In an effort to show that Donald Trump was wrong to denounce violent antifa left-wingers in Charlottesville, Slate‘s Dahlia Lithwick asks left-wingers in Charlottesville if the antifa were violent. Surprise! The verdict is: no way!
Take a look at the response of the Rev. Seth Wispelwey of a United Church of Christ congregation in C’ville. Before you read, understand that he was with a group of people trying to block the right-wing extremists from gaining access to the park, where they had a legal permit to gather:
I am a pastor in Charlottesville, and antifa saved my life twice on Saturday. Indeed, they saved many lives from psychological and physical violence—I believe the body count could have been much worse, as hard as that is to believe. Thankfully, we had robust community defense standing up to white supremacist violence this past weekend. Incredibly brave students held space at the University of Virginia and stared down a torch-lit mob that vastly outnumbered them on Friday night. On Saturday, battalions of anti-fascist protesters came together on my city’s streets to thwart the tide of men carrying weapons, shields, and Trump flags and sporting MAGA hats and Hitler salutes and waving Nazi flags and the pro-slavery “stars and bars.”
Out of my faith calling, I feel led to pursue disciplined, nonviolent direct action and witness. I helped lead a group of clergy who were trained and committed to the same work: to hold space on the frontline of the park where the rally was to be held. And then some of us tried to take the steps to one of the entrances. God is not OK with white supremacy, and God is on the side of all those it tries to dehumanize. We feel a responsibility to visibly, bodily show our solidarity with the oppressed and marginalized.
A phalanx of neo-Nazis shoved right through our human wall with 3-foot-wide wooden shields, screaming and spitting homophobic slurs and obscenities at us. It was then that antifa stepped in to thwart them. They have their tools to achieve their purposes, and they are not ones I will personally use, but let me stress that our purposes were the same: block this violent tide and do not let it take the pedestal.
The white supremacists did not blink at violently plowing right through clergy, all of us dressed in full clerical garb. White supremacy is violence. I didn’t see any racial justice protesters with weapons; as for antifa, anything they brought I would only categorize as community defense tools and nothing more. Pretty much everyone I talk to agrees—including most clergy. My strong stance is that the weapon is and was white supremacy, and the white supremacists intentionally brought weapons to instigate violence.
Stunning. “White supremacy is violence.” So, simply holding an opinion that the Left deems white supremacist is the same as physically assaulting someone — and therefore, the holder of that opinion deserves to be beaten up. Though the Rev. Wispelwey refuses on principle to use violence to oppose white supremacists, he’s not going to judge those who do. History will absolve them, or something.
The reader who passed that article along to me comments:
That is how this is going to play out. And has played out. The Nazis need do nothing, other than exist. Their EXISTENCE is violence. In this version, it does not matter what they do. Their VIEWS are violence, and deserve retribution. There is no need to even claim that they were worse, or that they acted out first. Any Antifa reaction is justified, and is not characterized as instigation. This is the exact logic used to defend the assault on idiot Richard Spencer: He deserved it! There was a bit of debate at that time, about whether it’s OK to “punch a Nazi.” That debate is over. Anything that Antifa does is “community defense.”
Uh oh. This is bad. It’s mainstream. And it’s taking over.
At conservative rallies, any tolerance of any bigot is seen as complicity. On the left, we don’t even have people hiding behind the claim that “we were all peaceful protestors,” or that “there were just a few bad apples.” At Berkeley, they tried to say that, but reports indicated that the Black Bloc was hiding among them, using them as cover, and the fact is that the “non radical” folks cheered them on.
But no, that claim is not even needed. Now it’s, “Peaceful people from my church were trying to block the path of the Nazis. The Nazis came near us and the heroic Antifas came to our rescue by clobbering them.”
“The Nazis marched past our church. Who knows what they might have done? Fortunately, the heroic Antifa clobbered them.”
Mind you, all this in an article about how heroic they were.
Hey, did you hear about the journalists covering the events in Charlottesville who were beaten by antifa? Probably not, because it hasn’t been much talked about. CNN’s Jake Tapper is a welcome exception.