One wonders how much ‘editorial regret’ The Washington Post is experiencing over the idiotic article, “Why the American left gave up on political violence, and why the right increasingly embraced it.” The author, Yoav Fromer,¹ concluded:
This doesn’t mean the left is inherently superior. But it has cleansed itself through a painful process of introspection. And if American democracy has any chance of convalescing from the fever of intolerance that has seized it since Trump’s election, people on the right must take a similarly long, hard look in the mirror. If not for their party’s sake, then at least for the country’s.
From the Post this morning:
By Kyle Swenson | August 28, 2017 | 3:47 AM EDT
Their faces hidden behind black bandannas and hoodies, about a 100 anarchists and antifa — “anti-fascist” — barreled into a protest Sunday afternoon in Berkeley’s Martin Luther King Jr. Civic Center Park.
Jumping over plastic and concrete barriers, the group melted into a larger crowd of around 2,000 that had marched peacefully throughout the sunny afternoon for a “Rally Against Hate” gathering.
Shortly after, violence began to flare. A pepper-spray wielding Trump supporter was smacked to the ground with homemade shields. Another was attacked by five black-clad antifas, each windmilling kicks and punches into a man desperately trying to protect himself. A conservative group leader retreated for safety behind a line of riot police as marchers chucked water bottles, shot off pepper spray and screamed “fascist go home!”
All told, the Associated Press reported at least five individuals were attacked. An AP reporter witnessed the assaults. Berkeley Police’s Lt. Joe Okies told The Washington Post the rally resulted in “13 arrests on a range of charges including assault with a deadly weapon, obstructing a police officer, and various Berkeley municipal code violations.”
And although the anti-hate and left-wing protesters largely drowned out the smaller clutch of far-right marchers attending a planned “No to Marxism in America” rally, Sunday’s confrontation marked another street brawl between opposing ends of the political spectrum — violence that has become a regular feature of the Trump years and gives signs of spiraling upward, particularly in the wake of the violence in Charlottesville.
Note the not-so-subtle blaming of President Trump. However, the point that this has begun with the inauguration of President Trump is both correct and significant. Conservatives protested during the previous eight years, but there were no real instances of violence. The left had little excuse for violence, their One True God² Barack Hussein Obama being President. Now, with Mr Trump as President, the left see that need.
“I applaud the more than 7,000 people who came out today to peacefully oppose bigotry, hatred and racism that we saw on display in Charlottesville,” Berkeley Mayor Jesse Arreguín said in a statement. ” … However, the violence that small group of protesters engaged in against residents and the police, including throwing smoke bombs, is unacceptable. Fighting hate with hate does not work and only makes each side more entrenched in their ideological camps.”
Oh, look! It’s not the left as a whole, but “that small group of protesters.” How odd that, in Charlottesville, one idiot drove his vehicle into a crowd, killing one woman, but his action was laid on the alt-right as a whole. Yet, as we noted previously, though many on the “alt-right” side came armed, not a single shot was fired.
Last May, 150 similarly black-clad agitators caused $100,000 worth of damage when they smashed through Berkeley protesting a University of California Berkeley speech by right-wing provocateur Milo Yiannopoulos. Portland, Ore., has been the scene of street battles between antifa and white nationalists this summer. White nationalist Richard Spencer was sucker-punched by a protester in a January video that went viral. And Inauguration Day 2017 in Washington, D.C., was marked by violence when masked protesters burned vehicles, smashed windows and clashed with police, leading to 231 arrests.
There’s more at the original, including the notation that the Antifa side came “armed with sticks and shields, and clad in shin pads and gloves.” They were expecting violence, they were planning on being violent.
The American left have always had a fascination with Marxist revolutionaries, from John “Jack” Reed’s admiration of the Communists during the Bolshevik Revolution to the popularity of Che Guevara t-shirts, a form of radical chic.
Tom Wolfe wrote of Radical Chic in 1970:
At 2 or 3 or 4 a.m., somewhere along in there, on August 25, 1966, his 48th birthday, in fact, Leonard Bernstein woke up in the dark in a state of wild alarm. That had happened before. It was one of the forms his insomnia took. So he did the usual. He got up and walked around a bit. He felt groggy. Suddenly he had a vision, an inspiration. He could see himself, Leonard Bernstein, the egregio maestro, walking out on stage in white tie and tails in front of a full orchestra. On one side of the conductor’s podium is a piano. On the other is a chair with a guitar leaning against it. He sits in the chair and picks up the guitar. A guitar! One of those half-witted instruments, like the accordion, that are made for the Learn-To-Play-in-Eight-Days E-Z-Diagram 110-IQ 14-year-olds of Levittown! But there’s a reason. He has an anti-war message to deliver to this great starched white-throated audience in the symphony hall. He announces to them: “I love.” Just that. The effect is mortifying. All at once a Negro rises up from out of the curve of the grand piano and starts saying things like, “The audience is curiously embarrassed.” Lenny tries to start again, plays some quick numbers on the piano, says, “I love. Amo, ergo sum.” The Negro rises again and says, “The audience thinks he ought to get up and walk out. The audience thinks, ‘I am ashamed even to nudge my neighbor.’ ” Finally, Lenny gets off a heartfelt anti-war speech and exits.
For a moment, sitting there alone in his home in the small hours of the morning, Lenny thought it might just work and he jotted the idea down. Think of the headlines: BERNSTEIN ELECTRIFIES CONCERT AUDIENCE WITH ANTIWAR APPEAL. But then his enthusiasm collapsed. He lost heart. Who the hell was this Negro rising up from the piano and informing the world what an ass Leonard Bernstein was making of himself? It didn’t make sense, this superego Negro by the concert grand.
Mmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm. These are nice. Little Roquefort cheese morsels rolled in crushed nuts. Very tasty. Very subtle. It’s the way the dry sackiness of the nuts tiptoes up against the dour savor of the cheese that is so nice, so subtle. Wonder what the Black Panthers eat here on the hors d’oeuvre trail? Do the Panthers like little Roquefort cheese morsels wrapped in crushed nuts this way, and asparagus tips in mayonnaise dabs, and meatballs petites au Coq Hardi, all of which are at this very moment being offered to them on gadrooned silver platters by maids in black uniforms with hand-ironed white aprons . . . The butler will bring them their drinks . . . Deny it if you wish to, but such are the pensées métaphysiques that rush through one’s head on these Radical Chic evenings just now in New York. For example, does that huge Black Panther there in the hallway, the one shaking hands with Felicia Bernstein herself, the one with the black leather coat and the dark glasses and the absolutely unbelievable Afro, Fuzzy Wuzzy-scale in fact—is he, a Black Panther, going on to pick up a Roquefort cheese morsel rolled in crushed nuts from off the tray, from a maid in uniform, and just pop it down the gullet without so much as missing a beat of Felicia’s perfect Mary Astor voice. . . .Felicia is remarkable. She is beautiful, with that rare burnished beauty that lasts through the years. Her hair is pale blond and set just so. She has a voice that is “theatrical,” to use a term from her youth. She greets the Black Panthers with the same bend of the wrist, the same tilt of the head, the same perfect Mary Astor voice with which she greets people like Jason, D.D. Adolph, Betty, Gian Carlo, Schuyler, and Goddard, during those après-concert suppers she and Lenny are so famous for. What evenings! She lights the candles over the dining room table, and in the Gotham gloaming the little tremulous tips of flame are reflected in the mirrored surface of the table, a bottomless blackness with a thousand stars, and it is that moment that Lenny loves. There seem to be a thousand stars above and a thousand stars below, a room full of stars, a penthouse duplex full of stars, a Manhattan tower full of stars, with marvelous people drifting through the heavens, Jason Robards, John and D. D. Ryan, Gian Carlo Menotti, Schuyler Chapin, Goddard Lieberson, Mike Nichols, Lillian Hellman, Larry Rivers, Aaron Copland, Richard Avedon, Milton and Amy Greene, Lukas Foss, Jennie Tourel, Samuel Barber, Jerome Robbins, Steve Sondheim, Adolph and Phyllis Green, Betty Comden, and the Patrick O’Neals . . .
. . . and now, in the season of Radical Chic, the Black Panthers. That huge Panther there, the one Felicia is smiling her tango smile at, is Robert Bay, who just 41 hours ago was arrested in an altercation with the police, supposedly over a .38-caliber revolver that someone had, in a parked car in Queens at Northern Boulevard and 104th Street or some such unbelievable place, and taken to jail on a most unusual charge called “criminal facilitation.” And now he is out on bail and walking into Leonard and Felicia Bernstein’s 13-room penthouse duplex on Park Avenue. Harassment & Hassles, Guns & Pigs, Jail & Bail—they’re real, these Black Panthers. The very idea of them, these real revolutionaries, who actually put their lives on the line, runs through Lenny’s duplex like a rogue hormone. Everyone casts a glance, or stares, or tries a smile, and then sizes up the house for the somehow delicious counterpoint . . . Deny it if you want to! but one does end up making such sweet furtive comparisons in this season of Radical Chic . . . There’s Otto Preminger in the library and Jean vanden Heuvel in the hall, and Peter and Cheray Duchin in the living room, and Frank and Domna Stanton, Gail Lumet, Sheldon Harnick, Cynthia Phipps, Burton Lane, Mrs. August Heckscher, Roger Wilkins, Barbara Walters, Bob Silvers, Mrs. Richard Avedon, Mrs. Arthur Penn, Julie Belafonte, Harold Taylor, and scores more, including Charlotte Curtis, women’s news editor of the New York Times, America’s foremost chronicler of Society, a lean woman in black, with her notebook out, standing near Felicia and big Robert Bay, and talking to Cheray Duchin.
Cheray tells her: “I’ve never met a Panther—this is a first for me!” . . . never dreaming that within 48 hours her words will be on the desk of the President of the United States . . .
Of course she’d never met a Black Panther before: she’d never have gone slumming where the Panthers lived and ‘worked’ their violent radicalism, and if she had gone there, she’d have been mugged, murdered, raped or molested. Instead, safely at Maestro Bernstein’s Manhattan penthouse, she’d have willingly laid down, right in the middle of the floor, to be f(ornicated) to rapture by this urban guerrilla.
These are no civil-rights Negroes wearing gray suits three sizes too big—
—no more interminable Urban League banquets in hotel ballrooms where they try to alternate the blacks and whites around the tables as if they were stringing Arapaho beads—
—these are real men!
Shootouts, revolutions, pictures in Life magazine of policemen grabbing Black Panthers like they were Viet Cong—somehow it all runs together in the head with the whole thing of how beautiful they are. Sharp as a blade. The Panther women—there are three or four of them on hand, wives of the Panther 21 defendants, and they are so lean, so lithe, as they say, with tight pants and Yoruba-style headdresses, almost like turbans, as if they’d stepped out of the pages of Vogue, although no doubt Vogue got it from them. All at once every woman in the room knows exactly what Amanda Burden meant when she said she was now anti-fashion because “the sophistication of the baby blacks made me rethink my attitudes.” God knows the Panther women don’t spend 30 minutes in front of the mirror in the morning shoring up their eye holes with contact lenses, eyeliner, eye shadow, eyebrow pencil, occipital rim brush, false eyelashes, mascara, Shadow-Ban for undereye and Eterna Creme for the corners . . . And here they are, right in front of you, trucking on into the Bernsteins’ Chinese yellow duplex, amid the sconces, silver bowls full of white and lavender anemones, and uniformed servants serving drinks and Roquefort cheese morsels rolled in crushed nuts—
“. . . The very idea of them, revolutionaries who put their lives on the line, runs through Lenny’s duplex like a rogue hormone . . .”
But it’s all right. They’re white servants, not Claude and Maude, but white South Americans. Lenny and Felicia are geniuses. After a while, it all comes down to servants. They are the cutting edge in Radical Chic. Obviously, if you are giving a party for the Black Panthers, as Lenny and Felicia are this evening, or as Sidney and Gail Lumet did last week, or as John Simon of Random House and Richard Baron, the publisher, did before that; or for the Chicago Eight, such as the party Jean vanden Heuvel gave; or for the grape workers or Bernadette Devlin, such as the parties Andrew Stein gave; or for the Young Lords, such as the party Ellie Guggenheimer is giving next week in her Park Avenue duplex; or for the Indians or the SDS or the G.I. Coffee Shops or even for the Friends of the Earth—well, then, obviously you can’t have a Negro butler and maid, Claude and Maude, in uniform, circulating through the living room, the library and the main hall serving drinks and canapés. Plenty of people have tried to think it out. They try to picture the Panthers or whoever walking in bristling with electric hair and Cuban shades and leather pieces and the rest of it, and they try to picture Claude and Maude with the black uniforms coming up and saying, “Would you care for a drink, sir?” They close their eyes and try to picture it some way, but there is no way. One simply cannot see that moment. So the current wave of Radical Chic has touched off the most desperate search for white servants. Carter and Amanda Burden have white servants. Sidney Lumet and his wife Gail, who is Lena Horne’s daughter, have three white servants, including a Scottish nurse. Everybody has white servants. And Lenny and Felicia—they had it worked out before Radical Chic even started. Felicia grew up in Chile. Her father, Roy Elwood Cohn, an engineer from San Francisco, worked for the American Smelting and Refining Co. in Santiago. As Felicia Montealegre (her mother’s maiden name), she became an actress in New York and won the Motion Picture Daily critics’ award as the best new television actress of 1949. Anyway, they have a house staff of three white South American servants, including a Chilean cook, plus Lenny’s English chauffeur and dresser, who is also white, of course. Can one comprehend how perfect that is, given . . . the times? Well, many of their friends can, and they ring up the Bernsteins and ask them to get South American servants for them, and the Bernsteins are so generous about it, so obliging, that people refer to them, good-naturedly and gratefully, as “the Spic and Span Employment Agency,” with an easygoing ethnic humor, of course.
And so it has been with American journalists, though one wonders how many of them are privileged enough to have servants. Until now, they have been in bed, vicariously of course, with some sort of romanticized notion of Antifa, the urban guerrillas fighting the evil fascist Donald Trump, never mind how smashing a Starbucks window on inauguration day, or setting a rental limousine on fire — harming a small businessman — doesn’t do a thing to hurt the new President. Starbucks is owned by “lifelong Democrat and outspoken Hillary Clinton supporter Howard Schultz, and its American stores (outside of hotels, hospitals, colleges and grocery stores) are not franchised, but our (mostly) liberal American journalists didn’t care about those incongruities. That the Antifa scum who trashed Washington were not somehow defending themselves from raucous ‘alt-right’ demonstrators didn’t seem to matter. The simpleton students in the Che Guevara t-shirts don’t seem to care (or know about) Senor Guevara’s running of the firing squads for Cuba’s Revolutionary Tribunals. The romantic portrayal of “Jack” Reed ignores the fact that he was a socialist before ever getting to revolutionary Russia, despite being born and reared in wealth, and that he joined the “Red Guards” following the revolution. Walter Duranty’s reporting for The New York Times covered up the mass starvation in the Soviet Union as forced collectivization of farms led to widespread famine; he was too in love with Communism to do something really radical, like tell the truth.
And so it is that I was shocked, stunned, wholly amazed that The Washington Post, of all media, actually reported that it is Antifa starting the violence, Antifa beating up people, Antifa being the thugs that wicked conservatives like me have said that they were. You have reared-in-privilege whelps like the sons of Chicago Tribune columnist Clarence Page and Senator Tim Kaine (D-VA), the 2016 Democrat Vice Presidential nominee, arrested for violent participation in left-wing demonstrations. But, perhaps the Post s changing its tun now that Antifa and the radical left have been attacking journalists.
Then again, with the internet being what it is, and the near ubiquitous possession of smart phones with cameras, the violence of Antifa cannot be kept quiet; the credentialed media have lost their ‘gatekeeper’ function, and can no longer ignore a story away.
And so I return to Mr Fromer’s claim that the left have “cleansed itself (of violence) through a painful process of introspection.” Living in Israel, as he does, with the Palestinian threat a low-key but still ever-present threat to the safety and security of himself and his friends, I have to wonder about the utter blindness of his statement. That he submitted it to The Washington Post in fortuitously bad timing opens him to well deserved ridicule. At least this once, the Post is cleansing itself of his idiotic article, though whether the result of “a painful process of introspection” is unknown to me. Nevertheless, it is good to see part of the credentialed media telling the truth when the truth hurts the left, and maybe, just maybe, our professional journalists have decided to report All the News That’s Fit to Print.³
Cross-posted on The First Street Journal.
¹- Yoav Fromer teaches American history and politics at Tel Aviv University and Yeshiva University. He is currently at work on a book about Daniel Patrick Moynihan and American liberalism. He is not a Post staffer.
² – A reference to Pontius Pilate calling Judah Ben-Hur the people’s “one true god” following his victory in a chariot race in the movie Ben-Hur.
³ – Yes, I know: that’s The New York Times’ logo, not the Post’s. Still, it seemed appropriate.