Mass Struggle Is the Only Way to Defeat White Nationalism

Legal reforms can only do so much. Some might even prove counterproductive.

14.8.2019

A thriving protest movement won’t end white supremacy overnight. What it will do, however, is help drive white nationalism from the public square. onesarahjones writes

Legal reforms can only do so much. Some might even prove counterproductive.

Into this breach rush the nation’s elites, desperate to look as though they have solutions, or at least a scapegoat, at hand. President Trump has blamed the shootings on mental illness and violent video games. Some suggest more specific reforms. The FBI Agents Association wants to make domestic terrorism a federal crime. Others have suggested revising Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act to make social-media platforms liable for hate speech by their users. Still others have called for stricter gun control.

It’s not hard to imagine an outcome where a revised Section 230 would also backfire and restrict left-wing speech. Conservatives, including Trump, persistently apply the myth of the persecuted right-winger to the social-media age. The White House is reportedly considering an executive order that would direct the Federal Communications Commission to penalize social-media companies that — allegedly — discriminate against conservative views. “If the internet is going to be presented as this egalitarian platform and most of Twitter is liberal cesspools of venom, then at least the president wants some fairness in the system,” a White House official told Politico, which first reported the existence of a draft order. Trump isn’t known for his logical consistency, but his belief that conservative opinions are marginalized online is of a piece with his apparent conviction that the left is just as vitriolic and violent as the far right. On his own Twitter account, itself a constant source of racism and lies, he threatened to designate antifa a domestic terror group. Right-wing acts of violence are responsible for a mounting body count, but Trump would rather pretend that the left is the real security threat. So would members of his party. In July, before the shooting in El Paso, Republican senators Ted Cruz of Texas and Bill Cassidy of Louisiana introduced a resolution to classify “Antifa” as “a domestic terrorist organization.” As Vice News reported at the time, the senators claimed that “Antifa is a movement that intentionally combines violence with the group’s alt-left positions.”

Someone has to reclaim the public square from white nationalists. That takes popular struggle, as the anti-lynching activists understood in the 20th century and as their political descendants understand now in their battle against mass incarceration and the extrajudicial killings of black Americans by the police. Had early labor organizers been more tentative, and less militant, in their fight for basic rights, workers would have far fewer resources at their disposal now. Justice is disruptive.

The possibility that a domestic-terror statute could be weaponized against the left doesn’t completely invalidate arguments in its favor. But the prospect does clarify the limitations of the legal system as an effective counter to white-nationalist violence. The federal government already has the resources to better track and assess the risk of white nationalists. It’s opposition, really, that the GOP wants to quell, whether it comes from anti-fascists or other protesters; as Kelly Weill reported for the Daily Beast in 2018, Trump floated the possibility of criminalizing protest after activists disrupted Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation hearing. “I don’t know why they don’t take care of a situation like that … I think it’s embarrassing for the country to allow protesters,” he said. “You don’t even know what side the protesters are on … In the old days, we used to throw them out. Today, I guess they just keep screaming.” Trump and his party prefer mute acquiescence to protest. In silence, the white nationalism at the heart of the conservative political project will flourish.

Read more: New York Magazine
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onesarahjones You’re aware that you’re 29-times more likely to be killed by your toaster than by white supremacists, right? White Bread Power is exponentially more dangerous.

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