“In the eyes of good and evil…”
CNN anchor Chris Cuomo seemed to argue on Monday that violence perpetrated by Antifa anarchists is not quite the same as the violence of far-right rioters.
In the closing monologue of his show “Cuomo Prime Time,” he talked about the
sparsely-attended “Unite the Right 2” rally that took place in Washington, DC over the weekend. The low numbers of white nationalists were surrounded by massive ranks of counter protesters, some of whom belonging to the radical-left group Antifa.
Masked and often armed, Antifa demonstrators are known rebel rousers fixated on disrupting right-wing events. Like their counterparts on the far-right, many Antifa members are eager to for violent entanglements.
Reports from the Washington rally indicated that Antifa members, in lieu of actual fascists to fight with, got into brawls with journalists and the police.
In his monologue, Cuomo chastised the violence of Antifa members, saying “When you use your hands in a violent way, you’re a rioter.”
But Cuomo’s real point was to draw a distinction between rioters of different strokes.
“I argue to you tonight: All punches are not equal, morally,” he said. “In the eyes of the law, yes. But in the eyes of good and evil…”
“Drawing a moral equivalency between those espousing hate and those fighting it, because they both resort to violence — emboldens hate, legitimizes hateful belief and elevates what should be stamped out,” Cuomo said, alluding to President Donald Trump’s insistence that there was “blame on both sides” in the aftermath of the Charlottesville death. (Heather Heyer, a counter-protestor, was killed in Charlottesville by a white supremacist who rammed his car into the crowd.)
Though Cuomo condemns all violent actors as “thugs,” he insists on the need to judge rioters based on not just their actions, but their motivations, too.
According to Cuomo, white supremacists are categorically wrong, those who oppose them are categorically right — their respective actions notwithstanding.
But can Antifa really be said to be “fighting hate,” as Cuomo suggests?
On President Donald Trump’s inauguration day, the group threw rocks at police and smashed storefront windows in Washington, DC, leading to the arrests of over 200 people.
Last year, at a speech at Berkeley, the group was responsible for $100,000 in property damage.
In Washington this weekend, the group targeted police officers and journalists.
The growing depiction of Antifa as violence-seeking vandals has, it seems, made some on the left uncomfortable.
Media Matters retweeting a HuffPo reporter, who covers “hate and extremism” and is pissed that someone at Vox actually reported what Antifa did yesterday. Guys, it just doesn’t get any better than this. pic.twitter.com/AuwuH4qOsk
— Caleb Hull (@CalebJHull) August 13, 2018
But for others, it’s the attempt to equivocate around Antifa’s behavior that isn’t sitting well.
So let me see if I got this right Chris you feel Antifa are fine people because they use thuggery on thuggery ? Oh and by the way the Civil rights movement marchers in the 60s used peaceful protests don’t you dare compare them to Antifa
— Rooster Moon (@RoosterMoon) August 14, 2018
Here’s the play-by-play:
Cuomo’s argument: “If you’re a punk that comes to start trouble in a mask and hurt people you’re not about any virtuous cause. You’re just somebody that’s going to be held to the standard of doing something wrong.”
There is no equivalency: “But drawing a moral equivalency between those espousing hate and those fighting because they both resort to violence emboldens hate, legitimizes hateful belief and elevates what should be stamped out.”
Antifa fights hate: “”Antifa or whoever … are malcontent or misguided, they are also wrong to hit, but fighting hate is right. And in a clash between hate and those who oppose it, those who oppose it are on the side of right.”
He blamed Trump for his rhetoric on the issue: “I am arguing Trump is wrong to create a moral equivalency between bigots and those who oppose them, making them equal wrongs.”