An organization dedicated to preserving the memory of victims of communist regimes, the Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation has taken on a new endeavor to handle the growing popularity of antifa and the groups associated with the movement. VOC started a petition calling on the Department of Homeland Security to identify groups affiliated with Antifa as domestic terrorist organizations.

This follows the white nationalist “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville, Va., in August, which antifa protested. Violence broke out among the two groups and one woman, Heather Heyer, was killed. President Trump condemned the “egregious display of hatred, bigotry and violence on many sides.”

Recently, Newsweek reported that Politico obtained law enforcement documents that said DHS “has formally classified the activities of anti-fascist groups (antifa) as ‘domestic terrorist violence’ since early 2016.” Nor is VOC the first to attempt to get antifa labeled a terrorist organization. Earlier in August of this year, a WhiteHouse.gov petition was started with the same goal that garnered over 365,000 signatures, but the effort fell flat.

"Antifa" is short for anti-fascist, or someone opposed to fascism, or, according to the dictionary, "an authoritarian and nationalistic right-wing system of government and social organization." This is typically from a left-wing perspective.

VOC Executive Director Marion Smith offered the following statement in a press release:

Some AntiFa groups have taken opposition to our democratic system to an unprecedented level, escalating ‘resistance’ to violence against their opponents and bystanders alike. Using violence to create fear in pursuit of political aims is the textbook definition of terrorism and we, the American people, and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security should recognize them as such. It is misguided to believe these groups care about peaceful dialogue. Physical violence and speech-silencing tactics are the tools of the despotic communist regimes of the Cold War and those that still exist in places like Venezuela and Cuba.

While opposing fascism and an authoritarian mindset makes sense, VOC is concerned about the ripples of harm and violence that seem to be spreading from antifa and related groups. It’s one thing to stand up against certain beliefs; it’s another to hurt other people for disagreeing.

As Smith continued: “In America, free speech is a sacrosanct and inalienable right. We must no longer provide these groups, or any political groups that are explicitly opposed to our constitutional rights, with the space to harm citizens and damage American democracy.”

Nicole Russell is a contributor to the Washington Examiner's Beltway Confidential blog. She is a journalist in Washington, D.C., who previously worked in Republican politics in Minnesota. She was the 2010 recipient of the American Spectator's Young Journalist Award.

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