Multiple outlets have published a manifesto that they said was written by Willem Van Spronsen before he was shot dead Saturday while firebombing an ICE detention center in Washington state.
Although authorities have yet to confirm that Van Spronsen authored the antifa-themed manifesto, which was made public on Sunday, people claiming to be his friends have said he was a member of the radical left-wing movement and that he wrote the poem-like screed.
Much of the 1,000-word document reads like standard progressive pablum, and the writer does not include any politicians among the heroes he cites. But some commenters have noted that rhetoric often sounds like it could have come from one prominent leftist in particular: Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.
The Tacoma bomber's manifesto has been published on the main Antifa website, itsgoingdown. It echoes the extreme rhetoric of AOC and her squad, replete with "concentration camps," "Beckies" and more…. https://t.co/lDQOn87hg1 The literal influence of DC progressives is apparent. https://t.co/1y4MUcSdHO
— Harmeet K. Dhillon (@pnjaban) July 15, 2019
Most obviously, the writer shares Ocasio-Cortez’s moral outrage over the U.S. detention of migrants and repeatedly borrows her now-famous equation of detention centers with concentration camps.
“Evil says concentration camps for folks deemed lesser are necessary,” he writes. “The handmaid of evil says the concentration camps should be more humane. Beware the centrist.”
Also like Ocasio-Cortez, the writer heaps scorn on wealthy capitalists for defending the supposedly loathsome status quo and and warns that fascism is “ascendant” in the United States:
In these days of fascist hooligans preying on vulnerable people in our streets, in the name of the state or supported and defended by the state,
In these days of highly profitable detention/concentration camps and a battle over the semantics,
In these days of hopelessness, empty pursuit and empty yearning,
We are living in visible fascism ascendant.
Here it is, in these corporate for profit concentration camps.
Here it is, in Brown and non-conforming folks afraid to show their faces for fear of the police/migra/Proud Boys/the boss/beckies…
Here it is, a planet almost used up by the market’s greed.
He even traces his radicalization to learning about the electoral college, which Ocasio-Cortez has called to eliminate.
“I was radicalized in civics class at 13 when we were taught about the electoral college,” he says. “It was at that point that I decided that the status quo might be a house of cards. Further reading confirmed in the positive. I highly recommend reading!”
In yet another flourish that could have been ripped from AOC’s Twitter page, the writer thanks his transgender allies for “bringing me so far along.”
“My trans comrades have transformed me, solidifying my conviction that we will be guided to a dreamed-of future by those most marginalized among us today,” he says. “I have dreamed it so clearly that I have no regret for not seeing how it turns out. Thank you for bringing me so far along.”
Some LGBT activists claimed that Van Spronsen, a 69-year-old musician and carpenter from Vashon Island, was himself transgender. Citing the manifesto and his apparent use of a female nom de guerre on Facebook, they called on journalists and commentators to address him by female pronouns. But those claims have been convincingly debunked.
The Willem Van Spronsen manifesto?
What already seem clear is that both the writer of the manifesto and Van Spronsen – who may very well be the same person – are members of antifa.
The writer makes explicit his allegiance to the group, saying: “I am antifa. I stand with comrades around the world who act from the love of life in every permutation. Comrades who understand that freedom means real freedom for all and a life worth living.”
Without specifying what event he is referring to, he also suggests he is prepared to die in a final stand against fascism and says the gun he “used” was a homemade AR-15.
“This is my clear opportunity to try to make a difference, I’d be an ingrate to be waiting for a more obvious invitation,” he says.
“I regret that I will miss the rest of the revolution,” he later tells his “comrades.” “Thank you for the honor of having me in your midst.”
Meanwhile, according to Tacoma Police, Van Spronsen was carrying a rifle when he hurled “incendiary devices” at buildings and cars in a parking lot of the Northwest Detention Center in Tacoma, causing a vehicle to go up in flames. U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement reported that no employees or detainees were injured, and the facility resumed normal operations on Sunday.
Last year, Van Spronsen was arrested during a demonstration at the same facility, The News Tribune reported Saturday.
A woman who said she was Van Spronsen’s friend, told the Seattle Times on Sunday that he was an antifa member and that she thinks he intended to die in the attack. Antifa-affiliated news site It’s Going Down attributed the manifesto to Van Spronsen and at least two Seattle antifa groups responded to the incident by calling him a “comrade.”
“Ocasio-Cortez is neither an aberration nor a radical”
Ocasio-Cortez has not endorsed violence or expressed support for antifa. But she shares the group’s belief that the United States is undoubtedly “headed to fascism,” as she put it during her Instagram rant last month debuting the “concentration camps” analogy. Antifa has used this supposed threat to justify its use of violence as self-defense.
The congresswoman has also used her platform to doggedly vilify ICE and U.S. Customs and Border Patrol as irredeemably corrupt agencies. She has repeatedly called for ICE to be abolished, voted last against funding to help CBP address the border crisis, and last week suggested doing away with the Department of Homeland Security entirely.
To be fair, though, Ocasio-Cortez does not seem to be single-handedly radicalizing the country so much as giving voice to the extreme views of young Americans.
According to a recent analysis by Harvard University historian Niall Ferguson, “Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is often described as a radical, but the data show that her views are close to the median for her generation.”
“Ocasio-Cortez is neither an aberration nor a radical,”Ferguson, says. “She is close to the political center of America’s younger generations.”
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