President Donald Trump has come out against Antifa, threatening to declare the organization, whose members he called “gutless Radical Left Wack Jobs who go around hitting (only non-fighters) people over the heads with baseball bats,” a major organization of terror, which, as he also pointed out, “would make it easier for police to do their job.”
But because Trump is for it, the media is against it.
“Trump wants to declare Antifa a terrorist organization, even though right-wing extremists have been more violent,” wrote Newsweek in the headline of a story by Christina Zhao.
“Trump Warns ‘Gutless’ Antifa May Be Branded A Terror Group As Far-Right Killings Climb,” read the headline on Mary Papenfuss’ piece on Huffington Post. “The loose collection of groups of anti-fascist protesters haven’t been linked to a single death, while right-wing extremists tally mounts,” read the subhead.
The media has two talking points on this. One is to assert that Antifa is a loose-knit organization – so loose-knit, in fact, that because “Antifa is a loosely linked collection of groups of protesters who take on right-wing demonstrators on an ad-hoc basis, rather than a single organized group,” then “designating such protesters as part of a terror group risks branding any demonstrators against a right-wing ideology as terrorists,” Papenfuss wrote.
“Although often referenced as a monolith, ‘Antifa’ is not one organization, but a loosely linked collection of groups, networks and individual people who support aggressive opposition to activists on the far right,” wrote Marisa Iati of the Washington Post in “Two senators want Antifa activists to be labeled ‘domestic terrorists.’ Here’s what that means.”
Later in the piece, she echoed the theme: “The lack of a central governing system for Antifa creates the risk of wrongly applying the label to all counter-protesters of white supremacists,” she wrote, citing the Anti-Defamation League. “This kind of mislabeling, the ADL said, could cause police to violate the civil rights of peaceful activists.”
“The Antifa movement, shortened from ‘anti-fascist,’ is comprised of autonomous groups that oppose neo-Nazis, fascism, white supremacists, racism and other forms extreme right-wing ideology,” wrote Zhao for Newsweek. “…By including Antifa under that definition, the government runs the risk of wrongly labeling all counter-protesters as white supremacists, the Anti-Defamation League said, which could allow police to violate the rights of peaceful protesters.”
The other is that white supremacists are far worse of a problem than Antifa.
As proof, Papenfuss offers Robert Bowers, the man thought responsible for killing 11 Jews at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh. But Bowers hated Trump – “Trump is a globalist, not a nationalist,” he was quoted by the New York Times as writing in a tweet on the day of his shooting. “There is no #MAGA as long as there is a – he inserted a slur for Jews – ‘infestation.”
The Washington Post agreed. The Anti-Defamation League “said activists’ violent tactics are wrong, but that Antifa and white supremacists are not equivalent,” wrote Iati.
Newsweek wrote that “While some members of Antifa have indeed damaged property and engaged in physical violence, they have not yet been linked to any killings in America, unlike some known hate groups that have not been designated as terrorist organizations.”
Rather than point to specifics, it quotes the Anti-Defamation League, saying, “’The Antifa reject racism but use unacceptable tactics. White supremacists use even more extreme violence to spread their ideologies of hate, to intimidate ethnic minorities, and undermine democratic norms.’”
HuffPost reported that the Anti-Defamation League “found that domestic terrorists took the lives of at least 50 people in 2018 – up from 37 the previous year – and that each of the killings ‘had a link to right-wing extremism” and that “the far-right accounted for 73 percent of 425 extremist murders in the U.S. between 2009 and 2018.
It left out the part where the Anti-Defamation League wrote: “The primary reason for the higher totals? High-casualty attacks, mainly through shooting sprees. Each of the last five years has been marked by shooting sprees by right-wing domestic Islamist or left-wing extremists.”