Liberals cheer as antifa violence escalates
The underreported incident marks a new chapter in the return of armed left-wing terrorism to the United States. It also triggered a flash of memory in my mind: I had crossed paths with Van Spronsen in December, when a group of rifle-carrying antifa militiamen tried to prevent me from filming their protest outside Seattle City Hall.
Little did I know then that I would soon have a more immediate encounter with antifa violence. Two weeks ago, I was left hospitalized with a brain hemorrhage after a mob of mask-clad rioters beat and robbed me while I was covering a demonstration in downtown Portland, Ore. The attack, claimed by Rose City Antifa, was caught on videos that went viral online.
As shocking as my unprovoked beating was, I’m hardly the first to be cruelly beaten by antifa. I have been covering antifa since the days after the 2016 election, when Portlanders woke up to find that downtown had been ravaged by black-clad vandals and arsonists overnight. Since then, the militants have repeatedly brutalized the city’s population. They have learned from experience that city government and police lack the political will to protect citizens.
Though known for their hallmark masks and black uniforms, antifa isn’t a formal, centralized group. Its “members” operate as a loose grouping of militant Marxists and anarchists drawn from various autonomous far-left groups. Political violence is a feature, not a bug, of antifa, which believes itself to be in an existential struggle with latter-day fascism.
The worst part is how prominent media figures and politicians glamorize and even promote antifa as a movement for a just cause. CNN’s Chris Cuomo and Don Lemon have defended antifa on-air. Chuck Todd invited antifa ideologue Mark Bray on “Meet the Press” to explain why antifa’s political violence is “ethical.”
Keith Ellison gleefully posted — and recently deleted — a selfie of himself holding Bray’s antifa handbook. Rep. Maxine Waters met hard-left political operative Joseph Alcoff in 2016. Alcoff is currently facing felony charges for his alleged involvement in an antifa mob beating of two Marines in Philadelphia.
That last choice of targets — Marines — was no accident. Antifa operates by a very broad definition of “fascists.” By antifa’s telling, fascists include mainstream conservatives and even centrist journalists who dare criticize them. But they save most of their hatred for US law enforcement and military service members. Antifa’s goal is violent political revolution, and it sees law-enforcement officers and the military as the main obstacles.
In the Pacific Northwest, where antifa is especially active, the group has continually targeted ICE. Last summer, the local ICE building in Portland faced a five-week siege that shut down the facility. Why? Antifa seeks to destabilize and destroy the nation-state by attacking its sovereign borders. And the group draws morale from mainstream progressive politicians, such as Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who normalize hatred of border enforcement and sovereignty as such.
Van Spronsen, last weekend’s antifa fire bomber, expressed disdain for the state in a manifesto attributed to him on Seattle Antifascist Action’s Facebook page (it has since been deleted). He allegedly wrote: “I am antifa” and referred to ICE centers as “concentration camps” — language taken directly from AOC.
Last summer, he took part in a siege of the same Tacoma ICE facility he attacked Saturday, assaulted an officer and was found to be carrying a baton and knife. He pleaded guilty to obstructing police and was released under a deferred sentence.
As the Saturday incident shows, law enforcement should pay more attention to the various armed militias that ally with the wider antifa movement. Van Spronsen was a member of the John Brown Gun Club, a Marxist gun organization that calls itself “anti-fascist, anti-racist, anti-capitalist and anti-patriarchy.”
The JBGC was glowingly featured in a May episode of CNN’s “United Shades of America.” Host W. Kamau Bell even solicited donations from the public on the group’s behalf. Elite cheering of terrorism hasn’t been this chic since Leonard Bernstein fundraised for the Black Panthers at his Park Avenue pad.
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