Doubt and Certainty in the National Narrative


Lately, I’m finding national news provides an important lesson:  If you think you know what’s going on, you’re probably wrong, especially if you want to define our era under a single narrative.

Anybody who reads around the conservative Internet will have encountered reports of the beating that Antifa delivered to conservative, gay, immigrant journalist Andy Ngo.  Here’s Rod Dreher on The American Conservative:

Andy Ngo is a Portland-based journalist (for Quillette) who has made it his business to document the violence and insanity of Antifa in his city. Today they got him. They beat him up and stole his camera equipment.

One gets the impression that Antifa rules Portland with the same impunity that the Ku Klux Klan ruled Birmingham in the 1960s. Do they actually have police in Portland? Do they have functioning government there?

On InstapunditGlenn Reynolds links the incident to examples of mainstream news media setting the stage for leftist violence, while on National Review, Douglas Murray repeats the truth that Antifa is actually the closest thing to fascists currently on the American scene.

But if you turn to the major state-based newspaper deep in the Blue Bubble of Rhode Island, the story sounds very different and appears under the headline, “Marches by rival groups lead to clashes; 3 people arrested“:

Competing demonstrations spilled into the streets of downtown Portland on Saturday, with fights breaking out in places as marchers clashed.

At least three groups had planned rallies or demonstrations at different sites in the city, including members of the so-called Proud Boys and anti-fascist groups that include “antifa,” and the fights occurred when participants of the opposing groups met, according to The Oregonian/OregonLive.

Reading more broadly, the mainstream news media makes it sound as if the Proud Boys initiated the trouble.  The reality is hard to tease out of it all, but it seems very much that journalists are keeping strict narrative control to take the focus off Antifa and put it on right wingers.  For a while, now, reports have tended to associate the Proud Boys with “street brawls,” whereas Antifa doesn’t get the same treatment.

In this case, it seems like a relatively small group of conservatives (one group with “prayer” in their name) had a rally and Antifa decided to show up and make it violent:

One counter-demonstration had been organised by Rose City Antifa, which accused the Proud Boys of “planning to invade downtown Portland, looking for targets for violent attacks”.

They called for people to “defend our city” in an online blog that accused Mr Ngo of Islamophobia and promoting the Proud Boys.

That has been the rhetoric across the country, including in Providence.  Progressives orbiting Antifa claim conservative rallies are an invasion against which the city must be defended.  They set up physical confrontations in an effort to suppress the free speech of people with whom they disagree, and the news media presents the conservatives as the ones who introduced violence, primarily by bringing disagreement to the tranquility of the street.

Going through the various reports out of Portland, the only images I see of people hurt are Andy Ngo and an older guy asserted to be a right winger.  But still… the refusal of the credentialed press to present the story as it appears to me and to other conservatives preserves a doubt.

After all, if a group of masked fascists is violently suppressing the free expression of peaceful, patriotic Americans for political reasons and the official news media is spinning the story to blame the victims, what would the appropriate response be?  Probably something that a reasonable person would want found in certainty.  But what if certainty comes too late to make a difference?

  • Rhett Hardwick

    “Marches by rival groups lead to clashes; 3 people arrested“:

    I remember, what seems like 25 years ago, when there were print “discussions” on neutral terms so as not to seem to give preference to “one side” or another. The term “clash, clashed” was selected as neutral. Shortly following that, I recall my first notice of it in reporting. It concerned the “Crown Point” incident where blacks dragged a Jewish guy out of his car and beat him. This was described as having “clashed’. I have come to accept it as “code”, much like “teens”. Or, “Woonsocket (select city of choice) man” meaning an illegal immigrant.

    While I am here, I have been watching a BBC series”Hollow Crown”; the War of the Roses. A Queen of England (Margaret of Anjou) is played by a black woman. I can find no historical authenticity for this, does anyone know of any? Not much to us, but quite significant in British history.

  • BasicCaruso

    “Going through the various reports out of Portland, the only images I see of people hurt are Andy Ngo and an older guy asserted to be a right winger.”

    And here’s pictures of that older guy armed with a baton…

    And same man physically confronting a protestor attempting to exercise his own free speech rights/right to assemble…,h_484,x_612,y_226,c_crop,g_north_west/w_720,q_auto,c_fill,f_auto/

    “Peaceful, patriotic American”? Not so sure about that one. Would appear to be far-right provocateur.

    • Justin Katz

      Maybe, although it would be extremely easy to Photoshop an implement like a baton into that picture, and I don’t have a lot of faith in a Twitter account called “Antifa Trash Panda.” Also telling that the second image crops out the part where his hands are held together on his own stomach in a gesture indicating no intent for physical contact.

      But, yeah, part of the point of the post is that it’s difficult to know what the facts are.

      • Rhett Hardwick

        Why does the guy exercising his right to free speech and to “peaceably” assemble feel it is necessary to wear a mask? About the “baton”, unless it is a cattle prod (anyone else remember “bobby shocking”) it appears to be reversed. “Would appear to be far-right provocateur.” I don’t see anything in the picture that would suggest “far right” leanings.

        • Rhett Hardwick

          Looking over the pictures again; he appears to be wearing a black t-shirt in the picture where he is bloody, and a white shirt, or none, in the other picture.

          I went over to twitter, the comments are pretty amazing.

  • ShannonEntropy

    To me it is obvious why ‘Antifa’ acts with so much impunity: they are an active but clandestine arm of our own Federal gum-mint’s Deep State.
    Most likely they are a covert arm of the FBI or some other top national Intelligence Agency

    Cops won’t arrest them. If they do get arrested felony charges get dropped.
    Why ?? Guess why

    The Deep State wants to totally squelch free speech by The Right. They can’t do it directly cuz of those pesky 1st Amendment “Free Speech” Rights we all supposedly have

    So they do it by proxies: violent “Anti-fa” actions that both cut off conservative speech and make people who donut like the prospect of getting their face bashed in — like me — afraid to state their views in public

    • Rhett Hardwick

      I don’t know if I can get behind “clandestine arm of our own Federal gum-mint’s Deep State”. Too easily blown by someone inside Antifa seeking self-aggrandizement. But, I can see them as “useful idiots” getting aid from the Deep State.

      • ShannonEntropy

        Russian Intelligence and C/I agencies are notorious for recruiting from academia, but “we” do it too. And often the recruitee duzn’t even know who they’re ultimately working for

        An FBI / antifa recruiter isn’t gonna be a badge-flashing clean-cut guy in a suit with wrap-around shades & an earpiece; he’s gonna look act & talk like yer typical “Occupy Mom’s Basement” kid. And maybe that recruiter duzn’t even know who he’s working for

        The only thing we know for sure is that antifa are NOT right-wingers… their women are fat & hideous in contrast to say a right-wing group of ICP fans called Juggalos and their hot babe counterparts, the Juggalettes

        • Rhett Hardwick

          Thank you for the pictures of the Juggalettes, although I am not a pierced nipple fan. I wouldn’t think of Juggalos as “right wing”.