I mentioned this last night and Allahpundit covered it some more this morning, but Matt Labash’s take on Antifa and their attack on Patriot Prayer organizer Joey Gibson last weekend is a must read. Labash was with Gibson both before and after the attack last Sunday and describes his experience in a piece at the Weekly Standard. The key point here is that Gibson is not a white supremacist or a neo-Nazi, though he is an opponent of Antifa:
As white supremacists go, Joey Gibson makes for a lousy one. For starters, he’s half Japanese. “I don’t feel like I’m Caucasian at all,” he says…
And it gets worse. The founder of Patriot Prayer—a Vancouver, Wash.-based operation that sponsors rallies and marches promoting freedom and First Amendment rights along with all-purpose unity—also spews hippie-dippie rhetoric like “moderates have to come together” and “love and peace [are] the only way to heal this country.” Joey tends to sound less like an alt-right bully boy than a conflict-resolution facilitator or a Unitarian Sunday school teacher.
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.”
None of that matters. As the planned rally approaches, it’s clear that Antifa is spoiling for a fight and not clear the police will be invested in protecting rally-goers. Gibson decides to cancel the Saturday rally to prevent people from being hurt. Instead, his group holds an impromptu press conference at which the main topic is racism. It’s clear some of the black participants are a bit frustrated at having to explain that they are not white supremacists:
That all happened Saturday. Sunday, as you already know, there were a series of violent attacks by Antifa. Again, Allahpundit covered this earlier but here’s a bit of Matt Labash’s description of what happened when Joey Gibson showed up:
A hundred or so masked-up antifa ninjas and affiliated protesters seem to simultaneously turn. It looks like we’ve interrupted al Qaeda tryouts. Joey, Tiny, and Pete all raise their hands high in the air, and flash peace signs, a conciliatory gesture. But nobody here wants peace. Not with fascists on the scene. As Joey nears the barrier, one of the ninjas swings and misses. Then the barrier topples, and they pour over, chanting, “Fascists go home!”…
First he catches a slap in the head, then someone gashes him with something in his ribs. He keeps his hands up, as though that will save him, while he keeps getting dragged backwards by his shirt, Tiny trying to pull him away from the bloodthirsty ninjas. Someone crashes a flagpole smack on Joey’s head, which will leave a welt so big that Tiny later calls him “the Unicorn.”…
I am sick at what I just witnessed. Angry, even. I wheel around on some protesters, asking them if they think it’s right to beat people down in the street. “Hell yeah,” says one. I ask them to cite anything Joey has said that offends them, as though being offended justifies this. A coward in a black mask says: “They’re f—ing Nazis. There’s nothing they have to say to offend us.”
Gibson described what happened in his own words this week on Tucker Carlson’s show. After describing the incident he concludes, “A lot of people think that if you just leave Antifa alone, just don’t talk about them and they’ll just go away. No. We’ve got to stand up to Antifa.” He added, “You got to talk to your politicians saying ‘Do you support Antifa? Do you support their violent tactics?'”
I made the case yesterday that these are not good people who simply use bad tactics (violence). These are illiberal, anti-freedom, anti-American, anti-capitalist thugs. It’s a relief to learn that the federal government is not giving this group a pass the way some in the media have been doing for several weeks now.