Antifa (short for anti-fascist) is a broad term used for a collective group of left-wing activist types who oppose fascism. The term can also be extended to people who oppose anyone who supports their nation in an oppressive manner or anyone who thinks one race is superior to others.
Some of the groups, such as the 10-year-old Rose City Antifa in Portland, the oldest antifa group in the U.S., are particularly well-organized and active online and on Facebook, while its members are individually anonymous.
President Trump has singled out antifa as part of what he calls the alt-left in his initial claim that “many sides” were to blame for violence in Charlottesville the weekend of Aug. 12, not just the neo-Nazis, KKK and white nationalists.
- A controversial protest group, known as Antifa, clashed with right-wingers in Charlottesville
- Some members employ radical or militant tactics to get their message across
What is Antifa?
How did the group start?
How is it pronounced?
“AN-tifa” with the emphasis on the first syllable, which sounds more like “on” in English than “an.”
When did it start?
Anti-fascist groups, particularly in Europe, have been around for many decades, notably in Italy, against Mussolini, and in Germany, against Hitler. In the postwar period, antifa groups resurged to fight neo-Nazi groups, particularly in Germany. In the U.S., the anti-fascist movements grew out of leftist politics of the late ’80s, primarily under the umbrella of Anti-Racist Action.
Where do they protest?
What does the movement want?
The primary goal is to stop neo-Nazis and white supremacists from gaining a platform rather than to promote a specific antifa agenda. The antifa groups are decidedly anti-racist, anti-sexist and anti-homophobia, but also by and large socially leftist and anti-capitalist.
Why are they controversial?
How do the groups operate?
Mark Bray, a lecturer and Dartmouth and author of the new book Antifa: The Antifascist Handbook, says the groups “organize educational campaigns, build community coalitions, monitor fascists, pressure venues to cancel their events, organize self-defense trainings and physically confront the far right when necessary.”
In addition, antifa is particularly active in “doxxing,” or identifying neo-Nazis and like-minded individuals and disseminating that private information to the public and employers to discourage people from joining their ranks.
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