Trevor Noah and the Liberal-Fascist Bargain

Trevor Noah

Trevor Noah speaks out against anti-fascism.

Last week on The Daily Show, Trevor Noah did his level best to undermine Antifascist activists and pushed the notion that “when you think you’re punching Nazis, you don’t realize that you’re also punching your cause.”

In branding Antifa as “Vegan ISIS,” Noah is performing his duties as a centrist propagandist admirably. Since the dawn of the 20th century, liberals have had an unwitting symbiotic relationship with fascist reactionaries that has been incredibly effective at securing capitalist-imperialist power structures while being massively destructive to leftists and the oppressed people we seek to protect and empower.

This pattern of liberal-fascist collaboration, which I have touched on previously here and here, is very simple and easy to identify. Whenever the struggle between reactionary capitalism and leftist liberation movements comes to a head, the centrist middle class will always come down on the side of the reactionaries to maintain their own positions of privilege and comfort.

While both sides benefit from this Faustian bargain, I believe the fascists alone truly understand the political mechanics at play whereas nearly all liberals participate out of ignorance and fear.

The liberal centrist is compassionate to a fault, and the liberal’s middle class insulation from the suffering of the oppressed quarters of society leads to a disconnect from the reality: that class struggle is inherently and unavoidably violent. The liberal’s comfortable living condition and inexperience with violence leads to a worldview that ALL violence is equally abhorrent, even violence in defense of communities, in resistance to oppression, and in opposition to genocide.

Thus it should come as no surprise that Trevor Noah, the current anchor of Comedy Central’s The Daily Show, crafted an 8 minute polemic against antifascist activists.

If you haven’t already seen it, you can view the video here. I’ve typed out the transcript of Noah’s piece below, along with my own commentary.

Trevor Noah: Over the last several weeks we’ve seen multiple protests break out all over the US — some peaceful, some not so much. But one incident in particular last weekend caught my eye: anarchists wearing black clothing and masks attacked supporters of President Trump during a demonstration in Berkeley, California, Sunday.

A Traditionalist Worker Party helmet, advertised on their website as “seen at the battle of Charlottesville.”

Note that Noah refers to the fascists who came to Berkeley merely as “supporters of President Trump.” This masks the fact that they were actually hard core fascists, national socialists, and white nationalist groups including the Traditionalist Worker Party and the Nationalist Front.

These groups openly seek to transform America into a genocidal fascist white state. They also come to their rallies looking for a fight, wearing helmets and brandishing shields and other melee weapons.

Six people were injured and 13 arrested. Damn it, Berkeley, another fight? There’s so much violence breaking out in Berkeley they should start offering a degree in ass-whooping. That’s what they need to do. I know. I’m late for my head locking 101 class, my professors gonna kill me unless I kill him first! Time to earn that A, baby! Mmm

So another peaceful protest interrupted by violence.

Again, note how Noah refers to a rally of fascists advocating for apartheid and genocide as a “peaceful protest.”

The question is, who are these black clad mystery fighters coming for the alt-right? The antagonist of the alt-right are really a loose-knit group of activists who prefer to be called the Antifa movement, short for anti-fascist.

Oh anti-fascist. Antifa.

First of all that’s a great name, it’s short, it’s punchy — excuse the pun — and most importantly you don’t have to know how to spell fascist. I like that, ya know, which I mean I don’t need because it’s super easy, it’s like P-H-Y… you get it. You know what I mean, anyway, so so so…

I’d like to note here that Antifa really is simply a European-style contraction of the word “anti-fascist.” Antifa is not a group nor organization, nor does it refer to any specific doctrine or dogma. Any human being who is anti-fascist is “Antifa.” “Antifa” and “anti-fascist” are synonymous terms. It’s as simple as that.

We know who they are, the question is, what is Antifa all about? And that’s the first problem, because Antifa has no defined leadership. There’s no clear way to know what they’re actually meant to do… and not do, for that matter.

So, for instance, some Antifa members say that their purpose is to make life difficult for Nazis and white supremacists.

Is Noah being disingenuous or is this simply a complete lack of critical thought? Noah recognizes that Antifa has no leadership and no stated mission – because Antifa is NOT AN ORGANIZATION – then goes on to refer to anti-fascist activists as “Antifa members.”

Feeding into the idea that Antifa/anti-fascism is an organized group is extremely dangerous, as it can lead directly to “Antifa” being labeled a terrorist organization which will allow our reactionary government to suppress and imprison anyone who opposes fascism.

In the full report, anti-fascist movement leader Lacy MacAuley clearly refers to it as the anti-fascist movement. But of course Noah chose not to reference that here.

Reporter: Why hunt these people down, like what is your goal to expose them, exactly?

Daryle Lamont Jenkins: Because no one’s paying attention to them and sooner or later they’re gonna be your police officers, they’re gonna be your politicians, they’re gonna be your teachers, they are gonna be people that you cannot touch, and I don’t want that to happen.

Trevor Noah: Now, that sounds awesome, right? This guy is basically working to expose them by doxing them online. This guy is doing for society what women do for their best friends. You know, it’s like, girl, I know he seems normal but there’s something you should know about him, he’s a Nazi who never calls back when he says he will.

Just came here to point out the low key sexism, which Noah is already known for.

So that’s what some members of Antifa do: expose Nazis and racists. Basically it’s internet shaming. You know, the thing that people thought they would do to Kim Kardashian and then she became a superstar. For other members, the movement is more about friendship and fun. Bob and Tom are friends. They both like obscure Japanese video games, anime, and punk music, but over the past six months they’ve had something new to bond over.

Bob and Tom are now Antifa.

Reporter: How much of this is just sort of like online cosplay?

Antifascist: You know, I feel like there is a pretty strong element of that. The alt-right, they try and say anime and Japanese video games belong to them.

Trevor Noah: I’m not gonna lie, on my list of complaints of the alt right, them trying to own Japanese video games is, let’s say, not on my list. Like, honestly, I’d be happy to trade. I think America would be happy to trade, as well. America gets diversity and then the alt-right gets Tekken. That seems like a fair trade to me, yeah. But I’m taking Eddie. I always play as Eddie. I’m Eddie. I’m Eddie.

"Jews will not replace us."

The very first image you see in the ABC report Noah referenced for his piece on The Daily Show.

Let’s unpack the layers of cherry picking going on here. First, the ABC reporter has cherry picked two antifascist activists who will be easy for mainstream viewers to ridicule. On top of that, Noah is cherry-picking footage that portrays anti-fascists as aloof and ridiculous while neglecting to show any of the footage from the ABC report of the fascists, such as the very first shot in which fascists are carrying torches and shouting “Jews will not replace us.”

The ABC report also points out the Southern Poverty Law Firm’s finding that hate groups are at an all-time high in the USA and that 74% of extremist killings carried out by rightwing extremists.

Remember, so far Noah has referred to these fascists only as “supporters of President Trump” who were having a “peaceful protest.”

So, that’s some of the people, right? They just want the video games. And then some of them say they just want to burn it all down. The world got a glimpse of these tactics in action when some clad all in black smashed the windows of a Starbucks and a Bank of America. Just blocks away some members of Lacy MacAuley’s Antifa group DJ-20 swung into action, torching a limousine and scuffling with police.

Lacy MacAuley: Breaking a window is a symbolic act. Windows break all the time. Things break all the time.

Trevor Noah: Yeah, especially when you throw rocks through them. That’s someone who clearly doesn’t have a black grandmother. Like if I ever tried that with my grandma she would Antifa my ass. Grandma, things break all the time! And she’d be like, and you’re about to be one of them, huh, you are about to be one of them!

But seriously, though, like breaking a window was a symbolic act? Like you might think it’s some deep statement, but most people see that and think, “great, now I’ve got to walk a whole block up to the next Starbucks.” Like, who is that supposed to convince, what are you trying to do? It definitely doesn’t convince the Starbucks guy, the person who’s gonna be in the store cleaning up the glass saying, “yeah they made a good point about fascism, I understand what they mean, I understand it.” No, they don’t think like that, you know.

If I’m being honest, this might be the only thing Noah says in this video that comes close to resembling an actual point. I agree with Noah that smashing windows and vandalizing Starbucks is not a particularly effective method of fighting fascism and capitalism. I agree that these acts of property destruction can distract from the core message of leftism and probably do more harm than good to the leftist cause.

That said, when we’re confronting the threat of actual genocidal Nazis who are rising up across America, is this really the hill Noah wants to die on? How can he choose to fixate on the smashed windows when we have Nazis marching through America chanting anti-semetic slogans in a low-rent reproduction of The Triumph of the Will?

The middle class is defined by material comfort, and thus the middle class has always had a pathologically emotional attachment to material possessions. As such, liberals like Noah are extremely troubled by property crimes and view them as tantamount to violence against people. For a liberal, a smashed Starbucks window is far more terrifying than the violence of denying poor children in Flint, Michigan drinking water or the violence of a Nazi smashing the skull of a leftist, because when you smash a Starbucks window you are threatening the material comfort of the middle class. That’s why Noah is so hyper-fixated on the window-smashing incidents in Berkeley.

And you’ve got these Antifa members who believe that smashing shit is all they should do. Others want to expose neo-Nazis, and part of Antifa has only been about video games. But the part that’s been causing the most headaches is the one that’s hitting people in the head.

Antifascist: Antifa is any group that’s willing to stand up against fascists by any means necessary.

Reporter: They’re not afraid to play rough.

Reporter (to shirtless man): What happened?

Shirtless Man: I was working there and this guy, like, sucker punches me in the back of the head.

Trevor Noah: You see, now, here’s the real problem. It doesn’t matter what your noble goal may be. It doesn’t matter what you say you’re fighting for. When people see that, all they think is, “oh, it’s vegan ISIS.”

Because you don’t realize, you don’t realize, when you think you’re punching Nazis, you don’t realize that you’re also punching your cause, because your opponents, they’ll just use every violent incident to discredit your entire movement, and they make it seem like in a world where white supremacists have a friend in the White House the real problem is you guys.

Various Reporters: America is waking up to the Menace of Antifa, a dangerous violent group. The ultimate irony of this movement, which styles itself as anti-fascist, is it is itself fascistic. They are people who are getting off on destroying other people’s property. I think they’re total thugs. Radical leftist Antifa thugs. We should also urge everyone to consider pressing this idea of declaring Antifa a terrorist organization.

Donald Trump: They’ve got clubs, and they’ve got everything. Antifa!

Trevor Noah: Antifa! Antifa! He pronounces it like he’s introducing them at the Latin Grammys. Ladies and gentlemen, hombres good and bad, please make some noise for Antifa!

Hitler and Hindenburg

Hitler with liberal statesman Paul von Hindenburg, who was key to brokering the transition of power to the Nazi party to ensure law and order.

And here Noah summarizes very eloquently the essence of liberal-fascist symbiosis. He describes perfectly how liberals lead themselves to favor fascists over leftist in order to preserve their own material comfort and positions of power within capitalistic systems.

His position against ALL violence in favor of law and order is exactly what leads liberals to stand by and watch when fascists seize political power to smash leftist movements. It’s the same pattern that we have seen around the world since the early 20th century. Seeing it unfold here in the United States is fascinating and terrifying. We have the opportunity to utilize hindsight and education to interrupt this pattern and take a bold stand against the liberal-fascist combine.

Trevor Noah had the opportunity to use the popular and powerful platform of the Daily Show to take a strong anti-fascist stance that could have done much to strengthen the anti-fascist resistance movement in America but he chose instead to repeat the mistakes of so many liberals before him.

7 Responses to “Trevor Noah and the Liberal-Fascist Bargain

  • Flint, MI – not Kent, MI

    • Emerican Johnson
      6 years ago

      Ouch. This is why everyone needs an editor. Thanks!

  • I don´t agree. The Right Extremist Movement in the U.S. is marginal and could be “check-mated” by the kind of reaction the people of Boston organised. Though a U.S. citizen, I have lived and worked in Germany for over 30 years and have a healthy critical distance to what is happening in America. Having somewhat intimate knowledge of the European Left, living in Berlin for 7 years and in Frankfurt for 26, a kind of unreflected “old-school” nostalgia (in my opinion) informs the formative identity structures of the “radical” Left. Street battles with Right Wing deplorables will not win social change. Sanders, Kaepernack and the growing numbers of many others will win the day… Obviously, (and thanks for the formulation) the “pathologically emotional attachment to material possessions” of American society… must be addressed (and I think) will be addressed. Climate Change will take care of that…

    • Emerican Johnson
      6 years ago

      Hi Steve, sorry I overlooked your comment for so long, I’ve been busy moving internationally myself.

      Though we may disagree, your analysis is well-reasoned and welcome here. I come from the deep South and I have family members and some old friends from my youth who have fallen into the alt right’s clutches, and I have been spending many hours every week analyzing alt right communities and social media, so I do feel like their movement is picking up steam, not dying. If there’s one thing we absolutely agree on it’s that climate change is going to make some rapid changes in society in the relatively short term.

      Of course I hope you’re right…!

      I enjoyed reading your comment, if you’d ever like to write a more formal response or a guest post let me know, or if you have a blog of your own I’d love to check it out! Cheers!

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