It took two weeks before good respectable liberals were jumping on the bandwagon to blame "antifa," which they are happy to define as Trump did in Phoenix as some vague evil Mean Librul thing. Scott Greenfield goes the liberal-troll route in this tweet:
To the antifa, anyone who isn't them is a fascist who deserves to be beaten. And they are there to beat people. https://t.co/L6kRxoKRmu— Scott Greenfield (@ScottGreenfield) August 29, 2017
Finally! A good excuse for nice liberals to blast people who actually protest against white racism as the Real Villains. And strike a smug liberal posture while doing it. Plus, it's a good way to be quoted in stories as "even-the-liberal so-and-so agrees ..."
Surprisingly, even-the-Green Chris Hedges, happily echoes Trump's Both Sides Do It position in How ‘Antifa’ Mirrors the ‘Alt-Right’ Truthdig 08/27/2017. Right down to using the "alt-left" trope:
Behind the rhetoric of the “alt-right” about white nativism and protecting American traditions, history and Christian values is the lust for violence. Behind the rhetoric of antifa, the Black Bloc and the so-called “alt-left” about capitalism, racism, state repression and corporate power is the same lust for violence.This 08/19/2017 piece by Kevin Drum doesn't fall into the both-sides-do-it trap, Nonviolence Is the Perfect Answer to Neo-Nazis Mother Jones.
The two opposing groups, largely made up of people who have been cast aside by the cruelty of corporate capitalism, have embraced holy war.
Robert Reich posted this on his Facebook page 08/27/2017, responding to the specific occurences in Berkeley that day:
From where the text in the embed ends:
Some antifa protesters also threatened to break the cameras of anyone who filmed them, including journalists. One reporter tweeted that he had been pepper sprayed in one scuffle.I don't see that comment of Bob Reich's as indulging in both-sides-do-it. He's making a very legitimate political point, that the far-right protesters were seeking to portray themselves as victims.
According to the Washington Post, black-clad anarchists attacked at least five people. More than 100 hooded protesters, with shields emblazoned with the words “no hate” and waving a flag identifying themselves as anarchists, busted through police lines.
If these reports are correct, the antifa and black bloc anarchists have given Trump supporters exactly what they wanted in coming to Berkeley: footage of violence perpetrated against them. [my emphasis]
Josh Marshall has a broader and nuanced take on Should We Be Punching Nazis? TPM 08/28/52017:
Now, hearing this argument you might think I’m arguing for a bloodless “I may disagree with what you say but I’ll fight for your right to say it” argument. It’s not. I actually like seeing Nazis get punched. Nor do I think all views deserve a right of equal hearing in a democratic society. Philosophies that seek to destroy democracy and the rule of law don’t merit equal validation by a democracy. We grant them certain rights because doing so is consistent with a larger system of laws and rights that guarantees a civil society that is the antithesis of what they believe in. Put another way, Nazis deserve to get punched. A few sucker punches here and there probably send a salutary message. But it’s not always wise to give people what they deserve.It is the responsibility of the police to protect the right of peaceful demonstrators and to respond to obvious threat to the lives and safety of people in public confrontations. Like, for instance, if demonstrators show up with automatic weapons, like some of the rightwingers in Charlottesville did. And it's highly questionable, to put it mildly, whether the Charlottesville police responded in an optimal way to protect lives or the right of peaceful protest. (Aaron Davis et al, How Charlottesville lost control amid deadly protest Washington Post 08/26/2017)
I also think that in cases where the police either refuse to protect or are unable to protect the victims of fascist intimidation and violence that there should be defense groups that do so. That is defensive violence in specific situations. And more generally that only presupposes the breakdown of the state and its basic responsibilities which it should be our main goal to avoid.
The entirety of this seems still a largely marginal issue – a few street brawls in different parts of the country in which Nazis come out to march and intimidate and left-wing groups go out to meet them also looking for a fight. This is a tiny, tiny percentage of those counter-protesting these people. And I don’t include here people who simply defend themselves when attacked. But it’s still worth thinking this question through – even at a distance – since we live in troubled times.
Pushing civil society from talk and voting to violence and paramilitaries is what the fascists are trying to accomplish – moving from the rule of law to the rule of force. By every historical standard and also by almost every philosophical one, this is a victory for, if not fascism, then certainly authoritarianism. The answer to Nazis and white supremacists isn’t flowery talk or left-wing paramilitaries. It’s a stronger rule of law and an empowered state behind it. We have our work cut out for us.
Here are some of the news reports on the Berkeley protests Sunday:
- Lizzie Johnson et al, Live coverage: Violence at Berkeley rally escalates, police make arrests SFGate 08/272017
- Alix Martichoux, The most creative signs from the protests in Berkeley, San Francisco SFGate 08/27/2017
- Patrick May, Police make arrests as demonstrators face off at a chaotic Berkeley protest East Bay Times 08/27/2017
- Lizzie Johnson et al, Masked anarchists violently rout right-wing demonstrators in Berkeley SFGate 08/27/2017
- Patrick May et al, Police make arrests as demonstrators face off at chaotic Berkeley protest San Jose Mercury News 08/27/2017