Letter: Antifa story approach backfired

Graphic by Lori Deaton

As someone who is a mainstream representative of the “faces of dissent,” I find your cover story angle and photo of a covered antifa activist both offensive and counterproductive [“Everyday People: Local Activists Strive for Social Change” Nov. 8, Xpress]. It is a surefire way to reinforce conservative people’s preconceived notions of “the Other” and delegitimize the valid, broad-based — and mostly mainstream — tranche of citizenry fighting the “good fight” in these troubling times.

I don’t know what your aim was, but it certainly backfired with me, a voter/activist dedicated to helping see through the quickest, most effective end of Trump, his ilk and all he/they represent. It backfired equally, if more so, with my evangelical mother. Your cover photo choice is not the best way to facilitate a healthy dialogue, which is the best way we can start to heal the unhealthy divisions in our society, neighborhoods, workplaces and — at its most intimate and painful level — families.

Xpress cover — Nov. 8, 2017
FACES OF DISSENT: Xpress’ Nov. 8, 2017, cover. Design by Scott Southwick. Photo by Evan Anderson

You would have done far better to put my 70-year-old mother-in-law on your cover. She’s a college-educated, water-aerobics-loving church choir singer and volunteer at her community’s medical supply donation center. She, who has all her life not had the slightest activist bone in her body, has joined a group in her community who gather regularly to phone and email politicians, holding them to account for their divisive and damaging positions and votes. That cover photo might have actually made it easier for someone like my mother to validate the myriad dissenters among us, as well as reinforce to those needing nudges to join our ranks and help turn the tide.


— Liz Siena
A visiting American expat
and member of the “faces of dissent”

London, England


Editor’s response: As the words that appear on the cover suggest, the person pictured represents just one of many “faces of dissent.” In the article, Xpress sought to provide local activists and organizations a chance to speak to their motives and methods and to address negative stereotypes. We hope readers will take these local perspectives into account as they explore their own viewpoints on the various issues touched upon in the article. We are also appreciative that readers have taken the opportunity to voice their opinions, since one key goal of the article was to stimulate dialogue.


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4 thoughts on “Letter: Antifa story approach backfired

  1. John Penley

    I was in Charlottesville protesting the NC KKK and later on the Unite The Right Nazis all weekend. I was pepper sprayed, tear gassed and had a tooth knocked out. For many years I have protested against the NC KKK loyal white knights and went to Columbia SC last year and Charlottesville to oppose them. I was at the protest in DC at the Trump Inauguration that turned into a riot and many friends of mine are facing 60 years for protesting Trump. I was helping people who had been tear gassed and pepper sprayed and blasted by concussion grenades there so I avoided the kettling tactic by the DC cops where 200 people were arrested. Anyway, I am also a Veteran of the Vietnam Era and have also protested the treatment of Veterans and was arrested at the Charlotte NC Democratic National Convention for protesting Vets treatment by the government and went to court for 6 months before being found not guilty. I am posting all this not to get attention or whatever I am just doing it to say that all Asheville activists are quite different and not all are young people. I think many would be surprised to know that a Vietnam era Vet who is 65 years old supports Antifa and travels to protest Nazis and the KKK and I think the writer of this letter makes some good points and I hope her 70 year old mother in law see this and FYI there are many old radical Antifascists and Anti-War activists that also do what youth are doing and FYI we love them for doing it.

  2. Alan Ditmore

    If the author opposes young masked protesters than she is part of the fascist problem and not part of the solution. and if she is in a majority, then the majority is the problem and the majority will bring us fascism. Liz needs to decide which side she is on because fence sitters are fascists.

    • Mike

      Alan- you’re not getting it. The delivery of a message matters. Giving the supremacists tools to try and create a moral equivalency between themselves and the antifa/opposition is an even more direct way of supporting the supremacists.

  3. Alan Ditmore

    By denouncing people who look different, either by birth or choice of dress, The author revealed her own fascism and that of her mother, Antifa is trying to defeat fascists, not coopt or appeal to them! And that doesn’t change if fascists are a majority, it just means nationwide democracy is not a viable tool, though antifa can take a page from the Mormons and move to antifa majority towns.

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