Fred LaSor: Antifa is an evil movement
Ever since the riots in Berkeley this past February we have seen repeated appearances around the country by masked rioters who call themselves Black Bloc, or Antifa. The irony of that label insults the intelligence of anyone who remembers history, as their chosen name is short for “anti-fascists,” yet these gangs use the tactics of Mussolini’s Fascist black shirts to stifle free speech and personal liberty.
February’s riot in Berkeley, where an estimated 150 Black Bloc rioters infiltrated and subverted an otherwise peaceful demonstration against a right-wing speaker, then caused severe injuries and extensive property damage, was a California coming-out for these thugs. It wasn’t the radical left’s first effort to disrupt civic order, though: The first American example of anti-capitalist, violent riots, similar to what had been seen in 1970s Germany, occurred in Seattle in November 1999 during the World Trade Organization’s ministerial meeting. That violence came with themes similar to what we saw this year in Berkeley: disruption of civic order, destruction of property, and confrontation with local law enforcement, all under the guise of anti-capitalism.
Their similarity is not accidental. This is not civil disobedience, it’s orchestrated political terrorism on a national scale. Democrats have played down the danger of Antifa, especially when compared to white supremacists and the KKK. It is, in fact, much larger, much better coordinated (even though it lacks a central head), and a genuine danger to American life, property, and civil discourse, than the KKK. An article last week in Politico cites “confidential law enforcement documents” as having “classified (Antifa’s) activities as ‘domestic terrorist violence.’”
Liberals have been slow to criticize Antifa because it’s seen as part of an ill-defined coalition that focuses opposition to President Trump. The short-sightedness of allowing this cancer to grow because its vision coincides occasionally with that of the Democratic Party is becoming clearer as GOP fund raising swells while that of Democrats remains static.
Nancy Pelosi is the first Democratic politico to figure this out. She came out against Antifa last week, signaling a possible change in party policy. Pelosi is quoted as having said, “Violent actions of … Antifa in Berkeley this weekend deserve unequivocal condemnation, and the perpetrators should be arrested and prosecuted.”
This couldn’t have been an easy statement for Ms. Pelosi, so soon after Democrats tried to tie the Republican Party to the Unite the Right demonstration in Charlottesville, Va. But Pelosi understands opposing Antifa doesn’t equate with support for white supremacists, and black-shirted goons with their masks, shields, and nail-studded clubs aren’t ending racism. Instead, they’re destroying America’s much-respected ability to govern itself peacefully, and damaging the Democratic Party into the bargain.
One particularly gruesome scene from the Berkeley riots had a masked thug — subsequently detained and allegedly identified as a philosophy professor — swinging a heavy bicycle lock into the head of a right-wing demonstrator and knocking him to his knees. It’s time for political leaders across the country to recognize these thugs for the threat they are and to speak out against them.
Having a violent political movement spread and grow in the United States should be a major news story and one would expect at least one reputable journalist to dig for their roots, map their structure, and investigate their supporters. Instead, our generally left-wing media have ignored what should be a prize-winning story. This needs to stop: Democrats need to join the rest of the nation in denouncing Antifa as evil and a threat to our republic.
Fred LaSor has lived in the Carson Valley for the past dozen years.