Salon: “Pro-Trump rioters got away with beating anti-fascists in Berkeley — and likely won’t stop there.”

Most of the demonstrations held on April 15, which was set aside by progressives for marches to demand that Donald Trump reveal his tax returns, were peaceful. The notable exception was the city of Berkeley, California — often described as the most liberal community in the nation — where things rapidly descended into a street fight between radical right-wingers and more left-leaning counterprotesters.

A group of hard-right extremists came to Berkeley to hold a rally in support of Trump. While they are, of course, claiming that they only resorted to violence in self-defense, it’s clear from the social-media organizing done ahead of time that their intention was to start a riot.

David Neiwert of the Southern Poverty Law Center wrote in a blog post:

On social media, the organizers and supporters called it “the Next Battle of Berkeley,” a chance to gain revenge for an earlier event on the University of California campus that they believed had infringed on conservatives’ free speech rights: In February, a scheduled appearance by alt-right provocateur Milo Yiannopoulos was shut down by rock-throwing “antifascist” protesters.

One Twitter user also documented the way that alt-right folks were instructing one another in how to smuggle weapons past the police.

They wanted a fight and a fight they got. Eleven people were injured, and six were hospitalized. One white supremacist identified as Nathan Damigo was filmed sucker punching a young woman.

It’s tempting to write off this event as something unique to the Berkeley area. The area has a robust “antifa” presence, which is the name given to a small group of youthful anarchist-leftist sorts who tend to reject nonviolent approaches in favor of aggressive confrontation. The white nationalists and fascists knew full well that going to Berkeley meant they would be met with an aggressive response. If they had tried the same stunt in, say, New York, it probably wouldn’t have devolved into a violent melee like it did in Berkeley.

But while this particular situation might not have happened anywhere else, now that it has, there’s good reason to worry that the violence could spread. By staging this street fight in Berkeley, the alt-right sent a message to its sympathizers across the country, encouraging them to start organizing brownshirt efforts of their very own.

For one thing, while there were 21 arrests at this particular street fight, most of the right-wing fighters — including, apparently, Damigo — walked away scot-free and full of pride about this supposed victory, as Mother Jones reporter Shane Bauer recorded on Twitter.

Bauer also obtained video footage of his confronting Berkeley police about not doing more and finding that these cops were largely uninterested in a conversation about their responsibility to shut down political violence.

The message that alt-right sympathizers across the country are likely hearing is that this means they can kick the crap out of anti-Trump protesters — even ones who are demonstrating peacefully — and not worry too much about being held accountable by police for their behavior. The fact that Jeff Sessions, Trump’s attorney general, has made a showy display out of his utter lack of interest in police accountability only makes this situation more worrisome.

Beyond that, the whole debacle is a marketing coup for wannabe brownshirts. White nationalists and other far-right types have been crowing about their “victory” on social media, with many portraying themselves as tough and manly for their behavior. That message will have resonance for the alt-right crowd, which primarily consists of youngish men who have a lot of anxiety about manliness and an intense desire to prove their manhood. To drive home the gendered nature of this message, one female militant right-winger was theatrically “protected” by a group of men, helping drive home the message to anxious young men that the best way to prove their manhood is to use violence against Trump’s political opponents.

As historian Rick Perlstein has pointed out in The Washington Spectator, the amount of online chatter demanding violence against progressives seems to have increased dramatically in the past few months. As has been the case with fascist violence in the past, the hard right excuses its calls for violence by citing “self-defense.”

As Perlstein noted, the story that these hard-right forces are telling themselves is that “the left has escalated its resistance to Trump into literal war, so Trump supporters must be prepared to resort to violence to oppose it.”

The images from Saturday’s melee demonstrate the paper-thin nature of this excuse, especially the video of Damigo punching an unarmed woman. (One of his supporters, conservative commentator Gavin McInnes, defended him by saying the victim’s clothing disqualified her as a woman.) But this is the “alternative facts” era, so the laughable transparence of the self-defense excuse hardly matters to those who spout it. All that matters is that they have some pretext, no matter how thin, for their violent urges.

All of which is why there’s reason to worry about this violence spreading. This event in Berkeley showed that violence is possible, that most right-wingers who enact it won’t face any consequences, and that beating up progressives is a quick and easy way for young alt-right types to gain praise from their fellows. These fledgling brownshirts may have gotten started by beating up antifas, who are an unsympathetic target. Now that they’ve tasted blood, there’s reason to fear they will feel empowered to spread the violence around.

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1 Comment on Salon: “Pro-Trump rioters got away with beating anti-fascists in Berkeley — and likely won’t stop there.”

  1. I can go on a tirade about this, about motives on both sides, just to give a bit of insight to my criticisms of the ‘alt-right’ motives is most of that so-called leaders are trying to market themselves using these type events as a spring board to a media career.
    They were no where to be found during the Trump rallies, except from a safe distance to whine about the unfairness of it all.
    The typical leftist media tries to hide behind a softer ID label “progressives” which is the real danger to America, our culture, family, and national integrity.
    The obfuscation of “progressive” has been historically obvious for over a century when the marxist EuroTrash seeped upon our shores beginning in the 1880’s.
    The rest of our language has been reduced to guttural slang and weaponized against us through government miseducation and intellectual (((linguists))) armed with a compliant media malleable to their goals.
    It’s all about integrity, no, not the quality of being honest and having strong moral principles; moral uprightness, but about upholding territorial integrity and national sovereignty.
    Nationalism, oh what a dirty word not to be uttered, discussed in polite or mixed company. We have a kindlier, gentler, sociably accepted term but extremely malleable term ‘patriotism’ whose meaning can be translated (by the media’s right of “the quality of being honest and having strong moral principles; moral uprightness”) whatever it is needed at the time, “America Right or Wrong” projected as “American Nationalism”.
    I do not wish to bore you with historical facts and lessons since most, particularly millennials who seem to think they deserve something in life for just being born, not sure what it is but whatever it is but according to their narrative it was stolen by a wholly indistinguishable, interchangeable, xeroxed generation called “boomers” who were led in this hollywood created version of reality, the .000001 of the population called “hippies”.
    But I will lay a couple of realities on you before you get snookered and lose the nation of America at the same time.
    The die is cast, it was long before you were born, before I was born, it culminated yes in the 1960’s, not by so-called “hippies” but by a cultivation of monetary control (Federal Reserve System), starvation (depression), and brutal war (WW2) finalized by the the twin towers of destruction of America, the Bootlegger’s Son JFK “classic” essay A Nation of Immigrants Written by Kennedy in 1958 (published in the run-up to the 1960 election) after ADL reached out to the then-junior senator from Massachusetts asking him to highlight the contribution of immigrants at a time when the country was locked in a debate about the direction its policy should take. In all the deceptive ballyhoo JFK spewed about destroying the national origin quotas, in his glorification of the contributions of immigrants JFK could not mention a single African or Asian, or any woman at all. All were males and all were from Europe, except one West Indian: Alexander Hamilton.
    The real intent was as always to create a permanent voting block for the left.
    The other part of the twin towers of destruction LBJ who along with RFK and Edward Kennedy (it truly amazes me how y’all luvs me some Kennedys, talking bout JFK was our last ‘real’ president bullshit) pushed through his brother’s immigration plank of his 1960 election platform.
    LBJ never to be out done went one better in One-upmanship with his 1964 declaration of “unconditional war” on poverty. Now most ordinary folks would translate that into meaning economic opportunity NOT a permanent ever growing welfare state.
    Again the real intent was as always to create a permanent dependent voting block for the left.
    The first ‘boomer’ eligibility vote was November 5, 1968, Law and Order.
    I know many who have been tortured by my long-winded, recapitulation, on the subject but I am a firm believer through experience that Repetition is the mother of learning, the father of action, which makes it the architect of accomplishment.
    The old mainstream media has been discredited, exposed, but is it dying? Or is it more of the fact it’s platform is obsolete? I ask this because so many of the so-called ‘new’ media (alt right) are sounding just as lame as the ‘old’ media. All rhetoric, obscure goals, I mean really, fighting for ‘free speech’ in the streets of Berkeley California???HUH???
    Earlier in the week, the university had canceled Richard Spencer’s speech on public safety grounds, fearing a clash between Spencer’s hard-core followers and anti-fascist activists, many of whom traveled from Atlanta to disrupt the event.
    The speech almost did not happen, but a federal judge in Montgomery overruled the university hours before the scheduled appearance.
    Spencer went on to file a complaint Tuesday morning in federal court in Montgomery alleging that Auburn was infringing on his right to free speech by not allowing him to speak in Foy Hall.
    “Plaintiff has filed the Petition seeking, among other things, to enforce the agreement reached with Auburn for the renting of the room and to enjoin the school from failing to comply with its contract and thereby violating his rights,” the complaint stated.
    Later that afternoon, U.S. District Judge W. Keith Watkins issued an order requiring Auburn to allow Spencer to speak in Foy Hall as originally planned.
    That’s where you fight to win your constitutional rights, now that’s a precedent for that University in spite of all the Marxist professors, politicians, antifa demonstrators.
    The only reason to be on the streets is to utterly destroy antifa, until we stop playing games dressing up in weird costumes with cute sounding nicknames and get as serious about eliminating them as a threat, Antifa isn’t and never was a real threat. Case in point the late 1960’s early 1970’s hardhats, it was brutal but quick, there were never any demonstrations in the public venue there after, they were all out of the way restricted to college campuses and Washington D.C. where they belonged. The riots of that era were met with regionally organized safety committees, until this day riots remain in never leaving the areas they start.
    Getting back to this ‘alt-right’, where are their political organizing, candidates?
    Where are their lawyers seeking judgeships?
    Where are their University regents, faculty, union leaders?
    Where are their corporations, small businesses, community banks and credit unions?
    That is the long term, long lasting goals, our enemies put their noses to the grindstone and did it, it wasn’t a matter of a invisible (((puppet master))) pulling all those strings.
    If you are not in for the long term genetically and nationally, then you have absolutely nothing to complain about, no one to complain to, and no one to blame for a damn thing.
    Anyone who tries to undermine your nation, in any way discourage you no matter how bad things can appear is your enemy.
    You either fight (on all fronts) for what you want or others will take all you got, including your progenity.
    And the only people I see attempting that, and doing a pretty bang up job so far are other ‘white people’.
    Antifa no matter who backs them are 90% white, the video below is a case in point. Listen and see what you can take (learn) from it.
    Oh and by the way, the only reason we must keep on Trump’s ass to stay out of any more ground wars is because the people who fight them are the working class. The working class are the only people who will get down and fight for the integrity (upholding territorial integrity and national sovereignty) of this country. It sure as hell won’t be the ‘middle’ class because that is the weakest link where the enemy breeds.

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