Teen Vogue published an uncritical “Antifa explainer” Wednesday, which glorified the violent groups and explained to their young audience what they can also do “in their own lives to stop fascism” and President Donald Trump.
The interview was with Dartmouth College historian Mark Bray, who is the author of Antifa: The Anti-Fascist Handbook. In the first question, the professor describes the militant leftist groups as “a pan-radical-left politic, or activity of militant self-defense against the far right.”
Bray told Teen Vogue.: “Antifa grows out of a larger revolutionary politics that aspires toward creating a better world.”
In response to a question about Antifa violence, Bray very intensely downplays the severity — completely justifying their antics by once again claiming that it is done as a means of “self-defense as a preemptive measure” against some sort of future threat from “white supremacists” or “fascists.”
“They refuse to give white supremacists and fascists the benefit of the doubt that their organizing will not at some point result in attacks on vulnerable communities. If necessary, if other methods of stopping them do not work, then confronting them and forcing them to stop is part of the repertoire,” Bray told Teen Vogue.
His response completely ignores the reality of the situation. From pepper spraying young women for attempting to attend a Milo Yiannopoulos speaking engagement, attacking Trump supporters with bike locks, or throwing urine on right-wing personalities that they disagree with — Antifa’s violent antics have been a far-cry from “self defense.” Even when they are attacking people with beliefs that would indeed lead to violence if enacted — those people do not hold positions of power, nor are their beliefs or words a danger to anyone.
Bray went on to discuss the incident at UC Berkeley where Antifa rioted causing over $500,000 in damage to the area surrounding the campus to successfully prevent Yianopoulos from speaking. He defended the violence, arson, and general chaos by stating that “these kinds of events often serve as points of recruitment for far-right groups and help to embolden and mobilize students and community members who carry out their violence later on.”
When asked about the difference between anti-Fascism and being Antifa, Bray explained that Antifa, unlike the bigger tent of anti-Fascists, is generally socialists. However, he urged the teenage readers of the magazine to look to Antifa for inspiration.
“Whether or not people agree with everything anti-fascists do, one of the greatest lessons from the anti-fascist tradition is to focus on looking for ways people can stand in solidarity with each other across tactical and strategic differences of opinion,” Bray stated. “I think that we should all have an investment in fighting back against white supremacy and fascism, regardless of what our politics are.”
The Teen Vogue interviewer then asked Bray what their readers can do in their own lives to stop fascism. Though the interview began by discussing “Nazis” he now switched to resisting the President of the United States.
“We all have a role to play in the everyday anti-fascism of not allowing Trump and the alt-right to roll back generations of social progress. That’s something everyone can do, no matter who they are, simply by taking a stand in their everyday life,” Bray stated.
While the interview questions and answers referenced the tragic and unnecessary death of a young woman in Charlottesville multiple times, there was no critique or examples given of specific political violence from the militant left.
Teen Vogue recently faced backlash after they published a how-to explainer on having anal sex.
“This is anal 101, for teens, beginners and all inquisitive folk,” author Gigi Engle wrote in Teen Vogue’s “A Guide to Anal Sex.” The original version of the story included nothing about engaging in safe sex — but was later edited to urge their teenage readers to use condoms.
Teen Vogue defended the article by calling concerned parents “homophobic.”
“The backlash to this article is rooted in homophobia,” Phillip Picardi, the magazine’s digital editorial director, wrote on Twitter. “It’s also laced in arcane delusion about what it means to be a young person today.”