We’re starting to see a turn in coverage of Antifa after last weekend. Yesterday Nancy Pelosi put out a statement condemning the group. Last night, the Washington Post published an editorial describing Antifa as irresponsible and dangerous:
They were seen pummeling alleged right-wingers in Berkeley this past weekend, including a man they pushed to the ground and then kicked and punched until a journalist intervened. Whether the victim was or was not an actual fascist is not clear — but antifa’s indifference to such details is. “There is a complete mob mentality here,” the Los Angeles Times’s James Queally reported from the scene. “People are randomly accusing random people of being Nazis.”…
Antifa’s true danger is twofold: First, its violence does obvious and unjustifiable harm, both to free speech and to people and property; second, it tends to discredit, through association, the far broader peaceful movement against racism and hate…
Over time, such violence only benefits the very forces antifa purports to oppose. In terms of objective political impact, the group is badly misnamed: “Profa” would be more accurate.
The Post’s take is clearly written to appeal to a liberal reader. As you can see from that closing sentence, the emphasis is on the harm Antifa does to legitimate (progressive) protests. Of course one could say the same about neo-nazis, i.e. the greatest harm they do is to show up and discredit otherwise legitimate rallies for things like free speech, like the one that took place in Boston recently, or anti-communism, like the one that was canceled in Berkley last weekend.
However, the Post published an opinion piece today by Marc Thiessen which makes the case there is no moral high ground to be found between the violent fringes on both sides. What’s different, he argues, is that politicians eagerly denounce one group (and rightly so) but mostly hesitate to denounce the other:
The organizer of the anti-Marxism protest is not a white supremacist. Amber Cummings is a self-described “transsexual female who embraces diversity” and had announced on Facebook that “any racist groups like the KKK [and] Neo Nazis . . . are not welcome.” The protest was needed, Cummings said, because “Berkeley is a ground zero for the Marxist Movement.”
As if to prove Cummings’s point, the antifa movement responded with jackboots and clubs — because their definition of “fascist” includes not just neo-Nazis but also anyone who opposes their totalitarian worldview…
If black-clad neo-Nazis had attacked peaceful protesters at a “No to Racism in America” march in Berkeley, politicians in Washington would be falling over themselves to express their disgust — and any who failed to do so would be vilified. But when neo-communists commit this kind of violence, they get a pass from the left.
At the Chicago Tribune, columnist John Kass argues the silence of Democratic politicians about Antifa violence should be taken as consent:
There has been no concerted media effort to pressure Democratic politicians to denounce Democratic muscle. So Democratic politicians have been relatively silent, as have many of their loyal pundits. A few pundits of the left have even compared the thugs with American soldiers hitting Omaha beach, a ridiculous attempt to legitimize the violence.
This is all corrosive and dangerous. And in a loud political year, the silence of Democratic politicians explains so very much.
Because silence is consent.
The danger Antifa represents is not primarily that they will discredit the left. The real danger is that the left, by not denouncing their violence, is quietly embracing the idea that political violence is sometimes justified. This is an idea the left has toyed with and celebrated for decades. Che’ Guevara, the Weather Underground, BLA, and Assata Shakur are heroes on the far left even today. Elected Democrats need to make clear they don’t support these extremists.