious protest tactic utilized only by the most violent and radical of leftist activists.  Though the origin of black bloc can be traced at least as far back to the 1970s in Europe, where it has a rich history, the most infamous case of black bloc in the United States occurred in Seattle, Washington, during the protests against the World Trade Organization Ministerial Conference of 1999.  Most of the country knows this to be the “Battle in Seattle,” whereas the radical left refer to it as “N30” (short for November 30th as “J20” is short for January 20th).

In the present day and age, black bloc is sometimes utilized to merely intimidate state authorities and politicians, law enforcement, and non-radical leftists and right-wing activists alike.  At its worst, black bloc is utilized to give radical leftists the chance to commit violent, illegal acts, to foster riots, and to possibly get away with their crimes.  This is black bloc stripped of all its leftist “revolution for a better world” fetishized propaganda, which depicts anarchism as the loving and reasonable replacement to evil, globalized, capitalist Western civilization.

So what in general is a black bloc?  It is a gathering of anarchists and likeminded radical leftists who all agree to dress from head to toe in all black clothing in order to reduce the likelihood that they will be identified by law enforcement.  This is meant to protect them from being arrested for any illegal activities they plan on engaging in during the black bloc action.  The typical black bloc attire is a black bandanna wrapped around one’s face, black sunglasses (or goggles to deflect pepper spray), optional black hat, a black hoody, a black backpack (convenient for concealing weapons and a change of “civilian” clothes), durable black pants, black gloves, black socks, and black boots.  The uniformity is never perfect, as some within the bloc may be wearing something of a different color, such as brown boots or a multicolored backpack, or may be wearing specialized gear such as knee guards and gas masks.  Despite this, the black bloc remains a pretty effective way for the anarchists to anonymize themselves, or at least to delay how long it takes for law enforcement to identify them.

The anti-capitalist and anti-fascist (or “antifa”) nature of black bloc explains why activists utilizing it will target businesses, banks, and law enforcement during the protest.  The reported few hundred radical leftists who participated in the N30 black bloc caused tens of millions of dollars in property damage, lost business, vandalism, and clean-up costs picked up by businesses, insurance agencies, and tax-payers.  The black bloc that had gathered the morning of #J20 in Logan Circle neared 1,000 people.

The #DisruptJ20 masked-up anarchists marched south down 13th Street, brandishing long wooden 2x4s, metal baseball bats, and carrying book bags stuffed with fireworks, crowbars, hammers, spray paint, and much more.  Along the way they set off handheld pyrotechnics that shot flares into the sky and dragged heavy metal garbage cans and newspaper stands into the streets to effectuate makeshift blockades.  Along with other propagandized slogans, they spray painted the “circle-A” “Anarchy is Order” symbol onto the fronts of condo buildings and businesses as well as onto civilian vehicles parked on the street.  As they neared Franklin Square, the black bloc used hammers to smash the windows of a black SUV and a stretch Lincoln limousine parked in front of 1301 K Street, home to the Washington Post.  A few hours later, the limousine would be looted and ultimately set on fire, but in the meantime the anarchists marched around Franklin Square, setting off M-80 fireworks and setting their sights on the Starbucks, Bank of America, and all of the other businesses located on I Street between 13th Street and 12th Street.  They attacked the storefront windows with their feet and their bodies, with a trash can, with crowbars, hammers, rocks, and concrete that they ripped up from the sidewalk, causing massive, gaping holes in the windows.  In the stillness after the vandalism, the small, shattered chips of glass gradually dislodging and falling from the windows sounded like a soft crackling fire, or like delicate, hollow icicles breaking as they hit the ground.

It was finally at this point on I Street, after the damage had already been done, that D.C.’s Metropolitan Police Department arrived in force with police helicopters and ground vehicles and armored riot cops brandishing shields, pepper spray guns, flashbang grenades, and other non-lethal weapons.  The black bloc ran in a circle to evade police, doubling back to Franklin Square, by which time civilians had come onto the street to see what was going on.  They stared in awe at the damage that had been done, at the millions of fragments of broken glass piled along the sides of buildings in small sloping hills, as white as clean snow.  Cowering behind a pillar of a building, a group of bystanders were visibly panicked by the sounds of sirens and explosions, by the choking smell of all the gases in the air, and by the sight of smoke and of the rioting, anonymized, black-clad masses fleeing from a police force that was frantically trying to restore order.  It is hard to find what in that riotous moment of anarchism could possibly convince those bystanders that this was the way the go if they wanted a better world; that the black-clad anarchist was the person they should aspire to become.

Eventually the police were able to contain or “kettle” reportedly 230 of those involved in the black bloc action, arresting them.  It has been said by federal prosecutors that they are going to be charged with felony rioting, which is punishable by up to ten years in prison and a $25,000.00 fine.  Though various leftist groups had raised tens of thousands of dollars for bail in anticipation of mass arrests (undoubtedly funded in part by liberals and Democrats) and they certainly understood the nature of black bloc destructiveness, organizers were shocked by this news – because the historic reality of such destruction is that they usually get away with just a slap on the wrist.

Orderly Conduct seeks to explore why that is.

THE CONSPIRACY OF DUNCES

In response to all of this, Orderly Conduct poses this question: why didn’t the police just kettle the black bloc while they were in Logan Circle and prevent most of this from occurring to begin with?  Or more precisely, why don’t lawmakers seek to find a way to render the black bloc tactic illegal?  The history of black bloc all over the world is clear and uncontested by the activists who utilize it: it is meant to stop law enforcement from being able to identify or capture activists during and after the commission of a crime.  A law giving law enforcement the authority to prevent a black bloc – to immediately arrest the masked-up, black-clad activists at their meet-up location – this makes a lot more sense than letting the black bloc run amok.  Surely there must be some clever lawmakers out there who could craft nuanced legislation that clearly targets activists seeking to engage in a destructive black bloc while protecting the rights of innocent civilians who simply want to dress in all black.  It really isn’t all that hard to distinguish a destructive anarchist from, say, Johnny Cash.  Such legislation has never been passed, however, and probably has never even been proposed, and probably never will be – and Orderly Conduct argues that one of the reasons why such legislation is unlikely is because of the political nature behind radical leftists’ violence.

There are many Democrats in positions of power and influence (especially so-called “progressives”) who consider black bloc to be an illegitimate form of protest and consider the radicals utilizing it to be misguided.  Nonetheless, these very same Democrats still view the black bloc as a political act rather than simply a criminal one, and even though they view the radicals as misguided, they still consider them to be well-intentioned and socially righteous or conscious.  As such, though most of these Democrats will generally outwardly denounce the destructive nature of a black bloc and of radicalism, it is clear that they have a degree of empathy with the activists.  They hold a basic yet perverse kind of solidarity with them.  Democrat, liberal, or radical leftist alike agree that, for example, President Trump and fascism are bad and should be protested and resisted against.  There is some common ground there, and the Democrats’ outward disagreement is simply against the method of protest, not the protest itself.  Those Democrats do not at all view the radical leftist as the insurgents they aspire to be, and the Democrats understand that, as long as they denounce the violence and as long as the target of the violence is seen as some right-wing element, they sometimes could actually benefit from the violence – it has political capital.  There is little to no political gain for them to ever craft legislation that would outlaw it, law and order be damned.  This is the same rationale behind President Obama’s essentially passive stance on rioting protesters in Ferguson, Missouri; behind Mayor de Blasio allowing Black Lives Matters protesters to shut down highways and bridges in New York City whenever they feel like it; and behind NYC Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Vivertio’s active campaigning for the release of federal prisoner Oscar López Rivera, leader of the left-wing terrorist group FALN, which was responsible for dozens of bombings throughout New York City, Chicago, and other U.S cities, some of which were deadly.  (Rivera’s sentenced was ultimately commuted by Obama, despite Rivera refusing to renounce his ways.)  These “progressive” politicians are but a few examples of Democrats who have at times irresponsibly underplayed the violence committed by radical leftists due to its political relevancy.

Another reason why it is highly unlikely that we will ever see anti-black bloc legislation is that, in addition to Democrats, there are plenty of powerful radical leftist civil liberty organizations that will resist it.  One such powerful group is the National Lawyers Guild (NLG), a bar association comprised of radical leftists who are present at leftist protests as “legal observers”.  Technically they are not protest participants, though the reality is that most of them are actually activists and agree with the protest.  The pretense for their presence is that they watch protests to ensure that the law is being upheld and to gather information on those arrested so they can track them through the booking process and offer them legal aid.  The real reason for their presence, however, is not to objectively ensure that the law is upheld, but rather to monitor the police (whom they despise), to make police officers second-guess their actions – and to defend protesters even if they observe them committing crimes.  For instance, on December 13, 2014, two NYPD officers were assaulted in one incident on the Brooklyn Bridge by six anarchists during a Black Lives Matter protest after the officers tried to stop one of them, Eric Linsker, from throwing a large garbage can onto police a level below him.  The incident was caught on camera, and it is clear as day that at least two NLG legal observers were witness to it.  (All NLG legal observers are deliberately noticeable due to the bright neon green hats they wear during protests.)  Rather than cooperating with police and helping them identify the assaulters (who all managed to escape after the incident) – rather than upholding the law, as they claim is their mandate as legal observers – the NLG instead went on to defend the assaulters after they were ultimately arrested and charged.  Martin Stolar, the former head of the NLG’s New York City chapter, personally defended Linsker, and a photo was taken of the two sharing a laugh during his arraignment – because to radical leftists, assaulting police is fun business.  (Click here to read another Orderly Conduct article regarding how radical leftist civil liberty organizations operate out of a disdain for law enforcement.)

IT HAPPENS ALL THE TIME

Out of the thousands of American activists who have participated in black blocs, only a miniscule portion of them have ever faced significant legal repercussions.  Due to the influence of all these aforementioned powerful leftist elements, Orderly Conduct is predicting that this trend will continue, especially with regards to those arrested during the #DisruptJ20 black bloc.  Orderly Conduct predicts that most of them will have their charges dropped or reduced significantly and will face no jail time; that only a handful of those arrested may spend a few weeks in jail; and that perhaps only one or two will be sentenced to months or a year in prison.  In fact, Orderly Conduct believes that what we are probably really looking at here are lawsuits filed against the Metropolitan Police Department and the city, claiming false arrests as a violation of the activists’ rights (some who will claim they’re part of the media), especially if the city drops many of the cases.  If D.C. is anything like New York City, they will probably find it cheaper to settle the suits than to fight them, even if they have evidence that the activists are guilty.  This will result in payouts to the activists, so they will essentially be rewarded for bad behavior.  If that sounds absolutely ridiculous to you, understand this: it happens all the time.

So while there is good reason for there to be legislation against black bloc from a law and order perspective, and that it most likely can be crafted with enough nuance so that nobody’s civil rights are being violated, it is clear that there are too many political components at work here who will never allow it to come to be.  Seeing how President Trump is going to be in office for at least four years – and how the left has made it clear that they think he is the worst politician to ascend to high office since Adolf Hitler – it is safe to say that we can expect more of what happened in D.C. to happen throughout the entire country for some time to come.

So be prepared, because destructive black blocs will soon be coming to a major city near you – and be sure to thank your local Democrat for allowing it to happen.

Editor’s note: to see a partial list of the sources used to form this article, please click here.