What. Is. He. Talking. About.
And why is he so farking smug about it? It’s one thing to be smug about your area of expertise, but to be smug when you’re palpably misinformed? Good lord.
I know, I know: “It’s Jeffrey Toobin. Smug is his default mode.”
Needless to say to anyone who actually pays attention to Antifa, the group is emphatically not “widely perceived as an African-American organization.” Really the opposite. The stereotype is that it’s overwhelmingly white, basically Berniebros gone rancid who are more likely to come from middle-class or upscale households than not. (They have their fair share of trust-fund babies in the ranks too, no doubt.) I think of them as a modern, if momentarily less lethal, analogue to the Weather Underground, progressive radicals willing to go the extra mile to prove their seriousness of purpose. They’re descendants of the masked black-bloc rodents who tore up Seattle during the 1999 WTO. Their clothing is black but their skin is exceedingly, almost uniformly white.
I mean, really:
The dumbest part of this attempt to score a racial point on Trump’s comments to evangelicals at the White House is that Trump had an alternative he could have cited if that was his goal. The leftist activist group that is, of course, “widely perceived as an African-American organization” is Black Lives Matter. At the very least, if Toobin was going to strain to shoehorn Antifa into a racial narrative, he could have noted that it was the group that did battle in Charlottesville last year with white nationalists. That’s probably how he came to his conclusion that Antifa is perceived as black. The Nazis hate them! What else could they be?
It’s weird that a network like CNN with a gigantic, seemingly inexhaustible supply of contributors would turn to their resident legal analyst for thoughts on the racial make-up of Antifa, but that’s cable news for you. Everyone’s qualified to opine on everything! (Very unlike blogging, ahem.) The segment is almost salvaged, though, by Ron Brownstein’s point in passing that Trump is perceived by Republican voters as a “wartime president” — except in this case the war is a culture war against blue America. That strikes me as pretty astute, particularly in light of the “Flight 93 election” pitch in 2016. It’s a much better explanation for Trump’s Antifa comments than Toobin’s is, and a dead cinch to be Trump’s overarching message in 2020.
Update: Ed reminds me that the most high-profile arrest made in the past few years for Antifa-type activities involved Tim Kaine’s son. Doesn’t get any whiter than that!
CNN Analyst Jeffrey Toobin claims that any criticism of Antifa is "Donald Trump's appeal to racism." pic.twitter.com/JizxsCrVLA
— Ryan Saavedra (@RealSaavedra) August 29, 2018