Below is my column in the Hill newspaper on the Antifa movement and its implications for free speech on our college and university campuses. Yesterday, I shared a videotape from one such protest at GW near the law school a few months ago. My concern is with those faculty members who legitimize the anti-speech foundation for this movement. Yet, the violence at Berkeley has exposed this movement for what it is. This week Nancy Pelosi did criticize Antifa but then later qualified that criticism. She said:
“Look, people are out there heiling Hitler and then you have a group that is antifa — anti-fascist; they’ve been there forever — some people may have infiltrated them. We’ll see. But that is not an equivalence, in my view.”
I fail to see why there is a need to draw distinctions. Antifa is premised on the view that some speech is unworthy to be protected and that preventing people from hearing unworthy views is an act of “community self-defense.” As the column discusses, the distinction between Antifa and its opposing fascists is rather difficult to discern in terms of the effort to intimidate or assault those with opposing views. The threat of Antifa is summed up by the description of one of its most influential academic voices. Dartmouth Professor Mark Bray says that the movement has no interest in co-existence with opposing views and seeks not simply to oppose them but to “end their politics.”
Here is the column:
The University of California in Berkeley was again the scene of violence recently, as protesters claimed license to silence those with whom they disagree. Their fight against “fascism” took the form of not just stopping a speech, but assaulting those who came to hear it.