Andy Ngo, a Portland, Oregon-based editor and photojournalist for the magazine Quillette, was assaulted and hospitalized by masked and hooded far-left Antifa extremists on June 29.
Ngo, who has extensively documented violence by Antifa, had written on Twitter a day earlier that he was nervous about the coming rally, noting that Antifa members had been “promising ‘physical confrontation’ & have singled me out to be assaulted.”
Following the assault, Ngo was hospitalized with multiple contusions, a black eye, and a torn earlobe; he also suffered a brain bleed that required overnight hospitalization. Ngo posted a video of himself moments after the attack, appearing shaken and covered in a white substance. Portland police later said that Antifa was mixing quick-drying cement into milkshakes to be thrown at those they targeted. It isn’t known if Ngo was hit with one of these mixtures.
Not only was Ngo viciously attacked, but his photo equipment was stolen as well.
Considering Ngo is a gay Asian reporter, one might expect that he would be the recipient of an outpouring of support from other reporters. But, instead, many in mainstream media aligned their sympathies with Antifa. This was highlighted in a Twitter thread that listed some of the many ugly comments from the media community.
Antifa’s Rise to Prominence
Antifa first rose to national prominence in 2017 during protests in Berkeley that targeted conservative speakers at University of California–Berkeley. After escalating clashes and increasing levels of violence, the city of Berkeley finally responded by issuing a series of rules that included banning items designated as weapons, along with the use of masks.
As Berkeley’s bulletin noted, protesters were routinely coming to rallies armed with “metal pipes, baseball bats, lengths of 2×4 lumber spiked with nails, bricks, pepper spray, mace, daggers, combat shields, poles, axe handles, hatchets, helmets, masks, and similar items.”
Portland, under the tenure of Mayor Ted Wheeler, has no such rules and most of the Antifa members were both hooded and masked.
Antifa members typically operate in packs, and attacks on others are generally perpetrated by multiple individuals employing a group-attack strategy. Masked, armored, and anonymous, Antifa members behave more as a national terror group than the anti-fascists they claim to be.
The Left Celebrates Antifa
But this behavior hasn’t stopped the left from often celebrating the actions of Antifa. Presidential candidate and former Vice President Joe Biden referred to Antifa activists as “courageous” in an April campaign video.
CNN’s Don Lemon defended Antifa and its tactics in August 2018, saying “no organization is perfect” while claiming that Antifa focused only on fighting against fascism. CNN’s Chris Cuomo also defended Antifa, noting that “all punches are not equal morally.” During a monologue, he stated, “[When] someone comes to call out bigots and it gets hot, even physical, are they equally wrong as the bigot they are fighting? I argue, no.”
Cuomo also appeared to draw comparisons between Antifa members and U.S. forces present at D-Day in an Aug. 16, 2017, “Let’s not forget” tweet that pictured the landing craft at Normandy, with the caption, “Anti-fascists disrupt a large gathering of white supremacists.”
Keith Ellison, former deputy chair of the Democratic National Committee and current attorney general for Minnesota, in a now-deleted tweet, sent out a picture of himself holding a copy of the book “Antifa: The Anti-Fascist Handbook.” Ellison claimed that he had “just found the book that strike [sic] fear in the heart of @realDonaldTrump.”
Antifa’s History of Violence
This characterization of Antifa as social justice warriors, fighting bravely against hate and extremism, flies in the face of warnings issued by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), as reported by Politico in September 2017:
“Previously unreported documents disclose that by April 2016, authorities believed that ‘anarchist extremists’ were the primary instigators of violence at public rallies against a range of targets. They were blamed by authorities for attacks on the police, government and political institutions, along with symbols of ‘the capitalist system,’ racism, social injustice, and fascism, according to a confidential 2016 joint intelligence assessment by DHS and the FBI.”
Politico noted that “by the spring of 2016, the anarchist groups had become so aggressive, including making armed attacks on individuals and small groups of perceived enemies, that federal officials launched a global investigation with the help of the U.S. intelligence community, according to the DHS and FBI assessment.”
In April 2019, the San Diego Union-Tribune reported that the FBI was investigating “anti-fascist groups” over an “alleged plan for activists to purchase guns from a “Mexico-based cartel associate known as Cobra Commander.” According to a December 2018 FBI document obtained by the Tribune, the group wanted to “stage an armed rebellion at the border.”
While news reports generally characterize Antifa’s opponents as “white supremacists,” “right-wing,” or “alt-right,” Antifa itself is rarely classified by the media as “left-wing,” “far-left,” or extremist.
Actually Against Fascism?
As its name implies, Antifa claims to be aligned against fascism. But it appears that many fail to understand what the term “fascism” really means.
Italian dictator Benito Mussolini, originally a socialist, referred to fascism as “everything within the state, nothing outside the state, nothing against the state.” Mussolini’s Fasci Italiani di Combattimento, or FIC, was an Italian “fascio organization” created in 1919 that employed squads of “Blackshirts,” who engaged in acts of violence against political opponents.
Fascists are inherently opposed to any form of democracy and believe in a totalitarian one-party state. Open and free elections, along with free speech, aren’t to be tolerated under fascist rule. Fascism eagerly employs the socialist trait of state control. As Canadian economist Philip Cross noted, “Fascism is best thought of as a nationalistic version of socialism.” Notably, the term Nazi came from the shortening of Hitler’s National Socialist party.
While fascism can allow for private ownership and enterprise, it also requires total government control and regulation.
So how is it that one could proceed from conservatism to libertarianism to fascism?
Conservatives favor smaller government, lower taxes, less regulation, and greater freedom. Libertarians take this process a step further and push for complete individual freedom–as long as one refrains from taking actions that hurt anyone else. Anarchists go even further. Anyone can do anything. Period.
In other words, the extreme right ends not with fascism but a complete absence of government.
In our current, heightened political climate, extremes are exactly that—extreme. Move too far in either direction and debate quickly becomes impossible. Only conflict lives at the outer boundaries—with anarchy and communism occupying a place of mutual strife and violence.
A place that is also occupied by Antifa.
Groups such as Antifa and their tendency toward violence pose a serious threat to society. It may be time to officially classify Antifa as the domestic terror threat that it is.
A GoFundMe account has been established for Andy Ngo.
Jeff Carlson is a CFA charterholder. He worked for 20 years as an analyst and portfolio manager in the high-yield bond market. He runs the website TheMarketsWork.com