Ever since President Trump tweeted that the United States government would be designating the so-called Antifa (which is actually fascist to its very core in the way it operates) as a domestic terrorist organization…
The United States of America will be designating ANTIFA as a Terrorist Organization.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 31, 2020
..a virtual media industry has sprung up to defend them. There are two reasons for this. First and foremost, the lion’s share of the media is broadly sympathetic to the aims and tactics of Antifa. They are anti-American, they get a vicarious thrill from the violence that is associated with Antifa actions, and, if you read the articles lionizing the group, there is no small amount of homo-eroticism at work with pudgy dorks in the average newsroom trying to get a Grindr message from one of the heroic, masked, man-bun-sporting, black-clad street fighters by giving them favorable media coverage and being part of the struggle themselves. Secondly, since Trump is opposed to them, they must be supported because OrangeManBad.
In fact, despite covering Antifa, the media is also adamant that Antifa doesn’t really exist. Again, for the same two reasons. If they don’t exist, then the government can’t target them, and President Trump can be ridiculed for ordering a crackdown on a group that doesn’t exist. If you want to see all of this on display, I recommend to you WHAT ANTIFA IS, WHAT IT ISN’T, AND WHY IT MATTERS. Much of what these fanbois use as “evidence” that there is no Antifa group is nothing more than them loudly proclaiming that it doesn’t exist. We’ll return to that in a moment.
With the first wave of arrests in Portland, you start seeing headlines like this from, naturally, NPR: DOJ Cases Brought Over Protests Show No Links To Antifa So Far.
Well, I looked at court papers. Primarily, these are criminal complaints against 51 people who had been charged by the Justice Department as of late Monday, early Tuesday in connection with the unrest. And the most notable thing here really isn’t so much what I found as what I didn’t find. And that’s because I didn’t find any mention or reference to antifa. None of the 51 individuals are alleged in these court papers to have any link to the antifa movement, broadly speaking, or to antifa ideology.
Now, former federal prosecutors told me that if the government had such evidence, it would likely reference it somehow, even obliquely, in the criminal complaints in order to cite it, for example, during a bail hearing. This doesn’t rule out the possibility, of course, that investigators could uncover some sort of link to or interest in antifa ideology as they investigate further. Still, the lack at the moment of any clear link is noteworthy because Barr and the president have repeatedly singled out antifa as the main instigator of the violence.
KELLY: And yet you found no mention of antifa itself. OK. So what did you find in terms of charges that the Justice Department has brought against these people?
LUCAS: Well, unsurprisingly, these cases are spread out geographically. They cover 18 states. Of the cases against 51 people that I looked at, 20 involve allegations related to arson. That includes things like Molotov cocktails, setting police cars alight or government buildings.
Sixteen involve the illegal possession of a firearm, more often than not by a felon. In one instance, police found a man during protests in Madison, Wis., who had a gunshot wound in his leg. Court papers say he had a gun with him. It turns out he was a felon, so he couldn’t legally have that gun. He was arrested. It also turned out that he had accidentally shot himself in the leg.
Reuters reprised this astounding finding yesterday: U.S. prosecutors do not charge Portland protesters with antifa ties.
U.S. federal prosecutors have produced no evidence linking dozens of people arrested in anti-racism protests in Portland, Oregon, to the antifa or anarchist movements, despite President Donald Trump’s assertions they are fueling the unrest.
A spokesman for the U.S. Attorney’s office in Portland confirmed this in an email to Reuters on Tuesday.
“We have not alleged defendant affiliation with any specific groups or ideologies in our cases stemming from recent Portland protests,” said Kevin Sonoff, the spokesman. “Our cases focus purely on the criminal conduct alleged.”
Trump and officials in his administration have applied the labels to the Portland protesters, who set fires around, and threw objects at, officers around a federal courthouse during long-running confrontations.
Here are some key takeaways.
You can’t be a group described this way by the slavishly laudatory War on the Rocks article…
Contrary to how it is often portrayed in the media, Antifa — short for anti-fascist — is not a single organization. Rather, it is a loose network of groups and individuals who coordinate their anti-racist activism on an ad hoc basis in different areas both within and outside the United States.
Antifa has no centralized leadership structure or formalized membership. In the United States, some anti-fascist groups share ideas by participating in the Torch Network, which evolved out of the old Anti-Racist Action Network.
You’re probably never going to see someone charged with being a member of Antifa because being a member of a domestic organization is not a crime, per se. There is the whole Bill of Attainder thing in the Constitution that makes criminalizing membership in a group difficult.
…and avoid being vulnerable to RICO and conspiracy statutes. Substitute Mafia for Antifa and you’ll see what I mean. In fact, I think the Mafia model works very well in describing how people working towards a common purpose can do so without one know what the other is doing or having a verbalized plan of action. The media here are playing the role of the Italian-American Anti-Defamation League and the Italian-American Civil Rights League which existed mainly to dispute the idea that the Mafia existed.
You’re not going to see anyone indicted or charged with being a member of Antifa because of that whole Bill of Attainder business in the US Constitution.
You aren’t going to see any mention of Antifa in indictments or charging documents until there has been some legal action that identifies it as a group. That, I’d contend, is coming. You can’t have people indicted for violent acts in 18 states (see the NPR pullquote) and not have some network that informs them of when actions are taking place, and that provides them with resources to travel and live while participating and not have the definition of a criminal conspiracy. Just because those charges were not made now doesn’t mean they won’t be made in the future.
When it all comes out, I think we will also see that some of the people who are heavily involved in this movement that does not exist have foreign advisers and controllers.