The Oct. 26 tweet from Laguna Beach Antifa displays a photograph of an effeminate trans person with piercings, facial hair and thick glasses gripping an assault rifle, along with the tag: “I’m ready for #November4th #Nov4ItBegins.”
The likes and retweets by other supposed antifa outfits — the word is short for “anti-fascist” and refers to a cohort of militant leftists who often wear masks to maintain anonymity while engaging in street combat with white supremacists — at improbable locations like Beverly Hills, Nantucket, Wall Street and the Hamptons provides a clue that this probably isn’t serious.
A retweet of an article about “antifa parody accounts” confirms the joke, and incredibly, Laguna Beach Antifa responds to a query from another Twitter user about whether the profile is a Russian bot: “Yes I am.”
And yet, many on the far-right are convinced that “antifa” is planning to launch a civil war on Nov. 4, which, if you’re paying attention, is this Saturday.
KrisAnne Hall, a right-wing radio host and former Florida prosecutor with 19,000 Twitter followers — among them North Carolina Sen. Thom Tillis — tweeted on Oct. 22: “#Antifa & intellectual toddlers better keep their violence in liberal cities — country folk know how to deal w infant tantrums #CivilWar2017.”
You can bet Laguna Beach Antifa retweeted Hall, responding, “No one can stop us. #CivilWar2017 #Nov4ItBegins.”
The hoax about an antifa-instigated civil war beginning on Nov. 4 appears to have originated with two different sources, both dated Sept. 29 — a story on far-right conspiracy theorist Alex Jones’ Infowars site entitled “Antifa plans ‘civil war’ to overthrow the government” and a YouTube video labeled “Sheriff deputy speaks about planned Nov 4th antifa event.”
“On their website they [antifa] are calling for an open civil war that they will start here in the United States in November,” says a young man who may or may not be an actual law enforcement officer. “They are fundraising for weapons. Training. Ammunition. Supplies. They’re not hiding this. They are openly fundraising so they can get the stuff together to attack — and this is verbatim what they’re going to do. They will start off by attacking police officers, first responders, anybody that’s in uniform. And after they have disrupted that enough in the nation and us first responders are literally going everywhere trying to resolve things they will then go after the citizens and the government and all of that. So if you’re white, you’re a Trump supporter, you’re a Nazi to them, and it will be open game on you.”
There’s only a tiny kernel of truth to the hoax.
The Revolutionary Communist Party front group Refuse Fascism is launching a coordinated protest in 18 American cities — though none in North Carolina to date — under the banner, “This Nightmare Must End: the Trump/Pence Regime Must Go!” To be absolutely clear, Refuse Fascism and the Revolutionary Communist Party are not antifa, and nowhere on the group’s website is there any mention of buying weapons or engaging in any kind of violence.
People in the right-wing patriot militia, or 3 Percent movement, also appear to be taking the threat seriously. Prominent figures in the movement like Francis Marion, a leader of American Freedom Keepers, frequently post Facebook Live videos where they can respond in real time to comments from followers. Marion’s most recent video, which received 6,500 views and 213 shares, was mainly devoted to what people should expect on Nov. 4.
Here’s a sampling of comments by Marion’s followers.
Carmen McPhee Jones: “Judge Jeanine Pirro posted today the cities on antifa’s list for Nov. 4th protests & my city is on it. What is the honest threat to us?”
Trina Thompson Janson: “I’m locked and loaded just in case!!”
Cornell Maile: “If you are locked and loaded be ready to kill and possibly die, just be ready.”
The American Freedom Keepers leader responded, “We’ve heard threats all the way from throwing urine-filled balloons at you to gunning you down if you have an American flag on your car or a Trump sticker.” He added, “Is there a chance that there’s gonna be major violence on Nov. 4 and following? Yeah, absolutely. I would say 100 percent there’s going to be violence somewhere.”
Later, the discussion turned to whether people in cars have the right to run over protesters.
Carmen McPhee Jones: “So if I run over them, what happens?”
Gina Minkeye Jackson: “We are allowed to plow them down.”
Tracy Slater: “Hit the speed bump and keep it moving.”
Marion cautioned his followers against such talk.
“If you run them over, they’re gonna get hurt,” he said. “Avoid using terms like ‘plow them down’ and ‘speed bump.’”
He continued, “I tell ya, I would hate for them to come back and pull up a Facebook post of anyone in that situation, and have a prosecuting attorney say, ‘See here’s where it said, ‘We’re allowed to run ’em over.”
We live in dangerous times when major blocs of the American population live in separation information ecosystems. The far-right media may be a digital hall of mirrors, but unfortunately the potential for violence is very real. Please be safe on Saturday.