Sure enough. Aggressive left-wing “direct action” started falling on conservative speakers on campus. And Antifa played the main role in shutting down speeches by Milo Yiannopoulos and Ann Coulter. Even if conservatives, of the type that wears loafers and bowties, had become used to holding Yiannopoulos and Coulter at arm’s length, the sight of left-wingers using violence and the threat of worse riots to shut them down caused some rallying effect.
The organizers of Unite the Right wanted to achieve the same thing for themselves. A spectacle would attract Antifa, who would predictably use violence. Some mainstream-media figures would endorse that violence, and some conservatives, they believed, would feel obliged to defend the ActualFascists because, hey, these left-wing mobs are attacking America’s legal and social norms of free speech. In other words, even if the assorted Jew-haters and fashy dorks can’t persuade conservatives to adopt a “no enemies to the right” posture, perhaps Antifa would.