National Post Barbara Kay: Antifa needs to be called out for what it is — a movement of violent totalitarian thugs

National Post - Tuesday July 2nd, 2019

Antifa protesters wear bandanas over their face during a protest to oppose the right wing group "The Patriot Prayer Movement," that was having a rally in downtown Portland, Oregon on September 10, 2017.

The “entartistes” of the 1990s were a group of Quebec-based mischief-makers who threw cream pies in the faces of political and corporate elites. Amongst their victims: Jacques Parizeau, Stéphane Dion, Jean Chrétien, and BMO head Matthew Barrett. Their motto was “You work for us. You can’t be too big for your britches or you’ll get a pie in the face.”

Reaction was divided. Some saw in the campaign only the humour of political satire. Others saw it as low-level terrorism. I don’t find anarchy funny in any form. I imagined being pied as a frightening shock to the victim. Pies — and milkshakes, the current trend, which began in the U.K. with anti-Brexiteers — thrown by light-hearted satirists can act as dog whistles to dark-hearted revolutionaries. If someone can get to you with a pie, after all, he can get to you with acid.

Or a milkshake with quick-drying cement in it that can cause burns, as alleged in a recent assault on conservative reporter Andy Ngo, out on his regular beat covering an Antifa confrontation with the far-right Proud Boys in downtown Portland, Oregon. Masked Antifa members, who loathe Ngo for his continual exposure of their aggression and lawlessness, first milkshaked him, then stole his camera and launched a (video-captured) vicious assault on the slight, defenceless journalist. The Portland police were typically slow to act. At the hospital, a brain bleed was discovered.

Andy Ngo, a Portland-based journalist, is seen covered in unknown substance after unidentified Rose City Antifa members attacked him on June 29, 2019 in Portland, Oregon. Moriah Ratner/Getty Images

The attack served to illuminate what all responsible people know and have long known about Antifa. Antifa stands for “anti-fascist,” and claims to stand against racism and far-right ideology, but many of them are merely thugs shoehorning bully impulses into a political boot. The militants have demonstrated that they consider any dissidents to PC dogmas fair game for intimidation, doxing or assault, any institution that offers them a platform asking for vandalism.

In Canada, in the 1990s and early 2000s, we knew Antifa under the rubric of the Black Bloc, which targeted civilians, notably journalists, for harassment or worse. In one of their anonymous posts, a Black Bloc representative wrote: “Sometimes, it is necessary to go against what the mainstream considers ‘acceptable,’ to break the law in order to do the ethical thing.” Ah yes, breaking eggs to make omelettes, the justification of every totalitarian in modern times for intimidating, imprisoning or executing nosy journalists and other pesky human obstacles to the realization of their respective Utopias.

Since early 2016, well before Antifa’s famous Charlottesville confrontation with white nationalists, the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security have been warning of Antifa’s escalating truculence. In internal reports, the DHS classified their activities as “domestic terrorist violence.”

An unidentified Rose City Antifa member flicks off to the police during a demonstration between the left and right at Pioneer Courthouse Square on June 29, 2019 in Portland, Oregon. Moriah Ratner/Getty Images

Yet amongst leftist elites, Antifa arouses no particular revulsion. In 2017 Joe Biden described the Antifa gang in Charlottesville as “a courageous group of Americans.” And numerous mainstream journalists think milkshaking is a hoot, something to be encouraged, as long as it is directed at right-wingers. In May, CBS co-host Tony Dokoupil made light of the tactic: “In the latest of a series of attacks on right-wing politicians, Brexit Party Leader Nigel Farage was doused with a milkshake yesterday. That was actually salted caramel if anyone is wondering.”

Ngo had a premonition of the risks he was running by reporting solo at the event. As he posted on Twitter: “I am nervous about tomorrow’s Portland Antifa rally. They’re promising ‘physical confrontation’ & have singled me out to be assaulted.” Fearlessly (perhaps foolhardily), he did not bring “protection” with him.

In December 2018, the Vietnamese-American Ngo spoke on air with Fox News host Tucker Carlson (who was himself doxed by Antifa and needs full-time security at his home as a result), about his reportage. The clip contains video of Ngo being harassed at previous Antifa events, illuminating the nastiness the alt-left dishes out to “diverse” conservatives they perceive as traitors. One Antifa supporter tells Ngo he should be ashamed of himself, “because you’re an Asian giving in to white supremacy, motherf*****.”

Carlson alluded to Antifa as “rich kids in masks.” The masks are the key to their enthusiasm. Dangerous mobs are more than the sum of their cowardly parts when the parts are permitted to conceal their identity. Before 2012 in Canada, we had a law against “disguise with intent,” but that was replaced in 2013 with Bill C-309, which bans the wearing of masks during “a riot or unlawful assembly.” (The Portland police deemed the weekend incident an “unlawful assembly.”)

Civil libertarians protest mask laws, understandable in an era when a photo on social media of someone attending a politically incorrect protest can do them material damage. There are doubtless many people who mask themselves for good-faith reasons at political demonstrations. Antifa members are not them.

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