Breitbart last week published a commentary about homosexuals who were demonstrating against the Israelis and calling themselves “Queers for Palestine.” The commentator reminded the activists that while the Israelis are quite tolerant of gays, the Palestinians treat them rather brutally. This may all be true but is also irrelevant for why gays, Black Lives Matter, and other groups on the intersectional Left have taken the side of the Palestinians (really Hamas) against the Israelis. They are siding with what they imagine to be a permanent revolutionary Left, all the parts of which form a harmonious whole.
According to this enduring myth, which finds expression in, among other sources, Mark Bray’s The Anti-Fascist Handbook, the current Left is a continuation of the Communist-led Popular Front of the 1930s, while the unchanging enemy is fascism. While the fascist enemy may vary, depending on what the self-described Left decides to crusade against, the Republican Party and the Israeli government are now stand-ins for Hitler, the former apartheid government in South Africa, and other villains of the Left.
What happens politically or culturally must be understood through these ideologically shaped lenses: Antifascists believe they are still in a struggle that erupted between Right and Left almost 90 years ago, and whomever they designate as “fascists” become the heavies in this morality play.
There are two problems with this game. First, the Right—or what is designated as such—keeps changing so that it ceases to resemble what it once was. Second, the antifascist, pro-LGBT, feminist Left is not the equivalent of the old interwar Left. The fascist enemy, one may be led to believe from reading Bray or Jason Stanley, the author of How Fascism Works, is white, male, Christian, and a sworn enemy of Third World immigration, gay marriage, and other current sacred cows.
Among their other enormities, fascists are also occupying land that nonwhites or Muslims are now claiming. The Israelis, for example, are surrogates for the hated Christian West, who keep postcolonial Muslim revolutionaries from taking back Palestine, where presumably they would erect an antifascist state. If there is a connection between Hitler’s Third Reich and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, we may have to leave it to antifascist luminaries to explain it to us.
It is also hard to figure out how immigration restrictionists are fascists, since fascists were typically expansionists, not people who wanted to close their borders and hang out with their own kind. According to Jason Stanley, “Fascist opposition to gender studies flows from its patriarchal ideology.” It may be difficult to pin this on the interwar Right since the present feminist movement with its list of demands (for lesbians, the transgendered, etc.) did not exist in the 1930s, except as a very marginal presence. It is hard to imagine any political faction in the 1930s, whether on the Left or on the Right, coming out for “gender studies” that advocate sex-change operations and declare gender differences to be social constructs.
Antifascists also blame the real or alleged Right for what its own protected groups do. Thus, when Muslim enthusiasts attacked Jews wearing Kippoth in Berlin during the recent clash between Israel and Hamas, German politician Manfred Weber (who belongs to the onetime conservative Christian Social Union) blamed the Alternative für Deutschland and the French Rassemblement National for these regrettable assaults. Weber denounced the very parties that have consistently warned against the reckless admission of Muslim migrants. By some peculiar logic, parties that issue such warnings are necessarily fascist or at least right-wing extremists and therefore responsible for anti-Semitic outbursts committed by groups favored by the Left.
Even more significantly, the Left in the past, and especially Communists, were guilty of all the extreme rightist attitudes that antifascists now level against their opposition. Communist parties and leaders were explicitly homophobic, opposed Third World immigration as a danger to the indigenous working class, and in the case of leftist icon, Che Guevara, mocked the black race.
The intersectional Left is mostly a contemporary phenomenon and its exaltation of Communism and other past Lefts is based largely on an effort to manufacture for itself a venerable genealogy. When the Spanish Left, which is now in power, claims as antecedents the Communists and Anarchists of the Spanish Civil War, it is giving itself a questionable past. Spanish Communists in the 1930s did not celebrate homosexuals or the transgendered; nor did they welcome to their country Muslim fundamentalists to express their antifascism. Barack Obama might have imagined that the Castro brothers, whom he fawned over like a puppy during his visit to Cuba, previewed his own radicalism. But unlike American leftists, Cuban Communists have not glorified homosexuals; they’ve imprisoned and tortured them.
Antifascist polemicists and others on the Left like to believe they represent a side that has been struggling against the same Right for almost 100 years. But there is little evidence for this assumption.