It was only a few short weeks ago that we were in the full grip of Condemnation Hysteria: seemingly every progressive was running around demanding that every Republican, from the president on down to the chief shorthand notetaker of the Sheep’s Milk Pass city council, “condemn” the neo-Nazi groups that had sprung in up Charlottesville and a few other places. This is a tired, stale, altogether boring exercise in contemporary American politics: every time a nominally right-wing hate group waves a whiteboy separatist flag somewhere, the entire American conservative establishment (and the Republicans too, ha-ha) have to strip down to their bare chests, strike their breasts three times, and yell: “I denounce!”
This phenomenon might be a little more convincing if it were a two-way street, but, alas, it is not:
Sen. Tim Kaine (D-VA) has refused to condemn the radical left-wing street organization Antifa, claiming he doesn’t know enough about the group to pass judgment.
“I don’t like broad brushes and I don’t know enough about them to say that they’re terrorists but people who do violent things,” Kaine told the Daily Caller in a statement. “The law should take care of them.”
He “doesn’t like broad brushes” and he “doesn’t know enough about them,” huh? In the state which Tim Kaine represents in the United States Senate, antifa is responsible for well-documented political violence; they also assaulted a CBS reporter (blaming him for “perpetuating rape culture” because he was filming a funeral march, natch). Antifa also assaulted a woman who was peacefully protesting at a Boston rally, an incident that was broadcast on national television. And they launched an assault on “peaceful right-wing protesters” in Berkeley late last month, an episode that was covered by a great many major media outlets. Even the FBI felt concerned enough about this behavior to classify it “domestic terrorist violence.” But Tim Kaine “doesn’t know enough about them” in order to make a full-throated denunciation. Okay. Some senator!
In truth, I don’t think it’s necessary for liberal politicians in general to “denounce” antifa, anymore than I think it’s necessary for conservative ones to “denounce” the American Vanguard: it is a stupid and pointless political exercise that serves no other purpose than to tie one’s political opponents to hateful and violent fringe groups. The Left understands this, which is why most conservatives are inundated with demands for “denouncement” in the wake of such incidents: if you have to denounce something, after all, there is a subtle yet critical implication that you may have been associated with the thing in the first place, which is of course part of the point.
The only reason one should “denounce” a violent factionalist movement is if one had any sort of hand in encouraging it in the first place—and to be frank, the only encouragement of violent behavior that we’ve seen in the past month or so has come exclusively from the Left. A great many garden-variety liberals encouraged each other to violently assault people engaged in constitutionally-protected speech; prominent journalists, pundits and politicians, meanwhile, either whitewashed leftist violence or else outright promoted and championed it. Tim Kaine was among the latter, so it might behoove him to offer up a bit less of an equivocal statement regarding the violent movement he has heretofore swept under the rug.
In any case, it is no surprise that, in such a toxic environment, antifa might feel justified in slugging people for no good reason. And it is a testament to our broken political discourse and media industry that most of the blame for this violent unrest has been laid largely at the feet of Republicans and conservatives rather than the people who have been encouraging such behavior.