While Conservatives are petitioning for the government to label Antifa a terrorist organization, two professors are embracing Antifa and organizing a “Campus Antifascist Network” (CAN) to fight against “hate groups” on campus.
According to Inside Higher Ed (IHE), the Campus Antifascist Network is the brainchild of Bill Mullen, a professor of American studies at Purdue University and David Palumbo-Liu, a professor of comparative literature at Stanford University, and is committed to functioning as a “big tent” for “anyone committed to fighting fascism.” CAN brands fascism as a “historical expression of capitalism’s tendency to dominate the poor, working class, and oppressed people.”
The goal of the campus Antifa group is to confront groups it considers fascist to “drive racists off campus.” Despite Antifa’s propensity for violence and destruction in its drive to control and curb what people say or believe, the professors maintain they only support the effort for self-defense by those who are threatened by fascists on campus and do not advocate for direct violence.
One can only speculate how this plays out on campuses as more universities, students and professors across the nation join the Antifa network. Dartmouth College Professor Mark Bray, for instance, is a proponent of the direct violence used by Antifa and argued on “Meet the Press” they need to take preemptive measures to avoid the rise in white nationalists.
Will professors and students adopt a more violent method than Mullen and Palumbo-Liu advocate?
“The election of Donald Trump has emboldened fascist and white nationalist groups nationwide, on campus and off, and their recent upsurge requires antifascists to take up the call to action once again,” Palumbo-Liu argues in the group’s invitation letter to join the network. “Since Trump’s election, fascists, neo-fascists, and their allies have used blatantly Islamophobic, anti-Semitic, racist, misogynistic, homophobic, transphobic, and ableist messaging and iconography to recruit to their ranks and intimidate students, faculty, and staff. The time to take action is now.”
Mullen and Palumbo-Liu believe “fascists” have used free speech as a façade for “attacking” faculty who have stood in solidarity with students “against the threat that these [fascist] organizations and individuals pose, and as an excuse to march and organize around slogans drawn directly from ‘blood and soil’ rhetoric of Nazi Germany. White supremacists like Richard Spencer have invoked classic tropes of white supremacy to scapegoat and target immigrants, non-whites and the foreign-born. Such organizations and individuals have also engaged in outright physical violence up to and including murder, like those tragic incidents that occurred in Oregon, Virginia, and Maryland.”
The membership invitation explains that the issue isn’t free speech per se, but the actions fascist groups engage in to silence others’ free speech, academic freedom, and civil liberties.
This is at odds with what is playing out across college campuses countrywide where the free speech of only conservative speakers is either cancelled or violently protested while liberal speaking engagements go on uninterrupted. Bogus Times reached out to Palumbo-Liu for comment, but he failed to respond in time for publication.
Palumbo-Liu also professes in the invitation that the “so-called ‘alt.right’ and their fellow travelers have also aggressively sought to smear, bully and intimidate faculty, especially faculty of color. Progressive scholars such as Keeanga Yamahtta-Taylor, Johnny Williams, Dana Cloud and George Ciccariello-Maher, among others, have each been threatened with violence, or firing, for strong anti-racist social justice commitments.”
These professors are familiar to both Democrats and Republicans for their well-publicized attacks on President Trump, his supporters and/or white people in general. Professor Keeanga Yamahtta-Taylor gave the commencement speech at Hampshire College where she called the president “a racist, sexist megalomaniac.” She claims to have received emails following her remarks containing specific threats of violence. As a result, she cancelled speaking engagements. Williams was put on leave by Trinity College after Facebook and Twitter posts were revealed that supported the shooting of Congressman Steve Scalise and others during baseball practice. Dana Cloud landed herself on the professor watchlist for a tweet telling protesters to “finish them off” referring to “fascists” at the anti-sharia rally in Syracuse. Ciccariello-Maher made a name for himself by tweeting that all he wanted for the holidays was “white genocide” and following that up by saying he wanted to “vomit” after seeing someone give up a first-class airline seat to a uniformed soldier.
CAN’s invite offers to assist localities in organizing their Antifa chapters on campuses “that can help support, educate and defend faculty, students and staff, and share information on fascist organizing in the U.S., planned fascist activities, and organized antifascist responses.” The plan is to “build large, unified demonstrations against fascists on campus,” according to Mullen, and protect vulnerable groups.