To the Editor, Willamette Week:
As co-authors of a scholarly study of neonazism, we both were shocked by the selective and biased presentation of our views in the recent article by James Pitkin, "Anti-Fascist Front." We wish to correct the record.
Chip Berlet: I do not quibble with the quote that appeared. Pitkin is well aware, however, that 90% of the interview I gave him was supportive of the public confrontation by the anti-fascists. Some folks in Portland's otherwise progressive community have a long and reprehensible history of tolerating and even promoting conspiracy theories tinged (or awash) with racism or antisemitism. I explained this to Pitkin in detail, and suggested for interviews several other well-know progressives aware of this dynamic. At least one was interviewed by Pitkin. While I am critical of certain tactical methods used by the anti-fascists, I otherwise wholeheartedly support their public condemnation and exposure of racists and antisemites.
Stanislav Vysotsky: As a sociologist doing ethnographic research, I try to remain a neutral observer when I am conducting field research. For Pitkin to imply I am secretly working with the anti-fascist group is inaccurate; calls into question my integrity as a scholar; and makes my work more difficult. What I told Pitkin was a summary of current social movement theories explaining how movements and counter-movements use tactical and strategic activities in propaganda, mobilization, and recruitment campaigns. Thus what I said can be found in scores of sociological books, chapters, and journal articles. I was speaking as an academic, not as member of the anti-fascist group.