Sunday, March 5, 2017

Antifa attacks Donald Trump rally in Berkeley during a day of peaceful events in support of the president.

An iconic viral photo of a pro-Trump demonstrator swinging a stick at a Trump protester. Reuters. 

Another group of Trump supporters in Berkeley. Reuters. 

Violence erupted at a pro-Trump event in Berkeley, California during a day of largely peaceful events supporting the president. Reuters.  In the famous left leaning city of Berkeley, Trump supporters and "anti-facsist"/communists protesters squared off. Several fights broke out, three people were arrested and five arrests were made. Both sides hit each other with sticks and pepper spray was also used. An older Trump supporter was knocked to the ground after being hit in the head. The event in Berkeley was joined by dozens of other rallies for Trump, the vast majority of which were peaceful. The other exceptions was a rally in Minneapolis, where half a dozen protesters were arrested. Small skirmishes also broke out in Nashville, but police broke up the fights before they got serious. 

Raw footage of the Trump event. 

More raw video. Also, I had to laugh at the guys yelling out "SMOKE WEED!"
My Comment:
Yet again, more violence in Berkeley. But before I go any further I have to say something first. The media, and Trump supporters as well, seem to be overstating the importance of the violence in Berkeley, especially considering the vast majority of the rallies held yesterday remained peaceful. And even in the events where violence occurred, none of them were anywhere near the scale of the Berkeley riot against Milo Yiannopolis. The violence yesterday, while significant, is not anywhere near as bad as it could have been.

I also have to point out, in all the footage I have seen, the vast majority of people seemed to be trying to prevent the violence. Either they were holding people back, speaking out for peace or trying to get the cops to intervene. Credit where credit is due, it seemed like this was happening with both the pro and anti-Trump people. Very few people seemed to want the violence and it seems like both sides had a few bad actors that caused the vast majority of the problems. 

Hilariously enough it seemed like both of the sides causing the trouble were anarchists. This wasn't really a fight between the pro and anti Trump people, it was a skirmish between Anachro-Capitalists and Anachro-Communists (ANCAP vs ANCOM). If you watch the videos closely you can see the violent people in each groups had the flags of the respective ideologies, the distinctive black and yellow flag for the ANCAP's and the Soviet one for the ANCOM's. I'm not expert on anarchy as a political ideology, and I don't even know why ANCAP's would be at a Trump rally, but I do recognize each group when I see them. 

Quite frankly though, I have to side with the ANCAP's here. Not for ideological reasons, I think anarchy is stupid in general, but because they didn't seem to be the aggressors. Though it's never good to turn a demonstration into a fight, I don't blame them for coming loaded for bear. After what happened during the Berkeley riot, where people were beaten and attacked, it makes sense for people to want to protect and fight back. Though I am not really a libertarian myself, I do think that the non-aggression principle is probably good for this situation. As long as the ANCAP's didn't start the fight, I don't have a real problem with them fighting back. As far as I can tell they weren't the ones that started it. I will say that I could be wrong and they did start things up, but nothing in the video I saw supports that, and given the identities of the people they were fighting, I am predisposed to support whoever was fighting them. 

The ANCOM's were likely Antifa, the supposed anti-Fascist group who tends to pick fight with everyone but Fascists. When they actually do pick fights with actual racists, they tend to get their asses kicked. The incident in Sacramento last year targeting an actual white supremacist rally ended with a bunch of people getting stabbed.  Usually though, antifa works by isolating small groups or individuals and then attacking them and running away. Those tactics don't work when people work together to fight back. 

Still, any violence is disturbing and I have mixed feelings about the people fighting back against antifa. On the one hand I strongly support the concept of self defense. It's the reason I vote Republican and supported Donald Trump. I think that if someone hits you or tries to murder you, you are totally justified in responding with violence. Antifa has been attacking Trump supporters since virtually the announcement of the campaign for president, and it always angers me when people were hurt by these rioters. I don't think it is morally wrong to beat the ever-loving crap out antifa if they throw the first punch. 

On the other hand, it's incredibly counterproductive. The mainstream media and the political left, always desperate to hurt Donald Trump, will  almost always portray the violence as something that Trump caused himself. By their logic, Trump's policies and the supposed racism of his supporters is what is causing the violence, not the far left. Even when fighting back in self defense, or at worst engaging in a mutual fight, the narrative will be that Trump's supporters were violently attacking the "peaceful" protesters. And even though I never agree with the idea, there is the fact that people consider those who don't fight back to be better victims with more moral credibility than the ones that do. 

Of course I can't really expect people to just lie down and take it when people are getting violent with them. Getting punched or otherwise attacked hurts and it's only natural to fight back. I doubt many of the people fighting considered the strategic effects of their actions and how it would be portrayed in the media. I know that Jesus said to turn the other cheek, but in practice that's a very hard thing to do, especially if you are doing it for strategic reasons, and not moral ones. 

I also think that it is important to put all of this violence in context. Though utterly disgusting and a sign of high division and tensions, it is nothing like what has happened in the past. Sure there have been some street fights and riots, but there has been nothing like the leftist violence that happened in the 70's. Though I don't agree with many of the conclusions drawn in the post, Status 451 has a decent roundup of how much worse things were back then. It just goes to show, as bad as things are right now, they could always get worse. I'm hoping that they won't... 

I do think that the police should crackdown on these antifa groups as hard as they possibly can through legal means. Though I do believe in free speech, so much of what these people do is not protected at all. Protesting against the President is fine, advocating your weird political beliefs is fine, but causing organized violence against your political opponents? Not fine at all. Again, if people want to argue that Communism is a good thing or everyone to the right of Karl Marx is a racist, despite all the evidence otherwise, they should be free to do so.Violence is the line though and if it is crossed then people should be punished, regardless of their politics. I hope that the cops are more aggressive with responding to these riots and I think that there should be an investigation of who is funding antifa. If that happens then maybe Trump supporters and anti-Trump people can have their free speech without anyone getting hurt...  

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