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RESIST: Revolution is not a dinner party

by Christina A. DiEdoardo

SFPD officers separate pro- and anti-immigrant demonstrators December 16 in San Francisco's Union Square. Photo: Christina DiEdoardo
SFPD officers separate pro- and anti-immigrant demonstrators December 16 in San Francisco's Union Square. Photo: Christina DiEdoardo  

"A revolution is not a dinner party, or writing an essay, or painting a picture, or doing embroidery; it cannot be so refined, so leisurely and gentle, so temperate, kind, courteous, restrained and magnanimous. A revolution is an insurrection, an act of violence by which one class overthrows another." - Mao Zedong

This is the last Resist column for 2017, so it's an appropriate time to look back at our wins and losses as the regime's first anniversary in power approaches and to make some educated guesses about the future.

First, the good news. The fascists expected the street protests that began last November to burn out after the inauguration. Instead, here and across the country, those actions spread to airports (after the Muslim ban was announced) campuses (such as when Milo Yiannopoulos deluded himself into thinking he could attack trans women and the undocumented at UC Berkeley without consequences), and parks (see the failed attempts by the fascists to claim space at Civic Center Park in Berkeley and at Crissy Field in San Francisco).

On a national level, the fascists have suffered an unprecedented culling of many of the administration's top Cabinet picks and senior officials through firings and resignations. The trans military ban has been overturned by the courts (at least for the moment) and massive activism (and fascist incompetence) resulted in several efforts to directly repeal the Affordable Care Act (also known as Obamacare) ending in failure.

On the debit side, despite occupations of airports across the country and repeated victories in lower federal courts, the U.S. Supreme Court ultimately let the latest version of the Muslim ban go into effect. The massive tax bill approved by Congress repeals the ACA's individual mandate in 2019, which most observers on both sides of the aisle believe will kill the individual marketplaces on which the ACA depends. Although on December 21 a Washington, D.C. jury acquitted the first six #J20 protesters to be brought to trial on charges arising out of the anti-inaugural protests, the regime has already announced it intends to bring cases involving 188 other protesters to trial in 2018. Their calculation seems to be that, whether the government wins or loses, forcing the cases to proceed will deter a repeat of last January's disruption.

Finally, Bay Area police forces - and some politicians - have repeatedly shown they are more concerned with the "Freeze Peach" rights of the fascists than they are with the safety of those who are targeted by said fascists. For several reasons, the successful counterprotest to an anti-immigrant rally in Union Square on December 16 may serve as a preview of what we can expect in 2018.

No bans, no walls, sanctuary for all
Together We Stand and the Michael Chapman Foundation deserve much credit not only for organizing the community's response that day to the nativists and fascists (most of whom appeared to have been bused in from outside the Bay Area, in sharp contrast those on the side of the immigrant supporters) but for centering the voices of marginalized communities in that effort. Beyond being a matter of basic justice, it was the best prophylactic possible to the recent fascist tactic of using members of marginalized communities to spout their party line. For example, as a trans woman it's far easier (and far better optics) for me to shout down and engage with fascist trans women than it would be for a cisgender male or female comrade in the same situation.

The fascists were also a lot more physically aggressive at an earlier stage of the demonstration than they have been historically. While this didn't deter the community's response - and the only reason the fascists could remain in the park as long as they did was because they were hiding behind two lines of SFPD officers - it does indicate that most fascists don't believe they're in any danger of any real consequences from the police for punching or spraying people.

Given the way the SFPD responded at the December 16 action - from preventing anti-fascists from moving across loosely-defined "lines" while repeatedly letting fascists roam at will across those lines (an act that invariably lead to conflict) to ignoring fascist instigators while unsuccessfully encouraging anti-fascists to "be the bigger person" and leave the park - this is probably a safe assumption on their part.

This, by the way, is part of the reason why the tradition of militant anti-fascism as practiced by antifa exists. Given that the police cannot be either trusted or relied upon to enforce the laws equally, then the only alternative to fascist aggression is community self-defense.

Which brings us back go Mao's quote, as what we are engaged in is neither embroidery nor a dinner party. Instead, we are challenging the most powerful and openly bigoted and white supremacist regime in American history on its own ground.
The enemy we face has shown they're willing to get physical. For that reason, if I had one wish for 2018, it would be the end of think pieces on the left that clutch pearls about those who choose to respond to a punch from a fascist with a punch of their own supposedly being "counterproductive." In reality, those who are willing to hold the line are usually the first, last, and only line of defense when the fascists charge.

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