[guest post by Dana]
Last month, journalist Andy Ngo was physically attacked by Antifa members at a Portland rally. Along with bruises and abrasions, he was hospitalized with a concussion and says that he will continue to have neurological challenges in the upcoming months. Last week he gave an interview with the Daily Signal, and talked about the experience, and confirmed that he was absolutely in fear for his life. It’s an informative interview worth reading in full.
Here is how Ngo described what happened at the fateful Portland rally last month:
On June 29, while listening to these demonstrators chant, “No hate, no fear,” I was bashed in the back of the head very hard, knocked me forward. And when it happened, it took me a few seconds to realize what had happened.
I’ve never been in a fight, don’t know how to fight, never been hit in the face or head. I thought maybe somebody had tripped and just fell into me really hard.
Before I could gather my balance, the punches kept coming from every direction, the front, the back, and they were going for my head and my eyes and my face.
Trinko: Were you on the ground at this point?
Ngo: No, I was still standing, but I was kicked as well in the groin and I was knocked down to one knee.
I was determined to like, I didn’t know which direction was out, but … it’s not a good idea to end up on the ground. Because at that point it was obvious this was a mob beating. And when I thought that they were done, they weren’t.
I had my hands up to show this crowd that I was surrendering, essentially. They beat me so hard. I lost control of my hands and they robbed me on my GoPro, which I was really trying to hold onto because it was my evidence of this attack. But that was taken.
Then the mob started throwing milkshakes, other liquids, eggs, and other hard objects at my face [and] my head. That literally blinded me for the moment.
This is my issue with those who work in mainstream media who think milkshaking is a cute form of political descend. It’s not, it literally marks you out for a mob to target at you, as what happened to me.
So the video that’s gone viral, that’s the second half of the attack, there were more punches. Even though we were steps away from the central police precinct and the sheriff’s office, at no point did I ever receive help from police.
I think by this fifth and sixth hit to my head and face, I was in fear of my life because I was kept thinking, “OK, the last punch was the last one,” but it kept coming and the people who beat me were not just punching me with their hands. I have to make sure your listeners know that they were wearing tactical gloves that have hardened fiberglass materials on the knuckles. So it’s almost like getting hit with bricks.
Last week, Sens. Ted Cruz and Bill Cassidy introduced a resolution to designate Antifa as a “domestic terrorist organization”:
“Antifa is a group of hateful, intolerant radicals who pursue their unhinged agenda through aggressive violence,” said Cruz, who filed the measure alongside Republican Sen. Bill Cassidy of Lousiana. “Time and time again their actions have demonstrated that their only purpose is to inflict harm on those who oppose their views.”
“The hate and violence they spread must be stopped, and I am proud to introduce this resolution with Senator Cassidy to properly identify what Antifa are: domestic terrorists,” he added.
Yesterday, Campus Reform released a video in which college students agreed that Antifa should be designated as a domestic terrorist group:
All but one student with whom Campus Reform spoke agreed that Antifa should be labeled a “domestic terror organization.” After the lone student who initially disagreed with using that label heard the definition of terrorism — “using violence or intimidation in the pursuit of political objectives” — his response changed.
“If they’re going there with the intention of starting violence I think that’s definitely a terrorist organization,” one student said, while another added, “any violence for political reasons is by definition terrorism, so yeah.”
“If they are going and attacking people would that be considered a terrorist group? I guess, yeah…”
Queue Tae Phoenix, who uses music as a community organizing tool, writing in Newsweek that she’s met golden retrievers who scared her more than Antifa. Her op-ed was written in response to Cruz and Cassidy’s resolution. Here she describes her introduction to Antifa:
In the summer of 2017, I sang at a rally that was heavily counter-protested by a crowd of white men in Make America Great Again hats.
After my performance, I approached a few of these counter-protesters and asked why they had come. In response, one of them began ranting about Antifa, gesticulating at a group of black-clad youth leaning against a low retaining wall on the other side of the police barricade.
“They’re terrorists,” he said. “They look just like ISIS. Just look at them.”
These kids, most of whom were clearly overheating behind the black bandanas impractically tied across their faces, seemed enigmatic and slightly silly to me; but nothing about their posture or behavior struck me as remotely menacing. I’ve met golden retrievers who scared me more.
By contrast, I later learned that the man who’d invoked the ISIS comparison was well-known throughout the Pacific Northwest for showing up at mosques to harass worshippers and that his affiliations included multiple groups recognized as far-right hate, reactionary, and antigovernment groups by the Southern Poverty Law Center.
Phoenix then points to right-wing extremists as being the real problem here, while justifying Antifa:
We should therefore all be asking why Republicans are so eager to slap the “terrorist organization” label on a decentralized, left-wing, grassroots network that has never claimed responsibility for any such attack, and which is responsible for zero deaths ever.
I won’t deny that Antifa employs physical violence and destroys property for political aims. But they typically confine their actions to throwing punches when they see the need to de-platform someone inciting violence against vulnerable populations, as one Antifa activist famously did during a TV interview with white supremacist pundit Richard Spencer in early 2017. They also step in when they see right-wing groups menacing vulnerable people as they did in Charlottesville during the Unite the Right events there in 2017.
Finally, Phoenix says that after being harassed by right-wing extremists, it was Antifa who came to her aid:
Not only did [Antifa] provide me background information about my stalkers’ known extremist group affiliations, they were there for me with the kind of emotional support you’d expect from a faith community; sending me texts to brighten my day and reminding me regularly that I could call them if I needed anything at all. I’d never even met most of these people in “real life,” but their commitment to ensuring my safety and psychological well-being during a difficult time was touching.
…what I’ve come to understand is that Antifa isn’t really a group so much as a far-reaching, multidisciplinary mutual aid and support network.
Full-circle back to Andy Ngo’s cautionary tale:
…I’ve been forcing myself to continue to do all of these media engagements because I want the public to see the brutality of this movement and to recognize that they’ve been buying into a false narrative of this being a noble anti-fascist group of people.
It’s not, they can be very indiscriminate in their violence, they believe they’re part of a vanguard that will overthrow the government. This is a very extreme ideology and I’m not sure if people like Chris Cuomo or Don Lemon at CNN know this when they basically act as apologists for Antifa.
Paging Tae Phoenix.
(Cross-posted at The Jury Talks Back.)