Villanova Professor to Defend Antifa in Upcoming Lecture on Political Violence

Anti-fascist counter-protesters wait outside Emancipation Park to hurl insults as white nationalists, neo-Nazis and members of the 'alt-right' are forced out after the 'Unite the Right' rally was declared an unlawful gathering August 12, 2017 in Charlottesville, Virginia. After clashes with anti-fascist protesters and police the rally was declared an …
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Villanova Professor Billie Murray is scheduled to give a lecture later this month that aims to normalize political violence from groups like Antifa.

Villanova Professor Communications Professor Billie Murray is scheduled to give a lecture on April 24 that will seek to challenge preconceived notions about political violence. A description of the lecture that was posted online notes that Murray will speak directly from her experience working with Antifa groups.

In this presentation, Dr. Billie Murray will challenge the violence/nonviolence binary that limits our understanding of activist practices. Drawing on examples from her fieldwork with anti-fascist activists, she will argue that we should reimagine activism as combative. Such an expanded understanding will allow us to better discern the efficacy and ethics of combative tactics and how they work in concert with traditional, nonviolent activism.

This isn’t the first time that Murray has defended Antifa. In November 2018, Murray said that although she draws the line at engaging in violence, she supports Antifa’s core values and principles. “I am Antifa as a set of beliefs and values about the world,” Murray said in a previous interview. “As an activist, I support antiracist action and antifascist organizing, but I draw the line at engaging in violence.” She understands, though, why Antifa groups engage in what she calls symbolic violence.

Respected Princeton Professor Robert George addressed Murray’s scheduled lecture in a series of tweets. George argued that conservatives must condemn the left’s insistence on normalizing political violence before it is too late.

We’re heading for a bad place. Note a lecture hosted by a “peace and justice” center questioning “the violence/non-violence binary” that “limits our understanding of activist practices.” There are folks on the right also “questioning” that before it’s too late, sane and honorable conservatives and sane honorable progressives need to unite around the conviction that we resolve our differences not by violence but by the constitutionally prescribed mechanisms of our republican democracy. However deeply we may disagree, even on profound questions of justice and the common good, we are not enemies but rather fellow citizens. “We are not enemies, but friends. We must not be enemies. Though passion may have strained, it must not break our bonds of affection.”

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