Dartmouth College professor Mark Bray appeared on Meet the Press Sunday to defend Antifa, or “anti-fascists,” who, just the day before, “fought white supremacy” by attacking cops and tossing bottles filled with urine at groups of law enforcement officials protecting a peace march in Boston.
Bray, who is the author of The Anti-Fascist Handbook, told host Chuck Todd that violence in the service of “anti-fascism” is totally acceptable because, when you think about it, its all just self-defense against Nazis.
Asked whether he supported throwing rocks at cops and threatening other protesters with bodily harm, Bray contended that it’s “privileged” to believe that white supremacists wouldn’t beat people down if given the opportunity, and therefore, Antifa is just engaging in a sort-of preventative maintenance.
“A lot of people are under attack,” Bray said, “and sometimes they need to be able to defend themselves. It’s a privileged position to say you never have to defend yourself from these monsters.”
In Boston, of course, the planned alt-right “free speech” rally attracted less than 100 actual attendees. They were dwarfed — surrounded — by more than 40,000 peaceful protesters who came to demonstrate Boston’s commitment to diversity. Although only a handful of Antifa were present at the rally, they quickly set about the task of causing chaos, clashing violently with police — even though they faced absolutely no threat from any Neo-Nazi, real or imagined.
But Bray pressed on, “Fascism cannot be defeated by speech,” he claimed.
For once, though, a member of the far left was countered by someone who might have, before Saturday, been on his side: Richard Cohen, the President of the Southern Poverty Law Center, an “anti-hate” tracking group that keeps tabs on white supremacists (but also anyone they deem a “threat,” including “traditional values” groups like the Family Research Council).
Cohen shot back at Bray, contending that his lust for violence was doing more damage to the progressive cause than helping to fight hate in America.
“I think it’s a spectacularly bad idea,” he argued, “to give one group the right to silence another group of people. It’s contrary to our values embodied in the First Amendment.”