So the mainstream pundits are finally right. They said there was only one side behind the violence in Charlottesville last year, despite extensive reports of black-clad, far-left “Antifa” eagerly brawling with the white nationalists. This has since been cemented as an article of dogma among mainstream “liberals,” who seem determined to run interference for Antifa, even though Antifa is likely to go after them first.
But this year it looks like it’s really true. There is only one side in Charlottesville. As The New York Times summed it up, “With no sign of white supremacists there, tensions were confined to interactions between the left-leaning protesters and law enforcement.” Or, as I speculated on Friday, “It would be a supreme irony if the only news out of Charlottesville this weekend turns out to be scuffling between two groups — the police and Black Lives Matter or Antifa — who are both there to guard against the empty specter of neo-Nazis.”
So far, it looks like no more than scuffling. With no Nazis to serve as an excuse — even at their event in DC, where they managed to get a permit and a lot of police protection, it looks like no more than a handful of white nationalists showed up — the far left in Charlottesville faced only the hard target of police in riot gear, so they mostly contented themselves with slinging hateful words.
Whom do they hate? Well, mostly they’ve been “screaming at police.” The Washington Post puts this in a way intended to excuse the protesters, describing it as “confusion over an extraordinary police presence” that “turned into anger,” but that doesn’t fly when you look at the protesters’ actual message, in which they “chanted slogans … against the police, against white supremacy, and against the University of Virginia. ‘Last year they came with torches,’ said a large banner in front of a monument of Thomas Jefferson. ‘This year they come with badges.'”
You can see that banner in a photo in the article, and it’s clear that this was not just thrown together as a spontaneous reaction to the police. It was the planned message of this year’s protests. “Dozens of Antifa members, who had come from chapters all over the country … held signs that condemned the university and the police, along with white supremacists.”
Actually, it would be more accurate to say that they denounced the university and the police as white supremacists, with one protest group insisting that the police are inherently racist because “the institution of policing was created from the system of slave patrols.” It appears that the history taught to today’s kids no longer includes Sir Robert Peel.
In addition to hating higher education and law enforcement, the far left also hates the free press. I hear that it’s a really bad thing when Donald Trump denounces the media, but he can take solace that he is joined in this contempt by Antifa, which spent its protests hurling obscenities at reporters, calling them “vultures” and “snitches,” and assaulting a camera crew for the local NBC affiliate.
Having the radical left as the only side at this year’s demonstrations clarifies a few things. It shows that this was never really about statues of Confederate generals. Those statues are still up, and the “statue burqas” covering them were removed months ago without fanfare and without the city exploding into conflict.
It wasn’t about the Nazis, either. “Antifa” and the far left don’t need the specter of white nationalists to condemn anyone and everything as racist. As one chant at Saturday’s Charlottesville protests put it, “Old Jim Crow, new Jim Crow, this racist system’s got to go.” They aren’t against Nazis. They’re against the entire American system of government, which they will tell you if you bother to listen.
The far left is not “anti-fascist” but pro-Communist, which makes them just another enemy of free speech, liberty, and the rule of law. That’s the broader sense in which there is only one side we need to worry about: the enemies of freedom, of which the far left and the fascists are just two sub-factions.
Robert Tracinski is a senior writer for The Federalist. His work can also be found at The Tracinski Letter.