Gregory Zink Rebutting “Antifa: Domestic Terrorists”
Gregory Zink (Libertarianism- Right)
Tore Lindeman (Nationalism)
“A person engages in domestic terrorism if they commit an act “dangerous to human life” that is a violation of the criminal laws of a state or the United States, if the act appears to be intended to: (i) intimidate or coerce a civilian population; (ii) influence the policy of a government by intimidation of coercion; or (iii) to affect the conduct of a government by mass destruction, assassination, or kidnapping.”
Ms. Lindeman’s piece admittedly highlights the worst elements of rhetoric/behavior from Antifa (and admittedly I have experienced this myself in doses) but this is not indicative of their whole enterprise. Branding them terrorists is an extreme categorization that does not align with reality and also carries with it some logical conclusions that are problematic. I agree that they have recently exhibited some terror-esque qualities in Portland, and that the cell structure of their decentralized affiliations is similar to that of terrorist networks, but they have not crossed the threshold of full bore terrorist activity…yet. Individuals who commit crimes should be subjected to the full extent of the law, and if collectives like Antifa increasingly initiate the use of force then they should be dealt with accordingly.
Firstly, they are not a genuine threat to liberal democracy and saying this completely ignores their numbers, impact, criminality, and relative positioning next to actual terrorist organizations. Look at the FLQ in Quebec, the IRA in Ireland, Al-Qaeda in the Middle East and North Africa, and both the Weather Underground and The Order in the USA. These were real terrorist organizations who meet every criteria listed by security officials. I could not find any evidence whatsoever that Antifa has ever bombed, kidnapped, assassinated, or threatened broad swathes of a population, or governmental institutions, in a manner aligned with terrorist definitions. The only thing I found was a fake social media post from August of 2017 wherein anonymous trolls were accusing Antifa of planning a civil war in the USA (Snopes debunked these claims and ultimately they never materialized).
It is correct to say that they attempt to “intimidate and coerce a civilian population”, but they are doing it selectively and incrementally as opposed to arbitrarily and immediately. Threatening civilian lives undoubtedly happens within their ranks, but they are not doing it indiscriminately like actual terrorists do. This does not make it right in least but it does contrast against groups like Al-Qaeda who threatened mass destruction. In this regard they technically meet the DHS definition of “domestic terror” but this is akin to marijuana being a Schedule I narcotic next to heroin. Of course marijuana is a drug, but it is not an intravenous opiate that destroys a person’s life.
Again, I admit that they have unjustly coerced certain segments of the civilian population, and it is also true that the revolutionary elements within the movement may well attempt terrorist activities in the future. But until they actually do something deeply criminal (and with frequency) they should not be considered “guilty until proven otherwise” as this would be identical to their philosophy regarding pre-emptive strikes on alleged fascists. The only time they have crossed these definitional boundaries in a concrete way was in Iraq, Syria and Turkey. There they were actively, and violently, opposing ISIS that, quite ironically, could be viewed as aiding US policy objectives as opposed to threatening them.
Another problem with Tore’s wide definition of terrorism is that it would hypothetically encompass organizations like PETA, and Greenpeace. Pursuing this rationale would again mirror Antifa’s own flawed philosophy of vague criteria components when mis-categorizing threats (i.e. seeing Nazi’s where there are not any or saying traditional conservatives are “Far-Right”). So overall I agree that their philosophy is flawed, some of their actions are overzealous and extreme, and that they should be monitored for what they have done in certain locations. For the final time, if they habitually defy socio-political norms then I would be in complete agreement with designating them domestic terrorists. But until then we watch, learn, and discern.