Anti-anti-fascism: When grammar, math, and history collide

Prefix-obsessed activists have commandeered education, advancing radical ideologies as fact on young minds.  The National Education Association promotes anti-racist teaching to disrupt white supremacy.  The designated prefix provides perfect P.R.: why wouldn't one be anti-racist?  Just like anti-racism ideologues, current anti-fascists love to hide behind their label.  "There is an ANTI- prefix, therefore we are against Fascism just like our grandfathers in World War II who fought against Fascism!" is a common cry attempting to debase those who dare question the intentions of anti-fascists.  North Carolina State Board of Education member James Ford, a radical anti-racist, once tweeted that being anti-anti-fascism is calling oneself a fascist, according to the "rules of grammar" (the very rules of grammar that are based in white supremacy).  If one is against anti-fascism, one is fascist.  The antis cancel out: simple math (another racist subject).

Unfortunately, the prefix strategy of "anti-fascism" becomes problematic once one studies history.  Italian Cesare Lombroso, a 19th-century scientist and criminologist, influenced progressive Europeans.  According to the book The Idea of Decline in Western History by Arthur Herman:

[Lombroso] inspired a fascination with the link between heredity and criminal behavior that would consume social scientists for at least half a century.  ... [A]ccording to the Lombrosian approach, all these forms of social deviance were diseases, like epilepsy. The criminal or social deviant required treatment, not punishment. The instinct to punish the offender for his actions was itself a primitive instinct, Lombroso argued, which had no place in an enlightened civilized community.

Lombroso and his theories of criminal as predetermined biology broke from the classical theories of criminal behavior as free will.  Therefore, the focus shifted from equal punishment of the crime to a focus on rehabilitation or prevention, as the criminals could not help themselves.  This resulting progressive shift aligns with "restorative justice" in schools.  Kids who break rules do not need standard pre-determined punishment; they need individualized treatment through social-emotional learning and healing circles.  Modern-day anti-fascists espouse this take on restorative justice in schools as well as communities: social-emotional learning, not school resource officers; social workers, not police.

Additionally, according to Dr. Hermann's research:

The 1930 Fascist Legal code, with its Lombrosian stress on the 'treatment' and rehabilitation of the offenders was among the most admired and progressive of all of Mussolini's reforms.  In the final analysis, the criminal's or the pervert's behavior was not his fault.

Today's anti-fascist or anti-racist stance on a criminal's behavior might be modified from "not his fault" because of pre-determined biology to "not his fault" because of systemic inequities or institutionalized white supremacy.  But the resulting removal of free will from the behavioral equation results in a similar conclusion that the Lombroso Positivists developed: incorporated into the Fascist Legal Code was focus on the criminal and rehabilitation, not the crime and punishment.  Ironic — anti-fascists in education and their emphasis on restorative justice overlaps with the 1930s Fascist legal code.  Would that make anti-fascists ultimately fascist in this historical context?  Does having similar reforms as Mussolini cancel out the "anti" in "anti-fascist"?

Placing a superficial prefix in front of an ideology to elevate oneself to a position of virtuous defender of human rights does nothing but signal ignorance, especially when the same concepts of modern-day anti-fascists overlap with the 1930s Fascist Legal Code.  These terms and philosophies often overlap and can be twisted and perverted regardless of what prefix modern education ideologues attach to themselves.  History is much more nuanced and complex than a simple prefix can relate.  Consequently, students and teachers should not engage in education from an "anti-racist" or an "anti-fascist" lens.  This prefix posturing compels a narrow-minded view on history and current events that is anti-intellectual and anti-informed.

Image: Public Domain.

If you experience technical problems, please write to