Imagine having a secret. A secret belief, a secret interest, a source of so much shame that you couldn’t even admit it to yourself. Then one day you meet other people with the same secret. The shame doesn’t go away, but you look at yourself differently. You carry yourself differently, you know you are no longer alone. You feel just a bit braver in the world.
You talk to your new friends and together, you work through that shame and fear. Resentment grows, anger ignites, and you start to feel that push to do something. Your group decides it’s worth the risk and you take your secret to the public. Most scorn you, some laugh but it doesn’t matter. What matters is that you found just a few more people with your secret, your group learns and bonds and knows what to do better next time. You end the day feeling just a little bit braver in the world.
Your group keeps meeting and pushing and rallying and eventually something gives and your secret isn’t a secret anymore, but just a normal facet of society. There is no any shame and you don’t feel brave because there is no longer anything to be afraid of.
This is how movements work. Power is created through people finding like minds and drawing strength from each other. Power is destroyed by keeping like minds isolated and ashamed.
Fascists are not exempt from this. The very act of a public gathering allows them to meet others like them, build networks and relationships, and find strength in each other. This is why it is imperative to prevent fascist gatherings from occurring, however, we can. This is why student activists fight for no platform and why anti-fascists activists will resort to physical force. The threat of a fascist rally isn’t just the hate coming from their mouths, but the infrastructure and relationships born out of activism and public struggle. They know this, its why they are fighting so hard for a public forum. They know they have enough power to reveal their secret, they know they have enough power to build even while facing public scorn. Debates about free speech ignore the most basic realities of movement building, that strength is built through struggle. Every second we allow them to gather gives them more power to realize their end goals of genocide, subjugation, and ethnic cleansing
Those horrors are the future unless we use every resource we have to prevent them from gathering. It really is that simple.