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OpEdNews Op Eds    H3'ed 5/31/20

The "Antifa Distraction" and Willful Presidential Ignorance

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In one of President Trump's clumsy responses to the mass uprisings now riddling and disrupting American life, he tweeted that the protests and looting was the result of left-wing radical groups like Antifa - a name that the vast majority of Americans have not heard before. He took his cue from the loud shrieking of helpless American city administrations, powerless to curtail or control the anger of the exploited Black, brown, white, immigrant, disenfranchised, and brutalized masses. In fact, the Trump Administration and its band of chicken hawks, the kind of "brave and patriotic Americans," whose "strength and muscle" is only manifest when they bring great pain and suffering to little defenseless immigrant children in cages, poor and disenfranchised Black people in Establishment-created ghettos, and demonization of "other non-white peoples."

It is very easy to see that there is very little difference between the Democratic and Republican parties - they are simply the two sides of the corporate party. As Trump continues to grandstand and shuffle his feet, he's ceded power to state governors punting his responsibility - up to now - in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic banking on the fact that when the 2020 presidential campaign starts in earnest he could stick his thumb in his mouth and say "not me; blame the governors." So, both Democrat and Republican governors have reacted viscerally to the massive protests by calling out the military - the National Guard - and boosting police presence to stifle popular dissent under the guise of preventing looting and vandalism by "outside actors and agitators." On cue, Trump bellowed that his arch-enemy Antifa was to blame. As usual, he presented ABSOLUTELY NO EVIDENCE to support his accusation(s).

Indeed, the "Antifa Distraction" is just a god-send issue for a president seeing his poll and favorability ratings tanking in the toilet, and a majority of Americans - Democrats and Republicans alike - saying that his handling of the COVID-19 pandemic was poor, incompetent, sloppy, and clueless. With over 104,000 Americans dead from the coronavirus and a recently published report saying that had President Trump and members of his Administration acted in a timely fashion about 50,000 of those dead Americans would be alive today, it very clear to see a U.S. president pummeled against the political ropes and desperately lashing out. And with over 40 million Americans now jobless and facing an uncertain future Trump is at his wits end and desperately in need of a distraction or two. Unable to multi-task and realizing that the POTUS is not a reality TV show or a real estate business, the president has maybe realized that he's out of his depth, and woefully unprepared to handle these challenging issues.

Designating Antifa a terrorist organization akin to ISIS or Al-Qaeda is political smoke and mirrors just like his Executive Order attacking Twitter for flagging one of his outrageous posts that was clearly misleading, untrue, and designed to inflame public division and anger. The fact is that the United States has no domestic law or legal president that would allow the POTUS to simply slap a tag on a DOMESTIC organization and make it an instant terror group. Trump's beef with Antifa stems from the fact that the organization is completely opposed to his administration and white supremacists' organizations that he obliquely "winks and nods" to and sends coded messages when their racist activities are called out and exposed. It's instructive that President Trump moves to designate a group that he does not like a terrorist organization while a regenerated, energized and emboldened Ku Klux Klan and white supremacist militias are considered "good people."

So, let us delve into what really is Antifa. First and foremost, Antifa is an amorphous group, meaning that it does not have a permanent address and organizational hierarchy or headquarters. The group, while sharing a broad common set of ideologies and principles, differ from state to state, and from country to country. Its organization is loose without a formal central command and control structure that groups like ISIS have. Thus, designating Antifa a terrorist organization is easier said than done, and may just be more Trumpian hot air blowing.

Then there are First Amendment issues and presidential abuse of power - after all America has always claimed not to be a dictatorship. In this context its either the POTUS is deliberately gaslighting the American people or he's acting out of willful ignorance. I can't help but think based on the president's past record that he's deliberately trying to change and control the public political narrative after the events of the last 30 days. By "sounding tough" and hurling loaded, dog-whistle language to his fanatical support base he's throwing everything at the political wall to see what sticks. The kakistocracy that is the Trump Administration is exposed for it is - racist, uncaring, insensitive and opportunist.

Antifa is a decidedly against neo-Nazis, neo-fascism, white supremacists and racism, and these days the movement that encapsulates some of those ideas: the alt-right. Antifa groups come from a variety of political backgrounds but are united in their opposition to fascism, and have an anti-government streak. The organization believes that under the Trump Administration America is creeping towards authoritarianism. Antifa claims to be building "a movement that really insulates Americans from the policies of Donald Trump."

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MICHAEL DERK ROBERTS Small Business Consultant, Editor, and Social Media & Communications Expert, New York Over the past 20 years I've been a top SMALL BUSINESS CONSULTANT and POLITICAL CAMPAIGN STRATEGIST in Brooklyn, New York, running (more...)

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