Catching up with Yvette Felarca, fascist “anti-fascist”

Yvette Felarca

In April, we spent most of a week here discussing Yvette Felarca, a leader of “The Coalition to Defend Affirmative Action, Integration & Immigrant Rights, and Fight for Equality By Any Means Necessary,” known, for short, as “By Any Means Necessary,” and, for shorter, as BAMN. It’s a California group, founded in 1995, that has spent the last two decades holding protests, bringing lawsuits, and committing acts of violence – or, to use a word that both the FBI and the Defense Department have used to describe its activities, terrorism.

Felarca, who is also a middle-school humanities teacher in Berkeley, has participated fully in BAMN’s storm-trooper-type brutality – beating, rock-throwing, setting fires, breaking store windows, and so on – which she excuses as a legitimate means of defending America against the words of Nazis and fascists.

In June of last year, she was arrested at a demonstration in Sacramento; at her arraignment, which didn’t take place until August of this year, she was charged with “felony assault by means of force likely to inflict great bodily injury and two misdemeanor counts of inciting and participating in a riot.” (Reportedly, she had punched a man in the abdomen and told him to “get the fuck out of our streets.”)

This past February, Felarca was in the center of the action when vioent BAMN members managed to keep journalist Milo Yiannopoulos from speaking at UC Berkeley. Appearing on Fox News afterwards, Felarca charged Yiannopoulos with leading “a movement of genocide.”

Felarca experienced no professional blowback for her arrest in Sacramento or for her participation in the violence in Berkeley. At the latter event, the Berkeley police stood down. The mayor of Berkeley, asked for a comment, echoed Felarca’s absurd claim that Yiannopoulos was a white supremacist. Despite calls for Felarca’s firing, the Berkeley Unified School District (BUSD) kept her on. So things stood when we last looked in on Yvette.

Felarca being taken into custody on September 26

Here’s an update. On September 26, members of “Patriot Prayer” – a conservative Christian group based in Portland, Oregon – held a small, peaceful rally at the corner of Telegraph Avenue and Bancroft Way in Berkeley. The speakers were “quickly…drowned out by protesters” from BAMN and another group, Refuse Fascism. (The latter is a campaign run by the Revolutionary Communist Party; BAMN itself is an RCF spinoff.) The “Patriot Prayer” contingent then marched down Telegraph Avenue to People’s Park, only to be trailed by the leftists; arriving at People’s Park, the conservatives began holding speeches, in response to which the BAMN and Refuse Fascism members heckled them. And worse.

By the end of the day, Felarca – who at the time was out on bail – was in cuffs, arrested on suspicion of rioting, obstruction, and battery. Along with two fellow BAMN members, both male, she was held at Santa Rita Jail. Her bail was set at $20,000. (The bail for her BAMN colleagues, who had apparently wreaked less havoc, was set at $10,000 for one and $5,000 for the other.) That evening, a spokesman for the school district replied to a query about Felarca by saying that it was “monitoring developments” and that, “[s]hould an occasion arise for the District to take action, we will respond in an appropriate manner, in keeping with federal law, the California Education Code and the BUSD collective bargaining agreement with our teachers.”

In other words, when a Berkeley schoolteacher is arrested at multiple public events for committing acts of violence, that, in itself, isn’t enough reason for school authorities to “take action.” One wonders what BUSD’s response would’ve been if Felarca had been on the other side.

Felarca will be arraigned on November 8. In the meantime, presumably, she’s still spending her weekdays in front of a Berkeley classroom. One can only imagine what she is cramming into her pupils’ heads in the guise of “humanities.”

 

Traitor, Communist…and cad?

burgessmoscow1956
Guy Burgess in Moscow, 1956

The 1951 defection of Guy Burgess and Donald Maclean to the Soviet Union made the CIA livid. It was, as Burgess biographer  Andrew Lownie puts it, “the third body-blow that American security had suffered as a result of the British, after the atom spies Alan Nunn May and Klaus Fuchs, and they were beginning to feel their whole atomic programme was being betrayed by foreigners.” The British people were also disgusted to know that these two men at the heart of British Intelligence had been traitors.

But the two traitors’ friends and former colleagues in the British elite had a somewhat more muted response. For example, diplomat and politician Harold Nicolson, who reflected in his diary that Burgess’s disappearance would mark the end of “the old easygoing confidence of the Foreign Office” and hence “the loss of one more element of civilization,” admitted that while he felt “so angry with Guy in some ways – feel that he has behaved so much like a cad,” in another sense he felt “deeply sorry for him.” Note the curious word choice here: not “traitor,” but “cad” – as if Burgess had pinched a chorus girl’s cheek rather than pinching government secrets.

donald-maclean-426x548
Donald Maclean

The reaction was much the same throughout the cozy club that was the British political, cultural, media, and academic elite. Burgess’s fellow Etonians and Oxbridgeans couldn’t quite wrap their minds around the idea that two of their own were Soviet spies. Actual spies. As we’ve seen, Burgess had drunkenly blabbed about his Soviet connections to BBC colleagues and heaven knows who else. But these people’s minds were wired in such a way that even what amounted to an explicit confession of treason somehow just didn’t compute. They could imagine a member of the working classes betraying their country, but not Guy Burgess.

philby2
Kim Philby in Moscow, 1968

Even after Burgess and Maclean defected, this upper-crust naivete – this inability to work up a reasonable distrust for one of their own – remained intact. They still trusted another Cambridge spy, Anthony Blunt, even though a great deal of evidence pointed toward him. This British blind spot so outraged the CIA and U.S. Defense Department that these two agencies withdrew temporarily from cooperating with British Intelligence. It was, indeed, the CIA that soon realized that Kim Philby was probably also a Soviet agent, and demanded that MI6 get rid of him or risk destroying the “special relationship” between the U.S. and Britain. After standing by Philby for a brief while, MI6 did remove Philby from his position. But instead of investigating him for treason and putting him under arrest, it rewarded him with “a golden handshake of £ 4,000,” a pretty penny in those days. (Philby would eventually abscond to Moscow in 1963.)

farlie
Journalist Henry Fairlie

Meanwhile the government, plainly more fearful of negative publicity than of Soviet infiltration, covered up key data about Burgess and Maclean, lied to the public about the extent of the two spies’ access to sensitive information, and made no effort whatsoever to rout out other spies. It was in response to this disgraceful display that Henry Fairlie, in an article for the Spectator, coined the term “The Establishment,” complaining that the first loyalty of the nation’s Oxbridge elite was not to King and Country but to itself. In a perfect demonstration of Fairlie’s argument, it was an American agency, the FBI, that finally fingered Philby as a Soviet agent – and it was top-level British politician (and future PM) Harold Macmillan who vehemently rejected this charge, saving Philby’s career – for a time, anyway.