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Can we agree on this: No violence! Not ever!

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A person near and dear to me whom I love—I won’t say who—told me he finally bought himself a gun because he’s afraid that “Antifa/BLM” are going to “carry on after the election.” What he meant by “carry on” is this: that if there is violence, in his opinion it’s going to be “Antifa/BLM” who start it. It’s them he’s afraid of.

Now, I have to say that this near and dear person lives in an exclusive neighborhood in a very red state, so it’s very unlikely that “Antifa/BLM” will come anywhere close to him. We certainly have had our political differences over the years, but I respect his views and he respects mine. Moreover, he’s pro-gay, for which I’m grateful. But here’s what I want to say to him and all those who think like him.

First of all, the Trump propaganda apparently is working: Trump has tried hard to drum up fear of Black Lives Matter by calling them “Antifa,” which of course is a meaningless term. There is no such thing as Antifa: no post office box, no website, no organization, no leaders. Nobody carries a card defining them as an Antifa member. The term is a contraction of “anti-fascist,” which I proudly declare myself to be. I can’t imagine any decent American being pro-fascist. The classic examples of fascists in modern history have been Benito Mussolini and Adolf Hitler, with a nod to Juan Peron and Saddam Hussein, so if you’re pro-fascist, you’re in favor of the types of governments those dictators imposed on their countries, and of the persecutions and deaths they caused to, literally, millions of people. So, yeah, call me Antifa, although that’s not a word I’d use to define myself.

But SuperSpreader Don is out there, day after day, spreading viruses and disinformation. Antifa is coming to your neighborhood! Even if you live in a lily-white suburb in a Republican state, they’re going to build slums next to your split-level house, and they’re going to rape your children and murder your friends and shut down your churches. That’s nonsense, of course, but it’s what we’ve come to expect from the liar-in-chief, because it’s all he has.

Now, readers of this blog know I have no patience whatsoever with the looters, arsonists and vandals who so often wreck our cities during demonstrations. I should know: Oakland, my city, is probably the worst in the country, in terms of how often we’ve suffered at the hands of these fools. I want them jailed for as long as possible under our legal system. That view, which I find impossible to suppress, has gotten me a lot of grief here in Oakland, where people call me a reactionary old racist; but I don’t care what they say. I myself don’t have a gun, nor will I, but I wouldn’t blame the manager of a 7-Eleven, say, for shooting a black-masked rioter who was trying to smash his front window. I recognize that in the current political climate, that manager would probably get arrested for defending his own property, but even so, I wouldn’t blame him or her, and if I found myself on the jury of such a person, and the evidence showed that all the person was doing was defending his store, I’d find him or her not guilty, even if the person he shot died, and if the person didn’t die, I’d want to file charges of attempted robbery.

So in that sense, I don’t blame my near-and-dear friend for fearing what he calls “Antifa.” He doesn’t want those thugs in his neighborhood, and he’s right. Where I think he’s a little bit in cloud cuckoo-land is his fear that the thugs who are tearing Oakland, Portland and a few other cities apart are going to come to his house, or even his state. They’re a small minority of crazies, and the few cities they infect are learning how to deal with them.

But, as I told him, I hate and fear Trump and his evangelical thugs and his “proud boys” a lot more than I hate the looters and arsonists. The looters and arsonists are pests, and clueless about how real political change occurs, but sooner or later, they’ll fade away, when their fifteen minutes is up. But Trump’s movement is in this for the long haul, and they’re not going away. They want, literally, a religious-autocratic theocracy in America, a place where women (like Amy Coney-Barrett) are non-entities who obey their husbands, where homosexuals are imprisoned or sent to re-education camps, where the rich have their taxes lowered even further while the poor labor under inhumane conditions, where the only healthcare you get is what you can afford under a for-profit system, where our Earth is crushed and polluted until it dies, where children are taught Biblical nonsense instead of secular information based on science, where domestic militias carrying machine guns make sure no one is departing from the Republican catechism, where the obesity, diabetes, infant mortality, out-of-wedlock pregnancies and school dropout rates that characterize southern states like Mississippi become the national norm, where opioid addiction is out of control, where liberal commentary is snuffed out the way they do it in Turkey and Russia. That’s what I hate and fear, not a couple idiots who try to fill their empty lives with excitement for a few moments by torching a dumpster or smashing a store window with a crowbar and pretending they’re important.

But the fact that my near-and-dear friend bought a gun is significant. I’ve heard anecdotally that gun stores across the country are running out of stock. People are arming themselves, and where there are guns everywhere, and everybody is paranoid, the slightest shock can cause a big explosion. Is that what we’re looking at in three or four weeks? We have to realize—left, center and right—that violence solves nothing, but only causes more violence. No violence! I can’t say it enough. No violence!

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