If there are any doubts that the political thugs calling themselves Antifa are the closest thing we have to actual fascists in this country, the recent assault on reporter Andy Ngo in Portland, Oregon should resolve them. Robby Soave at Reason.com writes about the attack.
Andy Ngo, a photojournalist and editor at Quillette, landed in the emergency room after a mob of antifa activists attacked him on the streets of Portland during a Saturday afternoon demonstration.
The assailants wore black clothing and masks, and were engaged in a counter-protest against several right-wing groups, including the Proud Boys. Ngo is a well-known chronicler of antifa activity, and has criticized their illiberal tactics on Fox News. He attended the protest in this capacity—as a journalist, covering a notable public event.
According to Ngo, his attacker stole his camera equipment. But video footage recorded by another journalist, The Oregonian‘s Jim Ryan, clearly shows an antifa activist punching Ngo in the face. Others throw milkshakes at him:
Throwing milkshakes at right-wing politicians is a tactic of British progressive activists that recently traveled to this side of the Atlantic. Rep. Matt Gaetz (R–Fla.) was hit with one earlier in June. The tactic has its defenders in mainstream left-of-center media as well: Vox‘s Carlos Maza tweeted “milkshake them all” after a British activist hurled a milkshake at Nigel Farage.
Portland police have claimed that some of the milkshakes thrown by the antifa activists on Saturday contained quick-dry cement. That may or may not be true. What is true is that an antifa mob beat up a journalist—one who is harshly critical of them, to be sure, but who posed no physical threat to them and was only there to document their activities—on a public street. This is indefensible, and yet there are tons of progressive-leaning people currently defending it, or at the very least rationalizing and making light of it.
Antifa, of course, rejects the notion that violence should only be used in response to a physical threat. The group believes that the very existence of far-right people, groups, and ideas is a kind of provocation that justifies violence—against the far-right, and against their enablers.
Evidently, the police were unwilling to prevent this sort of violence, perhaps because of Portland mayor, Ted Wheeler’s “hands-off” approach to violent protests in his city. Whatever the reason, Portland is getting a reputation as a place in which far-left Antifa activists can act with impunity against anyone who could be remotely considered a conservative, even a gay, Asian reporter.
A lot is being said about this incident, and I just want to point out that this is just what the Fascists did to gain power in Germany and Italy. Far-right groups, like the Nazis, would provoke fights with far-left groups like the Communists, and the authorities would ignore any crimes committed by the Fascists because they seemed to be the lesser evil. The threat of Communist revolution was held to be a great enough threat to justify ignoring Fascist violence. The resulting breakdown of law and order discredited those authorities and prompted people to support Hitler and the Nazis, since they seemed to be the only party that could maintain order. Despite the fact that the Nazis were responsible for much of the street fighting, the sight of the Brownshirts marching in ordered columns impressed the German people.
In like fashion, these far-left Antifa activists are provoking fights with alleged far-right activists and the authorities in Portland are ignoring crimes committed by Antifa on the grounds that they are the lesser evil than the Fascists and racists. The only difference that I can see is that the Weimar Republic faced a real danger of Communist subversion, funded by the Soviet Union, while Fascism and White supremacy are non factors in American politics, outside of the fevered imaginations of the left.
The lesson that those authorities who turn a blind eye to Antifa violence is the same, however. Those decent Germans who supported the Nazis as the lesser evil eventually learned, to their cost, that the lesser evil is still evil and that one totalitarian government was very much like another. Those Germans who winked at Nazi lawlessness would have done better to uphold the integrity of the Weimar Republic against all the extremists. Those authorities, like Mayor Wheeler and Antifa’s media cheerleaders, need to learn that their violence is not justified, even if their targets really were racists, and still less since their targets are simply mainstream conservatives.
I do not think that there is a very high probability that the Antifa thugs will gain any political power, although the Democratic Party’s increasing disdain for political and constitutional norms and tolerance for political violence is worrisome. I think that if the sort of violence and incivility represented by the Antifa and Trump opponents in Portland and elsewhere becomes the new norm, then an exasperated American people will turn to any strongman who promises to restore order, by any means necessary. Then, these supposed fighters against an imaginary Fascism will learn what it is like to face the real thing.