E tu Brute?: Position Paper Explaining the Justification of Violent Protests
(the â€ symbols are "quotation marks")
Recently the Antifa group broke out into violence on the Berkeley campus, setting fires and starting brawls in order to stop Milo Yiannopoulos from speaking at the campus. Many people believe that Violence can never be justified and I will prove that not only can violence be justified but that the people saying that it cannot be justified often justify violence that they see as righteous. Throughout history violence has been used to create not only chaos, but harmony. America was founded on a Revolution, the State motto of Virginia is â€œSic Semper Tyrannisâ€ or â€œAs Always to Tyrantsâ€, and there have been various groups within America since its founding that have had to use violence in order to get their message across. Acts of Violence such as the broken windows and fires started a Berkley in reaction to Milo are not only justifiable in some cases, but can be necessary; to illustrate this point I will use two case studies out of many, â€œAntifaâ€ and â€œThe Black Panther Party for Self Defenseâ€.
First, I will explain the case in point, then I will compare it to similar actions taken by similar groups to Antifa and even by the parent group of Antifa. The place to start is with the actions taken in Berkley and the reasons for them, â€œMr. Trump's election has been deeply discomfiting to colleges, not only because of the president himself but because of the various figures who have risen to power on his coattails. Among them is Mr. Yiannopoulos, the Breitbart editor famous for encouraging online abuse campaigns against people, usually women, whom he has deemed worthy of scorn.â€ (Lawrence 2017, pg2). This sentence shows the issue that is happening at not only Berkley, but Campuses across the country. Within that same article it points out the kind of violence that these groups endure based on their identity as immigrants, or homosexuals, etc, â€œShe was an immigrant herself, having fled Cuba with her family when she was 3 years old. Her brother, Cesar, a North Carolina union organizer, was shot and killed while protesting a rally of the Ku Klux Klan and the American Nazi Party in what came to be known as the "Greensboro Massacre." Later, when Ms. Cauce came out as gay, her mother told her, "Now both my children are dead." (She eventually came to accept her daughter's sexual orientation.)â€ (Lawrence 2017, pg5). Not only are people harassed, but sometimes even killed protesting, even in America, just to be treated as equals.
This sentence shows that Donald Trumpâ€™s election has brought ramped up these acts of violence against these communities, causing them to become targets, and when they protest, it makes the targeting worse, â€œPolitical tensions on campus reached a new pitch after Mr. Trump's election. In mid-November students from LGBT and women-of-color advocacy groups led a walkout to protest Mr. Trump's policy proposals. People waved signs that denounced the president-elect in blunt, vulgar terms. The next day, somebody hit a Muslim student in the face with a bottle, giving her a concussion.â€ (Lawrence 2017, pg5). The following quote shows the tactics used by Milo Yannopolous, â€œSome people roamed around the library with phones. Mr. Weatherford knew some of Mr. Yiannopoulos's admirers were fond of "doxxing" -- posting personal information about their opponents online and encouraging the internet trolls to swarm. It was hard to know the intentions of the camera-wielding strangers, but he suspected they might be trying to out undocumented students.â€ (Lawrence 2017, pg7). They will take peopleâ€™s personal information and release it to the internet in order to get trolls and other people to harass the targets, and sometimes ones. The following quote shows where things began to get conflicted, â€œMr. Weatherford, dressed in black and carrying a bullhorn, walked over to the man. "Just cut it out," said the doctoral student. "You're trying to doxx people."â€¦ He kept trying to follow the protesters, and Mr. Weatherford kept getting in his way. "You wanna get away from me dude?" the man said, raising his voice.â€ (Lawrence 2017, pg7).
When Milo found out that things may turn violent, he did not try to stop the violence, but encouraged it by saying, â€œ"There are apparently, I'm told, 1,500 more people with weapons on their way over here," he said. "God, it's so, so sexually exciting!"â€ (Lawrence 2017, pg8). Here is a quote from the exact moment things turned violent, â€œMr. Yiannopoulos had just delivered a punchline about "Latinx," the gender-neutral pronoun for people of Latin-American descent, when somebody in the audience stood up and told him that somebody outside the venue had been shotâ€¦ The 34 Year old victim was not a student. According to news reports, he is a computer-security engineer and a member of the Industrial Workers of the World, a socialist labor group, who was there to protest Mr. Yiannopoulos's talkâ€¦.Days after the incident, The Seattle Times reported that the shooter was a former student at the university who had expressed support on Facebook for Mr. Yiannopoulos and the National Rifle Association, and had sent the Breitbart editor a message earlier in the evening seeking an autograph. (The campus police said this has not been confirmed, and the investigation remains open.)â€ (Lawrence 2017, pg8). After all of this there was a riot on the campus in which windows were broken and various fires were set, and this was called â€œunjustifiable violenceâ€ by many.
Historical Justification of the Groupâ€™s existence
In order to completely understand the Antifa group, and groups like Black Bloc protesting at the G-20, or causing Riots like the one at Berkley, you must understand the groups roots.
Throughout history there have been many movements similar to Antifa, which achieve Political goals through direct action, not by voting, not by just protesting, not by lobbying, but by direct action. â€œWe have labelled them and pushed them into a corner and have thus provoked their resistance. This has created a climate of mistrust.â€ (WeiÃŸ 2015, pg2). This sentence is about the beginning of Antifa. Antifa means â€œAnti-Fascistâ€ and the Antifa movement did not start in America. Antifa began in countries where there are openly fascist movements, during the time of the Berlin wall. â€œThe annual SED Labor Day rally against Anti-Fascism and warâ€¦ had been hijacked by a group of young people with dyed hair, leather jackers, and worn clothes unfurling banners in protest against neo-fascism in the GDRâ€ (WeiÃŸ 2015, pg2). This sentence shows that not only has this movement been around for a while, but that while the Fascists were Anti-War, the Anti-Fascists hijacked an Anti-War rally, implying that they wanted war with the Fascists and were not Anti-War at all. Which flies in the face of those who claim â€œThey are the real fascists because they are violentâ€, Anti-Fascists were never Anti-Violence, even from their inception.
â€œAppraisal and commemoration of the opposition milieu was thus largly limited to the â€˜classicâ€™ church-based opposition circles, which according to an estimate by the GDR Security Service in spring 1989, numbered 160 groups with 2,500 members nationwide. This approach is consistent with previous opposition and revolution research that utilized terms such as â€˜churchâ€™, â€˜citizensâ€™, â€˜grassroots movementsâ€™, â€˜would-be emigrantsâ€™, or â€˜reformersâ€™ at the protagonist level and fails to mention â€˜youthâ€™, let alone â€˜youth subcultureâ€™.â€ (WeiÃŸ 2015, pg2). This sentence explains why there are so few people who understand what the purpose and goals and meanings of this group and similar groups are. Most movements were similar to Gandhiâ€™s movement or Martin Luther King Jrâ€™s movement, in which the Religious institutions motivated millions of people to action against their Government by peaceful means, usually protest and song. The Antifa movement is not one of those movements. The following sentence further explains this misunderstanding, â€œYoung peopleâ€™s radical alienation from the SED, and from its â€œWorkersâ€™ and Farmersâ€™ Stateâ€ identity, constituted one of the central reasons for the ideological erosion and collapse of real socialism.â€ (WeiÃŸ 2015, pg3). The sentence mentions that it eroded socialism, but I would argue that to turn away from, and turn off, your Nations Youth, is to ask for these kinds of problems, socialist State or not.
â€œInitially, few of the subcultural protagonists actually sought to revolutionize their country or society according to their own agenda. Instead, they wanted to determine their own lifestyle and future. In a dictatorship that had adopted a self-declared principle of equality and responsibility to educate â€œitsâ€ citizens, this demand had a highly political connotationâ€ (WeiÃŸ 2015, pg3).
And this will surprise most people, but the â€œViolent Leftistsâ€ and the â€œNazisâ€ they are fighting, have been fighting since the beginning of Skin Head rock nâ€™ roll culture. â€œDuring the second half of the 1980s when the right-wing skinheads burst onto the sceneâ€¦ part of the metal and punk scene, with several thousand members nationwide, switched allegiance to the skinheads and revealed themselves to be carriers of the neo-Nazi ideology and violent-prone opponents of punks and â€œleftiesâ€. As a consequence, excessive violence broke out, the scene split into â€œleft-wingersâ€ and â€œright-wingersâ€ and the neo-Nazi problem was incorporated into the sociocritical discourse of the GDR opposition.â€ (WeiÃŸ 2015, pg4). Proving that groups like Antifa, and the groups they fight regularly such as the White Socialist Nationalist Workers Party, have been fighting since the right-wing version of these groups evolved out of post Nazi, communist Germany. The following quote shows the issues brought on by the right-wing version of these groups, which causes conflict to almost be inevitable, â€œAccording to a report by the MfS, 1987 saw a significant rise in severe right-wing violence in all larger cities. Incidents included the â€œbashingâ€ of members of the National Peopleâ€™s Army and of a number of Punks in Berlinâ€¦â€ (WeiÃŸ 2015, pg5). An example of this in America is â€œGay Bashingâ€, or what could now be called â€œMuslim Bashingâ€, and even people killing Indians and Sikhs because they think they are Muslim.
The Problem of the Oppressor
Now that you have an understanding of a History of this group, and their overall Justification for existing and needing to exist in order to counter certain elements of Human society, I am going to further prove that violence is not only a means but sometime the only means to achieve self-determination. To do that I will use the example of the Black Panther Party for Self Defense.
â€œDespite the fact that criminally short American memories gladly reduce the Black Panther Party for Self-Defense to its â€œrevolutionary chicâ€ aesthetics (black leather jackets, perfectly coiffed Afros) and cries of â€œOff the pigs,â€ it is important for us to understand just how impactful the organizationâ€™s work has been over the past five decades. The party made it clear that fighting to transform everyday Black life in the United States is connected to the global struggle against oppression. [Over] Fifty years after its founding, the organizationâ€™s international approach to Black liberation still fires the imagination of activists across the globe.â€ (Ebony 2016, pg3). The Black Panther Party was an organization in America, that existed for the sole purpose of protecting Black People in a segregated America. White Police would come in Black neighborhoods and pretty much do whatever they wanted and arrest whoever they wanted, usually on the pretense that someone fit a description of some sort. The Black Panthers organized in order to begin Policing the Black Communities, and Policing the White Police. â€œThe Panthers were born out of coalitions of young Black people in collective and protracted study and struggle. The Afro American Association study group that met at Oakland, Californiaâ€™s Merritt College, organized in 1962 by UC-Berkeley law student Donald Warden, would be an important training ground for party founders Huey Newton and Bobby Seale as well as Ronald Everett (co-creator of the Kwanzaa holiday, now known as Maulana Karenga) and towering Black intellectual and Marxist thinker Cedric Robinsonâ€ (Ebony 2016, pg3). And this sentence not only makes a point about these movements, but a point about my paper itself, â€œAmerica misinterpreted the partyâ€™s demand for an immediate end to police brutality and murder as a call for retaliatory violence. As Black Lives Matter organizers renew this particular objective, we see that similar misinterpretations persist. In an age of renewed federal counterintelligence surveillance and heightened xenophobia, lingering American fears of unpredictable, uncontrollable consequences for centuries of violent, inhumane and state-sanctioned repression are more obvious than ever; a recent Supreme Court decision that allows police officers to use evidence obtained in an illegal search if the defendant has an outstanding warrant is but one troubling example.â€ (Ebony 2016, pg3). As an example of the misunderstanding, you may have yourself believed that this paper was a call to violence, this paper is not a call to violence but a statement that there are problems which allow violence to be carried out in ways that can be justified. If these societal problems were corrected, people would not be able to justify such actions, and would probably not want to. The goal of self-determination that comes from the parent groups of Antifa, can also be seen in the Black Panther Philosophy, as explained here, â€œIn the early 1900s, Marcus Garvey introduced the theory of self-determination as a basic tenant for liberation for Africans worldwide. In the Americas and the Caribbean, his prescription was for a people not yet a generation away from slavery. But he was also talking to continental Africans, whose freedom from colonialism was some 50 years into the future. â€œAction, self reliance, the vision of self and the future have been the only means by which the oppressed have seen and realized the light of their own freedom,â€ he wrote.â€ (Ebony 2016, pg4). â€œAs Newton once wrote, â€œRevolution is not an action; it is a process.â€ The Black Panthers were young descendants of Africa who forged their own link in the long, unbroken chain of Black communal struggle that transcends time and space. We honor their work by remembering their processes and framing them honestly.â€ (Ebony 2016, pg3). You have maybe heard the slogan â€œFree Hueyâ€ as a slogan from the 1960s Black Panther Party. This slogan existed because Huey Newton was in jail for Voluntary Manslaughter in the murder of a Police Officer. In this case Huey Newton was charged in the shooting death of a Police Officer who had shot him first, and he made it all the way to the California Supreme Court and the charges were dropped, because the Trial was unfair due to the fact that no one had allowed Huey to enter a statement about being shot in the stomach and blacking out before shooting the Officer.
The argument that â€œViolence can never be Justifiedâ€ brought by the other side of this debate is a Noble one, but is a fiction. People arguing against such violence argue that â€œViolence can never be justifiedâ€ and that â€œFree speech is being stepped on by Antifaâ€, â€œIt calls on state universities to punish students who disrupt speeches and allow those whose rights are violated to sue. The bill, which the state Senate is expected to take up this fall, is called the Campus Free Speech Actâ€¦The Wisconsin bill, which passed the state Assembly June 21 on a 61-36 vote, with no Democrats in favor and only one Republican against, was largely a response to the bad behavior shown toward the bird-flipping Shapiro.â€ (Lueders 2017, pg2) Ben Shapiro is a similar figure to Milo in the alt-right and worked for Breitbart, which is the same company who was paying for Miloâ€™s tour. First, I would like to point out that these same exact people who constantly claim that violence can not be justified, are usually the only people justifying violence when Police shoot someone: â€œTrayvon Martin would have turned 21 today if he hadn't taken a man's head and beaten it on the pavement before being shotâ€ (Shapiro 2016, Twitter) â€œReaching For The Gun. Dr. Judy Melinek of San Francisco told the Post-Dispatch that the autopsy â€œsupports the fact that this guy is reaching for the gun, if he has gunpowder particulate material in the wound.â€.â€ (Shapiro 2014, pg2). This is a clear justification of violence by the same person claiming that Violence at campuses canâ€™t be justified and is violating their right to free speech. The same people who say â€œThere was a waterbottle in his pocket, and the Police officer was justified in murdering him, because he was scaredâ€ are the same people who will say â€œThey broke a window, this can not be justifiedâ€.
And if that does not speak for itself, I will explain it a little further. No one in Antifa has ever murdered a Republican speaker like Milo, or murdered someone who let someone like Milo speak at their school, but Police actually kill people every day, and it is considered justified by these same people. So I would ask anyone who has ever said â€œViolence is never justifiedâ€ to please not make statements about Police shootings except to say that â€œViolence is never justifiedâ€, even in cases where Police kill violence criminals. â€œEver wonder how it must have felt to kill Osama bin Laden? Hear the story from the man who actually did. http://foxrad.io/2qnZ5vUâ€ (Fox News Radio Google+ Feed, https://plus.google.com/+foxnewsradio/posts/JTe6vowLnYj) Bin Ladenâ€™s death is considered not only justified, but it is glorified, and usually by the same people who say violence can never be justified.
In conclusion, it should seem obvious that the people who claim that Antifa is â€œfascistâ€ or that â€œViolence can never be justifiedâ€ when people break windows are misguided and often uninformed about the groups they are talking about. Violence can be justified in various circumstances, and is sometimes even necessary.
The Speech That Turned a Campus Against Itself, Lawrence 2017
Civil Society From the Underground: The Alternative Antifa Network in the GDR, WeiÃŸ 2015
Fifty Years of the Black Panther Party, Ebony 2016
Shut Up Already: The New Battle Over Campus Free Speech, The Progressive, Bill Lueders 2017
Ben Shapiroâ€™s Twitter Feed, 6:57 AM - 5 Feb 2016
Revealed Autopsy Destroys "Gentle Giant" Michael Brown "Hands Up, Don't Shoot Story, by Ben Shapiro Oct 22, 2014
Fox News Radio Google+ Feed, https://plus.google.com/+foxnewsradio/posts/JTe6vowLnYj