Antifa (Anti-Fascists) were at it again over the weekend, causing more mayhem and violence at what was supposed to be a peaceful demonstration in Berkeley, CA. But this isn’t exactly news anymore. It seems like whenever a group gathers to talk about topics they disagree with; the radical left show up with insults and violence – their goal to shut down anyone speaking in opposition to their views. What is news, and what we should also be focusing on today is how these self-proclaimed anti-fascists are hiding behind masks and bandannas like cowards.
Groups had planned two rallies this weekend, one in San Francisco and one in Berkeley, but canceled due to concerns of safety. This didn’t stop the far left from gathering at the rally sites to hold their protests. In Berkeley, approximately 2,000 people showed up to Martin Luther King Jr. Civic Park – the majority from the left – and it wasn’t long before black-clad, mask-wearing Antifa started tormenting their right opposition.
Antifa’s message is clear: if you aren’t with them, you’re against them, and if you’re against them, expect violence. The mask-wearing cowardly warriors descended on President Donald Trump supporters with pepper spray and knocked them to the ground with the shields they carried. They reportedly beat at least one person carrying an American flag and forcefully prohibited anyone from filming the event – including reporters.
This far left-wing group doesn’t believe rules apply to them. They repeatedly disobey the law including Berkeley’s ban on masks, sticks, weapons and even soda cans at the rally site. There were about 500 officers on hand at the rally, and they made 13 arrests. Two people were hospitalized.
— Lizzie Johnson (@lizziejohnsonnn) August 27, 2017
But what other message is Antifa trying to send by covering their faces? We already know that they ‘fight fascism with fascist tactics.’ They claim to be against white supremacy, yet they cloak themselves in a way that inspires fear, promotes violence, and resembles the Ku Klux Klan (KKK). The New Republic wrote an article on why the Klan wore hoods:
The original Klan, anonymous, unaccountable, and hybrid, springing up in a woman’s gown, squirrel skin, or Venetian domino mask, violated its victims, then vanished, denying that any terrorism had occurred.
After the Civil War, Klansmen dressed up in hoods and costumes to resemble ghosts as they anonymously terrorized Black Americans. As American Experience wrote:
Such tricks quickly took on more politically sinister overtones, as sheeted Klansmen would commonly terrorize their targets, using hoods and masks to disguise their identities when carrying out acts of violence under the cover of darkness.
Some may think to compare mask-wearing extremists to the hate-filled KKK is extreme, but some similarities bear discussing. Just as Klansmen hid behind their masks while committing their atrocities on Black Americans, Antifa hides behind bandannas and other face coverings while they beat and torment Trump supporters – all the while calling out against hate, injustice and white supremacy. They show up in droves to intimate and berate those whose opinions differ. They promote violence, not tolerance.
Wearing a mask provides anonymity. The disguise hides the wearer’s identity and provides an environment to be risky; to break rules that one might not usually disregard. The article The Masks Men Wear explains:
There is a power in the donning of a mask and for thousands of years, tapping into this power was an essential part of the male experience. Putting on physical masks allowed men to drop the social, psychological “masks” they wore each day and express the more hidden sides of themselves.
There have been many studies on how wearing a mask or disguise affects human behavior, and the results have always led to the participants feeling much less restrained and unconcerned about consequences. A 1979 Purdue University experiment tested children’s behavior on Halloween. A bowl of candy was held out to the costumed children who were told they could only take two pieces. Only 37% of those without a mask broke the rule while a whopping 62% of those bearing a mask took more than two candies.
In another example with adults, psychologists at Western Illinois, Eugene Mathes, and Thomas Guest conducted an experiment in 1976 with college students. Participants were offered money to carry a banner around the cafeteria that read “Masturbation is fun.” Some students were allowed to wear a ski mask while others were not. Predictably, those with masks agreed to parade with the banners for only $29.98 while those whose faces (and therefore their identity) were left exposed took the challenge when offered $47.92 on average.
So, what does this say about Antifa members? Are they taking the coward’s way out, afraid to reveal their true selves while beating down their political opponents? Or, are these members transitioning into the very hate-filled, violent organization they claim to dislike so much? If their mission is true, if their message is of tolerance and equality, then why do they feel the need to hide behind masks, weapons, and hatred?