Mobilize Labor/Black/Latino Power to Stop the Fascists!
Milo Yiannopoulos and His Fascist Entourage
Los Angeles Internationalist Group joined with several hundred others protesting the October 31 provocation by Milos Yiannopoulos at California State University at Fullerton.
Revolutionary Internationalist Youth
Hundreds of copies of this statement were distributed as a
Revolution leaflet at the CSUF campus in the days
before the Yiannopoulos event.
The Milo Yiannopoulos bigotry road show may be coming soon to a city near you. There will be an orgy of racism, patriotism, misogyny, xenophobia, anti-intellectualism. Aboard his bandwagon will be a slew of fascists and white supremacists of varying stripes. This moving festival of race-hate poses a clear and present – and potentially deadly – danger to the working class and oppressed on several fronts. Facing this threat, defense of those who are targeted calls for mass mobilizations based on the power of the working class.
Yiannopoulos is a self-described provocateur and “troll” – not just on the Internet – whose shtick is to personally harass and publicly humiliate individuals. It’s “doxxing” (publicizing personal information on people to set them up for attack) with a vengeance. He aims to strike fear in marginalized groups and bring down state repression on leftists. This can represent a serious threat to the well-being of many groups, especially undocumented students who are at risk of being seized and deported. At the University of New Mexico on January 28, Yiannopoulos, wearing a police vest, put up the ICE hotline number on a giant screen with the incitement “Purge your local illegals.”
Currently, Yiannopoulos is on a self-titled “Troll Academy Tour” with upcoming events in Arizona and scheduled for October 31 at California State University at Fullerton (CSUF). He was invited to campus by the College Republicans, wannabe junior McCarthys (the Wisconsin senator of witch-hunting infamy) whose specialty is setting up, provoking and fingering people for repression. Earlier this year they attacked adjunct instructor Eric Canin and then tried to get him fired with the connivance of the campus administration. But they failed and Dr. Canin is back teaching again. The Yiannopoulus Halloween event looks like an attempt at revenge.
Their counterparts in New York, the Columbia University College Republicans, recently sponsored a Skype speech by Muslim-bashing white supremacist Tommy Robinson, a founder of the fascist English Defence League, which was drowned out and shut down by hundreds of protesters inside and outside the hall. Among those protesting this racist provocation was the Revolutionary Internationalist Youth. Next up, the Columbia Republicans are planning to host Alt-Right conspiracy theorist, accused rapist and convicted woman-beater Mike Cernovich.
While Yiannopoulos’ provocations are themselves a danger, a more serious threat may come from those in his train. He has deep ties to outright fascists, among them Richard Spencer, the Alt-Right founder and wannabe American Hitler (“Hail Trump, Hail Victory”). A video on the Internet shows Yiannopoulos singing “America the Beautiful” while Spencer gives the straight-arm Nazi salute. The white supremacist millionaire plantation owner spoke at the University of Florida on October 19 while hundreds of protesters chanted, “Black lives matter.” After the event, three Nazis confronted a group of protesters, chanted “Heil Hitler” and fired on them. Luckily the shot missed. The Florida Highway Patrol protected the fascist event while National Public Radio gave Spencer a publicity boost, broadcasting his remarks about “free speech.”
Yiannopoulos’ previous gambit was a “Free Speech Week” at the University of California Berkeley campus, scheduled for late September, featuring Milo, Breitbart chairman (and former top Trump advisor) Steve Bannon, Anne Coulter and other Alt-Right speakers. The university reportedly spent $1 million in security preparations for the event which intended to mock the leftist Free Speech Movement of the 1960s. An idea of what this crowd considers “free speech” is Ann Coulter’s statement that if Donald Trump aided immigrant youth in the DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) program, the first response should be “organizing death squads for the people who ruined America” (Right-Wing Watch, 21 September).
The threatened week-long hate-fest in Berkeley spawned a movement by faculty to petition campus authorities to cancel classes and call on the chancellor to ban the Alt-Rightists. But the administration which runs the university on behalf of the bourgeoisie should not be able to dictate who can and cannot speak on campus. Moreover, such a precedent would inevitably be used mainly to ban leftists. In the end, the event collapsed, called off by the sponsor, the Berkeley Patriot (an online front for the College Republicans). Yiannopoulos showed up on Sunday, September 24 to stage a self-aggrandizing 15-minute photo op behind police barricades, accompanied by Cernovich and Muslim-basher Pam Gellert.
Even so, the bogus “free speech” event attracted fascist scum from the West Coast to European “Identitarian” white supremacists. On Sunday night they rampaged through the city streets. A group including members of the frat rat fascist Proud Boys and an Oathkeeper militiaman and bodyguard for neo-Nazi Tim Gionet pounded on the windows of Revolution Books. The next day, a clot tried to provoke violence at a homeless camp. On September 26, an Alt-Right march was led by Joey Gibson (the “Patriot Prayer” mini-führer from Vancouver, Washington) and Kyle (“Based Stickman”) Chapman, whose violent attacks on anti-fascist protesters have made him an icon among the Alt-Right. Three anti-fascists were arrested – we demand all charges against them be dropped!
As at Berkeley last month, Milo Yiannopoulos’ latest tour will bring out a toxic mixture of fascists and crypto-fascists. Their provocations have very real consequences. At the University of Washington in Seattle on January 20, a Milo fan shot and gravely wounded a protester outside of a Yiannopoulos event (the shooter was not charged by Seattle police with any crime). Against those liberals and leftists who criticized Black Bloc anarchists and others in a mobilization of over 1,000 protesters that effectively shut down Yiannopoulos’ attempted appearance at Berkeley back in February, the Internationalist Group wrote:
“By threatening to go after undocumented immigrant students and others he would like to set up for attack, Yiannopoulos posed an imminent threat, and it was correct to seek to drive him out. We are for mobilizing mass action – by students, workers, immigrants and all defenders of democratic rights, including the right to free speech – to thwart such provocations and defend those who would be victimized. But we do not call on the university to ban them.”
–“Milo Yiannopoulos, ‘Free Speech’ and the Assault on Universities,” The Internationalist No. 47, March-April 2017
The same holds for this self-styled provocateur’s Halloween racist fright-night event.
Not Diversionary Liberal Love-Fests
But Independent Mobilization of Workers Power
CUNY Internationalist Clubs and Revolutionary Internationalist Youth at October 10 protest against Muslim-bashing fascist at Columbia University.
Milo Yiannopoulos achieved Internet notoriety when, as an editor of the Breitbart “news” site, which Bannon billed as the “platform for the Alt-Right,” he got himself banned from Twitter for repeated grotesque racist attacks on actor Leslie Jones. His stage performances consist of belittling and humiliating the powerless and oppressed, whether it is immigrants, Muslims, women, African Americans or lesbian, gay and transgender people. Such actions are not the exercise of free speech, but deliberate provocations, targeting individuals or groups of people with the intent of causing harm to them.
The response of many mainstream liberals and university officials to Yiannopoulos, as well as to genuine fascists, has been to join with conservatives in accusing those who would stop these dangerous racists of violating their right to “free speech.” Others, including the mayors of Portland, San Francisco and Berkeley, under pressure from an alarmed public, have sought to use the power of the state (i.e., the police) to ban marches and rallies. Similarly, as at UC Berkeley, some call on university administrations to cancel the events. And when administrators refuse, these liberals and their “left” tails seek to undercut militant protest by holding rallies for “love not hate” far from their events.
At Cal State Fullerton, liberal faculty and Students for Quality Education (SQE), launched an Internet petition which received some 5,000 signatures calling on the university to cancel the Yiannopoulos Halloween event. A CSUF spokesman refused, claiming in a September 12 statement that while his words may be “offensive” and “distasteful, if not wholly objectionable,” the Alt-right provocateur’s incitements to harm vulnerable populations are “protected speech.” So the SQE and others have organized a “Unity Block Party” explicitly aimed at discouraging people from confronting Yiannopoulos and the fascists. The folly of this approach was shown at Berkeley where even as the “free speech week” went bust, the fascists went on a rampage.
Currently, the student government (Associated Students Inc.) is considering a “symbolic” resolution mildly criticizing the Yiannopoulos event and endorsing the “alternative” block party. Even this has drawn the ire of conservatives and liberals, from the College Republicans to O.C. Weekly. But a L.A. United Front Against Fascism has called a protest at CSUF for October 31, declaring, “No fascist Milo in SoCal! No racist, sexist, anti-trans hate!” and calling to “repel this attack on the democratic rights of the people.” And while a letter by the CSUF Provost talks piously of “our campus values of tolerance, inclusion and diversity,” hundreds of cops may be brought in to ensure “safety” and “non-violence” by violently repressing anti-fascist protesters.
The Revolutionary Internationalist Youth says that for anyone genuinely committed to defense of the oppressed, there can be no doubt that Yiannopoulos’ ghoulish Halloween hate-fest should be shut down by mass action. The history of Europe in the 1930s underscores that the fascists must be smashed while they are still small. But how? It is crucial to understand that provocations by small numbers of fascists, along with their fascistic fellow travelers like Yiannopoulos, seek to bring the power of the capitalist state – the courts and cops – against any and all who oppose their genocidal politics. We need to mobilize a greater power, that of the working class leading all the oppressed, to stop the fascists in their tracks.
Defend Freedom of Speech Against
State Repression and Campus Witchhunters!
Hundreds came out to say no to Yiannopoulos, hundreds of cops acted as bodyguards for the racist provocateur. RIY says that for anyone committed to defense of the oppressed, there can be no doubt that Yiannopoulos’ ghoulish Halloween hate-fest should be shut down by mass action. That requires labor/black/Latino mobilization.
The election of raving all-round bigot Donald Trump put wind in the sails of racists and fascists. The presence of the white supremacist in the White House has led to a ramping up of the “culture war” to “cleanse America” of “foreign” elements. Yet ultimately this is a class war, which the capitalists have been winning centrally because the working class and its allies are chained to the capitalist Democrats. And since November 2016, the misleaders of labor, black, immigrant, women’s and gay rights movements have been channeling revulsion against Trump into a phony “Resistance” led by the same Democratic Party that paved the way for the billionaire Republican with its racist repression and anti-working-class policies.
Today, instead of an independent class mobilization to actually stop racist terror, a slew of reformist pseudo-socialist groups call for liberal love-fests far away from where the fascist hate-fests are taking place. They are staging these diversions in tacit or open cooperation with the Democratic mayors, who in big cities across the country are the bosses of the racist killer cops, who in turn protect the fascists, blocking anti-fascist action. This was what the social-democrats did in Portland on June 4, to undercut mobilizations called by antifa and Portland Labor Against the Fascists1The result of this conscious sabotage of militant mass action is to let the fascists/racist provocations proceed.
Along with this, the reformists have been echoing the liberal/conservative attacks on antifa, which just so happens to be the focus of the fascist campaign to disguise their racist provocations as “free speech.” Last February, the International Socialist Organization (ISO) published an article condemning “black bloc” protesters for “disrupting” and attempting to “provoke the police attack” on the protest against Yiannopoulos in Berkeley on February 1 (Socialist Worker, 8 February). These shameless reformists went so far as to praise the cops for their “remarkable restraint”!
At Fullerton, the ISO is promoting the Unity Block Party along with the DSA (Democratic Socialists of America) and the Maoist RCP (Revolutionary Communist Party) front group, refusefascism.org. The Block Party is a “popular-front” which seeks to “unite” leftists with a wing of the capitalist class, namely the Democratic Party. This “alternative” event aimed at defusing militant anti-fascist protest is co-sponsored by the North Orange County Democrats and includes Democratic former Fullerton mayor Sharon Quirk-Silva. The Block Party is relying on the Fullerton cops to protect them, the same police force that beat a homeless man, Kelly Thomas, to death in 2011 and then tried to cover it up. Naturally, the killer cops got off.
A slightly more left position is taken by the centrists of the Spartacist League (SL), which criticized the ISO’s pro-police statements, but came out for Yiannopoulos’ “freedom of speech.” They wrote that “Far from a victory against the forces of reaction and repression, the result of shutting down this creep was to strengthen them” (Workers Vanguard, 24 February). Wrong! The SL hides its abstentionism behind the argument that Yiannopoulos is not technically a fascist, and dismisses the danger he poses by pointing out that the Daily Stormer came out against him. By calling only to “protest and expose his reactionary ideology,” the SL pretends that Yiannopoulos is an ideologue instead of what he calls himself and clearly is, a provocateur.
This is hardly the first time that the latter-day SL has joined the liberals in whitewashing dangerous racists. A decade ago, when the co-founder of the nativist fascist Minutemen came to Columbia University to speak, the SL opposed driving him out on the bogus claim that they were only fascistic. Refuting WV’s claims, the Internationalist Group documented how these anti-immigrant vigilantes ran armed patrols hunting down border crossers in Arizona. As we wrote then, “What the SL is really trying to do here is provide a veneer of pseudo-Marxist rhetoric to cover its latest lurch to the right, which consists of a grotesque, social-democratic opposition to a policy of militant mobilizations against these racist gangsters” (“Drive Out Racist ‘Minuteman’ Vigilantes!” The Internationalist No. 26, July 2007).
In contrast to the latter-day SL, which has step by step abandoned the class politics of revolutionary Leninism and Trotskyism it once embodied, the Internationalist Group wrote that the self-promoter Yiannopoulos “is not a fascist, but he is still a dangerous racist, sexist demagogue who posed an imminent threat to those he targeted.” The IG pointed out that Yiannopoulos’ appearance at Berkeley was part of an offensive against “sanctuary campuses” coordinated directly with the White House (as Trump himself made clear with a 3 a.m. tweet threatening to cut off federal funds to UC Berkeley). The Internationalist emphasized:
“But the Yiannopoulos campaign aiming to bring down cop repression and reprisals by the federal government is only one prong of a broader repressive assault. Leftist student groups are being harassed, in particular those critical of Zionism, in a drive to squelch protest on American campuses. Simultaneously, rightist witch-hunters are gearing up a sinister offensive to get student fink squads to record, harass and turn in leftist professors. And this goes hand-in-hand with the escalation of deportations of immigrants and plans to step up racist police repression against black people and Latinos. To defeat them what’s needed is militant defense of the oppressed through powerful working-class action.”
Pseudo-socialists who complain that the tactics of the anarchist Black Bloc and antifa “put the rest of us in serious danger” (ISO), and ex-Trotskyists who say shutting down Yiannopoulos is “handing him the flag of ‘freedom of speech’” (SL) are feeding into the bourgeois campaign justifying repression of anti-fascist protests. Our differences with antifa are rather that endless inconclusive brawls, smashing a few windows or tossing fireworks are utterly inadequate for defeating the hodgepodge of fascists, white supremacists and fascistic provocateurs backed up by the most powerful and bloody ruling class in the world. But workers and the oppressed wield enormous potential social power that can be mobilized to sweep the fascist scum off the streets.
How to do that? Fullerton is in Orange County, once the home of racist Reagan reaction. But times have changed. Today non-Hispanic whites are a minority of the county’s population while a majority are Latino or Asian. Latinos are over half the residents of Anaheim, next door, and almost 80% in nearby Santa Ana, the county seat. And while the racists can still mobilize, particularly in filthy-rich enclaves like Irvine, they can be outmobilized. On August 22, an anti-immigrant demo of a few dozen America Firsters at Laguna Beach was dwarfed by over 2,500 anti-racist demonstrators in a protest called by the Orange County DSA. The Alt-Rightists could have been driven off, but that’s not what the DSA social democrats are about.
What’s required is above all revolutionary leadership. The Revolutionary Internationalist Youth call for labor/black/Latino mobilization to stop the fascists. A small taste of that potential was seen in San Francisco in August. In the face of a threatened “free speech” rally by the fascist “Patriot Prayer” group planned for August 26 in SF, the International Longshore and Warehouse Union Local 10 voted to march to stop the fascist rally. This news galvanized Bay Area workers and leftists. Facing the prospect of squaring off with thousands of anti-fascists backed by the city’s most powerful and historically militant union, and realizing that cops might be reluctant to beat the heads of longshoremen who can shut down the ports, the linchpin of global commerce, Patriot Prayer cancelled.
A successful struggle to drive out the fascistic provocateurs and outright fascists would have to mobilize powerful support from beyond the campus, which is entirely possible. The heavily Latino population of northern Orange County is directly threatened by Alt-Right racist attacks on immigrants, in league with the detentions by the I.C.E. immigration cops. And the Port of Long Beach with its concentration of dock workers is barely 20 miles away – you can see the cranes from the California State University headquarters, the site of many student protests. But the key is building a revolutionary workers party that fights for all those under attack – African Americans, Latinos and Asians, immigrants, women, lesbian, gay and transgender people.
Fascism is a poisonous by-product of imperialism. The fascists are a bulwark of capitalism in its last stages of decay. They feed off the economic crisis that has produced tens of millions of unemployed. Contrary to the illusions of many liberals and some reformists like the Maoist RefuseFascism.org, we are not currently living under a fascist regime. That only underscores the urgency of combating the various fascist groups and their fascistic fellow travelers who have been emboldened by Trump’s presidency. The main enemy is the state, and the fascists are acting as auxiliaries to the police – capitalism’s repressive apparatus, which was heavily bolstered by Democrat Obama.
Any effective action to stop racist terror requires breaking with the Democrats and ousting the sellout bureaucracy that chains labor to this capitalist party that, aided by its left hangers-on, yesterday opened the door for Trump and today stands in the way of a real fight to smash the fascists. Ultimately, the threat of fascism cannot be ended short of overthrowing the capitalist system that spawns it. It will take international socialist revolution to do the job.■
- 1.See “Portland Labor Mobilizes to Stop Fascist Provocation,” The Internationalist No. 48, May-June 2017