The spirit of Bến Tre apologetics lives. The New York Times profiles the efforts of Antifa, the rebranding of leftist-anarchist provocateurs who have been around in one form or another for as long as the neo-Nazis against which they agitate. Echoing the infamous Vietnam-era quote “It became necessary to destroy the town in order to save it” but without any comprehension of its irony, the current face of Antifa insists that it takes violence to “protect” nonviolence:
Unlike most of the counterdemonstrators in Charlottesville and elsewhere, members of antifa have shown no qualms about using their fists, sticks or canisters of pepper spray to meet an array of right-wing antagonists whom they call a fascist threat to American democracy. As explained this week by a dozen adherents of the movement, the ascendant new right in the country requires a physical response.
“People are starting to understand that neo-Nazis don’t care if you’re quiet, you’re peaceful,” said Emily Rose Nauert, a 20-year-old antifa member who became a symbol of the movement in April when a white nationalist leader punched her in the face during a melee near the University of California, Berkeley.
“You need violence in order to protect nonviolence,” Ms. Nauert added. “That’s what’s very obviously necessary right now. It’s full-on war, basically.”
No, it really isn’t, not unless the two mobs have achieved state status. It’s full-on brawling and rioting, and there is a distinct difference. While much debate has swirled this week over whether one can draw a moral equivalency between Antifa and neo-Nazis and other white-supremacists groups, at least one fundamental equivalency cannot be denied. Both usurp the legitimate authority of the state to have a monopoly on public force in order to silence and intimidate others, which makes both equally dangerous to public safety and responsible public order.
Furthermore, as some of their more legitimate progressive allies have begun to realize, their actions in making that equivalency obvious erodes the credibility of their agenda:
Others on the left disagree, saying antifa’s methods harm the fight against right-wing extremism and have allowed Mr. Trump to argue that the two sides are equivalent. These critics point to the power of peaceful disobedience during the civil rights era, when mass marches and lunch-counter protests in the South slowly eroded the legal enshrinement of discrimination.
Give the New York Times credit for attempting to counter the image pushed by Antifa of a reactionary movement that solely arose to fight against the threat of neo-Nazis. This sect of radical leftism has been around a very long time; here in the Twin Cities, police arrested hundreds of them for plotting violence against the Republican National Convention in 2008. They rioted in Seattle during the World Trade Organization meeting in the 1990s. Unfortunately, even while discussing the movement’s history, the Times still buys into the idea that Antifa is a reaction solely to extremism on the other end of the spectrum:
Driven by a range of political passions — including anticapitalism, environmentalism, and gay and indigenous rights — the diverse collection of anarchists, communists and socialists has found common cause in opposing right-wing extremists and white supremacists.
They’ve found common cause in a lot more than that, as the record clearly shows. They aren’t interested at all in protecting non-violence. Antifa wants to use violence to achieve its own radical, extremist political ends. They don’t want to destroy the town to save it; they want to destroy the town in order to own and occupy it, and to impose its own totalitarian rule on the survivors. It’s long past time for the media to quit treating Antifa as some sort of romantic idealism and tell the truth about the danger it represents to democratic self-governance.