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 Instapundit, Glenn 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?