For decades, liberal journalists have often tried to discredit conservative protest movements from the Tea Party to the pro-lifers by smearing them with violent extremists. So it’s fascinating to read liberal Washington Post media columnist Margaret Sullivan warning on September 4 against tarring the anti-Trump “resistance” with an Antifa brush. The headline was “Quick to vilify Antifa, but slow to explain it.”
Sullivan claimed all most people know about Antifa is what they’ve heard from President Trump, and what they guessed from video of “club-wielding protesters shown endlessly on TV,” leading viewers to think they’re the left-wing equivalent of neo-Nazis. “That’s not only untrue, but it has the effect of tarring everyone who protests Trump, as well as those who peacefully march for climate-change awareness, or rally against hate-mongering speakers.”
Sullivan complained the term Antifa has been “quickly weaponized,” and quoted leftist writer Paul Blest claiming that Antifa’s level of violence is nearly nonexistent next to the extremist right. “To pretend that the alt-Right and Antifa are comparable is like equating the danger of playing Russian roulette with taking a walk.”
Try asking someone beaten half to death by Antifa thugs if it felt like a walk in the park.
In Sullivan’s mind, the alt-Right has faced an easy road. She bizarrely claimed “a prettied-up celebrity status accrued to white-nationalist leader Richard Spencer, who was profiled everywhere with flattering photos and reasonable-sounding quotes.” Sullivan didn’t provide a single example of any media outlet, liberal or conservative, flattering Spencer with “prettied-up celebrity status”....because it didn’t happen.
ABC’s Spencer interviews were described on screen with words like “Hate Among Us” and “Confronting Hate.” He openly talked about an approaching race war, which is not very “reasonable-sounding.” Sullivan’s own Washington Post used headlines like “Richard Spencer's vision: Apartheid in America” and “Six angry men and their long roads of hate.”
Sullivan also relayed questionable numbers from the Anti-Defamation League claiming “right-wing extremists” committed 74 percent of the “372 politically motivated murders recorded in the United States from 2007 to 2016,” while “left-wing extremists” committed only two percent.
Of course, most conservatives don’t consider the Hitler-adoring National Socialist extremists to be “right wing.” Worse yet, Sullivan was wrong to claim the ADL counted only “politically motivated” murders. Their 2016 “Murder and Extremism” report explicitly stated they counted all murders by the extremists they identified, including “non-ideological” murders in the midst of “gang-related and traditional criminal activity.”
To Sullivan’s chagrin, Democrats like Nancy Pelosi and the Washington Post editorial board are coming around to the idea of properly vilifying Antifa as a violent fringe. “Mainstream news organizations and liberal politicians are quick to criticize Antifa – doing so vehemently has become a badge of honor – but less quick to explain the group’s ideology, tactics, or goals.”
Sullivan lamented that their theorist Mark Bray was “publicly slapped back by his university president.” She lectured reporters: “The best thing journalists can do is to relentlessly explain the beliefs, scope and scale of Antifa, and to resist conflating it with liberal groups.” Already, NBC’s Chuck Todd put Professor Bray on air twice to promote Antifa’s explicit endorsement of violence. NPR’s talk show 1A gave Bray an hour-long platform to explain it.
Sullivan and Todd look especially odd when the liberal media have protested so harshly against President Trump denouncing journalists for fake news. Antifa thugs have repeatedly turned violent on people filming them on the street, beating or threatening journalists and regular citizens alike who dare to capture them on tape. Why, then, must they not be “vilified”?