photo: askaleftist


We can be a society without violence.

No judgment.

Source: Southern Poverty Law Center The Alt-Right is Killing People

Will you disavow the violence and tactics of the domestic terrorist group, ANTIFA? (Part of the John Relic series)

The John Relic series is a response to Freedomwire’s “Asking Democrats the HARD Questions” published during the 2020 Primaries. Something about the questions appealed to us, so we decided to answer them one by one even though they're for Democrats and not specifically Leftists. John Relic, patriot of Cleveland, here are your answers.

The Southern Poverty Law Center image at the top of the page is a tally of murders committed by alt-right or right-wing extremists between 2014 and 2018, and more specifically shows that the year 2017 made up 54% of all those murders.

We recommend reading the Anti-Defamation League's annual report on Murder and Extremism in the United States. The overwhelming majority of extremist murders is committed by right-wing extremists: 86% in 2019, 100% in 2018, and 59% in 2017. 2016 was the year Omar Mateen, considered a domestic Islamic extremist, murdered 49 people and injured 53 more at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Florida, making up 71% of the year's total extremist murders. As of July 2020, anti-fascists were linked to Zero murders since 1994. As of this writing (Nov. 4, 2020), we can add two alleged anti-fascist-linked murderers:

Michael Forest Reinoehl

Connor Betts

We've linked to the New York Post because you can read, in the language of the Right, how despite refutations that these two actors do not represent the goals and purpose of Leftists, any affiliation of the Left with violence will ultimately be reduced to claims that this is exactly what Leftists are about. Again, we refute this, but as far as the Right is concerned this is us.

Add to the above SPLC list Kyle Rittenhouse, a 17 year-old accused of killing 2 protesters - Joseph Rosenbaum and Anthony Huber, and paralyzing a 3rd man in Kenosha, WI during the protests of the police shooting of Jacob Blake, also paralyzed. I invite you to delve into a dark corner of Twitter where $2-million cash bond for an accused murderer who turned himself in is too high, and self-defense appears to be an umbrella for multiple felonies.

What we have to say on the topic is this: this is not the timeline America should occupy. We are aware of the philosophical arguments within the Left: diversity of tactics, false equivalency, de-legitimizing or undermining BLM, physical resistance and self-destruction. And we are aware of the calls for revolution and the justification of violence against violence. And we have made clear that we should not be feigning surprise over the dark places social unrest leads us. And here we are in the dark place.

Here at Ask A Leftist, we don't do whataboutism to a fault. We believe there are few equivalencies that ring true. But the willingness of the Right to wrap Rittenhouse in the protective rags of self-defense given the frightening regularity with which other members of the Right commit hate crimes leaves us with little else. Where is the Right when it comes to acknowledging, owning up to, and making amends with the fact that extremist violence predominantly comes from, well, the Right?

And why, why, with seemingly every police killing or extremist killing is the public subject to deep-dives into the victims' personal lives and criminal histories as if their murders are somehow excusable because they were at one time in prison, had a history of drug use, were sex offenders, or were otherwise imperfect citizens? In the context of the provided Trayvon Martin link - how does any portion of the population justify the murder of a minor by writing off his or her entire life with the words: truant, thug, liar, thief, schoolyard bully, doper? Mirror Martin's treatment on the Right with Rittenhouse's and there is only shame. On one side: a 17 year-old murderer-hero. On the other side: a 17 year-old vilified for his own murder.

We condemn Reinoehl and Betts for committing murder. We do not condemn the demonstrations of people who are the constant target of extremist violence and police brutality and are then blamed for their own murders and abuse. Kimberly Jones can explain it better than I can.

While we at Ask a Leftist are most certainly anti-fascist, we are not specifically antifa. And we're not the arbiters of all things left of Leftist. You can read about anti-fascist action here. Maybe you find their views compelling. We certainly do.

All that said. When right-wing groups show up with guns...

Sorry, I mean when right-wing groups threaten civil war, their assertions that antifa, who would raise arms against them, should be labeled terrorists simply doesn't match up with that tattered blanket called self-defense the Right hides under. It's hard to ignore the efforts of organized militias when discussing domestic terrorism. And for what it's worth, we know we're splitting hairs here. But it's hard not to. At some point, when you go far enough to the Left or to the Right, the language and the behaviors of each side echo the other. At that point, each side becomes that which they fight. We've been called out on this stance before, and we're willing to be called out for it again. What Leftists want is not an overthrown government - what Leftists want is a government that truly represents its people. Not corporations. Not the super-rich. Us.


  1. Acts as a form of asymmetric warfare in order to directly force a government (or group of people) to agree to demands

  2. Intimidates a group of people into capitulating to the demands in order to avoid future injury

  3. Gets attention and thus political support for a cause

  4. Directly inspires more people to the cause (such as revolutionary acts) – propaganda of the deed

  5. Indirectly inspires more people to the cause by provoking a hostile response or overreaction from enemies to the cause

Even though political extremists are fringe groups, antifa is a predictable and direct defense against extreme right-wing groups whose numbers and rhetoric have been growing steadily for the past two decades.

And they are a defense against right-wing groups who keep showing up armed to protests.

We indeed disavow murder, and we condemn the Right for harboring and fostering hate groups.

How do you arrive at almost refusing to educate yourselves on guns? Is it the idea that guns are dangerous and thus that's all you need to know?

[cont'd] Suppressors. Why would you be against them? Why do you want them to be illegal and what do you hope to accomplish by them being illegal? I guess it boils down to, what are our intentions by making them illegal? What do you think it prevents and or causes by them being illegal? The same questions also apply to high magazine capacities. Why are you against them? What do you hope in making them illegal, it prevents?

I have to say, this is a pretty fascinating topic for us, as well. Sometimes it’s phrased in this way “How can you count to 10 if you skip #2” - you know, a reference to skipping over the 2nd amendment. Well, we’re not going to skip over it.

The short answer is for most people on the Left, the near constant news stream of mass shootings is just too much. Why are shooters always carrying AR-15s or AR-15-style rifles, sometimes with high capacity magazines, sometimes while decked out in paramilitary attire and backpacks full of ammunition? Why are they writing so many manifestos? Why are they so often affiliated with the Alt-Right?

Personally, we get the appeal of guns. I like the AR-15 - it’s a powerful gun with decent weight, little kick-back, good accuracy, and the semi-automatic function is honestly a great feature that makes target shooting a little more fun. Possibly my favorite rifle is the 9mm Mauser - the one I’ve used has a bayonet. It makes an awesome sound, feels solid, and there is a great, solid and mechanically tactile sensation in the bolt action. .22 rifles and revolvers are just a plain old good time. Shotguns are simple and make small game hunting less of a pain in the ass. In short, we like guns. Now, not all Leftists feel that way. There is certainly a very vocal group of politicians and activists who feel that no guns are good guns. And on that topic, we may very well remain divided.

So, let’s talk about ideals and realities. The ideal would be that no one anywhere, ever, would need to use a gun. Not in self-defense, not in anger, not even for hunting. We can certainly be a society without gun violence if only there weren’t any guns.

But that is not remotely realistic. Making guns illegal falls into the same logic trap as making drugs illegal - people are still going to make guns, sell guns, and want guns. Not only that, it reads as an attempt to overturn centuries of precedent that Americans have a constitutional right to own guns.

Perhaps one of the few areas where I don’t see things as being black and white is gun ownership - I don’t believe in the unfettered legality of gun ownership, nor do I believe in making them illegal. Personally, I don’t own any. Guns are like boats: they’re most fun when someone invites you to go shooting or boating with them, but there’s no real point in me owning one.

Not only that, but I have major depressive disorder - a mental illness that, when left untreated, manifests in graphic images of self-harm, suicidal ideation, and the general belief that I’m worthless and life is not worth living. It also makes me prone to bouts of rage, paranoia, and frustration. None of these things makes owning a gun a good idea for me.

I am a responsible gun owner in that I have opted out of owning one.

There are irresponsible gun owners - those with the same mental illness I have - who do not see this as a reason to self-correct and self-preserve by not owing any.

Sometimes in depressive episodes, I try to write (because it’s what I do) but wind up with incoherent thoughts that, on review, read more like rants than legitimate thought processes. Or, manifestos.

However, my rants don’t read as a list of why I would justify mass-murdering people. But they do verge on paranoia.

In other posts, we have linked to mass shooting and mental health statistics - two things that the US does not have any kind of prescriptive program for. Mental health runs rampant while disillusioned, mentally ill Americans solve their problems by murdering people. And this is coming from someone with mental illness - you know, takes one to know one.

Surely, surely we can agree that this is, indeed, a problem.

It’s not the problem of responsible gun owners, because they will never use their guns to commit mass violence. But consider it this way: 1) the only thing keeping me from owning a gun is my personal resolve to keep myself and others safe. That’s it. I can pass a background check, I have the money for both a gun and a license, and 2) the only thing keeping me from having supplemental disability insurance is the fact that I have a pre-existing mental illness.

Two things that seem unrelated, but whoa buddy, let me tell you something.

The fact that I can, with a clinical diagnosis of MDD, go out and buy a gun but not supplemental insurance speaks to the true power of corporate freedom - hear me out. An insurance company can deny me coverage outright because I have a condition that might cost them money in the future. But with a 2-minute background check, I and 98% of other would-be gun-buyers, can generate revenue for vendors and manufacturers.

The fear that we’re going to take away guns is 1) unfounded and 2) a manipulative ploy by the gun lobby to keep revenues for manufacturers high. The more people who can own guns, the more profit they stand to make. Following threats of gun restrictions and highly publicized social protests (Summer 2020), gun sales spike. And gun sales have been growing, and growing, and growing.

We see this sentiment a lot from the Left and Right: if you have nothing to lose, why are you worried about [x]? Privacy, gun ownership, recounting mail-in ballots. If responsible gun owners can still pass stricter background checks meant to weed out seriously dangerous or potentially dangerous gun owners, then what really is the problem? After all, I don’t give a shit about your guns. I give a shit about keeping myself and others safe.

What’s the difference in owning one high-capacity magazine vs. several smaller magazines except the time it takes to change them out? There’s really no strong argument for or against them. Same goes with suppressors. We don’t see any public safety issue directly related to suppressors, for or against. As far as we’re concerned, these are bad-faith strawman arguments from the start, because the issue at hand is, and should be, how to reduce gun violence overall. Not what accessories you buy for your collection.