Stephen Webster, American Renaissance, April 2010
Who are the groups opposed to AR conferences? What are they afraid of? Why are they ready to break the law to prevent us from meeting?
Our opponents are a loose collection of groups that call themselves anti-racists, anarchists, and anti-fascists, and they all share a leftist worldview. Some are avowed communists who hate the World Bank and rail against global capitalism. Others worry about animal rights and global warming, while some just seem to hate “bourgeois” society, whatever that is. And they all oppose “racism,” whatever that is. These groups organize protests and run Internet meetings and message boards. Each seems to have a web site or a blog, and they often cross-post each others’ material.
Some of the groups that claimed responsibility for shutting down the 2010 AR conference were One People’s Project, led by a militant black named Darryl Jenkins; Responsible for Equality And Liberty (REAL), the brainchild of a confused former FBI employee named Jeffrey Imm; the “Self-Described Anarchist Collective” (SDAC); Indymedia, a network of so-called independent alternative media sites; and even the Mormon Worker, a radical socialist newsletter for left-wing Latter Day Saints. Other groups, including a British labor federation and the United Steelworkers, approved putting pressure on the hotels but had little real effect.
The Anti-Defamation League and the Southern Poverty Law Center also take notice of AR conferences, but they probably prefer that the conferences take place. Hundreds of “bigots,” all together in one room, make good copy for pressuring donors: Fascism is on the march! The SPLC also likes to send a spy who can then describe the conference in breathless superlatives that will frighten supporters into opening their wallets.
Some of these groups operate under the umbrella of another leftist organization, the Anti-Racist Action Network (ARA). To the extent such a thing is possible, ARA acts as a hub for leftwing groups, and its web site tries to describe the rationale for “anti-racism.” Probably our most crazed opponents subscribe to some version of its thinking.
ARA says its purpose is to “organize a variety of actions to expose, oppose, and confront hate in whatever form threatens the diversity and safety of our communities.” It claims to be “dedicated to building a fun, diverse, liberated and explicitly anti-racist, anti-sexist and anti-homophobic youth culture,” and it fights “white supremacist groups like the KKK and neo-nazis, police brutality, and religious extremists (to name a few).” Its goal is to “disrupt and ultimately destroy these groups.” Its motto is, “Have fun, stay young, smash the fash [fascists].”
ARA has no hierarchy. Each chapter is free to decide “what issues and problems in their community need to be addressed.” What holds the network together are ARA’s four Points of Unity:
- We go where they go: Whenever fascists are organizing or active in public, we’re there . . .
- We don’t rely on the cops or courts to do our work for us: . . . we must rely on ourselves to protect ourselves and stop the fascists.
- Non-Sectarian defense of other Anti-Fascists: In ARA, we have lots of different groups and individuals. We don’t agree about everything and we have a right to differ openly. But in this movement an attack on one is an attack on us all.
- We support abortion rights and reproductive freedom. ARA intends to do the hard work necessary to build a broad, strong movement against racism, sexism, anti-Semitism, homophobia, discrimination against the disabled, the oldest, the youngest and the most oppressed people. We want a classless free society. WE INTEND TO WIN!
ARA has such a well-established reputation for violence, it is compelled to address the subject at some length:
ARA has never advocated violence as a solution to hate. The problem comes when we confront hate groups that are violent . . . ARA reserves the right to defend its members and other people against racist violence . . . We don’t advocate violence as a solution to hate, but we also don’t tell people what is the ‘correct’ way to respond to hate group activity . . . We believe in, uphold and practice the right to self-defense against racist violence!
ARA confuses cause and effect: “Anti-racism doesn’t cause racist violence; it prevents racist violence by making the racists know that a lot of people are prepared to take the steps necessary to prevent them from hurting others. Without strong anti-racist opposition to hate groups, it’s not a question of whether a bigot will hurt an innocent person; it’s a question of when!”
Obviously, these people cannot simply say, “We believe in peaceful protest and abhor all forms of violence.”
At a lecture AR editor Jared Taylor tried to give in Halifax, Nova Scotia, in 2007, “anti-racists” destroyed leaflets, banged pots and pans, and finally locked arms and pushed Mr. Taylor out of the meeting hall. Did they actually think they were preventing violence? Of course not. They are totalitarians who want, as they say, to “disrupt and ultimately destroy” people they don’t like.
The Halifax “anti-racists” also used a typical leftist tactic; they hid behind bandannas. Some of the protesters at the 2008 AR conference also wore masks. This is their justification: “Racists like to take pictures of anti-racists so that they’ll be able to identify them and attack them later on. To protect our safety, we sometimes choose to wear masks so that we don’t have to worry about racists hurting us, or people close to us, after the action.”
The real reason is to prevent police from identifying them when they break the law, as they did in Halifax. Mr. Taylor pressed assault charges, but the police said they could do nothing because they could not identify the criminals. In many jurisdictions it is against the law to appear in public wearing a mask. Ironically, given that mask-wearing is an almost exclusively leftist practice, most anti-mask ordinances were adopted to stop Klansmen from parading in hoods.
Why doesn’t ARA just ignore “racists,” especially ones who just want to meet peacefully and talk to each other? First, of course, there is the reductio ad Hitlerum:
When Hitler first appeared on the scene in Germany, people thought the best thing to do was to ignore him, hoping he would just go away. That example alone proves how foolish it is to close our eyes and hope that the racists will just disappear on their own.
Then there is the obsession with violence: “Ignoring a problem never makes it go away. If hate groups encounter no opposition to their activities in a community, they’ll take that to mean that they have no opposition there willing to stand up to them and they will act accordingly. This makes it more likely that hate group activity will increase and they will start hurting people.”
Presumably, if an AR conference were not picketed we would rush out and lynch someone. Since ARA members are constantly thinking about violence they believe everyone else is, too.
Some ARA propaganda is funny: “The mainstream media are always giving nazis and racist groups millions of dollars in free publicity on talk shows and in pseudo-documentaries that glamorize white power groups.” If that were so, why not demonstrate against media companies rather than “nazis”?
The ARA knows its tactics violate “liberal” rules of free speech, but its obsession with violence trumps all:
Free speech shouldn’t endanger people’s lives. You can’t yell ‘Fire!’ in a crowded theater, because people will probably get hurt trying to get out. We think that hate speech acts in the same way — by trying to make certain kinds of people seem less than human and by glorifying violent acts against them — it’s just a matter of time before a follower or supporter of a hate group puts words into action . . . . If you actively go out of your way to tell people that 90% of the world’s population should be enslaved . . . we think you’ve forfeited your right to free speech.
Aside from the fact that probably no one in America — or probably anywhere in the world — ever proposed enslaving 90 percent of the earth’s people, ARA cannot stop thinking about violence. Anyone who says something ARA doesn’t like can be denied free speech because anything ARA doesn’t like can lead to violence. And, by the way, it’s fine to use violence to stop that kind of speech.
Interestingly, ARA does not call for criminalizing “racist” speech “because we believe people need to take the responsibility to confront and solve these problems ourselves.” ARA also worries “that laws passed to ‘ban the Klan’ would just end up getting used against anti-racists.”
This is an unwitting revelation. ARA thinks everyone is as venomous as it is, so a ban on “hate” speech would apply to them. At the same time, they know that only the left uses strong-arm tactics to silence its opposition. Since they are never the victims of thuggery, they see it as a much better tactic than laws that could harm them. Besides, if the law muzzled “racists” it would take all the fun out of “bash the fash.”
Most of ARA’s allied groups, however, would be happy to see “hate” speech laws applied to groups like AR.
Lefties love to talk tough. At the time of the 2008 conference, they predicted hundreds of angry protestors would show up to fight “racism.” The police appear to have taken these threats at face value, and deployed a SWAT team. In the end there were maybe a dozen protesters: a few hippies with a sprinkling of militant blacks and Hispanics. There were no incidents or arrests.
The language of the Left, however, reveals its mindset. In 2010, after the first hotel canceled, the Self Described Anarchist Collective (SDAC) wrote:
Yo, so it’s happening: American Renaissance is trying to have their racist, white supremacist conference right here in our own backyard (VA, what up) . . . [SDAC] launched an oral sneak attack on the mothafuckas . . . Proving that there’s power in the phone lines, the hotel reversed their decision on hosting them and gave them the boot! Power to the People. Next stop: the next skeezy hotel that tries to host these bastards. Try it if you dare.
When we contracted with the second hotel, this call went out from SDAC and allied websites:
SHUT DOWN THE RACISTS! The white supremacist newsletter American Renaissance (AmRen) is holding their 9th annual [sic] conference . . . . [The hotel] has not made a decision yet on whether or not they are going to allow the conference to continue. There will be a massive phone-in all day on Tuesday, January, 19th, 2010.
Here is one of the things these groups suggested callers say to the hotel: “I understand that several of the conference speakers have gone to prison for inciting racial violence, and in the interest of the safety of the DC community, and of all people worldwide, I ask that you do not endorse these views.” These sites then urged readers to circulate this message far and wide, and concluded again with “SHUT DOWN THE RACISTS!”
When the hotel at first held firm, the message changed:
SHUT DOWN THE RACISTS! . . . IF THEY DON’T CANCEL THEN WE CONVERGE! THEY WILL NOT PASS!
As the sites explained, “They are apparently alright with Nazis meeting in their hotels. Well . . . if they are going to let that scum stay in their hotels, we aren’t. We tried playing nice, we tried asking, but there is no room for compromise when it comes to fascists trying to organize. The time to ask is over, now we take action. . . . If they don’t cancel we will converge . . . to confront these white supremacists when they crawl out from under their rocks and try to gather! Save the Date, February 20 . . . . We will not let them pass!”
Several hundred more phone calls, combined with threats and leafleting, and the hotel buckled. As its managers explained, they feared for the safety of their employees.
SDAC and is allies used the same tactics on the next hotel:
Shut Down AmRen: Antifa Hooligans Converge February 20th.
If they don’t cancel we converge!
SDAC Eats Racists.
[T]ell the hotel how disgusted you are with their decision to host a racist organization.
When the conference was moved to its final hotel, in Washington, DC, something called DC Direct Action News spread this message:
NOW THEY ARE MEETING IN DC ITSELF INSTEAD! . . . You can see what hatemongering assholes they are by visiting www.amren.com but be sure to have someplace to puke, because this shit is nasty.
One People’s Project was itching for a fight:
[A]ntifa is steppin’ out to play! We are waiting for the official call from other organizations, and when we get them we will post it here, but in the meantime if you were planning to come out, keep those plans. This is going to be damned interesting!
Intimidation and threats of violence work. In the end, lefties were able to deny 300 people the right to assemble, and denied four hotels a piece of profitable business during a slow season.
Why are our opponents so afraid of our message? AR conferences have been going on since 1994 without a hint of violence, so all this talk of stopping mayhem is rubbish. No, our opponents are afraid we are right. They are afraid our message destroys the dogmas of “diversity” and multiculturalism. Tyrants suppress free speech because it undermines tyranny. The same is true of “anti-racists.” If what we say is hopelessly wrong it does not even need a reply — the more we gather and speak, the more ridiculous we appear. At the very least, it should be child’s play to refute what we say. The answer to speech you do not like is not suppression, it is more speech. The Left used to understand that. In their hearts, one suspects, even these scruffies do, too. What they really fear — and for good reason — is that we will crush them in a battle of ideas.
There have been many reactions from readers to the conference cancelation, but this was one of the best: “Maybe you should call [US attorney general] Eric Holder and tell him how you were trying to have a dialogue on race, but a nation of cowards stopped you.”