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Antifa - No 1 in mostly peaceful rioting and looting

By Laurence Maher - posted Tuesday, 28 September 2021

This commentary can be read as a follow-up to my note, "Love that Looting Ideology!". The table summarises some of the main events which followed the protests, violent disturbances and tragic deaths which occurred within the US Capitol precinct in Washington, DC on 6 January 2021.

That and related Congressional activity stands in marked contrast to the absence of any thoroughgoing national investigation of the causes, consequences and costs of the prolonged nationwide collapse of public order in the immediate aftermath of the murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis, Minnesota on 26 May 2020.


It seems likely that most if not all the people especially the minorities, the unemployed, the low paid toilers and the homeless who had the singular misfortune to be in the path of the rampaging mobs in 2020, will not have been amused by the very postmodern irony of the concept - the "mostly peaceful riot" – which had overnight become a fixture of the vocabulary of the Church of Latter-Day AgitProp which dominates the contemporary US mass media.

The elderly folks in all the communities devastated by the 2020 barbarism will likely recall that the US Government had promptly established an independent Commission to Report on the Causes, Events, and Aftermaths of the Civil Disorders of 1967 which were extensive but did not match those of 2020 (the Kerner Commission Report).

One manifestation of the vigour and determination of the resistance to the legitimacy of the Trump presidential nomination and presidency was a rapid rise in public consciousness of the use of the term "Antifa (as in Anti-Fascist). That self-proclaimed label denotes those individuals who belong to a multiplicity of small, violent, armed/anarchistic militia-like groups on the US far-Left who make no secret of their rejection of the outcome of the 2016 US Presidential Election. For them and those who actively support them and those who blithely make excuses for their violent cause, the 45th President is Beelzebub.

It should not have surprised anyone that in September 2020, Time magazine announced that more than 93% of 7,750 "protests/demonstrations" that occurred in the early months following Mr Floyd's death had been "peaceful". This was the finding of the Armed Conflict Location and Event Data Project (ACLED) ("Bringing clarity to crisis"). It modestly describes itself as "the highest quality and most widely used real-time data and analysis source on political violence and protest around the world." It exculpates the "mostly peaceful 2020 rioting and looting" in a similarly soothing way in the circumlocution,"overwhelmingly non-violent".

More specifically, the ACLED assessment of the 'Antifa' phenomenon is captured in the following reassuring terms (my Roman):

The loosely organized anti-fascist movement known as 'Antifa' engages in two primary activities relevant to the behaviour under review in this report. Local and interstate networks of antifascists organize countermobilization against right-wing street organizing, including against many of the groups analysed below. The majority of 'Antifa' energy is spent towards counterintelligence operations, primarily doxxing right-wing activists and organizing publicly and semi-publicly available information. Antifa-affiliated activists are also rarely armed and do not exhibit a pattern of recruitment, training, and integration into a chain-of-command, like most militia and armed groups.


The Wikipedia weasel word entry also sings the praises of Antifa which extends to its "willingness sometimes to engagein digital activism, doxing, harassment, violence, and property damage against those they identify as belonging to the far right."

If the ACLED measurements are accepted at face value, who perpetrated the remaining 7% of the post-26 May 2020 violence which occurred across the US? By way of additional context, ACLED should have given specific consideration in its analysis of acceptable "mostly peaceful rioting" to Vicky Osterweil's book In Defence of Looting: A Riotous History of Uncivil Action published in August 2020.

Ms Osterweil advocates the political tactic of "mass expropriation of property [and] mass shoplifting during a moment of upheaval or riot". That which is produced by the owners of stores and factories can be had by the workers for free without police and state oppression. Moreover, it is so reassuring to read that, for Ms Osterweil, looting is an expression that enlivens black lives and strikes at the heart of property, of whiteness, and of the police. The riots and looting are experienced as joyous and liberating.

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About the Author

L W Maher is a Melbourne barrister with a special interest in defamation and other free speech-related disputes. He has written extensively on Australian Cold War legal history.

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