Antifa: The extremists of the Left
It’s both right and easy to condemn the “goosestepping losers” who brought their swastikas and tire irons to Charlottesville, Va., spoiling for a fight, said David Harsanyi in TheFederalist.com. But the Left also has a moral obligation to condemn the violent extremism of the “antifa” movement. This anti-Trump “resistance” is stocked with “haters and anarchists” who believe they have a right to violently confront and silence their enemies. In Charlottesville, black-garbed antifa goons knocked white supremacist heads, wielding clubs, bottles, and other weapons. Ostensibly defending the marginalized and oppressed, antifa activists have resorted to vandalism and destruction to block appearances by right-wing speakers at Berkeley and other college campuses. Antifa activists are not liberals, said Jonah Goldberg in the New York Post. They’re radical thugs who “oppose free speech, celebrate violence,” and have contempt for “the American political system.” Punching Nazis doesn’t make them “the good guys.”
“Yes, anti-fascists are violent—and necessary,” said Michael Harriot in TheRoot.com. Granted, many are anarchists who disdain institutions, but they may be right that “the only way to fight tyranny is with force.” Nazis, Klansmen, neo- Confederates, skinheads, white nationalists—they all share a desire “to make America great again” by ridding the country of anyone who isn’t white. Emboldened by a champion in the White House, they won’t be stopped “with signs, freedom songs,” and passive resistance. That’s why the right’s “whataboutism” equating antifa with white supremacists is so disingenuous, said Robyn Urback in CBC.ca. The word “antifa” doesn’t “harken back to lynchings and concentration camps and slavery”; this group was founded to defend oppressed groups, not to spread hate.
Resisting white supremacy is a good cause, said Peter Beinart in TheAtlantic.com, but antifa activists use tactics that “are genuinely troubling” and counterproductive. “Conservatives use antifa’s violence to justify—or at least distract from—the violence of white supremacists,” as Trump did after Charlottesville. And for all antifa’s professed anti-authoritarianism, “there’s something fundamentally authoritarian” about its assumption that unelected activists can decide “whose views are too odious to be publicly expressed.” Trump was wrong to equate antifa with Nazis and Klansmen, but this movement “is a moral problem that liberals need to confront.” ■