By Dylan Stableford
A new petition calling on the Trump administration to formally recognize the so-called antifa as a “terrorist organization” has generated nearly 300,000 signatures in a week — well beyond the threshold that is supposed to trigger a formal response from the White House. But there’s been no indication under President Trump that it will.
The petition, created by last week in the wake of the violent clashes between white supremacists and antifascists in Charlottesville, Va., argues that the group’s tactics are akin to ISIS:
Terrorism is defined as “the use of violence and intimidation in pursuit of political aims”. This definition is the same definition used to declare ISIS and other groups, as terrorist organizations. AntiFa has earned this title due to its violent actions in multiple cities and their influence in the killings of multiple police officers throughout the United States. It is time for the pentagon to be consistent in its actions – and just as they rightfully declared ISIS a terror group, they must declare AntiFa a terror group – on the grounds of principle, integrity, morality, and safety.
At a campaign rally in Phoenix earlier this week, Trump himself referred to the masked antifascist protesters by name.
“You know, they show up in the helmets and the black masks and they’ve got clubs and they’ve got everything,” the president told the crowd. “Antifa!”
Related: Outside Trump’s rally, bikers, antifa, police, protesters and pepper spray
The State Department maintains a list of Foreign Terrorist Organizations (FTOs)that are designated by the secretary of state. There are currently 61, including ISIS, al-Qaida and Boko Haram.
The petition to add antifa to that list has more than 290,000 signatures — nearly triple the number it needed by Sept. 16 to get “an official response.”
The digital platform, which was created in 2011 under President Barack Obama, drew nearly half a million petitions during his presidency. And the Obama White House answered many of them, including a petition to forgive student loan debt, a call for Obama to pardon Edward Snowden and, most memorably, a plea for the federal government to begin construction on a Death Star, the galactic superweapon featured in the “Star Wars” film franchise.
“The Administration does not support blowing up planets,” Paul Shawcross, a White House science and technology adviser, replied in a statement. “Why would we spend countless taxpayer dollars on a Death Star with a fundamental flaw that can be exploited by a one-man starship?”
But the Trump administration has yet to respond to any of the 10 other petitions that have crossed the 100,000 threshold.
A petition calling on the Trump administration to immediately release the president’s tax returns, launched on the day of Trump’s inauguration, crossed that mark a day later. It now has more than a million signatures.
Another petition, also launched on Inauguration Day, demands that Trump “divest his financial and business holdings or have them administered by a truly blind trust.” That one has 350,000 signatures. A petition urging the administration to preserve the National Endowment for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Humanities received more than 200,000 signatures.
And one calling on Trump to resign because he is “in violation of the Emoluments Clause” — which some Constitutional lawyers have argued — also breezed past the 100,000-signature mark.
It’s Going Down, a website that bills itself as “a digital community center from anarchist, anti-fascist, autonomous anti-capitalist and anti-colonial movements,” called the idea of labeling antifa a terror group “absurd.”
“We see this petition as a part of a political campaign to criminalize dissent,” a spokesperson for the website wrote in an email to Yahoo News. “It is insidious accusation that anti-fascism is ‘terrorism’ given the number of actual murders, mass casualty incidents and violence white supremacists are directly responsible for.”
“To lump ISIS in with anti-fascism in the same sentence as if anti-fascists are not actively fighting ISIS in Syria is an intentional effort to conflate two polar opposite efforts,” the spokesperson added. “Anti-fascists see ISIS and the alt-right as two sides of the same fascism.”