Journey unmasked: From Antifa anarchist to conservative capitalist (EXCLUSIVE VIDEO)
Nadales, now a free speech champion, spoke about his past involvement with Antifa.
Campus Reform's Cabot Phillips sat down with Gabe Nadales of the Leadership Institute.
Editor's note: This article was originally published on July 1, 2019.
Just a few years ago, Gabe Nadales was a black-clad, masked member of Antifa, rioting against conservatives, the one percent, and anyone else he deemed to be “fascist.”
Whether it was refusing to stand for the Pledge of Alegiance, fighting police, or joining the “Occupy Wall Street” movement, Nadales was a full-fledged member of Antifa, a group whose activities the Department of Homeland Security labeled "domestic terrorist violence," according to POLITICO.
Now, you’ll find Nadales renouncing the group with which he once marched, calling on students to stand for the First Amendment and participate in peaceful discourse.
Working with the Leadership Institute, the parent organization of Campus Reform, Nadales helps students stand up against the very group to which he once belonged, as well as anyone else who would seek to stifle the free exchange of ideas on campus.
Campus Reform's Cabot Phillips sat down with Nadales for a deeper look into what drove him toward Antifa in the first place and what factors helped him leave.
Nadales’ first steps into radical leftist activism took the form of a protest against the Pledge of Allegiance in high school, but he was soon participating in rallies and protests that often turned violent.
“We tried to equate peaceful people who we just had disagreements with, with neo-Nazis,” he explained, before going on to describe the mindset he was encouraged to embrace.
“It’s not just that you disagree with someone, it’s that they are the most hateful person you can think of.”
Nadales went on to elaborate on the concept of BAMN, or “by any means necessary,” which is often used to justify violence against those Antifa opposes.
“It did allow me to accept the destruction of property. I saw a cop get punched by one of my friends and it was very acceptable for us to do this. If they were defending fascists, they deserved to get punched,” he said, before adding “we were all okay with the idea of destroying property.”
In describing the mindset he took adopted while participating in such radical protesting, he alluded to a rallying cry of sorts for many in the group: “If they ignore peaceful protest, they can’t ignore a burning police car. They can’t ignore rocks and bricks. That was the mindset we all had. If the media isn’t going to cover what we’re trying to do, we’re going to force them to cover us.”
Despite being nearly trampled by a police horse while trying to break down a door at a protest, few things made Nadales question his involvement with Antifa.
It wasn’t until he started to raise questions with his peers that things began to change.
“I was failing my econ class… so I actually started reading my econ books. I took those ideas home… and I took them to my friends and I would ask a lot of questions.”
“Instead of having a conversation… they called me names. It was my first time as an anarchist that I was called a capitalist pig, just because I was raising questions.”
The fact that no one in the group seemed to want to answer his questions bothered Nadales.
“I think it’s very important for us to challenge our beliefs to make sure we have a strong argument, and they weren’t about that. They started calling me names and they said I needed to shut up.”
As he read more and talked with his Antifa friends less, things began to change.
“The more I read, the more I talked to conservatives, the more I understood what they were trying to say," he told Campus Reform.
It wasn’t until an encounter with a field representative from the Leadership Institute that everything changed for good.
Follow the author of this article on Twitter: @Cabot_Phillips