On the night of Friday, December 1, author and Professor Mark Bray gave a reading of his book Antifa: The Anti-Fascist Handbook at the Coop in Harvard Square. A number of far right “anti-communists” showed up with the intention of disrupting the event. Afterwards, one “anti-communist” was involved in an altercation that left his face badly bruised (we are unaware of any other specific injuries at this time).
We know that they did not come in good faith to merely “listen” to Prof. Bray speak, as they claimed, because “AntiCom” organizer Chris Bartley, in his eternal, desperate bid for fame, turned to Periscope along with his friend Matthias Thorpe immediately following the event to livestream their take on what they had just witnessed. They began by inflating their own sense of machismo by claiming that they had been kicked out, which is untrue—they remained in the Coop until the event was finished just like most of the rest of the crowd. But more importantly, they describe the event as filled with “commies” and Bartley eventually stated that “punching commies” is “his thing,” pointing to Thorpe. Thorpe responded by saying, “Yeah, punch commies, fuck commies.”
Later in the video, Thorpe compliments his friend’s footwear, saying that, “These boots right here are, like, perfect for commie bashing.” (The full video is available here.)
They came to the talk in the hope of provoking something and, when it turned out that the talk was nothing more than that—a talk—they wanted to make more of it. So they had to puff themselves up by claiming they had been kicked out and, as has become a kind of mantra for entitled white men whose voices are not given the amplification they feel they deserve, they claimed victimhood and a violation of their free speech rights.
Thorpe is both eager to tout his alleged toughness and fond of supporting actual neo-Nazis. He is also an organizer with the “AntiCom” group, which has already been documented as having close ties to neo-Nazi organizations. Given those links and his own talk of engaging in “anti-communist” violence immediately before he was actually involved in an altercation, his and Bartley’s claim that he was merely minding his own business and not looking for any trouble—that he’s an innocent guy who was misidentified as a fascist and never wanted a confrontation—rings more than a little hollow. They, both as individuals and as part of the groups they associate with, are chronic “victims” of a left that is allegedly hell-bent on violence and racist against white people. All of these claims are absurd on their face and would not even be worth responding to except that the far right media apparatus is already working to turn this event into a rallying cry for further violence against the left in general and antifa organizers in particular.
Fighting fascism and white supremacy is not an act of violence unto itself. It is an act of individual and community self-defense and we will not apologize for that.