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Jason Rantz

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Rantz: Conservative provocateurs troll, Sounders supporters claim Nazis attack

Controversy continued to heat up over the weekend concerning the Sounders. (Jason Rantz, KTTH)

After a week of turmoil between the Sounders front-office and a group of fans that support Antifa, leave it to conservative provocateurs to needlessly cause problems at this past weekend’s Sounders home game. It would be all that a small group of Sounders supporters would need to baselessly claim Nazis attacked them and that I was “encouraging violence.”

Last week, the group fought with the Sounders front office and the MLS over a ban on the Iron Front flag they previously brought to CenturyLink. As the symbol has been co-opted by violent, Antifa thugs, the MLS prohibits this flag display at matches. Some defiant ECS members, instead, wore Iron Front t-shirts that, theoretically, are in compliance with MLS Fan Code of Conduct.

Before the March to the Match, conservative provocateurs showed up, a good portion of which was live-streamed by a local sports blogger with The Athletic, Miki Turner.

A group of eight to 12, including Dion Thompson and Saleem Juma of Operation Cold Front, showed up with cameras (and two American flags) at a bar in Pioneer Square, frequented by members of Emerald City Supporters (ECS). Some Twitter users said one or two were open-carrying.

The interaction went about the way you’d expect it to: ECS members didn’t want to let them in, with Turner referring to them as Nazis (Juma is Muslim). There were a couple mild insults from supporters (“You look like a Kansas City supporter”) and an unfortunate homophobic one. There were provocateurs asking questions under the guise of wanting a conversation, while some flashed the “a-ok” sign.

“If you’re here to start trouble, which you probably are, then you should probably move along,” one ECS member said. I agree. The intent was to provoke trouble.

Later, the group would confront ECS supporters entering CenturyLink. There was one brief tense moment, though it wasn’t violent, and video indicates both sides might have been responsible for the encounter.

They’re obviously not Nazis, a term that progressives are using too often to simply attack anyone they disagree with, insulting millions of dead victims along the way. But they weren’t there with the intention of coming to consensus against violence from Antifa.

If those are the conversations you want, you don’t bring multiple cameras to catch every moment of it, and you certainly don’t do it with people already on high alert from the weekend’s mass shootings. There’s a time and place for the conversation; a couple hours before game time is not one of them.

Delusion of grandeur

The conservative provocateurs don’t hold exclusive blame. When you support Antifa thugs, you will earn conservative angst. Antifa brings with them drama and make situations worse; likewise, their conservative opponents bring with them drama and make situations worse.

But let’s be clear: The ECS supporters weren’t fighting Nazis (there’s been one claim of violence that I’ve seen, though there are no details of who started it). If the provocateurs were “literally Nazis”, I don’t expect the supporters would go in and enjoy a soccer match. That didn’t stop people to claim I personally sent Nazis to instigate violence to a bar I’ve never even heard of.

The label is being thoughtlessly thrown around to shame people for having different political beliefs — not white nationalist beliefs; literally different mainstream political beliefs. Support tax cuts? Nazi! Support the police and the military? Nazi! Don’t support confiscating all weapons? Nazi! You’re a conservative? Nazi!

As a Jew, I find it exceptionally disturbing to use my people’s history so you can silence political opposition, including this Jew you may not agree with politically.

Showing up to protest ECS is not fascist. Holding a different viewpoint than a progressive ideologue doesn’t make one a Nazi. But try telling that to fringe ideologues, like so many in the ECS group. They’re certain I’m a Nazi inciting violence on KIRO — a station I haven’t been on for about two years, but they don’t let facts get in the way of a good narrative.

I believe they think they’re fighting Nazis because I believe they suffer from delusions of grandeur. And that’s what makes them dangerous. Antifa literally use violence against people they think are Nazis.

Labeling their political opponents Nazis is an easy way to justify the inevitable violence. While claiming that they’re threatened with violence because some dude with a flag shows up to protest their support of Antifa, some of these progressive ECS members are setting the stage for violence.

I got a curious tweet from one of my perennial twitter trolls, Ryan Healy, that set up my point well:

Like virtually everyone else here, I am against fascism. The difference is I know what that term actually means. It doesn’t mean people who hold views that I don’t. And when too many voices in Healy’s camp started to label every conservative a Nazi, simply for holding different political views, is when I realized they’re not fighting fascism; they’re engaged in ideological bigotry, convincing themselves they’re freedom fighters. They’re not fighting fascists; they’re acting like them.

I can’t stress this enough: Fans don’t want these types of petty political arguments at their games. Sports are supposed to unite fans, not divide them. I don’t want supporters romanticizing Antifa in the stands. Likewise, I don’t want conservatives turning the game into a political disagreement about Trump. Leave that off the pitch and away from our stadiums.

When an actual fascist or Nazi poses a threat, count me in for a fight. I’m a gay Jew. They’re coming for me first, not some privileged, white dude that can afford Sounders season tickets.

Listen to the Jason Rantz Show weekday afternoons from 3-6 p.m. on KTTH 770 AM (or HD Radio 97.3 FM HD-Channel 3). Subscribe to the podcast here.

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