In the aftermath of President Trump’s press conference on Tuesday, in which he condemned neo-Nazism and white supremacism, but refused to condemn the alt-right by name and suggested that there were some “very fine people” at Friday night’s white supremacist rally, the Left has done what it does best: overstepped dramatically.
Instead of condemning Trump for the moral degradation of separating the alt-right from white supremacism, instead of pushing Trump on exactly whom he was seeking to defend at the rallies on Friday night, the media and the broader Left immediately leapt to one decisive conclusion: Trump’s major error was casting light on the evils of Antifa.
Mitt Romney made this critical blunder on Twitter:
Leftists in the press mimicked it:
Hendrickson is a writer at Esquire. Then there’s Jeffrey Goldberg of The Atlantic:
Here’s former Hillary spokesperson Brian Fallon:
Here’s CNN’s Chris Cuomo:
Here’s historian Mark Bray in the pages of The Washington Post:
The vast majority of anti-fascist organizing is nonviolent. But their willingness to physically defend themselves and others from white supremacist violence and preemptively shut down fascist organizing efforts before they turn deadly distinguishes them from liberal anti-racists. Antifascists argue that after the horrors of chattel slavery and the Holocaust, physical violence against white supremacists is both ethically justifiable and strategically effective. … The history of anti-fascist demands that we take seriously the violence of white supremacists. The days of “just ignoring them” are over.
This is horrifying stuff. The fact is that anti-fascist violence by Communists helped drive Hitler into power. It helped promote Mussolinia’s regime. Antifa’s tactics help the alt-right by allowing them to proclaim themselves victims of violence, defenders against the red horde.
And no, World War II allies fighting Hitler’s soldiers weren’t fighting protesters — they were fighting armed men with guns who had invaded sovereign states and were busily exterminating Jews. We didn’t send tanks and howitzers to fight rallies. We send them to fight armies.
The alt-right isn’t an army. They’re evil; they believe in evil things. But justifying violence by communists and anarchists as a necessary means of stopping the alt-right merely grows the alt-right — and leads to the legitimization of Trump’s larger point, that the hard left embraces violence and destroys civil society.