Whenever a clash occurs between a sad handful of neo-Nazis and their supposedly “anti-fascist” opponents in black—as in the Unite the Right 2 rally in Washington, D.C., on August 11—conservatives brace for the usual spin from CNN, NBC, and the New York Times. The narrative is predictable at this point: right-wing white nationalists pervade America and trigger violence against heroic “Antifa” social justice warriors.
President Trump was quick to tweet out his opposition to “all types of racism” and “senseless death and division” ahead of the rally, calling for “peace to ALL Americans.” The President’s tweet came in recognition of the anniversary of last year’s demonstration in Charlottesville, Virginia, when a small rally held in the city by white supremacists devolved into a riot as the demonstrators and Antifa activists came to blows. The ensuing riots led to the horrific murder of one counter-protester, Heather Heyer, and dozens of non-fatal injuries as the extremists clashed.
This time around, the District of Columbia police managed to prevent violence by keeping the two groups separated. But denouncing violence and hatred wasn’t enough for many on the Left.
The New York Times was quick to accuse President Trump of “drawing a moral equivalence between hate groups” gathering in the national capital. “By declining to name the aggressors,” wrote the Atlantic, “Trump places the ralliers on an even footing with those who came out to oppose them [Antifa].” According to the leftist website Vox, that’s because “Donald Trump seems fine with Nazis gathering on his lawn” outside the White House.
Never mind that there were barely two dozen losers who would have been better to ignore than to indulge with media attention.
Despite the Left’s clamor over the rally’s potential to “terrorize our nation’s capital,” it turned out to be a dud. Even the Times had to admit that the gathering of a handful of white nationalists “was over almost before it began.”
The only violence that occurred came from Antifa activists, who threw water bottles and eggs at police officers as they (unsuccessfully) stormed police barricades. Some protesters turned on NPR reporter Tim Mak, who narrowly dodged an airborne egg himself.
Left-wing demonstrators also gathered to protest the Unite the Right 2 rally in Charlottesville, where they clashed with police and chanted, “All cops are racist.” One Antifa activist assaulted NBC News reporter Cal Perry, screeching “F*** you, you snitch-ass news bitch! F*** you!” as he attempted to swat away the cameraman.
Yet another Antifa demonstration held on August 11, in Toronto, Canada, saw anarchists assault a journalist with the Toronto Sun. “Out of nowhere, a man lunged, I saw an arm swinging towards my left temple, I managed to block it, partially, he did hit me,” the journalist later said. “I think the intention was to hurt me, I don’t think it was as simple as swiping a hat.”
Antifa’s violence towards white nationalists and the mainstream media alike reflects its members’ extreme ideology. Far from opposing genuine fascism as the movement’s name implies (Antifa is short for “Anti-Fascist Action”), Antifa has its roots in European anarchism, communism, and the fringe groups which support it. That ideology—which seeks to subvert all opposition to its far-left agenda—is explored in “Antifa,” the third episode in the Capital Research Center’s “America Under Siege” series:
How did the mainstream media react to Antifa’s savage journalist-bashing?
“People who show up to fight against bigots are not to be judged the same as the bigots, even if they do resort to the same petty violence,” said CNN’s Chris Cuomo. “Fighting against hate matters.”
The Washington Post chastised Antifa activists for “again giv[ing] peaceful protesters a bad name,” but bizarrely pointed them to the failed far-left Occupy Wall Street movement to observe “how real change happens.” In its nearly two-thousand word report on the protests in Washington and Charlottesville, the New York Times failed to even mention Antifa’s attacks on journalists and police.
The violence was so overt that even left-wing Vox had to admit that Antifa’s victims were police and journalists, not “neo-Nazis and white supremacists”—but “how that factors into Antifa’s ideology is anyone’s guess,” the website ventured sheepishly.
Most shamefully, though, was the reaction of NBC political director and Meet the Press host Chuck Todd, who chose to ignore the attack on his own colleague. On the other hand, CNN’s Jim Acosta didn’t show such tolerance when he was booed and heckled by Trump supporters while covering a Republican campaign event in South Carolina. Acosta took to Twitter to lament Trump supporters’ disdain for the press, but Antifa’s violent behavior didn’t warrant such a lecture. Todd similarly glossed over the riots in a Sunday Today interview the next day in order to imply that President Trump’s denunciation of bigotry from both the Left and the Right is a “dog whistle” for neo-Nazis.
Todd is certainly right to hear dog whistles, but they’re not coming from Trump—they’re coming from that segment of the mainstream media which refuses to properly condemn Antifa as the violent, anti-American enemy of free speech that it is.
In their rush to oppose Trump, Todd et al should take care not to “normalize” Antifa radicalism and street violence—lest they make a casualty of the First Amendment in the process.