Against the advice of many of those in my innermost circle (my cabal, really), I traveled this past weekend to an undisclosed, secret location in upstate New York to participate in the annual two-day ANTIFA meeting/be-in/chili cook-off. There were too many participants to actually count, but the Fire Marshal estimated that there were somewhere in the neighborhood of a half-million people, all of whom were wearing masks and singing along with Canned Heat, whose members were using walkers.
As an organization, ANTIFA has an interesting history dating back to the 1967 “Summer of Love.” At that time, there were about 100,000 people who had gathered on the corner of Haight and Ashbury Streets in a seedy part of San Francisco where there was no shortage of illicit, yet quite alluring, drugs. Pretty much everybody had come to that famous corner to follow the advice of Timothy Leary: “Turn on, tune in, drop out, and remember the Alamo.” I’m actually not sure about the “Alamo” part.
As you can only imagine, the scene was, well, different. Needless to say, it was a very crowded street corner. Everybody there was in desperate need of a bath and more leather clothing. Most people had either a guitar they couldn’t play very well, a tambourine, or a pair of tabla drums—basically bongo drums, but more exotic because they came from the Indian subcontinent that was governed at the time by Ravi Shankar and George Harrison. There was a lot of dancing and singing and hugging because everyone was stoned out of their gourds, as it were. Peace, baby.
Both the Grateful Dead and the Jefferson Airplane got their starts there. The monuments built to both of those seminal bands have been removed by the Trump Administration, citing that their mere presence makes people want to ingest a couple of tabs of Owsley’s Monterey Purple and intensely watch things that aren’t there, all the while mumbling “far out, man, far out.”
There was a subtle political movement afoot—a subtext, perhaps—that showed serious disdain for the Vietnam War, fascism, and the Dave Clark Five. At the end of the summer, about one-third of the original gathering disappeared in what was called the Great Hippie Diaspora. Life magazine covered it, with illustrations by R. Crumb. Many moved north to Humboldt County to become millionaire pot farmers. Still others started garage bands in Seattle or opened vegan food trucks in Portland. And a smaller group, inspired by the orange-clad Hare Krishnas and accompanied by the novelist Norman Mailer, went to Virginia to perform an exorcism on the Pentagon, and at the same time levitate the building 300 feet in the air.
These were extraordinary times.
The political faction, wanting to shun the hippie image, bought collared shirts and khakis, enrolled in college, and formed Students for a Democratic Society (SDS). Known for being almost as organized as the Democratic Party, SDS members wrote manifestos demanding an end to the War and calling for justice for everybody. Many wandered through suburban neighborhoods with petitions to ban iceberg lettuce. They also participated in a variety of efforts to close colleges just before finals.
And then, the Democratic Party held its convention in Chicago in the summer of 1968 and most of hell broke loose.
The Pentagon raisers, led by Abbie Hoffman and Jerry Rubin, called themselves Yippies, which translated to Hippies with a ‘Y’. The Yippies deplored fascism, but they were party animals and a lot of focus was lost as they turned politics into farcical theater.
The SDS, meanwhile, was forced to go somewhere to seek shelter from the threatening political storm building on the Republican horizon. Well, some of them, at least. Those who did became known as the Weather Underground, which, oddly enough, had nothing to do with meteorology and everything to do with Bob Dylan who, at the time, was dating Joan Baez whose son Javy (Ha-vee) would become a star shortstop for the Chicago Cubs and ultimately learn how to ink his own skin.
But I digress.
And then, on a rainy day in August of 1969, the original core of ANTIFA, plus all of those from the Great Hippie Diaspora, recent high school grads, and disenchanted Wall Street lawyers, gathered in upstate New York to drop acid and sit in Max Yasgur’s muddy cow pasture for three, rather tedious days that celebrated rock ‘n’ roll music that about nine-tenths of the audience couldn’t hear.
It was an odd experience in trying times, but survivable as long as you stayed away from the brown acid. There were few fights, nobody died; there were many pregnancies. What was attained was a rather uncomfortable utopia to which fascists clearly weren’t welcome. Famously, there were three nuns there.
See how this ANTIFA thing works?
The Vietnam War raged on after Woodstock, but the anti-fascists continued their struggle against everything that could be considered mainstream, including John Denver, who claimed to have seen it “rain fire in the sky.” I’m guessing he had found some of the elusive Monterey Purple.
A utopian society projects the absolute ideal as a reality. It might have been achieved that weekend had IHOP not run out of pancake batter. A new diaspora ensued, with hungry people going back to wherever they had come from. Along with the return home though, many brought with them their anti-fascist resolve to keep America aware of and away from the doctrines of Hitler and Mussolini, the two guys who the hippies’ parents (the first ANTIFA) had fought during WWII.
The second-generation ANTIFA continued to grow, with advocates starting local chapters in almost every burg. Like the Kiwanis, they held secret meetings. Unlike the Kiwanis, who are dedicated to improving the lives of children, ANTIFA has no dues structure because George Soros pays for everything. Anyway, this ragtag troupe plotted how to peaceably destroy the evils lurking under sheets and bandoliers, and hiding behind the Confederate flag. In a sense, the Kiwanis and ANTIFA do have something in common.
Claiming success in helping defeat Richard Nixon, the ANTIFA moonbats laid fairly low from the Reagan Era through the Obama Era, arising only to protest American involvement in a series of senseless wars in which the goal was to police the Middle East on behalf of American oil companies. In return, the oil companies got tremendous tax breaks and subsidies. ANTIFA was also quick to point out that the “trickle down” theory of economics doesn’t work—not since Hoover, the first president to employ this woefully flawed theory on behalf of the rich, for whom it wasn’t flawed. They also noted that it was inherently racist.
ANTIFA also protested injustice and discrimination, and voiced concern for the environment, education, clean energy, healthcare, hunger, poverty, endangered species, civil rights, human rights, voting rights…the list goes on and on.
It is difficult to even imagine an organization more sinister.
ANTIFA roared back to life in 2016, the year the Cubs—with the help of Joan’s kid—won the World Series after a 108-year drought. (Remember: Anybody can have a bad century.) Come November, it was clear that the President-elect would pose a serious threat to everything ANTIFA had stood for since its inception.
As an organization, ANTIFA started to align with other radical groups: BLM, ACTblue, Greenpeace, the ACLU. Labor unions, book clubs, community activists, Little League coaches, choirs from every denomination, Native Americans, soccer moms, NASCAR dads, the PTA, the NEA, the CDC, WHO, NPR, PBS, educators, Pope Francis, most of Hollywood… At every level, they’re all part of the plot to keep America fascist-free.
So when somebody like the Orange Menace says he doesn’t like ANTIFA and refers to our vast membership as thugs “looking for trouble,” what he is really saying is that he likes fascists. In fact, he thinks some of them are “very fine people.”
Photo illustration by Courtney A. Liska
What’s the point? you might ask. There really isn’t one, but this is really quite tasty.
1 Tbs. olive oil
1/2 medium onion, chopped
2 bay leaves
1 tsp. ground cumin
2 Tbs. dried oregano
1 Tbs. salt
2 stalks celery, chopped
2 green or red bell peppers, chopped
2 jalapeno peppers, chopped
3 cloves garlic, chopped
2 (4 oz.) cans chopped green chile peppers, drained
2 (28 oz.) cans whole peeled tomatoes, crushed
1/4 cup chili powder
1 Tbs. ground black pepper
1 (15 oz.) can kidney beans, drained
1 (15 oz.) can garbanzo beans, drained
1 (15 oz.) can black beans
1 (15 oz.) can whole kernel corn
Heat the olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. Stir in the onion, and season with bay leaves, cumin, oregano, and salt. Cook and stir until onion is tender, then mix in the celery, bell peppers, jalapeno peppers, garlic, and green chile peppers. Reduce heat to low, cover pot, and simmer 5 minutes.
Mix the tomatoes into the pot. Season chili with chili powder and pepper. Stir in the kidney beans, garbanzo beans, and black beans. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to low, and simmer 45 minutes. Stir in the corn, and continue cooking 5 minutes before serving. Serve with rice and cornbread.