In the wake of recent Neo-Nazi rallies in Virginia and Boston, along with the general rise of the far-right in international politics, racial tensions appear to be growing.
Many on the “alt-right” have refused to condemn the atrocities committed by Nazis in Charlottesville, Virginia, often pointing out that the “other side”- the anti-fascists- were “just as bad”.
Of course, these ludicrous comparisons are expected of some, but the real shock came when the leader of the free world, Donald Trump, repeated such statements in a press conference shortly after the rally took place.
In theory, we shouldn’t be surprised by Trump’s rhetoric here. This is a man who ran an openly racist, sexist, homophobic, xenophobic and Islamophobic campaign and pledged to ban 1.4 billion people from entering the “most democratic” nation on earth, but to spend more time condemning anti-fascist protestors than condemning actual fascists was a new low, even for him.
Trump’s inability to condemn the Nazis, and his claims that the anti-fascists are also to blame attracted much criticism, however were extremely well received among his fellow racists.
David Duke, former leader of the Ku Klux Klan, tweeted his praise for Trump, thanking him for his “honesty and courage to tell the truth about Charlottesville and condemn the leftist terrorists in BLM (Black Lives Matter) and Antifa”.
A thank you from former grand wizard of the most racist hate group on the planet is a perfect example of the kind of people Trump is siding with by emphasising his condemnation of anti-fascists, while refusing to do the same for those who want to see most of the world, including Trump’s own son-in-law, dead.
This childish “what about them” attitude should have no place in a conversation about Nazis. Pointing out that Nazis are bad, but others are also bad, is absurd.
Perhaps some of those opposing the Nazis were violent, or acted in a way that doesn’t completely qualify as “peaceful”, but does this make them as bad as Nazis? The short answer; absolutely not. Comparing the morality of fascists and anti-fascists doesn’t make sense, and appears to just be a method used by the white supremacists to deflect attention from the crimes they committed at the rally.
As John Kasich, the Republican Governor of Ohio put it, “There is no moral equivalency to Nazi sympathisers”. This coming from politicians of Trump’s own party is refreshing, however the belief still remains among many that those opposing fascism are somehow as immoral as those who march the streets chanting “Jews will not replace us”.
The Nazi ideology itself is inexcusable, but people also appear to be forgetting the consequences Nazism in practice had on the world. For anyone with an ounce of human decency and the most basic understanding of history, the thought of marching the streets holding swastikas and yelling racial slurs is abhorrent and reminds us of the millions of deaths this type of rhetoric has caused.
This tells us all we need to know about those who do it; they have no human decency, and probably very little in the way of common sense and historical awareness.
Further demonstrating that fascists and anti-fascists cannot be logically or morally compared is the actions of both camps since the Charlottesville rally.
Jason Kessler, the organiser of the “Unite the Right” rally, took to Twitter to call Heather Heyer, an anti-fascist protestor who was murdered during the protesting, a “fat, disgusting communist” and to express his belief that her death was “payback time” for those who have died under communist regimes.
Anti-fascists across the US, however, have been holding vigils and calling for more peaceful protests at Nazi rallies all over the country. While the anti-fascists are in no way perfect, the way they have acted in the aftermath of the rally, compared to the actions of the white supremacists, shows exactly why the two cannot be likened to one another.
Ideologically speaking, there are no similarities. Fascists want to exterminate any minority as they believe anyone who isn’t white to be inferior. Their overall aim is to establish a world, or a nation, inhabited only by “pure whites”. Anti-fascists aim to protect these minorities by opposing those calling for their elimination by any means necessary.
This being said, the ideologies cannot be compared, and to attempt to do so either morally or otherwise sounds sympathetic to the Nazi cause.