Two weeks ago I called out CNN host Chris Cuomo over his remarks on Antifa. I wrote that his comments suggesting the group was morally right even if legally wrong was perhaps “the most irresponsible thing I’ve ever heard from a news host.” I don’t know if Cuomo heard that but he clearly heard some of the criticism coming from conservative outlets. Yesterday he erupted when guest Steve Cortes said he had equivocated on Antifa. From Mediaite:
“I never equivocated on anything,” a clearly annoyed Cuomo replied. “You let your righty mouthpieces twist my words for effect to enhance a bigoted agenda. And now you’re going to sell it.”
He continued on, voice raised: “It’s a mistake on this show. I said very clearly and people can check my words, ‘you break the law you’re a criminal and a thug.’ I said I don’t create a moral equation between those who preach hate and those who fight it because not all punches are equal. And I stand by that. But I never endorsed Antifa. Don’t sell B.S. to my face. Do it behind my back where you’re better at it.”…
“Your wave of — listen, this is my point, Steve,” Cuomo shot back. “You know if you looked at the words, which unfortunately we both know you didn’t. You read your little buddies at Breitbart and the little niche places that you say need to have more time on Google. And you came up with Cuomo didn’t beat down Antifa enough. Untrue. I said if you break the law you’re a criminal. It’s not good enough for you guys. You know why? You want to divide. And I’m wondering if it will work for you.”
Again, I don’t know if Hot Air was one of the “little niche places” Cuomo had in mind but clearly some of the criticism he heard stung.
I stand by everything I said about his remarks previously and I think his current attempt to skate away from those is disingenuous at best. Cuomo says he called people who break the law criminals and thugs. That’s true. He also said, “You attack cops, you slap the media, you are in the wrong, period.” If he had stopped there, I would never have criticized him at all. Unfortunately, he went on to say “But I argue to you tonight all punches are not equal, morally.”
“In the eyes of the law, yes. But in the eyes of good and evil, here’s the argument: If you’re a punk who comes to start trouble in a mask and hurt people, you’re not about any virtuous cause,” Cuomo said.
Again, he should have stopped himself there because by definition Antifa are people in masks looking start trouble and hurt people. It’s not just something that happens, it’s their goal.
Cuomo also asked this question, “When someone comes to call out bigots and it gets hot, even physical, are they equally wrong as the bigot they’re fighting?”
As I argued before, Cuomo is dodging the central point. Antifa is a group that comes armed with bats and shields and fireworks and bottles of urine and other items with the express goal of starting a fight and making their enemies physically afraid of them. Antifa doesn’t come to “call out bigots” it comes to start fights and, often, to destroy property. That’s literally why they wear the masks, so they can engage in illegal behavior and not face consequences.
More Cuomo: “Fighting matters, too, there’s no question about that. But drawing a moral equivalency between those espousing hate and those fighting it, because they both resort to violence emboldens hate, legitimizes hateful belief and elevates what should be stamped out.”
Again, Antifa doesn’t “resort” to violence. Antifa plans for violence and embraces violence. They do this because they don’t believe in liberal democracy. Here’s how Mark Bray put it in his pro-Antifa book:
They look at the history of fascism in Europe and say, “we have to eradicate this problem before it gets any bigger, before it’s too late.” Sometimes that involves physical confrontation or blocking their marches or whatever the case may be…
These are self-described revolutionaries. They have no allegiance to liberal democracy, which they believe has failed the marginalized communities they’re defending.
One aspect of this belief is that they will use violence to prevent themselves from being identified by the media so that they can engage in violence and vandalism against their enemies. This isn’t an accident, it’s a strategy! That’s not how things should work in America. Here’s what I said two weeks ago:
In America, everyone has the right to speak without being punched. And because that’s the line, it matters who crossed the line to violence first.
The problem with defending Antifa is that they openly admit they intend to cross that line as a guiding principle of their activity. It’s not something that just happens when things get hot as Cuomo frames it. Antifa are not showing up for protest and possible self-defense. They are striking first in order to silence people. That’s wrong and it’s dangerous to suggest that maybe it’s not wrong because the people getting punched probably had it coming.
Bottom line: Cuomo tried to elevate a group of violent thugs who don’t support liberal democracy by arguing they are morally superior to the people they beat up. He did this two weeks ago and he did it last year with this tweet:
Cuomo needs to abandon the idea that Antifa are warriors for a righteous cause (which happens to be exactly what Antifa believes) and admit they’re just thugs looking to hurt people (and hurt people and hurt people) and break things (and burn things) in the street. Just say it, Chris! These are not good people.