What is Antifa

Historians in the News
tags: Anarchists, antifa

President Trump is blaming the far-left network known as “antifa” for the looting and rioting that has arisen during anti-police brutality protests in cities across the nation over the last several nights. Trump has said he’ll label the movement a terrorist organization, though he legally cannot do that.

Experts who have studied antifa say there is no evidence that the fringe, amorphous group is driving nationwide protests, and Trump hasn’t cited any as he accuses them of doing so. Some experts worry Trump is conflating antifa with peaceful protesters in a dangerous way.


Antifa is short for “anti-facists. It’s pronounced “an-TEE-fuh.”

Think of them as radical anti-racists who want to take matters into their own hands to try to stop white supremacy, said Mark Bray, a historian at Rutgers University and author of “Antifa: The Anti-Facist Handbook.” The difference between them and a normal opponent of these things is that anti-facists don’t trust government or police to efficiently bat down white supremacy and fascism. There’s a suspicion among antifa that police and a capitalist society are actually supportive of these ideals. So from there stems the notion of taking matters into their own hands, which lends an air of militancy to their mission.


They have roots going back a century in Europe, fighting against the rise of fascist leaders there, and they really gained steam during World War II, conducting guerrilla-like campaigns against the regimes of Adolf Hitler in Germany or Benito Mussolini in Italy.

Bray said the modern-day antifa in the United States is inspired by movements in the United Kingdom and Germany in the ’70s and ’80s to battle the far right, in which participants took it upon themselves to police skinheads at soccer matches, for example.


Read entire article at Washington Post

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