There has been a long-running, “low-grade street war” against the neo-fascist Golden Dawn in Greece. In the Ukraine’s ongoing Euromaidan demos, it is said that neo-fascists “make up about 30% of protesters.” President Nicholas Madura recently invoked the specter of fascism to describe the opposition in Venezuela. And in October, Raw Story reported that Golden Dawn had even opened a chapter here in Los Angeles. Antifascist forces take all of these developments very seriously.
From as far afield as Greece and Venezuela to even our own backyard here in Los Angeles, what these neofascist groups share – and as a coalition in 2010 initiated by ARA-LA and the Black Riders Liberation Party succinctly pointed out – are their varying stages on a shared quest for their own, political legitimacy:
“open fascist forces seek political legitimacy. They want greater influence within white nationalist, reactionary social forces, such as the anti-immigrant movement, the “tea-baggers,” and the militia movement.”
“Settle your quarrels, come together, understand the reality of our situation, understand that fascism is already here, that people are already dying who could be saved, that generations more will live poor butchered half-lives if you fail to act. Do what must be done, discover your humanity and your love in revolution.”
One wonders if Comrade Jackson ever imagined anyone might read his words and think the quarrels to “settle” would be with the fascists themselves? Apparently, Los Angeles organizer James Stern, who after the 1992 rebellion organized a summit between Korean grocers and “gang members” and who proudly befriended (and got the film rights to tell the story about) infamous Mississippi Burning killer Edgar Ray Killen, thinks so: “I think it’s interesting to meet face-to-face with an organization that considers itself a ‘a white civil rights organization.’”
And so Stern, instrumentalizing his previously established – and personally lucrative – connections with open fascists, decided to put on “A National Conversation on Race and Equality: White Civil Rights vs. Civil Rights for All” at a new, Beverly Hills jazz club called H.O.M.E. (an acronym for “House of Music and Entertainment”).
A “HOME” for Nazis in Beverly Hills? Imagine having a pricey meal in a place that hosted Nazis!?! Actual, avowed fucking Nazis!?! And provided security for them! Or, as our comrade who disrupted the meeting inside the restaurant reported H.O.M.E.’s manager saying when he finally demurred and cancelled the event, “I have nothing against any of the groups present,” but “I cannot sacrifice all the work I have done to make it to my current position for my family and my workers.”
In the end, the only thing H.O.M.E. cared about – it seemed – was money. We have recordings. Of course, we’ve reached out to H.O.M.E.’s management for clarification as well as to part-owner and local NBA star, Ryan Hollins, but no response was offered in time for publication.
Interesting, indeed. Or, as Emma Gallegos at LAist noted, “It’s hard to imagine what kind of productive conversation could come out of inviting the leader of a neo-Nazi group to a discussion on civil rights, much less giving him top billing.”
However, regardless of H.O.M.E.’s complicity in hosting the “conversation,” is it possible that hosting such a gathering at all really was just part of the staging of an antifascist action sequence for a forthcoming documentary film by Mr. Stern? You see, what’s interesting to me is the very last passage in the event’s own press release for the event:
Stern was convicted of five counts of wire fraud, and sentenced to 25 years in the Mississippi State Penitentiary at Parchman in 2007. He was paroled on November 2011. Currently, Stern is fielding book deals and movie offers about his story.
The above quote raises a lot of questions, and those questions are compounded both by film permits reportedly secured outside the location in Beverly Hills that day and the elaborate-and-unnecessary (re)entrance the NSM made to garner attention. You see, when our comrades arrived at H.O.M.E., the fascists were inside the restaurant – only to be escorted by a security detail to a small café a few storefronts (stormfronts?) away while the pot was stirred outside. Then, with truly manufactured pomp, the fascists returned only after a proper pitch had been fomented among antifascists.
I am not oblivious to these possibilities. But also: fuck actual Nazis. Let’s stay on topic: NAZIs. And further, let’s talk about “legitimacy.”
Upon hearing of the scheduled “conversation,” longtime Los Angeles organizer Tiffany Wallace of Struggles United/Luchas United noted, “Self-appointed Black “leaders” are going to sit down at the table and discuss with Nazis “race relations” aka “what kind of cut will you accept, ‘Black leaders,’ to pacify the rage seething over amongst your people?” Mr. Stern’s “cut” seems clear; a payout. Other participants perhaps sought the “legitimacy” conveyed to them by the organizer. But more important than any of this: what does the National Socialist Movement gain? What does this event do for actual, fucking Nazis? Legitimacy. And you cannot legitimate Nazis, no matter who you are – their aims have far too murderous consequences for far too many others.
In discussing this piece privately, another comrade raised another troubling point: “I can imagine a post-racial nazi movement,” she said. “And I think nazis will have to move in that direction. Given demographic shifts (here in the US) – they may already be.”
According to Merriam-Webster, symbiosis “is a relationship between two people or groups that work with and depend on each other.” What any casual observer can discern from the relationship between Stern and his openly fascist, NSM allies is a willingness to “work with” each other – for both mutual “legitimation,” as dubiously self-anointed leaders of their respective communities – and for the subsequent lucre that their unprincipled collaboration under neoliberal capitalism may engender. I’d be interested to see what, if any, “cut” the NSM is set to receive from Stern’s forthcoming film.
Regardless of the shameless symbiosis between Stern and the NSM, however, it’s important to understand that the ultimate winner here – had the event not been disrupted – would have been neofascism. The NSM’s quest for legitimacy – and a public platform for their bilge – is a much bigger threat than any singular, black capitalist’s struggle to survive. So while – as true, neofascist cowards – the NSM is “best known for carefully staged protests,” the willing participation and collaboration in such a “staged protest” by self-described “community leaders” is something that cannot be ignored, either.
As Henry Wallace once said:
The American fascist would prefer not to use violence. His method is to poison the channels of public information. With a fascist the problem is never how best to present the truth to the public but how best to use the news to deceive the public into giving the fascist and his group more money or more power.”
Stern and other participants in the “conversation” try to position themselves as community leaders and perhaps start new non-profits where otherwise revolutionary steam might be dispersed – and the seig-heiling Hitler-lovers of the NSM get to call themselves a “white civil rights” organization. No. A thousand times, no. There can be no collaboration with fascists: The perils of collaboration with open fascists should be obvious; “collaboration was a critical element in implementing the “Final Solution.”
No. No pasaran!
“Worse than Nazis.”
That is how community leader Jasmyne Cannick described antifascist demonstrators who did nothing more than chant on a sidewalk and speak angrily inside a restaurant – while she herself collaborated with and tried to give public platform to actual Nazis. To compound her inanity, Cannick then invoked an obvious red-herring; that demonstrators had any intention of “speak[ing] for” black people. Nobody protesting outside of H.O.M.E. Beverly Hills suggested they spoke for anyone. Rather – demonstrators pleaded, begged, handed out informational flyers, angrily chanted and one even wept that anyone would speak to actual, fucking Nazis. And they spoke for themselves as likely targets of a legitimized NSM. After all, it is an essentialization of the most specious kind to suggest that the NSM is merely “anti-black.” They have plenty of genocidal hate to go around.
Let’s examine how protesters who disrupted a public press conference for actual fucking Nazis compare to – I dunno – the actual fucking Nazis:
- “All non-White immigration must be prevented. We demand that all non-Whites currently residing in America be required to leave the nation forthwith and return to their land of origin: peacefully or by force.” – 25 Points of American National Socialism
- “[T]hese degenerates that allow their children to race mix and this sort of thing, they’re destroying the bloodlines of both races.”
— NSM leader Jeff Schoep
- “I do not see the niggers, homosexuals, mexicans, jews, or even child molesters ashamed or afraid to speak their minds and rally, march, post, and be activists for their sick cause. And too many brave men and women died to give me the chance to fight now. I will honor their blood and fight for soil.”
— Prominent NSM member, J.T. Ready
I’d love to know how chanting, “No Home for Nazis” on a public sidewalk compares in any kind of way to the above, Jasmyne. Go ahead. I’ll wait. Bear in mind, however, that the NSM’s own website also features “88” in its domain name; symbology that stands for “Heil Hitler.” Even Godwin would be confused. If you need more background to inform your-seemingly easy comparison of antifascists to actual, Hitler-adoring fucking Nazis – feel free to read more about your new friends here.
NO PLATFORM & THE BALANCE FALLACY
Liberals tend to treat open fascists with a disdainful–but–cute curiosity, if at all. A little amused ribbing. A little mockery. Jokes about robes. Haha. Funny stuff. However, as our comrade Chris Taylor has observed:
“Fascism starts small. White supremacy thrives in the comedic social zone assigned to it by the liberal-dominant, but it takes very little for the farce of white robes, shaved heads, and bad angry music to convert to tragedy. Whether gathering to ineptly organize a political rally, going to a white power punk show, or just having a beer, any gathering of white supremacists poses an immediate threat…”
“Freedom of Speech!” Some asshole screams. Everyone gets quiet – believes it. Even well-intentioned liberals, singularly focused on the seeming good of promoting public, rigorous and robust “debate” (since they hardly ever do anything, after all) – are almost completely at the mercy of the balance fallacy, which “occurs when two sides of an argument are assumed to have equal value regardless of their respective merits.”
As a post from libcom.org, Why No Platform Is Still Relevant, and The Trouble With Liberal “Anti-fascism” explains:
The genesis of this idea is in the Enlightenment. In essence, in the absence of censorship, all ideas have to be weighed up on their own merits and against one another. Those ideas with no basis in fact and reason are quickly shot down and people latch onto those which carry weight. Pure reason wins out, without any nasty censorship to tip the playing field.
From a militant anti-fascist standpoint, there are two problems with this argument. The first is that the aim of no platform isn’t actually to censor the ideas of the far-right but to prevent them from being put into practice. Which brings us to the second: that we are not merely talking about a “battle of ideas,” here, but the struggle against an ideology built upon violence which means to wipe out its opponents.
To “wipe out its opponents,” like actual, fucking nazis want to do. And fuck that. Fascism is too deadly to treat so cavalierly. We won’t, no matter how many apologists, self-promoters, exploiters or charlatans rise up and try to legitimize them as “white civil rights” groups. That conversation, if you’re going to have it, will only happen in private. We will not allow that in public. As comrades at ARA-LA said:
We cannot afford to allow such sick racism to be sanitized, normalized, or legitimized by events like this sham “civil rights summit.” The NSM is no white equivalent of the NAACP. It is an immediate and present danger to humanity.
Never. No platform. I’m not often an absolutist, but as my comrade screamed while being ushered from H.O.M.E. by their burly security detail doing the service of Nazis, “Your time is over, go back to 1945 or Die!”
No platform. None. Not in Los Angeles – or anywhere else – so long as we and people like us breathe, scream, struggle and even sing…
The world is waking outside my window
Bella ciao, bella ciao, bella ciao ciao ciao
Drags my senses into the sunlight
For there are things that I must do
Wish me luck now, I have to leave you
Bella ciao, bella ciao, bella ciao ciao ciao
With my friends now up to the city
We’re going to shake the Gates of Hell
And I will tell them – we will tell them
Bella ciao, bella ciao, bella ciao ciao ciao
That our sunlight is not for franchise
And wish the bastards drop down dead
Next time you see me I may be smiling
Bella ciao, bella ciao, bella ciao ciao ciao
I’ll be in prison or on the TV
I’ll say, “the sunlight dragged me here!”
“Bella Ciao,” Italian anti-fascist song by Chumbawamba