One of the more irritating consequences of America's ever-increasing polarization is that events, which are considered to be true and crucial by one group, are broadly dismissed as delusion and dogma by the other.
Both Republicans and Democrats are guilty of this willful blindness, but it has taken some effort for America's left-wing to ignore Antifa's violence. Take, for instance, the way in which the East-Coast media has reacted to the events of 2020: "Antifa as Trump imagines it only exists in the conservative mind," wrote one journalist at Vox. Or take this extraordinary act of mental gymnastics by Vanity Fair, which didn't just declare that Antifa was of no threat, but went one step further, saying that the "bogeyman" simply didn't exist.
Biden's Democrats like to pretend that Antifa are simply lentil-eating, art graduates bestowed with the all-American task of punching Nazis. But now, with a Democratic president and total control of Congress, the DNC may finally have to greet the monster that grew under their supervision.
If Joe Biden's eyesight still works, someone should probably give him Andy Ngo's Antifa Unmasked. After all, it seems unlikely that Antifa's violence will stop after something as bloodless as Biden's election victory. As Portland's Mayor Ted Wheeler, who presided over more than 100 days of Antifa-led riots, was forced to admit: his efforts "at de-escalation" were met with "ongoing violence and even scorn from radical Antifa."
Note how Wheeler used the phrase "radical Antifa," as though only a few bad eggs are to blame for the barbarity. Even after having watched his city descend into chaos, even after having to move to another neighborhood to escape the braying mob, this Democrat politician cannot quite muster the courage to criticize the group in its entirety. Neither can so many other Democrat leaders of left-leaning cities. For this reason alone, Ngo's book will remain useful for some time.
Antifa Unmasked is an extraordinary examination of the group's conception, tactics and organization. After reading this, it will be impossible to say that Antifa poses no threat to decent society. This is made clear through associated think tanks like "CrimethInc," who publish booklets with such illuminating titles as Why We Break Windows. Other think tanks linked to the group are even more extreme, distributing manuals that guide Antifa members on how to turn peaceful protests violent.
I have seen some of the tactics that Ngo describes for myself. Last summer in Montreal, as Black Lives Matter protests were sweeping the continent, five black-cladded anarchists single-handedly transformed a sobering rally into a stone-throwing soirée. Their tactics are staggeringly effective, and Antifa Unmasked meticulously unravels them.
Ngo is the Editor-at-Large at The Post Millennial, and he has led Western journalism in covering the anarchic group. This must have taken some bravery from Ngo: over the past few years, he has been severely beaten-up by Antifa, which on one occasion sent him to hospital with a brain bleed. He and his family have been stalked, his family's home has been menaced and threatened, and he has routinely been met with such endearing messages as "kill Andy Ngo" graffitied onto the walls of his home city.
It is hardly surprising that Antifa have already staged protests outside bookstores in Portland demanding that Ngo's book be pulled from the shelves. For a group dedicated to the struggle against facism, it is certainly eyebrow-raising to watch the herculean effort they put into silencing journalists, especially one who has his finger so firmly on the pulse of their endeavours.
In the clouded minds of Antifa zealots, Ngo deserves all this. He committed the high crime of writing about them, after all. His treatment by the group serves as a message to all journalists: "show us in a poor light, and you will pay." It is an enormous testament to Ngo's character that this book has even been published.
Antifa Unmasked is a stunning book. It is made even more impressive by the fact that it is Ngo's first. It has made me enormously proud, not only to call Ngo a colleague, but also a friend.
Antifa Unmasked is published by Center Street and can be purchased here.
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