For those who need the tl;dr, no, I’m not advocating we use pot to recruit people to the liberty cause. Now that that’s out of the way, let’s get to the rest of the article.
If you paid attention to the May Day ‘festivities’ (I use the term loosely) yesterday, especially in Seattle, you might have noticed something. While in other cities, Antifa threw rocks and Molotov cocktails, acted like idiots, and generally presented themselves as a threat to humanity, in Seattle there was a lot of yelling…and then a lot of talking.
There were three factors going on in Seattle yesterday that snuffed out the flame of Antifa violence before it could even get going.
1) A massive police presence. Whether you like cops or not isn’t the issue. The fact is that there were so many cops on site in Westlake Park that even if Antifa had tried something massive, they’d have been outnumbered. As it was, there were very few arrests; one was for throwing an object from across the street. Every time there was a hint of scuffle, the police stepped in and separated the parties.
2) Early deployment of anti-communist forces. Whether you want to call them pro-Trump, pro-liberty, whatever, they were there in force, and they were there hours before Antifa was even expected. They possessed the landscape, and so by the time Antifa got out of bed and mobilized, the other side was already there, holding ground — and doing it with respect for the cops and the grounds they were standing on.
3) Intermixing of groups. While this can easily be a recipe for disaster, the fact that anti-communist groups held the ground meant all Antifa could do was either circle around outside, or mingle. That separated them into smaller groups of 2-3 at a time, somewhat sapping both their numbers and their resolve. It’s a lot easier to act like a jackass when you’re in a big group — but when there’s only 2-3 of you and you’re surrounded by a bunch of geared-up folks who can easily take you and are willing to do so, it changes the game somewhat.
But all of that isn’t the point of this article.
One very interesting dynamic that I noticed from the multiple feeds I was monitoring, including from one of my own sources, is one of forced discussion. There were Antifa pockets mixed in with anti-communist groups, and with that many cops around, no one was going to get much done in the way of physical violence. So they were forced to scream at each other…and then they started actually talking. Granted, it wasn’t always the most respectful of conversations, but a few times you heard each side say something like, “Hey, we definitely agree on that part.”
As I watched, the mood shifted from anger to simple disagreement…and then out of nowhere, the two sides started taking photos together, arms around each other like they were buddies. Soon a joint was passed around, and for the next 15 minutes or so, there were no sides, there were no fights, just a bunch of folks in radically different dress, agreeing that while they may not like or even understand each other, they could all agree that something was desperately wrong with what’s going on in our government. By the end of the evening, Antifa and anti-communists were standing together, defying an order to disperse by the police, and getting forced out as one group. If you stop and think about that, there’s some serious food for thought in there.
So what’s the takeaway? Well, it’s pretty simple. There are members of Antifa that can still be reached. There are people on the Left — not many, I grant you, but some — who can still be reasoned with, if only we can frame it in language that they can relate to.
We don’t have to agree on every single point. This isn’t some kind of political “missionary dating.” It’s simply good strategy. Antifa is filled with college kids who, quite frankly, don’t know a lot about the intricacies of a lot of subjects yet. They DO, however, understand that society is effed up. They already get that things are wrong. And they have the passion to go do something about it. If we can reach them, show them that they’re fighting for the EXACT side that wants to deny them the things they actually believe in, they can be an incredible force for liberty.
Whether we want to admit it or not, we do agree with some of their concepts — even if we despise their methods of putting them into practice. They want the freedom to believe as they wish — don’t we? They want the liberty to determine their own path — so do we. Granted, they haven’t figured out the responsibility side of liberty yet, or the need to also respect the rights of others, but that can come with education. And yes, some of them are simply violent for the fun of it, and some of them wouldn’t know liberty if it smacked them in the face with a 2×4. This isn’t about them. This is about the ones who stood there, took off their masks, and actually stopped long enough to listen because the people in front of them were saying something that resonated.
The point is this: We can show up all day ready to fight them — and I’m not even advocating that we NOT do that. We can also, however, see through to the fact that some of them can still be pulled over to the side of liberty. Let’s face it — you didn’t pop out of the womb screaming “give me liberty or give me death,” and if you’re like me and a lot of others, there was a time when you were as statist as the next guy.
Someone along the way probably turned you on to some liberty ideas. Somewhere in your journey, you were presented with facts, and you made a choice based on those facts. So, just maybe next time you gear up to go face down Antifa, keep your eyes open for opportunities to talk to them, too.
You might be surprised at how well it works.