The violent clashes in Charlottesville, Va. this past weekend prompted the mainstream media to call on President Donald Trump and those on the Right to condemn the neo-Nazis and white supremacists involved, as they should. But while the focus has been on the alt-right and its racist affiliates present at the weekend protests, little attention has been paid to the violent Antifa (so-called anti-fascist) protesters on the Left who were equally violent. This can only serve to prolong the deep divide that has formed as a result of identity politics advocated by social justice warriors, not just between whites and minorities, but between the Left and the Right as a whole.
Let’s be clear: wrong is wrong and the violence over the weekend should be condemned regardless of whether it was from left-wing protesters or right-wing ones. But it’s a dangerous narrative that the media is attempting to push by presenting the violence as if it were one-sided. Violence at the hands of the Marxist Antifa protesters has been ignored and excused for far too long, and it is unlikely that any peace can be achieved while the mainstream media continues to push the Left’s narrative and treat leftist violence as just.
What’s more, critics are even attempting to argue that President Donald Trump is partly responsible for the violence because of the political climate his rhetoric has created. It is also the Left’s argument to claim that certain speech (mainly conservative) is violence and therefore, should be met with violence, and that is how Antifa has been permitted to engage in violent protests for as long as it has without the same media backlash we have seen following the violence in Charlottesville.
For example, Antifa protesters from Refuse Fascism used violence to shutdown an appearance by alt-right provocateur Milo Yiannopoulous at UC Berkeley earlier this year. They started a large fire just outside of the building where Yiannopoulos was supposed to speak, and threw rocks at police officers. At least six people were injured in the violence as Trump supporters were assaulted by the protesters, but the group defended its violence on its Facebook page as just and righteous.
“Dismantling police fences is not violent. And to compare preventing someone like that from speaking to the real-world violence that they perpetuate everyday is ludicrous,” they wrote.
According to conservative pundit Ben Shapiro, whose scheduled speech at Cal State-Los Angeles was also shut down last year as a result of campus protests, radical leftists like Antifa have subscribed to the philosophy that speech that you don’t like is a “microaggression” that can be responded to with a “macroaggression.”
And that is why the Antifa violence has been wholly ignored. It is also why President Trump’s condemnation of “hatred, bigotry, and violence on many sides” this weekend was deemed unacceptable by the mainstream media and social justice warriors who have overlooked violence on the Left. Until President Trump was willing to call out specifically the white nationalists and neo-Nazis, he was going to be charged with sympathy for the alt-right.
But the violence was not exclusive to the white supremacists and the neo-Nazis at this weekend’s rally as video coverage of the events reveal. Beyond that, the media’s attention has been on the hatred spewing from some of the alt-right protesters at this weekend’s events, in flagrant disregard of the similar hatred that spewed from the left-wing protesters. Writing for the “Daily Wire,” Ben Shapiro described this weekend’s violent clash best: “On the one side, a racist, identity-politics Left dedicated to the proposition that white people are innate beneficiaries of privilege and therefore must be excised from political power; on the other side, a reactionary, racist, identity-politics alt-right dedicated to the proposition that white people are innate victims of the social-justice class and therefore must regain political power through race-group solidarity.” So why is the media painting a different picture of the counter-protesters?
New York Times journalist Sheryl Gay Stolberg was berated online for daring to report that “the hard left seemed as hate-filled as the alt-right” at the protests and was even forced to issue a correction.
In fact, Antifa launched into violence against pro-Trump marchers who gathered for the Patriot Prayer rally in Seattle over the weekend, but you’ll be hard-pressed to find mainstream media coverage of that.
Furthermore, the media and Trump critics have been eager to place the guilt for the violence on the Right at Trump’s feet as if it were his fault. This is troublesome for a number of reasons. First, adults are responsible for their own actions and should be called upon to answer for them. Placing the blame on anyone else is simply assuaging guilty individuals. Second, it is arguable that the violence in Charlottesville this weekend is the culmination of years of identity politics that the Left and the social justice warriors have been advocating with President Obama at the helm. Yet no one has dared to accuse President Obama for any of the culminating hatred and violence that has erupted as a result.
Racism is a vile and ugly thing, and people should never be judged on the basis of their skin color, but that is exactly what identity politics asks Americans to do: treat people differently on the basis of their color, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, etc. This type of politics continually pits individuals against one another on a premise having to do with some demographic attribute that really should have no place in politics. Until that stops, this sort of violence and aggression will not. It is not a justifiable excuse for violence by any means, but certainly must be recognized as a contributing factor.