Nazis defile anti-fascist tribute

Scot McCullough reports on a show of opposition against fascism in Madison, Wisconsin after a monument dedicated to anti-fascism was vandalized.

A memorial to the Abraham Lincoln Brigade defaced in MadisonA memorial to the Abraham Lincoln Brigade defaced in Madison

MORE THAN 100 people turned out to show their solidarity against the far right on September 24 in Madison, Wisconsin, after someone spray-painted Nazi graffiti on a monument in a neighborhood park dedicated to the fight against fascism.

The graffiti, spray-painted in the pre-dawn hours of September 20, included two swastikas and the words "Trump Rules" and "Antifa Sucks."

It was less than 100 yards from the Gates of Heaven Synagogue, the oldest synagogue in the state, and it was painted on a monument to the Abraham Lincoln Brigade--the famed group of American socialists and anti-fascists who volunteered to fight against Gen. Francisco Franco's fascist army during the Spanish Civil War.

The city washed away the graffiti within a few hours of being notified.

The demonstration, called by the Industrial Workers of the World, was endorsed by numerous socialist and anti-fascist organizations, and gathered together many people from different political backgrounds and traditions to stand up to this attempt to intimidate them.

Despite their differences, protesters shared resounding unity on a few key points: the fascist threat is real; it needs to be confronted, not ignored; and we need serious, committed political organizations that are independent of the Democratic Party.

As International Socialist Organization member Jon I put it when addressing the crowd:

We have to ask ourselves: who showed up in Charlottesville to defend the city from an alt-right rally that left one comrade dead? Who led the 40,000-strong coalition in Boston a week later against a pathetic group of neo-Nazis and fascists? And who defended Berkeley just a couple weeks ago from another alt-right rally?

It wasn't congressional members of the Democratic Party. It was socialists, anarchists and members of the left. Members of the Democratic Socialists of America, Socialist Alternative, Industrial Workers of the World, Black Lives Matter, Antifa and the International Socialist Organization. Democrats can't represent the status quo and the resistance at the same time.

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THE LAST few months have shown that the far right is organized, serious and eager to project themselves in a way that they haven't for decades. Despite this fact, some people are trying to downplay the threats posed.

One of them is Democratic Madison Mayor Paul Soglin, who said, "I'm more interested in educating them at this point than legal action."

We shouldn't expect that the person or group who did this was uneducated about what they were doing. The choice to vandalize a monument to an anti-fascist organization with the words "Antifa Sucks" and swastikas next to a synagogue on the eve of Rosh Hashanah was a deliberate choice.

Trying to educate or ignore fascists and white supremacists won't work, and this can't be our strategy. The far right is finding fertile ground in the U.S. today because the misery of the majority of people is real, and they claim to have an answer.

Ignoring them gives them an open platform to scapegoat immigrants, racial minorities, unions, queer people and the left more broadly. Instead, we need to learn the lessons of Boston and Berkeley: We need to confront fascists to expose their hate and their lack of real solutions.

At the same time as we say "No" to white supremacy, we need to put forward the "Yes" of socialism that can inspire the majority of society living under oppression today to fight for a better world.