This Is How Neo-Nazis And Antifa Are Using Fashion To Send A Message – Fast Company
Lennard believes that today’s white supremacists are also trying to blend into society and make their violent, racist beliefs–which have largely been considered fringe until now–appear more widespread than they are. “If you’re walking around, there is no way of knowing if all these guys in white polo shirts that are just going to their office job are actually part of the movement,” Lennard says. “They’re saying, ‘Everyone else looks like us.’”
Antifa: Threatening Fascists With Face Masks
In some ways, Antifa has taken the opposite approach. Rather than trying to fit in, those who identified as part of this “anti-fascist” movement stood out with their all-black militant clothing. Unlike neo-Nazi and white supremacist groups, Antifa is not a centrally organized political movement. But given that adherents believe in fighting fascism with physical violence if necessary, it’s not surprising that their outfits can look threatening.
Antifa emerged as a force in the 1920s in response to the wave of fascism spreading through Europe. Every few decades, Antifa activists have come into view when a new fascist threat rises. “When we talk about Antifa returning every so often, that has everything to do with the reemergence of fascism as a political force,” Ciccariello-Maher, the Antifa scholar, explains. “Fascism, as I understand it, attempts to harness the hatred of certain groups to unify people on national grounds. But what they are fighting against is a constantly shifting ideology, from demonizing the Jews to unify the Germans, or white supremacy here in the United States.”
When news of the Charlottesville rally came out, individual Antifa activists put out calls on social media sites, inviting people to resist the fascist gathering. They tapped into other organizations, like Black Lives Matter and anarchists’ groups. “People from a whole range of backgrounds responded to the call,” says Ciccariello-Maher.
The media tended to identify the Charlottesville counterprotesters who were part of Antifa as wearing all black. This is a form of dress known as “black bloc,” a strategy developed by anarchists in 1980s. The idea is to wear black clothing and items to conceal your face, like bandanas or motorcycle helmets, to make it hard to distinguish between people. These face coverings also help protect against mace and other gasses.
Over the last few months, people who have wanted to be associated with Antifa have worn the movement’s logo—a set of red and black flags—that was inspired by the symbol used by German communists in the 1930s who also resisted fascism. It is now easy to buy Antifa-branded gear on websites like Antifa Wear and Etsy.