Let’s put it bluntly: Antifa is not part of the Democratic Party, while white supremacists are part of the GOP.
But that hasn’t stopped some on the right from peddling the false narrative that antifa is part of the Democratic Party and somehow Democrats have to answer for the movement. Fox News’ Tucker Carlson recently declared that Antifa “is a political militia that is doing the bidding, in effect, of Nancy Pelosi and Governor Jerry Brown and the mayor of Berkeley and all these supposedly mainstream Democratic politicians.”
Former George W. Bush speechwriter Marc Thiessen, in his Washington Post op-ed Thursday titled “Yes, antifa is the moral equivalent of neo-Nazis,” demanded to know “where are the calls for Democrats to condemn antifa—and the brutal public condemnation for those who fail to do so?”
Sean Hannity added his voice to this chorus of false equivalency throwing a temper tantrum about antifa while asking: “When are the Democrats in this country going to condemn this out of control left-wing hate and violence?” And the list goes on with people like Laura Ingraham parroting this talking point.
You get the idea. The right wants people to believe that antifa is a wing of the Democratic Party and that Democrats must answer for its violent actions. This couldn’t be more wrong and the right knows it.
Let’s be clear about who antifa is and isn’t. It’s a decentralized anti-fascist group. Experts make it clear that antifa members are “self-described revolutionaries” who are “anarchists and communists who are way outside the traditional conservative-liberal spectrum.”
Another in-depth look at antifa members found them to hold “an ideology that runs afield of the Democratic Party platform and supports oppressed populations as it protests the amassing of wealth by corporations and elites.” This investigative report noted that while antifa activists view themselves as peaceful, leaders admit being “willing to physically attack anyone who employs violence against them or who condones racism -- as long as force is used in the name of eradicating hatred.”
Now, are Democrats also anti-fascist? You bet. Do we also despise white supremacists and Neo-Nazis? You know it. But that’s where the overlap ends.
Yet despite this lack of any connection between antifa and the Democratic Party some Democratic leaders have publicly slammed the actions of antifa. Bernie Sanders has denounced antifa’s use of violence, saying that even those spewing hateful words have the right to do so “without fear of violence and intimidation.” No Democratic leaders have ever tried to attract the support of antifa.
And Nancy Pelosi just last week put out a harshly worded statement that came down hard on antifa: “The violent actions of people calling themselves antifa in Berkeley this weekend deserve unequivocal condemnation, and the perpetrators should be arrested and prosecuted.”
In contrast, white supremacists have been coddled, courted, and defended by Trump and others in the GOP. During the campaign Trump retweeted several visible white supremacists, including one with the twitter handle “white genocide,” which is shorthand for these bigots’ fear that the white race will perish as more people of color live in the United States.
Trump caused a well-documented “Trump bump” in terms of membership for white supremacist organizations during his campaign. Indeed, the list of white supremacists praising Trump read like the who’s who of racist hate groups from leading neo-Nazis to self-avowed white supremacists who want America to become a white homeland.
Yet when Trump was given a chance to denounce former Ku Klux Klan wizard David Duke, he pretended to have no idea who Duke was. Trump also refused to denounce his supporters spewing anti-Semitic garbage at Jewish reporters critical of Trump.
And of course, Trump’s comments after the Charlottesville white supremacist terror attack where he blamed “both sides” was met with open cheers by the leading white supremacists. For example, David Duke publicly praised Trump’s response for his “honesty & courage to tell the truth.” Add to that shortly after Trump denounced the violence at Charlottesville, he retweeted a statement penned by one of the alt-right’s leading figures—a man who in the past defended white supremacists.
Does anyone believe Trump did all of this by accident? Of course not.
Conversely is there any evidence of Democratic leaders saying the equivalent to entice antifa to support Democrats? Not a shred.
The right’s goal in creating this false moral and political equivalency is one thing and one thing only: It’s being done to give Trump supporters a talking point to pivot to when we raise the issue of white supremacists openly supporting Trump’s GOP. They can say, “But what about antifa?”—which replaces “but what about Hillary,” which replaces “but what about Obama,” etc.
Antifa is in no way associated with the Democratic Party and in fact Democratic leaders have publicly denounced them. What a striking contrast to Trump rolling out the red carpet for white supremacists to be a part of the Republican Party. And therein lies the vast moral divide difference between today’s Democratic and Republican parties.