Or perhaps Antifa is a hateful group itself. But that wouldn’t fit the convenient narrative Antifa promotes and the media buy: that the sole threat to the republic comes from the racist right.
The “alt-right” is evil. White supremacism is evil. Neo-Nazism is evil.
I’ve been saying these things my entire career; I’ve spent more than a year slamming various factions on the right that refuse to disassociate from and condemn popularizers of the racist alt-right. The media, too, have spent inordinate time covering the rise of the alt-right and tacit acquiescence to it from White House chief strategist Steve Bannon and President Trump. So when an alt-right piece of human debris drove a car at 40 mph into a crowd of protesters in Charlottesville, Virginia, last Saturday, injuring 19 people and killing a 32-year-old woman, the level of scrutiny on the alt-right forced Trump to condemn various alt-right groups by name.
But the media have remained largely silent about another group: Antifa. Antifa is a loosely connected band of anti-capitalist protesters generally on the far left who dub themselves “anti-fascist” after their compatriots in Europe.
They’ve been around in the United States since the 1990s, protesting globalization and burning trash cans at World Trade Organization meetings. But they’ve kicked into high gear over the past two years: They engaged in vandalism in violence, forcing the cancelation of a speech by alt-right popularizer Milo Yiannopoulos at the University of California, Berkeley; a few months later, they attacked alt-right demonstrators in Berkeley; they attacked alt-right demonstrators in Sacramento, California, leading to a bloody street fight; they threw projectiles at police during President Trump’s inauguration; they attacked pro-Trump free-speech demonstrators in Seattle last weekend. They always label their opponents “fascists” in order to justify their violence.
In Charlottesville, Antifa engaged in street violence with the alt-right racists. As in Weimar, Germany, fascists flying the swastika engaged in hand-to-hand combat with Antifa members flying the communist red. And yet, the media declared that any negative coverage granted to Antifa would detract from the obvious evils of the alt-right. Sheryl Gay Stolberg of The New York Times tweeted in the midst of the violence, “The hard left seemed as hate-filled as alt-right. I saw club-wielding ‘antifa’ beating white nationalists being led out of the park.” After receiving blowback from the left, Stolberg then corrected herself. She said: “Rethinking this. Should have said violent, not hate-filled. They were standing up to hate.”
Or perhaps Antifa is a hateful group itself. But that wouldn’t fit the convenient narrative Antifa promotes and the media buy: that the sole threat to the republic comes from the racist right. Perhaps that’s why the media ignored the events in Sacramento and Berkeley and Seattle – to point out the evils of Antifa might detract from the evils of the alt-right.
That sort of biased coverage only engenders more militancy from the alt-right, which feels it must demonstrate openly and repeatedly to “stand up to Antifa.” Which, of course, prompts Antifa to violence.
Here’s the moral solution, as always: Condemn violence and evil wherever it occurs. The racist philosophy of the alt-right is evil. The violence of the alt-right is evil. The communist philosophy of Antifa is evil. So is the violence of Antifa.
If we are to survive as a republic, we must call out Nazis but not punch them; we must stop providing cover to anarchists and communists who seek to hide behind self-proclaimed righteousness to participate in violence.
Otherwise, we won’t be an honest or a free society.