Anti-racists outnumber the far right in Boston

Ryan Gannon reports from Boston on another mobilization against the far right.

Anti-racists turn out to confront the far-right in Boston (Marc Nozell | flickr)Anti-racists turn out to confront the far-right in Boston (Marc Nozell | flickr)

FOR THE third time since Donald Trump's inauguration in January, the far right came to Boston on November 18, holding a rally on Boston Common under the banner of "Resist Marxism." But the 75 fascists and other reactionaries were surrounded on all sides by a formidable police presence and protective fences.

But with August's resounding victory over the far right's "free speech" rally fresh in their memories, more than 500 counterprotesters came out to show their opposition to hate and violence.

"Resist Marxism"--a group formed after the far right was humiliated by large mobilizations of anti-fascists nationwide in August following the violence and murder in Charlottesville, Virginia--bills itself as "an umbrella organization consisting of affiliated groups who work together to defend free speech from government suppression and violent mobs."

The groups affiliated with Resist Marxism include well-known right-wing organizations such as the Oath Keepers, 3 Percenters and Boston Free Speech, the group that organized both of the cynically named "free speech" rallies on Boston Common this year.

The "violent mobs" referred to by Resist Marxism includes the 25,000 people who marched in Boston in August to oppose right wing hate after the "Unite the Right" rally in Charlottesville culminated in the murder of Heather Heyer when a racist drove his car into a contingent of socialist and anti-racist demonstrators.

The group that organized the largest of several anti-racist marches in Boston, Fight Supremacy, announced plans to hold a counterdemonstration soon after Resist Marxism made its plans known that it was holding a repeat of the doomed August free speech rally.

Instead of another march through the streets of Boston, the planned response for November 18 was a demonstration on Boston Common, the location of the Resist Marxism rally, followed by workshops around the city.

Much like in August, a contingent of socialist organizations, including Boston's chapter of the Democratic Socialists of America and the International Socialist Organization, organized a bloc of activists to march from a nearby location and join the Fight Supremacy rally--making a loud statement that our greater numbers are both our best defense against, and most important tool in fighting, the far right.

Along the socialist contingent's short march route, the group grew greatly in size as it was joined by other groups holding solidarity demonstrations--most notably Veterans For Peace, which remained a confident, visible presence throughout the rally, joining the contingent in chants of "Free speech, that's a lie, we charge you with genocide!" and others.

At the counterdemonstration, there were debates about how to confront the far right's bigotry. A large group of protesters turned their backs on the right-wingers in silence to listen to a speak-out. While many of the demonstrators continued trying to chant down the bigots, their hateful was heard by hundreds of people.

From cynical appeals for "dialogue" to laughable claims to protect "free speech" from fictitious mobs of "violent Marxists," the vitriol spewing from the right's PA system was exactly the kind of rhetoric to be expected from groups trying to rebrand their hateful ideology as something more palatable to the conservative Americans who the hardened core of far-right racists is trying to recruit.

The counterprotesters weren't fooled by the fascists' attempt to hide their true aims under anti-communist rhetoric straight out of the Red Scare.

But with the massive police presence and a non-unified counterdemonstration, it was easy for right-wing trolls to infiltrate the Fight Supremacy gathering. Counterprotesters were harassed and filmed, likely with the intention of exposing personal details and distributing them to online right-wing communities to be "doxxed," a tactic for smearing left-wing and anti-racist activists.

Confrontations with right-wingers escalated as police closed off the path through the barricades to the bandstand where the right was set up--which sent fascist bigots and trolls directly into the counterdemonstration.

Luckily, when far-right provocateurs were identified by the crowd, they were quickly chanted down and chased out.

As the Resist Marxism rally came to a close, its attendees were still gathered in great enough numbers to hold a march to the nearby State House, as the counter-protest dispersed. This shows the confidence of the far right, despite its recent setbacks.

It is significant that hundreds of people from Boston and the surrounding area came out to oppose fascist hate, but the rally shows some of the debates on the left about how to fight the far right that need to continue.

In August, it was abundantly clear that our massive numbers and unified march were the keys to sending the right-wing bigots packing. The left will need to debate and assess how we can best use these tactics to keep the right from gaining what they actually want: power.

As long as capitalism's greed continues to destroy the planet and threaten the lives and living standards of poor and working-class people, the threat of fascism will continue to exist. The left needs a strategy for fighting it that is connected to the long-term struggle against all oppression--one that sees mass mobilization as the key to defeating the far-right and the hateful system that gives rise to the fascists.