InFocus: I’ll be adding this InFocus section to every LIC Report for an opportunity to share with you news and analysis that doesn’t exactly fit into our PIR system, but remains relevant to domestic conflict. Consider it my Editor’s Note.
We’ve heard for a long, long time that the political divide in America is widening; that the extremes are pushing farther right and farther left; and that these changes, largely caused by demographic shifts and the adoption of identity politics, are leading to a domestic conflict. That’s truly the key assumption for this report, and there’s some evidence to suggest it’s a solid one.
23 years ago, Pew Polling began asking a series of questions aimed at measuring the political sentiment of the nation. On 05 October, Pew released their latest study, which does show a widening ideological gap among several key factors.
- 71 percent of democrats say that government needs to do more to help the needy, compared to 24 percent of republicans
- 64 percent of democrats say that racial discrimination is the “main reason” why blacks “can’t get ahead” compared to 14 percent of republicans
- 84 percent of democrats say that immigrants strengthen the country while 42 percent of republicans disagree
In the past 23 years, these gaps have never been wider than they are now. In 1994, the difference between beliefs on the racial discrimination issue was just 13 points; today, it’s 50. According to Pew, “the average partisan gap [on all issues] has increased from 15 percentage points to 36 points.” And Pew also notes that the percentage of democrats and republicans who view the other party unfavorably has also grown — in fact, it’s more than doubled since 1994.
And in the past 23 years, more Americans are moving further left or further right.
The bottom line is that we agree on fewer issues and are less willing to moderate our positions for the sake of compromise. That sounds like a conflict in the making to me. [source]
Priority Intelligence Requirements
- PIR1: What indicators describe the Alt-Left movement’s strength, sentiment, and capabilities?
- PIR2: What indicators describe the Alt-Right movement’s strength, sentiment, and capabilities?
- PIR3: What are the new indicators of future politically-related violence?
- PIR4: What is the current threat index score for the Alt-Left movement?
- Alt-Left Roll-Up
PIR1: What indicators describe the Alt-Left movement’s strength, capabilities, sentiment, and initiatives?
IGD Podcast: Spectacle, Conspiracy, & Antifascist Resistance (Sentiment/Initiatives)
The latest episode of the It’s Going Down Podcast (06 Oct, 41 mins) featured Mark Bray, the Dartmouth historian, political activist, unofficial Antifa spokesman, and author of the Antifa Handbook. (Related: “Antifa isn’t a hobby or a fad”) Bray talks about how poorly the Right understands Antifa, how Alex Jones is a conspiracy theorist, and other topics about how Antifa is covered by the media at large. He makes a distinction between right wing media outlets and mainstream/sympathetic media outlets, saying that Antifa must do a better job of educating mainstream and sympathetic reporters and journalists about what Antifa is and is not. Another initiative is educating the populace so that average consumers of media can identify poor coverage or false reporting on Antifa.
Bray goes on to describe his book tour where he says supporters of Antifa are interested in how to counter the Alt-Right and every day bigotry of conservatives and the Trump administration. “There is, I think, a real urgency in thinking through how to fight back… they are taking this seriously.” Bray also talks about the current dilemma among Leftists of determining how to resist in the Age of Trump, and understanding what kind of resistance is appropriate. He says the latter focuses on the “liberal understanding of rights and speech, and also a liberal understanding of nonviolence and violence, and how social change happens and what forms social resistance can take.” Bray best describes this approach by explaining that “free speech absolutism” is not a universal, timeless value, and he intimates that suppression of “free speech” is required, as he alludes to the rise of the Germany Nazi Party. (AC: This is common — perhaps the sole unifying factor — among Leftist counter-demonstrations. They point to the rise of fascism, which began as political discourse and free speech, which eventually created state violence. Therefore, any conservative, nationalist, or other right wing speech must be opposed to prevent the rise of fascism.)
When asked about strategy, Bray says: “I think that these examples that show how you can kind of blend or overlap militancy with popular participation in a way that has very clear objectives is something that I’ve seen resonating with people.” Bray describes Antifa as a “pan-leftist” movement and calls for cooperation among Leftist radicals of all stripes, and “put aside our vision of the future, put aside differences around electoral politics and the state”.
The following is from a 17 February 2017 report, which extrapolates a future from what Bray said in this interview:
Marc Bray … recently appeared on WNYC’s On the Media radio show, which is syndicated on National Public Radio stations across the country. In this sympathetic interview, Bray says that Antifa’s goal is to apply social and physical pressure so that in 20 years, Americans who voted for Trump in 2016 are afraid to share that in public. Bray says that raising the “social cost” of supporting President Trump and other conservative policies is the only way to cure bigotry in the US. Both the host and Bray defend the idea that maybe all speech shouldn’t be free; an idea which has gained popularity among Leftists. We’ll continue to see efforts by the Left to shut down what they consider “hate speech,” which carries with it very broad interpretations.
New York Times editor busted by Project Veritas (Strength/Initiatives)
James O’Keefe and Project Veritas in their latest sting caught an editor at the New York Times bragging about curating anti-Trump content for NYT and his prior Antifa affiliation. Nicholas Dudich, the editor, is asked about being objective in his work, to which Dudich responds: “No I’m not, that’s why I’m here.” Dudich also admits to specifically targeting Trump and his businesses, and also brags about once being in Antifa. “Yeah, I used to be an AntiFa punk once upon a time. So, I had fun. They’d start s**t, I’m like, I get to hit you. I’m so excited.” Dudich also claimed to be a “gatekeeper” for NYT’s videos. [source]
(Analyst Comment: Dudich is the latest casualty in the Project Vertias campaign to uncover Leftist activists abusing their power or breaking the law, but there are certainly many, many more just like Dudich. Until just a few weeks ago, media coverage of Antifa had been largely sympathetic, although Antifa violence has been criticized.)
Refuse Fascism spreads propaganda at an undisclosed high school (Initiatives)
Refuse Fascism (RF), a front organization for the Revolutionary Communist Party USA, published an article detailing a trip to an undisclosed high school, where three members spoke with students and spread communist flyers and stickers during school lunch. One student told the RF organizers that some students at the high school had stopped standing for the national anthem. The organizers called the response “tremendously positive”. [source: https://refusefascism.org/2017/10/11/taking-november-4-to-a-big-diverse-high-school/] According to a recent post, RF also traveled to give a presentations to an unidentified Democratic club
Mozilla awards $100,000 to Rise Up (Capabilities)
Mozilla, the software firm that brought us the Firefox browser, recently gave $100,000 to Rise Up, a secure communications service used by the Alt-Left. According to its website, Rise Up is intended “for people and groups working on liberatory social change. We are a project to create democratic alternatives and practice self-determination by controlling our own secure means of communications.” [source: https://riseup.net/] and [source: https://blog.mozilla.org/blog/2017/10/03/mozilla-awards-half-million-open-source-projects/]
(Analyst Comment: Mozilla creates great products. The Firefox browser and the Thunderbird email client are hands down the best in class. Mozilla’s products are free and open source, and I believe that Mozilla is funded solely through donations from its users. In their statement released on 03 October, Mozilla couched their donation to Rise Up by calling it a service “used by activists across the political spectrum, to improve the security of their email service.” While Rise Up has users across the political spectrum, it’s also heavily touted as a secure email option among Alt-Left blogs and organizations. This is not Mozilla’s first foray into the social justice movement. Just over three years ago, Mozilla forced the resignation of CEO Brendan Eich (a co-founder) over a 2008 donation Eich made to an organization that opposed gay marriage in California — a major no-no in the tech scene. Rise Up’s donation page asks users to “Support Radical Alternatives!” and the company uses a red and black star as its logo; both of which are clear indications of where they stand politically.)
The Antifa movement in Phoenix, AZ (Strength)
AZCentral, a web-based news outlet in Arizona, recently covered Antifa in an article entitled “Antifa movement in Phoenix: What it is, and why officials fear it”. The reporter covers the bases of the Antifa movement in general, specifically that it’s a “secretive” organization that endorses violence against hate speech. According to the article, Phoenix police see Antifa as “disruptive” — more so now than in the past — and have expressed the need to be aware of their activities in the city. According to a Republic reporter, there are at least a few hundred people involved in Antifa in the Phoenix area.
Here are some of the excerpts:
“In the Phoenix area, its membership is fluid and secretive but has drawn attention far beyond its ranks… Phoenix police have warned against them. Academics question their tactics. But those involved are convinced they must work outside the normal advocacy process to be heard.”
“One of the largest antifa or antifa-adjacent groups in Arizona is the John Brown Gun Club, which is an offshoot of Redneck Revolt, a national network of left-wing militants. John Brown Gun Club adherents are anti-racist, anti-capitalist, anti-fascist, and heavily armed. Its membership looks to recruit the white working class, offering a leftist alternative to far-right movements such as the neo-Nazis, the Ku Klux Klan or Minutemen.”
“Others in the movement lean toward the Antifascist Action Phoenix Facebook page, which organizes actions and other community events. While its philosophies overlap with the John Brown Gun Club, Antifascist Action Phoenix adherents aren’t known to carry guns and don’t narrow their scope to white working class.”
“Phoenix’s antifascists often enlist themselves as backup for other left-wing causes. They were at the Arizona State Capitol in 2015, primed to defend immigrants as they prepared legalization paperwork. They were in Fountain Hills in 2016, blocking the roads into a Donald Trump rally and screaming obscenities at his supporters. And they were at Phoenix’s Immigration and Customs Enforcement headquarters in February, trying to stop a van carrying a woman toward deportation.” [source]
(AC: It’s an interesting article, and much of it can be applied to Antifa groups across the nation. The reporter interviewed law enforcement for their input, which was valuable. The article is definitely worth the read if you live in Arizona.)
PIR2: What indicators describe the Alt-Right movement’s strength, capabilities, sentiment, and initiatives?
Alt-Right holds second Charlottesville rally, no violence (Capabilities/Initiatives)
One interesting development that grew out of the Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, VA, is the decision by Alt-Right leadership to begin holding surprise rallies. Leaders noted that when Alt-Left groups and city governments had time to prepare in advance, opposition was much more coordinated and organized. So on Saturday night (07 October), Richard Spencer and Alt-Right activists held a second torch rally, which was brief and not publicized beforehand, in front of the Robert E. Lee statue in Charlottesville. There was no violence at the event, proving that this new strategy will work in not only garnering media attention but also avoiding Leftist violence in the future. 40-50 rally goers spent about 10 minutes in front of the statue.
(Analyst Comment: 40-50 members of the Alt-Right showing up in a flash mob protest is no small feat, especially because this was coordinated in secret. The Alt-Right in many ways is secretive, although not to the level I’ve observed with the Alt-Left. This appears to be changing, however, as the Alt-Right has focused more on operations security, making it a point to better observe OPSEC. Alt-Right group Identity Evropa, for instance, has been very secretive about their membership and plans.)
Two U.S. Marines sentenced for trespassing during Confederate rally in North Carolina (Sentiment)
Two United States Marines were arrested back in May for trespassing during a Confederate Memorial Day rally in Alamance County, NC. The pair climbed to a roof of a building (without permission) and dropped a banner which read, “He who controls the past controls the future”. Prosecutors said that the banner also had an “identitarian” symbol and the letters “YWNRU,” which stands for “You Will Not Replace Us,” a popular Alt-Right phrase. The pair, who supported the Confederate rally, pleaded guilty “without committing a crime”. One Marine was being processed for separation from the Corps, and the other has since been promoted to staff sergeant. [source]
(Analyst Comment: According to November 2016 exit polling, members of the military voted 2-to-1 for President Trump in swing states, re-affirming the belief that the military, even through eight years of the Obama administration, remains staunchly more conservative than not. While supporting Trump does not indicate support for the Alt-Right, many members of the military and combat veterans are at least open to the ideas of the Alt-Right, and the Alt-Right boasts many combat veterans in its ranks.)
PIR3: What are the new indicators of future politically-related violence?
18 October – FL – Alt-Right leader Richard Spencer to speak at University of Florida
21 October – PA – March against IACP and #Abolition Weekend
28 October – TN – Shelbyville to be location of Alt-Right rally/gathering
04 November – Nationwide – Refuse Fascism Day
11 November – Communist Party USA’s National Party Building Conference [source]
Alt-Right leader Richard Spencer to speak at University of Florida
Richard Spencer originally scheduled his Fall campus tour to begin last month, but a series of hurricanes delayed that plan. Last week, Spencer announced that he will begin his tour on October 19th at the University of Florida in Gainesville. Immediately, Alt-Left organizers began developing a counter-demonstration. Earlier this week, Alt-Left website It’s Going Down published a call to arms. “Our aim is a broad mobilization in solidarity with UF students and Gainesville residents, against white nationalist organizing. Organizations should make travel plans for Gainesville right now.” [source: https://itsgoingdown.org/call-to-oppose-richard-spencer-october-19th-gainsville/]
League of the South, Nationalist Front rally could be an attractive target for Antifa counterdemo
The League of the South, Nationalist Front, and other Alt-Right groups will hold a rally in Shelbyville, TN on 28 October to protest U.S. immigration policies and the lack of coverage of the Antioch church shooting. (Analyst Comment: Shelbyville, TN is in between Nashville and Chattanooga, both of which have Antifa chapters. The event organizers expect the presence of Antifa, however, selected this location because they expect law enforcement to prevent violence. Still, an Antifa counter-demonstration seems like an appropriate expectation.)
04 November is “Refuse Fascism Day”
Newsweek and several other publications have called out “conspiracies” about the marches planned for 04 November. Several right wing websites have leveled charges that 04 November is intended to be the start of a revolution, coup, or some other widespread violent revolt. My take remains the same: 04 November is about making a political statement. We’re likely to see violence in the usual places: Berkeley, Portland, Seattle, New York City, and other locations where radical anarchists have a history of violence, but it’s going to fall well short of an actual revolution. Unfortunately, this event has been amplified by a number of media outlets to be a “day of revolution”, which the Alt-Left intended to be serious but not literal. Prominent Alt-Left figures are fairly clear that a violent revolution right now would fail, and that the focus needs to remain on community and collective organizing to build a mass movement. Once ‘critical mass’ is achieved, then the movement can employ violence. The goal for this event is to display just how much collective power Leftists have, and then hope for the best. Dictators have been forced out of office by mass demonstrations, and this is the near term goal for this event. We’ll continue to track developments as it’s still nearly a month away. Here’s part of the group’s press release:
“Our protest must grow day after day and night after night—thousands becoming hundreds of thousands, and then millions—determined to act to put a stop to the grave danger that the Trump/Pence Regime poses to the world by demanding that this whole regime be removed from power.
Our actions will reflect the values of respect for all of humanity and the world we want—in stark contrast to the hate and bigotry of the Trump/Pence fascist regime.
Our determination to persist and not back down will compel the whole world to take note. Every force and faction in the power structure would be forced to respond to our demand. The cracks and divisions among the powers already evident today will sharpen and widen. As we draw more and more people forward to stand up, all of this could lead to a situation where this illegitimate regime is removed from power.”
Here are the current locations [source: https://refusefascism.org/protests-and-events/]:
Los Angeles, CA
New York City, NY
San Francisco Bay Area, CA
There will undoubtedly be other protests in cities not listed.
PIR4: What is the current threat index score for the Alt-Left movement?
There has been no change this week to the threat index score. We still stand at 6 strong indications of domestic conflict (out of 20), 6 weak indications, and 12 no/negligible indications. I would just remind everyone that these are cumulative indicators from across the nation, and this index not necessarily reflect every region. For instance, the Deep South exhibits far fewer indicators as a region than the Pacific Northwest or Northeast. It’s my intention to begin the production of a national map to track these indicators regionally.
UT: Utah Students for a Democratic Society (socialist) group claims fundraising success [source: http://www.fightbacknews.org/2017/10/12/university-utah-sds-fundraiser-sds-convention-big-success]