Posted August 28, 2017 11:13 AM by Jordan Schachtel
URL of the original posting site: https://www.conservativereview.com/articles/should-antifa-be-declared-a-domestic-terrorist-organization
On Sunday, members of the far-left Antifa (“anti-fascist”) fascist group stormed a free-speech demonstration known as the “Rally Against Hate,” destroying public and private property and viciously attacking and intimidating journalists, police officers, and those whom members of the group deemed its political opposition.
Sunday’s violent display was just one of the countless nationwide flare-ups this year in which Antifa rioters used physical force against innocents, using deadly weapons and homemade items to batter and intimidate people the group opposes.
Given the group’s barbarity and lawlessness, some have floated the idea that Antifa should be considered a domestic terrorist organization. Members of the public have petitioned the White House to recognize Antifa as such. As of this writing, the petition has almost 311,000 signatures. It only needed 100,000 to force an official response from the White House.
So, should Antifa be declared a terrorist group, or something else?
To determine if Antifa should be designated, we must first explore its roots.
Antifa is modeled after Antifaschistische Aktion, a 1930s communist organization controlled by the Soviet Union that climbed to prominence during the simultaneous rise of the Nazi Party in Germany. During this time, the group was explicitly a militant organization that used violence to achieve its political ends. Similar to today’s Antifa, Antifaschistische Aktion supported a totalitarian communist society and labeled all of its opponents (including the ones who supported capitalism and liberal democracy) as “fascists.” While these “red shirts” became famously known for their anarchic street battles against Nazi devotees, under a Weimar Republic government that was unable and unwilling to keep order, they also targeted other political outfits that opposed communist rule.
However, there is no longer a Soviet Union, and today’s U.S. branch of Antifa appears to be operating independently of any foreign state. While Antifa demonstrations have flared up in other countries, there is no current evidence its U.S. branch is being directed by any international bodies. Therefore, a debate over Antifa’s criminal status should center around whether the group should be considered a domestic terrorist organization.
The FBI defines domestic terrorism as the “unlawful use, or threatened use, of force or violence by a group or individual based and operating entirely within the United States or Puerto Rico without foreign direction committed against persons or property to intimidate or coerce a government, the civilian population, or any segment thereof in furtherance of political or social objectives.”
Furthermore, under the Patriot Act, independent acts of domestic terrorism are defined by the following criteria:
“(A) involve acts dangerous to human life that are a violation of the criminal laws of the United States or of any State; (B) appear to be intended – (i) to intimidate or coerce a civilian population; (ii) to influence the policy of a government by intimidation or coercion; or (iii) to affect the conduct of a government by mass destruction, assassination, or kidnapping; and (C) occur primarily within the territorial jurisdiction of the United States.”
Antifa certainly uses intimidation and violence to suppress its opponents. Its members often attempt to influence and coerce policy through mob violence. Members of the group have yet to engage in murder and assassination; it appears to only be a matter of time before its extremely violent gatherings result in the killing of innocents to further its political ends.
The evidence makes a serious case that Antifa should be declared a domestic terrorist group. However, the United States does not designate domestic extremist groups as terrorist organizations, because it would interfere with First Amendment protections under the Constitution.
Given its lack of proven foreign influence, Antifa members should be considered part of a domestic extremist group, comparable to the likes of the Ku Klux Klan, the Aryan Nations, the Animal Liberation Front, Black Liberation Army, and countless other U.S.-based extremist outfits. Law enforcement should use all resources available to fight back against the organization’s extremist activities.
Jordan Schachtel is the national security correspondent for Conservative Review. Follow him on Twitter @JordanSchachtel.