For anyone logging time on the far right corners of the Internet, this coming Saturday is not just another autumn weekend but the potential start date of an apocalyptic showdown.
Infowars has warned “Antifa Plans ‘Civil War’ to Overthrow the Government.” The John Birch Society put out two recent videos warning Americans to “stay home and tell your children to do likewise” on Saturday. YouTuber “A Glock Fanboy” notched more than 400,400 views for a clip raising the alarm about “the first day of the revolution or whatnot.”
“Honestly, I’m happy,” the YouTuber told his followers. “Dude, we’ve been on the verge of the great war for what seems like forever and I’m just ready to get it going.”
While Nov. 4 has become a rallying point on the conservative landscape — complete with a hashtag “civilwar2017″ — down on the other far end of the political spectrum, the reality is equally significant. The left-leaning group Refuse Fascism is planning rallies across the country on Saturday, the first step in a large-scale, long game demonstration organizers hope will achieve nothing less than the unseating of the Trump administration.
“We formed this organization around two main points,” Andy Zee, one of the group’s organizers, told The Washington Post. “One is that the nightmare must end, and second, in the name of humanity we must refuse to accept a fascist America.”
Zee maintains that Refuse Fascism is committed to nonviolent protest, and scoffs at the ideas floating through the far right of antifa super-soldiers waging war on mainstream society. If anything, the jarring disconnect over Nov. 4 shows how easily facts are eaten alive by social media and regurgitated as conspiracy theory. The possible violence coloring that disconnect illustrates how truly ideologically isolated the two sides are from one another.
“It’s absurd. Calling for a civil war?” Zee said. “Pick a date for a civil war? Honestly, what do you say to this?”
Zee’s group does have big plans for the weekend — and beyond. He tells The Post the group is organizing demonstrations on Saturday in more than a dozen locations, including New York City, Los Angeles, Seattle and San Francisco.
Tapping the same kind of energy unleashed in the Occupy Wall Street movement and Women’s March, Refuse Fascism hopes to spark regular protests against the administration, daily actions that will snowball until “every day there are tens of thousands of people protesting, creating a political crisis in the country with international repercussions, and where you do get a reaction from those in power that they have to do something about it,” Zee said.
The blueprint here, Zee told The Post, is the South Korean mass protest movement that began in October 2016 and eventually led to President Park Geun-hye’s removal from office in March. “What we are trying to unleash is a process of continuous protest,” Zee said. “We can’t just wait for the other shoe to drop. We’ve been saying from the beginning, with fascism, it can be too late.”
Zee is admittedly less clear on what that peaceful regime change would look like in the United States. “Impeachment, the 25th Amendment — they will determine the means and ways when it becomes clear there is a tremendous crisis of confidence,” the organizer said. The key is sending the message.
That message, however, so far has largely been lost in translation online. Rumbles about planned Nov. 4 demonstrations began circulating on the Internet this summer, according to Will Sommer, the Hill editor who pens Right Richter newsletter. In September, a small group of Refuse Fascism organizers made a splash when they blocked traffic on Highway 101 in Los Angeles and held up signs reading “NOV 4 IT BEGINS,” LA Weekly reported.
Video clips of the demonstration accelerated the online panic over what could be planned for Nov. 4. More speculation was fueled by the involvement of the Revolutionary Communist Party, and many began to label the outing as an antifa event.
“On their website, they are calling for an open civil war that they will start here in the United States in November,” a YouTuber named Jordan Peltz said in a clip that went viral. “They are fundraising for weapons, training, ammunition, suppliers. They are not hiding this. They are openly fundraising so they can attack.”
“The end game here is martial law,” one video warns, “is provoking Republicans, patriots, whatever, you and me, into this huge battle, whether it’s just fighting or whether it’s guns. What they will do is they will throw up their arms and say, ‘I told you so, they’re violent’ . . . They want us out there, with our weapons so the government will commence with martial law. And then, I believe, serious gun control-slash-confiscation.”
“Make sure you got enough ammo, make sure your guns are ready,” another poster advised in a clip with more than 110,000 views. “You have to understand these are vicious, vicious people. Your life means nothing to them. In fact, if you’re a white man, you don’t deserve to live.”
Infowars provocateur Alex Jones announced in a video that antifa was “going to lose on November 4 and every day after that, because they’re a bunch of meth-head pieces of crap.”
Refuse Fascism’s Zee denies all that speculation.
The organization is engaged with a broad coalition of groups, including the Revolutionary Communist Party, but it has committed to Refuse Fascism’s nonviolence stance.
On its website, Refuse Fascism also makes clear it sees “NO moral ‘equivalence’ between those seeking to impose white supremacy and fascism, and those fighting against this nightmare.”
Zee told The Post his group does “uphold the legal right to self-defense, but we don’t initiate violence and we oppose violence.” He added violence would only feed into the negative image of the group. “We are not looking to get involved in that kind of situation,” he said. “We are in the fight for hearts and minds of people to recognize the stakes.”
Still, the online hysterics over Nov. 4 have put the potential demonstrations in the crosshairs of extremists.
“It’s utter lunacy on these sites. If you read their stuff, and people are believing it,” the organizer added. “They are calling for people to bring their weapons to the demonstrations. We just have to outnumber them.”