In their ongoing attempt to paint everyone on the Right in the darkest hues, some mainstream Leftists have decided that anyone who slams Antifa must be a Nazi sympathizer. This started almost immediately after the Charlottesville white supremacist terrorist attack, when President Trump suggested there was blame on “many sides.” The problem with Trump’s statement was its vagary.
It was unclear whether Trump was blaming ideology of “many sides” or violence of “many sides” or both. But Trump’s vagueness led The New York Times to this pronouncement:
“The tragedy in Charlottesville – specifically, the death of a young woman at the hands of a Nazi sympathizer who the authorities said ran her down with his car – undercut the notion that the black-masked radical leftists who smash windows and hurl firebombs are an equal menace.”
That’s a rather incredible statement, since Antifa has been radically violent over the past couple of years. They’ve initiated riots in Sacramento, Berkeley, and Seattle; they’ve threatened violence in Portland, Chicago, and Dallas. They just spent the weekend attacking police officers.
But the “don’t condemn Antifa or you’re a Nazi sympathizer” talking point has become quite popular. Jeet Heer of The Atlantic put it this way: “Imagine being so addicted to glib both-sides-ism that you don’t understand unique dangers Nazis pose to humanity.”
So, is it downplaying the threat of Nazis to point out the threat of Antifa?
There are two measures we must examine in terms of any moral comparison between Antifa and neo-Nazis. First, there’s the ideological. Then, there’s behavior.
Let’s begin with the ideological. Antifa has no clear-cut ideology, but they seem to be a mashup of communists and anarchists. Neo-Nazis are white supremacists who believe in the innate inferiority of non-Caucasians, and therefore believe that they have the right to oppress other groups. It’s fair to say that Nazism is a uniquely evil philosophy, more evil than the communist philosophy, even though the communist philosophy of Antifa was responsible for tens of millions of deaths globally. So if we were to say that communism is as evil as Nazism, we’d be wrong. By the same token, if we were to whitewash communism, we’d be even more wrong.
Then there’s the question of violence. When conservatives condemn Antifa, they’re pointing out that use of violence in response to peaceful protest by evil people is more dangerous than peaceful protest by evil people. Those who initiate violence in a free society are a bigger problem than those who preach evil; the whole point of civilization, as Max Weber stated, was to give the state a monopoly on the legitimate use of force other than in self-defense. Breaking that compact and equating speech with violence is a serious threat to a civilized country. Condemning Antifa for their violent tactics in Boston, for example, should be required of all decent citizens in the same way that condemning Nazi ideology should be.
But this whole argument is a fraud anyway. Very few Americans stand in favor of Nazism, and the Left’s game of broadcasting out the label “Nazi sympathizer” is merely a political ploy. Antifa is evil. So is Nazism. Two things can be evil at the same time. Anyone who doesn’t believe that should do a little historical research on Stalin and Hitler.
But there are far more Americans condemning Nazism in the last two weeks than Americans who seem willing to condemn the breakdown of law and order. In fact, many mainstream Leftist are now defending Antifa. And that may make Antifa and its attendant violence a serious threat to the social fabric.
About the Author
Ben Shapiro is a conservative commentator, columnist, author, radio talk show host, media executive, activist, and attorney. His columns can be read on The Daily Wire. He hosts the second most popular podcast in the world. Shapiro and his wife are practicing Orthodox Jews.