Various news organizations are reporting that the man who threw “incendiary devices” at the Northwest Detention Center in Tacoma, Washington was an Antifa member and appears to have been featured on CNN’s “United Shades of America” with W. Kamau Bell as “one of the good guys.” Police shot and killed Willem Van Spronsen at the scene. However, there has been little coverage of his background or the CNN feature. That is curious given the steady coverage of how right-wing groups are being pushing to violence by the Trump Administration and “alt right” sites. This is not to say that CNN encouraged violence but rather that the level of coverage (and presumed connection with political or media sources) is different.
I have been a long critic of Antifa and its academic supporters. I am not surprised therefore that Van Spronsen posted a manifesto declaring “I am Antifa” or that Antifa members are applauding him as a hero or martyr to their cause.
What is more interesting is the May 5th episode of United Shades of America where Bell seems to relish the individuals are the “good guys,” including Van Spronsen, 69. Bell featured what he billed as the “Redneck Revolt,” gun-toting liberals who are battling the “alt-right.” Bell follows them to gun ranges and asked why “more white people” are not joining their ranks.
Bell explained that the “Redneck Revolt” “protects counter-protesters, feeds the hungry and fights right-wing extremis.
Particularly after the attack on journalist Andy Ngo, one would think that this coverage would raise the same concerns over rising political violation. It hasn’t.
I do not in any way believe that Bell encouraged violence. I have never seen his show but it would seem a legitimate and interesting subject for an episode. However, the same can be true about conservatives who are regularly blamed for violence, including Trump. I have repeatedly condemned Trump for this rhetoric, including just yesterday in a blog column. Yet, the coverage on political violence seems to be focused almost exclusively on the right despite the rising number of attacks by Antifa and related groups.
What do you think?