Figurative Battleground UC Berkeley Becomes Litera...

Figurative Battleground UC Berkeley Becomes Literal Battleground

Once again, UC Berkeley has accidentally hosted a violent microcosm of American politics. When several far-right groups gathered for a repugnant demonstration, local antifascists counter-protested, leading to a brawl, 21 arrests, and 11 injuries.

The fascist groups present were slight variations on white supremacy and blatant misogyny, from the squatting-in-the-woods-worrying-about-Jade-Helm Oathkeepers to the owns-more-than-one-Pickup-Artist-book Proud Boys. They rallied around support for Trump, insistence on traditional gender roles, and advocating for the literal war crime of mass deportations. The Antifa side, meanwhile, was represented by Defend the Bay Coalition, By Any Means Necessary, and the protest medics of the Pastel Bloc, all united by the appealing idea that literal Nazis shouldn’t get to speak in public.

The clash was between radical groups on both sides of the political spectrum, but please resist the allure of false equivalencies. An easy, tired take is to say that both sides are equally bad, but even if you have complicated feelings about antifas’ tactics or goals, the right-wing hate groups are demonstrably worse. Antifas want fascists out of public spaces, and straight-up fascists want ethnic cleansing. Someone could argue each goal is authoritarian, but no one could argue that each goal is equally horrific.

But, just as Berkeley itself has become a diorama of national politics, the debate around it has to, and I’m sure the internet is full of well-meaning people saying that antifas are just as bad as the evil they’re fighting. They’re not, though. They are not.

(Photo: "Drink," Courtesy of Kjersti Magnussen)


About Stewart Finnegan

In a perfect world, I'd be a professor who teaches poetry using episodes of mediocre sci-fi procedurals, but for now, I'm just a tutor who watches a lot of TV. I got my BA from Kalamazoo College in English with a focus on creative writing, and someday soon I'd like to go back to academia. Most of my formal teaching training was as a creative writing TA, but I've used those skills professionally more to tutor math and write data entry training materials. And though I'd like to focus my work on what I'm really passionate about (which is Netflix binges and outdated video games, mostly), it's the craft of teaching and writing that keeps me coming back. That's why I'm excited to be a part of High Faluter: I'm finding that academia doesn't just stay in academia. And if I can bring crappy midbrow entertainment into academia too, well, all the better. You can find me on Twitter: @StewartFinnegan