Media Normalizes Political Violence by Mainstreaming Antifa

Since February’s violence in Berkeley, which stopped a scheduled speech on campus by Milo Yiannopoulos, the media and the political Left’s relationship with Antifa has been similar to that of your favorite codependent couple; they’re either publicly and passionately in love with each other or loudly breaking up for-the-very-last-time and taking out restraining orders.

At the time of the Milo controversy, politicians and the mainstream media were quick to point out that Antifa was not of the Left, but was, as reports went, a loose group of anarchist provocateurs engaging in black bloc tactics. Social media was replete with intimations that the protesters were actually agents provocateurs designed to make the Left look bad. Robert Reich, the former secretary of labor for Bill Clinton who is now a professor at Berkeley, wrote that the February riot: “…raises the possibility that Yiannopoulos and Brietbart [sic] were in cahoots with the agitators, in order to lay the groundwork for a Trump crackdown on universities and their federal funding.” The optics were bad, so Antifa had to be kept at arm’s length.

Charlottesville changed all that, as an overzealous and seemingly politically motivated media and an all too eager political class worked to recast Antifa as the heroes within an overly simplistic narrative. This gave the group and its philosophy of violent opposition to “offending” speech the daylight it needed to grow a fig-leaf of acceptability, which, in turn, emboldened its members to commit more brazen acts of intimidation and violence—the most recent example having occurred, again, in Berkeley.

Charlottesville proved once more that the media is unworthy of the trust the people want to place in it. Keen to pounce reflexively and at any opportunity on a president they abhor, the mainstream press provide cultural cover for Antifa’s political violence.

In a textbook example of psychological projection, they ascribed to the president actions and motivations which proved to be their own: making excuses for political violence. The claim that President Trump was too forgiving of neo-nazis and Klansmen turned out to be a more accurate description of their own assessments of Antifa. The media all but lionized the group, mitigated criticism of it, and allowed the political violence Antifa engages in to be swept under the rug of good intentions.

Instead of reporting honestly about the events and actors at Charlottesville and the clashes that followed, the media weaved a dramatic tale of good versus evil where narrative lorded over nuance and the drama couldn’t be bothered with the pedantry of details.

By framing the events of Charlottesville in almost infantile terms—Nazis-bad-everyone-against-Nazis-good—the media placed Antifa right alongside goodwill counterdemonstrators. This normalization of Antifa with the peaceful protesters at the rally may have yielded eyeballs and the short-term political gain of hurting President Trump, but this reductionistic narrative has also served to mainstream and embolden Antifa by playing into the group’s self-identification as the people’s revolutionaries.

Only One Kind of Evil
Despite his much criticized and maligned initial pronouncement on the events in Charlottesville, in noting the “violence on all sides” Trump was, in fact, more nuanced about the situation than all the journalism-school graduates sent to cover the event. On that day there were neo-nazis who rightly deserve scorn clashing violently with Antifa who likewise deserve scorn. But the media couldn’t be bothered to note such nuance. Their simple-minded narrative would only allow that Good and Evil needed to clash on that day. There could be only one kind of evil in Charlottesville. Seeing both a political opportunity and the ability to profit off strife, the media set about creating a mythos. So let it be written so let it be done.

More disappointing were the supposedly conservative politicians who piled on and, for whatever reason (personal hatred of Donald Trump?) appeared to buy into this reductionistic and politically expedient narrative. Mitt Romney, Marco Rubio, and John McCain all refused to acknowledge the distinction between good-faith demonstrators and Antifa, thus helping to normalize political violence. (One can only hope that now that Nancy Pelosi has denounced Antifa, McCain, Rubio, and Romney might summon the courage and find the political cover they need to denounce political violence regardless of ideological origins).

‘Peace Through Violence’
Meanwhile, mainstream outlets have bent over backward to publish the Antifa perspective justifying violence on the grounds that some speech—“hate speech” they call it— is violent and thus deserves violence to curb it.

Others went so far as to try and claim that even though political violence is wrong, the fact that Antifa’s stated goals are noble makes their violence less worthy of criticism than that of neo-nazis. I guess that when a victim knows they’re getting beat up by someone who’s doing it for sincere and earnest reasons, the victim’s pain and terror are somehow mitigated by the good intentions of the attacker. CNN went so far as to change headlines to diminish the perception that Antifa was violent—originally publishing an article under the stunningly newspeaky headline, “Unmasking the Leftist Antifa Movement: The Activists Seek Peace Through Violence,” which it later toned down to “Unmasking the Leftist Antifa Movement.”

The social media ecosystem (which I’m increasingly convinced is a gift from Eris, the goddess of discord) responded with by-the-numbers predictability. Nazi denunciation became the social media sexy. Badges, hashtags, memes, and other conspicuous signals of opposition to Nazism popped up everywhere. Apparently, the denizens of Twitter and Facebook needed to make sure that everyone knew how much they hated Nazis and fascism. Prior to Charlottesville, there must have been tremendous ambiguity with regards to how most Americans felt about Nazis and fascists that needed clearing up.

But it wasn’t just that the Nazis need to be hated. The Good versus Evil narrative required heroes as well as antagonists. And so anyone who ostensibly fought against fascism, regardless of methods, became a child-of-light and their actions, violence and all, were conveyed as always being for the greater good. CNN contributors gushingly compared Antifa and its actions to the landing at Normandy and suddenly the debate over whether or not it was OK to “punch a Nazi” for speech was settled in the loudest possible affirmative. 

This is dangerous business. Now that the most recent events in Berkeley, where Antifa violently attacked peaceful demonstrators (organized by a conservative transsexual with not a neo-nazi in sight), have forced the mainstream media and Left to once again publicly break up with Antifa, I can’t help but wonder whether this will be the final split or just more of the same, and that when political expedience allows, we will see them happily back together once again.


About Boris Zelkin

Russian-born Boris Zelkin is an Emmy Award-winning composer who has written the music to countless films, documentaries, television shows and major sporting events, including the Tucker Carlson show, Bill O'Reilly, "Gosnell," “FrackNation,” Citizen United’s “Rediscovering God in America II,” Roger Simon’s “Lies and Whispers,” the America's Cup, the Masters, the World Skating Championships, the U.S. Open, NASCAR, the Stanley Cup Championship, and the theme to ESPN’s NCAA championship coverage. Zelkin received his B.A. from Colgate University and earned his M.A. in religion from the University of Chicago Divinity School. He has written extensively on the culture for various online journals and was a major contributor to the recently released “Bond Forever,” a book about the James Bond franchise. He currently resides in Los Angeles but is always looking for a way out.

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10 responses to “Media Normalizes Political Violence by Mainstreaming Antifa”

  1. All good. We’ll see if anarchy, which is what these people are espousing, is allowed to fester. I hope not.

  2. The left consider any speech that eminates from conservatives to be hate speech, and should be squelched. That’s just plain wrong! Antifa AND the media are looking for the same outcome; right on left violence and the overthrow of our current system of government. They had better be careful what they ask for…

  3. I think a good beat down for “hate speech” is well in order.
    Let’s start by a proper beat down all journalists that make hateful comments about Our PRESIDENT.

  4. What can you say about a media and politicians who refuse to speak up against a known internal terrorist organization? A group who not only perpetrate violence and hatred everywhere they go, but cover themselves in black so that they cannot be recognized and then arm themselves and attack innocent UNARMED citizens. What I say is that media has already demonstrated that they are little more than worthless mouthpieces for these organizations and their political backers. But how about politicians as the article asks? Yes how about them! Men, and in some cases women, who purport to support the Bill of Rights and our Constitution, turning their backs on both of these documents, to join these violent groups in their rabid condemnation of those who disagree with their brutal Marxism tactics. Charlottesville was a staged performance and a lot of Republican lawmakers bought the ticket the left was selling. Shame on all of them!

  5. The author makes an important point, Americans do want to trust the media. And repeatedly members of the media fail us. Brian Fallon’s tweet comparing Antifas to American soldiers at Dunkirk was morally offensive. Beyond that, the media considers themselves as knowledgeable, the intellectual elite. And yet, anyone who is even sporadically aware of recent events (the first Berkeley riot of 2017, the beat downs of Trump supporters in various cities in 2016) knows all about the anarchist bent, as well as the viciousness and violence of the Antifas (and BLM). How could the media not know? How insular the leftist bubble must be.

    • And they could have been the president’s son.

      Fascinating how we are getting the doodoo for brains media proclaiming Trump missed an ” opportunity ” in Charlottesville. The previous 8 years were WHAT ?

      But as his AG said, when it comes to race, we’re cowards.

  6. This mistress of the dark is miffed, probably micro-aggressed too.
    Check out the womyn(?) in the photo sporting a bold splash of red and a modish male/female combo symbol hooked up to a hammer’n’sickle in –yuck…of all things…insensitive triggering evil WHITE. OMG!

    S/he’s breaking all the rules, should be strictly black on black with black, as every fashionista girl-thing knows from her study guide:
    No, it isn’t The Onion.
    The emotional age of antifa thugs — the few who aren’t psychotic — is around thirteen.

    At min. we’re talking nets and fire hoses for the round up. Possibly rubber bullets (though a bad bounce can be pleasurable to some and we can’t have that).
    As for the mating habits of the MSM, bring it. pres. Trump got it exactly right in his statement just after Charlottesville. No need to change a syllable.

    Good article, thx.

  7. Antifa are just more radical Democrats to whom all political opposition are Nazis. Democrats would prefer a social and legal culture where they could be exonerated, even praised, for causing every manner of harm to anyone they identify as entrenched opposition. While the rest of us revere the rule of law, the Democrats pine for the rule of mob.

  8. The picture above the beginning of this essay says it all.

  9. This is a very dangerous movement. We need to view Antifa as domestic terrorists and combat them every time they appear. There is a history of Communist/Anarchy movements in America. They assassinated President McKinley and many others in Europe in the early 1900’s. These are hardcore communists that have infiltrated our university and educational systems along with a willing media. The police have to start massive arrests and the FBI needs to get inside these groups to bring them down and trace the funding to the sources. This should not be viewed as a liberal student protest or anti-protest….these are treasonist marxists and they should be tackled,unmasked and try them as domestic terrorist and sentence them to long terms in prison. Their Russian,Chinese,North Korean handlers need to be exposed as well