In January, Ben Keita , a Black and Muslim youth, was found hanged from a tree in Lake Stevens, a town in the northern part of the greater Seattle metropolitan area. The Snohomish County Medical Examiner’s Office changed their ruling from “suicide” to “undetermined” after his family insisted Keita was not depressed, anxious or otherwise suicidal before his disappearance Nov. 26, 2016. On March 2, just days after the ME announced their findings, the FBI announced that they will review the case.
Given the circumstances of Keita’s death, including the extreme height of the rope on the tree from which he was hanged, it is hard not to conclude that he was lynched.
The killing of this young man of promise is one more terrible incident that fits into a pattern of fascist activities in the area. According to a recent report released by the Southern Poverty Law Center, Seattle is one among a number of cities in which the SPLC has tracked neo-Nazi organizing efforts.
Other local neo-Nazi activities include the distribution of Nazi recruitment literature at the University of Washington-Seattle and in the Capitol Hill and the Central District neighborhoods, and the shooting of an anti-fascist demonstrator at the UW campus during a protest against Milo Yiannopoulos. The granite sign at a Redmond mosque has been repeatedly vandalized, and a Jewish community center in Mercer Island experienced a bomb threat.
Seattle is widely thought to be a progressive stronghold, but there is a longstanding history of white supremacist and neo-fascist organizations that have made their home in the Pacific North West. These scum have been emboldened by the militantly racist Trump campaign and administration.
What is fascism?
Fascism has historically come about in a time of great crisis for the existing economic and social order. Fascism takes shape in the form of a mass movement and typically includes some form of organization into semi-legal and illegal bands intended to engage in violence against progressive forces. They aim to implement a form of direct, autocratic rule in order to further exploit poor and working people and preserve the existing economic and social order.
Because the U.S. was founded as a colony, first with slaves and later with a strict apartheid system, the tendency of fascism in the U.S. has veered toward open white supremacy. The ruling class—whether slaveowners or Wall Street—can always count on mobilizing some form of white resistance to Black and Brown liberation in each stage of the struggle.
Fascism is like the mold that grows on leftovers. It can’t grow without the rotting food itself. That rotting food is capitalism as we know it. So long as capitalism exists, the crises of poverty and unemployment cannot be solved and so long as these crises persist fascists will have a place to grow. We need to put capitalism in the trash along with the festering mold of fascism.
The U.S. government has never lifted a finger to stop domestic fascism. The responsibility to defeat fascism ultimately rests on the people. No politician will legislate them out of existence and no racist cop will arrest a racist. Only organizing the masses and equipping them to fight the fascists directly can lead to the defeat of fascism. The strategy must be to always outnumber them and not back down. It is high time for all progressive and revolutionary people in Seattle to stand together against all forms of fascism, white supremacy, anti-Muslim bigotry and anti-Semitism.