Contributions by US anti racist activists Iannis Delatolas, United Against Racism & Fascism NYC, Virginia Rodino, United Against Hate, Convenor / Asian Pacific American Labor Alliance, AFL-CIO and Sean Cumming, DSA Unemployed Workers’ Council, in the aftermath of the horrifying events at Capitol Hill in Washington DC, 6 January 2021
Video by Iannis Delatolas
Article by Virginia Rodino
In September, a draft report by the US Department of Homeland Security surfaced, identifying white supremacists as the biggest threat to national security. It read that “white supremacist extremists – who increasingly are networking with likeminded persons abroad – will pose the most persistent and lethal threat” to the United States.
On Wednesday 6 January, we saw that analysis play out in the nation’s capital as these extremists penetrated appallingly thin lines of security, violently rushing nearly all of the 535 members of the US Congress as well as vice president Mike Pence.
In addition to the videos showing officers stepping aside, taking selfies, and seemingly ushering white nationalists into the building they were supposed to guard, it is plainly recorded across social media that Trump’s far right supporters openly planned for weeks the violent protest we witnessed yesterday, forewarning they would be bringing weapons, and physically and verbally threatening members of Congress on their social media channels.
It is impossible to imagine that hundreds of armed black men forcibly entering the US Capitol, rushing the entire membership of our legislative branch of government, screaming their intent to physically harm people, smashing and stealing property and physically assaulting the police would have been treated with the same level of temperate light-handedness and at times convivial cooperation. It is also impossible to think that climate justice, anti-war, racial justice or globalization protesters could have so openly discussed their tactics and intent without having been stopped well in advance through arrest and imprisonment, as well as met with impenetrable National Guard and militarized police force on the streets.
In response to last week’s violence by white nationalists, Biden and McConnell, unions and big business, civil rights organizations and Republican governors have condemned the violence and Trump’s instigation of the insurrection.
Unfortunately, the malignant roots of white nationalism and fascism are much deeper and older than the Trump Administration and its racist goading.
Over the past several decades, rather than enacting policies that focus on employment and economic stability in order to decrease inequality and fuel economic growth, the US government chose a path of imposing austerity measures, focusing on inflation rather than unemployment and rolling back regulations while massively cutting social spending. These austerity measures continue to land hardest on those who most need government help — the working poor. The only people who benefit from pushes for austerity are the already hyper-rich. The rest of us simply fall deeper into economic insecurity and frustration. These very real fears and material experiences of millions of Americans have become the fertile ground for the right-wing populist sentiment that the Trump Administration has sowed, deliberately misdirecting blame on immigrants and people of color rather than destructive fiscal and economic policy that only benefits the very rich.
While we know that these organized white nationalists, neo-Nazis and fascist gangs have been emboldened throughout Trump’s presidency, we also know that there were 7,000 anti-Semitic attacks under Obama, and that there was a rise in hate crimes against ethnic minorities after his election, with white supremacist groups such as the Ku Klux Klan and the Council of Conservative Citizens being flooded with new members.
What we also know is that income inequality is the most significant determinant of hate crimes and hate incidents. Because a Biden Administration lacks a political platform that will address systemic income inequality and will only re-establish the status quo from four years ago, we can unfortunately expect that attacks on immigrants, Muslims, Jews, people of color, and the LGBTQ+ communities will continue. A streaming Trump media channel where hatred and lies can go unchecked for millions of viewers are also ominous indications that Trumpism will unfortunately not end with Trump out of the White House.
Fascism is a movement of despair, a movement primarily of the working classes as they are squeezed in times of crisis and do not believe they can improve their economic conditions. Fascism is dangerous because it is a popular movement. It is often led by people who are not wealthy or members of the ruling class. In times when the economy is stable and in a boom, the fascists are under their rocks and pushed to the fringes. It is during times of crisis where these tiny normally insignificant groups can come into the light, begin to publicise their ideas on a wider scale, and win over other right wing currents in our society. At the same time, they begin to build up physically fighting organisations to break up progressive working class movements like the movement for black lives, and will move onto strike-breaking and attacking workers’ meetings. Fascists use racism as a very ripe breeding ground to divide our communities and our class. We have seen this on the streets of America, in state houses, and in the Halls of Congress.
Fascist movements, however, are only tenuously and poorly organized, and have a very fragile structure. The working class is the counterforce that can far outmaneuver and overpower their groups. It is our ideas that must win over the millions of Americans who are in crisis, who don’t feel they have anywhere to turn, who don’t have unions and have been left behind. They are potential recruits for the hateful elements in our society. Our ideas of equality, of justice, in our workplaces, our schools, our families our ecological environment – these are the ideas that millions of Americans who have been left in the cold and whose suffering is still unfortunately only going to increase as we battle through this pandemic, these are the ideas that Americans must believe are the ultimate solution, and not the hateful ideas peddled by the fascists.
Our ideas will win out because they are tied to the real experiences of the working class. To help spread these ideas in the US, United Against Hate, a broad coalition of groups and individuals, is dedicated to building a permanent movement to protect democracy by bringing together a broad, active resistance against violent racist and far-right groups and the threat of fascism in the United States.
It is only through mass movement organizing that we can beat back the fascists and create a society without prejudices and inequalities.
Article by Sean Cumming
The scenes of a fascist mob storming the US Capitol have been seen around the globe. World leaders have condemned the violence and looting. To some it seemed like a farcical display of petty grievances, racism, and ill-informed anti maskers, bitter about Donald Trump’s loss to Joe Biden in the recent presidential election. While this is true on the surface, there is a danger in underestimating what we have seen in the last few days. While not a coup attempt, this was an organized uprising by right wing groups from across the United States.
Simultaneous attacks on State Capitols took place. Armed groups took over the Kansas legislative building and in Oregon the governor was forced to lockdown the capital. Five people were killed in the violence on Wednesday and many more injured (including Black Lives Matter activists and anti fascists). What we are seeing is perhaps the first act in an increasingly unified fascist movement in the US. The defeat of Trump may deprive them of a figurehead, but the racism and violence he has encourage will embolden the fascist elements in his far right coalition.
The federal government’s deadly mishandling of the pandemic and the economic crisis engulfing the US have seen a rise in fascist movements, from the Proud Boys to Patriot Prayer to Q-anon. These groups have increasingly come together to attack anti racist organizers, Black Lives Matter marches, and immigrant rights demonstrations.
The threat of fascism is real, we cannot ignore it or dismiss it. Trump received over 70 million votes in the election. This is a large pool of angry, predominately middle class, alienated people to draw from. The job of anti racists now is to strip away those who are put off by the violence of the past week from the hardcore fascists, and more importantly to look to the millions of people who voted against Trump, or did not vote, and unite them.
We saw on Wednesday that we cannot rely on the Democrats in power, the police, or the National Guard to protect us. We have to stand unified against fascism and racism now or face a terrible future. This may be more difficult now as the pandemic and economic crisis continue to fuel the resentment of the middle class.
The Black Lives Matter uprising and the significant (if small) actions by workers in solidarity show us a way forward. We must fight for a better world for all, while building an anti racist, anti fascist movement in defense of all those who are threatened by the growing far right. Trade unionist and community groups have in recent weeks been meeting to discuss forming United Against Hate as a way to unify all those opposed to racism and fascism across the US. This, we hope, will be a step forward in the fight.