How The Antifa Fantasy Spread In Small Towns Across The US
TO BE CLEAR, we here at Crazy Gurl do not agree with ANTIFA’s methods of spreading their message. What seemed to start as a noble & good cause seems to have turned into something MUCH more destructive to the fabric of society. That being said, ANTIFA also seems to be America’s scapegoat, especially of late. Blaming things on ANTIFA is becoming THE WAY to divert attention away from the facts:
How The Antifa Fantasy Spread In Small Towns Across The USs all over the United States. Why are people so ready to believe them?
The rumor that shadowy leftists planned to start trouble in Great Falls, Montana, first appeared on the Facebook group of the Montana Liberty Coalition late last Wednesday afternoon.
?Heads up,? a man named Wayne Ebersole, who owns a local cover crop business, wrote. ?Rumor has it that Antifa has scheduled a protest in Great Falls Friday evening at 5 p.m. in front of the Civic Center.? He asked the group if anyone had any more information, or if anyone was available to ?protect businesses.?
?It has been confirmed through the police department,? one commenter replied. ?They have a permit for tomorrow night and are in town now.?
They weren’t. Police later said they had been ?working to quell the rumor.? But that didn’t stop it from sweeping across various right-wing groups. Within 24 hours, a screenshot of Ebersole’s post had been posted to the Facebook Group for the Montana Militia, whose members have recently dedicated themselves to tracking the perceived threat of antifa all over the state, including coordinating armed responses to ?protect? their towns. (Ebersole did not respond to a request for comment.)
And by Friday at 5 p.m., as about 500 protesters gathered to protest systemic racism and police brutality, a handful of armed men had massed at the edge of the demonstration.?We heard that a little group called Antifa wanted to show up and not in our town,? one man, who declined to be named, told the Great Falls Tribune. ?All it takes is a word and a whisper.?
As protests against police brutality and in support of Black Lives Matter continue to proliferate across the small towns and rural communities, so, too, have rumors of white vans of masked antifa driving from town to town, reportedly intent on destruction. In Hood River, Oregon, antifa were, according to screenshot of a fake Instagram story, calling on followers to ?root loot do anything in your power.? In Spring Hill, Tennessee, there was a ?busload? staying at the Holiday Inn, prepping to loot Walgreens at noon. In Wenatchee, Washington, bands of men dressed in black were surveilling potential targets. In Payette, Idaho, a plane full of protesters was circling overhead. In Honolulu, antifa had been flown in from the mainland. In Billings, Montana, some claimed agitators had been spotted by the National Guard. In Nebraska, they were creating Craigslist ads offering to pay people $25 a day to ?cause as much chaos and destruction as possible.? In Sisters, Oregon, they were planning to show up at the local Bi-Mart.
To be clear: All of these rumors were false.
They were all, as the Deschutes County Sheriff’s Office put it, ?fourth-hand information.? To combat them, police departments in dozens of towns are holding press conferences, posting announcements on social media, and telling anyone who calls the station that there has been no indication of a planned presence from antifa or any other outside agitators, whether ?from Chicago? (code, in many parts of the Midwest, for black people) or ?from Seattle? (code for liberals).
Yet these rumors continue to spread. That spread is facilitated by Facebook ? where they thrive in groups whose previous focus was protesting pandemic-related shutdowns and circulating conspiracy theories about COVID-19 ? and fanned by President Donald Trump, who recently declared his intention to label antifa a terrorist group. This morning, the president raised the antifa menace yet again, tweeting that the protester violently shoved by police in Buffalo, New York, ?could be an ANTIFA.? (He was not.)
But the persistence of these rumors suggests a deeper fear of outside incursion, and the necessity of an ever-alert, armed response. As encapsulated in a Reddit thread out of Hood River, Oregon: ?I’ll say this much: The people out here are armed to the teeth. If you want to bring mayhem to this area, the end result will likely have you begging for police protection.?
Antifa has become the right’s face of violent leftist protest in the United States, sloppily aligned with, as the president put it on June 1, ?professional anarchists, violent mobs, arsonists, looters, criminals, rioters.? In a tweet, Trump claimed the national guard had ‘shut down? the ?ANTIFA led anarchists, among others.? (The DC field office of the FBI reported no antifa involvement in protests, according to the Nation.)
It’s difficult to talk about antifa with any sort of precision. It’s ?leftist? insomuch as it’s against, well, fascism, authoritarianism, and white supremacists. There are some local groups, but there’s no national leadership structure. Many antifa dedicate themselves to finding white supremacists in their communities and outing them. Most people within those groups are for violent protest only as a last resort, but a handful are for more forceful displays and destruction. Here in Montana, I encountered a very small handful in January 2017, when they showed up in Whitefish to counter a planned march by the Daily Stormer, a neo-Nazi website.
The most important thing to understand about antifa is that there are very, very few of them: According to the Washington Post, when the group tried to gather nationally, they topped out at a few hundred.
Nevertheless, Trump has been building up the menace of antifa for years. He first began evoking antifa following the Charlottesville ?Unite the Right? rally, when he famously claimed that there were ?very good people, on both sides.? ?Since then Trump has returned to the term often in speeches,? Ben Zimmer writes in the Atlantic, always ?with an air of alien menace.?
Lifted by Trump’s rhetoric, that ?alien menace? has accumulated around antifa in the public imagination, making it all the easier to believe posts in which fake antifa accounts promise to act in the exact ways Trump has described. On Sunday, May 31, a newly made Twitter account ? since linked to the white nationalist group Identity Evorpa ? posted: ?Tonight’s the night, Comrades,? with a brown raised-fist emoji and ?Tonight we say ‘F— The City’ and we move into the residential areas… the white hoods…. and we take what’s ours ??
The antifa threat has also been co-opted by QAnon, the nation’s most powerful and influential conspiracy theory and movement. At Concordia University, Marc-Andr? Argentino researches the way extremist groups use social media as a tool to recruit, spread propaganda, and incite acts of violence. Last week, he began tracking the uptick in mentions of antifa within QAnon social media forums, which began to rise when ?Q? (the anonymous poster who guides the site) began mentioning it on May 30. At least for the moment, QAnon is celebrating the protests (and antifa’s presence) for their potential to spark the apocalyptic ‘storm? central to the QAnon theology. ?Antifa is a nebulous enemy, one that serves as a rallying cry for keyboard warriors and on-the-ground militiamen,? Argentino told me.
Argentino has been noticing something else, too: a growing cross-pollination between QAnon, which is often referred to simply as a conspiracy group, and more far-right extremist groups, from the so-called Boogaloo Bois and Proud Boys to more straightforward militias.
This intermingling was on display at the Reopen Michigan protests, where American flags waved alongside Confederate ones. And you can see it now all over the West, where the groups that advocated for reopening ? often attracting a motley mix of constitutionalists, ?patriots,? anti-vaxxers, Second Amendment advocates, anti-government advocates, and just straight up pissed off business people ? have shifted their focus to ?protection.? In the Tri-Cities area of Central Washington, the shift is so explicit that the Facebook group ?Reopen Tri-Cities? has shifted, wholescale, to a second group called ?Protect the Tri.?