C4ARR has two choices: Disband or Acknowledge they are an Antifa mouthpiece.
On February 2nd, 2022 Dr Craig McCann published a piece with C4ARR (Centre for the Analysis of the Radical Right) titled “Beware the Anti-Fascists, for they have become what they oppose”. The piece should have gone unnoticed. It simply pointed out that the extreme and violent tactics being adopted by some in the Anti-Fascist movement is a recruiting tool for the far-right. This is as obvious as it is uncontroversial. Violent extremism is always bad. He further pointed out that some who adopt militant Anti-Fascism are unable to distinguish between the far-right and mainstream conservatives. Also an uncontroversial view. However, as Dr McCann quickly found out, on social media, such statements of simple fact are incendiary. He was inundated with abuse and hate from Antifa on Twitter. Immediate pressure was put on C4ARR to deplatform McCann which the Daily Dot summarises here. Of course, this reaction must be expected by Counter Violent Extremism (CVE) researchers who dare to point out that violent extremism exists on the far-left of the political spectrum. What he most likely did not expect was the mass dissent within C4ARR itself.
Ostensibly C4ARR presents itself as the pre-eminent source for scholarly research on the radical right. The organisation has featured on Sky News among other news outlets in the UK. The organisation boasts an impressive roster of ‘fellows’ from Europe and North America all of whom study the far-right. Their homepage looks institutional and impressive. However, since its inception, C4ARR has intentionally courted Antifa and given doctoral and senior fellowships to Antifa-connected scholars with large Twitter followings. These scholars have brought their Antifa base with them and they have taken ownership of C4ARR and so the outrage surrounding McCann’s article is entirely predictable.
Megan Squire, for example, has been a fellow at C4ARR since 2018. Squire shot to prominence on social media after she appeared in a profile piece in Wired. In the article she states that she “is sympathetic to Antifa’s goals of silencing racist extremists and is unwilling to condemn their use of violence, describing it as the last resort “of a diversity of tactics”. I wrote to the director Matthew Feldman on the 8th January, 2020 asking why he employed Squire as a Senior Fellow. He never responded which I took to mean that he consciously gave a fellowship to a known Antifa associate.
I wrote again on the 25th of February, 2020 asking if C4ARR was aware that Alexander Reid Ross was a leader of Rose City Antifa (Portland). As reported in Andy Ngo’s book on Antifa, Reid Ross was the lead speaker for the group at initiation meetings for new members. He was also the longtime editor of the Earth First! Journal. Earth First! Is a radical environmentalist organisation that promotes violence. Ross has never publicly renounced his work with these organisations and as such cannot be taken seriously as a CVE expert, rather, he is an ongoing threat to public safety. Further, the SPLC removed a defamatory article authored by Ross from their website in 2018 which cemented Ross’ reputation for poorly cited and agenda-driven research. While C4ARR did not respond to me, Reid Ross did remove the C4ARR affiliation from his Twitter biography but he was kept on as a doctoral fellow and published frequently with C4ARR thereafter.
This is significant as it was Alexander Reid Ross who was trotted out to write C4ARR’s official rebuke of Dr. McCann’s article. On February 4th Reid Ross wrote a piece titled “Response to Beware the Anti-Fascists, for they have Become what they Oppose”.
The response is the standard defend-the-organisation-while-disavowing-the-individual type of damage-control one sees nowadays whenever anyone within a company accidentally says something that Twitter doesn’t like. The difference in the case of C4ARR is that they have long intentionally courted Antifa and sending Reid Ross out to placate the base was a calculated move. The thinking was that Reid Ross is one of them and so he could allay any fears that C4ARR was in danger of becoming anything other than actively anti-fascist and that the terrible mistake of letting a non-far-left opinion slip out on the C4ARR blog will never happen again.
In his initial piece, where he states that Antifa violence begets more violence, McCann uses the example of Talia Lavin who advocated “brass knuckling up and flattening the nose of a Proud Boy” in a recent podcast. Reid Ross attempts to absolve Lavin of wrongdoing by providing supposed context for her comments. However the extended context still clearly shows Lavin advocates for violence. And of course it is not surprising. Lavin is openly Antifa and her statement on said podcast was not an isolated incident. In now deleted tweets from 2018 Lavin openly called for the castration of “incels”, said liberals need to be shot and called for people to report their ‘scary’ relatives to Antifa.
C4ARR sending a CVE infiltrator out to defend another CVE infiltrator from charges of being a CVE infiltrator reaches Monty Python levels of absurdity. It obviously proves everything that Dr McCann wrote was correct and that he could as well have been writing about his own organisation. It turns out, he was without knowing it. Reid Ross’ rebuttal was not enough for the mob and on February 5th, Dr William Allchorn, now director of C4ARR, published a grovelling twitter thread apologising for publishing McCann and announcing that Matthew Feldman had resigned as Director of the organisation. Feldman was given no choice.
Not content to write the official rebuttal to Dr McCann’s article, Reid Ross fired up the Twitter mob and took it upon himself to lead a revolt of C4ARR’s fellows. He penned an open letter which called Dr McCann far-right and he demanded that C4ARR rebrand as a ‘specifically anti-fascist organisation.’ Not only did 26 other C4ARR fellows sign the letter of mutiny but all of them signed ‘Antifascist’ after their name. It is embarrassingly childish and a naked coup. It is clear that there is now an ideological chasm between the C4ARR founders and the ‘steering committee’ who led the open letter revolt. The latter are firmly in charge. This is precisely what I warned C4ARR would happen in early 2020. Opening the door to Reid Ross, Megan Squire and other openly Antifa ‘academics’ led to them immediately and thoroughly turning what was initially supposed to be a pedagogical resource for CVE scholars into an Antifa propaganda repository.
I personally was associated with C4ARR in 2018 when Feldman and Allchorn approached me to create a framework for pedagogical materials. I was publicly humiliated by the organisation when they published a statement on their website (complete with numerous lies) distancing themselves from me after I too had the temerity to suggest that Antifa violence exists. I wrote an article — based on research now peer reviewed and published here — that showed concerning links between certain far-left journalists and Antifa. The article went viral and the backlash was devastating. The very same Twitter Antifa network that hounded Dr McCann this week also hounded me, including Talia Lavin and Alexander Reid Ross. And yet I now take no pleasure in being proven right when I warned C4ARR about their recruiting practices back in 2020 even though they threw me under the bus as Antifa shredded my reputation. Indeed, I have gained respect for Matthew Feldman for the manner in which he publicly defended Dr McCann. Besides, what has happened this week at C4ARR is much more significant than personal slights.
Alexander Reid Ross and his crew of mutineers have made it very clear; either CARR becomes an explicitly anti-fascist propaganda tool or they will not only leave, but they will make sure that C4ARR has no future. They will shut it down. C4ARR can no longer keep activists like Reid Ross and his fellow signatories on the steering committee or they will lose all credibility as a reliable CVE resource — if they haven’t already. Indeed, even if they remove the mutineers, a thorough review of all research and peer reviews carried out by the mutineers will need to be conducted to check for bias and misinformation. This leaves stark options. C4ARR must cut out the rot and start again — a massive task that will guarantee they lose their Antifa base. They can continue the current course of apologise and appease in which case they must explicitly state that they are an Antifa mouthpiece. Or they can disband. My advice? Dr Allchorn, for the sake of your own reputation, shut it down before Antifa does it for you.