Controversy Surrounding Mark Bray on Vice News

Visiting scholar Mark Bray has appeared in national news again, this time being interviewed by Vice News on the Anti-fascist “Antifa” movement. Back in August, Bray published Antifa: The Antifascist Handbook, which details the history and ideology of Antifa. Shortly after publishing his book, Bray defended Antifa’s violent tactics in an interview with the Southern Poverty Law Center. Dartmouth College released a statement condemning his words, prompting numerous faculty members to defend Bray.

Last Saturday, Vice News conducted a live Facebook interview with Bray to discuss Antifa. He began the interview by explaining that Antifa uses a strategy involving “direct action from below that rejects turning to the State, the police, or legislatures to stop the far right.” He also claimed that Antifa is not about confrontation as portrayed in the media. Instead, the Antifa movement focuses mainly on research, doxing (publishing private information about individuals – neo-Nazis and members of the alt-right in this case), community education, and cancelling events by pressuring venue owners. Violence is allegedly used as a last-resort. And yet, Bray also talked about an Antifa tactic called “preemptive self-defense” in which Antifascists engage with right-wing protestors just in case the latter could become violent.

Following Bray’s introduction, Vice began a Q&A and took questions from the comment section on live feed. The first question asked why violence is justified in the political arena. Bray opened by saying that “the political arena is violence” and “the most violent entity in human history is the State.” He then implied that Antifascists fighting back are similar to slaves and holocaust victims fighting against their oppressors. When asked if Antifa may not have been used violence effectively, Bray said “off the top of my head, I’m not entirely sure” and that he’s “reluctant to make blanket statements at a distance.”

Bray went on to defend Antifa’s ideology and actions numerous times throughout the Q&A. When asked about why Antifascists have to cover up their identity, he admits that they engage in illegal activities including destruction of property. He compared Antifa violence to a slave rebellion and the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising. When asked about negative consequences of the Antifa movement, Bray says that Antifa is misunderstood and then dodged the question altogether.

Bray’s comments about Antifa are troubling to many. Equating the actions of Antifa to the desperate struggle of Holocaust victims and refusing to denounce the violent tactics of the movement only serves to show how out-of-touch Antifa supporters really are.