You’ve not heard much from “The Resistance” lately. Though the liberal political activists who made up its backbone are still committed to the cause, the massive protests punctuated by spasms of violence that characterized the dawn of the age of Trump have dissipated. But the violent strain of American politics that once seemed like a relic of a distant age has not disappeared—it hasn’t even gone underground.
Remaining true to the legacy of its namesake, Mother Jones magazine sought to keep the flame of anti-Trump violence alive in its latest issue. “A New Wave of Left-Wing Militants Is Ready to Rumble,” the magazine proudly declares. This headline contains no metaphors; these are violent people preparing for physical conflict.
Among the many groups to receive favorable coverage amid this fawning piece of adoration for the misanthropic and maladjusted was the socialist group By Any Means Necessary (BAMN). “When we say ‘by any means necessary,’ we mean everything from doing legal cases to organizing more militant actions,” said the ill-advisedly forthright civil-rights attorney Shanta Driver. “We are not people who believe, in situations where we’re under attack, that we should turn the other cheek.”
The magazine noted that BAMN was a group that joined with prominent “anti-fa” organizer Yvette Felarca to disrupt a demonstration of pro-Trump white supremacists outside the California Capitol building in Sacramento last June. “Anti-racist protesters, many in black clothing and masks, pelted marchers with water bottles and hit them with wooden bats,” the magazine reported with serene detachment. “Several people from both camps were beaten or stabbed.” In fact, ten people were injured in the melee, two critically.
The clash between fascist and communist facsimiles in the streets of a major American city–a sequence of events evocative of the Weimar Republic–didn’t earn much scrutiny in the national press. Extensive reporting by the Sacramento Bee, however, indicated that both sides came armed for bloodshed and the first blows were struck by anti-demonstrators against the lawful, if utterly distasteful, neo-Nazi assemblage. “They came out of this in worse shape than us,” Felarca told the Bee. “The Nazis did not recruit anyone new today, and our side did.”
“Fighting Nazis Is an American Tradition: Stop the Alt-Right,” reads the slogan of the “Redneck Revolt,” a group of white working-class agitators beatified by Mother Jones. These Appalachian militants were ballyhooed for their ability to communicate violent resistance messages to voters in Trump country better than the effete student activists who populate the offices of left-wing opinion journals on the coasts.
The anti-racist, nondiscriminatory motorcycle club The Bastards also received a favorable mention for confronting local gatherings of Klansmen. “The club is non-violent,” read a profile of the group in Vocative, “but that doesn’t mean they won’t defend themselves if provoked.” That spread described an interview with a member who was nursing a broken nose from a very recent encounter with the intolerant set. “Members of the club keep their own makeshift weapons like a padlock at the end of a bandana handy in case trouble finds them, which it has,” the report noted.
There’s something of a mixed message here. The fanatically anti-Trump elements of the left are not explicitly advocating violence. Even its most manic members, such Huffington Post contributor Michelangelo Signorile, wrote as much without reservation. Yet, he supported escalating the “expression of our outrage and our anger in a massive way,” including refusing to allow Republican elected or appointed officials, or even pro-Trump pundits, to appear in public without being harassed by demonstrators. FCC Chairman Ajit Pai was recently a target of this kind of escalation when “anti-fa” organizers demonstrated outside his residence and sought to intimidate his neighbors. Among the demonstrators was DisruptJ20, which was one of the groups responsible for violence and property damage in Washington D.C. on Inauguration Day.
This emotionally charged atmosphere is stifling American political discourse and inspiring unstable people to perform criminal acts. In Portland, the 11th annual Roses Parade was canceled in April following credible threats by “anti-fa” protesters to send “200 or more people” to “rush into the parade into the middle and drag and push them out.” In retrospect, that incident heralded the start of a period of ugly political violence.
The press has understandably focused more recently on violence from avowed racists and those with allegiance to the president. Events like the murder of two men who were killed by a racist extremist as they attempted to stop him from harassing Muslim women in Portland, Oregon deserve all the coverage they have received and more. The fallout from that event has been less thoroughly scrutinized.
In response to that incident, Portland’s mayor wanted a pre-planned pro-Trump “free speech” rally (a deliberately provocative event organized by alt-right white nationalists) canceled. Lacking the constitutional ability to execute this directive, a mob tried to shut the event down the old fashioned way. On June 4, approximately 500 “anti-fa” demonstrators descended on the streets of that city. They assaulted police with bottles and bricks. They were met with flashbang grenades, rubber bullets, and other less-lethal means of crowd dispersion.
“I cracked the skulls of some commies who were attacking us,” said one of the pro-Trump organizers in Portland. “If that republic is going to stay free, you have to be willing to bleed.” This repugnant sentiment seems to be mutual. On the campaign trail, Donald Trump summoned the most malevolent old demons that still haunt the American psyche. Republicans have been called upon again and again to exorcise those ugly spirits. Liberals should not be spared similar admonitions. From the neotenic creatures on college campuses who rage violently against encounters with discomfiting thoughts to the organized militias feted by “respectable” liberal opinion-makers, the left is incubating a monster.