Liberal journalists’ praise for Antifa was shortsighted

Liberal journalists’ praise for Antifa was shortsighted
Antifa's handiwork, UC-Berkeley, 1 Feb 2017. (Image: Screen grab of ABC 7 SF video, YouTube)

Glorify thuggish violence against your political enemies, and it may come back to bite you. Some liberal journalists like the Washington Post’s Margaret Sullivan defended the violent masked thugs known as antifa, which has attacked campus conservatives, and right-wing speakers and demonstrators.

Antifa’s violence hasn’t been directed solely at the right-wingers it labels as “fascists,” and it sometimes can’t distinguish right-wingers from random onlookers or journalists reporting on right-wing rallies. As Anthony L. Fisher observed last week in the liberal-leaning Daily Beast, “some victims of antifa violence have included people that only someone who sees Nazis on the insides of their eyelids could define as fascistic: journalists, photographers, and people of color.”

Supporting free markets and capitalism can also get you labeled as “fascist” by antifa. It targeted the president of the University of Minnesota’s College Republican chapter, Madison Faupel, as another Daily Beast article recounts in “A Campus Conservative’s Year of Facing Anger, Doxing, and Intimidation.” The “far-left militant group Antifa targeted her for promoting capitalism on campus, posting online her address, phone number, parent’s address, parent’s phone number, a photo of her, and a reference to her as an alt-right Nazi.”

The Post’s Sullivan — who used to be the Public Editor of the New York Times — touted the pro-antifa Dartmouth lecturer Mark Bray, who has said violence by “anti-fascists,” or “Antifas,” is justifiable. As Fisher notes, Bray’s book Antifa: The Anti-Fascist Handbook has made Bray “an in-demand media presence.” This is true in spite of — or perhaps because of — the fact that “Bray eschews any pretense of objectivity,” and his book “contains unabashed advocacy” for antifa, and “glorification of antifa violence.”

Describing antifa’s actions on the day of President Trump’s inauguration, Bray writes glowingly of “the most iconic moment of the day … when a limousine was set ablaze.” As Fisher observes:

Bray neglects to mention the immolated limousine was occupied by a Latino driver who suffered minor injuries in the attack, and the vehicle was owned by a Muslim immigrant, who asserts he was later harassed by individuals who mistook him for a Trump supporter.

Sullivan, the Washington Post’s “media columnist,” claims antifa deserves more sympathetic media coverage. Complaining about the media’s belated criticism of antifa, she wrote, “These days, mainstream news organizations…are quick to criticize antifa,” but “less quick to explain the group’s ideology, tactics or goals. And when Dartmouth College professor Mark Bray tried to do so, he was publicly slapped back by his university president.” Like Bray, she suggested, the media should “relentlessly explain the beliefs, scope and scale of antifa,” which deserves “credit” for taking to the streets in places like Charlottesville. She complained that criticism of antifa by President Trump and the mainstream media left the impression that “it’s roughly the left-wing equivalent of neo-Nazis and white supremacists.”

Given that antifa, like some white supremacists, has engaged in violence, they are in some respects equivalent, and it is hard to fault the President for pointing that out.

Claims by antifa’s defenders that it attacks only “fascists” or white supremacists is disingenuous and false. Antifa has targeted for attack mainstream conservatives and free-marketeers who are themselves non-white.

In “A Beating in Berkeley,” the Weekly Standard tells the sad story of Joey Gibson, the half-Japanese founder of the conservative-leaning group “Patriot Prayer.” Gibson was attacked by antifa in Berkeley after a press conference following his cancellation of a “Liberty Weekend” event (which he canceled in an attempt to avoid being attacked by left-wing demonstrators). As the Weekly Standard’s Matt Labash reported:

For his late August “Liberty Weekend” in the Bay Area, which was to include a free speech rally in San Francisco followed by a “No to Marxism” rally in Berkeley (headed by a local “transsexual patriot”), Joey advertised that “no extremists will be allowed in. No Nazis, Communists, KKK, Antifa, white supremacists… or white nationalists.” (So much for free speech.) Likewise, the advertised docket of speakers was to include “three blacks, two Hispanics, one Asian, one Samoan, one Muslim, two women, and one white male.” …

[House Democratic Leader Nancy] Pelosi loudly suggested the permit be pulled, saying the National Park Service should reflect on its “capacity to protect the public during such a toxic” event, which she termed a “white supremacist rally.” The fact that over two-thirds of the event’s scheduled speakers were minorities…didn’t seem to cut much ice with her… The [liberal] mayors of San Francisco and Berkeley denounced the group, too…Berkeley’s mayor, Jesse Arreguin, was a Facebook member of BAMN (By Any Means Necessary), one of the antifa affinity groups that had helped trash his own city during the Milo riots. Yet this didn’t stop him from announcing that the city had printed up 20,000 “Berkeley Stands United Against Hate” posters for its citizens … to put everyone on notice about the Patriot Prayer rally. …

[After the press conference following Joey Gibson’s cancellation of Liberty Weekend], Someone crashes a flagpole smack on Joey’s head, which will leave a welt so big that Tiny later calls him “the Unicorn” … Joey and Tiny are blasted with shots of bear spray and pepper spray … while antifa continue throwing bottles at them. The mob stalks Joey and Tiny all the way to an Alameda County police line…No arrests are made. Except for Joey and Tiny, who are cuffed. … A Berkeley cop tells me they were arrested for their own safety (and weren’t charged).

Jerome Woehrle

Jerome Woehrle

Jerome Woehrle is a retired attorney and author, who writes about politics.


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