As you watched Berkeley burn, as you watched Portlandia’s streets turn into war zones, as you watched peaceful protesters assaulted with bike locks while onlookers cheered, you may have asked, “Whose spoiled brats are these? Where did they learn to act up that way?”
Answer is, they more or less learned it from a group of obnoxious gay people. The AIDS Coalition To Unleash Power (ACT-UP) was an 80’s Era Left-Wing Activist Group determined to force a change in public policy toward AIDS. ACT-UP is also, only too appropriately, a synonym for “throw a temper tantrum.”
And throw tantrums they did. They protested anytime and anywhere there were likely to be TV cameras; always striving to be as loud and obnoxious as possible such that spoiled five-year-olds in the toy section of Wal-Mart would have said, “Yo, dudes, dial it back a little.” They stormed and disrupted church services. They blocked the entrances to the FDA and the National Institutes of Health. They crashed the New York Stock Exchange to demand free drugs. They even targeted Cosmopolitan magazine for daring to publish a (medically accurate) article stating that heterosexual women were not at as much risk for AIDS as gay men. They passed out sexually explicit pamphlets to schoolchildren years before Kevin Jennings would teach middle schoolers about fisting. Political blackmail was also a tool; ACT-UP had no scruples when it came to exposing the personal lives of anyone they deemed an enemy, or an obstacle.
And ACT-UP was fantastically successful. Public spending on AIDS research soon exceeded money spent on Heart Disease or Cancer; diseases that killed orders of magnitude more victims. People with AIDS no longer were cautionary examples of the perils of risky sex, but became celebrated as heroes. How getting an STD makes one a hero is something some of us were never quite clear on, but heroes they were, lauded by Hollywood celebrities and eagerly pandered to by politicians. ACT-UP were so successful in promoting public acceptance of AIDS that even thirty years later an easily avoidable sexually transmitted disease is still infecting 35,000 new victims (I’m sorry, “heroes”) each year in the United States according to CDC. But they can, through taking very expensive drugs, remain alive and sexual active for decades after infection. So, there’s that.
The basic premise of ACT-UP was subsequently adopted by all left wing activist groups. The key components of this approach are as follows:
- Be obnoxious. Better yet, be obscene. Disregard all rules of basic civility.
- Disregard the civil rights of all other people. Your cause > than their civil rights.
- Chant really melodramatic slogans. Like, “Silence = Death,” Or, “No cops, no KKK, no fascist USA.”
- Declare that anyone who opposes, or even disagrees with you, is a Nazi. In the 1980’s this included Surgeon General C. Everett Koop, New York Mayor Ed Koch, but most of all President Ronald Reagan. To this day, the gay left blames RR for the AIDS epidemic on the basis that he didn’t give a speech about AIDS soon enough. I am not making this up. Apparently, AIDS would never have happened if Reagan had just said, “Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this bath house!
The only thing Antifa (and Occupy Wall Street, and the other left-wing movements) have added to this template is 5. Break sh-t and hurt people. But it was a natural progression, any organization set-up with the belief that their cause gave them absolute moral authority, that anyone who disagreed was evil, and that violations of other people’s civil rights were not only appropriate, but necessary, would have evolved to embrace violence.