BAMN: the “anti-fascist” fascists

A BAMN protest

The organization’s full name is a mouthful: “The Coalition to Defend Affirmative Action, Integration & Immigrant Rights, and Fight for Equality By Any Means Necessary.” It’s generally referred to “By Any Means Necessary” or by the acronym BAMN. Founded in California in 1995, reportedly as a “front group for an obscure Detroit-based Trotskyist political party called the Revolutionary Workers League,” it’s spent most of the years since then participating in protests and litigation in defense of affirmative action. At times it has gone beyond mere protesting to physical violence and vandalism, disrupting government meetings.

Outside the Sacramento State Capitol after the BAMN action

During the last couple of years, however, nationwide awareness of BAMN has soared – largely owing to the increasing scale and aggressiveness of its activities. In December 2014, in collaboration with Black Lives Matter, it blocked traffic on Interstate 80 in the Bay Area – a mass action that led to the arrest of 210 people. At a June 2016 outside the California State Capitol in  Sacramento, brutal BAMN members sent ten people to the hospital with stab wounds. Both the FBI and the Defense Department have described BAMN as being involved in terrorism.

The Berkeley riot

On February 1 of this year, BAMN made what were probably its biggest headlines yet when it organized an out-and-out riot at UC Berkeley that succeeded in closing down a scheduled speech by conservative journalist Milo Yiannopoulos. During that rampage, the university and city police stood down while about 150 BAMN thugs dressed in black behaved brutally, destroyed college, city, and private property both on campus and off, and threw “rocks and incendiary devices” at cops.

Yvette Felarca

One of BAMN’s more high-profile leaders is Yvette Felarca, a teacher at Berkeley’s Martin Luther King, Jr., Middle School. At the above-mentioned Sacramento rally, Felarca was reported by the San Jose Mercury-News to have “shoved a man to the ground and instigated a brawl.” Also, a video showwed her at the Sacramento rally, punching a man in the stomach and yelling “Get the fuck off our streets.” When the news of her conduct spread, thousands of outraged Berkeley parents signed a petition demanding her dismissal. In response to the complaints, the Berkeley Unified School District (BUSD) put her on paid leave and launched an “investigation” – one of those things that academic administrators do to make it look as if they’re doing something.

Six weeks later she was back on the job. BUSD spokesman Mark Coplan served up one of the most jaw-dropping excuses of all time. “It’s one thing if it was during a school day, but she is on vacation,” Coplan said. “We don’t have any authority or business to judge what an employee does in her off time.”

And so on February 1 there she was in Berkeley, orchestrating yet another BAMN riot.

More tomorrow.

Meet Kenyon’s violence-happy anarchist

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Matytsin wrapped in a US flag

His CV boasts a native fluency in both French and Russian, and he attended high school at the Washington International School, so presumably Anton Matystin is the son of immigrants or came to America himself in his youth. He went on to pursue undergraduate and graduate students at the University of Pennsylvania, receiving his Ph.D. in history in 2013. After spending a year as a postdoctoral fellow at Stanford, he began teaching at Kenyon College, a small but storied institution in Gambier, Ohio. At Penn he won the prize for best undergraduate history thesis and two graduate fellowships awarded in recognition of academic excellence.

Unlike many professors in the humanities these days, he teaches a list of courses that sound legit: “Early Modern Europe,” “Imperial Russia, 1547-1917,” “History of the Renaissance and the Reformation: 1300-1648,” and so on. Last year he published his first book, The Specter of Skepticism in the Age of Enlightenment, which “explores the ways in which eighteenth-century thinkers responded to the challenges posed by the revival and spread of philosophical skepticism and details how the debates about the powers and limits of human understanding led to the making of a new conception of rationality that privileged practicable reason over speculative reason.” Serious, solid-sounding stuff.

2006-07 Tuition and Fees: $36,050 2007-08 Tuition and Fees: $38,140
Kenyon College

All of which makes it come as a shock to read Matytsin’s Facebook feed. Matytsin has had a Facebook page for years, but he was almost entirely absent from it until recently. The election of Donald Trump as president of the United States appears to have been the event that broke his silence. “If you voted for Trump, please do us both a favor and unfriend me,” he wrote on November 14. “Whatever motivated your choice, I cannot bring myself to respect it, and I find it morally reprehensible. I do not want to share the public sphere with you in either digital or physical form. I have no intention of interacting with you or spending money at your business. I prefer to stay in my echo chamber of sanity. This is miles beyond party politics. This is a moral, not a political choice.” He went on to encourage his Facebook friends to boycott firms that “supported” Trump, and helpfully linked to a list of those firms. He further suggested that “perhaps it’s time to bring back old partisan slogans and great each other with ‘Death to Fascism’ with a response ‘Freedom to the People.’”

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Matytsin: another day, another flag

How, one wonders, does he treat students in his classes who express support for Trump? Or do the Trump supporters who take his classes have to pretend not to be Trump supporters? It seems clear from his Facebook comments that he is incapable of seeing students who did not support his candidate for President as moral and sane. How can such students possibly expect fair treatment from him?

On February 3 he went even further than before, posting the following rant:

We cannot have a liberal democratic state that is run by a corrupt fascist cabal. We cannot have a secular multi-confessional republic when 30% of the population are Bible-thumping bigots who want to impose a Christian theocracy on the rest of us. We cannot have a racially inclusive, cosmopolitan, and multi-ethnic society when a large proportion of the population is composed of racists and white supremacists. We cannot have a functioning democracy when a majority of the population is politically, economically, and sometimes literally illiterate. We cannot have civil debates when our opponents are uncivilized human beings. We cannot remain idealistic lambs among hungry wolves.

In short: Trump people are so morally abominable, so barely human, that something must be done. But what? If Trump’s supporters are “hungry wolves,” and “we,” the people on the side of the good, “cannot remain idealistic lambs”…than what he is suggesting that “we” do?

A few hours later he got even uglier:

Apparently I was not abundantly clear earlier. I will continue the FB cull until there is no more fascist shit in my feed. I don’t care who you are or how far back we go. If you or your friends post racist, sexist, xenophobic, and otherwise ignorant garbage, I will take a big verbal shit on your wall and then block you on here and in real life. So if you are one of those people, spare yourself the cleanup and unfriend me.

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The Milo riot at Berkeley

Only a few hours later, after a violent anarchist riot broke out at the Berkeley campus over the planned appearance of Breitbart writer and Trump supporter Milo Yiannopoulos, Matytsin wrote: “Brother Anarchists, if you are going to engage in political violence, make sure to claim credit lest the fascists confuse you with the ‘liberal snowflakes.’” And he added: “Brother Anarchists, looking to volunteer.”

In other words, if we take him at his word, Matytsin was announcing his readiness to join the black-clad rioters, cover his face, and take part in the brutal beating of people whose only crime was their interest in hearing what Milo Yiannopoulos had to say. Contemplate the irony: a professor whose first book is all about the Enlightenment has taken his stand against freedom of speech and, in the name of opposition to fascism, is prepared to support a kind of violence that can only be described as quintessentially fascist.