I have noted before in this place that the people who seem most fascist these days are self-described ‘anti-fascists’. The inaugural weeks of Donald Trump’s Presidency are – whatever else you think of them – doing a fine job in smoking these people out.
The principal cause of ‘anti-fascist’ ire today would appear to come from the collective decision that anybody whose opinions do not wholly concur with a narrow set of agreed upon ‘liberal’ views is a ‘fascist’. This is not a wholly new development – Allan Bloom noticed this more than thirty years ago. But it seems that the people then who described everyone who disagreed with them as ‘Nazis’ did not grow up as had been hoped but just moved into positions in the media, politics and academia where they deepened and extended the reach of their worldview. Thus today American campuses finds themselves in a situation in which Milo Yiannopoulos is meant to be a fascist, Christina Hoff Sommers is meant to be a fascist and Gavin McInnes is meant to be a fascist.
Until now I have tended to assume that people who call all their opponents ‘fascists’ were doing so purely for short-term political gain. But I am starting to wonder whether some people seriously believe themselves. Is it possible these people actually do think that America is about to start herding people into gas chambers, or is doing so already?
Last Monday when Milo went to speak at Berkeley, riots broke out and protestors started setting fire to the campus, I wondered whether these 'anti-fascists' seriously thought they were going to war against Hitler in 1933 rather than with someone who holds different views from them on such matters as taxation, transsexualism and birth control. One might have thought that the liberal worldview encompassed contrary views on such subjects. Well no more, it would seem. Yet how true that old adage is about people become the thing they hate.
On Thursday the conservative commentator Gavin McInnes was due to speak at New York University. Some ‘anti-fascists’ decided to storm the event and pepper-spray the speaker while chants in the hall included ‘Nazi scum, your time has come’. Eleven people were arrested. But behaviour outside the event was even more telling.
A video shows a woman who claims to be a professor screaming at the police outside the event. It is her contention – screamed over and over again at the police protecting the event – that the police are ‘f---ing assholes’. The ‘professor’ seemed to dislike the fact that the police were in her words ‘protecting the Nazis’. She informed the police of what she thought they ought to do to the ‘Nazis’: ‘You should kick their ass! You should!’ She then turned to the subject of the delicate students around her whose feelings she professed to be protecting:
‘These are kids who are trying to learn about humanity! They're trying to learn about human rights and against racism and xenophobia, and LGBTQ rights, and you're letting these f---ing neo-nazis near here! It's not up to these students to kick the ass of a neo-nazi! They don't have to raise their fist! They were taught to be peaceful! F--- you!’
I wonder whether any self-described ‘liberals’ will mull on this and whether they didn’t contribute to bringing things to this pitch? Here is a woman who presumably believes herself to be an anti-fascist berating the American police for not acting as the storm-troopers of the ‘liberal’ worldview. Of course having been ‘educated’ to be as sensitive and useless as possible NYU students couldn’t themselves be expected to beat up people with contrary opinions. But that is apparently what the police are for: the state apparatus able to be ordered in to beat up anyone who does not hold all the correct views, on behalf of all the people who do.
All of which leads me to wonder once again whether anything will ever make these ‘anti-fascists’ look in the mirror and recognise what they have become.