By Harold Rook
Ah, the current political climate. So welcoming, warm, and not completely polarized to the point of absolute tribalism. Imagine if we got to a point in US politics where we had two radical extremes actively committing violence and terror in the name of their supposed ideals. That would be crazy, right? Unfortunately, this hope for moderation is becoming less and less likely as Americans drift towards the political extremes. This can be seen with the emergence of the Alt-Right, a repugnant mix of white nationalists, ethnic-identitarians, and far-right activists. Additionally, a political opposite has also been generated from the increased sense of radicalism, being the progressive leftists. To be clear, I want to distinguish between liberals, those that promote tolerance, equality, and civil liberties, and leftists, those that emphasize collective action, equity, and classism in today’s politics. Even for this discussion, I am only referring to a subsection of radical leftists, those that identify as democratic socialists, communists, and anarchists, when I use the term “progressive leftist.” The violence and extremism of the Alt-Right has been (rightfully) noted and condemned by the public and media, with Charlottesville cementing the group as racial demagogues. What has not gotten necessary attention is the simultaneous rise in an illiberal, intolerant, and violent group of leftists that have no qualms disregarding American values and the law to push their message into the public sphere. These extremists have manifested themselves under several groups, such as Antifa and By Any Means Necessary (BAMN) and have become increasingly aggressive to anyone that deviates even slightly from their views. The recent growing wave of violence by these groups in the name of their supposed “progressive” goals should be highly concerning to the public, especially to those that value American principles of freedom, opportunity, and individualism.
For this little journey of radicalism and violent extremism, let’s start with something minor. On June 20th, 2019, a demonstration by the far-right Proud Boys was protested by Antifa in Portland, Oregon. During this time, a journalist named Andy Ngo was closely covering the event. Ngo works for the conservative-leaning Quillette, and has been a frequent critic of Antifa, although he himself was only there to document the protest. So how might a radical, extremist group react when a gay, Vietnamese journalist, who is critical of their actions and goals, starts to document their protest? Why, by stealing his camera, throwing milkshakes and silly string at his face, and beating him to the point of a brain hemorrhage, that’s how! Despite this clear injustice, Ngo was labeled as an “Alt-Right Infiltrator” by the group, with many news outlets either downplaying the event or some even claiming that Ngo was nothing more than a grifter looking to provoke violence. Yet while there are many today that value intersectionality as a core belief to approach politics, there has been little response to the beating of someone within the LGBT community, save for the bare minimum: disavowing the attack but not the perpetrators. In a society that values freedom of the press, even when such press disagrees with you, the beating of a journalist should be seen as a clear warning that these “Anti-fascists” are not seeking opportunities to exchange ideas, but rather to impose their ideals onto the public and to crush any form of descent.
Perhaps progressive violence shouldn’t be so concerning. After all, who could possibly make a claim that mainstream politics has figures that embolden acts of terror? Could you imagine a progressive politician using rhetoric to inspire a terror attack on a US facility? Who could possibly do that? Certainly not Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez! She’s the progressive superstar, the perfect face for the party whose symbol is a jackass. This modern Einstein of politics has always made completely accurate and truthful claims about everything, which are 100% nonconsequential. Why, take one of her most recent statements about the ICE facilities, how she believes that US facilities are “concentration camps” for illegal immigrants. Why Alexandria, great comparison! So true and to the point, only you may want to move your soapbox to the left, so it isn’t on six million Jewish graves, but otherwise preach sister! Stating (clap) the (clap) facts (clap)! Imagine if some anarchist terrorist affiliated with Antifa heard this and decided that, on July 13th, 2019, in Tacoma, Washington, that he was going to firebomb an ICE facility. That would be ridiculous right? Oh wait…that did happen? And the terrorist wrote a manifesto that claimed he “was Antifa” and that he was going to free the immigrants placed in a concentration camp by a “fascist regime”? And that, although he was stopped before causing too much damage, Antifa came out to call him a martyr for their progressive cause? Well, that’s not because of Alexandria’s progressive message that was clearly not inaccurate, degenerate, and antisemitic! I’m sure that our progressive intellectual goddess, the Lennon/Lenin of the Beatles-esque “Squad” can provide an answer! Oh wait…she has ignored all questions related to the incident and if she may have inspired this terrorist? These are lies! All of them! In all seriousness, however, I have message directly for Ocasio-Cortez: stop pretending that your progressive lies are not dangerous, because for every time you make them, you inspire domestic terrorists to do what they do best, commit domestic terrorism, all in the name of your leftist vision.
I also want to briefly mention the shooting in Dayton, Ohio, on August 4th, 2019. Following the shooting in El Paso, Texas, several hours before by an eco-fascist (yes, somehow that is a thing), another shooter opened fire on a crowd, killing ten people and injuring many more. Although the shooting itself was not politically motivated, it should be noted that, upon further investigation, the shooter was found to be an avid supporter of Antifa and a leftist progressive. However, the shooter himself had a long history of misogynistic and antisocial behavior, going as far as to get expelled from his school for creating a “hit-list” of his fellow classmates. It is clear enough that the shooting itself was not inspired by his political beliefs, but rather his misanthropic behavior. The reason I am discussing this incident is that it is still unclear if these political beliefs were a product of his misanthropy, or if his misanthropy was reinforced through his political beliefs. The beliefs of many of these radical groups tend to disregard individualism in favor of collectivism, which by consequence can dehumanize people in the ices of a sociopath. Whether his political beliefs were a primary cause of the shooting is not on the table, but what should be up for debate is to what extend these ideologies played in the shooter’s clear signs of sociopathy.
Any form of violence, be it from the Alt-Right or progressive leftists, should have no place in a society that values free speech, democracy, and open debate. Acts of terror only serve to further divide us as a country, with an emphasis placed on tribalism as opposed to communication. We are aware of the dangers of the Alt-Right, but can we say the same about the radicals on the left? These two fringe groups are a product of the current political climate, so we should not delude ourselves into thinking that these progressive leftist groups are not an issue when this progressive violence is becoming more prevalent in society. It is therefore our responsibility to shine a light on the acts of political violence that are committed by any group, as doing so will lead to a healthier public discourse.