Andy Ngo, faux-journalist and enabler of right-wing bigotry, got milkshaked the other day. I approve whole-heartedly of that kind of behavior. Portland Antifa even turned to mass production of vegan milkshakes as part of their protest of the Proud Boys and other fascist groups marching in the city.
— Shane Burley (@shane_burley1) June 29, 2019
Terrific! I’m all in favor of community action to make their contempt for bigots unambiguous and humiliating for the marchers. “Proud” Boys, my ass.
However, the response escalated. Here’s Ngo getting hosed down with milkshakes and silly string, when someone runs forward and clocks him hard. He was bleeding and went to an emergency room; this is serious violence.
— Jim Ryan (@Jimryan015) June 29, 2019
Now I’m getting uncomfortable. Would I do this? No. But since everyone is currently very concerned about free speech, I think we need to be able to objectively discuss the pros of punching out fascist bigots. After all, any attempt to silence conversation about the virtues of antifa would be a violation of people’s free speech rights, and we can’t have that. I think also that Mr Ngo would want us to consider the benefits of seeing him punched in the face.
Here’s Mr Ngo “reporting” on an encounter between antifa and right-wing thugs. There is fighting on both sides, and it gets a bit ferocious. One of the fascists hits a protester, Heather Clark, so hard that he knocks her unconscious and breaks a cervical vertebra, an injury far worse than what Ngo experienced this weekend. Yet in his commentary on this event, he is unperturbed and even tries to justify it as deserved because Clark had disrupted a James Damore speaking event and damaged some sound equipment.
The #Antifa woman who got knocked out cold at #MayDayPDX is Heather Clark. She is the person who tried to shut down the James Damore Portland State panel last year by sabotaging & damaging the sound equipment. https://t.co/a2mPO4hi2K pic.twitter.com/YAqSBT7DVs
— Andy Ngo (@MrAndyNgo) May 3, 2019
Hmm, interesting. What’s sauce for the goose is not sauce for the gander, I guess. If you google “Heather Clark antifa” you will find lots of right wing sites crowing triumphantly over the young woman getting seriously injured. Some of the same sites are now aghast that Ngo has been injured. I guess there’s a peculiar asymmetry at work here — punching antifa is heroic, but punching fascists is bad. You could flip that and say the same of antifa, that they think punching Nazis is heroic, but punching antifa is…except that what I’ve seen of antifa is that they expect to get hurt.
But OK, let’s not play tit-for-tat. Violence against fascists might righteously be opposed because it’s vigilanteism. It’s taking the law into your own hands. We oppose that, right? We believe in the rule of law?
Yes, except that there’s one problem here: the law is not enforcing the law. The Portland police clearly side with the Proud Boys and other such fascist groups, and have been refusing to arrest the right-wing provocateurs who are clearly descending on the city specifically to incite violence. The Portland police even disseminated the ludicrous claim that antifa had made the milkshakes loaded with quick-setting cement — there is no evidence of such a scheme, and it’s actually rather impractical. The police are defending fascists and also acting as their propaganda arm.
To make an argument against vigilanteism, one has to presuppose some trust in the law. That trust has evaporated. The police have been demonstrated time and again to be racist, discriminatory, and violent. Antifa would have nothing to do if the police were doing their job and peacefully removing the right-wing instigators from these events, but they aren’t, because they’re actually favoring them (or afraid of them, which is also a possibility). That precious rule of law is breaking down all across the country, so it becomes a righteous act to oppose wrong directly, without passing the responsibility on to an irresponsible police force.
A better argument might be that Andy Ngo, who is a scum-sucking bottom-dweller and champion of thuggery, has now become a cause celebre among the bigots. If the conflict had been confined to splashing him with dairy products, he would just be a joke right now, and that the blood and bruises are elevating his voice. I’d only ask, if that were true, why are Heather Clark’s injuries belittled, and why is Heather Heyer’s death not a crushing blow to the regressives?
I guess my bottom line is that absent a legitimate police force working to keep the peace, I’ll trust antifa to fight for right, more than I would the Proud Boys or neo-Nazis. I’d prefer more milkshakes and eggs over blood and broken bones, though.
Another twist: Seth Andrews wants Ryan Bell fired for not criticizing antifa. It’s weird how, under capitalism, economic violence is not considered harmful.