Sunday’s rally was not what national outlets made it out to be

CITY AFFAIRS: Sensationalizing violence without context is reckless.


Happy families blowing bubbles, tossing cornhole and playing trumpets drowned out hateful white nationalist groups Sunday in Berkeley. Around the country, however, people read a reductive story about violence and carnage at the nation’s battleground for free speech.

National outlets and prominent public officials chose to respond to the rally by denouncing left-wing group Antifa and its violent tactics, including the Washington Post’s Editorial Board, which wrote that Antifa groups “only help the hateful forces they claim to oppose.”

The problem with devoting page space to the argument that Antifa is to blame for violence in Berkeley effectively — and falsely — equates them to the actions and ideas of white supremacists. It is irresponsible and hypocritical for The Post’s editorial board to use its platform this way.

The Post’s editorial board notes specifically that it “would not for a minute equate (the threat Antifa poses) to the menace of violent, ultra-right white-supremacist groups” and goes on to say President Donald Trump’s “equation of white supremacists in Charlottesville with those who rallied against them was false and repugnant.”

Whether one condones Antifa’s violent tactics is beside the point; it’s not the main issue. Antifa is only a reaction to the real threat: “Violent, ultra-right white-supremacist groups,” with their history of terror and continuing hostility.

Mother Jones reporter Shane Bauer wrote that sensationalizing violence without context is reckless, and many outlets failed to mention that violence at Sunday’s rally was less than during protests on April 15.

To find context, look to local papers. Reporters have been on the ground in Berkeley for months — some even years — and understand the dynamics better than a national outlet that swoops in every so often to film someone getting beat up by black bloc protesters. As people glean incorrect narratives from protest coverage, more right-wing reactionaries will turn to this city to use it as the backdrop of their bigoted fight, and Berkeley residents again will be left to pick up the pieces.

Editorials represent the majority opinion of the Editorial Board as written by the opinion editor.

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  • Killer Marmot

    This editorial is absurdly weak. It keeps talking about context, but then fails to provide any context of its own that justifies violence. The excuse of “white supremacists are really bad people” doesn’t work when there are no white supremacists in sight.

  • Killer Marmot

    I’m not overly worried about white supremacists. They are few in number, and they are vigorously denounced by Republicans and Democrats alike. Even though Trump denounced them, he was roundly criticized, correctly I think, for not being specific enough in how he did it. In other words, the nation is in agreement that white supremacy is a bad thing.

    The Antifa are more dangerous, as there are many on the left — even seeming moderates — who are willing to excuse them, this publication being one. I suspect that these Antifa supporters don’t mind the sight of Trump voters getting beat up.

    But that is extraordinarily dangerous. Normalizing violence against political opponents is a direct assault on democracy and the rule of law. Further, Trump supporters are not likely to just stand by and get beat on.

    • DrSox

      Steve Bannon is vigorously denounced by Republicans? That’s news to me. Click over to Breitbart in your next tab.

  • ESPM360

    Can the DC editorial staff name one person who has ever stopped anyone on the left from ever speaking at UCB?

  • Killer Marmot

    The problem with devoting page space to the argument that Antifa is to blame for violence in Berkeley effectively — and falsely — equates them to the actions and ideas of white supremacists.

    The Antifa reportedly instigated and carried out most of the violence at the rally. Sorry if stating the facts leads to conclusions that you’re not comfortable with.

  • rougy

    By emphasizing the Antifa activities, the establishment is minimizing the white supremacist hatred that started it all off to begin with. It’s distorting reality. White supremacy is not a response to Antifa activities. It’s the other way around. Always has been, always will be.

    • FreedomFan

      Yes indeed; it all comes down to “white-supremacy”:
      The white Antifa thugs just beat up a handful of non-white protest organizers in order to “protect” their 4000 counter-protester pals.

      BTW, I’m glad you enjoyed the videos I posted of the antifa beatings of non-white “white-supremacists”, comrade.

      • rougy

        Antifascists exists because of the fascists. The fascists are the activating force. The Antifascists are resisting them.

        • lspanker

          So-called “antifascists” beat up people at random because they are too stupid to engage in intelligent discussion. No better than the hysterical idiots in Salem in the 1600’s who incited a panic by calling people they didn’t like “witches”.

    • Killer Marmot

      Was there any evidence of white supremacists at the rally? There were Trump and free-speech supporters, but so far as I can tell there were no obvious white supremacists.

  • TaiFood

    This ‘opinion’ is complete hallucination.

    Smearing good Patriots as anything but exempary citizens by your rag should be actionable because you cause real harm, especially to the at-risk youth who might think that your paper has credibility.

  • Man with Axe

    Antifa beats up whomever it doesn’t like. They don’t stop to ask if their victims are white supremacists, or just peaceful right-of-center marchers, or journalists. They chant, “No Trump, No Wall, No USA at all.” Nice.

    A little bit of violence in a largely peaceful rally makes it a violent rally. It’s like having a little piece of dog turd in your ice cream. It’s dog turd ice cream now. Antifa is the dog turd in these leftist protests.

  • Mitchell Zimmerman

    I don’t understand what context you think you have added to the violence with these comments and complaints about the entirely predictable national coverage of the events in Berkeley.
    Of course, the number of participants in the antifa violence was dwarfed by the number of peaceful participants. But “context” implies you’re going to explain better what the violence means. I don’t see that in your editorial. The actual context is even more disturbing than the scope of the violence because the violence effected the new reality that constitutionally-protected speech is an endangered species in Berkeley, and the police are unwilling or unable to protect it.

  • lspanker

    The problem with devoting page space to the argument that Antifa is to blame for violence in Berkeley effectively — and falsely — equates them to the actions and ideas of white supremacists.

    Actually, in the case of Berkeley, Antifa would be worse. The white supremacists have bad ideas, but they haven’t been the ones initiating the violence. Antifa has bad ideas AND beats people up.

    • FreedomFan

      Great point.

    • CSears

      Sounds a lot like Trump and Trump supporters: “knock the crap out of them …. I promise you, I will pay for the legal fees.”

      • FreedomFan

        Trump is a ash wipe–I didn’t vote for him. But I will be voting for him in 2020 because of fascists like antifa and their Democrat apologists.

    • Jeb!

      Is that why the police sit idly by, doing nothing, while roving gangs of white nationalists beat persons of color (hate crime) and drive cars into crowds of protesters (terrorism)? Do not conflate anti-fascism with black bloc tactics during protests where lines of police point guns at women and children while their backs face armed militiamen from out-of-state.

      • lspanker

        You never see the violence on your side, do you?

        Or do you conveniently ignore it because it’s directed at people you don’t like?

  • FreedomFan

    If you want to know exactly what happened, ignore the marxist antifa apologists on the DailyCal editorial board.

    Instead, here’s an excellent first-person account by the courageous Matt Labash of National Review:
    “A Beating In Berkeley”

    • Gerald Adams

      Wow, helluva an article. The next uncivil war cometh.

    • rougy

      Thanks. I needed a laugh.

      • lspanker

        The fact that the truth may be a bit more complicated than your childish “we are fighting fascism” mantra certainly unsettles you, as it makes it clear you really don’t care what individual people stand for, you merely want an excuse for beating up people you don’t like.

        • rougy

          The truth is that the Alt-Right is an extremely racist organization, and their wish list, when compared with other fascist movements, is almost identical. They’re not a bunch of flower children singing spiritual songs and promoting freedom. They’re advocating for a white-only country and if they have to resort to violence to achieve that end, they’ll do it. You’re the one being childish here.

    • DrSox

      Weekly Standard hahahahahahahaha

      • lspanker

        People here are far more likely to laugh at your failed attempts at spinning the issue…