Cities burn, guardsmen face off against violent protesters, curfews are in place, and at the heart of it all: politics and anger. This was 1968, and this is today. The spreading upheaval has touched major centers around the country and shows little sign of slowing down. As New York, Los Angeles, Baltimore, and even the nation’s capital shudder at the deafening footfall of the mob, it’s time to ask if politics was the spark that lit the tinder or if it will be the blanket that smothers the flames?
“The peaceful [protesters]… tend to remain peaceful but what’s embedded within them are people that are right now, they’re just acting like terrorists, trying to instill fear, damage property and loot,” said Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva.
Multiple reports suggest that otherwise peaceful protests are being hijacked by groups intent on violence and destruction. President Trump has stated that he intends to designate Antifa – the group believed to be inciting the damage – as a “terrorist organization.”
In response, news outlets across the country have begun haranguing the decision, calling it impractical and illegal. But is this a sober assessment, or are the anti-Trump media trying to cover-up their prior support of this dangerous group?
Antifa Wages War?
CNN and other left-leaning outlets are spearheading the idea that President Trump has failed to provide evidence that Antifa is the violent element. One outlet reports today that, “neither he nor his attorney general has made public specific evidence that the far-left movement is orchestrating the fiery protests,” and CNN declared that evidence has yet to be granted to the public.
Attorney General Bill Barr stated in an impromptu press conference that, “In many places, it appears the violence is planned, organized, and driven by far-left extremist groups and anarchic groups using Antifa-like tactics.” Liberty Nation’s Graham J. Noble indicated that Barr’s summation suggests that the DOJ does, in fact, have evidence. He wrote:
“[T]he AG was not merely throwing out vague utterances of disapproval. Rather, he concluded his statement by pointing out: ‘It is a federal crime to cross state lines or to use interstate facilities to incite or participate in violent rioting, and we will enforce those laws.'”
No Escape from the Past
When the AG makes it clear that there are infiltrators determined to wreak havoc among the protests, and local officials state openly that these moles are attempting to stoke violence, why would media outlets appear so determined to pooh-pooh the idea?
In a 2017 article titled “What is Antifa,” CNN made the case that the group is little more than a response to white nationalists seeking to stop Nazis and hate speech. The network gave a puff-piece platform to a former organizer, and made the case that only fascists and racists that are opposed to the group, writing: “White nationalists and other members of the so-called alt-right have denounced members of Antifa, sometimes calling them the ‘alt-left.'”
CNN’s Don Lemon praised the group back in 2018, saying that they were “fighting racist fascists.” Legal Analyst for CNN and The New Yorker, Jeffrey Toobin raised the plaudits up a notch during a panel discussion on Wolf Blitzer’s The Situation Room in 2018. He said that President Trump’s criticism of Antifa is an “appeal to racism” and suggested that the group “is widely perceived as an African-American organization.”
The New York Times also attempted to soft-sell the organization back in 2017 with a piece called “Who’s Afraid of Antifa?” The author discussed how Antifa carried firearms in Charlottesville to “protect” the crowds. Perhaps the most telling paragraph was written when attempting to juxtapose Antifa with those the group opposes:
“Right-wing paramilitaries have been training for years, descendants of the militias of the 1990s, reawakened by their horror that a black man had been elected president of the United States. They have uniforms, insignia, traditions and, not least, stockpiles of weapons. Not only do they thrive under a friendly president, but open-carry states like Virginia enable them to intimidate peaceful assemblies. For the racist right, violence is not only a tactic, it is a calling card.”
Quite what this paragraph has to do with a piece setting out what Antifa actually is remains unclear.
Echoes of 1968
In 1968, the flames of racial tension were fanned by the socialist radical Stokely Carmichael, who, after the first night of rioting in Washington D.C., incited his followers and those mourning the assassination of Martin Luther King, saying “white America has declared war on black America.” He pronounced there is “no alternative to retribution,” and that “Black people have to survive, and the only way they will survive is by getting guns.”
And today it appears we have Antifa in much the same role. The Antifa America Twitter account was suspended Sunday night after calling on followers to “say ‘F— the City’ and we move into the residential areas… the white hoods.… and we take what’s ours.”
Antifa Reddit posts are listing meeting points and times across the country.
Minneapolis City Councilor Jeremiah Ellison, also the son of former Democratic Party Representative and present Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison, believes that “white power” individuals are behind the looting and arson. He declared his unwavering support for Antifa. He tweeted:
“I hereby declare, officially, my support for ANTIFA
Unless someone can prove to me ANTIFA is behind the burning of black and immigrant owned businesses in my ward, I’ll keep focusing on stopping the white power terrorist THE [sic] ARE ACTUALLY ATTACKING US!”
Like son, like father. Keith Ellison surprised some by lauding a book titled Antifa: The Anti-Fascist Handbook, saying it would “strike fear in the heart” of President Trump.
On Sunday night, Minnesota Governor Tim Walz announced that Attorney General Ellison’s office would lead the case against the police officer Derek Chauvin who killed George Floyd.
And what of the presumptive Democrat presidential nominee Joe Biden? At least 13 members of his campaign team advertised that they have donated cash to the Minnesota Freedom Fund, which has raised over $20 million to bail out those arrested during the protests. The campaign has refused to make comment on whether the donations were made in coordination with or as part of the campaign, adding fuel to the rumor fire that the Democrats see a political advantage in the nation’s upheaval.
It’s Always Politics
The devastation of 1968 and the turmoil of the Vietnam War was what ostensibly led to the election of Richard Nixon as the president of the United States. He largely fought his campaign on a law-and-order ticket with Spiro Agnew as running mate.
There are certain elements in today’s political society hoping and praying the opposition party can sweep to power and that the incumbent will be irreversibly tarnished by the horrendous riots and violence we are witnessing today. But their analysis may be wrong.
Nixon won because he promised to be tough on crime and tough on disorder. The country was still trying to come to terms with what some describe as a failed American Revolution, and voters did not want a president who would be soft. With Biden’s campaign donating money to assist those responsible for the destruction, prominent Democrats openly supporting the very people who are burning down the nation’s capital, and a complicit media trying to downplay the actions of a group that thrives on violence, Americans will likely not see the Democratic Party as the path back to civilization.
The fate of the country is in the balance. Voters will be asking themselves serious questions … and they may not like the answers.
Read more from Mark Angelides.