During the violent incidents at Charlottesville, the GOP overwhelmingly took to the air to thoroughly and roundly denounce the neo-Nazi “alt-right” as un-American, and they rejected any claims to unity with them. This was right and correct, and it was one of my prouder moments as a conservative watching the party do the right thing. It swelled my chest to see such an outpouring of patriotic Americanism, firmly rejecting what subtle and insidious inroads the alt-right had attempted to make into the mainstream American right.
This is in contrast to the silence from many Democratic leaders to Antifa violence at dozens of events. Charlottesville is the only example I can think of where Antifa was actually clashing with (other) fascists.
One should always take the high road, no matter what others do, but it brought to light a glaring contrast as to how the two sides deal with violent fringe groups claiming to represent the mainstream.
However, a change in the wind seemed to stir on Tuesday evening when House Minority Leader, Nancy Pelosi, unexpectedly condemned Antifa’s violence in Berkeley last weekend. It was about time. Pelosi (D-CA), is the last person one would think to side against anyone claiming to be left-wing, having been so partisan and “progressive” throughout her career.
More of this sort of thing is exactly what our goal should be, as Americans, nevermind as conservatives or Republicans. All should people should condemn the political street violence groups like Antifa promote, just as all should denounce the racist screed of the alt-right. Both Antifa and the alt-right are merely different shades of imported, failed, statist tyranny, and should be rejected by all sane and reasonable Americans (of which there are still plenty, less dramatic, silent majority in both parties, I suspect).
More than ever now is not the time to be filled with violent zeal, “crushing” Antifa with the same impulsive passion they feel— this will only lead to more violence. We need to continue to refuse to engage them on their terms, to drag ourselves down to their level. Most people reading this are Republicans, and we’ve claimed to be the party of true patriots, bleeding red-white-and-blue. If that is so, let us put our money where our mouth is, and show that we will sacrifice for America, not just take up arms for it.
If one parent is a violent, worthless drunk, should the other parent let the kids go hungry and the house burn, to give the first one a taste of their own medicine? No. Responsibility dictates that the other one grit their teeth, and try to keep the bills paid, the kids fed, the house in order, even if it means bearing all the burden themselves. It isn’t fair, but life never is, and what’s the alternative— letting the house of America burn to sate our wrath? Letting our children suffer for our vengeance?
A flashlight and a camera are better than a sword and shield, for exposing the real face of Antifa, under the black mask that hides a dark heart so intolerant and violent, that even a partisan ideologue like Pelosi had to distance herself and condemn them publicly. Whether she did so out of genuine outrage, or political survival instincts, isn’t very important. What matters is that she felt sufficient pressure to disavow them.
Therein is the key to both Antifa, and improving America in general. We need to focus on reaching out to more moderate, mainstream liberals (the kind who don’t burn cars in the streets for Marxism), and help drive a wedge between them and extreme groups. Antifa is so extreme and violent, that those supporting them or giving them cover must be exposed. Their silence should become as politically suicidal as Nazism.
How can we do this? By not lumping all of the left together, or painting them all as brain dead, communist traitors based on the beliefs and comments of their most fringe members (we have a lot of factions in our “wing,” and so do they). We do this by demonstrating what good conduct looks like, with our dignified, stoic perseverance, even in the face of violent persecution, just as Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Gandhi, and Jesus, Himself, did, successfully. We do this by showing them that we’re reasonable, calm partners to work with for a better America, not implacable, hysterical, fanatical enemies with whom any attempt at compromise or outreach is doomed.
We’ll never fully be rid of extremists or their same failed ideas recycled and slapped with new paint jobs and names. We can only do what we’ve done successfully for the last two centuries, and try to lead by example, showing some of our alienated, but still sane and approachable brethren in the other party, what true Americans act like, even when they disagree. Our forefathers somehow managed to keep fringe groups at bay without compromising our founding principles and liberties. Are we to be the generation that finally fails to rise to the occasion?
As someone who took the controversial, Biblical position of “turn the other cheek,” I’m pleasantly surprised that keeping all the violence on Antifa’s end is already starting to pay off. Pelosi’s condemnation is one very noticeable crack in the wall of silence that enables Antifa. The advice of Jesus is always sound and wise. America is watching, not just God, and it deserves our best.
- Joshua Nybo